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3 Hours Before Flight Time
Turkey, the cradle of civilization for thousands of years, is home to the famous ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. Camel caravans, artisans and traders have journeyed across this beautiful land from the Orient to Europe bringing with them a fascinating blend of civilizations. This unique crossroads is exemplified by the art, folklore architecture and traditions of the people of Turkey. Retrace these ancient trade routes; enjoy the magnificent palaces, churches and caravanserai and marvel at the excellent range of arts and traditional crafts that Turkey has brought to perfection over the centuries.
Arrive in Istanbul Atatürk airport where your guide will meet you and help you with your transfer to the hotel. After checking in and freshening up, we highly recommend that you take a good rest, both because of the jet lag and also because you will be starting on your wonderful trip of Turkey early the following morning. You will meet your traveling companions over dinner at a traditional restaurant in the Kumkapi district, accompanied by gipsy music. Overnight Istanbul. (D)
Early morning we depart for Safranbolu. Our first stop for Lunch is at the picturesque fishing village of Amasra on the Black Sea. Arrive Safranbolu in the afternoon. And free time at your leisure. Overnight Safranbolu. (B/L/D)
Safranbolu is a wonderfully preserved example of a 16th Century Ottoman village. It has long been a center of fine craftwork, especially shoes and needlework, and artisans still continue the traditions of countless generations. After lunch depart for Amasya. Overnight Amasya. (B/D)
Full day sightseeing in Amasya the capital of the Kingdom of Pontus in the 3rd Century BC. With its Pontic tombs, fine mosques and Ottoman Houses Amasya is in an idyllic setting. Visit the small village of Zile where Julius Caesar coined the immortal message: “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. Journey to Cappadocia en route stop at the 14th Century BC Hittite Capital “Hattusas”, continue to “Yazilikaya” the Hittite religious center. Drive across the central Anatolian plateau to Cappadocia, a landscape of unique rock formations and ‘Fairy Chimneys’. Overnight Cappadocia. (B/D)
Tour includes 2 full days in the unique region of Cappadocia. This wonderful area is the home of a thriving folk craft industry. Pottery, carpets, kilims, embroidery and doll making are all made in this region by local artisans. Your stay here includes local tours, optional folkloric and belly-dancing shows, visits to carpet weaving villages, displays of local crafts and the opportunity to view outstanding frescoes in the churches of the region as well as a fascinating underground city. Overnight Cappadocia. (B/L/D)
Leaving Cappadocia cross the vast Central Anatolian Steppe to the magnificent Sultanhani Caravanserai of the Silk Road and then to Konya, one of the oldest cities in Turkey. Famous for its Selcuk architecture, Konya is a major center of Islam. Home of the famous Whirling Dervishes and final resting place of the mystic, Mevlana, it was also a major trading center of the Silk Road. The highlight of the tour is the Mevlana museum, a place of worship and home to many famous works of art and textiles. Overnight Konya. (B/D)
Depart for Aksehir, the hometown of the famous Nasreddin Hodja and to Afyon, hometown of the “Turkish Delight”, before continuing to Kutahya, an ancient city, famous for its ceramics and tiles. For more than 5 centuries, the city’s master artisans have produced the finest works for sultans and palaces throughout the Ottoman realm. There will be visits to master artisans of ceramics. Overnight Kutahya. (B/L/D)
Today we visit Bursa, the first Capital of the Ottoman Empire. As befits a city with a rich Imperial past, it has many fine examples of Islamic architecture and also remains an important center of the Silk Trade. Visits to the Silk Markets and also to see examples of the Karagöz shadow puppets and there is also an opportunity for a warm mineral bath, one of the outstanding features of this city. Overnight Bursa. (B/L/D)
Depart Bursa for Istanbul visiting the ancient city of Iznik founded in 1000 BC and famous for its colored tiles and archaeological museum. Arriving in Istanbul, enjoy a private Bosphorus sunset cruise. Overnight Istanbul. (B/L/D)
Start your day by visiting the magnificent Haghia Sophia, and then continue to the marvelous Topkapi palace, that served as the palace of the Ottoman Sultans between the 16th and 19th centuries. Optional visits: to the Treasury, where the extensive exhibits include priceless world-class collections of jewelry, porcelain, textiles and costumes of the Sultans, as well as to the Harem quarters, which is an absolute highlight. Have lunch in one of the special traditional restaurants in Topkapi. Then we continue to visit the famous Blue Mosque, the Byzantine Hippodrome and the incredible Underground Cistern. Return to your hotel and in the evening. Overnight Istanbul. (B/L)
In the morning ferry ride to Buyukada Island steeped with its famous 19th century architecture featuring traditional wooden houses. You will also go on a lovely horse carriage tour, a peculiarity of this island. After lunch we return by ferry to the shores of Istanbul to dive into the colorful sights, vibrant sounds and intriguing scents of the Egyptian Market (Spice Bazaar) and then we visit the Grand Bazaar (Kapalıcarsi), the world’s oldest “Shopping Mall”, to look for treasures in its 4000 shops. Return to your hotel and in the evening, enjoy a traditional farewell dinner. Overnight Istanbul. (B/L/D)
Free morning for last minute shopping; time permitting, before transfer to Istanbul airport for departure to ongoing destinations. (B)