Fly to Trabzon and drive to hotel.
Trabzon where Xenophon marched in 401BC with his 10,000 from the Zigana Pass, as recorded in his Anabasis. The Church of Haghia Sofia, with Byzantine murals, and the citadel.
The dramatically situated Sumela Monastery dates from the 6th century, although most visible remains are 13th and 14th. It was hastily abandoned in 1923, when Christian and Muslim populations were separated in Turkey and Greece, and it deteriorated greatly, but recent restoration work has been carried out. Drive on over the Zigana Pass and along the old silk road to Erzurum, the highest city in Turkey. Possible stop en route (if time) at Bayburt Castle.
Erzurum, for the Cifte Minare Medrese, a 13th century mosque, and the archaeological museum, with some fine Urartian pottery. Continue to Kars, a town originally founded by the Armenians, and briefly their capital until this transferred to Ani.
Ani, the former capital of Bagratid Armenia, is a natural fortress, defended on two sides by deep ravines, and with built fortifications of sandstone and volcanic rock to the north. The medieval city includes some impressive remains, including a Cathedral, a Citadel, and the Church of the Holy Apostles. The 13th century Church of St Gregory the Illuminator still has some fine frescoes. Visit to the citadel and church at Kars.
Drive to Dogubayazit, a town, castle and palace, with view of Mount Ararat, seen from the highway to Iran. There is a fine Urartian rock relief to the west of the castle, which can be seen from afar. We visit the nearby 17th century Ishak Pasha Palace.
Wonderful views this morning of Ararat and the ancient lava flows from the crater as you leave Dogubayazit. Continue to the Medieval city of Ahlat with monumental tombs (kumbets) and elaborately decorated gravestones (khachtars), largely of the Mongol period. Continue to Tatvan Fortress.
Drive up to the volcanic crater rim of Nemrut Dag, overlooking the west end of Lake Van. NB this is not the site of the famous Commagene statues, but another mountain of the same name (the name means ‘Mountain of Nimrud’, the legendary hunter). Continue south to Bitlis, with some fine Islamic buildings, and the formerly Armenian village of Por, with a small 7th centry church and the best collection of khachtars left in Turkey.
Medieval castle of Hosap at Guzelsu (if open) and bridge. The impressive Urartian fortress of Sarduri II (c 767 - 735BC) at Çavustepe, made with exceptionally fine limestone masonry.
Urartian sites at Upper and Lower Anzaf. Van for the Mehr Kapisi - an Urartian rock inscription listing offerings to gods and goddesses, and the Van Museum garden. By Minibus to the Urartian temple in the fortress of Rusa II (c 685-645BC) at Ayanis, with excavations currently directed by the Aegean University of Izmir.
Drive around the south shore of Lake Van to visit the famous 10th century Akhtamar Island Church with Old Testament scenes in relief, including David and Goliath. Back to Van Citadel and old city.
Beautiful boat trip to Carpanak Island, with the remains of a Monastery of St John, founded in 1414.
Fly from Van to London via Istanbul.
- Flights - Scheduled flights from London to Trabzon; Van to London (both via Istanbul)
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach, boat Day 12
- Guide Lecturer - Dr Geoff Summers (Sep 13), terry Richardson (Sep 14). Not to be confused with "guest lecturers"! The guide lecturer will be with you from breakfast to supper, and probably even a drink in the bar afterwards. There is the occasional site where they may not be allowed to guide because of local regulations but otherwise the guides are just that.·They will have been chosen because of specialist knowledge and their ability to communicate and interest you. After 29 years of making tours worldwide, we are highly appreciative of the attributes of a good guide, and intensely critical of people who do not possess them
- Tour Manager - Isabella Sjostrom (Sep 13). We never know how best to call the very special people whom we choose to accompany you on your tour. They are usually employed in this capacity only by us, and have been trained to do things in the Andante way - unobtrusive, friendly and quietly efficient
- Local Guide
- Meals - All meals included; drinks (except water) are not
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
2 nights in a hotel in Trabzon, best available;
1 night in a vast but comfy hotel in Erzurum;
2 nights in a hotel in Kars, best available;
1 night in a newly opened and comfortable hotel in Dogubeyazit;
1 night in a rather basic hotel in the mountains near Tatvan;
5 nights in a hotel on the shores of Lake Van, best available.
|Mon 9th - Sat 21st Sep 2013 with Geoff Summers
||Singles: Last two
||Twin/Doubles: Last few
|Mon 8th - Sat 20th Sep 2014 with Terry Richardson