The missionary journeys of St. Paul, the first Christian communities, Ecumenical councils and ancient civilizations. We will see and experience the cultural richness of Turkey and how the spread of Christianity began, how Christianity became the religion of the state from an illegal sect in East Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
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 Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) where you can smell of different aromas of various spices.
Then we will get in the ferry to have Bosphorus Cruise, through the waterway separating the two continents, Asia and Europe, with a possibility to take photographs of marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of Ottoman architecture besides modern residentials and luxurious apartments.After lunch in a seafood restaurant, 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 – Ankara – Cappadocia
We will take the early flight to Ankara, The Capital of Republicof Turkey. We will visit Ataturk’s Mausoleum,founder of theRepublic of Turkey.
Further on we will drive and come to Cappadocia and seefascinating commonly called “Fairy Chimneys” that are jutting pieces of volcanic rocksthat have been beatenand 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. A fascinating place. Dinner at hotel and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Cappadocia – Goreme Valley – Avanos Village – Uchisar Fortress
Right after breakfast, we will drive to Town of Goreme and then we will visit The Goreme open air museum.
The Goreme Open – Air Museum, a monastic complex of rock churches and chapels covered with frescoes, is one of the best-known sites in central Turkey. Most of the chapels date from the 10th to the 13th centuries. 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 5 Cappadocia – Derinkuyu Underground City – Adana
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. We will keep driving and reach Adana. Dinner at hotel and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 Antioch (Antakya) – Daphne – Seleucia Pierias
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 was the first to establish a church inAntioch; this beliefis based on the references in Acts 9:32 and in Galatians 2:11. Incidentally, the word Christians wasfirst coined in Antioch. ‘It was in Antioch that the disciples 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.
When the Emperor Julian the Apostate wanted to worship here in AD 363 he found that Daphne was the Antiochene Christian cemetery.
Then we will go to to Seleucia Pieria that is mentioned in the New Testament only as the port from which St. Paul and Barnabas set sail for Cyprus on their first missionary journey. (Acts 13:4) Highlights include the museum which houses a superb collection of mosaics from Antioch, Daphne and Seleucia Pieria and St. Peter’s Grotto, the first Christian church where early Christians of Antioch met in secretly. Dinner at hotel and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 7 Antioch (Antakya) – Tarsus – Derbe – Iconium (Konya)
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 Biblical Derbe. St. Paul and Barnabas went from Lystra to Derbe after St.Paul had recovered from being stoned. St. Paul and Barnabas both spoke to people in Derbe and many people became Christian (Acts 14:21); their ties with the people there continued strong enough that St. Paul returned a year or so later. Then we will drive to to Iconium (Konya). Dinner at hotel and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Konya – Lystra – Psidian Antioch ( Yalvac) – Antalya
After a short visit of Konya known as the city of whirling dervishes, we willdrive to Lystra. When St. Paul and Barnabas reached Lystra a miraclehappened. St. Paul noticed in the group gatheredto listen him a lameman whose bearing impressed him.Some extraordinary strength passed fromSt. Paul to the man who thereupon was cured. The miraclecaused a commotion in the crowd thatthe strangers had supernatural powers, that they were gods. St.Pauland Barnabas acted promptly by denying the identification, stating their Christian beliefs. The crowd became a mob, stoning St.Paul. He was saved only by his friends forming a circle around him. (Acts 14:8-20)
When St. Paul was in Lystra on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3) he met a young disciple named Timothy. Timothy was well regarded by the church in Lystra and became a close friend of St. Paul. Then we willcarry on 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. We pass by Egirdir Lake and arrive in Antalya for dinner and overnight.(B,L,D)
Day 9 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 10 Antalya – Laodicea Ad Lycum – Hierapolis – Pamukkale
After breakfast we leave our hotel 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 theirindifference 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. 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 at Pamukkale. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Pamukkale – Aphrodisias – Miletus – Kusadasi
Drive to the archeological site of Aphrodisias, the Greco-Roman city dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. Then continue to Miletus. As a most important city in on the Aegean coast, by the 5th century Miletus had developed a system of writing that the people of Athens adopted. This then became the standard Greek Alphabet. It was the birthplace of several philosophers, among them Thales ( who predicted the eclipse of the sun in 585 BC ), Hippodamus (who organized towns on a grid of crossing streets), and Anaximander ( who invented the sun dial ).
St.Paul visited Miletus in the spring AD 57 as he completed his third journey. (Acts 20:15-38 ). For St. Paul and for his listeners, many of whom had come from Ephesus, it was an emotional visit. Here he said ”for myself I set no story by life, I only want to finish the race and complete the task which the Lord assigned to me”.
St.Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem before Pentecost. Two stone lions that guarded the entrance to the harbor had been in place for over 2 hundred years when St.Paul took leave of his friends and boarded his ship. The harbor is gone, but the lions are there today. After visit, continue to Kusadasi for overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 12 Kusadasi–Basilica of St. John-Ephesus-House of Virgin Mary
This morning we will stop by the Basilica of St. John “The Evangelist” who came here with Virgin Mary andwrote 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 theprovince.
