The Splendours of Ancient Anatolia and Turkey - Oct 2023

Join Ancient Origins' exclusive tour of Turkey’s sacred past in Oct 2023, visiting some of the country’s most important ancient sites including:
Göbekli Tepe, Karahan Tepe, Çatalhöyük, Mount Nemrut, the Hittite centers of Hattusa and Alaca Höyük, Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Ankara's archaeological museum, Şanlıurfa’s Pool of Abraham, the wondrous fairy chimney landscape of Cappadocia, including the underground city of Kaymakli, and many more sites besides.
Join us for an unforgettable experience, exploring the archaeology and history of ancient eastern Anatolia.



Explore the mysteries of Turkey and Anatolia on an exclusive 13-days, 12-nights tour in Oct 2023 hosted by Ancient Origins' Dr Alistair Coombs. Dr Coombs is an experienced guide with deep knowledge of Turkey's enigmatic prehistory, unravelling its significance in the present day. Everyone booked on this tour will receive a detailed guide to the archaeological sites in Turkey.

Dr Alistair Coombs has longstanding experience with the rich and mysterious prehistory of Turkey’s past and what sense can be made of it today. His key areas of interest concern Neolithic transitions, religious movements, archaeoastronomy and environmental impacts on human behaviour. He is delighted to be able to guide visitors to the treasures of some of the region’s best known archaeological sites and explore with them the impact they are having on ancient history and the human story.

Places visited: Istanbul • Mount Nemrut • Adiyaman • Göbekli Tepe • Urfa • Harran • Karahan Tepe • Gordion • Ankara • Hattusa • Cappadocia • Konya • Çatalhöyük

Your on-site tour qualified guide Dr Alistair Coombs will provide interesting theories and latest background history to the archaeological sites to be visited.

Register your details to hold your place on this exclusive tour. To secure your place a deposit payment of US$500 per person is required within 48 hours of completing the form. Payment details are noted at the end of the form.

Travel with peace of mind, knowing that your payments are 100% financially protected in case any of our suppliers becomes insolvent, in which case you would receive a full refund..




Clients will have a private transfer from Istanbul airport to the hotel, irrespective of arrival date and time. At the end of the tour, clients will also be transferred privately to Istanbul Airport. Where clients arrival times are close to each other, then the transfer will be on a shared basis.

Day 1 - Wed, 11 Oct, 2023

Arrive directly in Istanbul. Pick up at the airport and private transfer to the hotel. In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation by your tour leader.

Meals: D
Overnight in Levni Hotel (Sultanahmet), Istanbul
Day 2 - Thu, 12 Oct, 2023

After breakfast depart for your full day tour of Old Istanbul. The group will depart for the Hippodrome, where you will visit the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. Late afternoon, depart for the bustling Grand Bazaar, a fascinating place to see traders and do some shopping. Return to the hotel.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Levni Hotel (Sultanahmet), Istanbul
Day 3 - Fri, 13 Oct, 2023

After breakfast, depart for more sightseeing in Istanbul, including the Basilica Cistern, the Archaeological Museum complex and the Turkish Islamic Art Museum. Have lunch in a traditional restaurant. Time-permitting, visit the Spice Market. Return to the hotel.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Levni Hotel (Sultanahmet), Istanbul
Day 4 - Sat, 14 Oct, 2023
Istanbul – Adiyaman

After breakfast in Istanbul, transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Adiyaman. Proceed to visit Karakus Timulus, Cendere Bridge and Arsemia. Finally you will visit Nemrut Dagi (Mount Nemrut). At the apex of this mountain (at over 2,000 meters) are the enigmatic statues of a pre-Roman king, Antiochus I Theos of Commagene, and the various gods he believed to be his ancestors. The views from the summit are sublime.
(NOTE: it is a 30-45 minute walk to the summit depending on your pace. The path is uneven. We recommend wearing layers as the temperature is much colder at the summit).
Afterwards, proceed to your hotel in the mountains.

Note: a light lunch will be served on the flight

----- Cendere Bridge is one of the world's oldest bridges still in use, constructed during the empire of Septimus Severus (193-211). Composed of 92 stones, each weighing around 10 tons, it is thought to be the second largest Roman bridge still in existence, spanning an impressive 122 metres. The bridge today appears as a simple, unadorned arch, but was originally decorated by four Corinthian columns dedicated to Septimus Severus and his wife. Arsemia was the summer capital of the Commagene Kingdom and burial place of Mithridates. It is home to the largest rock inscription found in Anatolia, which describes the political and religious beliefs of the inhabitants.

