9-Day (8-Night) Whirling Dervish Tour of Cappadocia & Konya, Turkey by Argeus Tourism & Travel, starting & ending in Istanbul.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Because of the high demand for travel services, (flights, hotel rooms, etc.) places on these travel programs are limited. Please reserve your place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
[Note: if you would like to experience the thrill of a hot air balloon flight over the moonscape of Cappadocia, Argeus Tourism & Travel can make your reservation for any morning from Day 2 to Day 6. Your flight will ascend at dawn, and you will return to your hotel in time for breakfast and the day's sightseeing activities. The cost of a balloon flight is not included in your tour fee, and will incur an additional charge. Contact Argeus for details.]
Day 1: Flight Istanbul to Cappadocia (LD)
We take a morning flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, then drive for an hour to our comfortable cave hotel in biblical Cappadocia. After settling in, you're free to explore the town on your own, as you wish, shopping in the bazaar, relaxing in a Turkish bath (hamam), or photographing the extraordinary rock formations. We meet in the evening for a get-acquainted dinner, then a restful night in our quiet cave rooms.
Day 2: Byzantine Cappadocia (BLD)
We explore the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: the beautiful 13th-century painted churches of the Göreme Valley, decorated and used by Byzantine Orthodox monks during the Seljuk Empire and Rumi's lifetime. We climb the stairs up a rock-hewn tunnel to the top of the Uçhisar Rock Castle, the highest point in Cappadocia, for a panoramic view of this incredible "moonscape."”
We stop for lunch in Avanos on the Kızılırmak River, a center for the art of terracotta pottery-making for thousands of years. We'll see a demonstration of pottery-making in a local workshop; you can try your hand at making pots! On our way back to our hotel we stop for a look at the Sarı Han Seljuk Turkish caravanserai, a beautifully-restored 12th-century caravan way-station. We continue to the labyrinthine Zelve Valley, with itstroglodyte ("cave-dweller") houses; and the “fairy chimneys” of Pasabag where the voice of wind mixes with the “songs of the fairies, before returning to our hotel. In the evening, we'll dine together.
Day 3: Medieval Cappadocia (BLD)
In the morning we drive south to hike the Soğanlı Valleys, filled with medieval churches and monasteries, with dozens of weird dovecotes carved from the rock. Then we drive to the historic Ottoman-Greek village of Mustafapaşa for lunch in one of its grand old houses, prepared, served and hosted by a local family.
The afternoon is at leisure for walking, shopping, photography or relaxing. a suggestion: go to the Red Valley for a pleasant hike through some of the most beautiful "moonscape" scenery in Cappadocia. In the evening, after our dinner together, we return to our cave rooms for another night's blissful sleep nestled in the rock.
Day 4: Kayseri, City of the Seljuks (BLD)
Kayseri was one of the richest and most important cities in the Seljuk Empire of Rum, thriving at the same time as Rumi's city of Konya. We drive to Kayseri for a day-long excursion to see its magnificent Seljuk Turkish buildings, including the Citadel, Hunat Hatun Mosque Complex, Twin Medreses and the bazaar, with lunch in a local restaurant. We return to our cave hotel in Cappadocia for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Natural Cappadocia (BLD)
In the morning we descend into the earth at Kaymaklı to get lost in the true labyrinth of this Underground City, the most elaborate of all the 40 such subterranean refuges in Cappadocia. Emerging (thank goodness!) on the surface, we drive into the mountains and stop at the pretty town of Güzelyurt to admire its dramatic situation and old Ottoman buildings (including the Church of St Gregory of Nazianzus, now converted to a mosque), and to have lunch.
In the afternoon, we make the short drive to the breathtaking Ihlara Valley for a one-hour, 4-km (3-mile) walk to see the many medieval Byzantine stone chapels sequestered between the dramatic, sheer rock valley walls. Leaving the valley, we drive to the ancient Silk Road for a look at the Seljuk Turkish Ağzıkarahan caravanserai before returning to our hotel for dinner and the night.
