Western Turkey Tour
Tour Western Turkey: Ankara, Cappadocia, Sagalassos, Assos, Istanbul and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites
with Dr. Charles A. Stewart
Why Take the Far Horizons Tour to Turkey?
- Private tour of Ephesus by a member of the archaeological project
- Private tour of Troy by a member of the archaeological project
- Private tour of the Aspendos Theater by the Director of Excavations
- Private tour of Arykanda by the Director of Excavations
- Private tour and dinner with the excavators at Hattusa
- Private cruise up the Bosphorus
- Visit 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Visit the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
- Limited to a maximum of 12 participants
Turkey Tour Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Istanbul. Istanbul Historic District.
Day 3: Istanbul, Bosphorus cruise.
Day 4: Fly to Ankara. The Anatolian Museum. Alaca Hüyük.
Day 5: Hattusas.
Day 6: Cappadoccia tour.
Day 7: Sultan Han. Çatalhöyük. Mevlana’s Tomb in Konya.
Day 8: Sagalassos. Burdur Museum.
Day 9: Perge. Aspendos. Antalya Archaeological Museum.
Day 10: Myra. Demre. Patara.
Day 11: Xanthos. Boat to Kaunos.
Day 12: Aphrodisias.
Day 13: Ephesus.
Day 14: Pergamum.
Day 15: Assos. Troy.
Day 16: Ferry across the Dardanelles Straits. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Day 17: Depart for USA.
specially arranged private entrée with the archaeologists at four of the most important archaeological projects in the eastern Mediterranean – Hattusas, Ephesus, Aspendos, and Troy.
Our limited group size allows for overnights in unique boutique hotels (including one that features a winery), dinners in upscale restaurants serving traditional Ottoman cuisine, and intimate discussions onsite with our study leader, Charles A. Stewart.
From Ankara to Cappadocia, Çatalhöyük to Sagalassos, Ephesus to Pergamum, Assos to Istanbul, our expedition reveals the texture and hue of Turkey’s history. This truly unique journey is sure to resonate with the discerning traveler for years to come.
“The itinerary, tour guides and leaders, together with the fabulous Turkish cuisine and extraordinary fellow travelers made this an unforgettable trip – one which will be held dear for a lifetime.” – Beth and Dave Dudley
“Another great trip! Bravo!!! Thanks for contributing to my traveling pleasures.” – Ann Meschery
“One of the greatest travel adventures we have had. Maybe it was that rainy, mysterious visit to Sagalassos, or the glorious, quiet (!) day in Ephesus, or having tea with the caretaker in the twilight at the excavation building in Patara, or our first, wonderful vision of the glories of Istanbul, or descending the hill from Pergamum, or bumping the other balloon over Cappodocia, or gazing at the astoundingly ancient inscribed stones at Yazilikaya, or just learning how to pronounce Egirdir, but this was a highlight of our travel lives.”– Joseph Lambert
Charles A. Stewart received a BA in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, a MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of York (England) and his PhD from Indiana University in History of Art. Dr. Stewart is Assistant Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture and Chair of the Art History Program at the University of St. Thomas (Houston). The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, he has also received teaching awards. A prolific author, Professor Stewart has published numerous articles and book chapters, and two books. He is in the process of finalizing four books including A History of Early Christian Art & Architecture and A History of Byzantine Art & Architecture. Dr. Stewart is proficient in reading several languages including Classical and Byzantine Greek.
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA on the flight to Istanbul.
