God Saints and Dervishes

Day 1 Istanbul
Arrival Istanbul mid-morning. Transfer to hotel and meet your fellow tour members for a cocktail and dinner.  

Day 2-3 Istanbul
Full day of sightseeing visiting the magnificent Blue Mosque Of Sultan Ahmet, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts housed in the restored 16th century Palace of the Grand Vezir Ibrahim Pasha, Roman Hippodrome, underground cistern and Aya Sofya Museum (St. Sophia), considered one of the world’s greatest architectural marvels. Visit Dolmabahce Palace, a lavish Turkish baroque masterpiece built as the new residence of the Ottoman sultans in 1854.

Resume sightseeing at Kariye Museum (St. Savior in Chora) with its spectacular Byzantine frescoes and mosaics and the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, designed by the master Ottoman architect Sinan. Continue to Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans and center of the imperial government from the mid-15th to the mid-19th century. Marvel at the treasury with its jeweled thrones and other incredible riches, the legendary Harem Quarters, and the kitchens where one of the greatest Chinese porcelain collections in existence is on display.  

Day 4 Urfa
Fly to Urfa in the morning to visit to Harran, one of the oldest continuously inhabited spots on earth and believed to be ancient Charan, first mentioned in the Old Testament as the place where Abraham and Sarah spent several years. See the strange beehive houses, ancient fortress, the city walls and remains of an early Islamic University. Said to be the place where Abraham was born in a cave near the present day Halil Mosque, Urfa is a pilgrimage site. Visit the H. Rahman Mosque, which is built around a quiet pool in which holy carp swim, and stroll through the vaulted eastern bazaar and the courtyards of the old hans.  

Day 5 Adiyaman/Mt. Nemrut
Drive north to the lands of ancient Commagene. On the way see the massive Ataturk Dam, Turkey’s largest and the sixth largest in the world, before continuing to Adiyaman. Hike to the summit where the gigantic funerary sanctuary of King Antiochus of Commagene was erected over 2,000 years ago. See the colossal stone statues of the gods and kings, the toppled heads of which are lying on the ground.  

Day 6 Antakya (Antioch)
Departure this morning for Antakya, once the third largest city of the Roman Empire, surpassed only by Rome and Alexandria 

Day 7 Antakya
Visit Grotto Church of St. Peter, Antakya’s Archaeological Museum famed for its marvelous Roman mosaics, and the "old town" where little has changed since Biblical times. 

Day 8 Tarsus/ Cappadocia
Early morning departure from the hotel for Cappadocia region. After crossing so called Syrian Gates reach Tarsus to visit the birthplace of St. Paul. After lunch we climb the Taurus range and reach Cappadocia in the afternoon. 

Days 9-10 Cappadocia
Centuries ago the eruptions of three volcanoes spread hot volcanic ash over the region which then hardened into tuff, a soft porous stone.  Over time, the elements have worked the land creating valleys filled with “fairy chimneys” and expertly carved cave dwellings, places of worship, and more. Chance to see a group of whirling dervishes ritual in a medieval cerevanserai in the evening.

Two full days of sightseeing in the region including the rock-carved chapels of Goreme, the red monastic complex at Zelve, and the villages of Ortahisar and Uchisar. The underground city and many rock churches. Moderate hiking will be offered for a deeper and better understanding of the unique geography of the region. Delicious cuisine and entertainment followed by folkloric dance show and drinks at a local club.  

Day 11 Konya and Pamukkale
Drive across the Central Anatolian plains to Konya, home of Mevlâna  founder of the Whirling Dervishes. He was the first great mystical thinker of 13th century Anatolia. Visit the local museum full of relics and art work. Furher west, it is time to enter the region where Seven Churches of Revelations are located. First to visit will be the recently excavated Antioch in Pisidia with impressive stone paved main street, theater, Cybele sanctuary and the church.

At the end of the day arrive at Pamukkale and relax in thermal pools of the hotel.

Day 12 Hierapolis/ Laodicea/ Selcuk
Heavy calcium content in local thermal waters has created incredible formations on the terraces. Close by, Hierapolis and Laodicea have many edifices like, baths, temples, theater, churches, columned streets and thousands of monumental graves recently unearthed.

Driving in the fertile valley of Big Meander brings us to Selcuk, our home for the next two days.

Day 13 Ephesus
Full day touring Ephesus and its environs. Ephesus, the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world was founded in the 11th Century B.C. and brought to full flower under Roman rule, was always an important religious center.  The Greeks replaced the cult of the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele with Artemis, and built a fabulous temple in her honor.  With the coming of the Romans, it became the Temple of Diana and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  Ephesus had an influential Christian congregation early on, due no doubt to the large number of ships and caravans coming from many parts of the region, reasons why St. Paul was attracted to the city.

We can see the vast amphitheater where St. Paul preached and marvel at the gymnasium, baths, and wonderfully restored Library of Celsius. Little touches make Ephesus a very human place; the traffic of chariot wheels has worn two grooves in a narrow gateway on the marble street.  Close by is the last home of the Virgin Mary, who legend has it came here accompanied by St. John, and lived out her days in this beautiful spot.  St. John wrote his Gospel here, and a tomb believed to be his was chosen by the Emperor Justinian to be the location for the magnificent St. John Basilica.  We drive up to the House of the Virgin Mary and wander around the picturesque village of Sirince at dusk.   

Day 14 Sardes/ Izmir
Driving north via Odemis and a high pass reach ancient Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, that still enjoys a peaceful life in vine rich valley. Later arrive Sardes, capitol of Lydia that King Croesus elevated to a gold rich state in the 7th Century B.C. Beautifully restored Roman Bath and Gymnasium, remains of synagogue and shops, royal mint and the impressive walls and columns of temple of Artemis are well worth a detailed visit.  

Day 15 Pergamon/ Izmir
A short drive north will bring you to Pergamon one of the greatest ancient sights of Helenistic world. Its Acropolis once rivaled Parthenon. Red Basilica, possible site of the church where ‘letter of truth’ was addressed, the theater on a steep hillside and remains of Pergamon Library, once second largest to the one in Alexandria offer stunning visits. Returning to Izmir, spend the late afternoon at its promenade called Kordon along the shore of Aegean to enjoy the final day before flying home.

Day 16 Izmir/ USA
Connect to your flight from Istanbul back to USA. 



What to Bring

Imperial Ottoman
Caves and Castles
Turquoise Blue Waters
Gods Saints and Dervishes
Black Sea; Forsaken Paths
Emerald Hills and the East
Ararat and Nemrud
Magic Light


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