Six Nights Journey to Istanbul, Bodrum & Ephesus
(6 Nights / 7 Days)
Day 1: Arrive Istanbul, Turkey
Welcome to Turkey! Upon arrival at Istanbul International Airport, you are met and transferred to your hotel by Marmara Tours’ English speaking rep and your private deluxe vehicle.
Day 2: Istanbul
After breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel and start your day with “The Hippodrome” which was a colossal stadium which the socio-political life of the Roman capital was centered.
Visit the Blue Mosque, a competitor of St. Sophia and unique with its six minarets. Interior housing 21.000 Iznik (ancient Nicea) tiles, considered as masterwork of Ottoman Architecture.
Proceed to Basilica Cistern from 6 hundreds – an extraordinary architecture of water reservoir that had supplied water which was very precious to Byzantium same as today for Istanbul. The cult James Bond film ‘From Russia with Love’ was filmed here having inspired Harry Saltzman by the 336 columns of 8meters high laid underneath the Stoa Basilica. The Ottomans called it Sunken Palace since they had other water sources at Topkapi Palace around the corner.
Continue to “A World Heritage“, an architectural masterpiece, Hagia Sophia, as so wished by Justinian to represent the grandeur of the Roman Empire and the power of Christendom the same time, was completed in 537. The building inspired countless generations by its colossal definition of what the interior space in a domed basilica was to be and by its innovations in weight-support and construction techniques – and what a dome it was: the popular belief was that ‘the dome was suspended from Heaven by an invisible golden chain’. In reality it was work of men, but a worldly simulator of the Heavens with its breathtaking biblical mosaics on upper gallery walls. Under Ottoman rule in 1453 and on being converted to mosque and as of 1935, has been serving to humanity as a cultural museum…
Topkapi Palace, the home and the administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Empire until mid 18 hundreds, located on the strategic hill which stood the acropolis to Byzantine rulers looking over a wide angle to the Golden Horn, Bosphorus, Asian Istanbul and Marmara Sea where the Ottoman ruler could see the world going by on Italian trade vessels trafficking from the Orient to Occident. The palace accommodated 5,000 permanent residents including guards so that elaborate facilities were also designed to be there taking Sultan’s Harem and recruiting units also into account, all within behind the walls in a vast environment however very humble. We walk back to the exit after having seen the treasury, costumes worn daily, collections and even the relics.
Day 3: Istanbul
Start your day with Sinan’s wonderful Rustem Pasa Mosque in the Blacksmiths Market next to the Spice Bazaar, known for its outstanding Iznik tiles. This charmingly busy neighborhood perfectly illustrates the Ottoman ideal of a balanced social existence. Stroll through the busy market area into the Spice Bazaar. We will spread out in the Spice Bazaar to find all manner of wonderful things.
Your chauffeur awaiting you will drive you through almost untouched Istanbul since last century, to Chora Church Museum still bearing the biblical illustrations in frescoes and mosaics on its walls and domes. Here, feel free to take your own shots but with fake lights especially when catching the eyes of Jesus gazing at you at any angle you look at him. As you walk out, you might hear some musical rehearsals from the school ‘Music for Peace’ around the curve – the children of all ages devoted to music will welcome you with love if your time permitting from touching the ancient City Walls from 4AD by Theodosius, just prompting to join with Attila the Hun.
In the afternoon, visit the most dazzling of all the bazaars; Explore the Grand Covered Bazaar of 3,500 shops assembled under cover in 1461 connecting the hans(small size of caravanserais for merchants and their needs) to the two bedestans served as bank and auction hall where the transactions handled -acted as ‘Wall Street’ of those days, valuables, gold, jewellery and oriental rugs, fabrics of course. Some ‘hand’ arts on cosy-dim backyards are still resisting to go extinct. Just seeing and experiencing this Mother of the Bazaars is worth the trip…
Day 4: Istanbul / Bodrum
In the morning, meet MarmaraTours’ rep at the hotel lobby and transfer to Istanbul Ataturk Airport for your domestic flight to Bodrum. At arrival, meet your private guide, vehicle and visit Bodrum Castle and ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. There is nothing quite like the harbor of Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassos): White-washed Aegean houses climbing the hills around two semi-circular ports which unite in an islet topped by a 14th-century castle built by the Knights of St John.
A ‘must see’ is the Castle of Knights of St. John.
Bodrum Kalesi (Bodrum Castle) and within the “Museum of Underwater Archaeology” provides a channel into the worlds of ancient mariners and maritime activities. The shipwrecks exhibited in the venue are fascinating.
Bodrum market place is also phenomenal for souvenirs by local artists.
Day 5: Bodrum / Kusadasi
In the morning, meet your guide in the lobby and drive to Kusadasi.
Your first visit will be the ruins of Great Temple of Apollo at Didyma, which meant “twins” and it was associated by some as being the meeting place of Zeus and Leto to have their twins Apollo and Artemis. Didyma was famed as a prophecy center dedicated to Apollo, which served a similar purpose as the Delphi of Anatolia. It was not a city but a sanctuary linked to Miletus by Milesians with a 12 mile sacred road.
Next, you will stop at Priene. The ancient harbor city of Priene probably changed its location when the silt of the Meander River threatened to bury it. Now it is nearly 10 miles away from the sea. The original place of the city has never been found but it was probably a peninsula with two harbors. Priene was laid out on a Hippodamian system of grid plan at the foot of a spectacular cliff on mount Mycale and contained many famous examples of Hellenistic art and architecture.
Day 6: Ephesus
After breakfast, meet your history hub guide in your hotel lobby for the daytour of antique Ephesus (1hr South of Izmir) that will feature the remains the best preserved Ionian site in Roman times in Eastern Mediterranean which was the leading trading city – also a center for the cult of Cybele/Artemis.
Program today will feature also the spectacular Terrace Houses located on the ramp of Ephesus where the wealthy Ephesians lived having decorated with spectacular mosaics and frescoes. These houses were brought to light after completion of excavations in 1980s constituting the best preserved examples of domestic architecture ever found. Return to Izmir to hotel in late afternoon. Also visit the House of Virgin Mary and Ephesus Museum in Selcuk.
Day 7: Izmir / Istanbul / International Departures
In the morning transfer to Izmir airport for your domestic/international flight.
Recommended Hotels in Bodrum region
* Amanruya Bodrum, Turkbuku
* Casa Dell’Arte, Torba – Bodrum
* Maca Kizi Hotel, Golturkbuku – Bodrum
* The Marmara Hotel, Bodrum
* Kempinski Hotel, Barbaros Bay – Bodrum
Recommended Hotels in Ephesus region
* Swiss Hotel, Izmir
* Kismet Hotel, Kusadasi
* Charisma Hotel, Kusadasi
*The itinerary above is customized per your specific interests, travel dates, hotel category, features to be included.