Turkey: The Ages of Anatolia 2025

Status: open

2 May – 22 May 2025

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Turkey: The Ages of Anatolia 2025
Tour Highlights

  • Explore the rich history of Anatolia with archaeologist and historian, Dr Sophy Downes.
  • Study Istanbul’s Byzantine legacies including Hagia Sophia with fine mosaics and frescoes.
  • Visit the Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) noted for its hand-decorated blue Iznik tiles, and masterpieces by the great architect Sinan – the Süleymaniye complex and the Rüstem Pasha Camii.
  • Explore the Topkapi Palace housing a vast Ottoman treasure of jewels, textiles and ceramics.
  • View the wonderful display of carpets at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art.
  • Discover the rich heritage of Bursa, first capital of the Ottoman Empire, including the Green Mosque, Green Mausoleum of Sultan Mehmet I and the Koza Han (Old Silk Market caravanserai); nearby visit the oldest Ottoman village of Cumali Kizik founded in the 13th century.
  • Visit the ancient site of Troy whose “sixth level” (1750-1300 BC) is most likely Homer’s city.
  • Spend a morning on the Gallipoli Peninsula visiting ANZAC Cove and Lone Pine.
  • Visit magificent Graeco-Roman sites: Pergamum, Miletus, Didyma, Aphrodisias, Hierapolis at Pamukkale, the magical site of Priene and Ephesus with her Temple of Artemis – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
  • Stay in the great shrine city of Konya, capital of the Seljuks of Rum and site of the shrine of Islam’s most famous mystic, Jalad ad-Din Rumi, who founded the mystical order of the Whirling Dervishes.
  • Excursions to the famous Neolithic site of Çatal Höyük and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hattusha, capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age.
  • View outstanding collections at Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Istanbul’s newly renovated Archaeological Museum.
  • Wander through teeming bazaars and sample Turkish and Ottoman cuisine at local restaurants.
  • Conclude with a visit to the New Istanbul Modern designed by Renzo Piano.

The tour features a number of historic hotels including the award-winning Argos housed in a former monastery and considered the best hotel in Cappadocia; the Hotel Çelik Palas, an Art-Deco hotel with an historical Turkish bath located in central Bursa; the Divan Çukurhan, housed in a restored 17th-century Ottoman caravanserai in Ankara; and Istanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel where Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was allegedly written.

Overnight Istanbul (4 nights) • Bursa (1 night) • Çanakkale (1 night) • Assos (1 night) • Kusadasi (3 nights) • Pamukkale (1 night) • Konya (2 nights) • Uchisar (Cappadocia) (3 nights) • Ankara (1 night) • Istanbul (3 nights)


The history of the region occupied by modern Turkey, Anatolia, has been shaped by its geographical position between Asia and Europe. Countless armies, including the Dorian tribes, Persians, Macedonian Greeks, Romans, Magyars and Turks have crossed Anatolia from east to west and west to east in search of territory and plunder. The region also is a trade corridor. For eons goods from the caravan routes of the East crossed the Bosphorus near Constantinople (modern Istanbul), the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, to find their way to Western Europe through Thrace and the Balkans.

Civilisations of great brilliance have emerged in Anatolia as a result of the passage of peoples and their cultures. Hittite kingdoms, Ionian city states, Hellenistic monarchies and the empires of the Romans, their Byzantine scions, and the Ottoman Turks developed political, religious, intellectual, social and artistic institutions, movements and forms which have moulded eastern Mediterranean culture for millennia. Throughout the Ancient period and the Middle Ages, the East boasted a more brilliant civilisation than the West. Political and doctrinal clashes brought periods of chaos when cultures and ideologies impacted upon each other, erupting in intellectual and political turmoil. Cultural ferment in the region produced the Iliad, the Ionic Order, Hellenistic sculpture, the riches of Constantine’s ‘New Rome’, the Councils of Nicea and Ephesus, Justinian’s revolutionary basilica, Hagia Sophia, Göreme’s underground cities and churches, and Iconoclasm. Greek intellectualism and naturalism fused with Roman social and political organisation and with Christian mysticism to create forms like the Byzantine icon and centrally-planned churches. The appropriation of aspects of Byzantine imperial culture by the dynasty of Osman produced the architectural masterpieces of Ottoman Istanbul such as the Süleymaniye Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. The latter reflects a unique fusion of the ideal of a Western palace with the spatial organisation of a nomadic camp.

