Highlights: Istanbul, Cappadocia, the Silk Road to Konya,
What is Included:
- Hotel accommodation
- Domestic flight tickets
- Main entrance fees to sights visited
- Round trip Istanbul Airport transfers
- Taxes and handling services
Not included :
Drinks, tips to guide and driver, personal expenses and optional tours
Day 1 – Flight Istanbul to Cappadocia – North Tour ( L )
We take a morning flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, then drive for an hour to our comfortable cave hotel in Cappadocia. We explore the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: the beautiful 13th-century painted churches of the Goreme Valley, decorated and used by Byzantine Orthodox monks during the Seljuk Empire and Rumi’s lifetime. We climb the stairs up a rock-hewn tunnel to the top of the Uchisar Rock Castle, the highest point in Cappadocia, for a panoramic view of this astonishing landscape. We stop for lunch in Avanos on the Kizilirmak River, a center for the art of terracotta pottery-making for thousands of years. We will see a demonstration of pottery-making in a local workshop; you can even try your hand at the potter’s wheel. On our way back to our hotel we stop to see Sari Han Seljuk Turkish caravanserai, beautifully-restored dating from the 12th-century. We continue to Zelve Valley, with its troglodyte houses; and the mushroom-shaped “fairy chimneys” of Pasabag (Monk’s Valley) before returning to our hotel.
Day 2 – Full Day South Cappadocia Tour
Optional sunrise hot air balloon tour in the morning.
The tour begins with a trip to the Underground City of Kaymakli, one of the largest and most fascinating multilevel underground cities and a unique feature of this region. The Kaymakli Underground City has low, narrow and sloping passages. While the underground city consists of 8 floors below ground, only 4 of them are open to the public today, in which the spaces are organized around ventilation shafts. From here we drive to the hauntingly beautiful Soganli Valley, filled with medieval churches and monasteries, with dozens of dovecotes carved from the rock. Today, the visitor can enter 10 different churches with well preserved wall paintings dating from the 10th to the 13th centuries. The locally-made doll is the emblem of the village. Lunch will be served in this local village as well. After lunch we pass through the Sahinefendi Village and visit Sobessos, a newly discovered archaeological site, with excavations still underway. This once was a wealthy Roman-Byzantine city. No site as big as this ancient side has ever been found in this region before. The remains of a church, tombs, a bath and Roman mosaics have already been uncovered. Continue to the village of Taskinpasa. The Medrese building and the nearby mosque and tombs are some of the best examples of Seljuk architecture in this area. The village houses follow the traditional plan with stables on the ground floor to keep the upper rooms warm. Carry onto Keslik Monastery near Cemil Village, which hides its frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer which only can be seen by torchlight. Then we visit Mustafapasa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with its elegantly-decorated old Greek houses; very fine examples of late Greek architecture. This town remained predominantly Christian throughout the Seljuk and early Ottoman periods, although the Muslim population increased from then on. We complete the tour with a visit to the The Three Beauties which are the most famous fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. These are the official symbol of both Ürgüp and Cappadocia.
Meet and transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Konya.
Day 3 – Along the Silk Road to Konya
We drive along Mevlana Caddesi, Konya’s main avenue, to reach the age-old Alaettin Hill (a prehistoric tumulus) to visit the 1000-year-old Alaaddin Mosque, where Rumi often prayed. In its courtyard are the tombs of many of the Seljuk Turkish sultans who ruled during Rumi’s lifetime, and who consulted him for spiritual guidance. Walking down the north side of the Alaettin Hill we pass the remains of the Seljuk sultan’s palace, then cross the street for a view of the elaborate portal of the medieval Great Karatay Medrese theological college, after which we walk to the Mosque and Tomb of Sems-i Tebrizi, Rumi’s closest companion, spiritual mentor, and inspiration for many of his poetic works, then return to our hotel for overnight.
Day 4 – Konya – Istanbul
Our driver takes us to Konya airport for our morning flight to Istanbul. (If you would like, you can extend your trip by adding extra nights in Konya or Cappadocia, please advise).