12 Days Through Eastern Turkey
Arrive in Trabzon. Visit the 14th century Byzantine church of Hagia Sofia overlooking the Black Sea before proceeding to the cliffside monastery at Sumela in the Altindere National Park. From Sumela we drive along the coast of the Black Sea to Hopa on the Georgian border where we will spend the night. Overnight in Artvin.
Depart Hopa for Erzurum via Artvin, Ishan and the spectacular Georgian Valleys. Overnight in Erzurum.
Sightseeing in Erzurum before departing for Kars via the Aras River valley and the First World War battlefield site of Sarakimis. After arriving at Kars we will continue to visit the ancient Armenian city of Ani on the Arpacay River. Overnight in Kars.
On to Doğubayazıt and pass the Biblical mountain of Ararat to visit the Ishak Pasha Saray . Overnight in Van.
Sightseeing in the Van region including a visit to the 17th century fortress of Hoşap, sitting astride the ancient Silk Road into Persia and the Orient. In the afternoon we will visit the island of Akdamar in Lake Van to visit the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross. Overnight in Van.
Depart Van along the southern shore of Lake Van for Tatvan and then visit the great Volcano Crater of Nemrut and the Seljuk monuments of Ahlat. Overnight in Tatvan.
We continue down the Bitlis Gorge, via the city of Batman, to the tower Hasankeyf for lunch. In Hasankeyf (soon to be submerged under the lake of a new dam on the Tigris) we will visit some of the many caves and the ruins of the medieval Byzantine city. On our way west to Mardin we will stop in Midyat to see the Silver bazaar. Visit Kasimiye Medrese. Overnight in Mardin.
After breakfast visit Deir-Al-Zafaran (Saffron Monastery). The Saffron Monastery was once the ancient centre of the Syriac Christian Patriarchy. This site has been the centre of religious worship for many centuries, the monastery itself is built over an ancient temple, built in 1000 BC and dedicated to the worship of the sun and which now provides the foundations to the main part of the monastery buildings – it is a fascinating structure as the roof of the temple to the sun is, essentially, a flat arch! From Mardin we will travel northwest to Diyarbakir to see the 10 Arches Bridge on the Tigris River. Overnight Diyarbakir.
Sightseeing in Diyarbakir: the Ulu Cami (Mar Thoma)(Mosque and Church), then visit the Great wall. Leave for Nemrut via the ferry over the Euiphratesry arriving in Narlice Village in Nemrut National Park. We will travel to the top of Mount Nemrut Tombs of Commagene Kingdom and the Colossal Statues of Gods. Climbing up to Tumulus of Antiochos, the capital of Kommagene we will watch the sun set from the summit of Nemrut. This ancient funerary monument at the peak of Mt Nemrut was forgotten and lost to memory for nearly 2000 years. Overnight near Nemrut.
After breakfast you will see Karakus Tumulus, a burial sanctuary and the Cendere Bridge, erected by the XVI Legion in the honour of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus, before proceeding to for Urfa. Via Urfa we will visit Ataturk dam a part of the giant South East Anatolia Project. Arriving in Urfa we will visit the Holy Pools of Abraham andthe cave where, tradition tells us, the Prophet Abraham was born. Visit the Bazaar. Overnight in Sanliurfa.
After breakfast we will visit the on-going archaeological dig at Göbekli Tepe. The most important archaeological dig currently being undertaken anywhere in the world – this site represents a major shift in our understanding of man’s early history. Here lie the remains of the earliest religious structures built by man yet to be discovered. At about 11000-13000 years old and pre-dating pottery, writing, Stonehenge and the Pyramids! We then depart for Gaziantep where we will visit the stunning mosaic museum which houses a priceless collection of mosaics from the now sunken city of Zeugma. We will visit the citadel and the Old Town of Gaziantep. Overnight in Gaziantep.
Final day and leave for airport.