North-East Turkey

Ishak Pasha Palace
Ishak Pasha Palace
Monumental portal, Ishak Pasha Palace
Monumental portal, Ishak Pasha Palace
The old town of Amasya
The old town of Amasya
Amasya Ottoman Houses
Amasya Ottoman Houses
Traditional houses in Ankara
Traditional houses in Ankara
Sumela Monastery
Sumela Monastery
Sumela Monastery
Sumela Monastery
Tombs of the Kings of Pontus
Tombs of the Kings of Pontus
Tombs of the Kings of Pontus
Tombs of the Kings of Pontus
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Ceiling frescoes of Hagia Sofia, Trabzon
Ceiling frescoes of Hagia Sofia, Trabzon
Mount Ararat
Mount Ararat

The dramatic landscapes between the Black Sea and Lake Van include the snow-capped volcanic peak of Mount Ararat. The name Ararat is a derivation of “Urartu”, an enigmatic Iron Age kingdom that wielded great power over a huge highland territory. We visit a number of their spectacularly situated citadels, built during the political upheavals of the 1st millennium BC.

The kingdom was taken by the Armenians, whose conversion to Christianity in AD 301 by St. Gregory the Illuminator brought a new religious landscape to the region. Our tour ends at the mountain-ringed Lake Van - a fitting end to an exceptional journey, having explored a region far beyond the reach of most tourists.

  • Explore the remote Kingdom of Urartu and its palace complexes
  • Tour the ruined medieval Armenian city of Ani
  • Admire spectacular scenery from dense forest to volcanic craters
  • Learn more about the history of these little-visited parts of Turkey
  • Observe incredible architecture in each of the locations we explore

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to Trabzon, located on the historic Silk Road. Upon arrival, we check in to our hotel.

Hotel: Zorlu Grand Hotel
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

Today, we tour Trabzon, the last outpost of Byzantium and once a major stop on the Silk Road. The Greek General Xenophon reached here in 401BC with 10,000 troops following his retreat from Mesopotamia, as recorded in his Anabasis. We also visit the 13th century Church of Hagia Sophia, with its impressive Byzantine frescoes, and the citadel that overlooks the sea and modern city.

Hotel: Zorlu Grand Hotel
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

Today we travel to the Sumela Monastery, which is spectacularly built into a sheer cliff that peeps out from densely forested slopes. It dates from the 6th century and boasts some fine frescoes. The monastery was hastily abandoned in 1923 following the population exchange between Greece and the newly founded Republic of Turkey. We then drive over the Zigana Pass and follow the old Silk Road to Erzurum, the highest city in the country.

Hotel: Polat Erzurum Resort Hotel
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

We walk around the austere yet fascinating historic city of Erzurum, visiting a number of atmospheric buildings left by the Saltukid and other Islamic dynasties. These include the 13th century Çifte Minare Medrese (Double-minaret religious school), the glazed-tile adorned Yakutiye Medrese, a number of elegant tombs with conical roofs, and the Ulu Cami (Friday Mosque), notable for its wooden dome.

Hotel: Cheltikov Hotel
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

Our exploration of early Armenian history continues today at Ani. It was a natural fortress, defended on two sides by deep ravines. Later, we admire the frescoes within the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, and then we return to Kars to visit the citadel and Church of the Holy Apostles.

Hotel: Cheltikov Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch & dinner included

Day 6

We drive to Dogubayazit this morning, a garrison town close to the frontier with Iran. The main focus here is the romantic 17th century Işak Paşa Saray, dramatically situated on a limestone ridge with superb views over the Ararat Plain below. There is a Urartian rock-cut chamber in the cliff-face behind the palace, flanked by relief-carved figures. The views to Mount Ararat from Doğubeyazıt are superb.

Hotel: Butik Ertur Hotel
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

We drive over the Tendurek Pass, past frozen lava flows, and get our first tantalising glimpses of startlingly blue Lake Van. We navigate the northern shore of the lake, passing beneath towering Mount Suphan to the Medieval city of Ahlat with monumental tombs and elaborately carved gravestones.

Hotel: Hotel Kardelen
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

We descend into the deep valley carved by the river Bitlis and make a stop here to visit a charming 7th century Armenian church, which is now used by local Kurdish villagers as a barn. From here, we then head to Akhtamar Island and visit the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral.

Hotel: Elite World Van Hotel
Meals: All meals included

Day 9

Today we explore Old Van, including the mighty Rock of Van and the burial chambers of the Uratian King Argishti. Later, we visit the remains of the city that stood at the foot of the ‘rock’ complete with Ottoman mosques and Armenian churches.

Hotel: Elite World Van Hotel
Meals: All meals included

Day 10

We drive south deep into the heart of the mountains to visit the fairytale fortress of Hoşap, which was built by a Kurdish chieftan in the 17th century. Our final visit today will be to the Uratian citadel-palace of Çavuştepe.

Hotel: Elite World Van Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch & dinner included

Day 11

After breakfast, we travel from Van to Istanbul. From here, we transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels

Travel Information

Joining the Tour

For full information about how to join the tour, please click here.

Passport & Visa Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

 

Enquire now

Have a question or just want to find out more?

Call For Availability

2019 Tour Details

Wed 18th September - Sat 28th September

Call for Availability

Guaranteed Departure

$4,178

without flights

sgl supp: $785

NET19A

Led By: Terry Richardson

Guide Lecturer

View similar tours:

Share tour with friends