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Arrive Istanbul International Airport and our driver meets you at the exit gate, with a board on which your name is written and transfers you to your hotel. Rest of the day on your own. Overnight in Istanbul.
Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. Our tour will start at the Hippodrome, which was the scene of chariot races and great public occasions throughout the immensely long history of the Byzantine Empire. Close by looms the enourmous mass of Hagia Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian and inaugurated in 537 AD. For over nine centuries it was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it remains the world’s 4th largest church. Hagia Sofia contains some of the finest mosaics to have survived from the Byzantine period, including a hounting Virgin and Child in the eastern apse. Just across a park stands the Blue Mosque, so called because of its exquisite Iznik tile decoration. Thousands and thousands of these exteremly precious tiles line the walls in a mezmerizing display of floral extravangance. The mosque’s courtyard is exceptional beautiful, and it is the only mosque in Istanbul to have six minarets. Our next stop is the Underground Cistern which , like Hagia Sophia, is the work of Justinian. Its roof a supported by a forest of over 300 columns. Nearby lies the Mosaic Museum, which has magnificent 6th century floor mosaics from the Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors. We finish our tour with a visit to the Cinili Kiosk, the oldest Turkish building in Istanbul, dating from 1472, to see the museum’s collection of ceramic tiles dating from the 12th-19th centuries. Overnight in Istanbul.
Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. We st art the day a visit to the Sadberk Hanim Museum situated in the picturesque and historic Azaryan Yali, now a museum, where the collection includes prehistoric artifacts as well as Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Byzantineand Roman pieces, along Seljuk and Ottoman tiles and remarkable collection of Ottoman textiles. Our next stop is the Sakip Sabanci Museum, where we view its rich collections of calligraphy, antiques and Anatolian art andrelics, all in thebeautifully appointed rooms of a privateresidence. Themuseum’scalligraphyandilluminatedmanuscriptcollection is among the finest in the World, and a portion of the collection was displayed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in an exhibition entitled “Letters in Gold”. In the afternoon, we visit the Topkapi Palace Museum, for over four centuries home to the Ottoman sultans. It was from this palace that the sultans ruled an empire that in its heyday streched from Western Iran to the Atlantic Ocean. It is a sprawling and suprisingly unassuming complex, but it houses a remakable collection of priceless jewelry, porcelain and costumes, Legend claims that the ancient rod on display in the Pavilion of Holy Relics is the one used by Moses top art of the Red Sea, but most visitors will be more impressed by the Kanjar, emerald encrusted dagger and the subject of the 1964 Peter Ustinov film “Topkapi”. We finally visit the Basilica Cistern which, like Hagia Sofia, is the work of Justinian. Its roof is supported by a forest of over 300 columns, and visitors used to wend their way through them in little skiffs. Overnight in Istanbul.
Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. Embark on a boat for a cruise on the Bosphorus. Crossing back and forth between Europe and Asia, we will sail past opulent palaces, fine mosques, imposing fortresses and traditional, wooden Ottoman mansions. After our cruise we visit the 17th century Spice Bazaar, where you can find a vast diversity of spices, sacs of henna, many varieties of oils and herbs, and of course the world’s very best Turkish Delight. Next we move on the Church of St. Savior in Chora, which has beautifully preserved early 13th century mosaics and frescoes that are among the supreme masterpieces of medieval art and indicate that the political and economic decline of the Byzantine Empire in no way affected its creative expression. In the afternoon, we visit the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, which contains a priceless collection of Ottoman calligraph in gold, intricate miniatures, ceramics and magnificent carpets, some dating back to the 13th century. What makes the museum unique is the fact that it is housed in the former palace of Ibrahim Pasha, one of Suleyman the Magnificent’s grand viziers. . After this we move on the Istanbul’s world-renowned Grand Bazaar. The Bazaar was built between 1455-1461. There are thousands of shops that offer hand-woven carpets, kilims, hand-made gold and silver jewelery, Ottoman and Central Asian carpets, and world famous Iznik and Kutahya tiles and ceramics from one of the Turkey’s leading collectors and dealers. Overnight in Istanbul.
