Participants should note that the daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in opening hours, road and sea conditions, flight schedules etc. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. Meals included in the tour price are indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B= breakfast, L= light lunch (either a light 2-course meal or picnic lunch) and D=evening meal.
Antalya, Turkey – 4 nights
Day 1: Monday 16 September, Arrive Antalya
- Tour commences at 2.00pm in the foyer of the Puding Hotel
- Welcome Meeting
- Guided Walk in old harbour sector (Kaleiçi), Antalya
Meeting Point: The tour commences at 2.00pm in the foyer of the Puding Hotel which is located in the heart of the historic Kaleiçi district. Please meet your tour leader, Christopher Tuttle and fellow travellers for a short welcome meeting.
Our tour begins in the beautiful harbour city of Antalya, ‘capital’ of the Turquoise Coast and our base for four nights. Antalya was founded by kings of Pergamum during the 2nd century BCE, as the southern port of the Attalid kingdom.
Following a short welcome meeting, we explore its old harbour, a picturesque old quarter called Kaleiçi, which has narrow, winding streets and quaint, old, wooden houses. It is located next to the city old walls and is now a terminus for pleasure craft and fishing boats. We will encounter on our walk, starting at the fine Classical triumphal arch at the entrance to the old sector, an attractive blend of traditional Greek and Ottoman architecture.
Tonight we enjoy our first meal together at a local restaurant. Overnight Antalya (D)
Day 2: Tuesday 17 September, Antalya – Termessos – Antalya
- Pisidian city of Termessos
- Antalya Museum
- Welcome Dinner at 7 Mehmet Restaurant
This morning we travel north west from Antalya to the spectacular ruins of Termessos. We reach Termessos, which is situated 1650 metres above the coastal plain, by driving up into the mountains and then ascending a track on foot through forest terrain. Mentioned by Homer in The Iliad, Termessos lay just inside ancient Pisidia, whose inhabitants were named Solymians after nearby Mt Solymos, and were renowned across the Greek world as a tough, war-like people. They refused to surrender to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE, knowing themselves to be well protected by their remote and inaccessible stronghold. Alexander did not take the city but retaliated by burning its olive groves. High points in the visit are the ruined theatre teetering on the edge of a chasm, the great cisterns, and remains of a temple and villas.
This afternoon we visit the Antalya Museum with its fine collection of ancient sculptures and artefacts representing the high points of the Pamphylian and South Anatolian coastal cultures.
This evening we enjoy a welcome meal at the 7 Mehmet Restaurant, serving traditional Turkish recipes with grilled meat, fish and meze. (Overnight Antalya) BD
Day 3: Wednesday 18 September, Antalya – Sagalassos – Antalya
- Ancient city of Sagalassos
- Lunch at Sagalassos Lodge
- Time at leisure
This morning we drive 100km north of Antalya to the slopes of the Western Taurus mountain range to visit Sagalassos. Mentions in Hittite documents attest to the sites existence in the 14th century BCE, but its rise to prominence occurred during the Phrygian and Lydian Kingdoms in the region (ca. 1200-550 BCE). It was captured by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE during his Persian campaign, and survived as a major urban centre during the various reigns of his successors, eventually achieving the status of the ‘first city of Pisidia’ in the Roman Imperial province of Galatia, and was a favourite location for the Emperor Hadrian. Various disasters affected the city after the 5th century CE, including a devastating earthquake that lead to the abandonment of the city in the 7th century CE. It’s remote location and heavy erosion protected the site from major looting, resulting in some stellar preservation of the remains. Thanks to major excavation efforts since the 1990s, many of the site’s features are now accessible, including its colonnaded street, huge Roman Bath, luxury houses, theatre, temples, churches, and the Antonine Nymphaeum, which is a well-preserved and functioning Roman fountain in city’s agora.
On our return to Antalya the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to return to Kaleiçi district where some of the best shopping may be found. Meander down through its side streets and you will find old Turkish kilims, original gold jewellery, leather products, natural cotton clothing, handmade wood items as well as other traditional Turkish handicrafts. Antalya’s three other shopping avenues are Ataturk, Cumhuriyet and Isiklar. Alternatively you may wish to simply enjoy the facilities of your hotel which includes an outdoor pool. (Overnight Antalya) BL
Day 4: Thursday 19 September, Antalya – Perge – Side – Aspendos – Antalya
- Ancient Anatolian city of Perge
- Side: Apollon Temple, Theatre and Museum
- Ancient Theatre of Aspendos
Today we visit three Graeco-Roman sites of Perge, Side and Aspendos, all outstanding exemplars of the richness and diversity of Eastern Mediterranean culture in antiquity.