This tour explores the role of Turkey as a cultural bridge by studying the civilisations of the Hittites, Aeolian and Ionian Greeks, the Hellenistic kingdoms, Roman ‘Asia’, the Byzantine Empire, Seljuk Anatolia and the Ottoman Empire. We examine archaeological sites, Byzantine churches, monasteries and underground cities, mosques, souks (markets) hans (Islamic hospices), Ottoman palaces and houses, and a rich popular culture of metalwork, carpets, dance and theatre. We also make a special visit to the battlefields of Gallipoli.

The tour begins and ends in Istanbul where it visits the earliest monuments of Constantine’s ‘New Rome’. We trace the transformation of the city by the Emperor Theodosius, who decreed that Christianity be the State religion, and by Justinian, who rebuilt the city’s churches, and we visit the lovely masterpiece of the last flowering of Byzantine culture, the former Church of St. Saviour in Chora. We also investigate the transformation of the Christian city to the capital of the Ottoman sultanate, the ways in which Hagia Sophia influenced the genesis of Istanbul’s great mosques and the evolution of a distinctive palace, the Topkapi, whose influences were to resonate as far as Mughal India.

The tour travels down the west coast of Turkey to visit Bursa – the Byzantine city which became the Ottoman capital before Mehmet II conquered Constantinople. Here, and at Konya in central Anatolia, we shall encounter shrines in the Seljuk tradition, very different to the Ottoman structures which replaced them.

We next visit the ruins of Troy on the Dardanelles and the historic battlefields of Gallipoli. Travelling further south we enter the world of the Ionian Greeks, their Hellenistic successors, and the Roman Empire. We visit the important Aegean cities of Assos, Pergamum, Ephesus, Priene, Miletus and Didyma. Here you will be introduced to the function of the Greek city (polis) and its architecture of oligarchy, the monumental programs of the autocrats who supplanted these city states, and the imperial culture of Rome. Further inland we find the remains of the important Roman cities of Aphrodisias and Pamukkale (Hierapolis).

From Pamukkale we travel to the original Seljuk capital of Konya, the home town of Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes. Remains of early underground Christian monastic communities are seen in Cappadocia as is the ancient capital of the Hittites at Hattusha (Bogazköy). The tour continues to Ankara, Turkey’s modern capital at an ancient crossroads and home to the great Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, before returning to Istanbul.



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
  • Group Welcome Meal at Balikçi Sabahattin Restaurant

Meeting Point: The tour commences at 1.00pm in the foyer of the Armada Hotel.

We begin with a short introductory meeting and then board our coach for a visit to the Sadberk Hanim Museum, a wealthy Turkish woman’s tasteful collection of ancient and Islamic art. This small museum provides an opportunity to enjoy the spectrum of ancient and Ottoman culture, with a focus on domestic interiors, apparel, ceramics and jewellery.

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 incl. the Upper Gallery
  • Hagia Irene 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. Our program includes a visit to the upper gallery’s mosaics which opened to the public in January 2024.

We then make a visit to the Hagia Irene Museum. This was the site of an ancient pagan temple, overbuilt by the first Patriarchal church. Hagia Eirene is the second-oldest Byzantine church still standing in Istanbul, and now serves as a concert venue and museum.

Our morning ends with some time at leisure for lunch and to explore the Arasta Bazaar which is lined with stores selling pottery, rugs and spices.

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
  • Tekfür Saray
  • Kariye Museum (Church of St Saviour in Chora) – subject to reopening in 2025
  • Yedikule Fortress
  • Süleymaniye Mosque incl. tomb of Süleyman & Roxelana

This morning we drive to view the remains of the Byzantine city walls built in the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius II. The defensive stone structure originally stretched for almost 7 kilometres and what remains is now listed as a UNESCO heritage site. The Tekfür Saray is the last of the Byzantine imperial palaces still standing. The ruined complex was built in the 13th century and served a variety of purposes after the Ottoman conquest. The Emperor Alexius I Comnenus made the edifice there his main residence, with its vast substructures built up against the inside of the land walls at their highest point above the level of the land outside.

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 with some time at leisure at the end of the day.

In the afternoon 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’.

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
  • Hippodrome
  • 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
  • Graeco-Roman Pergamum

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
  • Aphrodisias
  • 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
  • Uçhisar
  • 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
  • Village of Sinasos (Mustafapasa)
  • Time at leisure

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.

