*Itinerary order and inclusions are subject to change.
(Breakfast = B, Lunch = L, Dinner = D)
Day 1: SMYRNI
Welcome to Smyrni! Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Smyrni is the third largest city in Turkey. The original city was established in the third millennium BC and shared with Troy, the most advanced culture in Western Anatolia. In the first millennium BC, Smyrni ranked as one of the most important cities of the Ionian Federation. It was one of the city’s most brilliant periods and it is believed that Homer resided here. The Lydian conquest of the city, around 600 BC, brought this period to an end. Smyrni remained little more than a village throughout the Lydian and subsequent sixth century BC of Persian rule. In the fourth century BC, a new city was built on the slopes of Mt Pagos (Kadifekale), during the reign of Alexander the Great. Izmir’s Roman period, beginning in the first century BC, was the second greatest era. Byzantine rule followed in the fourth century and lasted until the Seljuk conquest in the 11th century. In 1415, Izmir became part of the Ottoman Empire. Even under Ottoman rule, many Greeks lived in Smyrni and played an important role in Smyrni as a cultural and economic power house in Asia Minor…until the Catastrophe. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B, D)
Day 2: SMYRNI / EPHESUS /SMYRNI
Today, visit Ephesus, the most well preserved ancient Greco -Roman city in the world! Begin with the House of Virgin Mary where Catholics believed she spent the last years of her life. On August 18th, 1961 Pope John XXII proclaimed the House of the Virgin Mary to be sacred. Continue on to Ephesus and see how history truly comes to life! Walk through this ancient city, down a marble road rutted by the wheels of countless chariots, pass architectural masterpieces like the Magnesian Gate and the Library of Celsius before arriving at the Great Amphitheater where St. Paul was arrested and cast out of the city. Visit the Basilica of St. John the Theologian and where he is buried. Also see the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) from the Basilica. Return to Smyrni. Dinner at your hotel and overnight in Izmir. (B, D)
Day 2: SMYRNI
After breakfast, enjoy a half day tour of Smyrni. The city lies at the head of a gulf and there are large palm lined promendades which follow the shoreline. Here is a brief summary of the Greek history in Smyrni which remains “untold and hidden ” by Turkey. In 1919, after the completion of the World War I, Eleftherios Venizelos, the prime minister of Greece, was given authority by the Great Powers to occupy a portion of the coast of Asia Minor. The Ottoman Empire had been on the losing side of World War I and sections of its territory were being appropriated. The Greek forces first entered the city of Smyrni to thunderous cheers. Unfortunately, in 1922, at the hands of the resurgent Turkish army under Kemal Ataturk, the Greek forces suffered a crushing defeat resulting in the burning of Smyrni and the massacre of the Greek population there. Greeks tried to escape by jumping into the sea only to be met by British ships. As the Greeks attempted to save themselves by climbing onto the ships, the British cut their hands off resulting in their drowning. In Greece, this tragedy is known as The Catastrophe. After the destruction of Smyrni, came the Treaty of Lausanne mandating a population exchange between Greece and Turkey resulting in an influx of close to 2 million refugees to Greece. As such, between the Catastrophe and the population exchange, the Greek presence in Asia Minor was eliminated – a presence that had existed for over two millennia.
Drive to Kadifekale or Pagos Hill where you will have a beautiful view of the bay, port of Smyrni and the city. In addition, see the walls built by Alexander the Great. Drive by the coast-line, the old Greek area but now a fair area. This was also very close to the former cathedral church Agia Fotini. Drive by the luxurious section of Smyrni, Karsiyaka (Kordelio) as well.
This afternoon, drive to one of the resort areas outside of Smyrni for a lovely leisurely afternoon. Ceşme is due west of and a gateway for ferries to the Greek island of Chios. Çeşme means “fountain” or “spring” and is a popular sun-and-beach resort town.The main square has restaurants, cafes, tea houses, and nice sunset views of the Aegean Sea. Çeşme’s small fortress has been restored as the local museum. It looms over the square and provides a nice big dose of history and architectural character. Return to Smyrni for dinner at the hotel and overnight. (B, D)
Day 3: SMYRNI / ONWARDS
After breakfast depart your hotel for your flight.