Cultural Round Trips -- In the Shadow of the Sultans I

From Istanbul to Antalya

Day 1: Arrival

Flight from chosen airport to Istanbul. Reception at the airport by our English-speaking tour guide and transfer to the hotel. Accommodation in Istanbul.

Day 2: The Sultans' Palaces and Mosques
After enjoying a communal breakfast, you will receive a short briefing covering the most important information about your immediate surroundings and valuable tips for exploring the city of Istanbul. The tour of the city will then begin, taking you through the city formerly known as Constantinople, the only city in the world to be located on two continents. The first item on the programme is a visit to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque in Europe. This holy building with its six minarets ranks as one of the most famous and splendid sultan's mosques in the world. Visitors to the Hippodrome, the setting of many historic events, can marvel at the Egyptian obelisk, the Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain and the Serpent Column. Right opposite the Hippodrome stands the majestic Hagia Sophia, a magnificent Byzantine building dating back to the 6th century AD. Built by Emperor Justinian, it is one of the most important examples of Byzantine architecture and served as an archetype for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. A further highlight of the day is a visit to Topkapı Palace. Shrouded in legend, the palace houses over 100,000 exhibits. As the centre of power in the Ottoman Empire and setting of several intrigues, this palace complex perfectly presents the most widely differing epochs of Ottoman architecture. The harem alone comprises 400 different rooms and constitutes just a 'small' part of the palace. To round the day off, you will pay a visit to the world-famous roofed bazaar with its narrow passageways and middle-eastern shops. Accommodation in Istanbul.

Day 3: The Bosphorus - Pearl of Istanbul
Following another communal breakfast, we will travel to the Chora Church. This building ranks as one of the most important examples of Byzantine architecture. Afterwards, we will continue on to the Golden Horn. We will visit the Egyptian bazaar here. Next on the programme comes a wonderful boat trip on the Bosphorus. Villas and pavilions from the 19th century display the wealth of the city. The trip begins at the Golden Horn and takes passengers past beautiful palaces and villas to the mouth of the Black Sea. An inspiration to poets and painters, the beauty and grace of the Bosphorus is bound to captivate you, too. Accommodation in Istanbul.

Day 4: 'Caesarea' - City of the Emperor
Journey to the airport and domestic flight to Kayseri. Founded by the Roman emperor Caesar, this city is one of the most important in Anatolia. We will take a short bus tour of the city. Many Ottoman buildings and monumental tombs (Kümbet) are signs of the history of this city. Following this, we will continue to the moon-like landscape of Cappadocia. Dinner and accommodation in Cappadocia.

Day 5: The Moon-like Landscape of Cappadocia

An intensive day-long excursion into this stunning landscape is on the programme today. The extinct volcanoes of Mount Erciyes and Mount Hasan are the creators of this tuff landscape. Expulsions of lava and various natural forms of erosion caused the numerous rock formations to take shape. Our tour begins with 'Zelve', a valley where people lived in cave dwellings right up until the 1960s. Afterwards, we will continue on to Kaymaklı Underground City. During the time of the Arab attacks, people found refuge in these underground cities. Then we travel onwards to the 'Kızlıcukur', or 'red valley', which takes its name from the colour of its landscape. Thousands of natural rock formations display the true beauty of this region. The tuff earth found here has a high percentage of copper and sulphur, which is the reason for the harmonious blending of tones from red (predominantly) through to yellow. A further visit is then paid to 'Göreme', with its many rock-hewn churches, which are decorated with wonderful frescos. The afternoon promises a visit to a carpet-making workshop. The art of carpet-making, which is thousands of years old and increasingly dwindling in the small villages, is preserved here, as is the extraction of natural colours from the surroundings. Accommodation in Cappadocia.

Day 6: City of the Whirling Dervishes
Today the tour continues to the former capital of the Great Seljuq Empire, Konya. Just before reaching Aksaray, we will see the famous caravanserai of Sultanhanı. The mighty fortified building from the 13th century was built under Kayqubad I and is situated in the middle of the village. Afterwards, you will visit the 'Mevlana Museum' dedicated to Rumi, who is considered the greatest Islamic philosopher. He formed his order in this very city. Following the founding of the Republic of Turkey however, the order was banned. The complex has served as a museum ever since. Onward journey to Antalya, where you will spend the night.

Day 7: Antalya – The Pearl of the Turkish Riviera

Journey to the famous ancient city of Perga. Intensive sightseeing visit to the remains of this, the most important ancient city in the region. Journey to Antalya follows. The next point on the programme is a visit to a typical Turkish market. At this farmers' market, you can experience first-hand how the typical middle-eastern markets are venues for everyday goings-on amongst herbs, souvenirs, spices and more. Afterwards, you will visit a waterfall, which is one of the most beautiful natural sights in the region. The last visit of the day is paid to a large jewellery centre, where you can marvel at the traditional jewellery production and observe the skilled craftsmanship involved. There is also the opportunity to take in a leather fashion show. After this visit, we will attend a Turkish-themed evening. Various folk dances of Anatolia, complete with traditional costumes, are performed for your viewing pleasure. Belly dancers, both male (zenne) and female, constitute a highlight of the evening. An evening full of passion and joy awaits. Return to the hotel after this wonderful presentation.

Day 8: Departure
Transfer from the hotel to the airport and return flight.

SERVICES: In the Shadow of the Sultans
• Welcoming cocktail upon arrival
• Small bottle of water upon arrival in the bus
• All transfers during arrival and departure
• 3 nights' accommodation with breakfast in special-category hotels in Istanbul and 4 nights' accommodation with half board in the regions of Cappadocia and Antalya
• Modern, air-conditioned bus for the entire tour (in accordance with the programme)
• Professional English-speaking tour guide during the entire tour
• Excursions as described including entry fees and lunches
• Turkish-themed evening with folk dance performance

Minimum number of participants: 12 people