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* Best of the Black Sea Region and Eastern Turkey *

(including Safranbolu, Ankara, Amasya, Trabzon, Kars, & Van)

(Departs everyday.)

Itinerary:

Day - 1 - Istanbul to Ankara
In the morning, we will provide a transfer to Haydarpasa Train Station for your scenic 6-hour train to Ankara. After arrival, we will meet you at the train station and provide a transfer to your hotel. After check-in, you will have a free evening to explore Ankara.
Overnight in Ankara

Day 2 - Ankara to Amasya - (B)
Early in the morning we will start the day visiting the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Mausoleum of Ataturk (Anitkabir). Then, we will be on our way to Amasya, visiting Hattusas on the way.

* Anatolian Civilizations Museum is housed in two Ottoman-era buildings near Ankara Castle, in the historical Atpazari district of Ankara. The exhibits of gold, silver, glass, marble and bronze works date back as far as the second half of the first millennium BC. The coin collections, with examples ranging from the first minted money up to modern times, represent the museum's rare cultural treasures.
* Mausoleum of Ataturk (Anitkabir) is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the celebrated leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder (and first president) of the Republic of Turkey. The body of Republic's second president, Ismet Inonu, is also interred here.
After visiting these sites, we will be on our way to Amasya. We'll check into the hotel in the evening.
Overnight in Amasya

Day - 3 - Amasya - (B)
Today is a free day for you to discover Amasya at your leisure.

In Amasya, one can see the influences of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ilhanli, and Ottoman civilizations, leading up to the early days of the Turkish Republic. In addition to being endowed with historical and cultural significance, Amasya is rich in natural beauty as well - as evidenced in the thermal springs that are in this region. Amasya's Yaliboyu houses are the best instances of Ottoman architecture and are currently being restored by the Foundation of Protecting Cultural and Natural Wealth.
Amasya is also famous for its apples, cherries, peaches and okra. If you would like to enjoy a blend of cultural tradition along with natural scenic beauty, then Amasya is truly the ideal.
Overnight in Amasya

Day - 4 - Trabzon - (B)
After breakfast, you will depart Amasya for Trabzon, cutting through dramatic Black Sea mountains. After arriving in Trabzon, we will check into the hotel. Overnight in Trabzon
A little about Trabzon's history:
The earliest evidence of civilization in Trabzon dates to about 7,000 BC. Established as a Greek colony (along with Amasra and Sinop) the town benefited from its position on the busy trade route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It grew quickly and was the seat of the Pontic kingdom, and, later, the Commagene period at the beginning of the 13th century, and the city gained a reputation as a sophisticated cultural center. The Genoese and the Venetians came here to trade as Trabzon was the terminus of a northern branch of the Silk Road. Finally, in 1461 Trabzon fell under Ottoman rule.
Overnight in Trabzon

Day - 5 - Trabzon - (B)

After breakfast in the hotel, we will then take you on a full-day guided tour of Trabzon's tourist highlights.

* Sumela Monastery sits high up on the cliffs of Mela, southeast of Trabzon. It was founded in the 4th century by two Greek monks, Barnabas and Sophronius, who were guided to the site by an icon of a "black" image of the Virgin Mary, elegantly painted by St. Luke. After their deaths, Sumela became a place of pilgrimage. Decorated with frescoes, Sumela's treasures include priceless manuscripts and silver plates. Since the monastery was rebuilt several times, the ruins seen today date largely to the 19th century. During the Ottoman era, Sumela enjoyed the protection of the sultans, but it was ultimately abandoned and also badly-damaged during the War of Independence. In recent years, thankfully, extensive restoration has been carried out.
The Hagia Sophia Church, a stunning Byzantine-period church, is one of the town's most important attractions.
Ataturk's Mansion is a villa that was built in 1890 for a local Greek merchant. In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk stayed here during his visit to Trabzon, and stayed here again in 1937. It has since acted as a shrine to the memory of the first President of the Turkish Republic. Overnight in Trabzon

Day 7 - Trabzon to Ayder - (B/D)
After breakfast, first stopping in Uzun Gol lake, we'll drive onto Ayder. On the way, we'll pay a visit to tea and kiwi plantations, drive through the incredibly scenic Firtina Valley and visit Camlihemsin and Goksu Falls. Then, we will arrive in Ayder and check into our historic wooden hotel to spend the night.
Overnight in Ayder

Day 8 - Ayder to Kars - (B/D)
After breakfast, we will depart for Kars; after arrival, we will check into our hotel. In the afternoon, we will visit the famed Medieval city of Ani.
* Ani is an uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site, and was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom that covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. The city is located on a triangular site, is visually dramatic with its natural defenses, protected on its eastern side by the ravine of the Akhurian River. Called the "City of 1001 Churches", Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. Overnight in Kars

Day 9 - Kars to Dogubeyazit - (B/L/D)
After breakfast we will depart Kars for Dogubeyazit, which sits in Turkey's most eastern district, on the Iranian border. After arrival we will check in the hotel.
Overnight in Dogubeyazit

Day 10 - Dogubeyazit to Van - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we will start the day by visiting Ishak Pasa Palace (Sarayi).
* Ishak Pasa Palace is an Ottoman-period palace whose construction began in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province. According to the inscription on its door, the Harem section of the palace was completed by his grandson Ishak (Isaac) Pasha in 1784. The Palace is more of a complex than a palace; it was the second-most important administrative campus after Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The palace, built on the side of a mountain 5 km (3 mi.) east of Dogubeyazit, is a rare and magnificent example of the architectural style from the 18th-century Ottoman "Lale Devri" period.
After our visit we will be on our way to Van. First, we'll stop at Muradiye Falls on the way - here we'll see an incredible view of Mt. Ararat.
After arrival in Van, we'll check into the hotel.
Overnight in Van

Day 11 - Van - (B/D)

Sites you will visit on your full-day tour:
* Hosap Castle is situated on a craggy outcropping along many of the area's silk routes, and was built in the 17th century. The castle is impressive in both its size and the view it affords.
* Akdamar Island is the island's main attraction. Other than its stunning location within Lake Van, it is the home to the 10th-century Armenian cathedral, theChurch of the Holy Cross. It was built by Bishop Manuel during the King Gagik I, in 915-921 AD. The reddish volcanic stone of the church set against the backdrop of Lake Van'a vividly-blue waters makes for an instant and unforgettable impression.
* Church of the Holy Cross was built by Bishop Manuel during the reign of King Gagik I, in 915-921 AD. The reddish volcanic stone of the church set against the backdrop of Lake Van'a vividly-blue waters makes for an instant and unforgettable impression.
Overmight in Van

Day - 12 - Van to Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to the Van Airport and put you on a 2-hour flight back to Istanbul. Arriving in Istanbul will mark the end of this program.

Prices are starting from $_______ per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates

Price includes

* All transportation in comfortable vehicles
* Centrally-located charming hotels with breakfasts & 3 Lunches
* Meals mentioned in the itinerary - (B/L/D)
* Professional, English-speaking guides
* Entrance fees to ancient sites
* Domestic flight tickets from Trabzon to Istanbul
* Domestic flight tickets from Van to Istanbul
* All service charges and local taxes

Excludes

* Drinks with meals

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