Rumi is now one of the most widely read poets in America. Everything about Rumi is absolute magic, from the story of his life to his superhuman ability of remaining in constant touch with the flow of intense creative energy for more than two decades.
This Rumi Tour begins and ends at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, and shows you the two great cities of Rumi's 13th-century world: Byzantine Constantinople (Istanbul) and Seljuk Turkish Konya, and includes a whirling dervish sema in each city. It explores the history, culture, art and spirituality of the world of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi.
Sunday, Dec 6, 2009: Arrive Istanbul (D)
Our staff greets you at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, assists with luggage, and transfers you to your comfortable hotel in Sultanahmet, within walking distance of many of Istanbul's prime sights. The rest of the day is yours to stroll and discover the city as you like. The Byzantine Hippodrome is very near your hotel. Wander into the Blue Mosque. You can even take a 1-1/2-hour Bosphorus cruise to get the lay of the landby sea!
Monday, Dec 7, 2009: Byzantine Constantinople & Turkish Istanbul (BLD)
After breakfast, we make the short stroll to Topkapi Palace, home of the sultans (and their harems) for centuries, and now an assemblage of world-class museums, including the incomprehensible riches of the Treasury.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we stroll the Byzantine Hippodrome, now a great park, and descend into the Sunken Palace Cistern (Yerebatan Saray) made famous in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. We visit the Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts to see the 800-year-old Seljuk Turkish carpets and other artifacts from the time of Rumi, and finally the renowned Mosque of Sultan Ahmet III (the Blue Mosque).
If there's time left, you may want to wander and window-shop on your own in the Arasta Bazaar, a traditional shopping street right behind the Blue Mosque.
Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009: The Bazaars of Istanbul! (BL)
We start our day in Beyazit Square, admiring Istanbul University's mighty gates (they were built as the entrance to the Ottoman Empire's War Ministry), and the imperial Beyazit Mosque. After strolling through the Old Book Bazaar (Sahaflar Çarsisi) we penetrate the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, looking in some of its 4000 shops and collecting business cards from those we may want to re-visit later.
Leaving the bazaar by the Gate of the Darners (Örücüler Kapisi), we zig and zag to Longmarket Avenue (Uzunçarsi Caddesi), which takes us downhill through the Tahtakale market district past shops selling everything imaginable: clothing, luggage, hunting supplies, mannikins, mosque decorations, worry beads, etc.
At the lower end of the avenue near the Golden Horn is the exquisite but seldom-visited Rüstempasa Mosque, a Renaissance (1561) architectural gem built by a Grand Vezir and decorated with a king's ransom of brilliant, precious colored Turkish tiles. When it's not prayer time, we enter the mosque to admire the interior tiles.
We continue our bazaar stroll in Eminönü along the Street of the Mat-Makers (Hasircilar Caddesi) past shops selling tea and coffee, spices, knives, olives, cheese, fish and every sort of food and kitchen utensil, to the Egyptian ("Spice") Bazaar, where Genoese and Venetian traders brought the fragrant riches of the Far East to Renaissance Istanbul.
Now we're hungry! We'll stop for a late lunch, perhaps at a restaurant beneath the Galata Bridge. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure, on your own, as you like. Return to the shops you discovered and haggle for souvenirs. Find the nearby shop of Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, inventor of Turkish Delight (lokum) in 1777 and still in business. If the schedule allows, take a 1-1/2-hour cruise of the Bosphorus. It departs right near the Egyptian Bazaar. Dinner is on your own. Ask us for suggestions!
Wednesday, Dec 9, 2009: Whirling Dervishes of Beyoglu (BL)
Beyoglu, once called Pera, was the more modern, European part of Istanbul in the 19th century. But not all was modern: Mevlevi dervishes had been whirling here for centuries, and they still do. Today we'll visit Taksim Square, stroll along Istiklal Caddesi (formerly La Grande Rue de Péra), pass by the great European embassies (now consulates) and Galatasaray Square, the Pera Museum and the Pera Palas Oteli, and stop for lunch at a Beyoglu cafe or restaurant.
After lunch we'll ascend the Galata Tower for a panoramic 360° view of Istanbul, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, then return to Tünel Square and the Galata Mevlevihanesi dervish hall to witness the Mevlevi sema, or whirling ceremony.
After the ceremony, we'll board the Tünel and ride underground down the hill to Karaköy Square for a walk across the Golden Horn on the Galata Bridge, with fine views of the Golden Horn, Bosphorus and Seraglio Point. Dinner on your own, as and when you like.
Thursday, Dec 10, 2009: The Splendid Mosaics of Byzantium (BLD)
While Rumi was whirling in Konya, Byzantine artists were crafting the splendid golden mosaics of the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, now called the Kariye Museum. We visit this small but spectacularly decorated Byzantine church, then walk along the mammoth city walls constructed by Emperor Theodosius in the 4th century, and past the Byzantine Palace of Constantine Porphyrogenetus (Tekfur Sarayi), now under restoration.
We then return to Sultanahmet for lunch, after which we visit Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia), the 6th-century Church of the Holy Wisdom, to admire its splendid mosaics. The church, converted by Mehmet the Conqueror to a mosque, is now a museum thanks to Kemal Atatürk.
