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Geo 23 Jewish Heritage Tour 12 Nights

Geo 23 Jewish Heritage Tour 12 Nights

Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, Pamukkale, Cappadocia, Ankara…

Day 1 Istanbul (-)
Arrive in Istanbul, and transfer to your hotel. After a short tour briefing, the rest of the day is free to rest, relax or walk around to explore the city. Overnight in Istanbul

Day 2 Istanbul (B/L)
We spend the full day visiting the sights of Old Istanbul. We will begin at the ancient Hippodrome which was the center of the civil activities back in the Hellenistic and Roman times. At the Hippodrome the chariot and horse races and athletic runs took place for the entertainment of the people of Constantinople. We walk to the nearby Ibrahim Pasha Palace which houses the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art where we will see an impressive exhibit from the various periods of Turkish and Islamic art, ranging in date from the 7th C. to the 19th. Then we proceed to the Blue Mosque, famous for its blue tiles covering its interior walls and also for its six minarets which is a unique feature of this mosque. Nearby is Hagia Sophia Museum, the former Cathedral of Constantinople, considered as the masterpiece of the early Byzantine architecture. Hagia Sophia is renowned for its superb mosaic decoration as well as its architectural style. Back in Byzantine Empire, most emperors were crowned in this cathedral after a special ceremony. After lunch we will visit the Topkapi Palace, residence and administrative center of the Ottoman Sultans. In the grounds of the Topkapi Palace are many courtyards surrounded by old buildings each housing small museums with exhibits of jewelry, costumes, calligraphy and various objects that belonged to the Imperial treasury of the Ottoman Sultans. Overnight at your Hotel.

Day 3 Istanbul (B/L)
Today, we will be visiting the major Jewish sites and monuments of the city. First in the morning, we will visit the old quarter of Balat area, where we will take a walk to see one of the oldest Synagogues in Turkey named Ohrida built by the Judaistic settlers from the town Ohri which is in the present day Macedonia. As we walk down the streets, we will see the stars of David on the old buildings. Our walk will bring us to more Semitic buildings and Synagogues. On the Golden Horn is a beautiful house painted in white with fine decorative carvings that belongs to a Jewish family. Not far away from here is the Balat Hasidic Hospital that had served the Community of Istanbul. We proceed to another interesting area of Istanbul called Galata, famous for its Tower which is an impressive monument that stands out in the Istanbul skyline as one looks from a distance. A panoramic view of the city is amazing from this point. Later, in the same street, we will visit the largest Synagogue in the city, Neve Shalom which is still an active Synagogue that serves the Jews of Istanbul. We will be able to see some more Judaistic buildings in this area. Next, we will drive out to the suburbs of the city to see an old Cemetery that overlooks the Bosphorus. Driving down from the cemetery, we will get to a charming town at Ortakoy, built on the banks of Bosphorus and having in its narrow streets, the cafes, souvenir shops and an active Synagogue. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 4 Istanbul /Bursa (B/L/D)
Green Tomb BursaDrive to Bursa. This morning, after a short drive over the Bosphorus bridge, we will take the Ferry across the sea of Marmara. Enroute visit Nicaea ( modern Iznik ), where Constantine the Great summoned the first council meeting, known as the Nicean Council, to set the principles of Christianity. At Nicaea, we will visit the Constantine’s palace on the lake shore where sum 318 Bishops attended the council meeting in 325. In the town center is the church of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) which still has beautiful mosaic decoration on the floor and some remains of frescoes on the walls. This is the Church where the seventh ecumenical council had met upon the invitation by the Byzantine empress Irene, in the year 787. We will also see the ancient roman theater, city walls and gates that still stand in almost original as they had been built. Continue to Bursa the city famous for its fine quality silk that had been produced in this area since the Byzantine times. Bursa also represents the early phase of the Ottoman architecture, as this city served as the first capital for the Ottoman Sultans. Our visits in Bursa will include the Green complex which was built by the Sultan Murat, Green Mosque, Green Tomb and Green Medrese all make up this large complex beautifully set today in a pedestrian area closed to car traffic. The name Green for this complex of buildings comes from the superb early Iznik tiles in green color. Then, we stroll through the Covered Bazaar and Silk Market where vendors sell various products from jewelry to textiles and also many traditional folk arts and local crafts. Then we wander the winding streets to see interesting old Ottoman Turkish architecture. Dinner and overnight in Bursa.

Day 5 Bursa / Izmir (B/L/D)
PergamumDrive to Izmir. Enroute visit Pergamum, the capital of Pergamum Kingdom and a great Hellenistic city with superb setting on the top of the mountain that rises above the surrounding plain. We will walk around the well preserved ruins of Pergamum. The view from top of the Acropolis toward the Aegean sea is spectacular. We will stop at Asclepieum, the famous ancient medical center where Galen, the famous physician of the ancient world, practiced medicine. Arrive in Izmir, and we will take a walk in the colorful bazaar of Kemeralti and visit the Beth Israel Synagogue. We drive to the ancient fortress at Kadifekale for a panoramic view of the city. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.

