Upon arrival at Ankara Esenboga Airport, you will be met by a Ya’lla Tours USA representative and transferred to your hotel for overnight.
Start your tour at the Anatolian Civilization Museum in Ankara with its impressive exhibit on the ancient Hittite Civilization of Anatolia. Continue to the Ataturk Mausoleum, the resting place of the father of the modern Republic of Turkey. En route to the region of Cappadocia, visit the 13th century Agzikarahan Caravanserai. Arrive in Cappadocia for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, we'll begin to explore Cappadocia with homes hidden in windswept landscapes and cities buried inside sinuous hills of stone. Once the heart of the Hittite Empire, then a vast Roman province, Cappadocia survived volcanic eruptions, mountains of ash, eroding winds and rains. We'll explore the natural citadel of Uchisar,
a traditional village surrounded by rock pinnacles. Next, we'll visit the rock-carved churches in the Goreme Valley with magnificent 11th and 12th century frescoes; and Zelve, a town riddled with tunnels, where chapels and monasteries were hollowed into rocks as hiding places during the Byzantine era. Vividly preserved during the ensuing centuries, the original frescoes celebrate the beliefs of the early Christians. The only light that permeates the churches is the natural light that filters in through the entrances. The town of Avanos is known for its crafts and pottery. Lunch en route. Continue to either Kaymakli or Derinkuyu, where thousands sheltered themselves from enemy attacks in this land of "Fairy Chimneys".
These fascinating subterranean cities, still intact, were built in the 7th century as refuge for Christians fleeing persecution. Tens of thousands of people lived in a maze of caves, tunnels, and rooms deep in the earth, hoping to escape early invaders. There are signs of life everywhere - storage jars for oil, wine and water, communal kitchens blackened by smoke, stables and deep wells.
These underground cities were so well hidden that they went undiscovered until the 1960s. Return to Cappadocia for dinner and overnight.
Depart for a drive along the “Silk Road,” and stop at the
Caravanserai of Sultanhani built as a safe haven for the traders that frequently traveled this road.
Continue west to Konya. See the Tomb and the Museum of the Sufi mystic Rumi, known also as Mevlana. Mevlana lived and taught in Konya for many years and he is still honored here by the whirling dance of the dervishes. Drive from the Taurus Mountains to the Turquoise Coast to the ancient city (and modern resort) of Antalya for dinner and overnight.
Drive to the ancient city of Perge, one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities in the world and once one of the richest cities in the area. See the Stadium and the theater of Aspendos, the most perfectly preserved Roman Theater in the world. Built around 160 180 CE, it has a capacity of more than 15,000 seats. Continue to Side, another well known ancient city on the Mediterranean Coast. Return to Antalya and visit the old city with its narrow streets, harbor and fishing boats. Spend some time in the Antalyan Archaeological Museum before returning to your hotel for dinner and overnight
In the morning drive to Pamukkale and visit the ruins of the ancient Roman spa Hierapolis. Today a modern Turkish spa, Pamukkale is known as the “Cotton Castle” because of the hot spring, calcium laden waters which cascade across terraced limestone pools. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Drive to Aphrodisias, the city of marble, which was the center of worship of the Goddess Aphrodite until the 6th century after Christ. Visit the Temple, one of the largest and best preserved archaeological sites in Turkey.
Continue to Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches. In the Book of Revelations, Jesus says to the Laodicean Church, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Visit the ruins such as the stadium and walk through the streets lined with columns. Arrive Kusadasi for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, depart for a full day tour of Ephesus. Ephesus is one of the most extensive and complete Greco-Roman cities in the world. It was one of the Seven Churches of the Revelation, and an ancient large port with a population of over 250,000. Walking through the marble streets, visitors can easily imagine the grandeur of this once great city, which was influential in the development of architecture, religion, economic systems and arts. St. Paul lived and preached in Ephesus. Lunch en route. After lunch, visit the Basilica of St. John, and the house of the Virgin Mary, where she is believed to have spent her last days. Return to Kusadasi for dinner and overnight.
Drive to Asian Pergamum, the most favored of the Seven Churches. Christianity reached the city very early and the church was praised for its forbearance during hard times. Here in Pergamum, the first Christians were executed by Rome. Visit the Acropolis of the Hellenistic city, located 1000 feet above the town. Ruins include, the Altar of Zeus and the temples of Trajan and Dionysus. In the afternoon visit the Asklepion, the earliest health center of Asia Minor; and the Red Basilica which was dedicated to the Egyptian gods, Serapis, Isis and Harpocrates. Drive north to Canakkale for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, visit Troy, the legendary town in the Iliad of Homer. The first excavations were made by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1871 and revealed that Troy was not just a myth. See the excavations showing several layers of this civilization, and the replica of the infamous Wooden Horse.
Then take a ferry across the Dardanelles to Istanbul and your hotel for overnight.
Visit the legendary Blue Mosque, named for the beautiful blue Iznik tiles that cover its walls. Then stroll around the historical Hippodrome where chariot races were held.
Continue to St. Sophia, originally a Christian Basilica built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century, then converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. See the beautiful mosaics on display at the museum. Visit the Suleymaniye Mosque, built in the 16th century for Suleiman the Magnificent; and Topkapi Palace, legendary residence of the Ottoman Sultans.
Enjoy free time to explore the exhilarating bazaar of Istanbul.
Return to your hotel for overnight.
Visit the Egyptian Bazaar, used as the spice market since 1665. Next, board the ferry which crosses the Bosphorus, visiting both Europe and Asia, with stops en route to take photos of the natural beauty. Sites along the way include the 15th century Rumelihisar fortress, summer palaces and the unique wooden houses of the area. Drive by coach via the Intercontinental Bosphorus Bridge to Camlica Hill on the Asian side to see the breathtaking view of Istanbul. Visit the Beylerbeyi Palace, the summer residence of Ottoman Sultans, with original furniture and magnificent gardens.
Return to Istanbul and your hotel for overnight.
Take a short cruise on the Marmara Sea to Buyukada, also known as Princess Island. See the traditional wooden houses and enjoy great panoramic views. Take a horse carriage through the narrow streets and past the summer homes of some of the most affluent Turks. Enjoy some great fish in a local restaurant.
Return to Istanbul for overnight
You will be transferred to Istanbul Ataturk Airport for your departure flight.