You are invited to fabled Turkey which had thriving Christian communities in earliest Christianity: “It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts: 11:26) and which witnessed the beginning of St. Paul’s ministry. Already only 20 years after the death of Jesus, Paul, born in Tarsus was establishing communities in Colossae and Ephesus. You will visit these places as well as some of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. This journey will bring us back to our roots as Christians and enable us to retrace some of the steps of that dynamic missionary, St. Paul who spread the good news of Jesus. You will also visit the famous caves of Cappadocia where Christians hid from persecution.
This trip explores the First Century Greco-Roman world to help us see and understand the topography and geography, the manners and the customs, the social and political environment in which the Christian faith was inculturated.
Arrive in İstanbul, only city on the world that is founded on two continents. Meet with your guide and transfer to the hotel. This evening welcome dinner will be served at hotel.
Hippodromes in the Roman World for 200.000 people, with Egyptian Obelisk and the Serpent Column. From here proceed to the 17th century Blue Mosque, world famous for the beauty of blue Iznik tiles. Visit the Church of St Sophia (6th c. AD), a masterpiece of Byzantine Christian Architecture and one of the oldest and biggest cathedrals of the world. Visit Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries to see the famous Topkapi Dagger and one of the biggest diamonds of the world: The Spoon Maker’s Diamond. At the end of the day visit one of the oldest shopping malls of the world. The Covered Bazaar from 15th century with more than 4000 shops. Overnight in İstanbul; tonight dinner will be served at a local restaurant.
Hippodromes in the Roman World for 200.000 people, with Egyptian Obelisk and the Serpent Column. From here proceed to the 17th century Blue Mosque, world famous for the beauty of blue Iznik tiles. Visit the Church of St Sophia (6th c. AD), a masterpiece of Byzantine Christian Architecture and one of the oldest and biggest cathedrals of the world. Visit Topkapı Palace, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries to see the famous Topkapı Dagger and one of the biggest diamonds of the world: The Spoon Maker’s Diamond. At the end of the day visit one of the oldest shopping malls of the world. The Covered Bazaar from 15th century with more than 4000 shops. Overnight in İstanbul; tonight dinner will be served at a local restaurant.
ISTANBUL – ANTAKYA (Antioch) (B-D)
After having an early breakfast transfer to the Domestic Airport for a short flight to Hatay. Arrive and drive in to Antakya ; ancient Antiochia is where the Christians were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). St. Paul and St. Barnabas used the city as a missionary headquarters. Visit the Grotto of St. Peter, a cave made into a church in 1198. Then visit the Archaeology Museum which is world famous for the unique collection of late Roman and Byzantine mosaics found in Daphne and its environments. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Antakya.
ANTAKYA – TARSUS – CAPPADOCIA (B-D)
Morning depart for Tarsus via driving through Adana, which is home to 5,000 US service men/women at Incirlik Airbase. Arrive in Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul (Acts 9:11-30, 21:39, 22:3,25-29). Tarsus was one of the greatest cities of the ancient world together with Athens, Alexandriapolis and Constantinopolis. The city is also the site where Mark Anthony first met Cleopatra and fell in love. Visit the so called Well of St. Paul and the partially excavated ancient avenue of Tarsus. In the afternoon drive to Cappadocia for dinner and overnight.
Full day tour of Cappadocia. Cappadocia is a unique site in the world with fantastic volcanic landscapes, underground cities of early Christians and thousands of rock cut churches with fantastic fresco paintings. Cappadocia is under the protection UNESCO Cultural Department as a unique World Heritage Site. The roots of monastic life goes back to Cappadocia. St Basil of Caseria established and encouraged monastic life in Cappadocia which had led to thousands of monastic communities during the medieval times. St Paul travelled on the outskirts of Cappadocia which explains the existence of many churches in Cappadocia.
Your visits will include, Goreme and Pasabag open air museums to visit the churches with the best preserved fresco paintings. You will also visit the Uchisar and Guvercinlik valleys to enjoy the magnificent landscape of Cappadocia. A drive by Avanos village, famous for handmade pottery production since the times of Hittites. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Cappadocia.
CAPPADOCIA – ANTALYA (B-D)
Underground cities must have been established by early Christians, escaping from persecutions. Drive to Konya, on route stop by Sultanhan, a Seljukian caravanserai from 13th century on silk road. Continue to Antalya along over the Taurus Mountains which is a very scenic road . Arrive in Antalya, so called the Turkish Riviera, check in to your hotel near the sea for dinner and overnight.
ANTALYA – PERGE (B-D)
In the morning depart to Perge, the ancient city where Paul preached. Paul and Barnabas went through Perge on their way to and from Antioch on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13, 14;25). See the remaining of a theatre, a large stadium, baths, a unique Hellenistic City Gate, Agora. Then continue to visit Aspendos, with its best preserved ancient theatre in the world which is still in use. See the well preserved aqueduct system as well. Return to the hotel for some leisure time, dinner and overnight at hotel.
