The detailed itinerary provides an outline of the proposed daily program. 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 conditions, flight schedules etc. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. Meals included in the itinerary are indicated where B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.
Istanbul - 4 nights
Day 1: Friday 2 May, Arrive Istanbul
- Tour commences at 1.00pm in the foyer of the Armada Hotel in Istanbul
- Welcome Meeting
- Sadberk Hanim Museum – subject to reopening in 2023
- Group Welcome Meal at Balikçi Sabahattin Restaurant
Meeting Point: The tour commences at 1.pm in the foyer of the Armada Hotel.
We begin with a short introductory meeting and then board our coach for a visit to the new Sadberk Hanim Museum. The museum opened in 1980 as Turkey’s first private museum, housing the foundation’s collection of Turkish Islamic and archaeological works and artefacts dating from 6000 BC. To accommodates its growing collection and enhanced vision, the museum is being relocated from its current home on the Bosphorus to the historic district of Tersane, on the grounds of a former Ottoman-era shipyard on the shores of the Golden Horn.
Tonight we dine at ‘Balikçi Sabahattin’, a traditional fish restaurant, housed in a restored 1927 building. (Overnight Istanbul) D
Day 2: Saturday 3 May, Istanbul
- Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum & Arasta Bazaar
- Blue Mosque
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Today we commence our exploration of the development of Byzantine Istanbul with a visit to Hagia Sophia (531-7 AD), the imperial foundation built by Justinian to replace a basilica destroyed during the Nika Rebellion (530-532 AD). Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II (Mehmet the Conqueror) in 1453, declared a museum by Atatürk in 1935, and reconverted into a working mosque in 2020. Its revolutionary design (it was topped by a great dome) and vast size required special modes of construction – innovations which later influenced mosque building in Istanbul. We shall visit its narthex and prayer halls, the latter sporting the remains of mosaics and carved capitals alongside Islamic accretions. The church was a setting for imperial ecclesiastical ritual which demanded a lustrous ambience. Even in its present state it vividly reflects the emphasis upon mystical imagery in Greek religious thought and ceremony. Note: the upper gallery’s mosaics current remain closed for restoration, however a visit will be included if they are opened by 2025.
Nearby, at the Arasta Bazaar, we visit the small Mosaic Museum which displays part of the ornamental pavement of the Great Byzantine Palace of Constantinople.
In the afternoon we explore the patrimony of Hagia Sophia, both as an inspiration and model to Ottoman architects, with a visit to the Blue Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 for Sultan Ahmet, this is one of the largest of Istanbul’s mosques. It is particularly noted for its use of tiles as a sacred decorative element in Ottoman Islamic architecture. Here you will be introduced to the distinctive planning and function of mosque space and to the meaning of objects which occupy these great buildings. The day reveals Istanbul’s nature and role as an imperial Islamic city deriving its traditions as much from its Christian Byzantine past as from the Ottomans’ Perso-Arabic Islamic precursors.
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is housed in the ‘palace’ of Ibrahim Pasha, Süleyman the Magnificent’s first Grand Vizier. Constructed in 1520 on the west side of the Hippodrome, the building’s magnificent reception hall and numerous rooms leading off long, cool corridors have been recently refurbished and display the rare works in a setting completely in tune with their aesthetics. We will focus on the display of carpets, some of them dating to the Seljuk empire based in Central Anatolia in the 12th and 13th centuries. These rare pieces were brought to Istanbul for safe keeping in the early 20th century from a number of mosques in Konya after German archaeologists recognised their importance. (Overnight Istanbul) B
Day 3: Sunday 4 May, Istanbul
- Yedikule Fortress
- Kariye Museum (Church of St Saviour in Chora) – subject to reopening in 2025
- Süleymaniye Mosque incl. tomb of Süleyman & Roxelana
- Time at leisure
This morning we visit the Yedikule Fortress; Yedikule Hisarıin Turkish means ‘Fortress of the Seven Towers’. Mehmet II caused this grand citadel to be constructed in 1458, three years after he conquered Constantinople. The formidable ‘seven-towered’ complex was created by fully enclosing an end section of the ancient Theodosian Walls and adding three new towers to the original four, two of which had constituted the twin towers of Theodosius’ ‘Golden Gate’.
