The Eastern Turkey Tour
15 Day Eastern Turkey Tour presents historical and biblical heritage of the country.
Itinerary of Eastern Turkey Tour
Day 1 – Istanbul
After passport and visa procedure, you will be met and taken to your hotel. There will be time to relax before the guide takes you for dinner at a local restaurant.
Day2 – Safranbolu
The next morning we will drive to the historic town of Safranbolu which is one of the UNESCO’s world heritage sites of Turkey. The town is graced with many traditional old houses and mansions. The friendly people of Safranbolu will welcome our interest in traditional Turkish culture as we wander through the town, admiring its charm and beauty. This town is full of unusual photo opportunities with thousands of Ottoman houses.
Day 3 – Amasya
We will drive to the Hittite ruins at Yazilikaya to see the private temple of Hittite kings and then to Hattusas, the capital city of the Hittite Empire which is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites of Turkey. At this site we will follow the ancient city wall constructed nearly 3,400 years ago and see the ruins of the Great Temple of the Storm God, the Lion Gate, the King Gate (guarded by a relief of the Hittite War God) and the Great Fortress. Afterwards, we will depart Hattusas and continue to Amasya, the one time capital of the Pontic Empire. It is a lovely little town nestled in a small mountain valley formed by the Green River. Some of the most striking features of Amasya are the tombs of the kings of Pontus carved into the high cliffs surrounding the city. Here, we will explore the old streets of Amasya.
Day 4 – Trabzon
Today is a driving day. We will travel from Amasya to the beautiful wooded coast of the Black Sea, following the coastline to Trabzon. The scenery on this drive is unbelievable. Trabzon is an ancient Silk Road Black Sea port, with its recorded history dating back to 746 BC. With lush, green vegetation throughout the region, this area is a very unique part of Turkey. Hazelnut and tea plantations are the major contributors to this region’s agricultural exports.
Day 5 – Erzurum
We will visit the Sumela Monastery in the morning, which is from the Byzantine era, and enjoy a lovely picnic by a rushing stream there. One of the remarkable features of this site is that it is carved into a cliff face! From Sumela we will drive to Erzurum, with many stops along the way. This is a very beautiful drive, which follows various rivers. Erzurum is at an altitude of 2000 metres and although it is somewhat remote, it is one of the largest cities in eastern Turkey. Despite its size, the people maintain quite a conservative outlook. Here, one will frequently encounter more women wearing veils than in other cities. While in Erzurum we will have lunch in a restaurant converted from old Ottoman houses decorated with antiques everywhere. We will visit Ulu Cami (the Great Mosque) and an old Selcuk Medrese (schoolhouse).
Day 6 – Kars
An early morning departure from Erzurum will take us on a beautiful drive to Kars. We will arrive in Kars to visit Ani at the Turkish-Armenian border. A 45 minute drive will take us to the medieval Armenian City of Ani, which lies mostly in ruins. Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansaries. Walking around the ruins, we will be able to see a beautiful view of Armenia across the Arpa River, which creates the border between Turkey and Armenia. Other attractions in the city of Kars are the immense citadel, its old bridges and an Armenian church (the Church of the Twelve Apostles).
Day 7, 8 – Van (Mt Ararat)
Early in the morning, we will drive along the beautiful yet rugged border between Turkey and Armenia and arrive in Dogubeyazit. On the way, we will stop for photo opportunities, especially of the beautiful flowers in this region (depending on the season). We will also have the opportunity to see Mt Ararat, where Noah’s Ark is believed to be, and visit the spectacular Isah Pasa Palace. This complex is a combination of mosque, fortress and 17th century palace. We will then drive 2 1/2 hours to Van, stopping again for various photo opportunities. One of the stops will be by a gorgeous waterfall. We arrive in Van and overnight.
Early in the morning a short ferry ride will take us to Akdamar Island. There is a wonderful 10th century Armenian church here called the church of the Holy Cross. The outside walls of the church are decorated with wall reliefs depicting various well known tales from the Bible and the Old Testament. This church, recently restored to its former glory, is a true gem. In the afternoon we will visit the 3,000 year old fortress built by the Urartians, who inhabited the region between the 9th and 6th century B.C. and called their capital city, Tushba. Before we finish our tour, we will see beautiful handmade carpets and klims of Eastern Turkey.
Day 9,10 – Mardin
In the morning we drive to Batman where we will visit the incredible and ancient city of Hasankeyf nearby. Hasankeyf is on the banks of the Tigris River and is located in an area of the Fertile Crescent where animals were domesticated and grains were cultivated over twelve thousand years ago. After driving ninety minutes, we will arrive in Mardin, capping a long but spectacular day with many stops. Mardin is a very unique and lovely city with many old Arabic style houses. It is a city that played an important role in the early development of Christianity. We will take time to walk in its busy streets and bazaars and take superb photographs. Just outside of town, we will visit the monks in the Monastery of Deyr-az-Zaferan, which was founded in 4th century AD. It was the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch for almost 800 years. This monastery is built on top of a 4,000 year old temple originally used by sun worshipers.
Day 11 – Urfa
Today we will drive three hours to Urfa, the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. We will visit nearby Harran and see the incredible beehive houses. Harran, according to the Bible, was the site where the prophet Abraham lived with his family for several years before moving to Israel, the Promised Land. We will also visit the holy sites at Ainzelha, a lake with domesticated fish. We will also visit Göbekli Tepe, a recently discovered site where excavations have just begun. Built in 10,000 B.C., it is the oldest known temple in the World. We will stay in Urfa for one night.
There are exceptional photo opportunities in this area.
Day 12 – Mt Nemrut
From Urfa we will drive 2 hours to Adiyaman Kahta. On the way, we will stop to see Ataturk Dam, the fourth largest dam in the world built on the Euphrates River. We will drive through the pistachio orchards and stop to pick them (depending on the season). We will check into our hotel. Soon after, we will board small mini buses to drive up Mt Nemrut. Resting at an elevation of 2150 metres this extraordinary mountain top features a funerary temple complex composed of two flattened areas strewn with huge statues and fallen heads of Greco Roman gods. Each head measures 2 – 3 metres high, belonging to the likes of Zeus, Hercules, Fortuna, Apollo and the King Antiochus, who considered himself a god. There is also a mound of broken gravel that makes a perfect false peak of crushed rock. Antiouchus built the entire complex 2,050 years ago as a monument to his ‘divine ancestry’.
Please note: The hike to Mt Nemrut consists of 20 to 40 minutes of a 30% uphill hike, mostly with stairs. There is no time limit and most can do the hike. There are also donkeys or mules available for hire.
Day 13 –GAZIANTEP
Early in the morning, we will drive to Gaziantep to visit the mosaic museum and see the famous mosaic of a gypsy girl from the ancient city of Zeugma. This is the one of the two best mosaic museums in the World, displaying 2000-year-old Roman mosaics. We will explore the old city of Gaziantep to see incredible Roman Castle, old markets and traditional lifestyle. Overnight is in Gaziantep.
Day 14 – ISTANBUL
In the morning, we will fly to Istanbul. Today we will visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque with its exceptional tiles, the spice market and take a Bosphorus cruise. We will also visit Grand Bazaar in the old city. You will join a farewell dinner with the rest of the group and your guide. We will stay in a hotel in the old city of Istanbul for the final night.
Day 15 – ISTANBUL
After breakfast transfer to airport and end of our service.
Accommodation as per itinerary (4 Star Hotel in Istanbul and 5 Star Hotels in other locations).
All taxes, fees and handling charges
Meals as per itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Airport pickup and drop-off