Grand Anatolia Tour
A Historical Look at Eastern Turkey
September 15th - September 30th, 2021
3150 USD Double 3800 USD Single
GRAND ANATOLIA HISTORICAL TOUR of EASTERN TURKEY
15 NIGHTS / 16 DAYS
Travel to Eastern Turkey with a small group of history lovers. As your guide and tour company owner, I am very excited to introduce this part of my country.
You will visit all important sights which are in the list of UNESCO such as Mount Nemrut (Commagene Kingdom), Gobeklitepe, Holy Cross Church in Van Lake, Ani Ruins in Kars
You will witness the beautiful scenery of inactive volcanic mountains which are very famous with nature, legends, religion such as Nemrut Mountain in Adıyaman, Nemrut Mountain in Bitlis by Van Lake, Suphan Mountain by Van Lake, Tendurek Mountain between Van and Agri, and of course Great and Small Mount Ararats.
We follow the story of religions such as Christianity, İslam, Judaism, Zoroastrian religion, Assyrians, Ezidis and worth seeing all holy places such as birth place of St Paul in Tarsus, St Peter's Church which was the earliest church of the Christianity.
Southeast Turkey is known as one of the top of historical "Fertile Crescent" sites featuring the earliest settlements in history.
In 16 days from the end of Mediterranean sea to northeast Turkey, you will witness history and a mosaic of cultures and religions. We are going to visit mosques, orthodox churches, catholic churches, Assyrian churches, synagogues of Jews, and meet Keldanis, Yazidis, Assyrians, Jews, Orthodox Christians and Muslims.
If you ask me whether it is safe to do this tour: I have to be crazy to insure people and take to the risky and unsafe places as a travel agency owner and to take the risk of my life. Because I will be travelling with my group too. Each person in my group will have fully health and travel insurance. And I keep going these places with my Turkish groups and I feel safer in east than west. So please close your ears all media news which are totally fake and do not miss this tour.
Fill your battery and get ready. Let’s us inspire you as Peace Travel Service! You will amaze with nature, history, culture and gastronomy in 16 days, And it will be an unforgettable memory in your life.
DAY 1 - ISTANBUL: Leisure day and welcome dinner
Pick up from Istanbul airport mid-morning. Transfer to your hotel.
Rest, then a Bosporus cruise late afternoon followed by welcome dinner to meet your guide and escort. Overnight Istanbul.
DAY 2 - ISTANBUL - ADANA - TARSUS
Early morning, we'll pick you up and transfer to the airport for our flight to Adana. After landing to Adana Airport, we'll meet our driver and drive through to Tarsus which has been known as the birthplace and home town of St Paul.
We will visit:
*The ancient road which was built during the early Roman period in 1st century AD.
*St Pauls’ Well and the foundations of the house where he is believed to have lived.
* Old Tarsus homes and ruins of the Roman baths
* Church of St. Paul which was built in the 5th century A.D. Although converted into a mosque, this church still has Christian religious frescoes.
*Taşköprü (Stone Bridge) a Roman bridge spanning the Seyhan River in Adana that was probably built in the first half of the second century AD. The bridge was a key link in ancient trade routes from the Mediterranean Sea to Anatolia and Persia. Dinner at your hotel. Overnight Adana.
DAY 3 - ADANA - ANTAKYA
After breakfast we drive to Antakya (Hatay) and start exploring Antakya. Antakya is the capital of Turkish cuisine. So our two days here will be both a culinary and historical tour.
During day we'll visit:
*Antakya Archeological Museum where you can see magnificent Byzantine Mosaics
*Saint Peter's cave church which has been described as the first church of Christians.
* In the city centre - Anatolia’s first mosque Habibi Neccar Mosque, Catholic Christian Church, Armenian Church, Jewish neighbourhood, Greek neighbourhood, Orthodox Church and the Old Antakya Bazaar
Dinner at our favourite local restaurant. Overnight Antakya.
DAY 4 - HATAY SAMANDAG - VAKIFLI VILLAGE - SAINT SIMEON MONASTERY
We have a full day today. After breakfast, we drive through the Samandağ district to see the important historical sights visiting:
*Samandağ where you can see the end of Mediterranean Sea. (Mountain of Simeon)
* Magnificent engineering work of Titus Tunnel and nearby Rock Tombs called Besikli Cave.