Next, we visit the Kariye Jami. This beautiful late-Byzantine shrine was built in 1077, restored between 1315 and 1321 and converted into a mosque following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. It contains one of the greatest of all Byzantine decorative cycles of mosaics and frescoes; instances of the last flowering of Greek visual culture before the fall of Constantinople. Of particular note are the rich frescoes in the paraclesion by Theodore Metochite, which rival the works of Duccio and Giotto in their grandeur and dramatic power. Greatest amongst these is the dramatic image of the ‘Harrowing of Hell’ in which an ethereal, yet powerful, Christ strains across the apsidal dome to deliver Adam and Eve from purgatory. Note: the Kariye Cami has been closed for renovations for the past 3 years. In the event that it is still closed in 2025 this visit will be replaced.
The Süleymaniye Mosque, commissioned by Süleyman the Magnificent, is the masterpiece of Sinan. It is one of the largest imperial mosques and is surrounded by an extensive complex that houses a caravanserai, schools, hospitals and a hospice under a myriad clustered domes. The tomb of Süleyman and his beloved wife, Roxelana, are situated in the grounds of the great mosque. (Overnight Istanbul) B
Day 4: Monday 5 May, Istanbul
- SS Sergius and Bacchus
- Cistern of Justinian (Yerebatan Sarayi)
- Spice Bazaar, Artisan District
- Rüstem Pasha Mosque
Constantinople was inaugurated by the Emperor Constantine in 330 AD on the site of an earlier city. It was modelled upon the ancient imperial capital of Rome and would initially have looked like any major city of the empire. It was, however, transformed as Christian churches supplanted imperial secular monuments as its key nodal points. After its sacking by the Ottomans, mosques and other Islamic buildings and complexes such as souks supplanted Christian monuments.
Today we begin with the church of SS Sergius and Bacchus (537 AD), the first of a number of churches constructed during the reign of the Emperor Justinian – a period of fruitful experiment in which the centrally planned Byzantine church style took the place of the Latin basilica.
We continue to the Hippodrome, built by Septimus Severus c. 200 AD and reconstructed by Constantine. The Hippodrome is the major surviving example of the very first phase of Constantinople’s development in which public buildings proliferated. This great circus contains the Kathisma, or Imperial Box, which the Emperor entered directly from his palace, and the Obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III (c. 1540 BC), brought to Constantinople in the early 4th century AD and erected here by Theodosius. The obelisk is typical of the plunder brought from every corner of the Roman Empire to enrich the new city. The stone base built to support the obelisk is adorned with relief sculptures of the Emperor and his retinue witnessing the games in the Hippodrome. The hieratic proportions and uncompromising frontality of the imperial portraits reflects the belief in the extraordinary status of the autocrats who ruled this Eastern imperial city. The Hippodrome also contains the Serpentine Column that originally stood in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, as well as some important later Ottoman buildings.
Next we visit the underground Cistern of Justinian which reopened in 2022 after major renovations. The sophisticated vaulting of this impressive and evocative structure reflects the debt that sixth century Byzantium owed to Roman engineering. We end our day with a walking tour from the Spice Bazaar through the artisan area of the old city where we encounter the beautiful Rüstem Pasha Mosque of Sinan, still used as a local mosque. (Overnight Istanbul) B
Bursa - 1 night
Day 5: Tuesday 6 May, Istanbul – Bursa
- Sea of Marmara to Bursa
- Ulu Mosque
- Green Mosque and Green Mausoleum of Sultan Mehmet I
- Old Silk Market caravansarai
- Arrive at Hotel Çelik Pasa, Bursa with its own historical hamam (bathhouse)
This morning we depart Istanbul, crossing the Sea of Marmara into Asia by car ferry, and travel to Bursa (ancient Prusa). Besieged by the first Ottoman sultan, Osman, and taken from the Byzantines in 1326 by his son Orhan, Bursa became the first capital city of the Ottoman lands. Here we explore the architecture of the nascent Ottoman Empire. We visit wonderful examples of early Turkish architecture that abound in Bursa from the grand Seljuk-inspired Ulu Mosque built by Sultan Bayezid in 1399, to the famed Green Mosque and Green Mausoleum of Sultan Mehmet I. There will also be time to visit the Koza Han, or Old Silk Market caravansarai. These buildings reflect the Ottomans’ debt to the Seljuk Turks, from whom they wrested power in much of Anatolia. Lunch may comprise the delicious local dish of Iskender Kebab (optional).
