Cyprus, Rhodes and Ancient Ionia
In the homeland of Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite and Athena, explore the temples, monasteries and churches of Cyprus, Rhodes and the coast of Asia Minor.
For three and a half thousand years, merchants have traded the rich copper and gemstones of the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes for the doughty timber of the eastern Mediterranean mainland. Join archaeologist Judy Roberts to visit the edifices they raised in their wake – magnificent shrines like the Sanctuary of Apollo on Cyprus and the Temple of Lindian Athena on Rhodes, and the mighty city of Ephesus.
Visit distinctive Northern Cyprus, and in Southern Cyprus explore ornate painted churches which once served the Knights of St John and the Knights Templar.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested departure in the evening from Australia or New Zealand on Qatar Airways flights to Larnaca via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Overnight in flight.
Suggested mid-morning arrival in Larnaca.
Make your way to the hotel and check in before a welcome briefing and dinner with Judy and fellow travellers.
Begin your exploration of ancient Cyprus with a visit to Khirokitia, an 8,000 BC Neolitic settlement site with closely packed circular houses. Continue to the beautifully-situated Kolossi Castle and explore this Mediæval stronghold of the Knights Hospitaller. The Commandaria wine they produced was exported all over Europe.
After lunch, travel onwards to the spectacular archaeological site of Kourion. Visit its Sanctuary of Apollo, theatre, Roman baths and the stunning mosaics in the House of Achilles and the House of Gladiators. Round out the day with a visit – and the possibility of a swim – at Petra tou Romiou (‘Rock of the Greek’), a great limestone seastack on the shore where the goddess Aphrodite is said to have emerged from the foaming waves.
Arrive in Paphos in the late afternoon. Dinner is at the hotel.
In the morning, visit the Paphos Archaeological Park, which has uncovered relics of the habitation of Paphos from prehistoric times until the Middle Ages, including Roman villas of the wealthy élite with ornate mosaics depicting scenes of hunting, cavorting and divine beauty contests. Explore the storied history of Paphos Castle, built by Byzantines, dismantled by Venetians, rebuilt by Ottomans and then used as a salt warehouse by the British.
After lunch, visit the Tombs of the Kings, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed necropolis where Paphos aristocrats were interred from the 4th century BC to the 3rd century AD. Hewn into solid rock, many of the tombs were carved to represent elaborate homes, with columns and frescoes.
The evening is at leisure.
In the morning, visit the Hellenistic Theatre at Fabrica Hill. An archaeological site under active excavation by a team from the University of Sydney, the dig is uncovering one of the cultural treasures of Paphos, which served as the capital of Cyprus in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. At its height, the theatre could accommodate as many as 8,500 spectators, and the excavations have also uncovered the remnants of Roman roads and a nymphaeum.
After free time for lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the Paphos Archaeological Museum, where an extensive collection comprises Cypriot artefacts from the Neolithic Period to the 17th century, ranging from coins to marble statues and elaborately carved tombs.
Check out from the hotel and travel to the village of Omodos in the Troödos Mountains in central Cyprus. Visit Timios Stavros Monastery, which preserves a section of Holy Rope which supposedly bound Jesus to the cross.
After some free time for lunch in Omodos, travel onwards to the Church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis in Kakopetria. One of the most interesting Byzantine churches in the whole of Cyprus, the entire inside of the church is covered with icons and fresco paintings, created between the 11th and 17th centuries.
Spend the afternoon at leisure in Kakopetria, with the option of a walking tour of the village with Judy.
In the morning, visit Kykkos Monastery, set high in the Troödos Mountains and one of the wealthiest monasteries in Cyprus. Founded by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in the late 11th century, the monastery contains a veiled icon of the Virgin Mary supposedly painted by St Luke himself. Kykkos was also where Archbishop Makarios III, the first President of Cyprus, began his monastic career and is where his body was laid to rest after his death.
Continue to Pedoulas, and after lunch at a local restaurant, explore the Church of the Archangel Michael, whose unassuming exterior conceals within it a UNESCO World Heritage-listed treasure trove of religious frescoes.
Check out from the hotel and travel to Nicosia, capital of Cyprus. On arrival, enjoy a walking tour of the old town including the ancient city walls and St John’s Cathedral. Visit the Leventis Municipal Museum and the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion, the so-called ‘House of the Dragoman’, which was home to a wealthy 18th century government interpreter or dragoman.
Cross the Green Line to Turkish Nicosia and after lunch in a local restaurant, visit Selimiye Mosque, which was once a Gothic church and was re-consecrated by the conquering Ottomans in 1570. Crossing back into south Nicosia, explore the Cyprus Museum, the largest collection of Cypriot archaeological treasures in the world.
The evening is at leisure to enjoy Nicosia at your own pace.
Today, enjoy a full-day tour to Northern Cyprus, the northern third of the island which was captured by Turkish forces in 1974 and remains a de facto separate state to this day. Begin with a visit to the evocative ruins of the 13th century Bellapais Abbey and the village where Lawrence Durrell lived while writing his novel Bitter Lemons.
