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8 Days 7 Nights
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, we begin our tour of the Sultanahmet area, the center of historic Istanbul, at the Hagia Sophia Mosque. The church is one of the wonders of world architecture, built by Emperor Justinian in the early sixth century AD and planned by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus. Its colossal dome still dominates the ancient Istanbul skyline.
It is particularly well-known for its mosaics, which include brilliant images of emperors and empresses as well as a moving Virgin and Child. Following that, we go to the Blue Mosque (closed on Friday mornings), which gets its name from the gorgeous tiles that cover its interior. It is the only imperial mosque with six minarets, having been built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century and planned by a student of Sinan, the greatest of Ottoman architects.
It has a very impressive courtyard. The Hippodrome, a historic Byzantium stadium that could hold 100,000 people and housed artifacts from all across the empire, was open to the public. A bronze sculpture of three intertwined serpents from Delphi and an Egyptian obelisk are among others that have survived. The Grand Bazaar was the ancient city's economic hub, with 4,000 stores filled with treasures like carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, pottery, icons, and leather items.
Enjoy some Ottoman-style shopping while strolling through the Grand Bazaar. Around 13:00, we returned to the hotel, and the rest of the day was free. The afternoon is yours to shop. The hotel is where you will be spending the night.
We start with a quick visit to the Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul's most colorful and buzzing attractions from the 17th century. Following that, we go on an incredible voyage around the Bosphorus, Istanbul's majestic waterway that connects Europe and Asia. We see mosques, a bridge that was once the world's longest, and the colossal Rumeli Hisar (no entry), a stronghold erected by Fatih the Conqueror in just three months as he prepared to seize Istanbul, from our cruise boat. The Ottoman elite's homes from the nineteenth century, as well as the Sultan's extravagant gingerbread castles and hunting lodges, are also remarkable The afternoon is free to go shopping.
*On the rare occasions when the Spice Bazaar is closed on a Sunday, we provide an orientation session.
**Based on the number of tour participants, the Spice Bazaar may be visited prior to the Bosphorus Cruise.
After breakfast at the hotel, go to the airport to catch a flight to Cappadocia, where you will spend the night.
In the morning, meet at the hotel lobby for a tour to Rose Valley, one of Cappadocia's most beautiful trekking regions, and go through the valley to see the famed rock-cut churches. Cavusin, a historic Greek hamlet famed for its Christian buildings and churches, is a good place to rest.
After lunch, go to Ortahsar Castle, which is identical to Uchisar Castle in design and has storage caverns. Visit the Kaymakli (or Ozkonak) Underground City in the afternoon, where early Christians lived in dread and trust. On the way back, stop by the scenic Pigeon Valley, where pigeons helped to feed the residents by fertilizing the grapes with their feces. You might also try Cappadocia wine from a local winery. Return to the hotels via car.
Breakfast at the hotel and drive to the airport to take a flight to Izmir for Kusadasi, upon arrival transfer to hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast is available each morning at the hotel. We'll start by going to the Virgin Mary House. After a German nun characterized the home and the mountain as the last dwelling of the Virgin Mary after having visions about the region, Lazarist priests located it. We'll then drive to Ephesus. Ephesus was a major port city in the ancient world, and it is also one of the seven churches listed in the book of Revelations. The Celsus Library and the theatre in Ephesus are also noteworthy.
Celsus Library, Hadrian's Temple, Trajan's Fountain, and the Theater are all sights to see at Ephesus. We'll eat lunch at a Turkish restaurant nearby. The Artemis Temple, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, stands today close to Ephesus antique city and will be the final stop on the trip. The trip concludes at 16:00. Return to your hotel via car.
Breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the airport for your trip to your next destination.