Olive oil soap is traditionally used in the Turkish hamam, or bath-house. On arrival at our Bursa hotel we’ll have the opportunity to enjoy this experience as there is a restored hamam operating in the building. (Overnight Bursa) BD
Çannakale - 1 night
Day 6: Wednesday 7 May, Bursa – Cumali Kizik – Troy – Çanakkale
- The early Ottoman village of Cumali Kizik
- Ancient City of Troy
- Museum of Troy
After breakfast we travel just outside the eastern boundary of the city into the foothills of the great Mt Uludag (ancient Mt Olympus), to visit Cumali Kizik. This village, established in 1320 by Osman I, founder of the Ottoman dynasty, is of great significance because it represents the moment at which his people gave up their nomadic way of life to become sedentarists. Cumali Kizik therefore provides a telling introduction to the relation of domestic Ottoman architecture and village planning to the Turkish heritage of nomadism.
Mid-morning we drive from the Sea of Marmara’s Asian shores to the provincial centre of Çanakkale situated at the narrowest point in the Dardanelles Straits. Thirty kilometres south of Çanakkale we reach the site of ancient Troy, the setting for Homer’s Iliad in which he recounts the final year of the Trojan War sometime in the 13th century BC.
We also visit the Troy Museum which opened in October 2018. The museum showcases archaeological findings of the ancient city, as well as 24 gold pieces known as the treasures of Helen of Troy which date to 2400 BC.
We arrive at our hotel, situated within a pine forest overlooking the Dardanelles, in the early evening. (Overnight Çanakkale) BD
Assos - 1 night
Day 7: Thursday 8 May, Çanakkale – ANZAC Cove – Lone Pine – Assos
- The Gallipoli Campaign: ANZAC Cove & Lone Pine Cemetery
- Acropolis and Temple of Athena
Early this morning we cross the Dardanelles (ancient Hellespont), a narrow strait that forms part of the continental boundary separating Asia and Europe. On the northern shores of the strait lies the Gallipoli Peninsula. Here we visit ANZAC Cove for an on-site account of the 1915 landing on ANZAC Beach and the Lone Pine Cemetery.
Following a picnic lunch we return across the strait to the landmass of Asia and drive on to the beautiful site of ancient Assos, modern day Behramkale, on the Aegean Sea. Assos was a centre for the production of sarcophagi, which were distributed all over Asia Minor. In the mid-4th century BC Assos enjoyed a period of great renown when a branch of Plato’s famed Academy operated in the town. Aristotle lived in Assos from 347 to 344 BC and married the niece of the ruler of nearby Lesbos. We’ll visit the spectacular site of the ruined Temple of Athena built in about 530 BC and also a small mosque built in the 14th century by Sultan Murat I from the stones of the Byzantine church that originally stood on the site. A recycled stone slab inscribed in Greek and bearing a cross marks the entrance to the mosque. Assos was also visited by Alexander the Great and Saint Paul, and is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. (Overnight Assos) BLD
Kusadasi - 3 nights
Day 8: Friday 9 May, Assos – Pergamum – Kusadasi
We travel south to the spectacular site of Pergamum, the capital city of the (Hellenistic) Attalid kingdom and a centre of art and learning. After Attalus III bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans, it became the focus of Emperor worship in the region, shunned in the ‘Book of Revelation’ as “the seat of the Devil”. At its centre stood the Great Altar of Zeus, now in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. The siting of its plinth is an intimation of the magnificence of its original setting. The citadel is perched high above a plain and is a fine example of a defensive acropolis. It has a magnificent theatre cut into a dramatic incline, looking out on a broad panorama. The crisp detailing and deep cut which creates a dramatic play of light across Pergamum’s extant architectural sculpture exemplifies the final ‘Baroque’ phase of Greek art which was subsequently to become, after nearly two millennia, Michelangelo’s most important inspiration. Our journey then continues along the Aegean coast towards Ephesus. (Overnight Kusadasi) BD
Day 9: Saturday 10 May, Kusadasi – Ephesus – Kusadasi
- Graeco-Roman Ephesus incl. the Temple of Artemis & The Terrace Houses
- The Ephesus Museum, Selçuk
- Basilica of St John and Isa Bey Mosque, Selçuk
We travel this morning to Ephesus, “the first and greatest metropolis of Asia”. Pergamum was Asia Minor’s imperial religious city, Ephesus its commercial centre. This city boasted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis (Diana). Although only a single column remains from this celebrated monument, the extant sections of the city (some of which have been restored) constitute one of the world’s most important classical archaeological sites.