King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene claimed himself a god, but there is no denying that his royal lineage was impressive. He was the creator of Mount Nemrut and the monumental pantheon of statues of himself and the gods on the mountain summit provide ring-side seats to history unfolding on the staged landscape before them. Gazing towards the east over centuries, the headstone of Antiochus would have seen the rise and fall of the Achaemenid Dynasty, as well as the Parthians; and gazing towards the west he would have seen the advance of Alexander the Great, the rivalry between the Seleucid and Orontid Dynasties for control of Armenia and finally the Roman legions marching into his land, swallowing his little Kingdom of Commagene. Behind the display of statues are some well-preserved slabs of stone which feature figures in relief carving and are originally thought to have formed a large frieze. Archaeologists interpret the figures as Antiochus' ancestors, which included Greeks and Persians. It is the perfect place to experience a sunset or sunrise as the views from the summit are sublime.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Hotel Euphrat Nemrut
Day 5 - Sun, 15 Oct, 2023
Adiyaman – Gōbekli Tepe - Urfa

Today we drive to Urfa, stopping en-route at one of the world’s most significant archaeological sites - Gōbekli Tepe. We will spend a couple of hours exploring Gōbekli Tepe, the world's oldest stone temple complex, constructed nearly 12,000 years ago, making it the oldest megalithic site on the planet. See its extraordinary circles of T-shaped standing stones with carved reliefs of birds, animals and other abstract forms. Learn its history and place in the origins of civilisation.

Drive to Urfa, check-in at hotel and early evening, visit the Pools of Abraham in the centre of Urfa.

----- Göbekli Tepe, the oldest place of worship in the world, is an archaeological site without equal. Prior to its discovery in 1994 and its subsequent excavation it was widely believed by anthropologists that religion evolved as a result of living in larger communities which was itself the result of the change from foraging to agriculture. However, Göbekli Tepe has turned our theories of our own evolution on their head. The vast religious site dates from the hunter gatherer period and there is no evidence of any agriculture or even human habitation, suggesting that it may have been the emergence of religion that lead us to civilisation and thus to agriculture. The site contains a vast array of circular structures and huge pillars, some with beautiful limestone carvings of lions, foxes, snakes and birds, believed to be gatekeepers of the entrance to the next world. To date, less than ten percent of the site has been excavated.

Urfa (a.k.a. Sanliurfa, "the prophet's city", or Edessa in ancient times) is the most spiritual city in Eastern Turkey. It is a major centre for pilgrimage and its traditions are very much alive and well. The "Sanli-" part of its name (meaning "great" or "dignified") was awarded by the Turkish legislature in 1984 in recognition of the city's pivotal role in the Turkish war of Independence. Of particular note for visitors are Urfa Castle (the current walls were constructed by the Abbasids in 814AD), the Pool of Sacred Fish where Abraham was thrown in to the fire by Nimrod, the park of mosques, the market area and the Urfa museum.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn, Urfa
Day 6: Mon, 16 Oct, 2023
Excursion to Karahan Tepe – Sogmatar - Harran

In the morning we will visit Karahan Tepe and Sogmatar. Later in the afternoon, travel to the ancient city of Harran, once the centre of Egypt's Hermetic tradition. See its "Astrological Tower", citadel and the local village known for its unique ‘beehive’ homes. Return to Urfa early evening.

----- Not far from Göbekli Tepe is another Pre-Pottery Neolithic site called Karahan Tepe, which dates to a similar age as Göbekli Tepe. Stone rows, T-shaped stone pillars, and other standing stones cover a hill but they have not been excavated.

Sogmatar, about 57 km (35.41 miles) from the ancient city of Harran, flourished as a cultic center and holy city during the time of the Abgar dynasty of Edessa, from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Among the ruins in Sogmatar are the remains of walls and turrets on the main hill that date to the 2nd century AD. A sanctuary to the planets is also found on the hill. Among the gods worshiped in the city are the principle deities from the surrounding cultures such as Sin, the Mesopotamian moon god whose main site of veneration was Harran.