St.Paul preached and taught in Ephesus for over 2 years. During that time he sent Timothy and ErastustoMacedonia to continue the missionary work there. The names of several other earlyChristians are recorded asresidents of Ephesus. Among them are the eloquent Apollos withwhom St. Paul associated himself, sayingthat 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 adream exactly as it was found. The setting is beautifully peaceful,encouring reverence andcontemplation. Dinner and overnight inKusadasi. (B,L,D)
Day 13 Philadelphia – Sardis – Izmir (Smyrna)
After breakfast departure from hotel and drive to Philadelphia.During Byzantine times Philadelphia was the seat of a Christian bishopric. Its significance in Christian history was because it congregations addressed by St.John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 3:7-13). Although one of the Seven Churches, Philadelphia was the least distinguished; it was the only one about which St. John had no real criticism. He characterized it as having been given an open door. He told the Christians not to leave anyone take away their crowns and promised that those who were victorious would become pillars in God’s temple. “Hold fast to what you have, and let no one rob you of your crown” (Revelation 3:11).
Then we will drive to Sardis, whose history dates back to 12th century BC, was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia. In the book of Revelation (Rev. 3:1-6), St.John stated that Sardis needed to wake up. He complained that their acts did not live up to their reputation, that they did not finish what they started. But he held out the hope those who were not polluted that they should have robes of white (Revelation 3:5). White was the color then of righteousness and immortality.
Then we will drive to Izmir ( Smyrna ) which was one of the Seven Church in St.John’s Book of Revelation ( Rev. 2:8-11 ) as the place of the synagogue of Satan. St. John tells the Christians that they are about to suffer for their faith, but also says that those who are faithful unto death will gain a crown of life. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.(B,L,D)
Day 14 Izmir – Thyateria – Pergamum – Ayvalik
After breakfast we will drive to Thyatira which is a small modern city today. The old Thyatira, the site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. (Rev. 2:18-29). St. John’s criticism of Thyatira in Revelation was related to the prophetess Jezebel. Whether she was a real woman of that name or whether he intended her as a symbol of licentiousness, St. John saw the challenge to Christianity which Thyatira represented as a moral decay among the members. To those who refused to compromise with their ideals he promised “ the star of dawn” and “ authority over the nations”.
About forty years previous to the time that St. John wrote those words to the congregation in Thyatira, St. Paul had met one of the merchants from there when he arrived in Philippi. This was on his second Journey. The merchant was Lydia, a woman dealing in expensive purple cloth. Under St. Paul’s influence she and her whole household became baptized Christians. Lydia she insisted that St. Paul and his companions Timothy and St. Luke should stay in her house in Philippi ( Acts 16:13-15 ). By the end of the 1st century here must have been a sizable Christian community for St. John to have chosen it as one of his seven churches.
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 Ayvalik for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 15 Ayvalik – Alexandria Troas – Assos – Troy – Canakkale
We leave our hotel and proceed to Alexandria Troas The City’s importance in religious history comes from the visits by St. Paul on his missionary journeys. On his second Journey St. Paul had wanted to go north into ithynia, but instead he and his companion Timothy were deflected to the Aegean Coast. In the night a Macedonian appeared to St. Paul asking him Come over to Macedonia and help us”. This is noted as the inspiration and beginning of the spread of Christianity in to Europe (Acts 16 : 7,12).
St.Paul was in Alexandria Troas again for a week as he returned from Macedonia on his third journey. Eutychus, one of his young listeners, was sitting in a window, perhaps to get some fresh air because there were a lot of lambs burning. Around midnight he went to sleep in the stuffy room and fell out, landing on the ground. St.Paul ran down, examined him, looked at him and said: “ Stop this commotion, there is still life in him “ (Acts 20:10). The incident was only a brief interruption in the discussion that continued until after sunrise.
Assos was a stop-over for St. Paul. Arriving at Assos on foot from Alexandria Troas, St.Paul preached here and climbed down to the little port on the shore to board the boat on his return journey to Jerusalem.
Then we will drive and reach Troy. Troy is the home of legend.Homer immortalized Troy and Trojan Horse in his stories of KingPriam, Hector, Paris, and thebeautiful Helen. Archeological excavations have revealed nineseparate periods of settlement including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre. Dinner and overnightin Canakkale. (B,L,D)
Day 16 Canakkale – Istanbul Half Day “Old City” Tour
Following the breakfast we drive to Istanbul. We will be traveling through scenic countryside. After lunch we willhave ‘Old City’ tour in Istanbul.
We will stop by the Hippodrome beforeproceeding to the Blue Mosque, so called because of the impressive Iznik ( Nicea) blue tileslining its walls. Then we will go into the St. Sophia Church Museum. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. (B,L,D)
Day 17 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.