Treasures of Turkey: The Lost Worlds of Anatolia
Explore the lost worlds of Turkey as you travel from Gaziantep, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities, to Mt. Nemrut, known for its incredible mountain-top statues and temples, and Cappadocia, an evocative region of sculpted rock formations.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
This is the second organized tour I've been on... this group was friendly, intelligent, curious, and fun to be with. Also, the itinerary and program were much more informative and in-depth than any self-guided trip I could have planned and took us to places I'd never have dreamed of going.”
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- May 15, 2015
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Venture off the beaten path to explore central and southern Turkey. Begin with a three-day stay in Istanbul, which introduces you to the country's cultural and spiritual heart with visits to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. Then travel to Gaziantep, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and learn more about the city’s Arabic and Assyrian influences. You'll tour Gaziantep's Museum of Archaeology, with its stunning collection of well-preserved mosaics, and enjoy a Turkish cooking lesson, followed by a visit to the bazaar and crafts workshops. A cruise on the Euphrates evokes stories from the Bible and ancient civilizations, as does a tour of Urfa (thought to be the birthplace of Abraham), and a day-trip to the early city of Harran.
At the World Heritage site of Mt. Nemrut, see the incredible mountain-top statues and temples and learn about the history of King Antiochus. In Cappadocia, renowned for its awe-inspiring natural rock formations, explore churches hewn out of the landscape and an open-air museum with 8th-century murals. Stop at the Hittite site of Hattusha, a World Heritage site, then conclude in the capital city of Ankara to visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which chronicles the history of Asia Minor, and see the Mausoleum of Ataturk, father of modern Turkey. An optional extension to Ephesus and Pergamum is also offered.
Days 1-2 — Depart for Istanbul, Turkey
Upon arrival, settle into your hotel located near Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, no group activities or meals are planned.
Days 3-4 — Istanbul
For the next two days, explore Istanbul’s most breathtaking landmarks. Begin at the site of the ancient Hippodrome, where chariots once raced; then visit the famous Blue Mosque, with its six signature minarets; and Hagia Sophia, the world’s greatest cathedral when it was built in A.D. 537. Discover the Archaeology Museum and the acclaimed Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. This evening, take a short walk to a local restaurant to enjoy an authentic Turkish dinner. The next day, explore the vast collections of Topkapi Palace, a rich repository of Ottoman treasures. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the bustling Grand Bazaar and colorful Spice Market before boarding a private boat for a cruise down the Bosphorus. (2B,1L,1D)
Day 5 — Gaziantep
Late morning fly to Gaziantep (“Antep”), one of the world’s longest continuously inhabited cities and center of Turkey’s pistachio cultivation and baklava production. Upon arrival, tour Gaziantep’s Museum of Archaeology, featuring a stunning collection of well-preserved mosaics unearthed from nearby sites. In the late afternoon check in at your hotel, where you dine tonight. (B,D)
Day 6 — Gaziantep
This morning visit the Gaziantep City Museum for an enlightening orientation to the city and eastern Turkey, then enjoy a Turkish cooking lesson and lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, explore the semi-enclosed bazaar and several handcrafts workshops, as this city is well-known for its copper crafts, shoemaking, stonework, and embroidery. Dinner tonight is in one of its many acclaimed restaurants. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Halfeti and Urfa
Leaving Gaziantep, drive to Halfeti for a cruise on the Euphrates, the 1,700- mile waterway that fed the development of ancient civilization. Pass Rumkale Castle, a strategically sited fortress dating to the Assyrians, and visit the “sunken city” submerged by the recent construction of a dam. After disembarking continue to Urfa, notable in both the Old Testament and Islam. In the late afternoon reach your hotel in the city’s old town and dine there tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Urfa and Harran
Drive this morning to Harran, where Abraham is said to have lived on his way to the Promised Land. A major Assyrian center of culture and commerce in antiquity, Harran today is an important archaeological site and hardscrabble village. Explore the ruin of the cultish Moon Temple and also see the city’s adobe “beehive” houses which were inhabited as recently as the 1980s. Returning to Urfa, visit the Halil-ul Rahman mosque, built on the site where Abraham was thrown into a fire that turned into a pool. Stop at the atmospheric marketplace in the old city, and see Goblekli Tepe, site of the oldest place of worship yet discovered (since this is an active archaeological dig, entry may not be possible). Tonight dine at a local restaurant overlooking Urfa’s ancient city walls. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Mt. Nemrut and Adiyaman
Depart early this morning for the three-hour drive to the World Heritage site of Mt. Nemrut, the presumed 1st century B.C. mountaintop burial site of Antiochus I, with temples, altars, terraces, and decapitated statues of ancient gods – and their heads – scattered about. Having withstood both time (two millennia) and attempted destruction by iconoclasts, the colossal 26- to 33-foot high statues evoke a very distant and storied past. Walk to the summit, where you enjoy a picnic lunch in this spectacular setting, then spend the afternoon touring the archaeological site and museum. Departing late afternoon, travel the short distance to Adiyaman, reaching your hotel in time for dinner. (B,L,D)
Days 10-11 — Adiyaman and Cappadocia
Depart early morning for the day-long journey to Cappadocia, arriving late afternoon. Centuries of volcanic eruptions dumped mud, ash, and lava here, which was later sculpted by rain and wind into whimsical cone, needle, and chimney formations. Early Christians built thousands of churches in the Goreme Valley, and also built the “rock city” of Uchisar and the underground village of Kaymakli, all of which you explore on today’s tour. (2B,2L,2D)
Day 12 — Cappadocia
Today’s touring features the vast Zelve Valley complex of caves laced with dwellings, churches, and public spaces where villagers lived until just 40 years ago. Marvel at the amazing fairy chimneys at Pasabag and visit the Urgup winery. End the day at and the medieval Ottoman town of Avanos, where you watch craftspeople as they fashion pottery and weave rugs. (B,L,D)
Day 13 — Hattusha and Ankara
Leaving Cappadocia this morning travel to Hattusha, former capital of the Hittite empire dating to the 2nd millenium B.C. and known for its thoughtful urban layout. Tour this World Heritage site then continue to Ankara, arriving late afternoon. (B, L)
Day 14 — Ankara
This morning visit the Ataturk Mausoleum, honoring the founder of the Turkish Republic, then tour the notable Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which chronicles the history of Asia Minor. Your afternoon is at leisure before tonight’s farewell dinner at your hotel. (B,D)
Day 15 — Depart for the U.S.
Board an early flight to the U.S. (B)