Day 6: Along the Silk Road to Konya (BLD)
After breakfast, we set off with our guide and driver westward along the ancient Silk Road toward Konya, stopping for a look at the huge Sultan Han caravanseraien route. Arriving in Konya, we check in at our hotel. In the afternoon we stroll the streets of Konya, visiting first the Tomb of Rumi in the glittering Mevlana Museum, an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims and indeed all lovers of Rumi.
Next door, we visit the Ottoman-era Sultan Selim mosque before having lunch in a traditional Turkish restaurant. We drive along Mevlana Caddesi, Konya's main avenue, to reach the age-old Alaettin Hill (a prehistoric tumulus) to visit the 1000-year-old Alaaddin Mosque, where Rumi often prayed. In its courtyard are the tombs of many of the Seljuk Turkish sultans who ruled during Rumi's lifetime, and who consulted him for spiritual guidance.
Walking down the north side of the Alaettin Hill we pass the remains of the Seljuk sultan's palace, then cross the street for a view of the elaborate portal of the medieval Great Karatay Medrese theological college (the interior is currently closed for restoration), after which we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Konya of the Whirling Dervishes (BLD)
Today we visit some of the wonderful Seljuk Turkishmonuments that Rumi would have known and visited: we drive to the north side of the Alaettin Hill to visit the Seminary of the Slender Minaret (Ince Minare Medrese, 1264), a 13th-century theological college that's been beautifully restored and now serves as Konya's Museum of Stone and Wooden Inscriptions, with works of art from the 1100s and later.
We drive the short distance to the Sahip Ata Mosque Complex (1283), including a school, a travelers' inn, Turkish bath, and the tomb of its founder, the Seljuk grand vezir who also built the Seminary of the Slender Minaret. Nearby, we visit the Konya's Archeological Museum to see the marble high-relief sarcophagus "The Trials of Hercules" and many items from Konya's ancient past (up to 7000 years ago).
A short walk takes us to Konya's Ethnographic Museumto see cultural artifacts from 1000 years of Turkish culture in Anatolia, including several 700-year-old carpets from Seljuk times.
Lunch at a local restaurant introduces us to more Konya culinary specialties, including furun kebap, succulent lamb cooked slowly in a tandır ("tandoori," clay pot buried in hot coals).
After lunch we walk to the Mosque and Tomb of Şems-i Tebrizi, Rumi's closest companion, spiritual mentor, and inspiration for many of his poetic works, then continue on foot past many shops to our hotel.
In the evening, the climax of our adventure: the spellbinding Mevlevi sema performed in Konya's grand Mevlana Cultural Center in honor of Şeb-i Aruz, Rumi's "wedding night with the Divine," witnessed by thousands of devotees and pilgrims.
Day 8: Free Day in Istanbul (BD)
Our driver takes us to Konya's airport for our morning flight to Istanbul, where we're met by our guide and driver and escorted to our hotel for a day of leisure in the metropolis: revisiting favorite places, visiting new ones, or returning to the Grand Bazaar or the Egyptian Bazaar to pick up last-minute souvenirs. Lunch is on your own. In the evening, we reconvene for a convivial farewell dinner.
What's included in your tour:
• 2 nights' accommodation at a 4-star hotel in Konya
• 1 night accommodation at a high quality boutique hotel in Istanbul
• Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = buffet breakfast; L = lunch; D = dinner), spring water and soft drinks included. Lunch and dinner are à la carte: chose whatever you wish from the menu (except in Konya, where dinners are table d'hote [set menu]. Vegetarian alternatives are available.)
• Private tours in Cappadocia and Konya as described in the itinerary
• Private airport-to-hotel and hotel-to-airport transfers in Cappadocia, Konya and Istanbul as described in the itinerary
• Luxury minibus or midibus with professional driver on tours & transfers
• Professional licensed tour guide
• Tickets for Seb-i Aruz Rumi Commemoration Ceremony in Konya
• All admission fees to museums and sights
• Flight tickets Istanbul—>Kayseri, and Konya—>Istanbul
What's NOT included in your tour fee:
• International flight to/from Turkey
• Meals not specifically mentioned as being included (above)
• Hot air balloon flight (available on request at additional cost)
• Tips to guides and drivers (at you discretion)
For tour prices, contact Argeus.
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