Day 01: Istanbul – Cappadocia; (Breakfast only)
Fly to Cappadocia (Kayseri or Nevsehir Airport) at desired hour. You will meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Evening at leisure and overnight stay in Cappadocia.
Day 02: Cappadocia; (Breakfast & Lunch)
Optional Hot air balloon flight at sunrise. Please do not forget to ask for a wakeup call from reception. You will return to hotel at 08:00-08:30. After breakfast at 09:00 in the morning pick up from your hotel. Today, you will visit Devrent Imagination Valley and walk through this lunar landscape. Next, visit Pasabaglari (the world-famous Fairy Chimneys), the village of Avanos, where you will witness a Pottery-making demonstration using ancient Hittite techniques, lunch at a local restaurant, Uchisar Rock-Castle, (the highest point in the region, Esentepe (a panoramic view of Goreme valley) and Goreme Open Air Museum (Rock-cut churches, frescoes, monastery). After tour return to hotel and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 03: Cappadocia; (Breakfast & Lunch)
After breakfast at hotel pick up and start the tour. Today, you will visit Kaymakli Underground City (See how the people lived in this multi-level city complete with stables, kitchens, storage chambers and wine making rooms), Soganli Valley (Relaxing 3km walk through the valley with Byzantine period rock tombs), Sobesos(A Roman Bath from the 5th century and mosaics and graves from Byzantine Empire Period), Taskinpasa Medresesi(an Ottoman theological school) and Mustafapasa (Experience the Ottoman and Greek architecture of this old Greek Village once called Sinasos). Return to hotel as well and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 04: Cappadocia - Gaziantep; (Breakfast only)
After breakfast at hotel, departure from your hotel at 08:00. Stop at Kahramanmaras for lunch and have a taste of its famous ice cream. Continue onto visit the world famous Gaziantep Mosaic Museum. This museum exhibit superb mosaic discovered at the Roman site of Belkıs-Zeugma before the Birecik Dam flooded most of the site. We will visit the old city castle which is located in the center of the city and copper bazaar. This bazaar is one of the most special and oldest bazaars in Turkey. You can find variety of copper handcrafts. We will also have the chance to taste famous baklava; a sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey (Baklava is originally from Gaziantep). After visiting the city, drive to hotel and check-in. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight stay in Gaziantep.
After breakfast, check-out from our hotel and drive to Sanliurfa. Urfa has been occupied since the Babylonians followed by the Hurrites, Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks. Today we will visit Urfa Archaeological Museum. This museum exhibit a huge collection, founded from Harran and Gobeklitepe Area. 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. Then, walk through the local covered bazaar of Sanliurfa. Walk through the town to discover the many hidden treasures. Evening at leisure. Overnight stay in Urfa.
After breakfast at hotel 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. There are exceptional photo opportunities in this area. In the afternoon drive to Kahta city. On the way, you will see Gobeklitepe, a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge some 15 km northeast of the town of Urfa. What makes Gobeklitepe unique in its class is the date it was built, which is roughly twelve thousand years ago, circa 10,000 BC. In the afternoon hike to the summit of the mount Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO world cultural heritage sites), watching the sunset, 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. After visiting Nemrut, drive to hotel. Overnight stay in Adiyaman.
After breakfast, departure to Mardin. We will reach Mardin around 13:00 and visit this old, historical city. 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 visit Forty Martyrs Church (Kirklar Kilisesi). This church dates back to the 4th century, and was renamed in the 15th century to commemorate Cappadocian martyrs, now remembered in the fine carvings above the entrance. 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. Walk in its busy streets and bazaars, and admire the stonework all around the town. Overnight stay in Mardin.
Today we drive to Hasankeyf, with stop at the beautiful little town of Midyat to see 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, we depart to Tatvan, a small village on the edge of Lake Van. Overnight stay in Tatvan.
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.
After breakfast departure and drive on the "Silk Road" to Dogubeyazit. On the way, we will visit Muradiye Waterfalls. A quite large waterfall, usually getting frozen in winter. It is north of Muradiye, which is about 80 km north of Van, off the highway to Doğubeyazıt. On the way we will also 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 IshakPasa 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 EskiBeyazit, and Urartian City which flourished in 1000 BC. Overnight stay in Kars.
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 Urartian’s, Armenians, Georgians, Mongols, Russians and finally the Turks. Also visit the impressive Kars Castle and historical sites surrounding the city. After visiting the castle we will visit Holy Apostles Church (12 Havari Kilisesi) This church is a former Armenian church in Kars, eastern Turkey. Built in the mid-10th century by the Armenian Bagratid King Abas I (r. 928–953), it was converted into a mosque in 1579. In the 19th and early 20th century it was converted into a Russian Orthodox and later Armenian cathedral. In 1993 it was again converted into a mosque. After tour return to hotel and overnight stay in Kars.
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) 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.
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.
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. After city tour transfer to Trabzon Airport and fly to Istanbul or other cities at desired hour.
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Member ofTursab Belge No:3658
Recommended by Tom Brosnahan