Return To Travel Special Turkey Tour June 2023
Return To Travel Special Turkey 7 Churches of Revelation Tour
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Day by Day
sundayNew York, Istanbul
Tour members are welcomed for our departing flight to Istanbul via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.
Today we will arrive in Istanbul. We will be met and loaded on our motor coach for our drive to Istanbul. We check into our hotel where we have the rest of the afternoon on our own. Dinner and overnight.
tuesdayIstanbul, Bosphorus Cruise, Asia
This morning, we will embark on a cruise of the Bosphorus, the winding straight that separates Europe and Asia and connects the Black Sea with the inland Sea of Marmara. This is our time to relish the views of the old wooden mansions, Ottoman palaces, and ancient fortresses that dot the river’s coast before the ship drops us off in Asia! Here, we will visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was constructed between 1861 and 1865 during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz as a summer residence for the Ottoman sultans. Next, we will enjoy impressive views from Camlica Hill. At 268 meters above sea level, it is the highest point in Istanbul, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. From the top, we can see the Bosphorus Bridge, the Eminonu Peninsula, the Sea of Marmara, and the Princes’ Island. And if the skies are clear this day, we may also see as far as Mount Uludag near Bursa! Then, we will drive across the bridge back to Europe and return to our hotel. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.
wednesdayIstanbul, City Tour
After enjoying our Turkish breakfast, we will depart from our hotel and begin our tour of the historical highlights of Istanbul. First, we visit the beautiful Rustem Pasha Mosque, which was designed by the extraordinarily prolific Ottoman imperial architect, Mimar Sinan. Then, we walk nearby to Eminönü’s Spice Bazaar, the large covered market that has remained the city’s center for spice trade since its creation in the 17th century. Afterwards, we head to the hill where ancient Byzantium was founded and enjoy a stroll through Hippodrome Square, the former sporting and social center of Constantinople that hosted chariot races during the Roman period. Next, we are off to the domed masterpiece of Hagia Sophia, the Orthodox patriarchal basilica-turned Ottoman imperial mosque-turned secular museum commissioned by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Then, we head to Topkapi Palace, the former abode of Ottoman Sultans that still houses their legion of treasures, including an extensive collection of royal jewels. We will then end our day with an evening of shopping at the Grand Bazaar, the massive covered market that houses a labyrinth of streets lined with shops selling jewelry, leather products and many other handcrafted souvenirs. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.
thursdayIstanbul, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Denizli
Today, we will eat breakfast early before heading to the pier to embark our speed ferry departing at 07:00 am. Upon arrival to the Port of Bandirma, we head to the town of Akhisar to visit ancient Thyatira, one of the Seven Churches praised for its increasing faith but admonished for its tolerance of Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-28). Next, we continue to Sardis, a once powerful city located along an important ancient highway and among the fertile plain of Hermus (Geldiz River). Though Sardis was a strong and wealthy city with a reputation for being alive, God announced that it was actually dead (Rev. 3:1-6). Here, we will explore the white marble royal way, the massive Temple of Artemis, the large gymnasium, and the famous synagogue. Annual archaeological expeditions sponsored by Harvard and Cornell Universities have unearthed over eighty Greek and seven Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors revealing this synagogue as one of the most significant synagogues of antiquity. Afterwards, we will head to the modern town of Alasehir and visit the site of ancient Philadelphia, the church that received God’s highest commendation (Rev. 3:7-13). Here, we will see the remains of a brick-built Byzantine basilica adorned with 11th century frescoes. Dinner and Overnight in Denizli.
fridayDenizli, Pamukkale, Laodicea, Kusadasi
This morning, we are off to visit Pamukkale, “Cotton Castle”, and dip our feet in the thermal waters that flow down the hilltop’s unique white travertine terraces. At the summit, we explore the archeological remains of Hierapolis, a significant site of early Christianity thanks to Paul’s missionary efforts here (Colossians 4:13). Because the city sits atop the travertine cascades of Pamukkale (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Hierapolis became a healing center wherein the site’s thermal pools were used to treat various ailments. Today, we will stroll among a number of important ruins including well-preserved Roman structures like the town theatre and Temple of Apollo before continuing on to Laodicea. This city was one of the Seven Churches that the Apostle John chastised the inhabitants for being lukewarm (Rev. 3:14-22). Here, we will see the site’s well-preserved stadium, gymnasium, and theatres, giving us insight into this city’s former prominence. Next, we drive to Kusadasi, a beautiful resort town that sits on the Aegean coast Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.