Partly Hellenistic, but largely Roman, the city draws us like it did St Paul 2000 years ago, along marble streets, through the Agora, past temples, shops, mosaic footpaths and the Library of Celsus, to the great theatre. Originally seating 24,000 and scene of the protest against St Paul described in the Acts of the Apostles, its ruins awaken vivid images of the civic life of a Roman imperial metropolis.
Opposite the Temple of Hadrian we view two magnificent Terrace Houses built as luxurious residential villas around 200 BC. These houses, which were usually two or three storeyed, had running water and a complex heating system using clay pipes. They included a marble-paved peristyle (courtyard) with columns, surrounded by rooms detailed with floor mosaics and wall paintings which provide an insight into daily life.
We conclude with a visit to the excellent Ephesus Museum which contains two famous statues of the cult goddess, Artemis. Nearby are the impressive ruins of the Byzantine Church of St John which marks the spot where St John the Evangelist was buried, and the 13th century Isa Bey Mosque. (Overnight Kusadasi) BD
Day 10: Sunday 11 May, Kusadasi – Priene – Miletus – Didyma – Kusadasi
- Archaeological Sites of Priene, Miletus & Didyma
Our study of the Graeco-Roman world continues with a full day’s excursion to three jewels of ancient Ionia and Roman Asia. We have already encountered the Ancient Trojans, the Hellenistic Kingdom and the Roman Empire in previous cities. Priene affords a clear understanding of the makeup of a city of Ionian origin. The Ionians, who gave the world the Ionian (scroll) capital, dominated coastal Asia Minor in the 5th century BC, the period in which Greek sculpture and architecture is said to have entered its classic phase. Here we see the counterparts of the Parthenon in Athens. Priene contains arguably the finest extant Greek theatre in Anatolia. Its layout takes the form of a grid of streets, a plan first used in Ionia and Sicily. It is said to have been developed by Hippodamus of Miletus (flourished c.450 BC), a friend of Pericles. In the city we encounter other architectural forms which served a classical polis such as the bouleuterion (council chamber) and the prytaneion, the administrative centre of the city. Next we visit Hippodamus’ own city, Miletus, also a grid-planned metropolis. Here we see the Faustian Baths and the Agora. Breathtaking in its size, the temple of Didyma was the home of the greatest Greek oracle outside of Delphi. We shall explore this shrine in detail. (Overnight Kusadasi) BD
Pamukkale - 1 night
Day 11: Monday 12 May, Kusadasi – Aphrodisias – Pamukkale
- Terraced mineral pools of Pamukkale (Hierapolis)
A full-day coach trip takes us from the Aegean coast inland to the ancient city and shrine of Aphrodisias. Its spectacular ruins include a theatre, odeon, temples, baths, streets and public squares, several churches, a Sebasteion with its propylon, porticoes and processional way, and a stadium. The site boasts pristine monuments which are not visited by as many tourists as the sites of the littoral. As its name suggests, Aphrodisias was originally a shrine to Aphrodite. Its loyalty to Rome during the wars with Mithridates VI Eupator (120-63 BC) attracted Latin support and it burgeoned as a major centre in Asia Minor. Its fine local stone was used by an accomplished school of sculpture whose works have been found in locations as distant as Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli and the North African city of Leptis Magna. Examples abound both on site and in Aphrodisius’ excellent museum. Next we journey to the Graeco-Roman spa city of Pamukkale – ancient Hierapolis – with its white cliffs, terraces and mineral pools. (Overnight Pamukkale) BD
Konya - 2 nights
Day 12: Tuesday 13 May, Pamukkale – Konya
- Graeco-Roman Hierapolis (Pamukkale)
- The Seljuk Mosque of Alaeddin Keykubad
- The Karatay Medrese & Ceramic Museum
- Mosque of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I
‘Pamukkale’ in Turkish means ‘cotton castle’ an appellation that refers to the site’s magnificent terraces of smooth, white calciferous rock deposited by a mineral spring over millennia. Classical Hierapolis was probably of Seleucid foundation. It passed to the Attalids and then Rome with the creation of the province of Asia Minor in 129 BC. It became a commercial centre, producing copper objects, wool and nails. Hieropolis adopted Christianity early and became a metropolitan see (city) under Justinian. In the 12th century it passed to the Turks.
