Join Silk Road Learning Tours for its


Explore vital crossroads of faiths and ancient civilizations. Enrich your knowledge of the many figures of Muslim piety who emerged from this region. Wander through the old streets of the heartlands of ancient Mesopotamia. Savor the flavors of the countless dishes of Anatolia's rich cuisine.

JULY 20-AUGUST 3, 2022


Take the road less traveled by exploring an enchanting part of Turkey often missed by international tourists. Learn about the many civilizations from, the ancient Greeks, Byzantines, Arameans, Sassanians, Artuqids, Seljuks, and Ottomans whose cultures coalesced to give Eastern Anatolia its unique identity. Cross the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that have been a cradle for human civilization for thousands of years. Experience the religious diversity of this region and the peaceful coexistence of its ancient churches and mosques throughout the centuries.

$3200 Double/Single $3650

International Flights to and from Istanbul not Included.
Local Flights Included in the Program.
15 Days/14 Nights.
Registration Deadline: March 25, 2022

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 July 20


We meet at 4am for a flight out of Istanbul Airport in the domestic flights terminal. We board a 6:30 am flight to Konya from Istanbul. Arrival in Konya is 7:40 am. After our bus picks us up from the Konya Airport, we head to the Konya city center and begin our tour. We will visit the mosque complex of Rumi, Sahip Ata Madrasa and Mosque, and the historic Alaadin Mosque in Alaadin Tepesi/Hill.

The Sahip Ata Mosque Complex was built by the Seljuk Vezir, Sahip Ata Fahreddin, in 1258. Upon his death, his mauseluem was incorporated into the complex and a bath house/hamam was also built as a part of the broader complex structure. After our morning visits, we will have lunch and learn about the food culture of Konya that was inherited from Ateşbaz-ı Veli. Fire, Hearth, and Clay pots have a special place in Turkish culture and thought. Inspired by the Prophet’s encouragement to feed people as a source of spiritual development (afshū al-salām, aṭʿimū al-ṭa ʿām, wa ṣalātu bi-l-layl wa al-nāsu niyām), the kitchen and feeding strangers in the community were the centers of Sufi lodges in Konya.

The aspirants on the Mevelevi Sufi path begantheir initiation through years of service in the kitchen before they were accepted by the students of Rumi as disciples. If we consider the kitchen as being among the most important section of the Mevlevi lodge, the headmaster of the kitchen, known as Ateşbaz-ı Veli, is among the most important figures in the Mevlevi order.

Rumi is known to have invoked the divine name “Ḥayy” or the Living when he named the headmaster by saying, “Ḥayy ateşbaz, Ḥayy!” The significance of the headmaster of the kitchen’s role is that it symbolizes the
state of inner surrender of the spirit and ego to God.

After lunch we will visit the Konya Museum of Archeology. Here we will familiarize ourselves with the many civilizations that made Anatolia their home by observing samples from Graeco-Phrygian, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman archeology. Afterwards, we will visit the Mevlana Museum which used to be the former lodge of the Mevlevis of Konya before it was turned into a museum. We will experience aspects of Mevelevi dervish life and deepen our understanding of their philosophy spiritual development. At the end of the day we will return to our hotels and spend the night in Konya.


Day 2 July 21


We will leave Konya after breakfast. About two hours after departing from Konya we will visit a magnificent artifact from the Seljuk era; the Sultanhani Caravanseray. After we have finished exploring the caravansaray, we will continue on the road for another hour and a half until we arrive at the Yunus Emre Lodge (Yunus Emre Çilehanesi) near the village of Sarıkaraman. After this visit, we will drive for another hour to the center of the Anatolian Bektaşi communities known as the town of Hacıbektaş. We will use this opportunity to learn about Bektaşi and Alevi communities in Anatolia. After dinner, we will spend the night in Hacıbektaş.



Day 3 July 22


We will depart immediately after breakfast and arrive in Nevsehir one hour later. We will visit the mausuleum of Hasan Dede who was raised in Anatolia and spent his life in Nevsehir. We will then head to the Altunhisar town of Niğde and visit the resting places of Şeyh İlyas Baba, Şeyh Güzel ve Bayram Gazi. We will learn about the history of the spread of Islam in the region and the role of pious Sufi figures in this development. Our group will then leave for Adana and arrive two hours later. We will spend the night in Adana.