The main temple, which still stands today, was an open-air temple where sacrifices were held. The temple was built on a hill which is surrounded by the ruins of seven large buildings which may have had religious significance. If these seven structures are associated with the temple, they may represent the five planets visible in antiquity and the sun and moon. It is not clear if there are any astronomical alignments associated with the hill or the seven structures surrounding it. The nearby subterranean temple which contains definite references to the planets and the moon god, however, makes it probable that this sacred hill involved worship of the celestial bodies as well. This makes the site potentially important for the study of ancient astral religion

Mentioned in the Book of Genesis, Harran is believed to have once been home to the Prophet Abraham. The site of the first Islamic university in Anatolia, Harran also boasts the remains of an 8th century mosque, a citadel and some 300 year- old beehive mud homes which enjoy a constant temperature throughout the year, winter or summer.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn, Urfa
Day 7: Tue. 17 Oct, 2023

Today you can take your time to explore the Urfa Archaeological Museum and the nearby Mosaic Museum.

Rest of the day is free to explore more of Urfa, including its tombs and Urfa Castle.

The Urfa Archaeological Museum contains many of the archaeological finds from Göbekli Tepe including steles and sculptures. It also contains Hittite sculptures from Golpinar and pieces from Harran, Nevali Cori and Kabahaydar.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn, Urfa
Day 8 - Wed, 18 Oct, 2023
Urfa – Ankara

Take the morning flight to the capital Ankara. On arrival we will have lunch followed by an afternoon visit to the Anatolian Civilisation Museum of Ankara and then Ankara Fort. In the museum you can expect to see artefacts and reconstructions from various Neolithic sites such as Catalhoyuk. Return to hotel in Ankara.

----- The Ankara Anatolian Civilisation Museum boasts many archaeological finds related to the excavations in Hattusa and Çatalhöyük, and will help you to gain a good understanding of these areas. The historical centre of Ankara sits overlooking the town on a hill and is littered with the remains of Hittite, Phrygian, Byzantine, Roman and Christian monuments and settlements. Of particular interest as a surviving example of ancient architecture is the Temple of Augustus. Often also referred to as 'Angora', Ankara is home to the Angora goat with its luxury wool and the unusual animal breeds of angora cats and rabbits.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn, Urfa
Day 9 – Thu, 19 Oct, 2023
Ankara – Hattusa – Cappadocia

After an early breakfast we will set off from Ankara to the Hittite capital of Hattusa (approx 3 hours drive). Spend 2-3 hours exploring the site and after lunch proceed by road to Cappadocia (3 hours). Dinner on arrival at hotel in Gōreme. Note: this day will involve quite a lot of driving.

----- Hattusa was once the centre of the Hittite Empire, dating back to the late Bronze Age. Set in what were once rich agricultural fields and among scenic, rolling hills, the city has some fine examples of early ancient architecture. Originally the inner city was a vast array of temples and monuments, overlooked by the royal residence on the acropolis. An architectural masterpiece in its time, the city gateway was once adorned with reliefs of warriors, lions and sphinxes, framing four temples, each of which had their own courtyard. The city was destroyed, along with the Hittites themselves, in the 12th century BC. By the 20th century, the principal remains of Hittite inscriptions were found on over 10,000 tablets.

The archaeological site of Hattusa, former capital of the Hittite Empire, is notable for its urban organization, the types of construction that have been preserved (temples, royal residences, fortifications), the rich ornamentation of the Lions' Gate and the Royal Gate, and the ensemble of rock art reliefs of the gods at Yazilikaya. The city enjoyed considerable influence in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium B.C.

Meals: HB
Overnight in Radisson Blu, Ankara
Day 10 - Fri. 20 Oct, 2023

After breakfast spend the day exploring some of Cappadocia's famous sights and dramatic landscapes. Sites will include: Gōreme Open Air Museum, Kaymakli Underground City and some of Cappadocia’s fairy chimney landscapes.

----- The Gōreme Open-Air Museum has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984 and is a vast complex of monasteries, each of which has its own church. These churches are the finest of the rock-cut churches, boasting beautiful frescoes (wall paintings). There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia and the largest one is Kaymakli Underground City. These troglodyte cave-cities were excavated as early as Hittite times, and expanded over the centuries as various pillaging armies crossed Central Anatolia in search of captives and plunder. The Kaymakli Underground City has low, narrow and sloping passages and consists of eight floors below ground, although only four of them are open to the public today. The number of the storage rooms in such a small area supports the idea that a great number of people resided here, archaeologists estimate figures of up to 3,500 people. As well as chapels, stables and storage, an efficient man-made system of air shafts provided ventilation even at the deepest levels of the underground cities, meaning people could survive there for lengths of time when necessary. The people of Kaymakli village have constructed their houses above nearly 100 tunnels of the underground city. The inhabitants of the region still use the most convenient places in the tunnels as cellars, storage areas and stables, which they access through their courtyards.