Perge, an ancient settlement mentioned in Hittite inscriptions, was colonised by Greek settlers after the Trojan Wars. It became an archetypal Greek polis and then, after the invasion of Alexander the Great, was ruled successively by the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Graeco-Syrian Seleucids. As Seleucid power in the Eastern Mediterranean faltered, piracy increasingly disrupted maritime trade in the area and Perge, along with other Greek cities, was incorporated into the Roman Empire and transformed into a Roman civis. Perge was highly receptive to St Paul’s teachings and became a base for Christian proselytising in the region. Seat of an important Byzantine bishopric, Perge sent representatives to the Council of Nicaea (325 CE). In the 7th century it went into decline as Arab raids began to disrupt commercial contacts between the Levant and Anatolia.
The ancient port city of Side was founded in the 7th century BCE by Greek settlers from their colony of Cyme in western Anatolia, and it is thought to be named after the renowned local pomegranates. It’s harbour was especially suited for small sea-going vessels making it an important, regional trade centre throughout its history. It was captured by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE and became a cultural and political centre throughout various Hellenistic hegemonies until the early first century BCE, when it was seized by the Cilician pirates and turned into the naval hub for their slave trade. Roman Republican generals defeated the pirates by 67 BCE and Side was incorporated into the the Roman province of Galatia by Emperor Augustus. Side thrived into the 4th century CE, when it declined during waves of invasions from the Taurus mountains. The site would rise in prominence twice more before the 14th century CE due to its significance in ecclesiastic history of the Roman Catholic church. The site contains important remains, including the Apollon Temple to the city’s chief deity, an early Dionysian temple as well as other temples, a large theatre, the Hellenistic city gate (Megale Pyle), and part of a Roman aqueduct notable for its number of preserved bridges and tunnels.
In the afternoon we return to Antalya via Aspendos, which had a similar history to Perge. After the Trojan Wars, Greek colonists built upon an earlier settlement that was then successively integrated into the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Eastern Mediterranean empires. Like Perge, Aspendos reached its apogee during the Roman period when it was embellished and enriched with the accoutrements of Roman civilisation. These included a finely decorated theatre, one of the best preserved in the world. (Overnight Antalya) B
Kumluca, Turkey – 2 nights
Day 5: Friday 20 September, Antalya – Phaselis – Olympos – Kumluca
- Ancient Graeco-Roman city of Phaselis
- Ancient Lycian city of Olympos
This morning we depart Antalya and travel south along the coast to Phaselis. The ancient harbour town of Phaselis, originally colonised by Greeks from Rhodes, once had three natural harbours and was located close to a richly forested region that provided valuable timber for the construction of ships. The city voluntarily opened its doors to Alexander the Great when he and his armies moved across Anatolia, admitting him as a guest. Alexander accepted many envoys from the coastal cities of Pamphylia here before he conquered each of them in turn on his way to Gordion, the political centre of Anatolia. Like Olympos, pirates constantly threatened Phaselis during the 1st century BCE. The pirate Zekenites controlled it for a time before the Romans defeated him and absorbed the city into their client Lycian confederacy.
Following a light lunch at a local restaurant we continue to the archaeological site of Olympos. Its ruins include a small theatre, hot springs, an agora and some tombs dating from the Hellenistic period, as well as the monumental gate of a Roman temple (late 2nd century AD) and remains of a Byzantine fortress. Established in the 3rd century BCE, Olympos was described by Strabo in 100 BCE as one of six cities in the Lycian Federation. The fortunes of the city diminished during the 1st century BCE when it came under the control of pirates, but were revived after the arrival of the Romans in the 2nd century CE. Renewed attack by pirates in the 3rd century initiated a permanent decline. A brief revival occurred in the 11th and 12th centuries when the Venetians, Genoese and Rhodians used the city as a trading base and built fortresses along the adjacent coast. In the 15th century, however, after the Ottoman navy established its mastery over the Eastern Mediterranean, Olympos was abandoned. Before leaving Before leaving Olympos we have some time at leisure to enjoy its pristine beaches.
We then proceed to our boutique hotel located on the Teke Peninsula, overlooking the town of Kumluca and the Mediterranean coast. In 2019 archaeologists found a new Bronze Age shipwreck located 50 metres from the coastline which dates to the 15th-16th centuries BCE. There will be time at leisure for you to relax in the surrounding gardens before dinning together at the hotel’s restaurant. (Overnight Kumluca) BLD
Day 6: Saturday 21 September, Saturday 21 September, Kumluca – Arykanda – Finiki – Limyra – Kumluca
- Ancient Lycian city of Arykanda
- Lunch at Nesli Balik: seafood restaurant on Finiki
- Ancient Lycian city of Limyra
This morning we travel to remote Arykanda, one of the most dramatically situated ruins in Southern Turkey. The ruins, located about 25km inland from the coast east of ancient Myra, sit on the steep side of a fairly narrow valley surrounded by mountain forests. The city, which once guarded the access routes from the Lycian shore to the uplands of Central Anatolia, was part of the Lycian League from its inception in the 2nd century BCE. Like the rest of Lycia it was annexed by Rome in 43 CE and survived as a Byzantine settlement until the 9th century when it was abandoned.
