For more than 2,000 years Alexander the Great has excited the imagination of people around the globe. This archaeological tour in Turkey is a unique opportunity to retrace his footsteps across Asia Minor, the first leg of his extraordinary 22,000 mile journey. Along the way you’ll explore many of the country’s most fascinating and best preserved ancient and cultural sites, see some of its most striking and beautiful landscapes, savour many of the highlights of Turkish cuisine and stay in some delightful, characterful and charming small hotels.
Join this remarkable historical tour escorted by Peter Sommer, who in 1994 walked 2,000 miles across Anatolia, from Troy to the battlefield of Issus, retracing Alexander the Great’s march in Turkey. Who better to lead you on Alexander’s route than someone who has walked the entire distance!
Travelling back through time we’ll delve into Alexander’s personality and the lives of the people that inhabited his tumultuous world. This is a true archaeological and cultural voyage. Following in Alexander’s footsteps on the first leg of his journey across Turkey we travel from Istanbul to ancient Halicarnassus, modern day Bodrum and site of one of seven wonders of the ancient world. On this epic tour we’ll discover the history and architecture of the cities on Alexander’s route and much else besides, including the key sites of the Gallipoli peninsula witness to the fateful campaign during the First World War.
Turkey is rich with Alexander’s legacy; Troy, where Alexander ran naked around Achilles’ tomb; Sardis, kingdom of Croesus once famed as the richest man in the world; Ephesus, one of the best preserved classical cities in the world; and Apollo’s great oracular temple at Didyma, where we’ll stand below monumental marble columns and stroll along the sacred way. You’ll traverse magnificent landscapes, enjoy fabulous Turkish food and stay in beautiful accommodation
This inspirational historical tour is a tale of romance, war and power, an amazing expedition full of unforgettable vistas and historical highlights. Won’t you join us for this once in a lifetime archaeological adventure?
Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul. Meet at the airport and transfer to hotel. Welcome drink and dinner.
Day 2: A day in the great metropolis of Istanbul, Turkey’s most dynamic city, gateway between east and west. An introduction to the tour in the archaeological museum beside the Alexander Sarcophagus, followed by some of the greatest sites of the city.
Day 3: We follow the Marmara Sea to the mighty Hellespont, the modern Dardanelles and a hugely strategic and significant waterway throughout history. When Alexander the Great crossed he sacrificed to Poseidon and poured libations of wine to the spirits of the sea. In the afternoon we explore the Gallipoli peninsula scene of the campaign, which began on April 25th, 1915 in which Britain and her allies, especially the ANZAC forces from Australia and New Zealand, attempted to seize the peninsula as a first step towards the eventual conquest of Istanbul (then Constantinople).
Day 4: We cross the straits to visit the epic city of Troy. We’ll be met and personally escorted by the Director of Excavations at Troy, Prof. Rüstem Aslan and have the opportunity to visit the new Troy archaeological museum which is re-opening in 2018. At the legendary city itself, we explore the ruins swathed in myth. At the great temple of Athena, the fabled shield of Achilles was presented to Alexander – it would save his life during a siege in India. We head out across the Trojan plain to climb the tomb of Achilles, where Alexander paid homage to the hero, running naked anointed with oil.
Day 5: We head out from Çanakkale’s, east into the hills. On the banks of the river Granicus Alexander nearly died in his first victory over the Persians. We examine the most likely location of the battle.
Day 6: A beautiful morning drive through rolling countryside to gaze out across Bin Tepe (thousand mounds), the burial ground of the Lydian kings and aristocracy. After lunch we visit their royal capital, Sardis, where the imposing city constructed by King Croesus, fabled for his great wealth, is being excavated.
Day 7: We explore the magnificent column-lined agora of ancient Smyrna, modern Izmir, and the spring nearby which Alexander is alleged to have slept and dreamed of re-founding and rebuilding the city. Ongoing excavations are revealing the heart of old Smyrna in all its glory. We also visit the newer archaeological museum which houses some splendid objects and historical treasures.
Day 8: We visit Ephesus’s marvellous archaeology museum, the nearby Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, which was reportedly burned down the night Alexander was born. We reach monumental Ephesus as the tourist buses depart and explore its spectacular remains.
Day 9: A morning to relax in Kuşadasi, then we walk the stepped streets of Priene, virtually unchanged since Alexander the Great was here. To the south lay Miletus, which refused him entry. It became his first major siege and his first chance to try out a new weapon, the torsion catapult. The city was battered into submission.
Day 10: The temple of Apollo at Didyma remains one of the most spectacular of all ancient monuments. It was here that Alexander’s ultimate victory over the Persians was prophesised. Beside the sea, we explore Iasos, one of the prettiest sites in Turkey, where Alexander made a local boy, who swam with dolphins, priest of Poseidon.
Day 11: In Bodrum, birthplace of Herodotus, we visit the site of the celebrated Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and the remains of the fortifications against which Alexander laid a desperate siege. We finish with a tour of the Castle of St. Peter.
Day 12: Transfer to Bodrum airport, about 40 minutes away.