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TURKEY - Unearthing the Past
Sample 19-Day Program

  Day One    

Arrive in Istanbul. Guests met by an Art Horizons escort as they leave the customs area. Our escort will secure a porter, handle tipping and lead group to a private motorcoach waiting outside the terminal. En route to the hotel, our historian will give us a brief orientation to the city while participants enjoy Lokum or "Turkish delight".

Check-in to the Four Seasons Hotel situated just inside the historical city walls and literally under the shadow of the Hagia Sophia's dome and The Blue Mosque's minarets. Welcome reception on the roof-top terrace of the hotel overlooking the Istanbul harbor, the entrance to the Bosphorus, the Marmara Sea and the Anatolian shores of Istanbul.


  Day Two    

Our first full day is devoted to a full-day Byzantine art tour of Istanbul. Begin with a drive over the Golden Horn, passing under the Roman aqueduct of Valens. The Golden Horn, a drowned valley shaped like a deer's horn, is said to harbor many sunken shiploads of gold. Visit the Kariye Museum, noted for its magnificent Byzantine frescoes, and tour the museum with our guide. Continue to the Hippodrome, once the center of Byzantine life, which houses the impressive granite obelisk of Emperor Theodosius. Carved in Egypt in 1500 BC, the obelisk is covered with hieroglyphs. Then, visit the Santa Sophia, a highlight of today's activities. Gold mosaics, lofty domes, Arabic calligraphy and a sense of history envelop the visitor. Afterwards, see the Underground Byzantine Cistern.

Lunch in the garden of a nineteenth-century Istanbul mansion. After lunch, visit the Archaeological Museum whose collection includes statues, ancient coins, mosaics and jewelry. We will also see the famous sarcophagus thought to belong to Alexander the Great.

Enjoy a special dinner in a restaurant as old as Santa Sophia itself, housed in an extraordinary Roman building whose high domes are supported by six stone piers built more than a thousand years ago. In the evening, go to the Blue Mosque to view the famous outdoor sound and light show.


  Day Three    

Early departure for a full-day Ottoman art tour of Istanbul. We will begin the day at the Blue Mosque built by Sultan Ahmet I (1603-1617) and the only mosque in Turkey to have six minarets, a style borrowed from the sacred mosque of Kaaba in Mecca. View the wonders of the Blue Mosque -- its enormous domes, beautiful stained glass windows and magnificent blue Iznik tiles. Then head for Topkapi Palace, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, and later a residence for three centuries of sultans. Have a typical Turkish lunch on the Palace's grounds.

After lunch, visit the Topkapi Palace Museum. Highlights of the museum include the unique porcelain collections, the wonderful treasury section and the famed harem. Then, visit the Grand Covered Bazaar with its 4000 shops. We will stop at a well-known rug store and enjoy a cup of Chai (Turkish tea) while we have a lecture on Turkish carpets

This evening, enjoy a cocktail party at a private Turkish home located on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus. After cocktails, dine at a lovely seafood restaurant on the waterfront

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