Finally, we cross the Hippodrome and descend into the Great Palace Mosaic Museum to see works of art that would have been visible to the Seljuk princes and sultans who spent some time in the rich Byzantine city of Constantinople.
In the early evening, those who choose to travel to Konya on the Meram Express sleeper train will cross the Bosphorus by ferryboat to the palatial Haydarpasa Station and settle into their private sleeping compartments on board for a 19:20 (7:20 pm) departure.
Friday, Dec 11, 2009: Konya of Rumi (BLD)
Those who have not gone by sleeper train take a morning flight from Istanbul to Konya. From the train station and the airport, you will be transferred to our hotel in the very heart of the city.
After settling in at the hotel, we stroll the streets of Konya, visiting first the Tomb of Rumi in the glittering Mevlana Museum, an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims and indeed all lovers of Rumi.
Next door, we visit the Ottoman-era Sultan Selim mosque before having lunch in a traditional Turkish restaurant. We drive along Mevlana Caddesi, Konya's main avenue, to reach the age-old Alaettin Hill (a prehistoric tumulus) to visit the 1000-year-old Alaaddin Mosque, where Rumi often prayed. In its courtyard are the tombs of many of the Seljuk Turkish sultans who ruled during Rumi's lifetime, and who consulted him for spiritual guidance.
Walking down the north side of the Alaettin Hill we pass the remains of the Seljuk sultan's palace, then cross the street for a view of the elaborate portal of the medieval Great Karatay Medrese theological college (the interior is currently closed for restoration), after which we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Saturday, Dec 12, 2009: Konya of the Whirling Dervishes (BLD)
Today we visit some of the wonderful Seljuk Turkish monuments that Rumi would have known and visited: we drive to the north side of the Alaettin Hill to visit the Seminary of the Slender Minaret (Ince Minare Medrese, 1264), a 13th-century theological college that's been beautifully restored and now serves as Konya's Museum of Stone and Wooden Inscriptions, with works of art from the 1100s and later.
Walking around the Alaettin Hill, we enter a quiet residential neighborhood to look at the Crystalline Medrese (Sirçali Medrese, 1242)with its fine tilework and Kuranic calligraphy in stone. Continuing for a short distance we come to the Sahip Ata Mosque Complex (1283), including a school, a travelers' inn, Turkish bath, and the tomb of its founder, the Seljuk grand vezir who also built the Seminary of the Slender Minaret. Nearby, we visit the Konya's Archeological Museum to see the marble high-relief sarcophagus "The Trials of Hercules" and many items from Konya's ancient past (up to 7000 years ago).
Lunch at a local restaurant introduces us to more Konya culinary specialties, including many cooked slowly in a tandir ("tandoori," clay pot buried in hot coals).
After lunch we walk to the Mosque and Tomb of Sems-i Tebrizi, Rumi's closest companion, spiritual mentor, and inspiration for many of his poetic works, then continue on foot past many shops to our hotel.
In the evening, the climax of our adventure: the spellbinding Mevlevi sema performed in Konya's grand Mevlana Cultural Center in honor of Seb-i Aruz, Rumi's "wedding night with the Divine," witnessed by thousands of devotees and pilgrims.
Sunday, Dec 13, 2009: Free Day in Istanbul (BD)
Our driver takes us to Konya's airport for our morning flight to Istanbul, where we're met by our guide and driver and escorted to our hotel for a day of leisure in the metropolis: revisiting favorite places, visiting new ones, or returning to the Grand Bazaar or the Egyptian Bazaar to pick up last-minute souvenirs. Lunch is on your own. In the evening, we reconvene for a gala farewell dinner.
Monday, Dec 14, 2009: Departure (B)
We drive to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport for your homeward flight.
Tour fee: US$ 2440 per person
* The prices above are per person in double occupancy.
** Single Supplement: US$ 850
** 0-2 Child: Free
** 2-12 Child Reduction: 50 %
** Student Reduction: 10 %
- 6 nights' accommodation at a high quality boutique hotel in Istanbul, or 5 nights hotel and one night in a private sleeping compartment on the Meram Express train, as you choose)
- 2 nights' accommodation at a 4-star hotel in Konya
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = buffet breakfast [except set-menu Turkish breakfast on the Meram Express]; L = lunch; D = dinner), spring water and soft drinks included. Lunch and dinner are à la carte: chose whatever you wish from the menu.
- Private tours in Konya & Istanbul, as described in the itinerary
- Private airport-to-hotel and hotel-to-airport transfers in Istanbul and Konya; ferryboat-railroad station transfer for those taking the Meram Express
- Luxury minibus or midibus with professional driver on tours & transfers
- Professional licensed tour guide
- Tickets for Seb-i Aruz Rumi Commemoration Ceremony in Konya
- All admission fees to museums and sights
- Flight tickets Istanbul>Konya>Istanbul, or Meram Express sleeper train Istanbul>Konya, and flight Konya> Istanbul, as you wish
What's NOT included in your tour fee:
- International flight to/from Istanbul
- Meals not specifically mentioned as being included (above)
- Tips to guides and drivers (at you discretion)
IMPORTANT NOTE: you must reserve your place on the tour by September 2009! Because of the high demand for travel services, all unreserved services (flights, hotel rooms, etc.) must be relinquished at that time. Reserve by September!
BOOK THIS TOUR