In Kyrenia, visit the Shipwreck Museum, which houses the remains of a 4th century BC Hellenistic merchant ship discovered by a diving instructor in 1965, providing a fascinating and immediate connection to Cyprus in the time of Alexander the Great.
After lunch, visit ancient Salamis, near Famagusta, where the Royal Tombs attest to the city’s importance since 800 BC.
Return to the hotel in the evening.
Check out from the hotel and transfer to Larnaca Airport for a flight to Rhodes via Athens (included in tour price).
On arrival in Rhodes, transfer to the hotel, followed by dinner in the evening.
Begin your exploration of the island of Rhodes with a visit to the magnificently-sited Temple of Athena in Lindos. Built around 300 BC, this Doric temple was a major cult site for the goddess Athena.
Travel onwards to tranquil Kameiros, and after lunch explore what was once a three-level coastal city. Excavations of the foundations of a temple on the lowest level indicate that the city was founded as early as the 8th century BC by Dorian Greeks, although in the ensuing centuries it was destroyed at least twice by earthquakes (in 226 BC and 142 AD).
Return to the city of Rhodes in the late afternoon before an evening at leisure.
Today, explore the city of Rhodes, with a walking tour of the historic Old Town, including the Archaeological Museum and the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, a major citadel of the Mediæval Order of the Knights Hospitaller and one of the few extant examples of Gothic architecture to be found in Greece.
Enjoy some free time for lunch before transferring to the port for a ferry across the sea to Marmaris in Turkey. Dinner tonight is at a restaurant in Marmaris.
Check out from the hotel and travel westwards along the Turkish coast to Bodrum, what was once ancient Halicarnassus. After lunch in Bodrum, visit the Castle of St Peter, a stronghold built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1402 to guard against invasion by the Seljuk Turks, and the Underwater Archaeology Museum located within the castle. The museum covers almost 3,500 years of seafaring history, and includes several recovered ships from periods ranging from the Bronze Age to the Ottoman era, as well as a giant aquarium with a model of an underwater excavation.
Continue to Kuşadası and check in to the hotel, followed by dinner.
Today visit Ephesus, capital of the Ancient Greek region of Ionia, and one of the most magnificently preserved ancient sites anywhere in the world. The city was home to Attic and Ionian Greek colonists from the 10th century BC, but truly flourished under the Roman Empire. The façade of the 2nd century AD Library of Celsus, now with nothing but clear blue sky showing through its windows, is surely one of the iconic images of Roman archaeology. Also visit the Terrace Houses, built on a sloping hillside for wealthy Ephesians.
After a morning exploring the expansive site of Ephesus, visit the Archaeological Museum in Selçuk, one of whose great treasures is the famous Statue of Artemis. On the way back to Kuşadası, visit the site of the Artemision, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The evening is at leisure.
In the morning, visit Priene, one of the cities that formed the Ionian League in the mid-7th century BC. Built on the escarpment of Mt Mycale and commanding a phenomenal view, Priene’s Temple of Athena was funded by Alexander the Great and designed by the architect Pytheos.
Continue to the archaeological site of Miletus, a city that was once regarded as the wealthiest in the Grecian world. Birthplace of the great philosopher and mathematician Thales, the splendour of Miletus is still evident in its theatre, which once accommodated 25,000 spectators.
After lunch, visit the gargantuan temple of Didyma, once the site of a renowned Oracle of Apollo, second only to that of Delphi on the Greek mainland.
In the afternoon, return to Kuşadası, and then in the evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with Judy and fellow travellers.
For those departing today, check out from the hotel for group transfer to İzmir Airport for suggested flights to Doha via İstanbul.
Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at İzmir Airport.
Suggested flights to Australia or New Zealand on Qatar Airways. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
06 August 2018
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require visas to visit Cyprus or Greece.
Australian passport holders require a visa to visit Turkey, which must be applied for online prior to arrival (at a cost of approximately USD 60). Renaissance Tours will co-ordinate your visa application.
New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Turkey.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located 4 star superior hotels (or best available) with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Hotel/airport group transfer from Kuşadası to İzmir Airport on final tour day
- Lectures and talks throughout with your tour leader, Judy Roberts
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Economy Class flight from Larnaca to Rhodes
- Ferry from Rhodes to Marmaris
- Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfer on arrival
- Hotel/airport transfer from Kuşadası to İzmir Airport on final tour day if not using group transfer
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Visa for Turkey (for those travellers who require one)
Larnaca – Lordos Beach Hotel ****
Paphos – Constantinou Brothers Athena Beach Hotel ****+
Kakopetria – The Mill Hotel ***+
Nicosia – Hilton Cyprus *****
Rhodes – Mediterranean Hotel ****+
Marmaris – Grand Yazıcı Club Turban Hotel ****+
Kuşadası – KoruMar Deluxe Resort Hotel *****+
NB: Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.