Following some time at leisure for lunch in Avanos, we visit the village of Mustafapasa (formerly known as Sinasos). During the 19th century village residents included Turkish Muslims as well as a large Greek Community. Many of these Greeks were Karamanlides – Christians who spoke Turkish but wrote it in the Greek alphabet. In 1924, in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne, the entire Christian population was forced to leave for Greece where they resettled in Nea Sinasos.  Today the village is known for is fine stone houses decorated with carved and ornamental facades, including the Old Greek House which featured in the hit television series Asmali Konak. There is also the 19th-century Church of Sts Helena and Constantine featuring a grapevine carved around its entrance and the frescoed rock-cut Church of St Basil. (Overnight Uchisar) BD

Ankara - 1 night

Day 17: Sunday 18 May, Cappadocia – Bogazköy – Ankara
  • HattushaAncient 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
  • Bosphorus Cruise by private chartered boat
  • 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. From the Istanbul Modern it’s a short walk to the pier from where we board our privately chartered boat for a 2-hour cruise of the Bosphoros.

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



All hotels are rated 4-5-star locally and are comfortable and conveniently situated. All rooms have shower or bath and w.c. Several hotels have swimming pools. Single rooms may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the single supplement. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Istanbul (4 nights): 4-star Hotel Armada Old City – located in the heart of Istanbul’s historic peninsula, within walking distance of the Archaeology Museum, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterns, Sultanahmet Square and Grand Bazaar. www.armadahotel.com.tr
  • Bursa (1 night): 5-star BB Çelik Palas Hotel – an historic hotel founded in 1935 by Atatürk, featuring a magnificent domed marble thermal pool. www.hotelcelikpalas.com
  • Çanakkale (1 night): 4-star DoubleTree by Hilton Çanakkale – located on the Dardanelles, 800 metres from Çanakkale Archaeological Museum. www.hilton.com
  • Assos/Ayvacik: (1 night): 4-star Assos Eden Gardens Hotel – by the sea, within a 15-minute drive of Kadirga Beach. www.assosedengardens.com
  • Kusadasi (3 nights): 4-star LaVista Boutique Hotel & Spa – set in landscape gardens this modern hotel offers 39 rooms with overlooking the Aegean Sea. www.lavistahotel.net
  • Pamukkale (1 night): 5-star Doga Thermal Health & Spa – located in the town of Karahayit, 7km from Paumukkale with a spa health centre and thermal pools. www.dogathermalhotel.com
  • Konya (2 nights): 4-star Hich Hotel – located in historic centre within easy walking distance of the Mevlana Tekke and Museum; housed in a 200-year old building. hichhotel.com
  • Cappadocia (3 nights): 4-star The Argos in Cappadocia – a charming hotel offering modern rooms which derive from carefully restored historical dwellings, tunnels and caves of an ancient monastery. www.argosincappadocia.com
  • Ankara (1 night): 5-star Divan Çukurhan – a boutique hotel housed in a restored 17th-century Ottoman caravanserai; located opposite the main entrance to the Ankara Citadel (see image below). www.divan.com.tr
  • Istanbul (3 nights): 5-star Pera Palace Hotel – Established in 1892 by the French-Ottoman architect Alexander Vallaury, the Pera Palace is a special category museum hotel designed in neoclassical, art nouveau and oriental styles. Built for the purpose of hosting the passengers of the Orient Express, detective writer Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was allegedly written in the hotel. The hotel offers spectacular views of the Golden Horn, an indoor pool, and luxurious rooms with city views in the historical Pera district of Istanbul. www.perapalace.com

NoteHotels are subject to change. In this instance a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

How to book

How to Book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $1000.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, six to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion.

This 21-day tour involves:
  • This tour covers long distances by coach and much of the walking is over rough ground at sites which requires agility and stamina
  • 4 to 5-star hotels with nine hotel changes
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.
  • 1 internal flight: Ankara – Istanbul (Day 18).

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the Booking Conditions on the last page of this tour itinerary.

Practical Information

Tour members will receive prior to departure practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers see: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $13,980.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: book before 30 June 2024

AUD $14,180.00 Land Content Only

AUD $3990.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-5-star hotels.
  • All meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Bottled water during excursions
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Porterage at hotels and airports
  • Internal airfare Day 18: Ankara – Istanbul
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour Handbook
  • Entrance fees to museums and monuments
  • Local guide in Turkey
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia – Istanbul, Istanbul – Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Turkish Visa
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A non-refundable deposit of $1000.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on this ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: your initial deposit of $1000.00 is non-refundable.**
  • 75-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**$500.00 of this amount (ie 50% of your deposit) may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA. ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies. ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider. ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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