Our driver meets you at the hotel and transfers you to Istanbul Airport for flight to Izmir. Our guide and driver meet you at Izmir Airport on your arrival and start the private tour. We depart for Ephesus. If you’ve ever heard the words “an epistle to the Ephesians”, now is your chance to sit in the theatre where St. Paul preached. Walk colonnaded streets imagining them crowded with people visiting shops and taverns or simply strolling in the shade. Ephesus was one of the great cities of antiquity with a population approaching 250,000 and its Temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It encompassed everything necessary for education, politics, entertainment, sport, and the good life in general, for example the Library of Celsus, a gymnasium and luxurious terrace houses decorated with mosaics and frescoes rivaling those of Pompeii. Ephesus is among the best-preserved classical cities in the world, and the perfect place to get e feel for life in Roman times. We move on to the Archeological Museum and the vast, cruciform Basilica of Saint John, which was built by the Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century, and provided the model fort he cathedral of San Marco in Venice. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. We drive to Aphrodisias, which is now one of the most popular ancient sites in Turkey, and it easy to see why. Its architecture is magnificent, and the ateliers of its sculptors were famous throughout the Roman World. There was a settlement on the site as early as 5,800 BC, but Aphrodisias did not develop into a majör city until the Roman era. Before that its claim to fame was its Temple of Aphrodite. The patronage of emprerors including Augustus, Tiberius and Hadrian completely transformed the apperance of the city. Among the monumental structures that have survived, many in an excellent state of preservation, are a vast stadium, the Baths of Hadrian, an exquisite odeon, the Portico of Tiberius, a sebasteion (that is, a shrine to the deified emperors) and a theatre seating 8,000. We visit the on-site museum, which contains a superb display of sculpture found during the excavations. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. We depart fort he ancient cities of Didyma, Miletus and Priene. In ancient times, Didyma was linked to Miletus by a sacred way. Like Claros, this was a sacred dedicated to Apollo and the seat of an oracle, but it dwarfs Claros. With a double-colonnade of over 150 columns, the temple can only be described as stupendous. Its design was so over-ambitious that work continued in it for 500 years without ever being completed. Miletus is a much larger and more important city and for many centuries was an extraordinary center of intellectual ferment. Beginning in the late 7th century BC, the city produced a succession of distinguished figures, including the philosophers Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, who are generally credited with the invention of true, scientific inquiry, and the architect and town-planner Hippodamus, who if he did not actually invent the grid-plan, gave it a new sophistication and popularity. The destruction of Miletus in 479 BC by the Persians presented him with a golden opportunity, enabling him to redesign the city according to rational principles. Although Miletus has suffered many vicissitudes since (including the silting up of its harbor), the broad outlines of his plan, which was centered on three spacious agoras, are still visible. Other notable Milesians are the geographer Hecataeus, the enterprising and highly intelligent courtesan Aspasia, who became the mistress of Pericles and the friend of Socrates, and the architect Isodoros who, along with Anthemius of Tralles, designed Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. Fort he non-specialist, the site’s most striking features are the Roman theatre, the vast Baths of Faustina and the exquisite early 15th century Mosque of Ilyas Bey. Hermogenes, the architect of the temple of Artemis Leukophryene (Artemision) at Magnesia and noted aeshetic thinker whose work centered on the issue of rationally based architectural proportions, was a native of Priene, which is our next point of call. This is perhaps the most enchanting of the Ionian sites and has a fine location situated on the slopes of Mount Mycale. It is not an especially large site, but that only adds to its charm. Virtually everything you will see at priene dates from the Hellenistic period, since the Romans largely ignored the city. It is thus a perfect example of a Hellenistic city with a Hippodamian grid plan. Its architecture is remarkably elegant and well-preserved, including a theatre, a bouleterion, an agora and a magnificent Temple of Athena, which was considered by contemporary authorities to be the masterpiece of the architect Pytheos, who also designed the Mausoleum in Bodrum/Halicarnassos. Overnight in Bodrum
Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. Our first stop will be the Crusader Castle of Saint Peter. Much of the masonry of the Mousoleum of Halicarnassus was used in the construction of the castle, which now dominates the town. The castle now contains the Museum of Underwater Archeology, where there is an exceptionally fine display of glassware, pottery and other artifacts from ancient and medieval shipwrecks, as well as a fully restored wrecked ship over a thousand years old rescued from the seafloor and put on exhibition. We will explore one of the famous colorful weekly food markets of Bodrum, acquainting ourselves with the plentiful local vegatables, fruits, herbs, spices and other foodstuffs that play such a majör role in the Aegean region’s healthful and delicious cuisine. Overnight in Bodrum
Transfer to Bodrum Airport fo a morning flight to Istanbul connecting with your homebound flight.
– Istanbul/Izmir-Bodrum/Istanbul flight tickets (Turkish Airlines)
– 8 night’ accommodation including breakfast at the mentioned hotels (standard rooms)
– Air conditioned luxury bus with driver on tours and transfers
– Professional guiding on tours
– Lunches on tours
– All admission fees to the museums and sights
– Drinks during the lunches
– Not mandatory but customary tips