TOUR TO ARMENIA, GEORGIA & TURKEY
Itinerary in brief:
Day 1: Arrival - Yerevan city tour
Day 2: Yerevan - Echmiadzin - Zvartnots - Garni Pagan Temple - Geghard Monastery - Yerevan
Day 3: Yerevan - Khor Virap Monastery - Noravank Monastery - Selim Mountain Pass - Sevan
Day 4: Sevan - Dilijan - Haghpat Monastery - drive to the Armenian-Georgian border - Tbilisi
Day 5: Tbilisi city tour
Day 6: Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Bakuriani
Day 7: Bakuriani - Vardzia - Drive to Georgia Turkish boarder - Kars
Day 8: Visit the medieval Armenian capital of Ani - Dogubeyazit
Day 9: Dogubeyazit - Van
Day 10: Van - Cavustepe - Van - Istanbul
Day 11: Istanbul city tour
Day 12: Istanbul - Cappadocia - Istanbul
Day 13: Istanbul
Day 14: Departure
Itinerary in details
Day 1. Arrive at Zvartnots International Airport in YEREVAN. Transfer to hotel. Check-in. Rest.
YEREVAN CITY TOUR. Yerevan is the pink “pearl” of Armenia. This beautiful European city is mostly built by different shades of the local pink stone called tuff quarried in Armenia. Founded in 782B.C. Yerevan is reputedly one of the oldest cities in the world to have been continuously inhabited. It’s located under the gaze of the biblical Mount Ararat where the Noah’s ark landed.
We start our exploration with the Republic Square with it magnificent buildings enhanced by singing fountains. Walking down the Abovyan Street, one of the oldest streets in Yerevan which was on the Silk Road,we continue to Northern Avenue, Opera House, Cascade, Blue Mosque, “Closed Market”, St. Gregory church.We’ll have a fascinating journey through the Armenian History with a visit to the History Museum of Armenia. The museum represents an integral picture of the history and culture of Armenia from prehistoric times (one million years ago) till our days. Here you can find the world’s oldest leather shoe (5500years old).A cultural showcase not to be missed in Matenadaran, one of the world’s largest and oldest repositories of Armenian, Greek, Persian manuscripts.Our next stop is the Armenian Genocide Memorial situated on the hill overlooking the city and Mt. Ararat, a solemn reminder of the first genocide of the 20th century. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 2. Today we embark on our journey to the lands of ancient treasures of Christian history…Vatican city of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin with its world’s earliest Christian churches included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303A.D., when Armenia became the first officially Christian state in the world. Visit the Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral. Zvartnots was a majestic cathedral dedicated to St. Gregory. Then we drive towards Garni Pagan Temple, the only Hellenistic Temple in the Caucasus. Gracing the hillside the pagan temple was dedicated to the God of Sun, Mithra. It was built in 77A.D. Proceed to Geghard Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Geghard is an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. It is said that the Holy Lance that pierced the body of Christ was kept here. The architectural forms and the decoration of Geghard's rock premises show that Armenian builders could not only create superb works of architecture out of stone, but also hew them in solid rock. Visiting a local house for the lunch in Garni. Traditional Armenian bread “lavash” baking. Back to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 3. A day dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia's finest mediaeval architecture with stunning landscapes. The first stop of our trip is Khor Virap, the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Armenia not only because it’s the only place in Armenia where you’ll get the best view of the biblical Mount Ararat (5165m), but this is where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by the King Tiridates III for preaching Christianity. Guided by the remote majesty of biblical Mount Ararat, we explore the site, its underground chambers, elegant chapels and are captivated by the ascetic atmosphere of the site. Our next stop is the Monastery of Noravank, an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge. Then we drive to Areni village, the cradle of viniculture.This is where world’s ancient winery was discovered (6000years old). Winery tour and wine tasting. Driving through Selim Mountain Pass famous for its fascinating colorful mountains we reach the highest point (2410m) where the Selim Caravanserai is located on the Great Silk Road. Here you’ll see some remains of the real old road, ancient bridges, hundreds of fresh water springs gushing from the rocks. Here little has changed since the fourteenth century. The caravanserai offered hospitality to travelers along the highway crossing the Selim mountains. Overnight in Sevan.
