1. Day Round Turkey Tours – Full day private tour of Istanbul
After breakfast, drive to old town and visit Hippodrome Square, the scene of Chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life which was originally built by Roman Emperor Septimus in 203 AD.
Continue to St. Sophia Museum, built by Emperor Constantius is 360 AD. St. Sophia was for many centuries the world’s largest church and today is the fourth largest one after St. Paul’s in London, St. Peter’s in Rome and Duomo in Milan. Throughout its Byzantine history, St. Sophia served as the cathedral of the city where emperors were crowned and victories celebrated. After his conquest of the city in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II ordered for the building to be converted into a mosque by the addition of Islamic elements such as a mihrab, a mimber, minarets etc. After having served this time as a mosque for 481 years, the building become a museum in 1934 by the order of Ataturk, the founder of the Repuplic of Turkey.
Then visit Underground Cistern, built for wartime use by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, the cistern served for water storage. 70 m wide and 140 m long in its dimensions, 360 Corinthian columns support its dome.
After lunch time, visit Topkapi Palace, built by Sultan Mehmet II after the conquest of Istanbul in 15th century. The palace housed the sultans and their exotic entourage until mid 19th century. The complex is a group of structures which incorporates works from successive periods of Ottoman reign. Today the museum displays priceless collections of the imperial treasury, numerous pieces of Chinese porcelain, traditional costumes of the sultans and their families and special section for the preservation of the relics of Prophet Mohammed.
Visit Blue Mosque, built in early 17th century and know as Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior decoration with blue Iznik tiles. It is also unique in the world to have 6 minarets.
Last stop will be at famous historical Grand Bazaar, the largest “souk” covered oriental shopping mall in the world, where you will find 4,400 shops under one roof where each trade has its own street. There is a wide selection of leather, jewelry, antiques, copperware, souvenirs, and famous hand-made Turkish carpets displayed in this historical shopping center.
Overnight in Istanbul
2. Day Full day tour of Istanbul
Meet with your guide at the lobby and drive to the Asian Side of Istanbul via transcontinental Bosphorus Bridge, unique in the world connecting two continents Asia and Europe. The bridge was built in 1973, the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. Its length is 1.560 m (1,074 m over the sea) and height from the sea is 64 m. It is the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world.
Have a short stop at Camlica Hill, highest one in Istanbul, to enjoy the panoramic view of the city. And then continue to Kuzguk & Kanlica and enjoy the world-famous yogurt.
Then drive to Kadikoy & take a public ferry to Eminonu area…. After lunch break in the area visit historical Spice Market (Egyptian Bazaar). This bazaar was built in 1664 as a part of Yeni Mosque complex situated nearby and named Egyptian Bazaar because spices and herbs brought from or via Egypt were sold in it.
Drive to “Golden Horn” and take cable car to Pierre Loti Hill. It was named after the famous French writer, you will enjoy magnificent scenery of Golden Horn and the city. Visit Pierre Loti, the popular cafe overlooking the Golden Horn in the Eyüp area which was dedicated to a a writer called Pierre Loti. “Pierre Loti” was actually a pseudonym. His real name is Louis Marie-Julien, Viaud. He was a French sailor and a writer.
Overnight in Istanbul
3. Day Full day tour of Istanbul
After breakfast, departure to the royal residence of Ottoman Sultans, the sumptuous Dolmabahce Palace. During the 19th century, westernization of the Ottoman Empire which became an important trend was also felt in the architecture of the time. Dolmabahce Palace was built under such an influence between 1843 and 1856 by Sultan Abdulmecit.
The site of the palace was obtained by filling a small bay on the Bosphorus, thus giving the palace its name which means “filled garden.” Its interior decoration is famed for a great collection of European antiques, its furniture and a Turkish bath in alabaster. Covering an area of 25 hectares, the palace consists of 285 rooms and 46 halls among which figures a large reception hall supported by 56 columns, also featuring a chandelier which weighs 4.5 tons. Approximately 600 paintings adorn the walls and specially woven, very beautiful Hereke carpets of huge dimensions cover the palace floors.
Then drive to old town and visit Kariye Museum; Kariye is the Turkish adaptation of the ancient Greek world “chora” which refers to “countryside”. The church was built in the 4th century during the Byzantine days, then outside the city walls. First converted into a mosque during the 16th century, it was finally made a museum in 1948, leaving no Islamic element in the building except the minaret. The walls are decorated with superb 14th century-frescoes, and mosaics on a gold ground.
Early afternoon explore “Beyoglu & Istikla Street”. Istiklal Street is one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, Turkey, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over the course of weekends. Located in the historic Beyoglu (Pera) district, it is an elegant pedestrian street, 1.4 kilometers long, which houses exquisite boutiques, music stores, bookstores, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, cafés, pubs, night clubs with live music, historical patisseries, chocolateries and restaurants.
