ORION TOUR has designed this tour for the visitor who wishes to immerse him or herself in the rich and fascinating history of Istanbul, the majestic capital that has been host to three great empires. The tour is completed with a leisurely trip throughout Western Turkey and the fabulous antique cities that sit proudly along the shores and mountaintops of the Aegean coast.
Day 1 - Istanbul
Arrival at Istanbul airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 – Istanbul
Following breakfast, we drive to the 'Old City' where we will visit the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles and Saint Sophia. This church - turned mosque - turned museum takes the breath away with the sheer architectural size of its interior and magnificent dome and next we will visit the spectacular Topkapi Palace. Built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex commands views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It was the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire for many centuries (1453-1852) and we will see the extravagant Treasury, the priceless Chinese porcelain. (BL)
Day 3 – Istanbul
Our morning starts with a visit to the aromatic Spice Bazaar, where the smells of cinnamon, cloves and thyme, rise from hundreds of colorful muslin bags at every storefront. We then board our ferryboat for a relaxing cruise along the shores of the legendary Bosphorus, the natural gateway that divides Asia and Europe. As you sit back and enjoy Turkish coffee or well-brewed tea from traditional small cups, numerous summer palaces and palatial homes will pass by on either side. Disembarking at the northern end of the Strait, we proceed to a restaurant for a tasty meal of local fish. Following lunch we will travel by coach to the Suleymaniye Mosque built by master architect Sinan during the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, the Lawgiver. The last stop will be Grand Bazaar which is amongst attractive shopping center and the biggest "souk" in the world with nearly 4000 shops of antiques, jewelry, gold, carpets and leatherwear. (BL)
Day 4- Çanakkale - Troy
After an early breakfast, we will begin our scenic drive down to Gallipoli, historically famous for being the site of many battles during WW1. Following a lunch break, we will cross the second strategic waterway, the Dardanelles, and land in Asia and proceed to Troy. Referred to in Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey", Troy has in fact nine cities superimposed one upon another. Troy Vl pertains to the famous Trojan War of Homer where the legendary heroes included Agamemnon, Achilles, Ulysses and Nestor on the Greek side and, Priam, Hector and Paris on the Trojan side. We will check-in our hotel in Çanakkale for the evening. (BD)
Day 5 – Izmir or Kusadasi
On our journey to Izmir we will stop by the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 BC, we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temples of Dionysus and Trajan and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. The Asclepieum of Pergamon was a famous health center where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. Leaving Pergamon behind us we settle at our hotel in Izmir. (BD)
Day 6 – Kusadasi
Following an early breakfast we will proceed further south and arrive at the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus was undoubtedly one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. Impressive structures we will see include the Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, Theatre and Odeon. We will also stop by at the Temple of Artemis that was one of the Seven Wonders of the antiquity. Close by is the House of the Virgin Mary where she is believed to have spent her last years. On August 18, 1961, Pope John XXll proclaimed the House of Virgin Mary at Ephesus to be sacred. You will have a chance to take some of Holy Water from the Sacred Spring. (BD)
Day 7 - Kusadasi / Istanbul
Free time until it's time to transfer to the airport for our flight to Istanbul.
If you'd rather take an organized excursion, we will leave early and journey to Priene which is an example of a truly ancient city, whose history dates back to the 10th century BC. Highlights include the Temple of Athena Polias, the Ecclesiasterium and the Agora. We next visit Miletus where the Philosopher Thales was born. He coined the phrase "Know Thyself". We will inspect the Delphinion, Baths of Faustina and the Council Chamber. Our last visit is to Didyma, which served as a religious sanctuary to the god Apollo. The oracular inscriptions date as far back as 600 BC. Among the highlights are the Temple of Apollo and the Stadium. We then return to Izmir to catch our flight to Istanbul. (B)
Day 8 - Transfer to Airport
Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
(Tour Code: ORNDTW6)