Day 2: Arrive Istanbul and transfer to the historic area of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a light lunch, visit Aya Sofya, the first church of Christianity, begun in the 2nd century AD by Constantine the Great. One of the great buildings of the world, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople and was the center of the Byzantine Empire for almost a thousand years. Walk to the Hippodrome, scene of Byzantine chariot races, athletic events, victory celebrations and executions, and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Housed within a 16th-century palace built by the brother-in-law of Sultan Suleyman, the museum contains the world’s richest collection of 13th to 20th-century hand-knotted Turkish carpets and an ethnographic section depicting objects used in everyday Turkish life. Then it’s on to the the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, known to foreigners as the Blue Mosque Built partly on the site once occupied by the Byzantine imperial palace stands, it is one of the city’s most prominent landmark. The shrine took seven years to build, and has an enormous central dome supported by four huge freestanding pillars and six fluted minarets. The interior walls are covered with stunning hand-crafted Iznik tiles from the 17th century which give the mosque its name. Dinner is on our own tonight. Overnight for the next two nights in the Ottoman Imperial Hotel, an Ottoman house that has been transformed into a charming bed-and-breakfast inn. The hotel is within walking distance of the important sites within the historic section of Istanbul. Dinner is on our own. (L)
Day 3: Spend the day exploring the historic area of the city. Walk through Topkapi Sarai, built in 1468 as a summer palace for Mehmet the Conqueror. The estate includes exquisite gardens, the council chambers of government, and the harem. Yerebatan Cistern is the largest and most magnificent covered cistern in Istanbul. Built in the 6th century in the reign of Justinian, it supplied water to the Byzantine Great Palace nearby. Visit The Church of St. Saviour in Chora Monastery, or Kariye Museum, built between the 11th and 14th centuries. When restored, a striking series of mosaics and vibrant frescoes which belong to the last great renaissance of Byzantine art were found within the interior of the building. The Istanbul 1453 Panorama Museum houses a panorama painting of the conquest of Constantinople. In the 17th and 18th centuries it became fashionable for high-ranking people of Istanbul to own a summer home on the Bosphorus, the sinuous straits separating Europe from Asia. These wooden yalıs, as they are called, are extremely beautiful and elegant, of a perfection of structure and a refinement of decoration that are the supreme examples of their architects’ and painters’ genius. This afternoon, we will travel by chartered boat up the Bosphorus to view these lovely wooden villas and elegant marble palaces along the shore. We will leave the vessel to dine in one of the excellent seafood restaurants along the strait. (B/L/D)
Day 4: An early flight takes us to Ankara, the capital of the country. Here, we view the extraordinary collection of artifacts in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, housed within a splendidly restored 15th-century covered bazaar. Displayed are frescoes from Çatalhüyük, grave offerings from Early Bronze Age burials at Alaca Hüyük, a unique and priceless collection of Hittite art, and discoveries from Gordion’s Midas Tomb. Located within the 7th century citadel above the city is one of the best surviving Byzantine forts. Our lunch is within its walls in Zenger Paşa Restaurant, situated in an old Ottoman wooden house and with dazzling views over the city. In the afternoon, drive to Alaca Hüyük where two large sphinxes flank the entrance gate. During excavations traces of a large Hittite building were discovered. Down the hill was found a royal necropolis of thirteen tombs dating from about 2500 BC and filled with significant funerary objects. After exploring the Alaca Hüyük, continue to Boğazkale where members of the Hattusas archaeological project will host us at their dig house for a barbeque and beer dinner party. Overnight at the simple Asikoğlu Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 5: Today, we join the project director, for an insider’s view of the excavations at Hattusa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From 1600 to 1180 BC, this was the capital of the proud and warlike Hittites whose empire stretched from the Black Sea to Syria. The fortified city was the residence of the great Hittite kings, the administrative seat as well as the principal cult center. One of the most important discoveries at the site has been the royal archives of cuneiform clay tablets, consisting of official correspondence and contracts, as well as legal codes, procedures for cult ceremony, oracular prophecies and literature of the ancient Near East. One particularly important tablet details the terms of a peace settlement between the Hittites and the Egyptians under Ramesses II, circa 1283 BC. A copy is on display in the United Nations in New York as an example of one of the earliest known international peace treaties. Nearby Yazilikaya is an open air rock shrine located where a spring of fresh water once flowed. The site has characteristics similar to other Anatolian spring-sanctuaries, and may well have been a place of worship for hundreds or even thousands of years before the rise of Hittite power. The former importance of the shrine is shown by the incised Hittite gods marching across the cliff face. Move on to the Cappadocia region, noted for its Byzantine churches and monasteries carved out of the volcanic tuff. Spend the next two nights in the Alfina Hotel, a whimsical hotel that depicts the charm of the area with rooms that have also been cut from the living rock. (B/L/D)