* The Armenian village of Vakifli - an ecological village lifestyle and healthy organic agriculture.
*3000 year old tree of Moses
*Saint Simeon Monastery: One of the pillar-hermit Saint Simon younger’s Monastery from 6th century.
For dinner, we will have a special menu prepared for us at one of the most famous and delicious restaurants of Antakya.
DAY 5 - ANTAKYA – GAZIANTEP
After breakfast we check out and leave the city. Our next destination is Gaziantep. We call this place the "City of Baklava". Also, Gaziantep is a culinary city with delicious food too. We will visit many historical buildings, especially spending time at the mosaic museum.
*Zeugma Mosaic Museum where we can see the famous Gypsy girl mosaic and statue of Mars
*Gaziantep Grand Bazaar, Mosques and back streets with local museums in the old city.
Dinner in a local restaurant to taste the delicious flavours of the area. Overnight Gaziantep.
DAY 6 - GAZIANTEP-HALFETI-RUMKALE-HARRAN-ŞANLIURFA
After our breakfast at our hotel, we check out and drive through to Şanlıurfa.
We are going to stop and see the ancient city of Zeugma which was settled on the Euphrates river. We saw the mosaics of this city in the mosaic museum in Gaziantep. It is a very important historical site to visit among the pistachio trees. Zeugma is on the UNESCO Tentative list of World Heritage Sites, and its historic culture is around the Euphrates, too.
*Boat trip on Euphrates River by Halfeti and Savaşan villages where most of the houses, mosques and buildings were submerged by the Birecik Dam.
*Rumkale (Roman Castle) located on a hill surrounded by rocks where the Merzimen River flows to meet the Euphrates river. It has been the home to many civilizations throughout history and an important centre for early Christianity. It is said to be where copies of the Bible were reproduced by Johannes (one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ). Johannes is said to have settled in this fortress during the Roman period and secretly made copies of Bible, in a rock carved room. It was built by Assyrians and occupied by Urartians, Babylonians, Sumerians, Seljuks and Ottomans.
*Lunch in Birecik town and view the endemic birds called Kelaynak (Hermit Ibis).
*Drive next to Harran Valley where we can see the conic Harran houses. Harran is one of the oldest settlements in Turkey and believed to house the earliest university in history. It dates back to 3000 BC when an Eblaite princess became the Queen of Harran. After having time to visit the historical buildings, we'll drive back to Şanlıurfa. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Şanlıurfa.
DAY 7 - GOBEKLITEPE - ŞANLIURFA MUSEUM - BALIKLIGOL (ABRAHAM'S POOL) - ADIYAMAN
Today we go to Şanlıurfa Museum, where we can see the historical pieces which were excavated and brought from Gobeklitepe and Neva Çori - an ancient city that is now underwater from the Ataturk Dam.
On our itinerary is -
*Sanlıurfa Archeological Museum
*GOBEKLITEPE (ABDOMEN HILL) - First Temple of the World. Göbeklitepe has been described as the oldest temple in the world - dating back 12 thousand years ago to 9600 BC. It has been said that, Gobeklitepe is approximately 8000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids and 7000 years older than Stonehenge. It was added as a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site in 2018, and in 2019, was announced as the year of GOBEKLITEPE in World Heritage.
*Balıklı Göl (The Pool of Abraham) has a story written in holy books which explains the contest between King Nemrut and Abraham.
After completing our visit in Şanlıurfa, we'll have lunch in a local restaurant and drive 2 hours to Adıyaman, for Mount Nemrut to catch the sunset.
*Mount Nemrut-Mountain of the Gods is one of the most stunning and memorable sights watching sunrise or sunset. It is a National Park made famous for the antique statuary on the summit dating back to Commagene Kingdom. As the largest open air museum of the world, Mount Nemrut has the biggest statue of Zeus in the world.
Dinner at our local restaurant. Overnight in Adıyaman.
DAY 8 - ADIYAMAN-DIYARBAKIR-MARDIN
After our breakfast we'll check out and visit these places on the way to Diyarbakır and Mardin:
*The ancient city of Perre: A small town of the Commagene Kingdom which during the Roman period, became a very important centre for the Roman Empire. A small settlement during the reign of the Kings of Commagene, Perre, became witness of a golden age under the Roman Empire, when it was an important stopover for travellers and merchants. The most interesting of the remaining ruins of Perre, is visiting the over 200 rock tombs connected to each other via passages. The tombs are decorated with reliefs and feature sarcophagi.