Built over five terraces, the city’s most spectacular feature is its monumental two-storey Roman bath complex, standing next to the gymnasium on the lowest terrace. Arykanda also has a well-preserved theatre built during the 1st century BCE. Its cavea has 20 rows of seats accessed by 6 aisles; holes at the end of each row anchored poles that supported protective awnings. Above the theatre is a small stadium from the Hellenistic period. There are also two necropoleis: the eastern necropolis has barrel-vaulted monumental tombs, temple-tombs and sarcophagi, and the western necropolis has rock-cut tombs and barrel-vaulted tombs.
Midday we descend to the port town of Finike, on the southern shore of the Teke Peninsula, where we enjoy lunch at a local seafood restaurant.
Ancient Limyra, located 6 km inland from the sea on the Limyrus river, is one of the oldest settled areas in the region or Lycia, believed to date back into the 2nd millenium BCE. The site became the capital of the Lycian League in the 4th century BCE, but soon fell under the control of the expanding Persian Empire, until their rule was finally ended by Alexander the Great’s push eastward during his Persian campaign. During the subsequent Hellenistic and Roman periods, Limyra flourished as one of the major trading centres of the eastern Mediterranean. While the site contains some of the same types of monuments as other regional sites, it is especially known for its necropolises, which include the stunning mausoleum of Pericles (founder of the Lycian League) and the cenotaph of Gaius Caesar (grandson and original heir of Caesar Augustus) who died here on his return to Rome in 4 CE. (Overnight Kumluca) BLD
Cruise from Andriake to Gocek on board our gulet – 5 nights
Day 7: Sunday 22 September, Kumluca – Myra – Andriake – Kekova
- Myra: Rock-cut tombs, Roman theatre and Byzantine Church of St Nicholas
- Commence cruise to the island of Kekova
Early this morning we depart Kumluca and travel 58kms along the coast to Myra (modern Demre). Myra was one of the most prominent members of the Lycian Federation and remained important throughout the Middle Ages because of its association with St Nicholas. Myra boasts an excellent collection of rock cut tombs and an imposing Roman theatre built in the 2nd century CE. It was also the original burial site of St Nicholas, who was beatified after miracles occurred at his tomb. This tomb consequently became an important pilgrimage site and a church was built over it in the 6th century. Destroyed by the Arabs, this church was rebuilt in its present form in 1043 with the help of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX and the Empress Zoe. By the 10th century Nicholas had become the most popular saint in the Eastern Church; he was the patron of children, sailors and of Russia and Greece. Teophano, a Byzantine princess married to the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, brought his fame to Western Europe. In 1087, following the invasion of Anatolia by the Seljuks, merchants from the South Italian port of Bari broke into the tomb and removed Nicholas’ bones to their city, where the famous shrine of San Nicola di Bari now stands. Under Ottoman rule the original Church of St Nicholas fell into disuse, until in 1862 Tsar Alexander II bought and restored it. He replaced the cupola above the central nave with a vaulted ceiling and constructed a belfry.
From Myra we travel the short distance to the Cayagzi pier, near the ancient town of Andriake, where we will board dinghies and transfer to our gulet. Once onboard we commence our cruise to the little hamlet of Kekova, arguably the most picturesque place in Turkey. (Overnight Gulet) BLD
Day 8: Monday 23 September, Kekova – Teimiussa – Simena Castle – Kas
- Lycian Necropolis at Teimiussa
- Crusader Castle of ancient Simena
- Lycian Sunken city, Kekova
- Time at leisure/Optional excursion to Ancient Lycian cities of Apollonia and Aperlae
Access to much of Kekova is possible only by sea. ‘Kekova’ is Turkish for ‘plain of thyme’. The region encompasses the island of Kekova, famous for its submerged harbour, and, on the mainland, the villages of Kaleköy and Üçağiz as well as the three ancient towns of Simena, Teimiussa and Tersane.
After breakfast onboard our gulet, we disembark and transfer by dinghy to Üçağiz pier where we may explore the village. At Teimiussa, near present-day Ucagiz (‘three mouths’) and surrounded by ancient olive trees, lies a fascinating Lycian necropolis with sarcophagi spread out along the coastline overlooking the sea. Not much is known about the history of this small community, however tombs with Lycian inscriptions point to settlement by the 4th century BCE. The community seems to have been politically dominated by Myra and Cyaneae. An ancient road leads directly from Cyaneae – some of Teimiussa’s tombs bear inscriptions saying that they were constructed for citizens of Cyaneae and Myra.
From Teimiussa we walk up to the well-preserved castle which dominates the charming fishing village of Kaleköy (‘castle village’). The Knights of Rhodes built this citadel upon the ancient foundations of a Lycian settlement. Inside the castle walls has been preserved Lycia’s smallest amphitheatre. The main highlight however, is the spectacular views looking out to sea. A short, but steep hike down from the citadel takes us to the village of Kaleköy from where we may board dinghies and transfer to our gulet for lunch.
