The cities you visit on this extension—Harran, Gaziantep, Antioch, Tarsus—are steeped in religious history, dating back to the time of St. Peter and St. Paul. Discover the birthplace of St. Paul … marvel at the kaleidoscopic designs of the second-richest mosaic museum in the world … and tour the ancient city of Harran, the town of Abraham in the Old Testament.
- It's Included:
- Air transportation from Ankara to Diyarbakir
- Accommodations for 2 nights in Urfa at the unrated El Ruha Hotel or similar, and 3 nights in Adana at the Superior First-Class Adana Hilton SA Hotel or similar
- 11 meals: 5 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 5 dinners
- 8 included tours: Diyarbakir, Harran, Urfa, Gaziantep Museum, Antioch, Hatay Mosaic Museum, Karatepe, Tarsus
- NEW for 2015: Gratuities on this extension trip are now included for local guides and motorcoach drivers
- Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
- All transfers
Today, your Crossroads of Turkey Land Tour ends and your post-trip extension begins as you fly to Diyarbakir. Here, you'll tour the city, including its Grand Mosque (the oldest mosque in Anatolia), and enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant.
Then transfer overland to Urfa, where you'll enjoy an orientation tour with your Program Director. This evening, dinner is included at your hotel.
Today after breakfast, you depart for Harran, a town that has been continuously inhabited since the days of Abraham in the Old Testament. Remnants of antiquity are still visible today in its monuments and people. Some of the residents continue to live as they did during Abraham’s time, in compact and charming beehive-shaped homes. Here, you visit the Old Town and the Arab Quarter.
Return to Urfa for lunch on your own. Perhaps you’ll sample one of the city’s specialties, the Urfa kebap, a skewer of lamb, tomato, sliced onions, and hot peppers. Conclude your lunch with the sweet taste of kunefe, a pastry filled with cheese.
After lunch, your group meets for a city tour of Urfa, beginning with the lake of Sacred Fish, a pool in a serene courtyard where visitors can feed the fish and make a wish. According to legend, this is the place where Nimrod attempted to execute Abraham by burning him on a pyre, only to have the fire miraculously turn into a lake. You'll then tour the bazaars of Urfa. These bustling marketplaces uncover a slice of Turkish life that has in many ways remained unchanged for centuries. It is a fascinating way to connect with the culture of this city and to observe its people's everyday lives.
Dinner is at your hotel this evening.
This morning, depart for Gaziantep, known as the pistachio capital of Turkey. During the Ottoman reign, the city was called Antep. In 1920, it was attacked and overtaken by French forces. Nationalists held out for almost a year against these attacks and were later recognized by the Grand National Assembly for this act of heroism, bestowing the city with the title Gazi, or Defender of the Faith. Thus, the name Gaziantep was born.
Here, you'll visit the Gaziantep Museum, which houses an extensive collection of artifacts excavated from this region of Turkey. These findings range from Neolithic skeletons to Hittite pottery to Roman mosaics and statues. Many of the artifacts and intricate mosaics on display were originally located in Zeugma, a historically significant archaeological site nearby. Looters raided Zeugma over the centuries, and under cover of darkness, shuffled pieces of history to points unknown, causing the interesting patchwork you see today at the museum.
You have time for lunch on your own in Gaziantep. Perhaps you’ll want to sample the city’s famous lahmacun (a type of soft, Turkish pizza) and then finish your meal with some sweet pastry baklava. Gaziantep is also renowned for its grapes, olives, and pistachios, which make for tasty snacks.
After a full day of exploration, travel overland to your hotel in Adana. Dinner tonight is at your hotel.
After breakfast this morning, depart for the ancient city of Antioch, also known today as Antakya, founded in 300 BC. This is the city where it is believed that St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Barnabas established the first Christian community in the years AD 47-54.
Your included tour begins in the old city. Ancient Antioch was quite the hub of intellectual, creative, and regal minds. During the early Roman period, its population swelled to about half a million people, which was only bested by the Empire's more notable hubs of Rome and Alexandria. Many emperors decorated Antioch with impressive public edifices and the early Byzantine era saw the city on par with Constantinople in its grandeur and scope. Unfortunately, the city was plagued with both earthquakes and invasions that nearly left it in ruin.
Next, after time for lunch on your own in Antioch, you'll venture to the Hatay Museum. Here you have the opportunity to view one of the most impressive collections of Roman mosaics in the world. Intricate and inspiring, they depict mythological scenes and figures such as Dionysus, Oceanus, and Orpheus.
You'll return to Adana this afternoon, and enjoy dinner with your fellow travelers tonight. The rest of the evening is yours to explore Adana as you choose.
After breakfast at your hotel, depart for the ancient neo-Hittite site of Karatepe. Just an hour’s drive from Adana, this open-air museum sits overlooking a pine-fringed reservoir on the slopes of the Taurus Mountains. When the Hittite empire collapsed in the late twelfth-century BC, smaller independent city-states (now known collectively as the Neo-Hittite kingdoms) arose in its wake. One of these was the eighth-century kingdom of Adanawa (Adana), which included the walled citadel at Karatepe. The fortress boasted stone-and-brick walls, ramparts, and towers, filled with carvings and royal statues. The site was also a repository of historic tablets inscribed in two languages: Phoenician and Luwian.
After lunch on your own, visit Tarsus. First Hittite, then Assyrian, and then Persian, Tarsus really blossomed when it became part of the Greek Empire in the fourth century BC and experienced a flurry of output by poets and philosophers. By the time its schools rivaled those of Athens and Alexandria, and its library had grown to roughly 200,000 volumes, Tarsus had become deeply attractive to Rome, which claimed it and saddled it with the Caesar-flattering name Juliopolis. It was here that Cleopatra met Mark Antony, yet the city is still perhaps best-known as the birthplace of St. Paul, who returned to Tarsus after his conversion.
Return to your hotel for dinner with your traveling companions this evening.
After breakfast this morning, you’ll be assisted to the airport for your flight home.