Explore the architectural landmarks of Istanbul and a host of ancient archaeological sites on this new journey that includes a private before-hours visit to the Hagia Sophia and a private cruise on the Bosphorus.
Marco Polo Invitational Journeys 2014
Upon arrival you are met and whisked through VIP Immigration and Customs procedures with your Turkey visa, pre-acquired by A&K, and transferred to your hotel. This evening, meet your fellow guests and Tour Director over welcome cocktails.Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus
Begin your journey with a private, before-hours opening of the timeless Hagia Sophia, an amazing example of Byzantine architecture and an inspiration to generations. Next, visit the sixth-century Basilica Cistern, an engineering marvel. Browse the leading collections of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, and then drive out to the city walls, which successfully repelled Attila the Hun. Visit nearby Chora Church (now a museum), a rich repository of Byzantine interior wall decorations. Later, cross the Golden Horn to stroll the Pera District in the heart of Istanbul. This evening, enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner in the chic and fashionable Nisantasi district.Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus | Meals: B L D
Tour massive Topkapi Palace to explore its breathtaking grounds, domes and porticos, view its exhibits of costumes, jewels and manuscripts, and visit the Harem section. Then, board a private boat to cruise the Bosphorus as the majestic skyline reflects beautifully in its waters. Disembark to immerse yourself in the colors and lyrical beauty of the tulip gardens of Emirgan Park during Istanbul’s spectacular Tulip Festival. The tulip is a traditional symbol of Istanbul and the city plants 20 million tulips each year for its spring flower festival.Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus | Meals: B L
As the Ottoman Empire reached its zenith in the 16th century, royalty and the elite competed to embellish their capital with beautiful buildings. It was their Golden Age and its master architect was Sinan (1491-1588). Today, tour a Sinan masterpiece, Suleymaniye Mosque, from the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent. Also visit Sinan’s wonderful Rustem Pasha Mosque next to the Spice Bazaar. Then explore the bustling Grand Bazaar, built in 1461 and in service ever since. Everything imaginable is for sale: gold and silver jewelry, rugs, carpets, antiques, tiles — but just experiencing this most legendary of bazaars is worth your while.Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus | Meals: B L
Explore Dolmabahçe Palace, the largest and the finest example of the Ottoman New Baroque in the city. Around midday, fly to enchanting Mardin to view edifices left from the Sumerians, Babylonians, Mitannis, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, the Ottoman Empire and others. Later, check into your accommodations, and savor Mardin cuisine for dinner.Reyhani Kasri Hotel | Meals: B L D
This morning, venture to Midyat, another city with an open-air museum quality, graced with stone palaces and arches, churches and minarets ascending into the sky. Behold beautiful examples of masonry, known as telkari, in its markets. Next, visit the Deyr-Ül Umur Monastery, also known as Mor Gabriel, which dates to AD 379, making it one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. Aramaic is still its spoken and written language and it boasts many shrines, altars, tombs and graveyards. Meet the patriarch of this ancient community (subject to availability) before returning to Mardin. Tour the Sakip Sabanci Mardin City Museum and Dilek Sabanci Art Gallery. Stroll the alleys of the old city for the local atmosphere, and then continue to the Church of the Forties (Kirklar Kilisesi), a Syriac Orthodox church dating to the 10th century.Reyhani Kasri Hotel | Meals: B L
Travel to Urfa en route to Göbekli Tepe to view the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered, erected by hunter- gathers in the 12th millennium BC. Return to Urfa and explore the old city, one of the most evocative and romantic in Turkey. Next, visit the alleged birthplace of the prophet Abraham — a cave to the south of the lake. Continue to the legendary Pool of Sacred Fish (Balikligöl) where Abraham was thrown into the fire by NimrodManici Hotel | Meals: B L D
