TOUR 4: EASTERN TURKEY - 15 DAYS:
DAY 1: ISTANBUL: Arrival in Istanbul and meet at the airport and transfer to the hotel.
DAY 2: ISTANBUL: Tour of the city including the Byzantine Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace with Harem and Treasury sections and the Underground Cistern.
DAY 3: TRABZON: Transfer to the airport and fly to Trabzon which is the major town along the Black sea. Drive to Macka and here we will visit the Monastery of Holly Mary known as Sumela Monastery located at 1200 meters above the sea level. The monastery was built up in the Karadaglar Mountains in the 14th century. Drive back to Trabzon to visit the church of Haghia Sophia, a 13th century Byzantine church with beautiful frescos.
DAY 4: KARS: Departure from Trabzon and drive to Kars through the scenic black sea mountains with a stop in Erzurum to visit the 13th century Cifte Minareli Medrese. Arrival in Kars in the late afternoon.
DAY 5 KARS: Kars is a very interesting city with its russian houses, beautiful castle and armenian churches. In the morning, visit the ruins of the old armenian city of Ani, where we will see the impressive ruins of a number of armenian churches. In the afetrnoon, time to stroll around the old streets of Kars.
DAY 6: VAN: Drive to Van with a stop in Dogubeyazit where we will see the famous Mount Ararat where its believed that Noah’s Ark rested. We will also visit the impressive 18th century Ishak Pasa Palace. On the way to Van, we will stop at the Muradiye Waterfalls and also we will make a short stop at the Van University where we will see the famous Van cats with one eye blue, the other green. The cats are under protection in the farm of the university.
DAY 7: VAN: Van, with its old name Tusba was once the capital of the Urartians. We will first visit the Van Castle, which is an old Urartian settlement from 8th century BC. and then the 7th century BC ruins of another Urartian settlement at Cavustepe. Lunch near the Lake Van and then boat ride to the Akdamar Island to visit the famous Armenian Church which is unique for its releifs.
DAY 8: MARDIN: Drive to Mardin, with a stop at Hasankeyf with old cave dwellings and an impressive castle near the River Tigris. Unfortunately this beautiful site will remain under the reservoir of a dam under construction on the River Tigris.
DAY 9: MARDIN: The old part of Mardin is like an open air museum and it offers a lot of interesting scenes with its narrow streets and old stone houses, where christians and muslims have been living together harmoniously for ages. In the morning, we will visit the 4th century Syrian Orthodox Christian Monastery of Dayrulzefaran which is still in activity. We will then visit the colorful old bazar area offering medieval scenes then we will go to the 13th century Zinciriye Medrese with the Mesopotamian plain in the back ground. In the afternoon, we will have free time to stroll around and explore the narrow, old streets of Mardin.
DAY 10: SANLIURFA: Drive to Sanliurfa, known as the city of prophets. It is beleived that Abraham was born here and Job, Jethro, Moses lived here. On the way to Sanliurfa, we will visit Gobeklitepe, very important archaeological and excavation site, where the recent finds seemed to change the history of the mankind. In Sanliurfa, we will first visit the old bazar with people playing chess, dominos and coppercraftsmen, saddle makers and etc.. then we will visit the cave where Abraham was born. A holly place and a great site to see the people in their traditional dresses. We will also see the Abraham's pond with holly carps in it.
DAY 11: ADIYAMAN: Departure to go to Harran, famous for its domed bee hive – like houses where we will also see the ruins of the oldest mosque in Turkey from the 7th century, then drive back to Sanliurfa with a stop at the cave where Job stayed when he had lepracy. In the afternoon, we will drive to Adiyaman and along the way we will stop at the Ataturk Dam on the Euphrates, 6th largest earth infilled dam in the world. We will also stop over the bridge on the famous river Euphrates.
DAY 12: ADIYAMAN: We will leave the hotel at 02:00 am and drive to the Mount Nemrut and then hike about half hour to get to the mountain top where we will see a beautiful sun rise and the giant statue heads of Gods from an open air temple built in the 1st century BC, by the King Antiochus of Commagene. We have breakfast in a mountain cafe and the way back to the hotel will offer scenic landscapes with mountains and villages. We take the afternoon to rest.
DAY 13: ISTANBUL: Drive to Gaziantep where we have the most interesting mosaic museum with recently found Roman floor mosaics, from the Roman city of Zeugma. A great part of this site will go under the water of another dam on the Euphrates. The mosaics were found during the rescue excavations. Gaziantep is also famous for its kebabs and baklava. We will visit the old bazar area in Gaziantep and in the afternoon, we will fly back to Istanbul.
DAY 14: ISTANBUL: Boat tour on the Bosphorus by regular ferry, leave the boat near the Black Sea and then drive back to the old city to explore the Grand Bazar and the Spice Market.
DAY 15: Transfer to the airport and flight back.