9 Day Tour – North Western and Central Anatolia
Day 1. Arrival at Istanbul early in the morning and drive to the historical peninsula. Sea the Arasta bazaar and the remains of the Great Palace of Justinianus and his wife Theodora. On our way we will visit the Blue Mosque, built opposite the famous St. Sophia. Built in the 17th century and decorated with beautiful Blue tiles and frescoes inside, the mosque is a good example of classical Ottoman architecture. Just like the St. Sophia and other Byzantine churches built earlier, it has a huge round dome supported by half domes on the sides. Once we get out of the Mosque we will see 3 huge columns side by side. These were columns decorating the hippodrome where imperial entertainment of horse races took place. The obelisks were surrounded by spectator seats all the way to St. Sophia. The Obelisk, dating originally from the 15th century BC was brought here from Egypt in the 4th century, during the reign of Theodosius I. The Serpentine column nearby was a memorial offered for Apollo at Delphi, reminding the Salamis and Platea victories. On our way to St. Sophia you will see the so called German Fountain. The fountain was originally built in Germany and was transported here piece by piece as a present of the German emperor Wilhelm II in 1898 during his visit to Istanbul. Topkapi Palace is next. Topkapi was the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th century. The palace is located on the top of a hill overlooking the Bosphorus, the Marmara sea and the Golden Horn bay. Here there are impressive collection of jewels, crystal, silver and porcelain, robes worn by the sultans. After visiting Topkapi we will walk in the historical Byzantium, see the busy life where the trading is going on. Visit the Grand Bazaar.
So that you can get a flavour of this old fantastic city. Late in the evening we will visit the Basilica cistern, a huge water reservoir with 336 columns which carry the roof with arches on the top. It was built here by Justinianus to secure water shortages which could occur in case of a siege. St. Sophia is next. St. Sophia is the masterpiece of Byzantine art and will be one of the highlights of your journey here. Built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinianus using the savings of the emperor Anastasia, certainly is the most majestic building in the city and it was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years. We will see some of its intricate mosaics and its huge central dome and many other parts. Overnight stay in Istanbul.
Day 2. After breakfast we will get to the pier to embark the ship for a cruise on the Bosphorus Channel. The ship will take us through the Bosphorus strait towards the Black Sea in the North. During the cruise we will pass by marble palaces such as Dolmabahce, Ciragan and Beylerbeyi and you will enjoy zigzagging from continent to continent, cruising along Bosphorus, lined with old Ottoman seaside mansions, fortresses and pine forests. We will disembark at Sariyer close to the Black Sea and visit the Sadberk Hanım museum about 15 minutes walk from the pier. Sadberk hanım museum has a nice chronological display of
archaeological items belonging to earlier civilisations of Turkey such as Hatti’s, Hittites and Phrygians. After this visit we will drive to the Beylerbeyi palace. Beylerbeyi palace is one of the most beautiful palaces along the Bosphorus. It was built in the 19th century and was used by the Ottoman Sultans as a summer residence. We will drive to İznik, ancient Nicaea in the afternoon and relax. Dinner and overnight stay at Iznik.
Day 3. Iznik Gordion Ankara After breakfast we will visit St. Sophia and the senate’s court by the lake where Constantine I gathered the first Ecumenical council in 325. We will see the gates and continue to Gordion. Gordion was the capital of the ancient Phrygian Kingdom. We will see the so-called tumulus of Midas and the surroundings before we continue to Ankara. Overnight stay in Ankara.
Day 4. Visit the Anatolian Civilisations Museum. The building of the museum is an ancient Caravanserail from the 15th century which was restored following the orders of the national father and the founder of Turkey, Ataturk. Anatolian Civilizations Museum is today one of the top-rated museums in the world. The artifacts are exhibited in chronologically separated sections cover times from Palaeolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze Age, Assyrian Trade Colonies Age, The Old Hittite and Hittite Imperial Age, Phrygian Kingdom, Late Hittite Kingdom, Urartian Kingdom sections. Here we will learn about different peoples who lived on this land called Anatolia. We’ll talk about the history, archaeology and ancient geology of Turkey. Mausoleum of Ataturk The mausoleum was built here after the death of Ataturk in 1938. In the lower part of the mausoleum there is a museum named Ataturk and Independence war, where you can see Ataturk’s personal belongings and representations of battle scenes of the wars Ataturk was involved in, before he founded the new secular Republic of Turkey. Overnight stay in Ankara.