Overnight in Istanbul
4. Day Round Turkey Tours – Antalya
Morning fly from Istanbul to Antalya
Arrive in Antalya airport and visit Continue to Aspendos to admire the magnificent theater with its unique acoustics and Roman Aqueduct. The city founded by colonist who came from Argos,
has the best-preserved ancient theatre in Turkey. This famous theatre, dedicated to Emperor Markus Aurelius is without doubt one of the most magnificent Roman buildings in Pamphilia and it is still useable today with a seating capacity of 20,000 people. Aspendos had the distinction of being the only city besides Side that coined money in its own name at that early period.
Before check-in to the hotel have free time at historical harbor.
Overnight in Antalya
5. Day Demre Kekova
After breakfast, start to visit Demre (Myra); Paul stopped at Myra during his journey to Rome. The port of Myra, Andriace which supplied grain and water to Roman Word had great granaries and cisterns. Here the custodian of the prioners (one of them was Saint Paul) found a vessel carrying corn to Italy. Myra is one of the coastal ancient cities which Paul, Luke and Aristarcus visited ( Acts 27:5-6). It was in Myra they changed boats on their way to Rome. Roman centurion Julius found a ship from Alexandria heading to Rome by the way if Cnidos, another important coastal town in the North.
Then take a boat to Kekova Island, along the edge of the island facing the mainland lie the fascinating half-submerged remains of a Lycian sunken city, and probably from Byzantine times later on.
Overnight in Antalya
6. Day Bodrum
Morning fly from Antalya to Bodrum via Istanbul
Arrive in Bodrum & transfer to selected hotel
Overnight in Bodrum
7. day Round Turkey Tours Gulet
Full day sailing in Bodrum bays by private gullet (wooden boat) 09:00 to 18:00
Including sample lunch & drinks are extra
Overnight in Bodrum
8. Day Miletos Didima Sirince
After breakfast, drive to city of Miletus, near the coast of western Turkey, was one of the most important cities in the ancient Greek world, but eventually declined due to the silting up of its harbors. St. Paul stopped at Miletus on his Third Missionary Journey, on his way back to Jerusalem.
Continue to Visit Didyma, it is famous with the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, a superb example of architecture dating from the Graeco-Roman period, and a sign of grandeur of this area, outstanding for culture and art. Even before the arrival of the Ionians, Didyma was a holy place and its oracle was much feared and much attended. The Persian King Xerxes destroyed the temple in 480 B.C. and looted many of the statues and also removed its vast treasury which owed its magnitude to the generosity of Croesus, King of Lydia. Alexander the Great decided to rebuild the temple after his victory over the Persians which had never been completely finished and was still uncompleted under the Romans, probably on account of its enormous dimension (one hundred and twenty meters long and twenty-four meters wide)
At the end of the tour, transfer to selected hotel in Sirince
10. Day Ephesus
After breakfast, drive to Selcuk and visit the ancient city of Ephesus, the Roman capital of Asia minor which remains to be the best preserved ancient city in the world and one of the Seven Churches of apocalypse. During the golden age of the Roman Empire (2nd century AD), Ephesus was an important commercial and cultural center. The protector of the city was Artemis, the Goddess whose temple was one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”.
Today, the majority of the ruins are beautifully restored and one can visit a complete city including the Arcadian Way, the Great Theater (for 125,000 people), the Marble Road, the Celsius Library, the Temple of Hadrian, the Trojan Fountain, and the Gymnasium. The Ephesians were still worshipping Artemis when St. Paul came to the city to win converts. St. John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus after the death of Jesus Christ and she lived until the age of 101 in a small house built for her on Mt. Koressos. Now, popular place of pilgrimage for Catholics and Muslims, the house has received the official sanction of the Vatican and a commemoration ceremony is held every year on August 15th.
The third church council in 431 was held in the Basilica of Virgin Mary in Ephesus. The foundations of the house are old; they may date back to the 1st century; the rest of the building is from the 6th century. The setting is beautifully peaceful, encouraging reverence and contemplation.
Then visit The House of Virgin Mary, the belief that the Virgin Mary had spent her last days in the vicinity of Ephesus and that she had died there, focused attention on a nun named Anna Katherina Emmerich who had lived in the late 18th century (1774-1820). The efforts to find the house were greatly influenced by her detailed description of the Virgin Mary’s coming to Ephesus, her life and her last home there.
Continue to visit Basilica of St. John which was built in 6th century. The building was in the shape of a cross and was covered by 6 domes. Under the central dome was the tomb of St. John; that has a marble marker today. When Christianity became the state religion, the crowds who once flocked to the Temple of Diana turned their attention to this cathedral
Overnight in Sirince
11. Day Round Turkey Tours
Take flight back to Istanbul and transfer to selected hotel in Istanbul
Free afternoon in Istanbul
Transfer to airport for flight back to home