Facing the mainland on the island of Kekova is an ancient Lycian Sunken City. Half of its houses became submerged during terrible earthquakes in the 2nd century CE; staircases descend into the water and the foundations of buildings and the ancient harbour are clearly visible below the surface. An increase in maritime trade between the cities of Lycia and other parts of the Greek world during the Hellenistic period also saw a marked increase in piracy, which necessitated the fortification of islands like Kekova. Later it became an outpost of the Knights of Rhodes. Following our exploration of these sunken remains the remainder of the afternoon is free for relaxation and swimming.
Alternatively you may wish to join an optional afternoon excursion to Apollonia and Aperlae. Returning by dinghy to Üçagiz we drive approximately 12kms to the ancient Lycian city of Apollonia whose evocative ruins sit on a windswept hilltop overlooking the sea. Within the city we may explore its walled acropolis, Lycian tombs, small theatre, baths with cisterns and Byzantine church.
From Apollonia we take the 5km walk downhill to the ancient city of Aperlae situated on a pretty inlet. This tiny Lycian port city once supplied the coveted Tyrian purple dye; vast quantities of Murex shells were discovered here. Unfortunately the city lacked reliable sources of freshwater and was eventually abandoned at the end of the 7th century CE. From Aperlae we return to our gulet by dinghy and commence our cruise to Kas. (Overnight Gulet) BLD
Day 9: Tuesday 24 September, Tuesday 24 September, Kas – Xanthos – Patara – Yesilköy Cove
- Kas: Ancient Theatre, Lycian Sarcophagi
- Xanthos: Capital of Ancient Lycia
- Patara: Principal port of ancient Lycia
We begin today with a visit to the seaside town of Kas. Founded by the Lycians, Habesos as it was then called, also became an important member of the Lycian League; it had one of Lycia’s richest necropoleis. The ancient Greeks called it Antiphéllos, which means ‘the harbour in front of the city of Phellos’. During the Roman period, Antiphéllos was famous for exporting sponges and timber. After 395 CE when Theodosius bequeathed the eastern and western halves of the Empire to his sons Arcadius and Honorius, the town became part of the (Eastern) Byzantine Empire before being annexed by the Seljuks and later the Ottomans. As the majority of the inhabitants were of Greek origin, like Kalkan and other towns in the region, its size diminished significantly following the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923. It became a sleepy backwater until the 1990s. Since then, tourism has boomed in Kas and it has become a favourite stopover for people taking the Blue Cruise. It remains, however, a place where fine monuments of great historical interest are set against the beauty of forest and sea. We will explore some of the town’s natural and historic sites, including its ancient theatre and the Lycian sarcophagi scattered around the town.
Late morning we re-board our gulet and cruise west along the coast to Kalkan where we anchor in Yesilköy Cove. On arrival we go ashore and drive to two spectacular and important Lycian sites, Xanthos and Patara. Xanthos was the capital of ancient Lycia. The many inscriptions found at this site were crucial for understanding the history of the Lycian people and their Indo-European language. The earliest historical references to the Lycians, who were Anatolians, date back to the Late Bronze Age (ca 1500-1200 BCE) when they were referred to in numerous Egyptian, Hittite and Ugaritic texts as ‘Luwian and Lukka’. Until recently few roads accessed the mountainous site of their kingdom, located between modern-day Fethiye and Antalya, and the only alternative to an approach by sea entailed an arduous horseback journey.
Despite the steep, broken topography that isolated Lycian communities from each other and the fact that Lycia itself was fragmented politically into independent city-states, these people developed the first known democratic union in history, the Lycian League. This collaboration gave the League a strong regional cultural identity and ensured a political stability that allowed them to remain largely self-governing until the Byzantine period (ca 395-1176 CE), despite occupation by powers like the Persians (545-333 BCE) and the Romans (42 BCE- c. 400 CE).
Their history, nevertheless, had its bloody episodes, such as the first Persian siege of Xanthos (540 BCE). The Xanthosians chose mass suicide rather than surrender. The men of Xanthos gathered their wives, children and possessions in their acropolis and set fire to all and then charged out to meet the Persian army and certain death. Xanthos was later repopulated by about 80 families who had been outside the city at the time of the mass suicide, as well as by other Lycian immigrants.
Xanthos was re-discovered in the 19th century by Charles Fellows, who took its Nereid Monument to England. The most important remaining monuments are the Harpy Tomb, the Pillar Tomb and the Xanthian Obelisk, which has the longest inscription in the Lycian language. We shall also visit the theatre, a newly excavated Roman road and the Lycian and Roman acropolis. Many of its monuments blend Lycian traditions with Hellenic influence. This is seen especially in Xanthos’ funerary art.
