CLASSIC Tour 2 / 8 NIGHTS
Day 1 ARRIVAL ISTANBUL (-, L, D)
Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Meet and proceed to “Old City”. visit Hippodrome, center of sporty (chariot races, athletics) events and political activities of the old city. Obelisk of Theodosius, Serpentine Column and German Fountain of Wilhelm II are the monuments decorating Hippodrome. Then visit the Hagia Sophia, now called the Ayasofya Museum. Built by Constantine the Great, it was reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century and is unquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time. Afternoon, we will visit the aromatic Spice Bazaar, where the smells of cinnamon, cloves and thyme, rise from hundreds of colorful muslin bags at every store-front. Then embark on a scenic tour of the Bosphorus, the natural waterway that divides Asia from Europe, passing palaces, castles, palatial homes, and the two magnificent suspension bridges. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2 ISTANBUL-ANTAKYA (B, L, D)
After breakfast check-out from the hotel and transfer to the airport for domestic flight to Antakya. Today, we will visit Antakya, ancient Antioch. Antioch is thought to have been founded in 300 BC. St Peter was the first to preach here, followed by St Paul and Barnabas whose extensive efforts proved to be very fruitful for Christianity. Highlights include the museum which houses a superb collection of mosaics from Antioch, Daphne and Seleucia Pieria. St Peter’s Grotto, the cave church, came to be known as the meeting place of the early Christians. The most interesting monument here is the Tunnel of Titus, which is a tremendous canal dug for the purpose of diverting waters from the Orontes River. Another highlight is the rock tombs with their impressive facades pertaining to the Hellenistic period. Dinner and overnight in Antakya.
Day 3 ANTAKYA – TARSUS – CAPPADOCIA (B, L, D)
In the morning drive to Tarsus, the birthplace of St Paul. Highlights include St Paul’s well and Cleopatra’s Gate. Then we drive north to Cappadocia. Our stop is Derinkuyu, an underground city carved into soft rocks resembling a huge labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, kitchens, wine cellars and passageways. A huge chimney ventilates this 8-level dwelling, which was used by Christians hiding from their Roman and Byzantine persecutors. Their colorful frescoes remain as vibrant as when they were first made. Further on, we come to Cappadocia, which reminds the visitor of a village out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 4 CAPPADOCIA (B, L, D)
OPTIONAL (Early in the morning): Exclusive one-hour hot air balloon ride;
After breakfast, visit Natural Fortress in Üçhisar, where you can capture a panoramic view of the beautiful plateau. Next visit Pasabagı in Zelve area where monks used to live in seclusion in rock cut rooms. Then, we visit the Valleys of Göreme to explore the unusual troglodyte dwellings, remains of the early churches comprising complicated rooms hollowed out of the cones of volcanic ash and decorated with scratched frescoes. We will visit Göreme Open Air Museum include the Apple Church, the Church of Sandals, and the Church with a Buckle. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia. Then visit Avanos Village followed by the famous local pottery and carpet shows allowing ample time for shopping. Overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 5 CAPPADOCIA-PAMUKKALE (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will drive to Psidian Antioch (Yalvac) where St. Paul opened Christianity to the world. Yalvac’s history goes back to 280 B.C. During St. Paul’s time the population was a mixture of Jews, Romans and Greeks. Very little is left of Psidian Antioch today. There are the propylaea of the acropolis with a number of carved stones and the remains of a Byzantine church. Than drive to Pamukkale. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 6 PAMUKKALE – SARDIS – KUSADASI (B, L, D)
In the morning visit the Antique City of Hierapolis where Calcareous hot springs descending over cliff shave created fascinating travertines in the form of white terrace and basins. Then stop at Laodicea where we find here two Theaters, a large Stadium, a Water Tower and an Odeon. The city is named by Antiochus II in honor of his wife, Laodicea. St. Paul wrote a letter to the church here (Acts: 4:16). Drive to Alasehir. Visit Philadelphia which was an important Christian center during Byzantine times. Then proceed to Sardis whose history dates back to 12th century B.C. Sardis felt the influence of Christianity very early and was included in the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. During the Byzantine times it was the seat of a bishopric. Highlights will be a Synagogue, Gymnasium, Byzantine Church and the Temple of Artemis. Drive to Kuşadası. Dinner and overnight in Kuşadası.
Day 7 KUSADASI – EPHESUS – KUSADASI (B, L, D)
In the morning drive to Selçuk Town and stop at Leather Outlet on the way, see leather fashion show and shopping time, then visit the famous ancient city of Ephesus, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites. Highlights include the Library of Celsius, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Theatre. Afternoon visit the Basilica of St John “the Evangelist” who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. We will also stop by the House of Virgin Mary (on top of Mt Coressos). She was believed to have spent her last years in this area. On 18 August 1961, Pope John XXII proclaimed this place to be sacred. Dinner and overnight in Kuşadası.
Day 8 KUSADASI – PERGAMON – KUSADASI (B, L, D)
In the morning drive to Izmir and visit one of the Churches of Revelation in Izmir (Symra). Then drive to Thyatira to see the remains of the church. This was one of the principle towns where Christianity spread quickly. Proceed to Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 B.C., we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000-volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. Back to Kuşadası. Dinner and overnight in Kuşadası.
Day 9 KUSADASI (B, -, -)
Following breakfast, transfer to İzmir Airport for departure to your country.