*Karakus (Black Bird) Tumulus
*Cendere Roman Bridge of Caracalla
Lunch in Diyarbakır and visit the sights such as Grand Mosque, Historical Castle (which is in the list of UNESCO sites), Hevsel Gardens and the Stone Bridge.
Dinner at the hotel. Overnight Mardin.
DAY 9 - DEYRUL ZAFARAN – DARA – MOR JAKOB – MOR AUGIN
After having breakfast in our hotel we start to explore in and around Mardin city. It is a very important city where the mosaic of cultures and different religions such as, Keldanis, Catholics, Assyrians, Yazidis, Muslims, Orthodox Christians etc. thrive together.
We are going to visit the important historical places below:
*DEYRUL ZAFARAN - once the centre of the Patriarchate of Assyrians. Dayro d-Mor Hananyo is an important Syriac Orthodox monastery. The monastery is located in the Syriac cultural region known as Tur Abdin, and is located three kilometers south east of Mardin, Turkey. It is usually better known by its nickname, the ‘Saffron Monastery’ which is derived from the warm colour of its stone.
*DARA ANCIENT CITY: Dara is located 30 km Southeast of Mardin, which is one of the most glorious settlements in the region. The establishment date of the city is not known, whose ancient name is Anastasiapolis. Dara has been one of the most important trade centres of Mesopotamia for centuries. The city witnessed wars of the Persian Emperor Darius and Alexander the Great.
The city still can be seen with its remnants of churches, palaces, markets, dungeons, armouries, cisterns and water jumps. A glorious water jump was built by carving the rocks going down towards south, starting from north of the village. Even today you can find water in this water jump. Furthermore, cave houses are also available around the village, whose histories date back to the Late Roman period.
*MOR JAKOB MONASTERY or Church of Saint Jacob in Nisibis, is a historic Assyrian Orthodox church in Nusaybin, southeastern Turkey. Archaeological excavations revealed that the 4th-century church building was originally the baptistery of a cathedral, which no longer exists.
*ZEYNEL ABIDIN MOSQUE: It is a historical Mosque in Mardin Province which was built in 1159 during the Zengid Dynasty for Zeynel Abidin and his sister Sitti Zeynep who were the 13th generation grand children of prophet Muhammed.
*MOR AUGIN MONASTERY: The Monastery of Mor Augin is a monastery fortress built between two mountains using the stone and masonry of the region. We will have a conversation with Priest Mor Yokin, before we return to our hotel for lunch in Mardin.
Dinner at the hotel. Overnight Mardin.
DAY 10 - MIDYAT - SURYANI AND YAZIDI VILLAGES - VIRGIN MARY CHURCH - MOR GABRIEL MONASTERY - MARDIN OLD CITY
Today, we explore other parts of Mardin Province holding Assyrian and Yazidi villages and their different cultures. In the afternoon, we will be in the old city of Mardin and visit the places below. Free time to shop or wander around Mardin.
*Mor Gabriel Monastery which is oldest and earliest Monastery of the region.
*Monastery of Virgin Mary in Anıtlı Hah Assyrian Village
*Yazidi Village: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yazidi
*Midyat: The historic Midyat state guest house is a fine example of local houses. It is also possible to see Midyat from the terrace. Midyat is famous with it’s filigree art and Syriac wines. So, anyone who wants to do shopping, can do it from here.
*Mardin Old city: We start exploring Mardin from its highest point. We’ll be discovering the streets, complexes, mosques, churches, bazaars of Mardin. Sheikh Cabuk Mosque, Zinciriye Complex, Kirklar Church, Archeology Museum, Virgin Mary Church, Old PTT Building, Latifiye Mosque, Grand Mosque, Sitti Radviye Mosque, Keldani Church, Abbaras, Kayseriyye Bedesten and Balikcilar Bazaar are among the landmarks.
Dinner at the hotel. Overnight Mardin.