Day 4. After breakfast we’ll have a tour around the Lake Sevan, the world’s second largest high altitude lake at 1900m above sea level. We’ll climb up to Sevan Monastery to marvel at the beautiful view of the Lake Sevan, the “blue-eyed” bride of Armenia. We continue to Dilijan National Park, known as "Armenia's Little Switzerland”. It’s a protected area renowned for its serene lakes, picturesque hill trails and peaceful villages. Words alone can’t describe the natural beauty of Dilijan. Many poets used to say, "If there are woods, mountains, streams and mineral waters in paradise, it must be like Dilijan”. Driving through the picturesque Canyon of Debed River we visit the Monastery of Haghpat dating back to the 10th century. It’s a perfect example of medieval Armenian architecture. Being astonishingly well preserved with its frescoes, “lace” stone-crosses, inscriptions and bas-relieves it became the first Armenian architectural monument to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Drive to Sadakhlo Georgian – Armenian border. Change buses and guides. Continue to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 5. Visit State Museum with golden treasury. We will visit the Old Tbilisi Sulfur Baths, Georgian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches, and a Jewish synagogue and a Turkish mosque side by side, reflecting the Georgian people’s acceptance and tolerance of different religions. We can also see a recent monument, the Tbilisi Sameba Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the Caucasus. Then we’ll visit Metekhi Church built on a cliff, overlooking the Mtkvari River. There is a statue of the Georgian King Vakhtang Gorgaslani, the founder of Tbilisi, in front of the church. We’ll continue to the colorful Darejani Palace also built on a cliff, like a swallow nest. Afterwards we visit the Sulfur Baths’ district located in Old Tbilisi, on the other side of the river. Tbilisi was named after the natural sulphur springs. Then we’ll climb up to the Narikala Fortress (4th century) in order to visit St. Nikolas Church with frescoes. The fortress area offers a fantastic view of Tbilisi. Walking down the hill on cobbled Leselidze Street, we come across the 13th century Armenian St. George Church and a Jewish synagogue with an elegant facade. On the opposite side of the street is located the Sioni Church, leading to the bank of the Mtkvari. Here you’ll explore the Shardeni Street with its cozy cafes and art galleries. While walking we will come across the Anchiskhati church, the oldest church in Tbilisi keeping the miraculous icon of Jesus Christ. Finally the tour takes you to Rustaveli Avenue, where attractions such as the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Parliament, Rustaveli Theatre, different art galleries and cafes will draw your attention and provide a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Drive to the Open Air Ethnographic Museum, a place, where you can see some beautiful Georgian national old country-houses. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 6. Today we will visit the religious centre of Georgia - Mtskheta (3000 years old), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient capital of the Georgian Kingdom. We’ll visit its historical places: Jvari church and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral where the Robe of Christ is buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Then we continue to Kartli region, and visit Uplistsikhe - the ancient cave town, (1st millennium BC) located on the legendary Silk Road. On the way to Bakuriani ski resort town we visit Joseph Stalin museum, where exhibits give us an opportunity to re-create scenes from the life of the Dictator. Overnight in Bakuriani.
Day 7. Here on the border of Turkey and Georgia, we stop by the monastery complex of Vardzia, carved out of a cliff-face. Vardzia was the main seminary for South-West Georgia from the 12th century. Queen Tamar lived here, and the complex is testament to the renaissance period in which she ruled.
Continue to the Georgian - Turkish border - Vale (Posof on theTurkish side). After passport control -change buses, and guides. Continue to Kars. Visit Havariler Churchand Kars Castle. Overnight in Kars.
Day 8. Morning tour to medieval Armenian capital of Ani, impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravanserais. Lunch en route drive to Dogubeyazit, passing by the eternally snow-covered Biblical Mt.Ararat. After arrive at Dogubeyazit we visit 2nd largest meteor falls of World and Noah's Ark at Mt. Ararat. Overnight in Dogubeyazit.
Day 9. Morning visit to Ishak Pasha Palace .Departure for Van via Muradiye Fall, visiting the citadel of Van; the site of Tushba, capital of Urartians. Enjoying the scenery on Lake Van, excursion to the island of Ahtamar to visit the Holly Cross Church, famous for Old Testament reliefs on the outer wall. Dinner and Overnight in Van.
Day 10. Departure for Cavustepe and HosapCastle. Drive to Van, after visit city fortress and Van Museum arrive at Van Airport for a homebound flight to Istanbul.
Day 11. You will meet with the guide by the lobby of your hotel at 08:30am. to join full day private tour of the Old Town. We will visit; Hagia Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapı Palace Museum and Grand Bazaar.
Hagia Sophia: The Church of Divine Wisdom or as we know it now-the Hagia Sophia is simply 'The best of its kind!' Hagia Sophia is the greatest surviving example of Byzantine Architecture. The temple itself was so rich and artistically decorated that Justinian proclaimed, 'Solomon I have surpassed you!" Did you know that this is the most sacred temple of the Ortodox world? Your guide is an expert on Byzantine history, art and architecture. The Nika Revolt, Justinian, Empress Theodora, the 6th century Byzantine General Belisarius, the Councils of theEcumenical Church are among the topics that will make you understand better than before about Byzantium and its heritage. Not only will you see the Hagia Sophia with a great guidebut you will also avoid the long queue in the ticket office.