Day 4 July 23


After breakfast we will visit Adana’s famous Sabancı Mosque. Afterwards we will proceed to visit the resting places of some prominent figures who were considered awliyaʿ in Adana’s history such as Hasan Dede, Sofu Dede and Erkaç Dede. Later, we will depart from Adana to Antakya (the ancient city of Antioch) and arrive in approximately two and a half hours.
Antakya is a city known for the peaceful coexistence of church bells and Muslim calls to prayer from minarets as hallmarks of the diverse identity of this ancient city. Our first visit in Antakya will be to the Hatay Archeology Museum where we examine mosaics and coin collections dating to ancient civilizations such as the Hitites, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Byzantines. After completing our tour of this museum, we will proceed to one of the most important churches of early Christianity, St. Pierre Church, where the earliest Christian communities of Antakya worshipped. We will learn about the history of Christian communities in this region and their roots dating back almost two thousands years.
After this visit we will head towards the famous Antakya restaurant, Pöç Kasabı, to try this regions famous kibbe/kebab spiced with sumac and cumin while cooked in a tray (tepsi kebap).
We will then visit one of Anatolia’s oldest mosques, Habibal-Najjar Mosque. We will also visit the resting places of Şemun Sefa Hazretleri as well as Yahya and Yunus Hazretleri while deepening our understanding of how the different Muslim and Christian faith communities made Antakya their home.
We will then tour the ancient Herod Road in which numerous Chrisitian churches and communities live. We will see the Orthodox and Catholic churches, a historic Synagogue, curving old Antakya streets and its traditional homes. We will stop at the historic Affan coffeehouse to drink Antakyan coffee. Later we will stop at Yusuf Usta’s bakery in Çınaraltı to taste Antakya’s famous kunafa dessert from its best sweet makers.


Day 5 July 24


After breakfast, we will depart towards Samandağ to visit the Vespasianus Titus Tunnel, which is an ancient water tunnel built by the Romans in the first century A.D. Located within a spectacular natural landscape, this tunnel has continued to mesmerize its visitors for thousands of years.
The Roman Emperor, Vespasianus, ordered the construction of this tunnel to block the flooding rain waters that used to come down from the mountains.
It was built with the sweat and tears of thousands of slaves over several decades. We will then see the rock gravestones believed to belong to the Romans in Beşikli Cave which is located close to the tunnel.
Immediately afterwards, we will visit Vakıflı which is one of the few remaining Armenian villages in Anatolia. While exploring this village, we will stop by the local coffeehouse to enjoy a drink of tea or coffee. We will then proceed to the co-ops of locally owned businesses to purchase some of the famous natural products of this town. We will spend the night in Antakya.


Day 6 July 25


We depart Antakya in the morning and arrive in Gaziantep after 3 hours. We begin our tour of this city by visiting the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. The Zeugma Museum is one of thebest modern museums in Turkey. This museum takes its visitors through the ancient city of Zeugma by its unique display of archeological materials positioned strategically to convey a sense of time and space.
Mosaics that were discovered while digging to save the Birecik Dam such as the world-famous Oceanus and Tethys, Poseidon, and Achiles Mosaics will be viewed. This will also be a rare opportunity to view the well-known gypsy-girl mosaic. After our visit to the museum, we will head to the popular Kebapçı Halil Usta restaurant where we will savor some of the famous kebabs and dishes of this city’s cuisine. After lunch, we will visit the Medusa Archeological Museum of Glass Works. Afterwards, we will visit the Emine Göğüş Culinary Museum to learn about Gaziantep’s rich cuisine.
We will then explore the old city neighborhood known as, Bey Mahallesi, to get a sense of traditional life in Gaziantep. Free time will be provided to stroll through Gaziantep’s traditional spice market. Those who wish can enjoy a coffee break at the Kahveci Tahmis coffee house. Others may wish to get lost in the brass ware, dried fruits, or souvenir sections of the covered bazaar.
After rejoining the group at a set time at the coffee house, we will go to our hotel and spend the night in Gaziantep.



Day 7 July 26


After breakfast, we will head towards Halfeti which is famous for its black roses. After two hours we will arrive at Halfeti which has been covered in water after the Birecik Dam broke. We will get on a boat and take a relaxing boat trip along the green waters of the Euphrates River. During our boat tour ofthe lost city of Halfeti, we will be able to take pictures of the Roman Fort (Rumkale) and its inscriptions.

After we complete our boat ride, we will continue on the road to Şanlıurfa. Before arriving at this destination, we will pass through Birecik and stop by the center that houses this areasfamous Bald Ibis (Kelaynak) birds. We will visit the Museum here and learn about these unique creatures.


