The Turkish drama series Dirilis Ertugrul has taken Muslim audiences in the West by storm. First aired in 2013, Dirilis Ertugrul tells the story of Ertugrul Gazi – the father of Osman I, who founded the Ottoman Empire.
With Ertuğrul-fever still running high in South Africa, Avoca Travels has responded to requests from avid fans of this wildly popular series, by producing a first-ever, Tour of Turkey that allows fans and Islamic history buffs to visit the footsteps of the founding fathers of the formidable Ottoman Empire.
THE ERTUGRUL TOUR
Selimiye Mosque, Serefeli Mosque, Eski Mosque, Karaagac Train Station, Complex of Sultan Bayezie the ll, Pierre Loti Hill, Abu Ayub Al Ansari Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, Roman Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Turkish & Islamic Art Museum, Iznik Tile Workshop, Museum, Iznik Castle Yenisehir Gate, Turkish Delight Shopping, Osman & Orhan Gazi Mausoleums, Ulu Mosque, Green Mosque & Tomb, Muradiye Mosque, Emir Sultan Mosque Complex, Kozahan Silk Market, Bursa Citadel, Cumalikizik Village, Orhan Gazi Mosque, Sheik Edebali Mausoleum, Ertugrul Mausoleum, Porsuk River, Odunpazari Village, Kursunlu Mosque, Sayyid Battal Gazi Complex, Sille Village, Ince Minare Madresa, Karatay Madrasa, Zazadin Caravanserai, Alaeddin Mosque & Hillpark, Maulana Rumi Mausoleum, Shopping for Leather goods, Grand Bazaar Taksim Square & Istiklal Street.
Return Airfare & Taxes from Durban Tour of Turkey with 6 nights in Istanbul, 2 nights in Bursa & 1 night each in Edirne, Eskisehir & Konya, visiting the main cities and historical sites as we retrace the founding and rise of the Ottoman Empire Share twin or double accommodation using Turkish 4 & 5 Star Hotels 28 Meals in total – 11 breakfasts, 8 lunches & 9 dinners Entrance fees to monuments and attractions as per the itinerary Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach with onboard Wi-Fi Avoca Travels Tour Leader English Speaking Tour Director Sightseeing activities as per the itinerary Return Airport Transfers Local taxes and service charges
Early hotel check in and late check out Pre and Post Tour stays and transfers Tips for guide $3 and for driver $2 per adult, per day Personal expenses Optional Tours Any other services not mentioned in inclusions above
HOTELS ENVISAGED IN THIS PROGRAMME
CROWN PLAZA ISTANBUL OLD CITY OR SIMILAR
RAMADA PLAZA CEKIRGE OR SIMILAR
MARGI HOTEL OR SIMILAR
ANEMON ESKISEHIR HOTEL OR SIMILAR
BAYIR DIAMOND HOTEL OR SIMILAR
Edirne, formerly Adrianopolis, is an astonishing town, a once thriving capital, rich in architectural treasures and a springboard for Ottoman expansion into Europe. In the world of Islam, the 16th Century architecture of the Ottoman Empire has few peers. The supreme and most prolific architect of that time was Mimar Sinan whose greatest of all masterpieces, the Selimiye Mosque, is here.
Edirne is liberally peppered with Ottoman buildings, thanks to its role as the empire’s second capital and gateway to Ottoman conquests in Europe. The exterior courtyard here is host to the Edirne Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, with an excellent display of ceramics, clothing, and woodwork from the Ottoman era. Other mosques here include the rather beautiful Sultan Beyazit II Mosque, the Üç Serefeli Mosque, the Medical Museum, and the old Edirne Train Station. The real joy of a trip here, though, is wandering the old town streets that were once the medieval heart of the city.
Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, was the largest city in the world both in late antiquity and in the Middle Ages. Its fall to the Ottomans in 1453 put their empire on a level with the Persian and Roman Empires of the past. It is a deeply fascinating place, steeped in a bewildering history and a mix of opposing cultures, with mosques and minarets still dominating the skyline.
Coveted by empires across the centuries, straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities. Founded around 1000 BC, the colony of Byzantium grew into the Byzantine Empire’s great capital of Constantinople and after the Ottoman conquest of the city, retained its glorious place as the heart of their empire. The city filled with glorious remnants of its long and illustrious history and the sightseeing here will impress even the most jaded traveler. While the big four of Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar command attention and many attractions are located in and around Sultanahmet, there is a dazzling array of things to do throughout the farther reaches of the city.
For many visitors, sightseeing in Istanbul is as much about shopping as museums and monumental attractions, and the Grand Bazaar is where everyone comes. This massive covered market is basically the world’s first shopping mall, taking up a whole city quarter, surrounded by thick walls, between the Nure Osmaniye Mosque and Beyazit Mosque. The Beyazit Mosque built in 1498-1505 itself occupies the site of Theodosius I’s Forum and has architecture inspired by the Hagia Sophia. When here, be sure to peep through doorways to discover hidden Hans, veer down narrow lanes to watch artisans at work and wander the main thoroughfares to differentiate treasures from tourist tack. It’s obligatory to drink lots of tea, compare price after price and try your hand at the art of bargaining
Pedestrianized Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Street) is a bustling modern shopping street with a wealth of restaurants and cafés. The lower end of the street can be reached by taking the world’s oldest underground railway from near Galata Bridge, the Tünel, constructed in 1875.