Meals: HB
Overnight in MDC Cave Hotel (or similar), Cappadocia
Day 11 - Sat, 21 Oct, 2023
Cappadocia - Konya

Drive towards Konya. On the way, we stop at Ashikli Hoyuk for a brief visit to this site, which is 10,000 years old. Stop for lunch. Visit Çatalhöyük, the world's oldest city, then return to Konya for a tour around its archaeological museum, with its spectacular Çatalhöyük exhibition. In the evening take in a Whirling Dervishshow.

--- Konya is an affluent, mid-sized city in Central Turkey. It is the centre of all things Sufi and also strongly linked to Seljuk culture.

Çatalhöyük, widely believed to be the world's first town, is one of the best preserved examples of a Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement. Built around two hills of the Anatolian plateau, the settlement was inhabited for 2,000 years between 7500 BC and 5700 BC. Çatalhöyük began life as a village and, unusually, in a time when village settlements were abandoned and new land used to build cities, the buildings were adapted and urbanised to accommodate a growing population. With a particularly advanced culture for its time, Çatalhöyük boasts impressive early artworks: unusual artistic wall paintings, flint daggers with decorated bone handles and most notably, the clay and marble figurines found scattered around the site which archaeologists take as evidence of a female deity. The housing designs are perhaps the most striking – all the houses were clustered together in a maze-like manner, but instead of streets or footpaths the roofs functioned as paths between the houses which were accessed through steps and ladders leading through the ceiling. With no windows either, these 'doorways' in the ceiling were also the only means of ventilation. Çatalhöyük also had unusual burial customs, burying their dead under the floorboards, painting skulls with ochre.

Meals: HB
Overnight in MDC Cave Hotel (or similar), Cappadocia
Day 12 – Sun, 22 Oct, 2023
Konya – Istanbul

Take the morning flight back to Istanbul. End your trip with a delightful private sunset cruise on a yacht on the famous Bosphorus river. After disembarking, enjoy a farewell dinner with your group and tour leader.

----- Joining the Black Sea with the smaller south-western Sea of Marmara, the 20 mile-long Bosphorus has always been a site of great strategic and commercial importance. The desirable traits of providing access to Asia and being particularly narrow has meant that The Bosphorus has a long history of conflict that dates back to the 5th century BC with the Persians. The Bosphorus' shoreline is densely populated and possesses a number of architectural features that demonstrate its rich historical past.

Meals: B, D;
Overnight in Novotel Bosphorus, Istanbul
Day 13 – Mon, 23 Oct, 2023

Transfer to the airport at the appropriate time for your onward travel.

** If you would like to extend your stay in Turkey or any of the neighbouring countries contact us for options. **

Meals: B
Photos © Andrew Collins


Price per person based on double occupancy: $4995
Please note prices are based on a single person sharing a room with another tour guest
Single occupancy supplement: $795
Please note prices are based on a single person sharing a room with another tour guest
* Travel with peace of mind, knowing that your payments are 100% financially protected in case any of our suppliers becomes insolvent, in which case you would receive a full refund.

Register your details to hold your place on this exclusive tour. To secure your place a deposit payment of US$500 per person is required within 48 hours of completing the form. Payment details are noted at the end of the form.


A deposit of $500 per person is required to secure immediate booking. The remainder of
the payment will be required ten weeks before the start date of the tour.

Any problems or queries contact  us here


1. Cancellations must be received in writing and will be processed according to the date the written notice is received. Although a verbal cancellation is appreciated, it will not be accepted as final notice. Departure is defined as the date of the first flight from travellers country, or the trip departure date as indicated on our Trip Schedule, whichever comes first. 1. Money will be refunded minus the following cancellation fees/penalties per person (unless different for a particular trip, then the special cancellation schedule of that trip will apply):
- From time of booking up to 90 days prior to departure $500.00 per person
- 89-60 days prior to departure $750.00 per person
- 59-31 days prior to departure 75% of total land cost
- 30-0 days prior to departure No refund

2. Aside from the above penalties, any additional penalties on airline tickets imposed by the airlines- in cases of cancellation or date changes after issuance of tickets - will be totally charged to the traveler. In addition, any costs involved in obtaining visas will also be collected from the traveler and cannot be reimbursed by Ancient Origins or its suppliers.

3. Hotel rooms booked on our tours are run of The House (ROH), any special rooms with views or upper floors will entail a supplement that clients will be responsible to cover.