Following breakfast, drive to Adiyaman (Kahta), gateway to Mount Nemrut National Park. En route, explore Roman bridges. Once at the peak of Mount Nemrut, view gigantic monuments built by Kommagene kings in the first century BC, including awe-inspiring statues of Apollo, Zeus and Herakles (Hercules). Travel to Gaziantep (Antep) to wander ruins from the Stone, Chalcolithic and Copper Ages, and then enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in this delightful culinary capital.Gaziantep Tugcan Hotel | Meals: B L D
This morning, explore the fantastic Zeugma Mosaics Museum. Then fly to Antalya via Ankara, arriving in the afternoon, where you transfer to your hotel located on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening.Kempinski Hotel The Dome | Meals: B L D
Today you explore ancient Pamphilia. Begin in Aspendos, home of what is commonly considered the best-preserved antique theater. Continue to a stunning Roman-era aqueduct rising handsomely amid surrounding cotton fields. Then, set foot in a second-century theater of 10,000 seats, still used every summer. Move on to Perge, a site of continuous inhabitation since the Copper Age (fifth millennium BC). It boasts an ancient 15,000- seat theater, a 10,000-seat stadium, a massive bath house and much more, all intact. Continue to Antalya to visit the Antalya Museum which houses archaeological and ethnographical exhibits from the Stone Age up through the Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman, Classical and Turkish periods. See a true well-kept secret: its collection of Orthodox Christian icons.Kempinski Hotel The Dome | Meals: B L
This morning you cross the Taurus Mountains, arriving at Aphrodisias, and tour this extraordinary excavation of a classical lost site. Dedicated to the goddess of love, Aphrodite, a city flourished here under Roman and Byzantine rule. After a country-style lunch, journey through the beautiful Meander Valley to Izmir, which is set beside the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea and known for its seafood. Check into your hotel overlooking the bay.Swissôtel Grand Efes | Meals: B L D
Explore Izmir’s ancient Agora, the market of ancient Smyrna, constructed during the reign of Alexander the Great. See picturesque Konak Square with its marble clock tower. Wander the Kemeralti Bazaar with its wonderful sights, sounds and fragrances. Then, head to a nearby port town of Urla, from which the world’s oldest olive press was excavated. Later, board a local boat for an excursion on the Aegean Sea’s azure waters. Soak in the sounds, the breeze and the soft fragrance from the gentle waves.Swissôtel Grand Efes | Meals: B L
Today, tour the sprawling, remarkable archaeological site of Ephesus, a city settled by Ionians from Greece. Steeped in ancient religious rituals dating back to the 13th century BC, it later supported the roots of early Christianity. St. Paul lived and taught in Ephesus for several years and a tomb located here that is attributed to John of the Book of Revelations is a long- standing destination for pilgrims. Visit the site of the gigantic Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the recently excavated Terrace Houses, home to the wealthy of their era, to view (by special permission) their delicate mosaic floors and frescoed walls. In the afternoon, visit Camlik Village Weavers Association, where you enjoy an olive oil tasting (they produce their own) and a lecture on the tradition and art of weaving in Turkey. Traditionally, rugs in Turkey are offered as dowries, yet they also reveal a diverse index of folk mythology. Return to Izmir for the evening and your farewell dinner.Swissôtel Grand Efes | Meals: B L D
After breakfast, with a wealth of memories of this historic crossroads, transfer to the airport for your flight home or perhaps to begin the Cappadocia Post-Tour Extension.Meals: B
4 days, priced from $2,395; internal air priced from $440.
Available on April 7 departure.
DAY 1: Arrive and transfer to your hotel. Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, and privately tour the beautifully restored Dark Church. Argos in Cappadocia | Meals: L
DAY 2: Embark on a hot-air balloon ride over the Cappadocia landscape. Explore the underground city at Kaymakli. Visit a potter’s workshop. Argos in Cappadocia | Meals: B L
DAY 3: Continue exploring Cappadocia, then fly to Istanbul for an evening at leisure. Park Hyatt Istanbul – Maçka Palas | Meals: B
DAY 4: Transfer to the airport and depart. Meals: B
Prices are in USD, per person, based on double occupancy.
|Apr. 07, 2014 - Apr. 20, 2014||$10,595||--||Available|