Next we drive to Patara, where in the early 2nd century BCE representatives of the 23 city-states of the Lycian League met. It’s now silent bouleuterion (council chamber) once witnessed the proceedings of the world’s first recorded representative democracy. After its capture by Alexander the Great the city became an important naval base. Patara’s lost Temple of Apollo (the god was believed to spend his summers in Delphi and his winters in Patara) rivalled those in Delphi and Delos. In Roman times, the city was a major Lycian port, where St Paul changed ships on his third missionary journey. St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, was born here. Parts of Patara are covered by dunes but the Roman triple triumphal arch is in excellent condition. We shall also visit the theatre, necropolis, basilica, baths, tombs, and Patara’s Corinthian temple. This evening we re-board our gulet for dinner. (Overnight Gulet) BD
Day 10: Wednesday 25 September, Cruise from Yeşilköy Cove to Gemiler Island
- Gemiler Island (Island of St. Nicholas)
Today we cruise approximately 45 nautical miles west from Yesilköy Cove to Gemilar Island (Island of St Nicholas). St Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, a few miles from Gemiler Island in modern day Demre. Archaeologists believe that after his death on the 6th of December 343 CE he was buried on Gemiler Island. The Island became an attraction for pilgrims who would stop off on their way to Jerusalem to visit the shrine and pay homage at the basilica that housed the saint’s remains. Around 650 CE the remains were removed to the safety of Myra after the island was repeatedly attacked by Arab pirates forcing the inhabitants to abandon the settlement in favour of nearby Kayaköy. From Myra the bones of St Nicholas were stolen by Italian merchants in 1087 and taken to the two Italian cities of Bari and Venice. The merchants from Bari raided the tomb first and in their haste they took only the large bone fragments. The Venetian merchants came later and took the remaining smaller bone fragments. A scientific study in 1992 confirmed that both collections are from the same skeleton.
In the late afternoon we hike to the top of the island for fantastic views of the sunset and to explore the remains of the Monastery of St Nicholas. On the island there are the remains of four churches, related religious buildings, Byzantine dwellings, a harbour, cistern, stone tombs, a graveyard and a ceremonial passageway. The church that housed the Saint’s remains is referred to as the third church, and is on the highest part of the Island at the top of the ceremonial passage. (Overnight Gulet) BLD
Day 11: Thursday 26 September, Gemiler Island – Gocek
- Kayaköy (Levissi) deserted village
- Time at leisure/swimming
Returning to the mainland, we transfer by coach to the abandoned Greek village of Kayaköy. Settled in the 18th century by Greek Orthodox Christians from the nearby Dodecanese islands, the town, then known as Levissi, had a population of over 6000 inhabitants before 1923. In that year Greece expelled approximately 600,000 Turks from Thrace and Turkey expelled about 750,000 Greeks from Anatolia and Levissi became a ghost town. Its story is told in Louis de Bernières’ epic novel Birds Without Wings. There are now plans to restore its 2,000 or so buildings.
Following lunch at a restaurant in Kayaköy, we return to our gulet where there will time to relax or enjoy a swim. In the late afternoon we continue our cruise north to the Gulf of Goçek. (Overnight Gulet) BLD
Bodrum, Turkey – 2 nights
Day 12: Friday 27 September, Gocek – Daylan – Kaunos – Stratonikeia – Bodrum
- Lycian Rock tombs
- Village of Kaunos
- Ancient town of Stratonikeia
This morning we disembark our gulet and depart the Gulf of Goçek for the village of Dalyan. Dalyan’s sandy Iztuzu Beach is famed as one of the few remaining Mediterranean breeding grounds of the endangered species of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta Caretta). A protracted battle was successfully fought in the 1980s to protect the area as a nature reserve, and while visitors can access and swim at Iztuzu Beach during the day, it is prohibited to stay in the area overnight when female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Consequently, few people ever see the real turtles.
In Dalyan we will climb aboard a small boat, vaguely reminiscent of that in The African Queen (some scenes of the movie were actually shot in Dalyan), and meander through the marshy river delta to see the impressive Lycian temple tombs hewn into the rock faces that dominate the town. At the end of our ride is Kaunos, an important Carian fishing centre in ancient times. Although the city was initially settled during the 9th century BCE, the buildings standing today are Graeco-Roman. There is also a Byzantine church.
After an early lunch in Daylan we journey 125kms north to the charming ancient town of Stratonikeia, which, according to Strabo, was named after Stratonike, the wife of its founder, the Seleucid king Antiochus I Soter (281-261 BCE). Although it known by its Hellenistic period name, the site has been inhabited continuously since the Late Bronze Age (1500 BCE) and today the small village of Eskihisar is built adjacent to and on top of its ruins. The city thrived during the Hellenistic period, even while its rulership changed several times. It eventually became part of the Roman Republic in 130/129 BCE and further expanded during the early Roman Imperial period, benefiting significantly from the many building programs of the emperors. The population of Stratonikeia declined throughout the Byzantine period, but would see an eventual resurgence due to structural investment by the Turkish tribal successors between 11th and 15th centuries CE and the Ottomans. Visitors today can see well-preserved remains from the Hellenistic through Roman periods. These include the extensive fortification walls, gymnasium, theatre, boulerion, Roman Imperial Cult temple, Roman baths, and colonnaded street. Of additional note are the excellent examples of Turko-Ottoman architecture from the 14th-19th centuries CE, including a Turkish Bath, Saban Aga Mosque, coffee houses, shops and markets.
