Extended Itinerary: Days 1-6
Days 1-6 | Days 7-12
May 12: Depart for Istanbul
Depart from New York City (JFK).
May 13: Istanbul
Arrive in Istanbul in the morning and begin touring this unique city that spans the continents of Europe and Asia. Visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its six minarets and exquisite blue-tile interior. Stroll through the remnants of the Hippodrome, a huge stadium enlarged by Constantine to seat 100,000 people. Explore Haghia Sophia, the masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and the largest church in Christendom for 1000 years. Tour the Dolmabahce Palace, a monument to the extravagance of the Ottoman Sultans. Conclude the first day in Istanbul with a relaxing cruise on the Bosphorus to view the beautiful sites and ancient fortresses along both the Asian and European shorelines leading to the Black Sea. Overnight in Istanbul.
May 14: Istanbul
Ascend to the top of the Galata Tower for a beautiful view of Istanbul's Old City and the Golden Horn. Stroll through the vast complex of Topkapi Palace, headquarters for the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. Explore the Archaeological Museum, housing a rich collection of ancient artifacts from around the world. Visit Haghia Eirene, the first church to be built in Constantinople and site of the Second Church Council in 381. Then hunt for bargains at the Grand Bazaar, where more than 4,000 shops await. Overnight in Istanbul.
May 15: Smyrna, Pergamum, Sardis
Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Smyrna (Izmir) and then drive to Pergamum (Bergama), an impressive site whose acropolis includes the Temple of Trajan, the ruins of a famous library and a massive theater carved into the steep hillside. Continue to Sardis, one of the most picturesque areas of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Examine the temple, the Byzantine church, the Roman-era synagogue and the gymnasium. Overnight in Pamukkale.
May 16: Hierapolis, Colossae, Laodicea
Marvel at the stunning white travertine terraces of Pamukkale (Turkish for "Cotton Castle") formed by natural mineral waters flowing down the hillside. In Hierapolis walk through the extensive necropolis and view the ancient theater, the Plutonium, the temple of Apollo and the Arch of Domitian. Climb the unexcavated hill of Colossae; then drive a few miles to Laodicea, where you can walk along the colonnaded street and explore the ongoing excavations of this remarkable ancient city. Travel to the coastline of the Aegean Sea, where we will spend the next two nights. Overnight in Kusadasi.
May 17: Isle of Patmos
Take a chartered excursion boat across the Aegean Sea (weather permitting) to the Isle of Patmos, where John wrote the book of the Revelation while in exile. Visit the cave where he lived, which is near the site of the Monastery of the Apocalypse; and ascend the hill to the Monastery of St. John, built on one of the island's highest points, which houses priceless artifacts and manuscripts in its treasury. Enjoy some leisure time to stroll along the seaside shops of this picturesque Greek island before returning to the mainland. Overnight in Kusadasi.