Welcome on arrival and transfer to the hotel. After check in to the hotel a welcome cocktail will be held covering the information on tour route and the days ahead. Overnight in Istanbul.
After breakfast visit the Highlights of Istanbul: The St. Sophia Church built in the 6th century AD by Justinian and became the largest church in the world for many centuries until its conversion into a mosque by the Ottoman Sultan where you can admire beautiful mosaics of Byzantine art. The Byzantine Hippodrome where horses and chariots raced once upon a time and tens of thousands of people cheered for them. The Blue Mosque, famous for its tiles and interior decorations, the most important mosque of the city. Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years. The Grand Bazaar for a leisure afternoon with more than 3,600 shops. Overnight in Istanbul (B)
Drive to Mürefte to visit the Doluca Winery and taste different brands of wines. The Greeks planted the first wines in Sarkoy – Murefte and Hoskoy region in about 500 B.C. The Romans continued and Byzantines dramatically improved the wine making process. Sarkoy, a small town nearby Istanbul, is one of the most look after wine regions in Turkey. Murefte, is one of the cradles of the wine industry in Turkey. Doluca Winery produces a wide selection of white and red wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Moscado and so on. Return to the hotel late in the afternoon. Overnight in Istanbul (B)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for a short flight to Ankara. On arrival visit the Kavaklidere Winery close to the airport. Following a briefing on their production taste the famous Turkish wine Kalecik Karasi visit the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in the Old Citadel, one of the best Archaeological museums in Turkey, housing an extensive display of ancient settlers in Asia Minor starting from Stone Age and especially dating back to Neolithic and Bronze Age sites such as Catalhoyuk and the Hittites. Also see the Mausoleum of Ataturk where the founder of the Turkish Republic rests in peace. Overnight in Ankara (B, D)
Early departure for Tokat. En route stop at Hattusas (Bogazkoy), former capital of the great Hittite civilization. Here you will visit Alacahoyuk and Yazilikaya to view daily and religious life of the Hittites and admire this great people of faith and war. Overnight in Tokat (B, D)
Wine and the Hittites
The Hittites, the most ancient of Indo-European tribes that we know thanks to the written sources, must have come into contact with grape and wine in Central Turkey. Very close version of Hittite word Wiyana- which corresponds to grape and wine, can also be noticed in European languages ; Vinum in Latin , Vin in French , Wein in German and Wine in English. In Hittite Hieroglyph, we also fain a special character attributed to wine and grape. There are also a number of decrees concerning and determining the ownership system in Hittite Laws. From here we see that viniculture played an important role in Hittite economy.
Wine was offered to Gods and Goddesses in Hittite religious ceremonies. For these offerings different and beautiful style of cups were used. An official called cupbearer is frequently mentioned in the texts concerning the festival rituals. In Hittite language this person was called ‘Sagi’. In Turkish today we have the word ‘Saki’ for the person who offers drink. In recent archaeological excavations conducted at Konya-Karahoyuk (Central Turkey) grape seeds and grapevine-shaped clay pots dating back to Hittite Kingdom period (1700 B.C) have been discovered. Again in Hittite period of 1700-1200 B.C Turkey was called ‘Wiyanawanda ‘ or ‘Winuwanda’ - land of grapevine- to emphasize the abundance of grape in this country.
Following breakfast in the hotel visit the Diren Winery and taste their locally produced wines. After a scenic drive arrive to Nevsehir and check in to your hotel. Cappadocia has good food; however their wine is much more notable. The wine is special for many reasons which are unique for the place. They do not grow the grapes on the post. Because of the cold winters they have to keep them close to the ground to be able to cover them with debris mounds in winter. Since the plant is close to the ground, there is an excessive amount of dehydration of grapes in the summer. Due to dehydration, grapes have a very strong taste. The secondary part that makes the taste different is the fertilizer they use. The pigeon droppings are collected in the whole valley as fertilizers due to high use of the natural fertilizers there is a unique mineral lime taste to the wines. The wines always are full body and have a long lasting taste. Thirdly, the taste is related to concrete aging tanks. As we visit Cappadocia, we will be able to see every detail of wine production on site in historic settings of wineries of the area. Overnight in Cappadocia (B, D)
After breakfast you willl explore and enjoy this unique region. Visit one of the Underground Cities of the area; carved like a maze by early Christians escaping from Roman persecutions later Arab raids. The Goreme Valley, famous for its rock churches with incredible Byzantine frescoes. During lunch you willl have great examples of food in this area, especially prepared with lamb, beef and potatoes. The Pasabag Valley reminding a lunar surface with its panorama and typical formations of “fairy chimneys”. Uchisar, a natural citadel in the region, a great opportunity of picturing these unusual formations. Avanos, which has the longest river of Turkey passing through it and thus making this small town an attraction for its pottery and other handicrafts. At the end of the day we will arrange a wine and cheese party for you by the sunset on a spot overlooking the Kızılçukur Valley with a superb view of the Cappadocian Panorama. Return to your hotel. Overnight in Cappadocia (B, D)
After breakfast visit the Turasan Winery where they produce and store their wines under the ground to get the perfect temperature for the production. This wine producer has also won several national and international awards for their wines. You will be briefed about their production and offered to taste Turasan wines. Set out for Ankara and en route visit the Agzikarahan Caravanserai, which was a sort of motel of old days, built in the 13th century to accommodate caravans traveling along Silk Road. View the Salt Lake, second largest lake of Turkey and major resource of salt for the country. Arrive at Ankara airport to catch a short flight to Izmir. Depending on the day of the week and availability we may also use one of the airports of Cappadocia for a direct flight to Izmir instead of driving to Ankara to shortcut travelling distance which will cut off the visit to the Agzıkarahan Caravanserai. On arrival you’ll be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Izmir (B, D)
Morning departure to visit legendary Ephesus which was one of the largest cities of ancient world during 2nd c AD. Founded in 4000 B.C., Ephesus is the most visited archeological site of Turkey. The first inhabitants built a temple in honor of Artemis which after Alexander the Great’s renovations became one of the Seven Wonders of Antiquity. Ephesus, one of the cities of the Ionian Confederation, counted about 100.000 inhabitants (agriculture - olives, grapes, figs, honey bees stone carvers and smiths) who ensured that their town would become an important commercial harbor. As first town in the world that knew democracy, she was also the first one to offer street lightening. During your visit, you will visit the agora, Odeon, the Curetes Street, the Hadrian temple, the library of Celsius and the amphitheater. In the area of Ephesus, you will find the Shrine of Virgin Mary, the Saint John basilica, the museum of Selçuk and the mosque of Isabey (Selçuk period XIIIth century).
We will continue to Şirince Village 7 km away from Selçuk preserving its residence properties that remain from last century. This nostalgia village is with fruits, wines, traditional delicious meals, authentic structure and life style. We will drive up on a mountain to Sirince an authentic old Turkish and Greece village. Located near the town of Selcuk, in the province of Izmir, Sirince Village is famous for its homemade wines, olive oil and historic houses - all of which attract both foreign and domestic tourists.
The village is well known not only for its historic houses but also for its wide selection of local wines and olive oil. It is from many types of fruit, particularly peaches, blueberries and grapes grown locally, that the Sirince Winery produces 12 kinds of fruit wines. Thanks to the interest of tourists and their appreciation of the Sirince brand, the name of the village has recently spread around the world. Overnight in Izmir (B, D)
After breakfast drive to Pergamon to visit a great civilization dating back to the 4th century B.C. The Acropolis has a great view over the valleys and the temple of Trajan is the most impressive building on top of a very steep theater. The Asclepion was an important healing center or hospital dedicated to Asclepius, god of medicine. Especially mentally ill people tried to get a cure here while it became the second most famous hospital after the one on the island of Cos. Drive to the legendary city of Troy to see the world famous Trojan Horse and ruins. The present day Troy City was discovered and excavated by German Born Californian jeweler Schiliman about a hundred years before Overnight in Canakkale (B, D)
Breakfast in the morning and transfer to the Istanbul Airport and our services end here (B)