We commence with an early morning guided walk through the ancient city examining elements of its plan and architectural features such as the cardus maximus, its Temple of Apollo, nymphaeum, Plutonium (Pluto’s Gate) and extensive necropolis.
We depart Pamukkale and the world of classical cities to drive out along the ancient Roman road across the flat Anatolian plain to Konya (ancient Iconium). Our interest in Konya stems not from its ancient history but from its status as Anatolia’s first Seljuk capital and as an important centre of pilgrimage: Konya is associated with the great mystic Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (Mevlana). Upon arrival, there will be time to view fine examples of early 13th century Seljuk Turkish architecture including the Karatay Medrese (an early Islamic religious school). Its intricate carved stone entrance gives way to a tiled interior which dramatically belies its simple structure. Today it houses a ceramic museum displaying a small but noteworthy collection of faience with representations from the most important centres of early ceramic arts in Anatolia. We also visit the fort-like mosque of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I, dating from 1221, which reveals a debt to earlier Arab and Persian architectural styles. (Overnight Konya) BD
Day 13: Wednesday 14 May, Konya – Çatal Höyük – Konya
- Mevlana Tekke, Monastery of the Whirling Dervishes
- Ancient Site of Çatal Höyük
- Traditional Konya cuisine at local restaurant
This morning we visit Turkey’s most sacred Islamic shrine: the Mevlana Tekke, the monastery of the Whirling Dervish order of Sufi mystics. Profoundly influential during the Ottoman period, this order was reduced to a cultural organisation in the 1920s by Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the present Turkish Republic. Today the Dervishes only perform their Sema in Konya in December. A Whirling Dervish performance will be seen in Avanos, Cappadocia.
The tekke includes a semahane where the ritual sema (whirling ceremony) takes place, a sadirvan for ritual ablutions, a library, living and teaching quarters, and the mausoleum housing the tomb of Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, founder of the sect and later awarded the honorable title of Mevlana. The mausoleum room is highly ornamented with Islamic script and enameled bas-relief, and contains the tombs of several of the more important figures of the dervish order. The adjoining room, or the semahane, is now a museum of Mevlana memorabilia displaying musical instruments and robes belonging to Mevlana, along with Selçuk and Ottoman objects like gold-engraved Korans from the 13th century. Among the fabulous ancient prayer rugs is the most valuable silk carpet in the world.
This afternoon we take the road out of Konya to visit Çatal Höyük. This 10,000 year-old site is the oldest known human settlement and yields fascinating information about the earliest human communities. We shall explore the site not only for its extant remains but also to gain an insight into the interpretive analysis of archaeologists who have worked here. This evening we experience traditional Konya cuisine at a local restaurant. (Overnight Konya) BD
Uchisar, Cappadocia - 3 nights
Day 14: Thursday 15 May, Konya – Sultan Han – Ihlara Valley – Cappadocia (Uchisar)
- Caravansarai of Sultan Han
- Rock-cut Byzantine churches of the Ihlara Valley & Selime Monastery
Our program has already addressed the development of Christianity in its very earliest phases in ancient cities such as Ephesus, and in its development as the official religion of Imperial Constantinople. We now drive to the dramatic, desolate landscape of Cappadocia formed by an eroded mantle of lava and mud from two volcanoes, Mount Erciyas and Mount Hasan (Turkish: Erciyas Dagi and Hasan Dagi), which is of untold significance in the development of Christianity. On the way we visit one of the best preserved caravansarais in Anatolia at Sultan Han, which dates from the Seljuk period.