Day 6 Izmir (B/L/D)
Ephesus MuseumFull day sightseeing of well preserved sites of Ephesus. We begin with Ephesus, the great city and metropolitan center of the Antiquity, whose extensive ruins are among the best preserved in the world. As we walk down the main street of Ephesus, we will visualize the its ancient life and buildings. Then we drive up to the Virgin Mary’s House claimed to be the true place where Mother Mary spent her last years before she had died in this area. This is one the most important pilgrimage shrines in the world. Up on the hill above the town Selcuk, we will visit the Basilica of St. John built for the apostle author of the book of revelations. Looking at the size of this church, we can easily say that it was one the largest churches in its time. Returning to the town Selcuk, we will visit the local Ephesus Museum with a nice exhibit of the objects such as statues, sarcophagi, busts, inscriptions, found during the excavations at Ephesus. If time permits we will drive up to Sirince a traditional village situated on a hill top. The village people still produce embroidery and lace work and also a good place to taste some local Turkish wine. Return to Izmir for Dinner and overnight in Izmir

Day 7 Izmir / Pamukkale (B/L)
PamukkaleDrive to Pamukkale. Depart for the ancient city of Sardis which was the capital of the Lydian Kingdom under the king Croesus. Here, at Sardis, the Lydians invented the first money in the world. We will take a walk around the site to see its ancient monuments such as, the Artemis Temple in grandeur size, Gymnasium, shops (Solomon’s paint shop and others) and workshops and the ancient Synagogue which is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in the world. Continue to Alasehir, the site of the ancient Philadelphia, one of the seven churches of Revelations. Visit the 6th C. church of St. John. We will tour the calcified pools of Pamukkale and the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. Most of the cliffs formed by the geothermal waters are as white as the cotton that gives Pamukkale its name, which in Turkish means “Cotton Castle”. The ancient city Hierapolis whose ruins are scattered a above the calcium pools, is another well preserved site in Turkey. It has been a popular spa center since the Hellenistic and Roman ages. The view from the ancient theater towards the valley is spectacular. Overnight in Pamukkale.

Day 8 Pamukkale / Cappadocia (B/L/D)
Drive to Cappadocia. Drive through lake district on to Konya, stopping along the way for visits and photo shots. In Konya, we will visit the Mevlana Museum which is the memorial of Mevlana the famous Turkish philosopher and the founder of the Whirling Dervish Sect. Proceed to Karatay Medrese, the Islamic theological college from Turkish-Selcuk period (13th cent.), now it houses a nice tile collection. Stop at Sultanhani Caravanserai, an impressive Seljuk monument that served as hotel and market place for travelers of the past. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.

Day 9 Cappadocia (B/L/D)
Morning departure for the sightseeing of CAPPADOCIA. We will spend the full day walking and driving around this fascinating volcanic area with incredible formations, a superb work by the mother nature. We will begin at the Pigeons’ valley where there is a nice panoramic view of the area, stopping at the Uchisar rock castle which was built hollowed out of the rock, and used for defense purposes at the times of danger. Next, we will visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a large open courtyard surrounded by rock churches decorated with frescoes and murals. Cappadocia became at an early time monastic center built by St. Basil who was the bishop of ancient Caesarea (modern Kayseri). We will make a stop at the Pasabagi valley with fairy chimneys which are conical formations eroded by the natural elements over the centuries. Visit local craftspeople (Rug weavers, doll makers, pottery workshops). We will visit Avanos, a town famous for its pottery, built on the banks of the Red River of Turkey which flows through the town and brings down red clay from the surrounding mountains for the potters who transform it, on kick-wheels, to beautiful pots, vases, cups, plates. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.

Day 10 Cappadocia / Ankara (B/L/D)
Drive to Ankara. Ankara is the capital and second largest city of Modern Turkey today. Visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations where we will see artifacts created over thousands of year by ancient Anatolian peoples. The Museum was converted from an old Ottoman Caravanserai and awarded as the museum of the year 1982. We will take a walk in the old quarters and citadel of the city. We will also visit an old Synagogue which points to a major Jewish population of the city in the past. Then we will visit the Ataturk’s Memorial built for the founder of modern Republic of Turkey. Dinner and overnight in Ankara.

Day 11 Ankara / Istanbul (B/L)
Morning Flight to Istanbul. We will have time in the Spice Bazaar before we get on the boat for our Cruise on the Bosphorus. Spice Bazaar is a very colorful old market place built in Ottoman times, and still visited by locals and tourists for the shopping of herbs, nuts and spices. Cruise on the Bosphorus with boat. You will enjoy the impressive palaces of the sultans, mosques, the water-front wooden houses built in Ottoman style. Lunch in a nice fish restaurant on the Bosphorus. In the afternoon visit the Asian side of the city, Beylerbeyi Palace built for the Sultans in the 18th C. After a short drive on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, we will visit a small nice town at Kuzguncuk, which was a popular place for the Jewish community of Istanbul. A Synagogue that still stands there proves this fact. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 12 Istanbul (B)
After breakfast, free at leisure or take one of the optional tours. ( http://www.geotourism-tr.com/city_breaks_istanbul.php ). Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 13 Istanbul / Fly (B)
After breakfast, free time until checkout. In the afternoon transfer to the airport for onward flight.

Inclusions
* 12 nights accommodation * 12 breakfasts * 10 lunches as per itinerary. * 6 dinners as per itinerary * Return airport transfers on PRIVATE basis * The tours as per itinerary with English speaking guidance on PRIVATE basis . * Entrances * Tips and portrage at hotels

Exclusions
* Flights * Personal expenses * Lunches * Drinks at meals * Tips to the driver and the guide

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