Istanbul and Western Turkey

Tour of Istanbul and Western Turkey


Interested in exploring one of the most fascinating cities in the world along with the historically rich and exotic coastal area of Western Turkey? Then you will love joining us for our tour of Istanbul and beyond. Istanbul was founded around 660 BC. Named Constantinople after the Roman Emperor Constantine, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire and the center of Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean until it fell to Ottoman forces in 1453 AD. The Byzantine period witnessed the construction of ornate Roman style architecture as well as a number of churches to include the incomparable Hagia Sophia. As the capital of the  Ottoman Empire it was splendidly adorned with Ottoman structures to include magnificent mosques, bath houses and enormous bazaars. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI and the birth of the Turkish Republic, Istanbul became a great cosmopolitan city covering over 5 thousand square kilometers with a population of around 15 million. To walk the streets of Istanbul is to immerse yourself in layers upon layers of intriguing history in a most beautiful setting.

Here are just some of the remarkable places we will explore during our time in Istanbul:

  • Hagia Sophia: This church built in the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian on the city’s ancient acropolis dominated the city skyline for a millennium. For almost a thousand years it was the largest Teoenclosed space in the world intended by the Emperor to exceed the size and splendor of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
  • Blue Mosque: One of the most impressive mosques in Istanbul it was built in

 the seventeenth century. Although its name is Sultan Ahmed Mosque it is known as Blue Mosque due to splendid blue tiles that decorate the interior.

  • Topkapı Palace: The symbolic and political center for the Ottoman sultans for four centuries, it is a beautiful setting in which to wander and contemplate the majesty of the Ottoman Empire and its rulers. The grounds are home to a host of beautiful and intriguing buildings to include the Harem, the Barrack of the Black Eunuchs, and the Palace Kitchens.
  • Grand Bazaar: This the oldest and largest covered market in the world, built in the fifteenth century. You will surely enjoy the opportunity to buy gifts, spices, and textiles or simply walk around this exotic space.
  • Dolmabahçe Palace: Often described as the most beautiful building in the country, it was the home of the last six Ottoman sultans and the place in which Ataturk met world leaders and spent his final days.
  • Suleymaniye Mosque: Built in the sixteenth century, this beautiful mosque shows the perfect harmony between Byzantine architecture and Islam.
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museum: Honored several times with awards as one of the world’s best museums, it combines three museums into one space (Archaeological, Ancient Orient, and Tiled Kiosk).
  • Church of St. Saviour in Chora (Kariye Museum): The interior of this church, built in the early twelfth century, is decorated with superbly preserved frescoes and mosaics depicting the life of Christ, his resurrection and ascension. It is regarded as one of the best preserved of all Byzantine churches.
  • Sail on the Bosporus: It is an experience in itself, and you can enjoy the attractions along on the shores, to include the Dolmabahçe Palace, Rumeli Fortress, Çiragan Palace, and Beylerbeyi Palace.


Beyond Istanbul


Leaving Istanbul, we travel along the coast of the Sea of Marmara to the WW I battlefields and cemeteries at the site of the Battle of Gallipoli. We then cross The Dardanelles by boat after stopping at the site of ancient Troy we head to Assos on the Aegean where we will overnight. Assos has magnificent ruins of a Greco-Roman city (once home to Aristotle) as well as a beautiful port on the Aegean Sea. The next day we travel to Bergama to the site of Pergamon and the intriguing ruins of the Asclepion (Greco-Roman medical center). We travel further on the Aegean coast to Selҫuk home to the ancient city of Ephesus, the house of the Virgin Mary and  the Church of St. John. After exploring Ephesus and the area nearby, we turn north to Pamukkale with it therapeutic springs and the ancient city of Hierapolis. We will overnight here, enjoying the springs and the magnificent ruins of the ancient city and the next day board an flight that will take us back to Istanbul in anticipation of our return flight to the United States.


To view upcoming Tours & Excavations, visit our Upcoming Tours & Excavations page.