In the late afternoon we travel to the Turkish harbour city of Bodrum, arguably Turkey’s most sophisticated seaside resort. Bodrum is situated between two beautiful bays located at the juncture of either the southernmost point of the Aegean, or the eastern end of the Mediterranean, depending on your viewpoint.
Once known as Halicarnassus, Bodrum has a history that dates back to the 13th century BCE. Although a Dorian foundation in the early days of Greek colonisation, Halicarnassus became one of the largest and strongest cities of the Carian people, one of the dozen indigenous peoples of western Anatolia. From the beginning of the 4th century BCE Halicarnassus was ruled by a Carian royal family who, in keeping with ancient matriarchal customs in Anatolia, had a tradition of female heredity. A king’s son therefore could only become eligible for the throne by marrying his sister, as was the case with Caria’s most celebrated king, Mausolus, who married his sister Artemisia. Halicarnassus reached the peak of its prosperity under Mausolus around 353BCE. Under Persian rule since the 6th century BCE, in Mausolus’ time Halicarnassus was the capital of the Satrap of Caria and was famous for its trade, sailing and boatbuilding. Mausolus managed to acquire a large measure of political independence for his city, promoting Hellenistic culture and traditions there. On Mausolus’ death Artemisia commissioned his magnificent Mausoleum that was to become one of Pliny’s Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. (Overnight Bodrum) BLD
Day 13: Saturday 28 September, Bodrum – Myndos – Bodrum
- Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, Bodrum Castle
- Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
- Gumusluk (ancient Myndos)
- Theatre of Halicarnassus
Dominating Bodrum’s harbour is the Castle of St. Peter, begun in 1402 by the Knights Hospitaller as a hospital for pilgrims to Jerusalem. Today the castle houses the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which this morning we visit. Bodrum is the centre of Turkish marine archaeology and the Museum has a wide range of fascinating underwater finds displayed throughout the Castle in many atmospheric halls and galleries. Displays include finds from a wreck dating from 1350 BCE that was carrying, possibly on royal consignment, copper and tin ingots, amphorae packed with terebinth resin used in making perfume, as well as fragments of scrap gold and silver jewellery that were intended for reuse. From another wreck, an early medieval merchant ship discovered in the 1970s and known as the ‘Glass Wreck’, comes a display of intact glass cups and bottles. The greater part of this vessel’s cargo appears, however, to have been over a million shards of broken glass, which were also being transported for recycling.
Our next visit is to the site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Once this edifice stood over 50 metres high, but today only the foundations remain. The Knights Hospitaller used the Mausoleum as a quarry to build their castle. When the site was excavated in the middle of the 19th century moreover, the surviving frescos and statuary discovered by C. T. Newton were sent to the British Museum. In the 1950s, the Turkish writer Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçlı – known as ‘The Fisherman of Halicarnassus’ wrote to Queen Elizabeth requesting that the Mausoluem’s artifacts be returned to Bodrum. He argued that such exquisite works of art were not given their true place under the foggy, grey sky of London. The response he allegedly received stated: ‘Thank you for reminding us of the matter, we have painted the ceiling where the Mausoleum is located in blue.’
We spend the afternoon exploring Bodrum’s peninsula, including the small fishing town of Gumusluk, which was formerly the ancient Carian port city of Myndos. Originally Myndos was located a few kilometres to the southeast of the present site. This was established in the 4th century BCE when King Mausolus relocated the entire population here. Following an earthquake some time in its history, parts of Myndos’ seafront slid into the sea and are now under water.
On our return to Bodrum we visit the Theatre of Halicarnassus. Built in the late 2nd century BCE, it originally had a seating capacity of 10,000 people. (Overnight Bodrum) BD
Rhodes, Greece - 4 nights
Day 14: Sunday 29 September, Bodrum – Kos – Rhodes
- Ferry: Bodrum to Kos
- Kos Orientation tour: Castle of Nerantzia, ‘Hippocrates’ Plane Tree, Ancient Town, Casa Romana and Sanctuary of Asclepius
- Ferry: Kos to Rhodes
Early this morning we depart Bodrum and take the ferry to Kos, one of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, known for its abundant sandy beaches, Greek and Roman antiquities, and the 15th-century castle.