DAY 11 MARDIN - DIYARBAKIR - BİTLİS - TATVAN
After our breakfast, we check out and leave this beautiful city. We drive northeast through to Bitlis. We have around 4 hours driving by passing the different local cities. Today, We are going to see and visit:
*Bitlis Castle which was built for Alexander the Great. The origin of the name Bitlis is not known. A popular folk etymology explanation, without historical basis, is that it is derived from “Lis/Batlis”, the name of a general said to have built Bitlis castle by the order of Alexander the Great.
Please check the link to read more about Bitlis city. It is very famous with its castle and Seljuk’s Madrasahs and Caravanserais.
*Have lunch in a local restaurant in Bitlis.
*Volcanic Crater Lakes in Nemrut Mountain, Tatvan: After having lunch we drive to Nemrut Mountain to visit the steam chimneys and crater lakes at the top of the mountain. Nemrut Crater Lake is second biggest crater lake of the world and 2250m height from sea level. It is the volcanic mountain which had latest volcanic eruption of Asia Minor in 1440. And after eruption cold and hot lakes had been formed there. When you reach there, you feel the energy of the Crater bowl which has 6km dimension.
*AHLAT SELJUK’S CEMETERY - Next stop is Ahlat town by Van Lake which is 38km away from Nemrut Mountain. Ahlat has a well preserved 800 year old historical cemetery which has enormous hand carved and decorated, Seljuk tombstones. This cemetery has been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There is also an old, ruined historical site, next to which is one of the oldest settlements in history with caves and houses.
After completing our itinerary we drive back to Tatvan by the beautiful panoramic Suphan Mountain and Van Lake.
Dinner in a local restaurant of the city. Overnight Tatvan.
DAY 12 - HOLY CROSS CHURCH ON AKDAMAR ISLAND - CAVUSTEPE CASTLE - TUSPA (VAN CASTLE)
Today after breakfast, we leave Tatvan and drive by Van Lake. Every year in the first Sunday of September, there is a divine service in the Holy Cross Armenian Church. We'll try to make the time to join the celebration there. Today's itinerary we will see:
*CAVUSTEPE - After having breakfast in our hotel we start to explore Van city which was the capital of the Urartu ancient kingdom with Tushpa. Our first stop will be Çavushtepe which had been one of states of Urartians. During the golden years of Urartians, they had built 2 palaces and temples at the top of Chavushtepe castle to honour the two gods of the Urartians.
We'll see the Urartian cuneiform writings on andesite blocks. Meet Mr Mehmet who translates all the writings for us and who is one of only 10 people can write and read this language in the world.
*Holy Cross Church on Akdamar Island in Van Lake: - After having our lunch we'll take a boat to Akdamar Island to visit the important Armenian church where we can see the important figures from the Torah and Bible on the walls. This church was built in 10th century and is called a monumental Armenian Church. Browse around the grounds and take in the view before we take the boat back to the city again.
VAN CAT HOUSE AND SAVAT SILVER HOUSE - We visit 2 symbolic things of Van city. One of them is the Van Cats which have been named as most beautiful cats of the world with their one blue and one hazel eye and fluffy, long white fur. It is the only cat in the world which loves swimming. After visiting the cat house, we stop in Savat silver house. Savat style of work in silver is unique to this region and it's worth seeing their workshops.
VAN TUSHPA CASTLE-SUNSET WATCHING - After having an afternoon coffee break, we'll visit Tushpa castle to watch the impressive sunset over Van Lake. This castle was built 3300 years ago by Urartian king Sarduri at 80 m above Van Lake.
Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Hilton Hotel Van.
DAY 13 MURADIYE WATERFALL -TENDUREK MOUNTAINS -ISHAKPASA PALACE - MOUNT ARARAT
*Muradiye Waterfalls and the Pearl Mullet. The mullet are a unique and endemic fish which can be found only in Van Lake. Van Lake is the largest lake in Turkey and has carbonated, salty water because of being volcanic. During May and June, the fish start to swim upriver through to Muradiye Waterfalls to lay their eggs.
*Tendurek Mountains: Tendurek Mountain is a shield volcano located between Agri and Van cities. The elongated old volcanic mountain rises 1,800m above the DoguBeyazit plain to the south of Mount Ararat.
*Ishakpasha Palace in Dogu Beyazıt Ishakpasha Palace is the second most famous and impressive palace after Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. It has fabulous architecture and sits on the top of a hill like an eagle nest. It became the subject of many novels and stories throughout history. Built in 1784, it has most beautiful carved and cut, stone workmanship of the Ottoman era during the "Tulip" period. Worth visiting for the amazing Persian, Ottoman and Seljuk architecture. Many writers and poets have written about the amazing sunset and sunrise panoramas from Ishakpasha Palace.
*GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS DECLARATION MONUMENT at the avenue of Dogu Beyazıt town.
*Mount Ararats and Noah's Ark - There are two Mount Ararats next to each other. Big Ararat is 5137 meters height and Small Ararat is 3925 meters height. Both of them are the product of eruptive volcanic activity. They do not retain any evidence of a crater, but have well formed cones and fissures exist on their flanks. It is the famous biblical Mount Ararat believed to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark.
There is an earth mound that was found to look like a ship on the slopes of Mount Ararat. The surrounding area was declared and confirmed as Noah’s Ark by American academics and the Turkish government. It was opened as a National Park for the people and although we cannot be sure ıt was really Noah's Ark there, it is nice to hear the story and enjoy the amazing view.
Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Igdir
DAY 14 IGDIR - RAINBOW HILLS - KARS - ANI RUINS
Rainbow Hills in Igdir is described as a “don't miss” spot. The stunning landscape is noteworthy for the incredible size and amazing colours every season of the year.
IGDIR: Is a city at the furthest eastern point of Turkey. It enjoys a microclimate and is famous for apple and golden apricot orchards.
ANI RUINS: The ancient city of Ani, which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, borders Armenian with Turkey. It was a magnificent ancient city which was home to many different cultures, tribes and religions such as Fire Nights of Zoroaster, Christians and Muslims. Set at an important junction of the Silk Road, it was a natural stopping place for traders coming from the east and west. Many buildings remain - Enu Muammeral Mosque (Grey Mosque) with it's octagonal minaret, Menucehr Mosque (the earliest mosque built in Anatolia), Surp Pirgic Armenian Church, Tigran Honest Church and Abukhamrent Gregor Church.
After visiting the Ani ruins, we'll drive to our hotel and rest before
going to a traditional dinner in one of best local restaurants in Kars with a Caucasian dance show. Overnight Kars.
DAY 15 KARS - ISTANBUL
On our last day, we have an easy start with a late breakfast and we can visit the historical sights in the Kars city centre before our afternoon flight to Istanbul. Dinner in an Istanbul local restaurant. Overnight Istanbul.
DAY 16 ISTANBUL*
Breakfast and transfer to the airport in the morning. Please book all flights for onward travel to depart late afternoon/evening.
*Our Gift for You
Guests can have a complimentary, guided Istanbul city tour if they wish to extend their visit for a final day/night.
Transportation and guide are included.
Itinerary includes Hagia Sophia, The Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern, Topkapı Palace and the Grand Bazaar.
Meals, accommodations and admission fees will be
excluded in this extra day.
Transportation by luxury private vehicle - max 12 women.
Domestic flight tickets from Istanbul to Adana and return Kars to Istanbul
Transfer service to and from the airport in Istanbul
15 nights accommodation with breakfast at 4 star hotels
All food - 16 breakfasts, 15 lunches and 15 dinners
Unlimited complimentary bottled water
Highway tolls, fuel and car park expenses
Headphone systems to hear your guide easily
Package Tour, Liability Insurance
Travel Health Insurance which covers accidents, sudden health problems and covid-19.
Professional guiding services
Admission fees to all monuments
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
Extra food and drink/alcohol expenses
Any kind of personal expenses - laundry etc.
Tipping for guide and driver
Maximum 12 guests to enable our team to best service you.
Accommodation is 4 star hotels and boutique stays
Guests must wear comfortable shoes for walking on cobblestone surfaces, inclines and 10-30 steps in a day. Care should be taken when walking in order to avoid injuries.
We recommend a hat and sun block as there may be limited shade.
A professional guide will be escorting you at all times.
All our guests will have travel insurance legally which was approved by TURSAB.
This tour is going to have some long days in visiting the sights. Remember, each moment is worth doing.
We reserve the right to make itinerary changes in order to facilitate a smooth experience
TGZ Tourism cannot be held responsible for trips that cannot be made, or made incomplete, due to force majeure (weather, road conditions, etc).
TGZ Turizm (PEACE TRAVEL SERVICE) reserves the right to change the hotel selection to something similar, or to a higher star hotel.
What our guests say: