A bridge between Asia and Europe, Turkey is one of the great cradles of civilization ~ a proud country whose cultural and historic treasures delight and inspire even seasoned travelers. Contrasts between old and new add greatly to the fascination that overwhelms visitors to Turkey. The history of Turkey is as ancient as that of humankind. Known as Anatolia and previously as Asia Minor, this land has witnessed the rise and fall of many great and advanced civilizations, from the early Hittites to the Persians, Lydians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Somerset Tours & Travel now invite you to join us on our tour to discover the archaeological splendours of this remarkable country.

Departing from South Africa on 23 April 2020 and flying on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, the group will spend a night in Istanbul before flying on to Cappadocia where we’ll have 2 days to explore this fascinating area. Remarkable conical rock outcrops, called peri bacalari (fairy chimneys) are the region’s most famous and characteristic feature. Carved into the rock are scores of hidden chapels adorned with exquisite frescoes.

From Cappadocia the group will travel overland to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. While here we’ll visit the remarkable archaeological sites at Aspendos and Perge and the ancient port of Side (settled by Greeks in the 7th century BC).

The itinerary then proceeds on to Pamukkale visiting the Hellenistic cities of Aphrodisias and Hierapolis, founded by the Attalid kings of Pergamon at the end of the 2nd Century BC en route. We’ll also explore the shimmering white limestone and calcium carbonate terraces and cascades known as the cotton castles.

Bodrum is the modern name for the ancient Dorian city of Halicarnassus. Here a visit to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology is included. With fourteen departments within the museum, it has grown in size substantially and is regarded as one of the most interesting museums for those interested in Ottoman, Crusader, Greek, Roman or Maritime history.

We’ll have two nights in Bodrum, one in Hotel Karia Princess close to Bodrum Marina and one aboard a traditional Bodrum gulet which will allow us to cruise through the islands and archipelagoes and explore beautiful bays of the Aegean Sea and the Bodrum Peninsula.

The itinerary continues northwards to Kusadasi. En route we’ll visit Priene, Miletus and Didyma. We’ll use Kusadasi as a base from which to explore Ephesus, Selcuk and Sirince. Ephesus is one of the greatest ruined cities in the western world. A Greek city was first built here in 1 000 BC. The city we see today was founded in the 4th century BC by Alexander the Great’s successor, Lysinachus. This is the highlight of any visit to Turkey. Selcuk is dominated by a 6th century Byzantine citadel with 15 well-preserved towers. Nearby are the ruins of a Byzantine church and a Seljuk mosque. At the foot of the hill is the Basilica of St John, built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century on the site of an earlier shrine. It is believed to contain the tomb of St John the Evangelist who spent his later years at Ephesus during the 1st century AD. Restoration has brought back some of the basilica’s former glory and there are some fine frescoes in the chapel.

From Kusadasi the itinerary proceeds to Canakkale via Pergamum. Perched on a hilltop above the modern town of Bergama, the great acropolis of Pergamum is one of the most dramatic sights in Turkey. Pergamum was originally settled by the Aeolian Greeks in the 8th century BC.

Near the mouth of the Dardanelles Straits lie the ruins of the legendary city of Troy, dating from approx. 3 600 BC. This is where Homer wrote the Illiad and the Odyssey and was where the decade-long Trojan War (13th century BC) was fought. North of the Dardanelles strait are cemetaries commemorating the thousands of soldiers killed in the battles fought over the Gallipoli Peninsula during World War I

At the end of the tour we’ll spend 3 nights/4 days exploring Istanbul before returning to South Africa on 09 May 2020.

Liz Cotton will be leading the tour from South Africa and professional local guides will be escorting the group in Turkey.

If you have any queries, or would like to secure your reservation on this tour, please do not hesitate to contact me on +27 (0)21 786-2598 or cell +27 (0)83 357 4855 or email info@somersettours.co.za. I look forward to booking your place on this unique tour.