There is also a quaintly old-fashioned tramway that runs along its length right up to Taksim Square at the top of the hill. From Taksim Square, busy Cumhuriyet Caddesi is lined with hotels, shops, restaurants, and high rises. On the east side of the road, just after the square, is Maçka Park, which is home to the interesting Military Museum.
Ancient Nicaea, now İznik, is an old farming town surrounded by massive medieval walls set on the shores of Lake Iznik. The Hagia Sophia Church built by Justinian I in the 6th Century was the scene of the Second Ecumenical Council held here in 787. In 1331, Orhan Gazi had it converted to a mosque. In the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the sultan’s great architect, Mimar Sinan, made some additions and modifications to improve its function as a house of worship. Iznik’s Green Mosque (Yeşil Cami) is a fine Seljuk Turkish-influenced work. Across the street is an Ottoman imaret (soup kitchen) that now houses the city’s good museum.
In the 16th Century, the era of Süleyman the Magnificent, the manufacture of ceramics had reached a peak of perfection, not only in tableware but also in tiles, using a glazing process which has amazingly been lost to history. The ruins of the once formidable Byzantine City Walls of the Lefke Castle that was conquered by the early Ottomans also lie here.
Backed by the tall peaks of Turkey’s Uludag Mountain, Bursa was the Ottoman Empire’s first capital, from where they first cast their eyes on Constantinople. The mammoth Ulu Camii or Grand Mosque is the city’s focal point, built by Seljuk Sultan Beyazit I with 20 domes on its roof. Bursa Citadel only has scattered remnants to see but is also the site of the tombs of Sultans Osman and Orhan, founders of the Ottoman Empire. Bursa’s prettiest mosque is the Yesil Camii, with intricate tile work and calligraphy on show, while opposite the mosque is the Yesil Tomb, with a tile-covered mihrab or prayer niche. The nearby madrassa is now the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
Bursa, the first capital of the embryonic Ottoman Empire, is now a vibrant growing town, in an attractive setting at the base of the Uludağ Mountain. The tour retraces the birth and development of the Ottoman Empire as well as art and architecture in its earliest manifestations.
A cradle of civilizations, Bilecik, is a rich source of archaeology and ancient artifacts dating back to 3,000 B.C. This quaint little province, situated amid mountains, is where Turkey’s legendary history first started. Sogut District was the birthplace of Osman Gazi, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, and became its first capital. Legend has it that the birth of the great empire that would last six centuries was revealed to Osman Gazi in a dream; who would frequently visit Sheikh Edebali, a prominent religious figure, also considered the spiritual architect of the Ottoman Empire.
The mausoleum of Bilecik’s spiritual father, Sheikh Edebali, is a humble structure atop a small hill behind the valley where the old city of Bilecik was established. Built by Osman Ghazi’s son Orhan Ghazi, the mausoleum is accessed via a stone staircase. Nearby is a small mausoleum belonging to Sheikh Edebali’s wife and daughter Malhatun, Osman Ghazi’s wife.
Sogut, near Bursa to the south of Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, was the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire. Ertugrul was a warrior chieftain who fought on the border of the Seljuk Turkish and Byzantine empires and established a small principality with Sogut as its capital. His son Osman and grandson Orhan moved on to conquer the Byzantine towns of Nicaea (İznik) and Broussa (Bursa) and made Bursa the capital of their burgeoning empire.
Ertugrul Gazi, the founding Ottoman who died in 1281 lies buried here. There are also soil samples from every Ottoman land and Turkic nation next to the tomb. Halime Hatun, the wife of Ertuğrul Gazi, is buried outside of the tomb in a simple grave as are some of his Alps and other contemporaries. A nearby museum named after Ertugrul contains many ethnographic items from the Bilecik Area.
Eskisehir in Anatolia was first inhabited in the 9th Century B.C. Rich in history and culture, Eskisehir is also very important in Ottoman history for its Karacahisar Castle that was the first conquest of the Ottomans as well as its fine examples of early domestic architecture.
Eskişehir’s sights include an Archeology Museum, a fine Ottoman Mosque Complex called the Kursunlu Kulliyesi, the spruced-up Porsuk River that runs through the city, an interesting market district and a neighborhood of old Ottoman houses called Odunpazarı.
Forty-two kilometers south of the city at Seyyid Gazi is the tomb complex of Seyyid Battal Gazi, an Umayyad military commander who led his Arab army against the Byzantines during 717-740 AD. It’s a place of pilgrimage for Muslims.
Konya, capital of the Seljuk Turkish Empire of Rum with its marvelous Seljuk era buildings and the nearby Neolithic settlement of Catalhoyuk. The symbol of Konya is the Sufi Complex that holds the tomb of the 13th Century religious leader, mystic philosopher, and poet, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes.
The important religious pilgrimage site of Konya has a town center crammed with museums and monuments of Seljuk splendor. Most tourists make a sightseeing stop here simply to see the Mevlana Museum and the tomb of the whirling dervish founder Mevlana Rumi, who wrote his famed poetry here in the 13th Century. But this central Anatolian city is also packed full of architectural attractions of mosques and old madrassas (theological schools) that showcase the amazing artistry of the Seljuk Sultanate.
One of the most spectacular caravanserais in Turkey, the Zazadin Han is famous for its off-axis entrance into the courtyard, its two intact inscriptions, its dazzling striped portal, the extensive use of recycled stones in its walls and the notoriety of its patron and architect, the vizier Sadettin Köpek. Building started in the last year of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad’s rule and was completed during the reign of his son, Giyaseddin Keyhusrev.