15 Nights / 17 Day
LAND ONLY: $2,590 per person
Begins in Ankara
"In the Steps of St. Paul plus the seven churches of Asia"
Day 1 - DEPART USA
Your international Turkish Airlines non-stop direct flight will depart from the United States, arriving in Istanbul the next day.
Day 2 - ISTANBUL / ANKARA (Fly)
After arriving in Istanbul, you will take a connecting flight to Ankara, the capital of Turkey since 1923. Here, we will check into the 5-star Barcelo Altinel hotel.
Day 3, 4, 5 - ANKARA / CAPPADOCIA (One of the Natural Wonders of the World)
This morning, we will visit the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey. This beautiful landmark is perched atop a hill with a panoramic view of the city. We will also visit the magnificent Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. This museum contains relics from Çatal Höyük, one of the earliest known human communities that existed through the Roman Classical Period. Afterwards, we will depart Ankara and turn our sights toward Cappadocia; stopping frequently for rest breaks during the 4-½ hour drive to this region.
While in Cappadocia, we will enjoy the unique landscape of wind and rain eroded volcanic rock formations. We will tour the amazing underground churches and cities carved into the rocks by early Christians. We will visit handicraft shops and a caravanserai (an ancient caravan motel) as well as attend a Whirling Dervish demonstration. Going off the tourist track, we will have wonderful strolls where we visit small villages and discover the unknown Cappadocia. In Cappadocia there will be an excellent lecture and demonstration on Turkish carpets and kilims as well as a lecture/demonstration on pottery. A doll maker from Soganli will also demonstrate how their World-famous Cappadocia dolls are made.
Our stay will be at the spectacular Cappadocia Cave Suites, the newest and most “luxurious cave living” in Cappadocia. In 2005, Abercrombie and Kent rated the Cave Suites one of the most boutique hotels in the world. Located in Göreme, a World Heritage site, this hotel’s thirty six spacious units almost all have windows with views to the outside and most feature a Jacuzzi. Some units have beautiful 200-year-old wooden ceilings and one unit is decorated in original 8th century painted frescoes showing the Maltese cross. The views are spectacular with the Fairy Chimneys in sight (www.cappadociacavesuites.com). Breakfast and dinner will be at the Cave Suites restaurant.
OPTIONAL: Hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia at reduced rates. A balloon ride in Cappadocia (for people of all ages) is safe and nothing less than spectacular.
Day 6, 7 - MERSIN (Olba)
On the way to Mersin we will visit the beautiful monastery in Gümüsler, the only undestroyed, untouched church frescos in all of Cappadocia from the 12th century. We will cross the beautiful Toros Mountains on the way to Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul. We will visit St. Paul's well and check into the 5-star hotel Mersin Hilton, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The next day we will visit sites such as the castles of Tirtar, Pompeipolis, the amazing chasm, ancient churches in Neopolis, the city of Olba with its well preserved Zeus Temple, the Corycos fortress and the underground church of St. Thecla. We will have a wonderful day of visiting sites unique to our company.
Day 8, 9 - ANTALYA - Turkish Riviera
We will take a long and beautiful drive with many stops along the way to Antalya, also known as the Turkish Riviera. It is a beautiful city snuggled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Toros Mountains. During our stay in Antalya, we will tour the city as well as visit the ruined cities of Aspendos and Perge. Aspendos dates back to the time of the Hittites, yet the only visible remains are from the Roman period. The restored theater at Aspendos is said to be the best in all of Turkey. Perge reached its height under the Romans and Alexander the Great. Today, what remains are the ruins of a great theater, a stadium, and the colonnaded main street. We will stay at a 4-star hotel.
Day 10 - PAMUKKALE (One of the Natural Wonders of the World) - Hierapolis (Aphrodisias)
We will depart Antalya early in the morning and drive to Aphrodisias; the city of art dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite. The marble theater there is beautiful and the stadium seats over 35,000. After Aphrodisias, we will continue our drive to Pamukkale. We will wander among a ruined city and its necropolis (city of the dead) and see the many sarcophagi. We will also visit the snow-like travertine of calcium for which Pamukkale is famous. Pamukkale is one of the Natural Wonders of the world with strikingly beautiful mineral springs clinging to the hillsides that will amaze you. We will stay at the 5-star Colossae Hotel, which has a hot-Thermal mineral pool for our enjoyment.
Day 11, 12 - IZMIR (Sardis/Ephesus)
Today we will drive to Sardis where money was first minted. We will see one of the world's oldest synagogues in Sardis as well as see the excavations, the gymnasium and the Artemis Temple. We will then drive one hour to Izmir, which is the third largest city in Turkey and a major shipping port. It was built in the 4th century B.C. by the orders of Alexander the Great. It is also home to one of the seven churches of Asia that was mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Here, we will check into a 4-star hotel.
The next day we will drive to the incredible city of Ephesus and its colossal Greek Theater, which is still used for performances today. The Marble Road, the Celsus Library, and the Temple of Diana are just a few of the things that we will be seeing here. We will also visit the house where the Virgin Mary lived her final days. After the crucifixion of Jesus, St. John brought her to Ephesus.
Day 13 - CANAKKALE (Troy)
We will have a scenic five-hour drive up the Aegean Coast. On the way, we will stop in Pergamon to see the Asklepion, an ancient hospital complex. We will then drive to Çanakkale where we will visit the legendary city of Troy and have the opportunity to see a replica of the Trojan Horse. To date, nine different Troys have been discovered with each one built on top of the other. We will have a chance to see this site still in the process of excavation. While in Çanakkale we will stay at the best available Tusan hotel, which overlooks the Dardanelles and Gallipoli across the Straits.
Day 14, 15, 16 – ISTANBUL
A drive and a 35-minute ferry ride will take us to Istanbul. On the way we will stop to visit Gallipoli and the WWI battle sites, cemeteries and memorials. Afterwards, we will check into our hotel, the 5-star hotel Barcelo Eresin Topkapi, situated in the old city. In the afternoon, we will take a city ferry cruise along the Bosphorus, which touches both the European and Asian sides. Dinner will be at a local Turkish restaurant.
The next day, we will begin our tour of the city. Istanbul, once called Byzantium in the 7th century B.C., was renamed Constantinople in 326 A.D. by Constantine the Great when he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to what is now Istanbul. Istanbul received its current name from Mehmet II in 1453 and is the only city in the world that spans two continents. Here, we will visit several of Turkey's most famous museums and mosques. Topkapi Palace was first built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and was the home of the Sultan until the 19th century. St. Sophia was built by the Roman Emperor Justinian and was completed in 537 A.D. It was the largest Christian church in the world for more than 1000 years. The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet in 1603 and was constructed with the deliberate intention of rivaling the St. Sophia. We will also visit the spice market, the Rüstem pasha mosque with its exceptional tiles and the impressive mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent. On one evening, we will have a dinner with lots of live music and entertainment by a gypsy orchestra.
On the last, you will be free to explore Istanbul on your own. We would recommend visiting the Grand Bazaar on this day. Dinner this evening will be on your own.
Please Note: The order of events may vary with each tour depending on the availability of various museums on certain days of the week.
Day 17 -DEPART FOR USA
We will depart the hotel shortly after breakfast for our morning flight on Turkish Airlines with our return to the United States the same day.
**Flight schedules and itinerary are subject to change**