April 23th-28th, 2007
1- We will take a morning flight from
Istanbul to Diyarbakir. There we will walk the
huge basalt city walls that are second only to
China’s Great Wall. Next we will visit the
11th century Seljuk mosque built by Sultan Melik
Shah. It was built in the style of the Umayyad
Mosque in Damascus without a dome and was decorated
with beautiful Kufic script.
We will then drive to Mardin and have lunch before
departing for Midyat. The region around Mardin
was once populated by Syrian Orthodox Christian
communities. As we make the drive to Midyat you
will see the abandoned monasteries and hermitages
that dot the mountainous landscape. Midyat is
a small village with extraordinary carved stone,
honey-coloured houses lining alleyways. Time will
be spent walking the streets and visiting the
local handicraft shops. Dinner and overnight in
Day 2- Mardin is a fascinating
city that cascades down the side of a mountain
to the plains of Mesopotamia. Centuries old, you
will see the influence of many different cultures.
You will visit the 11th century Ulu Camii with
its unique, heavily carved cylindrical minaret
set on a high square base. Near the camii you
will climb to the Kasim Pasha medrese. This is
a wonderfully preserved complex built in the 15th
century by Ak Koyunlu (white sheep) Turkmen. Finally,
we will spend time in the rabbling Mardin bazaar.
The bazaar is a rabbit warren of shops and the
atmosphere has little changed in the last couple
Setting just outside Mardin, we will visit the
Deir Al Zafaran monastery. A monastery has continously
occupied this location since the 5th century.
Inside the monastery you will see a structure
that once was part of a temple to the sun and
predates the monastery by hundreds of years. Then
we will drive to Urfa for dinner and overnight.
Day 3- Urfa (ancient Edessa and
modern Sanliurfa) has strong historical ties to
Judaism, Islam and Christianity. We will visit
Golbasi park that is the location of the famous
confrontation between Abraham and the Assyrian
king Nimrod. Legend has it that the Assyrian king
burned Abraham on a pyre and that God saved Abraham
from certain death. Nearby is the Dergah complex
that contains the cave in which Abraham was born.
We will next visit the Sipahi bazaar. The bedesten,
an ancient caravanserai, in the bazaar is where
you will find rugs, kilims and other textiles.
Time permitting, we will trek to the fortress
that overlooks Urfa and take in its spectacular
Leaving Urfa we will make a short stop at Harran.
Harran is one of the oldest continuously inhabited
places in the world. It is famous for its beehive
houses. This style of homebuilding is thought
to have originated in the 3rd century BCE. We
will also see the 8th century Ulu Camii that is
the oldest mosque in Anatolia. Then we will drive
on to Gaziantep for dinner and overnight.
Day 4- Gaziantep is the pistachio
capital of Turkey. Many consider its cuisine here
to be the best in Anatolia. It is the reputed
home of that delicious dessert baklava. The baklava
from here is baked in a special oven lined with
quarry stones. The highlights of your visit to
Gaziantep will be the chances to taste the local
We will visit the museum that contains the fabulous
mosaics from the archaeological site Zeugma, considered
by many to be the second Pompeii, and a large
ethnographic collection. Then we will make a very
scenic drive to Antioch. Dinner and overnight
and overnight in Antioch..
Day 5- We will visit the cave
church of St. Peter which is located just outside
Antioch. Both saints Peter and Paul are thought
to have preached here. Next we will drive to the
ancient site where St. Simon the Sylite ascended
a column and spent the remainder of his life as
an ascetic. Then we will trek through a tunnel
built under the orders of the Roman emperors Vespasian
and Titus. The tunnel is over one kilometre long
and was built to divert the flow of a river…
incredible feat of engineering. We will stop at
a number of small villages during the day to experience
village life. Then we will return to Antioch and
visit silk weaving workshops. The day will end
with the delights of the Turkish cuisine. Dinner
and overnight in Antioch.
We will drive to Adana and fly to Istanbul. Transfers
will be made to your hotel.