  • Services of AO tour leader
  • 3 Nights in Levni Hotel (Istanbul)
  • 1 Night in Hotel Euphrat (Nemrut)
  • 3 Nights in Hilton Garden Inn Hotel (Urfa)
  • 1 Night in Radisson Blue Hotel (Ankara)
  • 2 Nights in MDC Cave Hotel (or similar) in Cappadocia
  • 1 Night in Hilton Garden Inn Hotel (Konya)
  • Final Night in Novotel Bosphorus (Istanbul)
  • Domestic Airline Tickets (Istanbul - Adiyaman; Urfa - Ankara and Konya - Istanbul)
  • All arrival and departure transfers to and from IST airport
  • Private English-speaking guide at all times
  • Half-board meals, breakfast plus either lunch/dinner each day
  • Activities and sightseeing as per programme
  • On the final night Bosphorus cruise for 2 hours on a private luxury yacht
  • Museum Pass valid for 15 Days
  • Expense of the vehicle, driver & guide
  • Parks & tolls and gasoline cost
  • Local taxes


  • Drinks taken during the meals
  • Tips
  • Visa fees
  • Items of personal nature
  • Anything not specified in the itinerary


Istanbul: Levni Hotel (Sultanahmet) – 3 nights
Levni provides luxurious, beautifully furnished rooms and suites for your comfort. We are giving our best for our guests to have an enjoyable stay with us and make the most of the many opportunities offered by Istanbul. Our experienced and fully informed staff will make you feel at home and reveal you the secrets of a city they love by providing you with local tips and practical advice.
Phone: +90 212 519 10 19
Address: Ankara Caddesi No: 12 Sirkeci – İstanbul

Nemrut: Hotel Euphrat Nemrut - 1 night
Phone: +90 416 737 21 75
Address: Address: Karadut Köyü Nemrut Dağı Pk.02446

Urfa : Hilton Garden Inn (Hotel) - 3 nights
Located in an area known as the "Fertile Crescent" where a great deal of traditional architecture has been preserved, the Hilton Garden Inn is within walking distance of the city center and Urfa's main historical sites. Comfortable en suite rooms feature AC, satellite TV, tea/coffee making facilities and a minibar.
Phone: +90 41 4318 5000
Address: 11 Nisan Fuar Cd, 63100 Sanliurfa

Ankara : Radisson blu hotel (Hotel) - 1 night
Located within the business district of Ankara, Radisson blu hotel is within walking distance of many of Ankara's main attractions. All rooms feature a minibar, air conditioning, plasma TV, safety deposit box and Wi-Fi access. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant.
Phone: +90 312 3104848
Address: Istiklal Cad. No: 20 Ulus, Ankara, 6030

Cappadocia : The MDC Cave Hotel (Hotel) - 2 nights
MDC HOTEL is located in Ürgüp, Cappadocia, a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. The name Cappadocia comes from Katpatuka, an ancient Persian word meaning "land of horses." The region is now largely agricultural and the spectacular landscape is dotted with distinct rock structures. The MDC HOTEL grounds cover 15,000 m2, ideally located between an old river valley and ancient Ürgüp. Room Facilities: Jacuzzi/Whirlpool, telephone, radio, LCD TV, tea/coffee maker, minibar and a safety deposit box.
Phone: +90 384 341 44 15
Address: Karangandere Mah. Karagandere Sk. No:20 50400 Urgup /Nevsehir Cappadocia

Konya : Hilton Garden Inn (Hotel) - 1 night
Hilton Garden Inn in Konya is located close to Mevlana Tomb and Museum, Alaeddin Mosque, and Ince Minaret Medrese. All rooms offer complimentary WiFi, an adjustable Garden Sleep System bed™, minibar and a spacious work desk with ergonomic chair. Dining options include a restaurant, a coffee shop/café, and a bar/lounge. Additional amenities include a fitness facility, room service (during limited hours) and complimentary wireless internet.
Phone: +90 3322216000
Address: Kışlaönü Sk, Konya

Istanbul: Novotel Bosphorus - 1 night
Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus welcomes its guests in Karakoy, the district of Beyoglu, known as the heart of Istanbul for centuries, with its rich historical texture and new attraction center. Offering a unique service to its guests with its modern building in Karakoy, Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus offers its guests a 5-star Istanbul hotel with its modern and stylish architecture and comfortable rooms as well as its central location close to the most important historical stops of Istanbul.
Phone: +90 (212) 372 07 00
Address: Kemankeş Caddesi No: 57-59, 34425 Karaköy - Beyoğlu, Istanbul

Final choice of accommodation is subject to change. We will choose hotels of a similar standard where hotel shown is not used.