Day 8 July 27


We will listen to the story of the Prophet Ibrahim who is believed to have been raised in this city while we visit the Rizvaniye Mosque. We will see the Qur’anic inscription on the Khalil al-Rahman Mosque dedicated to the Prophet Ibrahim which cites the verse, “O Fire, Be cool and peaceful towards Ibrahim. ”
The the pool of water containing large fish in front of the mosque is said to have been the spot that Ibrahim was thrown into the fire by his father. After our visit to the Khalil al-Rahman Mosque and its pool, we will proceed to the Mawlid al-Khalil Cave where it believed that the Prophet Ibrahim was born. After this, we will take a welldeserved Turkish coffee or tea break at one of the traditional cafes with a view of this ancient city.
We will have lunch at a traditional restaurant that specializes in the authentic cuisine of this rich city. After lunch we will continue our tour of the culture and history of Urfa by visiting the Urfa City Museum. We will go to Urfa’s historic neighborhoods and walk through the Eyyubiye neighborhood known for its old homes and traditional structures. At the end of our walk we will pass through the Sipahi bazaar where we will admire the multi-color traditional fabrics of this city.
Finally, we will take a rest while sipping pistachio coffee under the hundreds of years old trees that cover the famous inn/caravansaray at the heart of the old city known as Gümrük Hanı. It was built by Behram Paşa under the reign of Sultan Sulayman the agnificent and is one of the hallmarks of Urfa. Free time will be provided at this time for souvenir shopping.


Day 9 July 28


After lunch, we will depart from Şanlıurfa and arrive at Göbeklitepe in half an hour. Göbeklitepe is one of the oldest surviving World monuments dating to 9500-8000 BCE. It was only recently discovered and placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. During this visit we will go back 10,000 years and examine one of humanity’s earliest sites of civilization whose discovery forced a reassessment of previous assumptions of the historical timeline of the development of ancient civilizations, such as those of the Sumerians and Hitites. After we have had the opportunity to take pictures at this site, we will head to Mardin. After two and a half hours, we will arrive in Mardin and spend the night there.



Day 10 July 29


After breakfast, we will begin our day by visiting the stunning Shahidiyya Madrasa and Mosque Complex built by the Artuqid Turkman ruler Nasr al-Din Aslan Han. We will then visit the Sakıp Sabancı Museum that depicts the social life and culture of this old city. From the museum, we will proceed to visit Mardin’s most important Assyrian Orthodox Church known as the Forty Martyrs Church (Kırklar Kilisesi).
After visiting this church, we will visit the Latifiye Mosque and later wander through Mardin’s traditional spice bazaar. We will take pictures of the traditional stone homes of Mardin that were carved by the world-famous Assyrian masonry methods of this city. After this, we will visit Ulu Camii and learn about this important landmark of the Artuqid Turkman period.
After passing through the jewelry market, we will view the Girl’s Professional School that is housed in part on a structure that was originally built by the 13th Century Artuqid ruler Melik Mahmut Karaaslan. The masonry and building structure remain a landmark of Mardin despite the use of this plot of land having taken many different forms throughout the centuries. After this we will visit the Zinciriye Madrasa which is a seminary built in 1385 by the last Artuqid ruler, Malik Najm alDin Isa. It is one the most beautiful structures of Mardin and is also a major landmark of Eastern Anatolia.
From this madrasa, we will have a view of this enchanting timeless city that is reminiscent of ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Following our lunch at the Mardin city center, everyone will have free time to wander and shop for souvenirs. You might like to take home some of Mardin’s natural soaps or try the blue Mardin candy (Mardin şekeri). You can also use this time to relax at a local coffee shop while gazing upon views of this city that has been a crossroads of civilizations for thousands of years. We will end our day tour by visiting the Monastery of Saint Ananias (Dayr al-Zafaran) which is an important Syriac Orthodox Monastery with a long history in this city. We will spend tonight in Mardin.


Day 11 July 30


After breakfast we will head towards Midyat and stop at Mağara Yazidi Village on the way. Mağara village is known to be a village community following the Yazidi faith. Here we will learn about Yazidi beliefs and culture. If we have the opportunity, we will visit their place of worship to better understand Yazidi belief and practice.
Our next stop on the road will be to visit Dayro d-Mor Gabriel (Deyrulumur Manastırı) which is the oldest Syriac Orthodox Monastery in the world. Here we will learn about Syriac Orthodox beliefs as well as experience the monastery up close by visiting the main church complex, Theodora Dome, and the residences of the monks.
We will then enjoy a delicious lunch of traditional cuisines on our arrival in Midyat. Afterwards, we will take a walking tour of Midyat. We will see the Mor Barsaumo Church, Midyat Guesthouse (Midyat Konuk Evi), and the Midyat Market. We will have an opportunity to take pictures of Midyat’s best masonry work. When our tour of Midyat is completed, we will go to Hasankeyf. Hasankeyf is another ancient town once located on the banks of the great River Tigris. The city has recently been submerged in water as a result of the Ilisu Dam Project.
We will then visit the Zayn al-Abidin Mosque Complex which includes a gravesite where the Prophet Muhammad’s 13th generation grandchildren, Zayn al-Abidin and Sitti Zaynab, are buried. This complex has the remnants of Ayyubid/Zangid, Artuqid, and Ottoman architectural styles as it was renovated by each of these ruling powers. After we finish our visit to this region that borders the northern Syrian border, we will head North for two hours until we arrive at Diyarbakir. We will spend the night in Diyarbakir.



