Best of Istanbul & Cappadocia

Tour Code : CUL 01

Highlights
–    Istanbul; historical peninsula Sultanahmet
–    Hagia Sophia, Blue mosque & Topkapi palace
–    Hippodrome square; Basilica cistern & Grand Bazaar
–    Pasabaglari valley & Zelve monastery
–    Goreme open air museum & Derinkuyu underground city
–    Ihlara valley & Selime monastery

CUL 01 - PRIN

Best Season   
Jan / Feb / Mar / Apr / May / Jun / Jul / Aug / Sep / Oct / Nov / Dec

 

Duration of the Trip
8 Days / 7 Nights

 

Difficulty Level
= A (Easy) 

 

Accommodation
Hotel    :    7 Nights

Day 1 : Istanbul

Meet at the Istanbul Ataturk Int. Airport with Demavend Travels representative and drive to the Hotel, located in the historical centre of Istanbul, known as Sultanahmet.
Transfer Time: 30 min.; Transfer Distance: 18 km; (Istanbul Ataturk Int. Airport – Hotel)
ON: in Istanbul at the Hotel
Meals: – / – / –

Day 2 : Istanbul sightseeing; Hagia Sophia, Blue mosque & Topkapi palace

Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople, was the hub of the Ottoman Empire, and many of the grand buildings of this period are present today. You could easily spend a week in this city and still not have seen all the sites. Today we will explore the old Sultanahmet Area. We visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) was built between 1609 and 1616. The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church development. It incorporates some Byzantine elements of the neighbouring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. The Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral. The building was a mosque from 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on February 1935. The Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years of their 624 year reign. As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammad’s cloak and sword. The Topkapi Palace is among the monuments contained within the “Historic Areas of Istanbul”, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
ON: in Istanbul at the Hotel
Meals: B / – / –

Day 3 : Istanbul Bosphorus tour by boat & sightseeing Hippodrome square; Basilica Cistern & Grand Bazaar

After breakfast we continue our fascinating Tour through Istanbul, we take time to explore the city with a Boat Tour on the Bosphorus, explore Hippodrome square; visit the Basilica Cistern and the Grand (Covered) Bazaar.
Bosphorus tour by Boat (Public Tour / approximately 3 h): Exploring Istanbul by boat, known as Bosphorus tour and right through the heart of Istanbul. The Bosphorus is a 32 km (20-mile) long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea in Istanbul and separates the continents of Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, as part of the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, has always been of great commercial and strategic importance. The most impressive sights along the shores of the Bosphorus are the Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi) and Dolmabahce Palace, several Ottoman palaces, fortresses, forested hills and shore villages with Ottoman architecture. The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydani (Sultan Ahmet Square) and largely follows the ground plan and dimensions of the now vanished Hippodrome. The surviving monuments of the Spina (the middle barrier of the racecourse), the two obelisks (Obelisk of Thutmose III & Walled Obelisk) and the Serpentine Column, now sit in holes in a landscaped garden. The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. Ancient texts indicated that the basilica contained gardens, surrounded by a colonnade and facing the Hagia Sophia, Historical texts claim that 7,000 slaves were involved in the construction of the cistern. The Grand Bazaar (Covered Bazaar/Kapali Carsi) in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.
ON: in Istanbul at the Hotel
Meals: B / – / –

Day 4 : Fly to Kayseri and continue to Cappadocia; visit Cavusin village; Pasabaglari valley; Zelve monastery & Avanos

After breakfast we drive to Istanbul Ataturk Int. airport and fly to Kayseri and continue from there to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is undeniably a nature fantasy and it almost feels like another planet with its exceptional geological formations. In this creation of Nature, the curiosity of the landscapes is added to the historical richness. Wind, rain and frost have sculpted this superb scenery in the volcanic rock during millions of years. The region is largely underlain by sedimentary rocks formed in lakes and streams, and ignimbrite deposits erupted from ancient volcanoes. The rocks of Cappadocia eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and forms. In Cappadocia we drive to Cavusin first, one of the oldest settlements in Cappadocia Area; a small village made up of rock cut dwellings and elegantly carved stone houses. From Cavusin village we start for a short walk and continue on small walking paths, close to fascinating rock formations and with magnificent views. Our walk will permit us directly to the fairy chimneys at monk’s valley (Pasabaglari) down below. Pasabaglari fairy chimneys are unique and feature bizarre large toadstool like caps which protect the rest of the chimney from erosion. The area was formerly a monastic retreat and used to be known as monk’s valley and features a rock cut church dedicated to St Simeon. After visiting Pasabaglari area we drive to the Zelve Monastery & open air Museum in only 5 Minutes distance. Christians moved to Zelve during the Persian and Arab invasions and the region, though recently uninhabited, became an important settlement and religious area during the 9th and 13th centuries. Zelve spreads out over three valleys, of which two are connected by a tunnel. The monastery is rich in its own beauty; main decorations are high relief crosses representative of the Iconoclastic doctrine. In the afternoon we take time to visit Avanos.
Optional Activity: visiting Pottery shaping Studio
The most famous historical feature of Avanos, which is still relevant and very visible today, is its production of earthenware pottery; it is also the most economic activity in the town. The ceramic trade in this district and its countless pottery factories date right back to the Hittites, and the ceramic clay from the red silt of the Kızılırmak has always been used. We will take time to visit one of the Pottery studios and you will try to shape by your own.
Transfer time: 30 min.; transfer distance: 18 km; (Hotel – Istanbul Ataturk Int. Airport)
Transfer time: 1 h; transfer distance: 80 km; (Kayseri airport – Cappadocia)
Walking time: 45 min.; walking distance: 3 km; ascent: 60m; descent: 70m; (Cavusin – Pasabaglari)
ON: in Cappadocia at the Hotel     
Meals: B / L / D  

