In search of the Mother Goddess...
Arrival at the Izmir airport, transfer to your hotel and time at leisure.
If time allows and you show interest, a visit to the ancient agora and/or the archaeological museum can already be organized.
After check-out we depart for the site of Sardis not only known as one of the Seven Churches but also for its altar of Cybele.
The Altar of Cybele at Sardis dates from the late 7th century to mid-6th century BC, during the time of King Alyattes and his son Croesus. Cybele was worshipped throughout this region.
The altar faces east in the center of the Sardis archaeological site, next to an area used for refining gold panned from the river. It is flanked by crouching lions, the animals sacred to Cybele - these have been reconstructed by archaeologists.
On our way to Kusadasi, we will have a stop in the typical village of Birgi to visit a Konak (wooden mansion of the XVIIth century).
Overnight in Kusadasi.
An alternative to Sardis could be the more famous site of Bergama where ruins of a small temple to Cybele on the southern flank of acropolis can been seen.
We will dedicate this day to the visit of Ephesus and the area. At first we will stop at the Temple of Artemis, then the Shrine of Virgin Mary before we will visit the archaeological site of Ephesus.
The Temple of Artemis Cybele was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Some stone work remains from the second temple; the foundation is from the original temple. Marble from the temple has been used to construct the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
Artemis of Ephesus is the extension of the mother goddess and the source of the Virgin Mary cults which parallels virginity and motherhood (Ecumenical Council of Ephesus 431 AD).
Today we will enjoy a lighter day visiting the religious site of Klaros.
Claros was an ancient Greek sanctuary on the coast of Ionia. It contained a temple and oracle of Apollo, honored here as Apollo Clarius. It was located on the territory of Colophon, one of the twelve Ionic cities, near the coastal city Notion.
The importance of the temple as a prophecy center was equal to the Apollo temples in Delphi and Didyma. The oldest information about this sacred site goes back to the sixth and seventh centuries BC. through the Homeric Hymns. A sacred cave near the Temple of Apollo points to the existence of a Cybele cult in earlier periods. Games called the Claria were held at Claros every fifth year in honor of Apollo.
Free afternoon in Kusadasi.
We leave the Aegean region to drive more inland and our first stop will be in Aphrodisias where we will visit the archaeological site and the museum.
Among other monuments we will see the temples of Demeter, Athena, Zeus and Cybele.
We then continue to Laodikea, one of the Seven Churches, where a temple to Athena has recently been discovered.
When in Pamukkale, we will settle in our hotel for a free evening and the possibility to enjoy the thermal pools of the hotel.
In the morning visit of archaeological site of Hierapolis (temple of Apollo, nimphaeum, “gate to hell” dedicated to Hades…).
We then depart for Konya – quite a long drive which we will interrupt with stops underway : lunch, sightseeing…
Overnight in Konya
Evening option : Whirling Dervishes Sema (ceremony)
After a short visit of the Mevlana Museum, we drive to Çatalhoyuk, a site believed to be the first “city settlement” in Neolithic times.
Based on latest discoveries, the civilization in Çatalhoyuk was based on matriarchate; there was no leading or military class. It is in this site that the famous statue of a mother goddess was found (today exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
At the end of the visit, we proceed to Cappadocia for the overnight in a cave room.
We will today discover not only the natural beauties of this moonscape area but also its historical values : the open air museum of Goreme (a maze of monasteries and churches), the underground city of Kaymakli, the old Greek village of Sinasos (today known as Mustafapasa)…
If requested, a stay of two days in Cappadocia can be organized.
Possible extra activity : at sunrise hot air balloon ride over the lunar landscapes…
After breakfast, we will drive to Ankara, capital of the Republic of Turkey.
Upon arrival, we will visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and be transferred to the airport for a one-hour flight to Istanbul.
Overnight in Istanbul.
- All transportation (intercity possibly with local public transportation depending size of the group)
- English tour guidance
- All accommodation on Bed & Breakfast basis
- Visa fee to enter Turkey which can be obtained online at www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
- Drinks and any other personal expenses
- Personal travel insurances (theft, loss of belongings, cancellation, health...)
- International and domestic flights
- Any other service which has not been stated as included above or in the program description
Both in Turkey and Greece, winters may be cold and summers hot. On the other hand, you will most probably be visiting archaeological sites with more or less walking difficulties. Hence an adapted outfit is recommended :
Do not forget !
Visiting archaeological site may require good physical conditions and access to people with reduced mobility is not always possible. During visits and stops, the buses will be locked and under the supervision of the driver. Hence, if you wish, you can leave some personal belongings in the bus yet at your own responsibility. If not done at subscription, inform your tour guide as soon as you get on the coach about your specific food requirements so that the restaurant booked for lunch can be informed accordingly in due time.