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The Journeys of St. Paul & the Churches of Asia Minor
Highlighting the Biblical History and the Growth of the Early Church in Turkey
Istanbul ... Ankara ... Cappadocia Konya ... Pamukkale ... Philadelphia ... Sardis Laodicea ... Kusadasi ... Ephesus ... Smyrna Pergamum ... Troy
Day One - Departure: Today we depart on our journey to Turkey. Meals en route.
Day Two - Istanbul/Ankara: Arrive Istanbul and make your connecting flight to Ankara, the capitol of Turkey, for dinner and overnight.
Day Three - Ankara/Cappadocia: Ankara originated as a Hittite settlement in the second millennium BC. We will see traces of these invaders at the Museum of Anatolian Civilization which houses the world's largest collection of Hittite artifacts, before continuing to Cappadocia, a rugged, isolated region in the heartland of the Anatolian Plateau and one of the early centers of Christianity. Overnight Nevsehir.
Day Four - Cappadocia: We begin our sightseeing in the Goreme Valley which shelters some of Turkey's finest Byzantine era rock churches and chapels, many of them decorated with superb frescoes that were painted by early Christians more than a thousand years ago. Other notable sights in this area include the picturesque villages of Avanos, renowned for the quality of their pottery and other crafts. Overnight Nevsehir.
Day Five - Cappadocia/Konya: This morning we depart for Konya (Iconium) which was visited by Paul on his first mission journey. Here, too, the renowned mystic and poet Mevlana Celaledin Rumi founded the order popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes. En route, we'll visit one of the mysterious underground cities of Kaymakli or Derinkuyu built by the early Christians of the region to escape the invading Roman armies. Some cities extend down as deep as 14 stories. Visit the Museum and Mausoleum of Mevlana, and the Alaeddin Mosque. Dinner and overnight in Konya.
Day Six - Konya/Pamukkale: Leaving Konya, we journey westward across Turkey's Anatolian heartland. En route, we visit Yalvac (Antioch in Pisidia). Here, Paul preached his first recorded sermon. The town boasts several ruins, notably a temple to the Phrygian moon goddess, an aqueduct, and a Byzantine church. This afternoon we arrive in Pamukkale, famed for its hot springs, limestone formations, and the ancient Hieraopolis, where Philip the Evangelist's was martyrded. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Day Seven - Pamukkale/Kusadasi: After breakfast visit Hieraopolis, then set out for Laodicea, Philadelphia, and Sardis. Proceed to Kusadasi, one of Turkey's most popular Aegean resorts, for two nights.
Day Eight - Ephesus: A short drive brings us to the archaeological site that many regard as the most impressive in the world: Ephesus. Under the ancient Greeks, it was a center for the worship of the goddess Artemis, whose temple drew worshipers from all quarters of the Mediterranean. Also dating from the classical period are the theater (mentioned in Acts 19) and the newly-restored Library of Celsus. In AD 53 Paul preached here and attracted a large following during his third mission journey. Important ecclesiastical sites from the Christian era include the Basilica of St. John, said to be the last resting place of this apostle, and the Church of St. Mary. Overnight Kusadasi.
Day Nine - Kusadasi/Canakkale: Today we visit the Agora in Izmir (Smyrna), site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor listed in the Book of Revelation, then continue to Pergamum, a center of Greek culture in the third and second centuries BC. Here, we visit the Acropolis where parchment was invented. This afternoon we'll drive north to legendary Troy, and on to Canakkale for the night.
Day 10 - Canakkale/Istanbul (via Nicea): Today we pass through Bursa where the founders of the Ottoman Empire lie, and on to Iznik, famous from biblical times as ancient Nicea, the site of the first council of the early Christian church. Take the ferry from Topcular to Eskihisar to cross the bay. Overnight Istanbul.
Day Eleven - Istanbul: Our full day tour of Turkey's greatest city (Constantinople), includes the famous 16th century Sultan Ahmet Mosque (world re-known Blue Mosque), St. Sophia, built by Emperor Constantinos in 4th century, rebuilt by Emperor Justinanous in 6th century, and Topkapi Palace Museum, which was the residential and administrative palace of Ottoman Sultans for 400 hundred years between 1453 and 1853. It displays the costumes of Sultans, kitchen wares and utensils, armory, holy relics of the Islamic religion, Treasury of Empire, and the largest and oldest porcelain collection in the World from Japan and China. The Grand Covered Bazaar, probably the oldest and the largest shopping mall in the world, with over 3600 shops, 64 streets, 22 gates, a police station, a clinic, a post office, branch offices of almost all banks, a private security team, and daily traffic varies between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors. Farewell dinner.
Day Twelve – Istanbul / Transfer to the airport and begin our return journey home.