Day 5 : Uchisar citadel; Goreme open air museum; Red & Rose valleys

Optional Activity: Hot Air Balloon
In the Early Morning before Sunrise it is optional possible to go on a Hot Air Balloon Flight. Cappadocia is awarded as one of the world’s best balloon flight areas and it is one of the best ways to discover the unique landscapes of this impressive wonder of nature.
After having breakfast we drive Uchisar village to visit the high viewpoint known as “The fortress”. Many rooms hollowed out into the Rock, are connected to each other with stairs, tunnels and passages. The top of the Citadel provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area. Afterwards we take time to visit Goreme open air Museum. The Christian people at the heart of the Cappadocia realized that the soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries. These Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantine art from the post iconoclastic period. The frescoes inside the Goreme Open Air Museum are a unique artistic achievement from this period. After visiting the Goreme open air Museum we drive to the Red Valley area, the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia with its spectacular formations and colours. In Red Valley it is possible to visit some hidden churches like the Uzumlu church (Grape church / Red Valley) or the hidden Cross Church (Rose Valley). These churches have been carved out of the cliff face, although it is not definite, the common believe is that these churches date back to the 8/9th century. The decorative reliefs and frescoes are added in the 10/11th Century.
Optional Activity: Turkish bath (Hamam)
In the late afternoon/ or early evening it is optional possible to try a traditional Turkish bath, better known as Hamam. The Hamam combines the functionality and the structural elements of its predecessors in Anatolia, the Roman thermal and Eastern Roman baths.
ON: in Cappadocia at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 6 : Derinkuyu underground city; Ihlara valley & Selime monastery

Today we drive to Ihlara, on the Way we visit the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu. The incredible underground city of Derinkuyu was opened to visitors in 1965, but only 10 % of the city can be visited. The city is approximately 85m deep and contains all of the usual rooms found in an underground city, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches and wineries. Apart from these, a large room with a barrel vaulted ceiling on the second floor served as a missionary school, the rooms to the left used as study rooms. Ihlara Valley is a 14 km long canyon with hundreds of rock cut rooms and churches. This valley proved to be an ideal place for Monks to worship in seclusion, as well as provide a safe hideaway and place of defence for people during times of invasion. There are numerous dwellings, some of which are connected by tunnels and corridors. The decorations in the churches date from the 6th to the 13th centuries. After having Lunch in Belisirma village we drive to Selime to visit the Selime Monastery. A visit to this complex of buildings on a steep mountain slope is a must in the region. Afterwards we drive back to Cappadocia.                            
Transfer time: 1/2 h; transfer distance: 95 km (Ihlara – Cappadocia via Derinkuyu / one way)
Walking time: 2 h; walking distance: 6 km (Ihlara – Belisirma);
ON: in Cappadocia at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 7 : Day at Leisure to explore Urgup & Goreme

Urgup is one of the most important centres in Cappadocia. Urgup was a bishopric of the rock cut churches and monasteries found in the villages, valleys and towns around Urgup. Today Urgup is known for its famous wines and pleasant cafes. Goreme is designated as an important tourist destination; a “center” for all tourism in Cappadocia, the name of the town was changed to Goreme for practical reasons. In Urgup and Goreme we take time to relax a while and to taste a traditional cup of Turkish tea before we explore the centers of these famous cities (villages), with their small shops and pleasant cafes, on our own way.
ON: in Cappadocia at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 8 : Cappadocia to Kayseri – Home

Transfer to Kayseri airport where the Trip concludes.
Transfer time: 1 h; transfer distance: 80 km (Cappadocia – Kayseri airport)
Meals: B / – / –

ON = Overnight accommodation / B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner

Price Includes
–    All transfers and transportations with private vehicles to the places mentioned in the Itinerary
      Days 1 & 4: One (one way) arrival/departure transfer from/to Istanbul Ataturk Int. airport/Hotel in Sultanahmet
      Transfers in Istanbul valid for Istanbul Ataturk Int. airport only/Extra transfer cost will be charged for each transfer
      Day 8: One (one way) departure transfer from/to Hotel in Cappadocia/Kayseri airport
–    Demavend Travel English speaking Tour Leader
–    Hotel accommodations, rooms on double/twin share base;
      Bed & Breakfast (BB) and Half Board (HB) service; Important: HB Dinner Service available until 20:30/21:00 h
–    7 x Breakfast, 4 x Lunch, 4 x Dinner
–    Day 3: Bosphorus tour by Boat (Public Tour/approximately 3 h)

 

Price Excludes
–    All International and Domestic Flights
–    Travel insurance
–    Extra Transports and transfers other than stated in the Itinerary
–    All kind of Soft and Alcoholic drinks, Bottled Water, Tea & Coffee
–    Meals other than stated in the Itinerary
–    All kind of personal expenses
–    All kind of Entrance fees for historical and natural sites
–    All kind of optional activities
–    Extra Nights
–    Single supplements
–    Personal Equipment
–    Tips