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Istanbul has been and will continue to be the heart and soul of Turkey with over 2500 years of history. A fascinating city, showing how antiquity, with its’ historical mosques and palaces can mix with the modern buildings and culture. A unique buzz embraces you when you arrive, with a population of over 14.5 million official residents, and a wide mix of westernisation and conservative Muslim culture. Ephesus was once the fourth largest city in the eastern Roman Empire. This is truly an amazing archaeological site that will be brought alive as your guide takes you through the history, stories and people that once populated this enormous city.
Day 1 – Sultanahmet old city highlights
Today we visit the old part of Istanbul, Sultanahmet. Our first stop is the Blue Mosque, an unrivalled masterpiece of ancient Islamic architecture. Only a short distance away is the Hagia Sophia, Once a cathedral, its enormous dome changed the face of architecture and stood for nearly a thousand years as the largest cathedral in the world.
We then explore the Hippodrome, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and the Mosaics Museum. After lunch we visit the Topkapi Palace (closed Tuesdays), an impressive complex which was the royal residence of the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years. Work up an appetite with a stroll along the seafront at Eminönü and have a famed fish sandwich. Or in Sultanahmet, enjoy a relaxed evening in one of the many rooftop bars or restaurants before returning to your hotel. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 2 – Byzantine History tour
Constantinople was once capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today’s history tour visits a number of strikingly beautiful religious and imperial artistic buildings including the Church of Saint Polyeuctus, the Church of Christ Pantokrator. Pammakaristos Church, (mosaics) Tekfur Palace, The Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora. We also travel to view the Aspar Cistern, a huge open reservoir dating from the 5th Century, built to feed the city’s water supply,
Day 3 – The Ruins of Ephesus
Early in the morning we transfer you to the airport to fly to Izmir.
You will be picked up by your guide and driven about one hour south, to the famous archaeological site of Ephesus. Experience an astonishing tour at one of Turkey's most visited archaeological sites. Ephesus was one of the most magnificent cities of the Roman Empire and it still portrays magnificence. Your expert guide will reveal the history, stories and people and their forward thinking and intelligence.
Afterwards we visit one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis to hear about its history, even though only a few columns remain. We have lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue to the shrine of the Virgin Mary, where it is believed she spent her final days.
You’ll stay overnight in a comfortable pension in the formerly Greek village of Şirince, known for its fruit wines.
Day 4 – Return to Istanbul
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast with a free morning, before flying back to Istanbul in the afternoon.
SUGGESTED OPTIONAL EXTRAS