Mystical Turkey 16 Days

Mystical Turkey 16 Days  Mystical   Turkey tour    Mystical Turkey tours

Istanbul – Cappadocia – Gaziantep – Urfa – Nemrud – Mardin – Tatvan – Van – Kars – Ani – Erzurum – Trabzon – Istanbul
Main Sites visited: Istanbul, Trabzon, Erzurum, Kars, Ani, Doğubeyazıt, Van, Tatvan, Mardin, Urfa, Nemrud, Cappadocia.

Itinerary (You may also join this tour on the 4th day without Istanbul or on the 6th day after Cappadocia)

Day 1
Arrival in Istanbul and meeting at the airport, transfer to the hotel, check- in. Leisure afternoon.
Overnight Istanbul.

Day 2 – Sultanahmet – Old Istanbul (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:00am
Visit The St. (Haghia) Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian. It was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years. See its intricate mosaics and huge central dome. Continue to the Topkapi palace, which was used by the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries. We will also see the impressive collection of priceless jewels, crystal, silver and porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and relics of the prophet Mohammed.(Entrance to the Harem is extra). After lunch we will see the Blue Mosque,
built for Sultan Ahmet I, which is a unique piece of architecture with its six minarets and features 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. Visit the ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Walk through the back streets of Old Istanbul and visit the Yerebatan underground Cistern. See the Grand Covered Bazaar (except Sundays). *May be done as a walking tour if your hotel is centrally located.  Overnight Istanbul.

Day 3 – Bosphorus Cruise with Beylerbeyi (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:45am
Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market on the Golden Horn. Board your cruise of the Bosphorus, the waterway, which separates the continents of Europe and Asia. Pass Rumeli fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for his conquest of Istanbul. We will visit the museum of Sadberk Hanim, which has an excellent private collection of artifacts dating back to the prehistoric period and an ethnographic section housed in an old Ottoman building.  After lunch in a seaside fish restaurant, cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia and visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans, then on to Camlica Hill, for a magnificent view of Istanbul. Cruise is done by public boat unless other arrangements are made. Overnight Istanbul.

Day 4 – Istanbul- Cappadocia (B.L)
Pick-up from hotel 2 hours before flight departure.
Take the early morning flight from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul to Cappadocia. Arrival at the airport and meeting just outside the arrival’s gate with a sign bearing your name with your driver.  Transfer to Cappadocia. Tour to Kaymaklı Underground City, one of the most interesting underground settlements in Cappadocia. Soğanlı Valley, an Open Air Museum in a wild natural setting near a typical Cappadocian village with its different style Rock-Cut churches and frescoes. Villages in the valleys, surrounded by the “table top” mountains, are spectacular. Lunch and Visit to Sahinefendi newly discovered (01 May 2002) mosaic houses & Archaeological excavation site. Continue with Keslik Monastery near Cemil, that hides its frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer which we can only see by torch light. Our tour finishes with a visit to Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with its spectacular old Greek houses; very fine examples of late Greek settlements and architecture.  Overnight Cappadocia

Day 5 – Cappadocia (B.L) -
In the morning, first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley; a journey in the past with its  troglodyte houses, visit to Pasabag “fairy chimneys” where the voice of  wind mixes with the “songs of fairies” near Zelve.
Optional Hot air ballooning with sunrise,
Once in a lifetime experience in Cappadocia

Lunch in Avanos, centre of  terra cotta work of art since 3000 BC. and a demonstration in a traditional pottery  workshop. Afternoon, visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings (10th to 13th century). Continue to Uchisar Rock-Castle to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia.  Overnight Cappadocia

Day 6 – Cappadocia – Gaziantep (B)
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Drive to Karatay Kervansaray and visit the Kervansaray. Stop at Kahramanmaras for lunch and
a taste of its famous ice cream. Continue onto visit the world famous Gaziantep Mosaic Museum. This museum becomes after the discoveries from Zeugma. We will also visit the old city castle, copper bazaar and the famous baklava shop (Baklava is originally from Gaziantep). Overnight in Gaziantep.

Day 07: Gaziantep  – Urfa:  (B)
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Today we drive to Sanli Urfa. On the way we stop at Nizip (soap and olive oil district) and see the remains of the old city of Belkis or (Zeugma) by the River Euphrates. Importance of this settlement which demonstrates an uninterrupted inhabiting since prehistoric ages is that it is one of the two points allowing the easiest passage across the River Euphrates with a bridge first built by Alexander the Great. Lunch in Urfa and after a walk through the local covered bazaar. Spend the afternoon at the hotel or walk through the town to discover the many hidden treasures. Overnight stay in Urfa.

Day 08: Urfa  Kahta  (B)
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Urfa, the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. Urfa has been occupied since the Babylonians followed
by the Hurrites, Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks. We will visit nearby Harran and see the incredible beehive houses. Harran according to the Bible- was the site where prophet Abraham spent a few years with his
family before moving on to Israel, the Promised Land. We will also visit the holy sites at the Ainzelha, a lake with millions of domesticated fish. While in Urfa we will visit the cave where the prophet Abraham was born. There are exceptional photo opportunities in this area. In the afternoon drive to Kahta city on the way, you will see Gobekli Tepe (Garden of Eden), a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an
elongated mountain ridge some 15 km northeast of the town of Urfa. You will
also see the Ataturk dam, third largest in the world. Overnight stay in Kahta.