This afternoon we continue to the Ihlara Valley, located near Mount Hasan. Here we may walk through the deep gorge with abundant flora, fauna and rock-cut Byzantine churches including Güzelyurt, birthplace of St Gregory. There are about 400 steps descending down to the gorge. A 2.5km trail along the banks of the Melendiz river leads to the picturesque village of Belisirma. At the northern edge of the gorge is Selime Monastery. This fascinating complex was carved into the rock face by monks in the 13th century and comprises a church, kitchen and stables with feeding troughs. Time-permitting you may wish to hike up to the monastery (this walk is more challenging); or simply enjoy the unforgettable views of the monastery and countless fairy chimneys. (Overnight Uchisar) BD
Day 15: Friday 16 May, Cappadocia
- Göreme Open Air Museum
- Village of Çavusin
- Performance of the Whirling Dervishes
In the 3rd and 4th centuries Christian hermits settled in Cappadocia’s desolate landscape in order to remove themselves from the growing sophistication of the Church which was establishing itself in Rome’s imperial cities. Like St Anthony and St Jerome in North Africa and St Simeon Stylites in Greater Syria, hermits lived in total isolation or gathered in loose-knit groups, each individual pursuing his/her individual vocation in solitude in a cave or hut. A native of Cappadocia, St Basil ordered these anchorites into cloistered communities governed by rules. St Basil thus gave birth to eastern monasticism; he is the oriental counterpart of St Benedict of Monte Casino. Monasteries thrived in Cappadocia until the 7th and 8th centuries when Arab incursions forced Christians to conceal themselves in underground cities.
Today we tour the Göreme valley, visiting striking churches burrowed into cliffs of mud and lava. Many of these shrines have well-preserved frescoes, an outstanding example being Tokali Church. We continue to the high rocky point of Uçhisar and then on to Zelve with its underground churches and mosque set in an exotic landscape.
We explore the village of Çavusin and its own special frescoed church, then high in the cliffs above, the church of St John the Baptist. An examination of the ‘Fairy Chimneys’ precedes a visit to a local carpet-weaving centre where carpet-weaving techniques are demonstrated. In the evening we attend a performance by the Whirling Dervishes, which takes place in a restored 13th century caravansarai in Avanos. (Overnight Uchisar) BD
Day 16: Saturday 17 May, Cappadocia
- Underground city of Özkonak
- Monastery of Eski Gümüsh
Today we travel deeper into Cappadocia to visit Özkonak, one of the catacomb-like underground Christian cities built as refuges from Muslim incursions. Following its discovery in 1972 by a local farmer, the site has revealed a complex containing a total of ten floors to a depth of 40m, which could house 60,000 people for up to three months. Four floors are now open where we can explore how this city operated when inhabited in times of threat. One unique feature at Özkonak not found at other major underground cities in the area is its communication system of pipes to each of its levels.
We then encounter one of the most interesting of the early monastic churches and settlements, the ruined monastery of Eski Gümüsh, with its beautifully preserved 11th century paintings and unusual ‘catacomb’ design. This unique complex illustrates how the provinces of the Byzantine Empire fused official metropolitan religious usages with local forms. (Overnight Uchisar) BD
Ankara - 1 night
Day 17: Sunday 18 May, Cappadocia – Bogazköy – Ankara
- Hattusha: Ancient capital of the Hittites, Bogazköy
Today we drive north to a region in which the earliest civilisations of Anatolia developed. The Hittite sites of this region stand as the earliest meaningful remains of an evolved state. The Hittites entered Anatolia in c.2000 BC. During the ensuing 800 years, their culture fused with those of the indigenous people – Hattis, Hurrians and Luwians – evolving into a new imperial state which rivalled that of Pharaonic Egypt. First we visit the site of the Hittite capital at Hattusha, now Bogazköy. We begin with the inner sanctum of the Hittite emperors at Yazilikaya (the ‘Inscribed Rock’) where ancient inscriptions still survive. An extensive tour of the scattered ruins of Hattusha will then slowly reveal the nature and temper of Hittite civilisation. In the late afternoon we drive to Ankara, Turkey’s capital city. (Overnight Ankara) BD
Istanbul - 3 nights
Day 18: Monday 19 May, Ankara – Istanbul
- Museum of Anatolian Civilisations
- Citadel of Ankara & Ataturk Mausoleum (time-permitting)
- Late afternoon flight from Ankara to Istanbul
This morning we visit the award winning Museum of Anatolian Civilisations containing a renowned collection of archaeological treasures tracing the civilisations of Anatolia from the remains of Çatal Hoyük, through those of the Hatti, Hittites, Phrygians, Assyrians, Urartu, Ionians and Romans.
