Gardens and Archaeology of Turkey
Tulip Mania swept through Holland in the early 17th century when Manisa tulips were exported from Turkey to Europe. The price of tulip bulbs rose to extraordinary levels before crashing dramatically. A form of Tulip Mania continues in Turkey today, but only in terms of the vast numbers of tulips to be seen in the parks and gardens of the vibrant city of Istanbul.
After enjoying this spectacle we tour the Anatolian countryside on our way to the coast, visiting an excellent arboretum, a National Park, which is home to scores of rare plants, and the slopes of Spil Mountain, the origin of those Manisa tulips. We will also take the opportunity to explore some of the peerless archaeological sites found here in Anatolia, such as Assos, with its impressive theatre, and Ephesus, the largest classical city to have been excavated.
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Day 1 -
We depart from London on a direct flight to Istanbul (Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and/or overnight accommodation before or after the tour available at a supplement).
On arrival we transfer to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.
Day 2 -
We spend the day touring a selection of parks and gardens in Istanbul and along the Bosphorus.
Crossing to the Asian side of Istanbul we explore Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden, an unexpected oasis amongst the towering high-rise blocks and motorways that surround it. To date, more than 50,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in this 50-hectare park, which aspires to establish the largest collection of oaks in the world. A section of the garden is devoted to scented plants and there is also a rock and screen garden.
Going back to the European side, Emirgan Park is one of the largest urban parks in Istanbul with Europe’s biggest grotto, and as a venue for the Tulip Festival the park will present a very colourful sight. The park is also home to the world’s biggest Tulip Museum, which we will visit.
We conclude today at the Sakip Sabanci Museum, one of the most interesting private museums of Istanbul, dedicated to calligraphic art, religious and state documents, as well as paintings of the Ottoman era. It also has a beautifully designed garden which we will visit.
Later we return to hotel, and if time allows we also plan to visit nearby Gulhane Park, another of the venues for the Tulip Festival.
Day 3 -
We leave Istanbul this morning and visit the Karaca Arboretum in Yalova, which was started in 1980 and has matured into an excellent arboretum with some fine specimen trees. Turkey’s premier arboretum contains some 7000 woody plants and a large collection of herbaceous plants and bulbs and won an International Dendrology award in 2004. Particular strengths are acers, of which there are 150 varieties, along with Prunus (65 varieties), Pinus (146 varieties) and Quercus (153 varieties including the 16 endemic to Turkey).
We continue west to Assos, where we stay for the next two nights.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 4 -
We spend the morning exploring Kazdagi (Mount Ida) National Park, where there are some 900 species from 101 plant families. There are at least 68 rare plants special to Turkey and 23 endemic to the park itself. It is also home to animals such as bear, boar, wolf, roe deer, foxes and martens and the landscape is one of exceptional beauty. As with its namesake in Crete, Mount Ida is associated with the ‘mother-goddess’ of pre-Greek mythology and is said to be where Zeus, who was born on the Cretan Ida, abducted Ganymede to Olympia.
We continue to Ancient Assos, home to a 6th century BC Doric Temple of Athena as well as an impressive Theatre which overlooks the Aegean Sea, including the Greek island of Lesbos in the distance. The Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle lived for a while and set up an academy, before fleeing to Macedonia when Assos was attacked by the Persians.
We return to our hotel.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 5 -
Today we head for Izmir, breaking our journey with some time botanizing on the slopes of Spil Mountain. The main species of trees here are pine, juniper, poplar, walnut, elm and oak, 20 of which have been determined by scientific research as endangered. Also found in this area are the Manisa tulips, which gave their name to a period of the Ottoman Empire and were subsequently taken to Europe, sparking the Tulip Mania of the early 17th century. Just like Mount Ida, the area is rich in myths, and may have been named for Cybele, wife of the god Kronos.
We continue to Izmir, where we will stay for our final three nights.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 6 -
We travel to Urla this morning, about half an hour from Izmir and under the radar of most tourists. We visit a secluded plantation that has some of the largest collections of plant species in Europe, with over 58 varieties of palms, various types of conifers, cacti, aromatic plants, broad leaved trees and olive trees, some of which date back 1,000 years. Here we will enjoy a tasting of the delicious olive oil they produce.
A further treat for the taste buds awaits as we visit one of the boutique vineyards of Urla and have a tasting of the wine which has been produced here since the 4th millennium BC.
Returning to Izmir, it is hoped that we will visit a private garden here.
Day 7 -
Today we visit Ephesus, the largest ancient city to have been excavated. In ancient times, the city was home to another of the Temples of Artemis, this one being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. With a one-time population of 300,000 people, the focal point of the ruins is the enormous Amphitheatre, which can still hold 24,000 spectators. A stroll along the marble covered streets will lead us to gymnasia, bath houses, public latrines and the library of Celsus. St Paul stayed here in 51-53 AD and wrote some of his Epistles here, but the destruction of Ephesus by the Goths in 263AD marked the decline of this splendid city.
We then visit Şirince, a beautiful old Greek village surrounded by orchards and gardens on top of a hill close to Ephesus, said to have been founded by freed Greek slaves after Ephesus was abandoned. We will visit a local carpet and rug co-operative, producing traditional Turkish designs.
Day 8 -
After breakfast we will transfer to the Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport in time for our return flight via Istanbul back to London, where the group will disperse or make onward connections.
Alternatively, we can arrange an extension in Istanbul should you wish to spend a few days exploring the many sights of this bustling capital city, such as the Basilica of St Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque – prices on request.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Meals - as per the itinerary
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|19 April 2022||BTKY220419||19 April 2022 (Tuesday)||26 April 2022 (Tuesday)||Colin Crosbie||£2,095
|Book your trip|
|18 April 2023||BTKY230418||18 April 2023 (Tuesday)||25 April 2023 (Tuesday)||Colin Crosbie||£2,195