Day 6: Millions of years ago, a volcano near Cappadocia spewed out molten lava and dust. Since then, wind and weather have reshaped the soft rock, leaving an eye-catching landscape of cones and “fairy chimneys.” Early Christians carved churches and monasteries out of the volcanic tuft, many with colorful wall paintings still visible, and huge underground cities where they could hide from their persecutors. Early this morning, float above this dramatic landscape on an optional balloon ride. Afterwards, our explorations take us to the rock-cut churches of Göreme Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Zelve, a natural amphitheater at the junction of three canyons where the cliff faces are riddled with openings to houses and churches, many still containing multi-hued frescoes. After a climb to the top of the natural rock citadel of Uçhisar, continue to the underground city of Kaymaklı and walk through a maze of tunnels and rooms at least eight stories deep. Before returning to the hotel, stop in Mustafapaşa, the former Anatolian Greek village of Sinassos. After finding the gatekeeper to unlock the door, walk down steps carved hundreds of years ago to see a church, Ayios Vasilios, still containing painted murals of St. Basil. Dinner this evening will be outside under the stars in one of one of Cappadocia’s gorgeous valleys. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Travel along ageless caravan trails with stops to examine a intricately carved 13th century caravansary built by Seljuk Turks as a rest stop for camel trains. Stop to see Catalhöyük, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back 9,000 years, it is undoubtedly the most important Neolithic site in Turkey. First discovered in 1958, this planned city is filled with mud-brick dwellings constructed along carefully laid-out plans. The inner walls of the houses were plastered and elaborately decorated with scenes of hunting and religious ceremonies. The Visitor’s Center at Çatalhöyük features exhibitions on the archaeology of the site, the history of excavations, and the many interpretations of life on site in the past and present. Continue to Konya, the home town of the whirling dervish orders and a pilgrimage destination. Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, later given the honorary title of Mevlâna (“our master”), was a beloved, 13th-century Sufi mystic and Persian-language poet famous for his lyrics and for his influences on early Muslim mystical thought and literature. The former monastery of the original whirling dervishes was converted into a museum in 1927, and houses Rumi’s tomb. This afternoon, drive through the spectacular Tauros Mountains to the Mediterranean coast and Antalya, majestically situated atop 150-foot cliffs overlooking the sea. The award-winning renovations of the Old Port Section have recaptured the charm of the age-old Roman and Ottoman styles. Our hotel for the next three nights is in the Tuvana Hotel, a beautifully restored 19th-century Ottoman mansion located within the Roman walls encircling the ancient section of town. Dinner is on our own to discover one of Antalya’s fine dining establishments. (B/L)
Day 8: A drive into the towering Taurus Mountains reveals terrain ranging from pastoral valleys to breathtaking snow-crested peaks. Our destination is Sagalassos, clinging perilously to the southern granite slopes. Originally inhabited by Pisidians, the pirates of the central Anatolian world, this was the highest city in the Roman Empire. The Sagalassos Archaeological Project has made many remarkable discoveries recently including the remains of a colossal, 15-foot tall statue of the emperor Hadrian, a huge statue of Marcus Aurelius the longest surviving successor of Antoninus Pius, and an imperial statue of the empress Faustina. Many of the breathtaking excavation finds can be seen in the Burdur Museum that we visit this afternoon. Back in Antalya, dinner will be in an open-air patio restaurant in an old caravanserai that is a favorite of local Antalyans. (B/L/D)