In the late afternoon we fly to Istanbul. Time-permitting, we make a brief tour of the ancient Citadel of Ankara and the monumental Atatürk Mausoleum built in the grand Hittite temple style. Part of the complex houses the interesting Ataturk Museum, which chronicles the rise of modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. (Overnight Istanbul) B
Day 19: Tuesday 20 May, Istanbul
- Topkapi Palace Museum and Harem
- Archaeological Museum
- Çinili Kiosk
- Optional visit to the Grand Bazaar
Today we continue to explore the development of the Ottoman city and its architecture with a visit to the Topkapi Palace Museum and Harem. The Topkapi Palace, once the centre of Ottoman power, was planned in a series of zones, each more private than its predecessor. A number of its pavilions constitute faint echoes of the tents of nomadic camps. The palace also houses a museum of miniatures, precious jewels and other masterpieces from the Ottoman period. The great complex includes a vast kitchen (now a porcelain museum), a library and Harem. In the Harem, which was the family residence of the sultans, the workings of the Ottoman court and the functions of living spaces such as baths and reception rooms will be explained to you. The Harem is decorated with some of the highest quality Iznik tiles (15th century) in existence.
In the afternoon we visit Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum, which contains one of the great collections of pre-classical and classical works, including the famous so- called ‘Alexander sarcophagus’, a fourth century tomb of a Seleucid prince found in Sidon (Syria). Its carved faces constitute some of the most refined carved images of the Greek world. In the grounds of the museum we also find the Çinili Kiosk – the finest pavilion in Turkey with a rich collection of tiles, and the smaller but fascinating Museum of the Ancient Orient. The museum underwent extension renovations and reopened in 2022.
The remainder of the day is at leisure. There will be an optional visit to the Grand Bazaar that reflects the city’s historic role as a centre of trade. Although the range of goods sold here has outgrown that of a traditional souk, the bazaar still retains its Ottoman plan and decoration. This complex has now fused with the nearby ‘Balkan’ bazaar area which has grown in recent years as large numbers of Eastern Europeans visit for shopping and trade. The presence of Balkan traders reflects the city’s continuing role as an emporium at the cross roads of Europe and the Orient. (Overnight Istanbul) B
Day 20: Wednesday 21 May, Istanbul
- Pera Museum
- New Istanbul Modern – opened in June 2023
- Time at leisure
- Group Farewell Meal at the Fine Dine Istanbul Restaurant
This morning we begin with a visit to the Pera Museum which contains three collections: Turkish Orientalist Painting, Anatolian Weights and Measures, and Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics. Drawn from Suna and İnan Kıraç’s world-class private collection, the Turkish orientalist paintings provide fascinating glimpses into the Ottoman world from the 17th to 20th centuries and include the most beloved painting in the Turkish canon – Osman Hamdı Bey’s The Tortoise Trainer (1906).
After five years of construction the Istanbul Modern reopened its New, Renzo Piano-designed home in June 2023. This modern and contemporary art museum is located along the banks of the Bosphorus providing stunning views across the water to the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.
The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to visit the Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum which is located next to the New Istanbul Modern. Established in 1937, the collection was moved to its new home at Warehouse No. 5 and opened in 2022. The museum exhibits Turkish painting and sculpture from late Ottoman times through to modern towns and includes a gallery devoted to the work of Osman Hamdi Bey, the founder of Istanbul’s first school of art.
Tonight we enjoy a farewell meal at the Fine Dine Istanbul Restaurant which re-creates a classic ‘Ottoman Palace” cuisine and dining experience. (Overnight Istanbul) BD
Day 21: Thursday 22 May, Tour ends in Istanbul
- Tour concludes in the morning
- At leisure/Check out
Our tour ends in Istanbul. In the morning you will be required to check out of the hotel. Please contact ASA if you require assistance with a transfer to Istanbul’s International Airport. B