The Aegean Coast of Turkey
The ruined cities of Turkey’s Aegean coast were once some of the most powerful in the ancient world, from — if Homer is to be believed — the site of the legendary conflict between Greeks and Trojans, to the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis. Roman and Greek remains abound, in beautiful countryside, amid the ruins of cavernous temples, and in superb museums. While each of these offers a truly memorable experience, undoubtedly the star of our tour is a special access visit to the Roman terraced houses of Ephesus, whose painted walls and mosaics have been beautifully restored, and from whose curator we receive an exclusive talk. All this, in a landscape that offers rugged hills, sparkling glassy ocean, and traditional villages, on a journey that takes us from city to sea, makes for an unforgettable getaway.
- Gaze upon the mighty walls of Troy, as everyone has desired to do from Achilles, to Alexander the Great, to Constantine the Great, to Schliemann
- Great and famous Classical cities - Ephesus, Pergamon, Miletus, Aphrodisias - as well as evocative lesser-known ruins
- Beautiful landscapes of the Aegean Coast: blue sea, rugged hills, traditional villages still to be found away from the resorts
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our hotel overlooking the Bosphorus.
We travel to Çannakale and continue to the site of ancient Troy, evoking Homer’s epic poem and the efforts of archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. It is tantalising to imagine the Greek army ranged across the landscape, while Paris strode the walls of the city and Hector duelled with Achilles.
This morning, we take a scenic drive high into the hills to the site of Assos, on a rocky ridge, one of the most beautifully situated ancient sites in the world. We also explore the well-preserved Doric Temple of Athena. Your afternoon is free - explore the site further or enjoy a swim.
We travel to the ruins of Alexandria Troas. The ancient city is home to an extensive array of Roman remains, including: the agora temple, its columns and reliefs; and a partly dug-up odeion with two massive arched entrances. This afternoon we drive to Ayvalik.
We spend the day at the great Greek city of Pergamon, where remains are widespread. Our explorations include the Acropolis, the theatre, and altar of Zeus. After lunch, we visit Pergamon Museum and the Aesclepium, an ancient medical centre. We continue to Izmir.
We enjoy a brief brush with the Hittites – an ancient Bronze Age Turkish civilisation - at the Karabel rock relief, then drive inland to Sardis, with its massive gymnasium and bath-house and finely preserved Temple of Artemis. We continue to Pamukkale, the limescale ‘cotton castle’.
We explore ancient Hierapolis, with extensive tombs, a ‘Plutonium’ (shrine to the underworld deity Pluto) and oracular Temple of Apollo. The limescale formations with cascading pools and hot springs make this site very picturesque. Enjoy a free afternoon.
We travel east up the valley of the Maeander river, through magnificent scenery to the site of Aphrodisias. The mountains produced very fine white marble, and the city became famous for its sculptors.
We spend the morning at Priene, set on a peaceful wooded hillside. The Temple of Athena stands as a substantial ruin. We follow in the footsteps of the Greeks to Didyma, a huge temple which housed a shrine to Apollo. We end the day at Miletus, home of philosophers and scientists.
Our tour culminates at Ephesus, one of the highlights of western Turkey. This was one of the richest cities in Asia Minor and continued to thrive through the Roman period.
We have special access to the Roman terraced houses, with painted walls and mosaics now beautifully restored, with a talk from the curator.
After exploring the city we visit the newly reopened museum, housing treasures from the site. End the day at the fortifications and Basilica of St John at Selçuk, the city which replaced Ephesus in Medieval times.
We drive to Izmir for our flights home via Istanbul.
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
- Hotels - 1 night in a 5* hotel in Tekirdag, 2 nights in a stately hotel in Assos, with views over the Aegean, 1 night in a hillside hotel in Ayvalik, 1 night in a contemporary Izmir hotel, 2 nights in a spa hotel in Pamukkale, 3 nights in an upscale waterfront hotel in the beach resort town of Kusadasi
- Flights - Scheduled return flights from London to Istanbul
1 night in a 5* hotel in Tekirdag
2 nights in a stately hotel in Assos, with views over the Aegean
1 night in a hillside hotel in Ayvalik
1 night in a contemporary Izmir hotel
2 nights in a spa hotel in Pamukkale
3 nights in an upscale waterfront hotel in the beach resort town of Kusadasi
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