“Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”. (Acts 11:25 -26).
This trip covers all unique locations. From legendary Troy – Trojan horse to the Seven Churches of The Revelation, from Tarsus to Antioch. Praying in Martyrium of St.Philip in Hierapolis Ancient city, visiting the first church in the world, The Church of St. Peter, in Antioch.
Day 1 Istanbul Arrival
Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. You will be met and transferred to your hotel. After check in, free time. Dinner and Overnight. (D)
Day 2 Istanbul Full Day City Tour
Following the breakfast we drive to the “Old City“, we will stop by the Hippodrome before proceeding to the Blue Mosque, so called because of the impressive Iznik (Nicea) blue tiles lining its walls.
Then we will go into the St. Sophia Church Museum. Following this stop, we will go to the Underground Cistern built by Justinian in 535. After lunch we will drive Chora Church Museum (The Church of Holy Savior) to see breathtaking frescoes and mosaics from 14th century. The church is a remarkable example of Byzantine art. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Istanbul – Gallipoli – Troy – Canakkale
After an early breakfast, we will began our scenic drive down to Gallipoli, historically famous for being the site of many battles during WW1. Following a lunch break, we will cross the second strategic waterway, the Dardanelles and land Asia and proceed to Troy.
Troy is the home of legend. Homer immortalized Troy and Trojan Horse in his stories of King Priam, Hector, Paris, and the beautiful Helen. Archeological excavations have revealed nine separate periods of settlement including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre. Dinner and overnight in Canakkale. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Pergamon – Izmir
After early breakfast drive to hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Pergamum’s place in religious history is largely because of the paragraph addressed to its Christian believers by St. John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 2:12-17). He characterized Pergamum as the place where Satan was enthroned. (Revelation 2:13)
St. John saw a group he called the Nicolatinas as an additional threat to the believers. Who these people were is not clearly known. (Revelation 2:14-15) St. John condemned them for adultery and for eating food that had been sacrificed to pagan gods. St. John also promised a white stone and hidden manna to those who repented of their false beliefs and immoral behavior (Revelation 2:16-17). Drive to Izmir for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Izmir–Basilica of St. John-Ephesus–House of Virgin Mary-Kusadasi
After an early breakfast flight to Izmir, we will drive to the Basilica of Saint John “The Evangelist” who came here with Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. Then we will carry on to Ephesus ancient city. People visiting Ephesus today can visualize the city when it was the capital of the province.
St. Paul preached and taught in Ephesus for over 2 years. During that time he sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia to continue the missionary work there. The names of several other early Christians are recorded as residents of Ephesus. Among them are the eloquent Apollos with whom St. Paul associated himself, saying that he planted, that Apollos watered, but that God gave the growth (I Cor.3:6)
A couple, Priscilla and Aquilla, established a house church in Ephesus (I Cor.16:19). The daughters of the Apostle Philip lived in Ephesus. A small stone building high up on the west corner of the city wall is pointed out as St. Paul’s Prison. He wrote the letter to the Ephesians from this place.
In Ephesus highlights include Double Church where in 431 the Third Ecumenical Council was held, the Library of Celcius, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Theater for many Christians the best-known building in Ephesus where a 1st century AD silversmith attempted to stir up a riot to get rid of St. Paul who was damaging his business of making images of Artemis.
About 3 miles away in the forested mountain above Ephesus is House of Virgin Mary. Today it is visited by pilgrims from all over the world. It is a modest stone house. St John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus in keeping with Jesus’s admonition to him to care for his mother. (John 19:27)
House of Virgin Mary, is now visited by over a hundred thousand pilgrims each year. The pilgrims come to drink the waters of the sacred spring, to mediate, to pray for health, and to breathe the atmosphere of if. You will be able to collect some holly water from the Sacred Spring.
Both Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1979 have celebrated mass here. Many people congregate at this sanctuary every August 15 to observe the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin.
It was first identified in 1818 by an Austrian peasant, Anne Catherine Emmerich, who saw it in a dream exactly as it was found. The setting is beautifully peaceful, encouring reverence and contemplation. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. (B,L,D)
Day 6 Pamukkale – Hierapolis – Laodicea Ad Lycum – Antalya
We leave our hotel early in the morning and drive to Hierapolis but before we get here we stop at Laodicea Ad Lycum. The site of one of the Seven Churches addressed by St. John in the Book of Revelation ( Rev. 3:14-22 ), Laodicea is on a low hill on the south bank of the Lycus River (Curuksu). As a commercial center, it had a large Jewish community. For St. John in Revelation, the Christians of Laodicea were neither hot nor cold and because of their indifference he wanted to spew them out of his mouth. “I know all your ways, you are neither hot or cold. How I wish you were either hot or cold. Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-17 )
St. John promised in “ the words of the Amen” (Revelation 3:14) that for those who were sensitive enough to hear and respond to what was being said, the Spirit would join them in the great feast. “Here I stand knocking at the door; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sit down to supper with him and he with me“ (Revelation 3:20)
Then we will drive to Pamukkale (The Cotten Castle of white travertine terraces), and Hierapolis ancient city where St. Philip was martyred in 80 AD.. Recently Italian archeologists have discovered his Martyrium, an octagonal chamber forming a double cross surrounded by a square. St.Philip lived here after the Apostles scattered from Jerusalem.
