Turkey and Holy Land (12D11N)
from Istanbul to Tel-Aviv
Day to Day Itinerary
DAY 01. ISTANBUL (Lunch/Dinner)
Upon arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport early in the morning, meet at the airport and we drive to the 'Old City'. Our first stop is the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the centre of Byzantine civic life, where horse and chariot races used to take place. We then travel towards the Blue Mosque, known for the impressive blue tiles lining its walls. The Basilica of Haggia Sophia (Divine Wisdom), now called the Ayasofya Museum, is unquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time. Built by Constantine the Great, it was reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century. After lunch, we visit the Underground Cistern and check-in to the hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
DAY 02. ISTANBUL / NICEA / BURSA (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Following breakfast, we take the Bosphorus cruise to enjoy the unique experience of cruising between 2 continents, Asia and Europe. Then we drive to embark ferry boat to Yalova. Drive to Iznik, formerly known as Nicea. The city was founded around 1000 BC. In 325 AD, the First Ecumenical Council was held here for the purpose of condemning the heresy of Arianism. The Seventh Ecumenical Council was also held here in the St Sophia Church, which we will visit. The church was built in the 4th century and has a mosaic floor which dates to the 6th century. All gates and walls date from the Byzantine times. Later we proceed to Bursa for dinner and overnight.
DAY 03. BURSA / PERGAMON / KUSADASI (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
In the morning, drive to the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 B.C., we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. Drive to Kusadasi for overnight.
DAY 04. KUSADASI / EPHESUS / KUSADASI (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner )
After breakfast drive to Selcuk town, we will visit the famous ancient city of Ephesus, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites. Highlights include the Library of Celcius, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Theatre. Then visit the Basilica of St John “the Evangelist” who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. We will also stop by the House of Virgin Mary (on top of Mt Coressos). She was believed to have spent her last years in this area. On 18 August 1961, Pope John XXII proclaimed this place to be sacred. Overnight in Kusadasi.
DAY 05. KUSADASI / SARDIS / PAMUKKALE (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
After breakfast drive to Thyteria to see the remains of the church. This was one of the principle towns where Christianity spread quickly. Next, we will stop by Sardis whose history dates back to 12th century B.C. Sardis felt the influence of Christianity very early and was included in the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. During the Byzantine times it was the seat of a bishopric. Highlights will be a Synagogue, Gymnasium, Byzantine Church and the Temple of Artemis. Next on our itinerary is Philadelphia which was an important Christian centre during Byzantine times. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
DAY 06. PAMUKKALE / YALVAC / CAPPADOCIA (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
In the morning we visit Hierapolis, which was founded by Pergamon King Telephons and named after his wife, Hiera. During the Byzantine period, the city became the seat of diocese with a large Christian Church dedicated to St Philip, who was martyred there in 80 AD. Highlights include the Roman Baths, , the Theatre and the famous white calcium cascades of Pamukkale (the white “Cotton Castles”). Then drive to Cappadocia. On the way visit Pisidian Antioch (Yalvac). During Paul’s time, the population was made up of Jews, Romans and Greeks. Very little is left of Pisidian Antioch today. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
DAY 07. CAPPADOCIA (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
OPTIONAL: HOT AIR BALLOON TOUR early in the morning After breakfast, visit Natural Fortress in Uchisar, where you can capture a panoramic view of the beautiful plateau. Next visit Pasabagi in Zelve area where monks used to live in seclusion in rock cut rooms. Then, we visit the Valleys of Goreme to explore the unusual troglodyte dwellings, remains of the early churches comprising complicated rooms hollowed out of the cones of volcanic ash and decorated with scratched frescoes. We will visit Goreme Open Air Museum include the Apple Church, the Church of Sandals, and the Church with a Buckle. Than proceed to the pottery town of Avanos where Kizilirmak (Hallys), the longest river of Turkey, meanders leaving the red clay on its banks that has been the raw material of pottery for centuries. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 08. CAPPADOCIA / ISTANBUL / TEL AVIV (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
After breakfast visit Kaymakli Underground City carved into soft rocks resembling a huge labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, kitchens, wine cellars and passageways. Then transfer to Kayseri Airport for flight to Tel Aviv via Istanbul. Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport. You will be met by a representative assisted through customs and transferred to your hotel in Tel Aviv for dinner and overnight.
DAY 09. JAFFA, CAESAREA, NAZARETH, JORDAN RIVER, TIBERIAS (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
After breakfast begin your tour of Israel by driving through the city of Tel Aviv to the ancient port of JAFFA which is now restored and is an exciting Artists Quarter. See the site of the house of Simon the Tanner. Continue north along the coast via the plains of Sharon to ancient CAESAREA. Visit the Roman theater and other excavations. Drive via Mt. Carmel to NAZARETH and visit the Church of Annunciation built on the site where Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Messiah. Continue via CANA, the site of the First Miracle and then on to the Jordan River in whose waters John baptized Jesus. Continue to TIBERIAS and check into hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 10. CAPERNAUM, TABGHA, JERICHO, DEAD SEA, JERUSALEM (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
After breakfast take a Boat Ride on the Sea of Galilee. Visit ancient CAPERNAUM where Jesus lived and performed many miracles. Visit TABGHA on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus fed the multitudes. On to the MT. OF BEATITUDES where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Continue down the Jordan Valley past JERICHO, the city Joshua destroyed. Drive to the lowest spot on earth, the Dead Sea. Conditions permitting, float in its unique mineral rich water. Travel up the Judean Hills to JERUSALEM, the Holy city. Check into hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 11. JERUSALEM AND BETHLEHEM (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
After breakfast drive to the MT. OF OLIVES for an overview of the Old City of Jerusalem. Hear an explanation on this city's most interesting history. Time for photos and possibly a Camel Ride. Visit the site of Ascension and then on to the Pater Noster Chapel where the Lord's Prayer is written in many languages. Walk the Palm Sunday Road and then visit the Chapel of the Weeping (Dominus Flavit) where Jesus wept for Jerusalem. On to the GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE and its old olive trees. Visit the Church of Gethsemane. Continue to MT. ZION. Visit the Upper Room where Jesus and his Disciples ate the Last Supper. Drive to BETHELEHEM and the Church of the Nativity built over the site where Jesus was born. View the Shepherds' Fields where the Shepherds were tending their flocks when the heard a heavenly chorus and followed the star to Bethlehem. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 12. JERUSALEM / TEL AVIV (DEPARTURE) (Breakfast/Lunch/.......)
After breakfast visit the WAILING WALL where Jews gather from all over the world to commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples and pray for the restoration of Israel – a prayer already being fulfilled. Visit the Temple Mount and see the beautiful mosques built where the temples once stood. Walk to the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured the paralytic man. Walk along the VIA DOLOROSA and follow the 14 stations of the Cross. Visit the CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure for shopping in the bazaars of the Old City. Then you will be transferred to Ben Gurion Airport and a representative will assist you with all formalities for your departure flight.
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