Turkey: Distinctive Geography and Ancient Architecture from Ottoman and Greco-Roman Empires
For nearly 600 years, Istanbul's vibrant Grand Bazaar has been the social and economic center of the former Turkish capital. Even now, stepping into the massive covered marketplace feels like entering an enchanted world. Throngs of visitors stroll past thousands of shops hawking colorful textiles, hanging lanterns, and fresh spices. The bazaar has become modernized since its Ottoman-era beginnings, but signs of the past remain in the form of marble drinking fountains and traditional Turkish baths. Like Turkey itself, the bazaar is a mélange of cultural, spiritual, and historical influences—many of which you’ll get to experience during this 12-day adventure from Key Tours.
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After an overnight flight, you'll touch down in Istanbul, where an escort will accompany you to the Hilton Hotel Parksa. The next day, you're free to take in the sights and sounds of the city at your leisure. The following morning, you'll venture to Topkapi Palace. Built in the late 15th century, this grand labyrinthine structure was home to several sultans during the Ottoman Empire. The next stop is the Hippodrome. A former site of chariot races, it features Grecian, Egyptian, and German monuments. The day ends with a trip to the colorful Grand Bazaar.
At Turkey's modern-day capital city, Ankara, you'll pay a visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, where a collection of archeological artifacts—some of which are up to 8,000 years old—includes ancient cuneiform tablets, marble statues, and folk pottery.
The next stop is the Cappadocia Region, a landscape that resembles the face of the moon with its caves, tunnels, and towers made entirely of green cheese. After overnighting in Cappadocia, the tour group will visit the conic rock formations and ancient churches carved into the stones of Göreme Valley.
En route to Pamukkale, the group will make a stop at the Mevlana mausoleum, a sacred site adorned with silk carpets and gold. Outside the crypt, local dervishes often perform their traditional whirling dances. In Pamukkale, therapeutic hot springs trickle through white rock terraces. High atop these travertine formations stand the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, which legend says was founded by the Roman god Apollo. After touring the ruins, the group travels on to Kusadasi.
You'll spend the entire day in Kusadasi, site of some of the world’s most sacred religious artifacts. The most notable is Ephesus, a town that played a crucial role in early Christianity. At night, you’ll bed down in Kusadasi's luxe Charisma Hotel.
A jaunt to Pergamum allows a glimpse of Zeus's altar, followed by a tour of ancient Troy, complete with a replica of the Trojan horse. The waterfront town of Çanakkale serves as home base for the night.
When you arrive at Gallipoli, you can explore Anzac Cove, site of the famous World War I battle, and nearby Ari Burnu cemetery, where many of the soldiers who fought there are buried. On the return trip to Istanbul, you’ll cross the Dardanelles Strait before boarding a shuttle to the airport for your homebound flight.
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