Day 12 July 31


After breakfast, we will walk along the Tigris River and see the iconic Tigris Bridge with ten arches and hence also known as the ten eyed bridge (On Gözlü Köprü). We will then go to the Hevsel Gardens which are a 700-acre fertile region on the Tigris whose presence dating back thousands of years, has made it into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Hevsel Gardens are mentioned in Aramean chronicles that date back as early as the ninth century BCE. These gardens have seen ancient Greek and Roman rule, as well as the Sassanians, Abbasids, Seljuks, Artuqids, and Ottomans. Following this walking tour, we will head towards the Diyarbakir Fort where we will see the famous Mardin Gate and Goat Tower (Keçi Burcu). After this visit, we will have lunch at a traditional restaurant to delight in Diyarbakir’s rich cuisine.
We will then dedicate the afternoon to exploring the İçkale Museum Complex that includes buildings that house some of the most precious artifacts and structures of this part of Mesopotamia. Here we will visit the Diyarbakir Museum of Archeology, the Artuqid Palace that was later used as a prison, St. Giragos Armenian Church (Aya Yorgi Church), the Lion Fountain (Aslanlı Çeşme), and the Atatürk Museum.
We will also see the ancient settlement of Amida Höyük that was first settled by the Arameans around the 3rd Century B.C. This ancient Mesopotamian city located within the Fortress of the İçkale Museum Complex was later ruled by the Assyrians, Sassanians, Umayyads, Abbasids, Seljuqs, and Ottomans.
We will also have time to visit what is considered one of the holiest sites of this region, the Sulayman Mosque and the Graves of 27 Sahaba (Süleyman Camii ve 27 Sahabe Türbesi). This mosque is named after the son of Khalid b. Al-Walid, Sulayman b. Khalid who led the expedition sent out by the second caliph, Umar b. Al-Khattab. The names of 27 Companions of the Prophet Muhammad who died in the campaign to expand Muslim presence in Diyarbakir are listed at the gate of the Mosque and they are buried in the cemetery adjacent to it. The presence of these graves of Sahaba in Diyarbakir and its vicinity has made this city of high religious significance for Muslims.


Day 13 August 1


After breakfast, we will depart from Diyarbakir. We will stop and see the iconic Malabadi Bridge after one hour. After another hour, we will stop in the town of Bitlis. We will visit the Red Mosque (Kızıl Mescit) in this town and gravesite of Pir Muhammed Küfrevi Hazretleri who was a well-loved Khalidi Naqshbandi Shaykh of the 19th Century. His mausoleum was built by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II in Baroque style. After our visit we will continue on the road for another two hours until we reach the Van Fort. We will explore this magnificent structure and then settle in our hotels for the night in Van.


Day 14 August 2


We will meet at the lobby in the morning and head out for a traditional Van breakfast meal. We will experience the rich variety of breakfast offerings that has made this city famous for its morning meal. Afterwards, we will head towards Gevaş and Akdamar Island. Once we arrive in Gevaş, will first visit the mausoleum of Halime Hatun who was the wife of Ertuğrul and the mother of Osman Gazi who founded the Ottoman Empire. We will also visit the Seljuklu Cemetery in the same location. Afterwards, we will take a scenic boat ride to Akdamar Island where we will visit the Akdamar Church whose stone inscriptions from the Torah and Bible distinguish this structure. Later, we will take a boat back from the island to Gevaş and visit the ancient fortification known as Çavuştepe and then see the Tuşpa Fort (Tuşpa Kalesi). We will then proceed to learn about Van’s famous art of Savat silvermaking at a Savat silvermaking shop.
Finally, on our way back to our hotels we will stop by the Van Cat House where we will meet the popular cats of Van who are all white, have different colored eyes, and like to swim.


Day 15 August 3


After breakfast, we will head to the Van Airport to take our flights back to Istanbul.


Please note that the itinerary is tentative and open to adjustment by the organizers when surprises and unexpected circumstances require improvisation.