Ephesus, House of Virgin Mary, and Temple of Artemis Tour If you are a first time visitor to Turkey, this is one of the sightseeing tours you should not miss. We will pick you up from your hotel or boat early in the morning and take you to the Ephesus area for a full-day trip in our comfortable air-conditioned vans. The tour includes transportation, entrance fees, lunch and fee for the professional guide. The tour does not include the drinks and gratuities for the driver and the guide. We will first drive to Ephesus to see this magnificent ancient city, excavated in 1869. Ephesus is one of the seven churches in Asia and considered to be one of the most important cities in the history of the world. It is believed to be first built by Hittites around 1200 BC right on the shore where the Cayster River meets the Aegean Sea. Hittites named this city “Apasas”. Later, it was ruled under the Ionians, Cimmerians, Lydians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. It is now about 5 kilometers inland from the shore due to the silt built by the Cayster River. At its height, around 200 AD, Ephesus’ population reached 300,000 people. As you walk around the magnificent ruins, you will hear the stories of Alexander the Greatm Cybele the mother goddess of Anatolia, Nike the goddess of Victory, Artemis, Tiberius, Hadrian, Virgin Mary, John the Apostle, Brutus and Cicero. You will be impressed with the Library of Celsus, once it was the third largest library in the world with a capacity of 12,000 scrolls. Agora, the ancient brothel, Hadrian’s gate, public toilets, the Terrace Houses with beautiful frescos on the walls that once belonged to the weatlhty, baths of Scholastica, baths of Varius, and the large amphitheatre that can hold 25,000 people, still hosting many concerts with musicians from around the world. Next, you will visit the house of the Virgin Mary, a small house that Mother Mary lived in until her death and the Church of the Virgin Mary. Mother Mary came here with St. John about four to six years after the death of the Christ. The house was officially accepted to be the house of the Virgin in 1892. The place is considered to be a pilgrimage site by the Vatican. Our last stop is the Temple of Artemis (Temple of Diana), the virgin goddess of nature and fertility, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Unfortunately, most of the remains of the temple are exhibited in the London British Museum. Original temple pieces date back to 6th Century BC. The temple had been destroyed many times by earthquakes and fires, and was rebuilt until the final lootings by Goths.
Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) and Hierapolis Tour
With this tour, you get to see how a nature’s wonder and history live side by side over many centuries. Both Pamukkale and Hierapolis have been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. We will pick you up from your hotel or boat early in the morning and take you to Pamukkale in our comfortable air-conditioned vans. The tour includes transportation, entrance fees, lunch and fee for the professional guide. The tour does not include the drinks and gratuities for the driver and the guide. Pamukkale, means “cotton castle” or “cotton fortress” because of its milky white color. You can notice this beautiful natural phenomenon many miles away as you approach from the valley carved with the Meander River. From a distance, it looks like a ski resort with powdery white snow even in the heat of the summer. Ten thousand years of nature’s magnificent work created an area of petrified waterfalls, stalactites, and pools with step-like terraces some of which can reach as high as six meters. You will have plenty of time to walk barefoot on some travertines (shoes are not allowed in order to protect the site). With a small fee, you can swim in the ancient Roman pool littered with broken columns from ancient temples. You also have a chance to walk amongst the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, named to honor an Amazon woman, Hiera, the wife of Telephus (Zeus’ grandson) who was killed during Greeks attack at the city of Pergamon. First building erected in Hierapolis was a temple. It was built on top of a cave emitting deadly toxic gases due to the hot springs below. The entrance to this cave was assumed to be the gate to the underworld: “Pluto’s Gate” and it became a pilgrimage site. Additionaly, many ill people came to benefit the healing powers of the hot springs, and they stayed there until they died. There are over 1000 sarcophagus scattered around the city. The Christian Apostle Philip was one of them. There is also a well-preserved beautiful amphitheatre.
Priene, Miletus and Didmya Tour
With this full-day tour, you will visit Priene, once a harbour city, Miletos, one of the largest ancient cities in Anatolia, and Didyma, famous for its temple dedicated to Apollo. We will pick you up from your hotel or boat early in the morning and take you to the Priene, Miletus, and Didyma area in our comfortable air-conditioned vans. The tour includes transportation, entrance fees, lunch and fee for the professional guide. The tour does not include the drinks and gratuities for the driver and the guide. We will first visit Priene which used to be a harbour city, now located 16 kilometers inland. Priene is famous for its Hellenic architecture. You will visit the temple of Athena, reconstructed by Alexander the Great as a gift to the city, Stoa, Agora, the theatre, and the sanctuary of Demeter. You will also see the house of Alexander the Great where he stayed in 334 BC. At one time, Priene was rebuilt based on the city plans made by Hippodamos, a famous architect. He used the grate system the first time in history. His plans included all buildings turning to the south in order to benefit the maximum amount of daylight. The roads are designed to be perpendicular to each other to give the best ventilation for the city.
After Priene, we will depart for Miletos, one of the biggest Greco-Roman cities in ancient Anatolia. It is assumed that the city was originally built by Hittites and was named Milawanda. Miletos was a great city with several philosophers such as Thales, Anaximander, Hekataios, Isidorus (the architect of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul). The Miletus alphabet was accepted as the script in writing ancient Greek. Just like Priene, it lost its importance when the Meander River filled the harbour with silt. You will see the Delphinium Temple dedicated to Apollo, bath houses, Sacred Way, and the impressive theater which has a capacity of 25,000 seats. After Priene, we will visit Didyma. Didyma was never a city. It was a sacred place which contained an oracle, as famous as Delphi, and a temple dedicated to Apollo. At its time, The temple of Apollo was the largest and wealthiest Ionic temple in Anatolia. It was famous for its holy relics, treasury, sacred spring, and sacred laurel grove. In 331 BC, two years after Alexander capturing Miletus, the oracle proclaimed Alexander the Great “the son of Zeus”.
Euromos, Labranda and Iasos Tour
These three ancient sites are very close to Bodrum. Although, they are not in “The top places to visit in Turkey” list, they are worth to visit when you are in Bodrum area. We will pick you up from your hotel or boat early in the morning and take you to Euromos, Labranda (or Labraynda), and Iasos in our comfortable air-conditioned vans. The tour includes transportation, entrance fees, lunch and fee for the professional guide. The tour does not include the drinks and gratuities for the driver and the guide. Euromos was first settled in 6th century BC. It had first a sanctuary for a local deity. After the Greek and Roman invasions, Zeus took place of the local god. Euromos has one of the best preserved temples in Anatolia: Temple of Zeus. Built in the 2nd century AD, the temple still has the sixteen of its seventeen columns standing. There is an amphitheatre, an agora, and remaining walls of the forth. Next visit is to Labranda, an important religious center of Caria, which also has a beautiful Temple of Zeus, Labraundus, the god with a double ax and local deity of Caria. Before returning to Bodrum, we will visit Iasos, at the Gulf of Gulluk, just north of the Bodrum Peninsula. Built in 3000 BC, its main economy was fishing. Today, the town is called Kiyikislak, and its main economy is again from fishing. The people of Iasos considered Apollo and Artemis as their protecting gods. There is a well-preserved agora, a theatre, a gymnasium, a basilica, aqueducts, cisterns, and a temple of Artemis. The old “Fish Market” is now a museum. The town still attracts locals to buy cheap and fresh fish here.