Day 5. Ankara Hattusa Yozgat After breakfast we will drive to Hattusa. This is a drive of approximately 4 hours. and upon arrival we will visit the main site. Here we will see the Great temple, Lion’s Gate, walk through an amazing 71 meters underground tunnel, the Sphinx Gate, King’s Gate, the basement of the pond above the inner royal castle, a the dead end gallery with Hittite hieroglyph explanations, which represented the entrance to the underground world. See the Open air temple of Yazilikaya, the museum and the ancient city. Continue to Yozgat. Overnight stay at Yozgat.
Day 5. Yozgat, Hacıbektas Ozkonak Underground City Bayramhacı Hot Springs Uchisar After breakfast we will depart to Hacıbektas where we will visit a medieval monastery of dervishes. Dervishes were walkers of a Sufi philosophy who walked from one town to another like missionaries to spread their philosophy. As they did not care about the material possessions of the world they were generally poor. But according to the old legends they had supernatural powers. They were greatly respected by people and warmly welcomed in the towns they visited. Here we will see the tomb of the founder, Hacıbektas, who was a philosopher and poet in the Medieval ages. In this ancient Monastery among many other wonderful objects we will also see the “keskul” (beggar’s cup) used by future dervishes who were forced to beg for food as part of their education in order to beat their pride. Pazarci masasi, nefir, teber, mutekka are some of the other instruments used by dervishes and I will explain to you one by one what those are. We will proceed to Ozkonak underground city via Gulsehir and visit this amazing place which looks like an ants nest. This is where old Christians were hiding from their enemies and the underground city could accommodate up to 30.000 people. Bayram Haci hot springs will be our next stop where you can take a bath in the thermal waters with a view of the nearby Kizilırmak river. Overnight stay in Cappadocia.
Day 6. In Uchisar we will see the old town houses and a less known small early Christian dwelling complex which housed a church, a cemetery and a mill stone shaped gate for safety. The complex was subsequently transformed into a pigeon house. Pigeon droppings have been used widely as fertilizer. Our walking tour in Uchisar will continue through a over 5 km long tunnel which connects this part of the town to a network of underground tunnels. We will continue our visits driving towards Urgup. An old Greek village, Sinassos is next. Meet local people there who used to live in Macedonia before the 1923 migration. This is the best way to understand the culture of the area. Here we will take a walk around the Church of St. Vasilios and Gomeda Valley. Proceed towards Damsa which is a local water dam and arrive at Cemil village where we will see an old Cathedral dating from 1914. Soganli Valley (Valley of Onions) is another Valley where Christian Monks used to live. This old abandoned Monastery was once inhabited by Monks whose aim was to spread Christianity all over the pagan world. This was not easy, especially in those times, when many people were still illiterate and could not read the Bible. So those Christian missionaries decorated the interior part of the cave churches with beautiful frescoes depicting stories from the Bible. Inviting, persuading and teaching people, the Christian religion which had become an official religion at the time of the Emperor Constantine I. Teaching the religion by means of the pictures rather than by means of the complicated Bible texts was much easier. This is why you will see so many churches dug into rocks with beautiful frescoes in this amazing region. Here we will reach an old Christian Church at the end of a dirt road. This church, located at no man’s land, is decorated again with beautiful frescoes showing important personalities and events of Christianity. Overnight stay in Cappadocia.
Day 7. Drive by Pasabag, proceed to Zelve Valley. Some of the most beautiful churches are in the Goreme area. Our visits will also take us to Avanos, founded by the two sides of Kizilirmak river. The town is famous for pottery and traditional hand made rugs. A walk in the Rose valley among mushroom rocks will be one of the highlights of your visits in Cappadocia. We will be about 5 km away from the town and on the way to Kayseri (ancient Caesarea in Cappadocia) we will see a medieval Caravanserail called Sarihan, built in the 13th century at the time of the Seljukian Empire.
Day 8. Cappadocia Salt Lake Kızılcahamam Thermal Driving towards Kızılcahamam we will see more Seljukian Caravanserails on our way and will drive by Salt Lake and arrive at Kizilcahamam famous for hot springs in the forests. Overnight stay in Kızılcahamam.
Day 9. Kızılcahamam Istanbul Driving back to Istanbul as we will approach a remote suburban area of the city we will stop at Gebze (ancient Lybissa) where the tomb of the famous Carthaginian commander Hannibal who had committed suicide here is supposed to be buried. We will talk about Hannibal here and we will proceed to Istanbul International Airport across the Bosphorus bridge. This will be the end of my services.