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Highlights of Turkey

With unique historical and archaeological sites,  breathtaking natural beauty, religious and cultural diversity, and a welcoming tradition of hospitality, Turkey is one of world’s most fascinating destinations.
This comprehensive tour begins in Istanbul where we will see the domed mosques, minarets and palaces, followed by the energetic, modern capital city of Ankara with its tree-lined avenues. Then we journey to the rock churches of Cappadocia and the incredible Goreme Valley. 

We then proceed to experience the thermal springs and amazing white cliff waterfalls of Pamukkale. Next is perhaps the main highlight of the tour - Ephesus, the world's best-preserved ancient city. After some time at leisure at the picturesque seaside resort of Kusadasi, we visit the city of Bursa - famous for its Ottoman architecture and enticing silk markets.  

* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tour Highlights:
   • Exotic Istanbul and its Grand Bazaar
   • Cruise along the impressive Bosphorus Straits
   • Mystical Whirling Dervish performance
   • Ankara - the capital city of Turkey
   • The Cappadocia region
   • Konya - home of the Whirling Dervishes
   • Pamukkale with its cascades of white travertine
   • The seaside resort of Kusadasi
   • Ephesus - the world’s grandest and best-preserved ancient city
   • Historic Bursa – a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Istanbul - a direct, non-stop flight from Toronto.
We arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our hotel. This evening is our Welcome Dinner.
Our full day tour starts at the magnificent Byzantine church of St. Sophia, one of the first and largest architectural works of art in the world; then on to the famous Suleyman's Mosque and the beautiful Blue Mosque. We also see Topkapi Palace - a former imperial residence from where the great Ottoman sultans once ruled. We finish with a visit to the Grand Bazaar.
This morning we cruise the unforgettable Bosphorus. We pass by palaces, churches, villages, old wooden houses, mansions and modern villas. In the afternoon we visit the Asian side of Istanbul via the two bridges that link the east to the west. This evening we enjoy a “Whirling Dervish” performance, which is both a form of entertainment and a spiritual journey.
Our morning drive will take us through the Bolu Mountains to Ankara - capital city of Turkey. Our tour of Ankara will include the Mausoleum of Ataturk (the founder of modern Turkey) and the Museum of Anatolian Civilization, considered the best in Turkey.
We depart this morning for the unique Cappadocea region. In the afternoon we visit the Goreme Valley, also known as the Petrified Valley, where the wind and rain have eroded the volcanic soil into a spectacular, bizarre landscape of rock cones, capped pinnacles and deep ravines. This area is also famous for its rock churches.
Our tour of this fascinating area features ancient excavated towns, troglodyte villages and breathtaking scenery. This area, a UNESCO world heritage site, has changed little over time - with locals travelling between villages in horse-drawn carts.
Konya, scenically situated high on a plateau, has long been a centre of the Muslim faith. The Whirling Dervishes were actually founded here in the 11th century. We visit the mausoleum of Mevlana, founder of the sect.
Appearing at first as as an enormous, chalky white cliff, as we approach Pamukkale it takes on the appearance of a cotton castle. This thermal spring has attracted the weary and the curious for over 2000 years. We spend time at the mineral pools for those who wish to try the healthy warm waters. We also visit the holy city of Hierapolis - a spa and religious centre since Roman times.
We travel across a highland plateau rich in farms to Aphrodisas, one of the most important artistic sites. See the beautiful Temple of Aphrodite - goddess of love. Later we arrive at the picturesque seaside resort of Kusadasi, where we spend the next 4 nights.
A day of leisure to explore. The town centre has an interesting waterfront, modern shopping, colourful bazaars and several interesting teahouses.
This morning we visit Ephesus, once the capital of the Roman's province of Asia. Here the Temple of Diana was counted among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. St. Paul wrote his most profound epistles here. A white marble avenue known as the Arcadian Way stretches through the city with ruins of great buildings such as the Library of Celsius, the Temple of Hadrian and the public latrines! Finally we see the house of the Virgin Mary where it is believed she spent her last years.
We take an excursion to Miletus and Didyma, where we see the beautiful Great Theatre - a remarkably intact 25,000 seat amphitheatre, the Roman baths and gymnasium. We continue to the Temple of Apollo - one of antiquity’s most sacred places.
Today we drive to this famous town known for its spa and silk markets. It was here that Ottoman architecture bloomed. The minarets above the 125 mosques make for a grand skyline. One of Turkey's more prosperous cities, it is a pleasing mix of old stone buildings and wealthy suburbs with vintage wood-frame Ottoman villas. Bursa is called the Green City, both for the green tiles that decorate some of its most famous monuments and for its parks and gardens.
We return to Istanbul. The afternoon is free to explore or revisit the Grand Bazaar for last minute purchases. This evening is our Farewell Dinner.
We return to Canada, direct to Toronto.
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