Blue Mosque: This is the heart of Istanbul! Amazing stories of Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans will take you deep into the city's history. Your guide –an expert on history -will take you around to where the chariot races were organised by the Romans and Byzantines. And tell you - how many intellectuals were imprisoned in the Sultanahmet Prison, that is used as a hotel todayAnd why the Blue Mosque has 6 minarets? And what Kaiser Wilhelm on his journey to the Ottoman Empire carried as a birthday present to Sultan Abdülhamid? And where the remains of the House of the Emperor Justinian are? Listen to the outstanding true stgory of Beheaded Hüseyin Ağa and Cinci Hoca. What else? Wooden Turkish houses, the Roman Hippodrome, 'Small Hagia Sophia' and many others.
Hippodrome: The Hippodrome was built by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in 203 AD and Constantine the Great enlarged and adorned it with beautiful works which were brought from different places of the Roman Empire when he chose Byzantium as his new capital. Although there is not much left from the original building except the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine and Constantine Columns, according to the excavations carried out, the hippodrome was 117 m / 384 ft wide and 480 m / 1575 ft long with a capacity of 100,000 spectators. Hippodrome was not only used for races but also for public meetings.
Topkapı Palace: Topkapı Museum is the big one...the most important museum of Turkey and the Balkan Peninsula. It is an incomparably rich treasure-chest, brimming with things of historical importance. The snag is that you can't see for looking...both because of the embarrassment of riches and the sheer size of the place (the Palace area covers 80 acres - set off in the wrong direction and you have to walk three times too far). Indeed, how you see it is almost as important as what you see. First, second, third and fourth courtyards; the Audience Hall, Divan-the High Court, Historical Kitchens, Royal Stables, the Treasury, gardens, kiosks…Probably the best commentary on Ottoman History, art and its culture is simply to come direct to the First Courtyard of this amazing Palace. To see these things with a great guide...well, you will never be quite the same again.
Grand Bazaar: Probably the best way to describe the Grand Bazaar is to quote Mark Twain - "We went to the Grand Bazaar in Stamboul, of course, and I shall not describe it further than to say it is a monstrous hive of little shops - thousands, I should say - all under one roof, and cut up into innumerable little blocks by narrow streets which are arched overhead." With more than 4000 shops in 64 streets and with 22 gates, the-Grand Bazaar - or Kapalıçarşı as it is in Turkish - , looks like a labyrinth. We must say that this definitely is not a shopping tour - but a walk that will leads you through shops where they sell leather goods, sweets, dried fruit and spices, jewelry, glassware, pottery, fabrics, belly dancing costumes, t-shirts and all sorts of souvenirs. We will visit workshops where you will see how gold is melt in fire, as it has been for centuries; you will witness how the craftsmen fix degrees on carrats; you will see how artisans do their
Day 12. You will be picked up from your hotel at 05:00 to catch 07:00 flight to Kayseri. Upon your arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to Cappadocia. Tour Start from Devrent Valley ( Imagination Valley), spectacular fairy chimneys and beautiful land scapes. After Devrent valley, we will visit Pasabag( known as monk valley) where double and triple headed rock formation. Lunch at Avanos, famous for pottery and Red river ( Kızılırmak). After lunch, you will visit Goreme open air museum which heart of Cappadocia. Goreme open air museum famous for wall painting, dates back to 10th century describing the life of Jesus Christ and monks. The last stop will be Uchisar castle, natural and one of the biggest mass fairy chimney of the region. After the tour you will be transferred to the Kayseri Airport to catch 19:20 flight back to Istanbul. Upon you arrival to Istanbul, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Day 13. You will meet with your guide by the lobby of your hotel at 08:30am. to join full day tour of the Bosphorus Cruise & Dolmabahçe Palace and Two Continents. We firstly visit the Dolmabahçe Palace. Following visiting we will see the Yıldız Royal Garden. Following lunch we will countinue our trip with first the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and then walk to the Egyptian Bazaar. The Bosphorus cruise by Turyol Boat takes about 1,5 hour and you will see the most impressive sights along the shores of the Bosphorus including Dolmabahce Palace, Cırağan Palace, Maiden's Tower, Bosphorus Bridges, Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses and Ottoman Residences (from the boat).After the tour you will be transferred to your hotel back. (lunch on the tour). After the tour you will be transferred to your hotel back.
Day 14. Today is your last day in Istanbul. We will pick you up from your Hotel upon flight time.