ANTALYA – PAMUKKALE (B-D)
Drive to Psidian Antioch, a very rich Roman metropolis, by the foot of impressive Taurus mountain range It was here, in Pisidian Antioch where Apostle Paul delivered his first recorded sermon in Asia Minor. (Acts 13:16)(Acts 13:44). Visit the synagogue and the churches of the city together with the temple and the theatre. Continue to Hierapolis where Apostle Philip came to spread the Christianity, and is believed to have lived and martyred here. Hierapolis is mentioned in St. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians (Colossian 4:13). Explore one of the richest cemetery grounds of the ancient world, the main Domitian Gate and the main avenue. Visit the white travertine cascades of Pamukkale. Pamukkale is a unique site in the world, declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO Cultural Department. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Pamukkale.
PAMUKKALE – IZMIR (B-D)
Morning drive to Laodicea which was one of the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev 3:14-22) where John called the Christians “Lukewarm”. Recent Turkish excavations on the site are revealing the walls of a what might have been a monumental church. Continue to ancient Philadelphia to see the remaining walls of a monumental church. Philadelphia together with Smyrna was one of the two seven churches of Asia Minor which did not receive any criticism about applications of Christianity. Then on to Sardis , the capital city of Lydian Kingdom. Sardis was one of the very rich metropolises of Asia Minor with crowded populations of Jews which might have enabled the Good News to be heard at a faster rate. The site is presently under the excavation of Harvard and Berkeley Universities. The city was where the richest man on earth, King Croesus, enjoyed incredible power and wealth. Lydians invented and minted the first coins in the world. Visit one of the oldest synagogues of the world which was later converted into a church. Also visit the monumental Artemis Temple and the impressively restored Roman Imperial Hall. Drive to İzmir, ancient Smyrna which is one of the seven churches (Rev 2: 8-11). St. Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna, one of the disciples of St. John. Check in to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Today visit the glorious city of Ephesus (Rev 1:11, 2:1-7) (Acts 18:19-28, 19:1-41 Ephesians). Ephesus was the capital city of Roman Province of Asia Minor; the site of One of the Seven Wonders of the World; Temple of Artemis, and the site of the third richest library of the ancient world; Celsius library. St. Paul came to Ephesus in 54 AD and stayed for three years. He preached the Gospel, gained followers and also established the church of Ephesus. St John (author of Revelations according to the New Testament) also spend his last years in Ephesus. St. John is believed to have been buried within the Basilica of St John. A strong tradition in the Catholic Church claims that St. John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus and she ascended to heaven from Ephesus. Your visit include Ephesus archaeological site, the Basilica of St. John and the House of Virgin Mary. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.
IZMIR – CANAKKALE (B-D)
Christian martyr Antipas was tortured to death here. Pergamon was the site of many temples to pagan gods. Yet Christianity took a stronghold hers early as 2nd century, attested by the monumental size of Basilica of St. John. We have no evidence about Paul visiting in Pergamon. But it is clear that he walked through the area as he was on his way to Macedonia. Pergamon was the capital city of Hellenistic Kingdom of Pergamon. Pergamenese Library was the second richest library of the ancient world after the library in Alexandriapolis, Egypt. The city of Pergamon was also where parchment paper was invented. Drive up to visit Alexandria Troas ; at Troas Paul, Silas and Timothy were joined by Luke. “It was at Troas that he had his momentous dream telling him to go and preach in Macedonia and Greece (Acts 16:9-10)”. Continue to Troy, the legendary stage for Homer’s Iliad. A comprehensive visit of the city’s 9 different settlements at the hill of Hisarlik and the replica of the famous Trojan horse. Arrive in hotel in Canakkale for dinner and overnight.
CANAKKALE – ISTANBUL (B-D)
Morning depart for Iznik which is ancient Nicaea, visit the site of St. Sophia Church where the Ecumenical Councils were held in 325 AD and 787 AD . This historical town is worldwide know with its magnificent faience pottery making ‘’Iznik Tiles’’ Continue to catch the ferry for crossing the Sea of Marmara and check into your hotel in Istanbul . Dinner and overnight at hotel in Istanbul.
After breakfast, you will have free time for shopping until your transfer to Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
This sleek contemporary hotel is a 2-minute walk from the nearest tram stop, 10 minutes on foot from the Grand Bazaar and 1.8 km from Hagia Sophia, a renowned museum in a former mosque.
Set in an ornate building on palm-studded grounds, this upmarket spa hotel is 21 km from Hatay Airport, and 14 km from the shops and dining options in Antakya’s city center.
This polished hillside hotel in a stone cave structure is 1 km from Uçhisar Kalesi fortress and Güvercinlik Vadisi valley. The nearest bus stop is 2 km away.
Set 2 km from Konyaalti Beach, this polished hotel across the street from the Mediterranean Sea is also 10 km from Yivliminare Mosque and Hidirlik Tower, a historic cliff-top structure.
This upscale hotel is set 19 km from the E87 and the D320. The Hierapolis ancient theater is 6 km away.
Off the D550 state road, this informal hotel across from fields is 12 minutes on foot from the Ephesus Archaeological Museum and 14 minutes’ walk from the Temple of Artemis.
Featuring a historical stone building with a unique architecture combining Ottoman and Greek styles, Hotel Des Etrangers is set at the promenades of Canakkale. This special class hotel is eco-friendly, and it offers modern accommodations with private balconies which offer panoramic views of the Dardanelles.
Hotels are subject to change with a similar hotel based on availability