Day 9: Begin today at nearby Perge, one of the southern coast’s most remarkable ancient cities. Greek settlers journeyed to Perge following the Trojan War, and the ruins of a great theater, stadium, enormous Hellenistic and Roman gates, and a colonnaded street can be seen. Continue to Aspendos, where almost ten miles of still intact Roman aqueduct can be seen along with what is probably the finest Roman theater in the country, restored by Ataturk in 1932. Here, we will meet with the director of excavations for a private tour of the theater. This afternoon we return to Antalya and visit the Antalya Archaeological Museum to view its stunning collection of marble sculptures, many from Perge. Enjoy some free time this afternoon to explore the historic quarter of Antalya with dinner on our own. (B/L)
Day 10: We leave Antalya this morning and begin our journey along the coast, heavily indented and full of isolated caves and islets, displaying some of Lycia’s most rugged scenery. Hundreds of tombs dot the hills and valleys, and castles guard the sea channels. Our first stop is the rarely visited site of Arykanda, perched high in the Taurus Mountains to control ancient trade routes. The city is set on a pine-forested slope, and is truly impressive. Built of huge basaltic stone blocks, many of the monumental buildings still stand, and the remnants of intricate mosaic floors are visible. If onsite, we will meet with a member of the Arykanda archaeological staff who will give us a private tour of the site and its odeon, theater, stadium and immense Roman bath. Lunch today will be at a hillside trout farm. Our drive then takes us to Myra’s huge necropolis of tombs carved in the cliff-faces before the time of Christ by Lycians, and Demre where St. Nicholas was the bishop in the 4th century. Through his good works the bishop became known as Santa Claus, and we will see the still standing church dedicated to him. Continue along the coast road to the village of Kaş and the Villa Tamara Hotel, our home for one night. (B/L/D)
Day 11: Today we begin at Patara, the capital of the Lycian Federation after the 4th century BC, and its port. The harbor has completely silted in and the resulting five-mile-long beach is one of the most attractive in southern Turkey. Turkish archaeologists have been excavating here for the past two decades, and they are restoring the city to its former grandeur. We continue on to Xanthos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the capital city of the Lycian Federation and its greatest metropolis. Excavations show that the city dates back to the 8th century BC, but it is possible that the site may have existed during the Bronze Age. The history of the city is quite violent – the Xanthos people twice demonstrated their fierce independence when they chose to commit mass suicide rather than submit to invading forces. After lunch, we enjoy a boat trip on the Dalyan River to explore the ancient city of Kaunos, an important sea port for the Lycians whose history dates back to the 10th century. Continue to Geyre with dinner and overnight at Anatolia Boutique Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 12: Depart this morning for the ancient city of Aphrodisias, dedicated to the goddess of love, and Turkey’s most recently designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In recent years, breathtaking revelations made by an international team of archaeologists have excited worldwide interest. They have brought to light the substantial remains of a theater, an odeum, temples, baths, streets and public squares, a building that may have been a bishop’s palace, and several Byzantine churches. During excavations, monuments and statues of great beauty, many of Aphrodite herself, have been uncovered. Many of these sculptures, probably created locally, are on exhibit in the site’s museum. After lunch, drive to Selçuk and overnight for two nights in the boutique Seven Sages Hotel and Winery. Tonight’s dinner will include a tasting of wines from the hotel’s vineyard. (B/L/D)
Day 13: Today will be spent in monumental Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. Dedicated to the virgin goddess of the chase, the city is the site of the Temple of Diana (Artemis), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Church of Saint John. We will walk through the church where St. John spoke, and visit the classic city of Ephesus with its stunning 2nd century Library of Celsus, and the burial place of Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia. Here, we meet with a member of the archaeological staff for a private tour of the city. Then it’s on to the nearby Selçuk Museum containing outstanding artifacts found in the nearby excavations. (B/L/D)
Day 14: Created by the heirs of Alexander, Pergamum was a Hellenistic city that rivaled Ephesus. Today this UNESCO World Heritage Site stands majestically on an acropolis rising precipitously to a height of nearly a thousand feet above the modern city of Bergama. After walking through the city, drive to Antandros where remains, including a huge bath complex, Roman cisterns, and an extensive necropolis, date back 2,500 years. The biggest attraction here is a wonderfully preserved Roman villa, adorned with stunning mosaic floors and colorful wall frescoes. Continue over a 14th-century Ottoman bridge to Assos, a picturesque village clinging to the side of the ancient acropolis. Down the cliff-face from the ruins is the port with charming buildings dating from the last century when the town was Greek. Overnight tonight in the charming Hotel Nazlihan overlooking the azure sea. (B/L/D)