On arrival we explore the centre of Kos, which has an unusual layout, unique in the Greek Islands, characterised by several large park-like archaeological zones defining and surrounding the core of the city. Following a major earthquake in 1933 the local Italian colonial government reshaped the city restoring important monuments such as the Crusader Castle of Nerantzia, but also sponsoring a series of major archaeological excavations. Thus a considerable proportion of the Hellenistic and Roman city underneath Kos Town was explored.
One of the most striking testaments of the city’s history is the Castle of Nerantzia, erected by the Knights of Rhodes in 14th and 15th centuries and dominating the city’s ancient and modern port. Opposite the entrance to the castle stands a magnificent plane tree. Tradition claims that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who practised in Kos in the 5th century BCE, used to sit in its shade. The current tree is only about 500 years old, but may possibly be a descendant of the original tree which allegedly stood there 2400 years ago in Hippocrate’s time.
South of the castle we visit the archaeological park, comprising the remains of several temples (including those of Aphrodite and Heracles), a massive stoa or colonnade from the 4th or 3rd century BCE, perhaps the ancient city’s agora (market), part of the ancient city’s defensive walls, and an Early Christian basilica.
The Casa Romana was built during the late 2nd century and early 3rd century CE on the ruins of an earlier Hellenistic house. Following extensive renovations, the house now provides a wonderful insight into how a wealthy Koan official and his family lived. It includes 36 rooms and 3 atria which are decorated with exquisite mosaics floors, most of which date back to the 3rd century AD. Following our visit to this house we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
At the top of a verdant hill, three kilometres to the south east of Kos Town lies the sanctuary of Asclepius, an ancient medical centre. It dates from the first half of the 3rd century BCE and was built to honour the god of health and medicine, Asclepius, after the death of the famous ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates (460– 380 BCE). The site is laid out in three terraces. On the lowest terrace there is a stoa and a complex of Roman baths dating from the 3rd century CE. On the second terrace you will see the remains of a large altar which was built around the middle of the 4th century BCE and is one of the earliest structures in the Asklepieion. To the west of the altar there is a Temple of Asclepius dating from the 3rd century BCE and to the east of the altar there is a Roman temple in the Corinthian order from the 2nd century CE. On the third and final terrace there lie the remains of the Doric Temple of Asclepius from the 2nd century BCE. Following our tour of the sanctuary we return to the Kos port and board our late afternoon ferry to Rhodes. (Overnight Rhodes) BL
Day 15: Monday 30 September, Rhodes
- Harbour of Mandraki
- Palace of the Grand Masters
- Lunch at Vasilis Restaurant
- Archaeological Museum, Hospital of the Order of the Knights of St John
- Kahal Shalom Synagogue (time-permitting)
Rhodes, known as the ‘island of roses’, can be considered a ‘crucible’ of Eastern Mediterranean history. The third largest of the Greek islands, Rhodes is graced with two concentrations of monuments: the city of Rhodes and the citadel of Lindos. According to ancient tradition, Early Iron Age Doric colonists settled Rhodes, dividing the island into three states. These shared the port-city and harbour of Rhodes, later famous for the colossus that supposedly straddled its entrance. When the other Hellenic republics were absorbed into the empire of Alexander the Great, and then into Hellenistic successor states of the Seleucids and Ptolemies, Rhodes retained its independent status. It grew rich as a major participant in maritime trade linking the Aegean, Egypt and Syria. Seleucid hostility to the concept of the autonomous city-state, however, made Rhodes uneasy and in the 1st century BCE the island appealed to Rome for protection. During the Roman period the development of more southerly maritime trade routes from Italy to the Levant decreased Rhodes’ importance and the island had become somewhat of a backwater when St Paul visited it.
Rhodes remained outside the main currents of Mediterranean life until the Crusades, when it became one link in a chain of fortresses and ports that connected the Crusader kingdoms of the Levant with the western Mediterranean. In the 14th century the Knights Hospitaller, expelled from the Holy Land by the Egyptian Mamluks, sought refuge in Rhodes. Rhodes became the Order’s stronghold and the Knights built a number of beautiful palaces there for their different Langues (‘tongues’: the national groups into which the Order was divided). Then, in 1503, the Ottoman sultan Suleyman the Magnificent forced the Knights to leave after a six-month siege.
This morning we transfer by coach to Rhodes’ Venetian harbour, Mandraki, where we will examine the medieval harbour and fortifications, and discuss the controversy over the original location and size of the famous Colossus of Rhodes, the 3rd century BCE statue of Helios, the Sun God.
From there we continue with a walking tour of the old city which was originally laid out in the 5th century BCE by the architect Hippodamus of Miletus. His fame rests on his reputed invention of the urban grid plan, seen at Miletus, Priene and other West Anatolian cities. Modern Rhodes has some buildings greatly influenced by the Italian fascist architecture of the late 1930s but is dominated by the old fortified medieval town. Of particular interest is the so-called ‘Street of the Knights’, where the Gothic palaces of the Langues form marvellous late medieval streetscapes. Each palace has an impressive arched doorway surmounted by the emblem of its particular Langue.
