Turkey off the beaten path > capital cities of Asia Minor
the capital cities of Asia Minor --- They were sovereign on three continents, the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. They no longer exist, nor Alexander's empire, Kingdom of Pergamon, or the wealthy Lydian Kingdom. But you can trace their permanent shadows in their capital cities, the traces of long forgotten kings and vagabonds!
And there is more to it; You will walk the battlefields where fierce fights during WW1 changed the run of history. You will see the lands where mythology becomes reality in Homer’s verses. And you will hear centuries old recipes; olives for anything, or garlic as the formula of immortality...
  • 10 days - 12 days including the tour extension, tour starts and ends in Istanbul;
tour highlights
  • Highlights of Byzantine and Ottoman Istanbul
  • Edirne, and the masterpiece of Architect Sinan; Selimiye Mosque
  • Legendary Troy, and Gallipoli peninsula WW1 memorials
  • Hellenistic Pergamon, the acropolis that once rivaled Athens'
  • Aesclepion, ancient medical center dedicated to Apollo
  • Ancient Ephesus, capital city of the Asian Province of Rome
  • Lydian capital Sardis, the city of King Croesus
  • Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire
  • Iznik, or ancient Nicea, home to two ecumenical councils
included are
  • Accommodations in centrally located hotels and village pensions
  • All breakfasts, and half the lunches and dinners
  • All entrance fees to sites and museums listed in the itinerary

itinerary details

day 1 - Istanbul --- We get together in the afternoon for our tour introduction. Dinner will follow a short walk in the neighborhood.

day 2 - Istanbul --- Ottoman Istanbul - Topkapi served as the dynasty's administrative palace for over 400 years. Our tour includes the Harem, private apartments of the royal family. Then we will walk to the Blue Mosque, known for its outstanding 17. century tiles. We will continue on to the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificient, built by the royal architect Sinan. After a brief orientation, you will have free time in the Grand Bazaar.

day 3 - Istanbul --- Byzantine Constantinople - Hagia Sophia was the pride of the empire's capital city. The unique architectural style influenced many generations to come. The Hippodrome was the center of political and sportive activities in the capital city. Later in the day we will take a cruise up the Bosphorus, the strait that divides the two continents. Back to town to visit St. Savior in Chora, a spectacular church complex of the late Byzantine era. Mosaic decorations of this church rival those in Ravenna. Orientation and free time in the colorful Spice Market.

day 4 - Canakkale --- Drive to Edirne, capital city of the Ottoman Empire for 40 years until the conquest of Istanbul. Built by the royal architect Sinan (the Great) for Sultan Selim, the 16. century Selimiye Mosque stands out for its elaborate architecture and the perfect dome. In Edirne, we will also visit a mediaeval healing center from the Ottoman times, specialized in mental diseases.
Wrestling is a national sport in Turkey. Every summer, a traditional oil wrestling contest is held in Edirne. We will stop by the Kirkpinar field where this event takes place. Then we will drive to Canakkale, and before we cross the Dardanelles, we'll visit Gallipoli WW1 war fields and memorials.

day 5 - Mt. Ida --- As we tour the site of ancient Troy, we will learn how systematic excavations are carried out to find out the unknown behind nine different layers of settlement. We will see the huge Cyclopean walls, and the so called 'trench' where Schlieman found the treasures of King Priam. We will take a look at Dardanelles from the site of the Temple of Athena, from where Trojans watched Greek forces approaching.
Later today we will visit an olive pressing plant that still works with ancient methods. We will continue on to Mt. Ida for overnight. This is where Zeus watched the war for Helen of Troy.

day 6 - Kusadasi --- Today we drive to Pergamon. The ruins of the spectacular acropolis are a thousand feet above the contemporary town, and command an extraordinary view in all directions. Our tour includes the Aesclepion, ancient medical center dedicated to god Apollo. Then we will drive to Izmir, or ancient Smyrna. After an orientation tour of the city, we will be heading further south to Kusadasi for overnight.

day 7 - Kusadasi --- In the Roman times, Ephesus was one of the largest metropolitans of the world. It was the capital city of the empire's Asian Province. As we tour Ephesus, you will be walking the streets that many well known personalities walked; such as Anthony and Kleopatra... You will visit the theater building where St. Paul preached, and the Celcius library, a masterpiece of Roman architecture. We will also visit the local Museum of Archeology to see the rare findings from the site.

day 8 - Bursa --- Drive to Sardis, capital city of the Lydian Kingdom. The phrase “rich as Croesus” refers to the legendary king of this state. This is where minted coins – as a monetary unit - ultimately changed the long lasting way of commercial life, exchange of goods and precious metals. The Gymnasion, Synagogue, and the temple dedicated to Artemis are great examples of classical architecture.
Bursa was the first capital of the new-born Ottoman state. Here we will visit the 15. century Grand Mosque, a vast building with 20 domes, and noted for the variety and beauty of its interior decoration. The Green Mosque and the Green Mausoleum, early examples of classical Ottoman art and architecture, are named after the Turqoise colored tiles used for decoration. We will take a walk in the downtown, taste candied chestnuts, learn about the famous shadow puppet characters of medieval Ottoman folklore, and have a Turkish coffee in the old silk bazaar that housed silk trade for centuries.

day 9 - Istanbul --- Back to Istanbul. En route, we will visit Iznik, or ancient Nicea. The city was known all over the world for the tiles produced here. The first and seventh Ecumenical Councils met in Nicaea, in 325 and 787. And for a short period of time, the city served as the administrative centre for the Byzantine dynasty, during the Crusader invasion of Constantinople. Here we will see ruins of Hagia Sophia, site of the first Ecumenical Council, the city walls and the local museum of tiles. Farewell dinner will conclude the day.

day 10 - Tour is over after breakfast.

tour extension
  • Accommodations in a centrally located hotel or a village pension
  • All breakfasts, and half the lunches and dinners
  • All entrance fees to sites and museums listed in the itinerary
  • Domestic flights; Istanbul-Cappadocia-Istanbul
day 10 - Cappadocia --- We will take a morning flight to Cappadocia. As we arrive in the region, we will visit Goreme Open Air Museum to see the late Byzantine churches carved in the rock. We will continue on to the underground city of Kaymakli, a temporary shelter for local Christians during the never ending wars of the past.

day 11 - Istanbul --- In the Red Valley, and the pictureque Pasabag, you will see some of the most spectacular rock formations of the area, known as the "fairy chimneys". We will continue on to Avanos, a small town on the Red River known for its traditional red clay pottery. The rock dwellings of Zelve Valley were still in use till early 20th century. We will take a late afternoon or evening flight back to Istanbul.

day 12 - Tour is over after breakfast.

Itinerary can be re-designed to your specifications, travel plans and expectations...
tour dates;
  • on demand, year around
Itinerary can be re-designed to your specifications, travel plans
and expectations...




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