Day 15: This morning we will explore the splendid ruins of Assos dominating the top of a mountain overlooking the Aegean Sea. The oldest part of the city was Hellenistic, and the formidable, still standing basalt walls encircling the site date from this period. On our way to lunch we stop at an olive oil production center and museum. Drive on to Troy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where late 19th-century excavations revealed nine principal levels of occupation covering a period of over 3000 years. Possibly founded by the Hittite King Tudhaliyas IV, it was encircled by more than two miles of imposing 4th century BC walls. We meet privately with one of the archaeologists to learn how recent excavations have given us much more information on the city. Overnight in the Hotel Tusan in Çanakkale. (B/L/D)
Day 16: A trip by ferry across the Dardanelles Straits and a scenic drive through European Thrace returns us to Istanbul. This afternoon, there will be time to explore the Grand Bazaar where we will see thousands of shops, a mosque, a school, a post office and police station all housed underneath a vast roof. Our farewell dinner will be at one of Istanbul’s fine local restaurants. Overnight at the Ottoman Imperial Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 17: Return to the USA. (B)
$9,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes round trip international flights from New York to Istanbul and one Turkish domestic flight on Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Ankara), in economy class; all hotels, most meals (as noted in brochure); all entry fees; and ground transportation.
Cost Does Not Include: The tax-deductible check for $150.00 written to Charles Schwab (In the subject line – “Friends of Ephesus/Austria”); passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; gratuities to guides and drivers and other personal tips; email, telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature.
Donation Checks: The cost of the trip does not include the separate donation check for $150.00 (per person) to Ephesus Foundation USA. As a tour company that benefits from the historical, cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to scholars, archaeological and cultural projects, and museums in each of our destinations. This has created a bond with the academic community that allows you to gain an ‘insider’s view’ of work being done in each country.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
A deposit of $750.00 to Far Horizons and a separate check for $150.00 to Charles Schwab is required upon making your reservation along with a completed and signed registration form. Final payment is due 120 days prior to departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest to the trip. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will result in an administrative fee of $450.00. Cancellations received less than 120 days prior to departure will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the tour, we will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance that includes trip cancellation upon registration.
If you do not fly on the group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased.
All tourists traveling to Turkey must acquire an e-visa online –www.evisa.gov.tr– as visas can no longer be obtained upon arrival into Turkey.
Note About Itinerary Changes
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. A good book to read as well as a flexible attitude and a sense of humor are essential.
In keeping with the theme of our trips, hotels are chosen to depict the charm characterizing the Turkish culture. Where available, they are restored historical buildings – elegant Ottoman mansions furnished with period antiques; bed-and-breakfast style inns filled with lovely weavings, carpets and kilims, and handmade crafts; beautiful cut-stone Selcuk caravanserai originally built for camel caravans, and other unique accommodations too small for “tour groups”. Of course, all rooms have private bathrooms.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Travel in Turkey
Western Turkey’s scenery is beautiful, the archaeological sites magnificent and the people warm and hospitable. Other than a few long days, this trip is not difficult. Hotels are the best available. Some will be modest due to their location, and may not have bellhops available, but all will have private baths. At times we will be walking over uneven terrain for a mile or more. All participants are expected to be physically active and able to walk independently throughout our very full touring days. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other participants or staff. Several days will include long drives in the bus. A good book to read, a flexible attitude, team spirit and a good sense of humor will reward you with a wonderful and memorable experience! If you have questions or concerns about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This Archaeological Tour to Turkey is Limited to 12 Participants