Hierapolis is listed in the New Testament along with Laodicea as the center of Epaphras’s work (Colossians 4:13). Dinner and overnight in Antalya (B,L,D)
Day 7 Perge – Side – Manavgat Waterfalls – Antalya Half Day City Tour
Ruins of Perge are 18 kms to the northeast of Antalya. Perge is one of the cities that St.Paul visited with Barnabas and his cousin John Mark on their first missionary journey in about AD 47 or 48 ( Acts 13:13, 14:25 ). It was Perge that John Mark left the others to return Jerusalem.
John Mark did not accompany St. Paul on the second missionary journey; instead he and Barnabas went together to Cyprus while St.Paul went with Silas into Anatolia ( Acts 15:63-41 ). Perhaps St. Paul and John Mark were reconciled later for St. Paul includes greetings from a Mark to Philemon ( Philem. 24 ). Highlights are, the Gymnasium, the Bath, the Agora, the Theater, the Stadium and the Hellenistic Gate. After we finish our visit in Perge, we will continuo to Side. Side was an important port on the Mediterranean from the time it was founded about the 6th century BC until the 7th century. Roman engineers brought Side’s water through tunnels and an aqueduct from about 30 km inland. Today’s Side is built exactly on top of the ancient city.
We will have lunch and see Manavgat waterfalls. Then we will drive back to Antalya. Antalya located in the region called Pamphylia, was founded by Attalus II, King of Pergamum in the 2nd century BC. St. Paul sailed from Antalya about AD 48 on his return to Antioch after his first missionary journey. Dinner and overnight in Antalya. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Antalya – Psidian Antioch – Iconium (Konya) – Cappadocia
Early morning we will drive to Psidian Antioch (Yalvac) where St. Paul and Barnabas visited on their first missionary journey. During St. Paul’s time the population was a mixture of Jews, Romans and Greeks. On his first missionary journey St. Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath (the Jewish day of worship), and St. Paul was asked to speak to the congregation. In the Bible this is St. Paul’s first recorded sermon.
What St. Paul said about Christianity so interested his listeners that he had an overflow audience the next week. The members of the synagogue took violent exception to what St.Paul was doing (Acts 13:14-52).
Very little is left of Psidian Antioch today. There is the propylaea of the acropolis with a number of carved stones and the remains of a Byzantine church.
Then we will drive to Iconium (Konya). Two thousand years ago Konya was called Iconium; St. Paul came here with Barnabas and preached here on his first missionary journey in 47 A.D. and Iconium became an important Christian city following St. Paul’s preachings. ( Acts 14: 1-6 ). They stayed in Iconium for some time and spoke so effectively that many people became Christian. St. Paul made two more stops here on his second and third journeys. Konya is a quite new city but the center of the city is very old. Drive to Cappadocia for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 9 Kaymakli Underground City–Uchisar Fortress-Avanos-Cappadocia
After breakfast we will visit Derinkuyu Underground City. The Underground city of Derinkuyu near Nevsehir was used as an early Christian center, housed several thousand Christians hiding from their Roman and Byzantine persecutors in the 7th and 8th centuries.
They extend downward in the earth for at least 8 floors in a maze of tunnels, rooms, kitchens, wine cellars, stables, sleeping chambers and passageways. A huge chimney ventilates this 8-levelled dwelling and rooms and were easily defended by blocking the entrance with large rocks. Today it is very well lit. So far 36 underground cities are known in Cappadocia area.
Then we will see fascinating commonly called “Fairy Chimneys” that are jutting pieces of volcanic rocks that have been beaten and shaped by the wind and rain. The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia are a striking example of how geography and human habitation have worked together, and how geography has influenced people’s imaginations.
After having a pottery exhibition in Avanos village we will drive to Uchisar, which is one of the most beautiful valleys in Cappadocia Area. For those who climb the steps to the top of the Uchisar Fortress the whole region unfolds below. Dinner at hotel and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 10 Cappadocia – Tarsus – Antioch (Antakya)
After breakfast we will drive straight to Tarsus, the birth place of St. Paul. St. Paul was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin in Tarsus about AD 10 and spent his early years here. His father was a Roman citizen; St. Paul inherited that citizenship and its rights. ( Acts 21:39 )
Then he was sent to Jerusalem to study. During St. Paul’s time Tarsus was a university city surpassing Athens and Alexandria and the romantic meeting between Cleopatra and Mark Anthony took place in Tarsus. Highlights here will be The Church of St. Paul, St. Paul’s well and Cleopatra’s Gate. Numerous people believe that the water from St. Paul’s well has healing properties.Then we will drive to Antioch ( Antakya). Dinner and overnight in Antakya. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Antioch (Antakya) – Adana – Istanbul
After breakfast we will see Antioch, Biblical “Antioch on the Orontes”, Daphne and Seleucia Pieria.
In Antioch, first to preach here was St. Peter followed by St. Paul and Barnabas whose extensive efforts proved to be very fruitful for Christianity. St. Peter wasthe first to establish a church in Antioch; this belief is based on the references in Acts 9:32 and in Galatians 2:11. Incidentally, the word Christians was first coined in Antioch. ‘It was in Antioch that thedisciples were first called Christians’ (Acts 11:26 ).
Antioch served as the home base for St. Peter, St. Paul and Barnabas; shortly it became the third most important bishopric (after Jerusalem and Rome) in the developing church. Then we will go to Adana. Airport to fly to Istanbul. Check in to our hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. (B,L,D)
Day 12 Istanbul Departure
Free till transfer to the airport. (B)
For specifically interested parties, the program may include one day visit to Patmos Island (Greece) where St. John wrote the book of Revelation.