Many of the most striking cities in the Greek and Roman world are to be found along the coast of south-west Turkey, where the towering limestone cliffs and lofty mountain ranges have changed little since Classical times.
The armies of Alexander, the emperors of Rome and the traders of high Byzantium all brought great wealth to these rugged shores.
The most thrilling way to experience the by-gone cities of Lycia and south-eastern Caria is as the ancients saw them: by sea.
Our voyage aboard the Sunworld VIII, a traditional Turkish gulet that will be occupied exclusively by ACE, begins with a cruise to Gemiler, where the vestiges of the once-thriving monastic community conjure up the majesty of high Byzantium at the time of Justinian.
After a relaxing day's sailing we will be ready to explore the cities of the Xanthos valley - Xanthos itself, Letoön and the sand-blown port of Patara.
One of the most fascinating aspects of our travels will be the ruins visible to the naked eye beneath the clear waters of the eastern Mediterranean - the remains of Aperlae, for example, and the predominantly Byzantine town of Tersane.
The prosperity of Pinara is evident both in the tombs cut into the rock face and in the town's superb Hellenistic theatre, whilst the Lycian city of Tlos, re-discovered by Charles Fellows in the 19th century, presents breathtaking vistas.
The cruise across the Bay of Fethiye to the ancient hill-top settlement of Lydae is always inspiring. At the extreme end of the Marmaris Peninsula we will drop anchor at Knidos, one of Asia Minor's most dramatically sited cities. Once home to Praxiteles' celebrated Aphrodite, Knidos retains many original Hellenistic features and current excavations are unearthing more and more of this riveting twin-harboured settlement.
Our cruise ends at Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, guarded by the Crusader castle and the site of the famous mausoleum, built in honour of King Mausolus around 350 BC.
MAY 26 – JUNE 9, 2012
SEPTEMBER 8 – 22, 2012
Letoön is home to the temples of Leto, Apollo and Artemis, whilst Xanthos boasts a Roman theatre and Byzantine citadel.
- Underwater remains of Aperlae
- Lycian city of Tlos
- Ancient hill-top settlement of Lydae
- Knidos and Halicarnassus