The tour highlight is the impressive medieval Palace of the Grand Masters. The building was begun in 1440 by Grand Master de Lastic with money bequeathed by his predecessor, Fluvian, and completed in 1489 by Grand Master d’Aubusson.
Following lunch at a local restaurant in the Old Town, we continue our tour of the old town with a visit to Rhodes’ Archaeological Museum, housed in the Hospital of the Knights, which was built in 1440 and completed by the Grand Master d’Aubusson (1476– 1503). The museum displays pottery, jewellery and figurines from the Iron Age tombs of the island’s three cities, a good collection of Classical, Hellenistic and Roman sculpture, and a series of Hellenistic to Early Christian mosaics. Particularly impressive are the funerary slabs from the period of the Knights with relief representations of the dead or of their coats of arms.
Time-permitting we also visit the Kahal Shalom Synagogue (Holy Congregation of Peace), the oldest Jewish synagogue in Greece, and the only remaining Sephardic temple in Rhodes. Known as the New Synagogue, it is now part of a large complex consisting of two yards, the ruins of a small house, a courtyard with a plaque inscribed with the synagogue’s founding date of 1577, and a fountain. The courtyard held a library until World War II. On either side of the temple’s central door is an Ehal, a marble niche where the Torah is kept. To ensure its long-term survival, the synagogue was included on the 2000 World Monuments Watch. (Overnight Rhodes) BL
Day 16: Tuesday 1 October, Rhodes – Lindos – Epta Piges – Kamiros – Rhodes
- Medieval village of Lindos and ancient Acropolis
- Valley of Epta Piges
- Ancient Kamiros
We depart early this morning to visit the medieval village of Lindos and the ancient acropolis above it. We shall climb to the acropolis via the monumental staircase and propylaea (entrance building) dating to the Hellenistic period, passing an unusual carved rock relief showing an ancient Rhodian ship. Within the acropolis, which was fortified during the Middle Ages with impressive walls, is the fine Doric temple to Athena, where the offerings table and base of the cult statue can still be seen. The temple also affords stunning panoramas of the island, including a view of Agios Pavlos, the place where St Paul is said to have landed.
Following lunch at a local seafood restaurant we journey along the southern coast to the site of Epta Piges (Seven Springs), a valley with flowing clear springs and covered with enormous plane and pine trees. From here, we turn inland and cross the island to the ancient city of Kamiros, located on the north coast, approximately 50 kilometres south-west of Rhodes Town.
Kamiros, along with Lindos and Ialissos, was, according to Homer, one of the three City-States founded by the Dorians who settled on Rhodes. The western and central parts of the island belonged to Kamiros; it was more conservative than the other two City-States of the island. Its agricultural production, made possible by its fertile, loamy soils, formed the basis of its prosperity. The oldest evidence of settlement in the wider area of Kamiros known to this day, namely Kamirida, date back to the Mycenaean times and come from the cemetery of chamber-like tombs in the village of Kalavarda, a few kilometres north-east of Kamiros. Twice destroyed by earthquakes (in 226 and 142 BCE), the main remains at Kamiros date to the Hellenistic period, although some Classical elements are also visible. The Hellenistic city was built on three levels with various buildings and monuments including an agora, a Doric fountain house, a reservoir and a stoa. The acropolis commands fabulous views across the sea to the coast of Turkey. Below it are the reasonably well-preserved remains of a town with all its ancient conveniences.
In the late afternoon we return to Rhodes Town where the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Rhodes) BL
Day 17: Wednesday 2 October, Rhodes – Ialyssos – Rhodes
- Monte Smith (Temple of Apollo, Old Stadium)
- Monastery of Philerimos, Ialyssos
- Time at leisure in Rhodes Town
- Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant
We begin this morning by exploring St. Stephen’s Hill, known locally as Monte Smith, site of the acropolis of ancient Rhodes. It has a 3rd century BCE Hellenistic stadium that hosted the athletic events of the Alioi Games held in honour of the sun-god Helios. At its summit you will encounter the Temple of Apollo, patron deity of the city. The bizarre name of Monte Smith derives from the name of a British Admiral, Sir Sydney Smith, who used the location in 1802 as a lookout from which to observe the manoeuvres of Napoleon’s Egyptian fleet.
Nearby we also visit Philerimos (Filerimos), a hilltop monastery built by the Byzantines in the 5th century CE on the ruins of ancient Ialyssos.
We return to Rhodes Town for an afternoon at leisure before re-meeting in the evening to share a farewell meal together. (Overnight Rhodes) BD
Day 18: Thursday 3 October, Depart Rhodes
- Tour concludes in the morning
- At leisure/Check out
Our tour ends in Rhodes after breakfast. In the morning you will be required to check out of the hotel. Please contact ASA if you require assistance with a transfer to Rhodes Airport. B