Istanbul & Seven Churches
We will meet you at the Istanbul airport and start our tour with the visit the Church of St. Saviour in Chora which is located at the city walls and famous for its mosaics and frescoes. Hagia Sophia; the church of the Divine Wisdom which was changed into a mosque and later to a museum. The Topkapi Palace; the former imperial residence of the Ottoman Empire with its large collection of porcelain and silverware, unique pieces of jewellery like the 'spoon makers diamond'. We visit theHippodrome; the former center of sports and political activities, the Blue Mosque; so called because of its stunning color of the tiles and the frescoes and have free time for shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Overnight in Istanbul. (L, D)
Day-2 ZMIR (SMYRNA) - PERGAMUM
Fly to Izmir for the visit of Smyrna poor and persecuted, the church at Smyrna suffered amidst prosperity for its refusal to worship the Roman Emperor. This proved to be the last stronghold of Christianity in Asia Minor. Home of the great second century Bishop Polycarp who was burned alive at the age of eighty-six.
Continue to Pergamum; a most memorable experience will be Pergamum, with its acropolis and Great Theatre, the steepest of the ancient world, the city as "where Satan's seat is", a reference to the altar of Zeus, where we pause for reflection on the fulfillment of Scripture. Nearby, visit the Red Basilica; once a pagan temple, it later converted into a Christian church. Finally, walk through the Asclepion, the famous medical center of antiquity. Overnight at your hotel in Izmir. (B,L,D)
Day-3 THYATIRA - SARDIS - PHILADELPHIA
Depart for the visit of Thyatira; was once a busy trading center and famous as a "seller of purple". Today it is a famous for Persian rugs. Thyatira is one of the Seven Churches mentioned in Revelations tolerated the false prophetess, Jezebel (Rev. 1: 11; 2: 18-29).
Travel to Sardis, another of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Jesus told Sardis, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead"(Rev. 3: 1-6). Coins were minted and the dyeing of wool originated in Sardis. They will be impressed by the massive scale of the Temple of Artemis, by the white marble Royal Road, by the gymnasium, and by the synagogue.
Visit the site of Philadelphia also one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 3: 7-13). Christ told those who overcame that He would write upon them "the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem." (Rev.3: 12) Today, not much is left to mark the spot. They will see an ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica. Overnight in Pamukkale. (B,L,D)
Day-4 HIERAPOLIS - LAODICEA - MILETUS
After the breakfast at the hotel, depart for the visit of Hierapolis; an ancient city of pagan cults, Hierapolis or "holy city" was evangelized by Paul and Epaphras. The Apostle Philip lived and is said to be buried here. Pamukkale, or "cotton castle" is a spa and resort center with its hot springs and cascading limestone pools. Col. 4:12-13.The Christians of Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches, (Rev. 3: 14-22) were chastised for being lukewarm, "You are neither cold nor hot" (Rev. 3: 15), and for being too comfortable incorporating pagan and Christian beliefs. In the famous scripture from Revelation (3: 20-21), Jesus says to the Laodicean church: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock...". Today, there are many acres of ruins to see, including the stadium and columned streets.
Continue to Miletus; home of ancient philosopher Thales (640-546 B.C.), one of the fathers of Greek geometry, astronomy, and philosophy. It was here, in the first Christian century, that the St. Paul, on his third missionary journey, called for the Ephesian elders and preached a powerful message to them (Acts 20:15-38). It was also here that St. Paul left his friend Trophimus, who was too ill to continue (II Timothy 4:20). As a port at the mouth of the Meander River, Miletos was a natural outlet for Phrygian trade. Like the one at Ephesus, however, Miletus's sea harbor eventually filled with silt, and commerce dwindled. The city's remote quietness makes it special to devout students of Scripture. Its ancient ruins include the marvelous 15,000-seat theatre. At the conclusion of his address he quoted an otherwise unknown saying of Jesus that has become famous, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Overnight in Kusadasi (B,L,D)
Full day tour of Ephesus; Ephesus is one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 1: 11). In ancient days, Ephesus was a bustling port town of 250,000, graced with wide, colonnade bordered streets. The St. Paul's first visit to Ephesus was brief - during his second missionary tour (Acts 18:19-21). His second visit lasted about three years - during his third missionary tour (Acts 19:1 to 20:31). Luke's account of the worship of Diana appears in Acts 19:34-35.
The Great Theatre (stadium) mentioned in Acts 19:29-31 could seat 25,000 people. Walk the marble-paved street with grooves made by chariot wheels. See the Fountain of Trajan, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theatre. Visit the Chapel of the Virgin Mary (Double Church), where the Third Ancient Council convened.
They will visit the Basilica of St. John; early tradition associated John, the disciple of Jesus, the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation with the city of Ephesus. As early as the 4th or 5th century a Christian church was built over a simple grave, supposedly the grave of St. John. In the 6th century Emperor Justinian had an impressive domed basilica built to replace the earlier church. The church, known as the Church of St. John the Theologian, is located on Ayasuluk Hill, which can be reached by a street leading up from the center of the town called Selcuk. Visit the Museum of Ephesus for an up-close look at artifacts from the ancient city. Overnight in Kusadasi (B,L,D)
Day-6 END OF THE TOUR
Transfers to Izmir airport for your flight home . (B)