Day 09: Mt Nemrud  Mardin  (B)
In the morning 03:30 am departure.
Hike to the summit of the mount  Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO world cultural heritage sites), watching the sunrise, be amazed by the colossal heads and statues of ancient deities, as you step into mythology. This extraordinary landmark rests at an elevation of 8000 ft. The mountain top complex is composed of two flattened areas strewn with statues and separated by a false peak of crushed rock. Antiochus built the entire complex approximately 2000 years ago as a monument to his divine ancestry. Also definitely take time to visit the old castle, Arsemeia, cross over the still functioning Cendere Bridge (Septimius Severus bridge) dating all the way back to the 3rd century and Tumulus Tomb of Karakus. Then drive back to the hotel for breakfast. We then depart to Mardin with a lovely ferry ride across the dam and lunch in Siverek. We will reach Mardin around 16:00 check into hotel. We will take the time to visit, walk in its busy streets and bazaars, and admire the stonework all around the town.
Overnight stay in Mardin.

Day 10: Mardin- Tatvan  (B.D)
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
In the morning visit Mardin. Mardin is very unique with lovely old-Arabic style houses. The houses are
often decorated with intricate carvings. This is a very lively trading center with people coming from surrounding villages to buy and sell. We will have a fantastic view of the Plain of Mesopotamia. It is a city that played an important role in the early development of Christianity. We will also visit the Monastery of Deyr-az-Zaferan just outside of town, founded in 762 A.D. It was the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch for almost 800 years. We drive to Hasankeyf, with stop at the beautiful little town of Midyat to see the Monastery and ancient houses on the way. Hasankeyf, with its history that spans nine civilizations, the archaeological and religious. The history of Hasankeyf goes back 10,000 years. This is three times longer than the Giza pyramids, 10 times longer than Stonehenge, and makes the glorious civilizations of the
Maya and Inca seem as if they were flourishing just yesterday. Some of the city’s historical treasures will be inundated if construction of the Ilısu Dam is completed. These include ornate mosques, Islamic tombs and cave churches. After lunch by the Tigris River we depart to Tatvan, a small village on the edge of Lake Van and watch the sun set over the lake. Overnight stay in Tatvan.

Day 11: Tatvan  Van. (B.D)
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Depart from Tatvan and a beautiful drive around the lake to reach Van city, established 13th century BC. From here, we will take a ferry across the lake to visit the finest Armenian architectural wonder of the Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island. Step over to the huge Van Castle from the days of Urartu
and see the hieroglyphs as you sense the spirit of the once Urartu capital Tushpa, feel the salty waters of the great Lake Van called as ‘the Sea’ by the locals. Overnight stay in Van.

Day 12: Van- Dogubeyazit- Kars:
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Drive on the “Silk Road” to Dogubeyazit. At the Iranian border we will see a site known as the Crater Hole. This is a beautiful, yet rugged area. We will have the opportunity to see Mt. Ararat from all sides. It is believed by some to be the resting-place of Noah’s Ark; but to date no one has found anything that has been verified as the Ark – yet the search is still on. We will stop and see the Ishak Pasa Palace. This complex is a combination of a mosque, a fortress, and a palace which originally had a room for every day of the year! Below you can also see the remains of Eski Beyazit, and Urartian City which flourished in 1000 BC. Overnight stay in Kars.

Day 13: Kars
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
An early morning departure for a 45-minute drive to the medieval Armenian City of Ani, which lies mostly in ruins. Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansaries. Enjoy a walk around the ruins and see the beautiful view to the Armenian border imagining it as a city with one million people rivaling Bagdad in its time! This city has experienced the cultures of Urartians, Armenians, Georgians, Mongols, Russians and finally the Turks. Also visit the impressive Kars Castle and historical sites surrounding the city.  Overnight stay in Kars.

Day 14: Kars  Erzurum:
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Depart from Kars after Breakfast and drive southwest to Erzurum. Of great interest will be the villages of stone houses and black sheep on green meadows. Visit the 12th century Medrese (a Seljukian School). Talk with the imam at the 12th century Mosque and enjoy the ethnographic museum. Visit an old caravan stop where the local black stone is mounted in silver and gold by the local artists in the most aesthetic art form. Overnight stay in Erzurum.

Day 15: Erzurum  Trabzon:
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
we begin a beautiful 5 hour drive to Trabzon, winding along
the rivers with many photo stops and Karaca Cave along the way. Visit the Sumela Monastery, also known as the Monastery of the Virgin Mary. It has been said that it is neither on earth nor in heaven. Carved on the slope of a mountain, it looks like a nine story high building hanging down from the clouds
and sitting on the top of the forest. A short hike through the rain forest will leave no question in your mind about where you are in Turkey. Evening at leisure and overnight stay in Trabzon.

Day 16: Trabzon, Istanbul
Departure from your hotel at 08:30.
Visit the city of Trabzon in the morning. After the crusaders invaded Constantinople in 1204, Trabzon became the capital of the Byzantine Empire for a short time. Longing for the grandeur of Constantinople, in Trabzon, they imitated the Churches of their beloved city in a smaller scale. St. Sophia of Trabzon though much smaller will leave with you the same sense of religious devotion as the original one in Istanbul. The tour will finish at noon time and transfer to Trabzon Airport and fly back to Istanbul- END OF SERVICES

INCLUDING:
- Airport transfers where needed.
- Tours and transfers by a comfortable non smoking AC Van or bus with  professional driver.
- Professional experienced guide during the tours
- Accommodation in Charming or Deluxe superior Hotels
- Flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia
- Entry fees to the sites and museums

EXCLUDING
- Dinner- Lunch
- International flights
- Drinks
- Tips.

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