DAY 1 ARRIVAL
Arrival in Istanbul and transfer (optional) to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
DAY 2 WALKING HISTORIC ISTANBUL – (KAYSERI/NEVSEHIR) – CAPPADOCIA
Meet your guide at the hotel 8:10 – 8:45 Departure. We continue to see the Saint Sophia (Hagia Sofia) which was built in the 6th Century by order of Justinian. Inside are more than 100 columns, 8 porphyry columns symbolize the nobility of the Byzantine Empire. There are also 8 columns taken from the Artemis Temple in Ephesus. We then visit the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) built in the early 17th century. It impresses us with six soaring minarets. Four minarets stand at the corners of the mosque. Each of these fluted, pencil-shaped minarets has three balconies (Called Serefe) with stalactite corbels, while the two others at the end of the forecourt only have two balconies. We walk along the Hippodrome which was originally built in the 3rd century CE by Septimus Severus. It hosted not only chariot races but political events and could seat more than 30,000 people. See the remains of the DelphianSerpent Pillar and Egyptian Obelisk, and finally the Fountain of the German Emperor Wilhelm. Our next stop is to the 16th century Medrese of Caferaga, who was the Chief Black Eunuch of Suleyman the magnificent. It was a religious school but is now a center for learning of Turkish Arts. We stroll to the Topkapi Palace (Please note that entry to the Harem section is not included). This was the palace of the Sultans starting in 1479. We pass through the monumental gates and courtyard. Visit the Treasury with four imperial thrones, turban jewels, ceremonial swords and daggers, brooches and rings, theTopkapi Dagger and the 86 karat Spoonmaker Diamond. See also the Holy relics of Islam - brought from Egypt in 16th C. Personal articles and garments of the Prophet Mohammed and one of the oldest copies of the Koran as well as the keys of the Kaaba. We continue to the Grand Bazaar where jewelry, carpets, ceramics and more are sold. It is like a maze with over 4000 shops.**Note that on Sunday the Grand Bazaar is closed and on Tuesday the Topkapi Palace is closed. (In winter St Sophia is closed on Monday and is replaced by the Yerebatan Saray Underground Cistern) Transfer to the airport (Optional) for the flight to Kayseri (or Nevsehir). Upon arrival transfer (included) to your hotel. Overnight in Cappadocia. B. L. *For budget option you will make your own way to the bus station or shuttle point and overnight bus to Cappadocia – upon arrival you will make your own way to the hotel (no breakfast or accommodation included with overnight bus).
DAY 3 CAPPADOCIA – UNDERGROUND CITY AND ANATOLIAN VILLAGES
10:00 Departure. Visit Kaymakli Underground City and explore four levels of this underground city which is a maze of tunnels where it is believed up to 3500 people may have lived. You will see storage rooms, kitchens and living areas with ventilation shafts. There are also wineries, stables and “millstone” doors which could be rolled to seal tunnel entrances from invaders. Parts of the underground city may be from the Hittite era but were also used by early Christians as a refuge as there is a small church. We continue to Sobessos ancient site near Sahinefendi Village with its fascinating “mosaic” house, meeting hall and chapel from around the 4th century AD. You will also see traditional villages in the valleys which are flanked by flat tabletop mountains. Continue to Keslik Monastery near Cemil Village that has frescoes veiled by a thin layer of smoke. After lunch, we visit Mustafapasa (Sinasos) which was originally a Greek settlement. Walk in the picturesque town with churches and houses in the Greek architectural style. We will also see the Saruhan Caravanserai which is built of the local volcanic stone and was an inn for travelers on the ancient trade route. The tour will end with a panoramic view of Red Valley with its colorful volcanic rock formations. Overnight in Cappadocia. B. L.
DAY 4 CAPPADOCIA – GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM AND FAIRY CHIMNEYS – KAYSERI/NEVSEHIR – ISTANBUL
10:00 Departure. Visit Devrent Valley - natural rock formations with fantastic shapes, some of which are reminiscent of people and animals. Visit the Zelve area with Pasabagi for a walk in the vineyards among strange multiple "mushroom-capped" fairy chimneys, then continue to Avanos, which has been a center of terra cotta work since 3000 BC. See a pottery demonstration using the ancient kick-wheel technique. We will also visit Goreme Open Air Museum, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the best examples of Byzantine frescoes and symbols inside the rock-cut churches that date roughly from the 10th to the 13th along with the kitchens and dining halls of the monks in this extensive early Christian complex. The last stop will be Uchisar Village where we climb up tunnels inside the rock citadel for an extensive panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia and even Mt Erciyes on a clear day. Transfer the Kayseri (or Nevsehir) Airport (included) and flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival in Istanbul transfer (optional) to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul. B. L. *For budget option you will be transferred to the bus station and overnight bus to Istanbul – upon arrival you will make your own way to the airport – tour service ends with arrival in Istanbul on day 5 (no breakfast or accommodation included with overnight bus).
DAY 5 DEPARTURE
Transfer to airport (optional) for departure (B)
Accommodation in hotel category of your choice
Meals as mentioned only (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch)
Main museum entry fees, transport in non-smoking A/C car, mini, midi or coach buses with professional English speaking guides on tours (Istanbul Old City is a walking tour)
Kayseri/Nevsehir Airport transfers (Except for Budget program)
Bus tickets Istanbul – Cappadocia – Istanbul and bus station transfers as mentioned only if taking budget option
NOT INCLUDED: International or domestic flights, Istanbul airport transfers, some bus station transfers as mentioned in itinerary, drinks, tips to guide and driver and items of a personal nature.
OPTIONAL: Domestic flights, 4 x Istanbul airport transfers 360 EUROS total - up to 3 passengers (valid for Istanbul Ataturk Airport only), additional nights in Istanbul, Turkish Night or Cappadocia Balloon Tour