saturdayKusadasi, Ephesus, Kusadasi
Today, we are off to explore Ephesus. Located in the modern town of Selcuk, ancient Ephesus is one of the most well-preserved archaeological sites in Turkey. Originally an ancient Greek Ionic city built in the 10th century B.C., Ephesus grew to become the largest metropolis and capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor. This political influence and the city’s large Jewish community attracted the attention of the apostles, including Paul. Here, he carried out his mission for two years and was Bishop of the Ephesian Church before he was exiled to Patmos. Today, we will walk on the Marble Road passing numerous historically rich sites including the Temple of Artemis (Diana), the fountain of Trajan, and the Temple of Hadrian. We will also see the Library of Celsus, which adorns the site’s most impressive square, and sit in the theater (the largest surviving from the Roman period). This massive theatre (capable of entertaining up to 25,000 spectators) was the scene of an uprising provoked by a merchant named Demetrius against St. Paul and his teachings (Acts 19:23). Before returning to our Kusadasi hotel, we will stop at the ruins of St. John’s Basilica. Constructed by Justinian in the 6th century, this basilica stands over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.
sundayKusadasi, Smyrna, Pergamum, Canakkale
This morning, we will drive to the thriving modern city of Izmir and visit the ruins of ancient Smyrna, one of the Seven Churches that the Apostle John relays the promise from God: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10). Here, we will see what remains of the Agora, the ancient market place that was built in the 4th century BC, before continuing on to Pergamum, one of the most powerful cities in the ancient world. The city rose to prominence following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and eventually came under Roman control in 133 B.C. Although the city benefited from immense wealth, in the Book of Revelations, the risen Christ instructs John to convey the message that the people of Pergamum, the site of “Satan’s throne”, needed to repent (Rev 2:13-16). Today, we will tour the Acropolis, which sits atop a 1000-foot windswept mountain, offering a view of the neighboring modern towns, the azure waters of the Aegean, and the ruins of Pergamum that cascade down from the ancient city center. Here, we will explore the Temple of Trajan, Temple of Athena and the Altar of Zeus. Unfortunately, little is left of the altar, which was once among the grandest monuments of the ancient world. In fact, every stone of the structure, including its 400-foot long frieze depicting the battle of the gods and giants, was shipped off to Berlin by German Archaeologists leaving only the altar’s foundation. Thankfully, much more remains of the Great Theatre. Among the steepest of its kind and an acoustic phenomenon, this theatre could entertain up to 10,000 spectators. Nearby are the remains of the famous Library of Pergamum. Once housing some 200,000 scrolls, the library’s collection even exceeded that of the great library of Alexandria before Mark Anthony gave it to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. Afterwards, we will drive to Canakkle for the night. Dinner and Overnight in Canakkale.
mondayCanakkale, Troy, Istanbul
After breakfast, we will drive to the village of Tevfikiye by the entrance of the Dardanelles to see the remains of the legendary city of Troy. Settled as early as 3,000 BC, Troy was made famous by Homer’s Iliad, the epic account of the Trojan War. Afterwards, we will cross the Dardanelles by ferry and head to Istanbul for the night. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.
Today, we say good-bye to Turkey and return to the Ataturk International Airport to board our flight back home.
Post-Tour: More of Turkey with Cappadocia ($1199 per person)
Day by Day
tuesdayIstanbul, Antakya, Adana
After enjoying our breakfast, we will head to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport to board our flight to Hatay Airport. Upon arrival, we will drive close by to the city of Antakya (Antioch), an important seat of early Christianity. Here, we will visit the Mosaic Museum to see the second largest collection of classical and Roman mosaics in the world. Afterwards, we will head to one of the oldest churches in Christianity, the Church of St. Peter. This church is actually a cave carved into the side of Mount Starius where the first Christians of Asia Minor worshipped. Before returning to our hotel, we will see Selucia Pieria, the ancient port of Antioch from which the Apostle Paul and Barnabas embarked on their first missionary journeys as chronicled by Acts (Acts:13:4). Dinner and Overnight in Adana.
wednesdayAdana, Tarsus, Cappadocia
Today, we depart from our Adana hotel to drive to the dusty provincial town of Tarsus. Once the capital of the province of Cilicia, Tarsus was the site where Mark Antony and Cleopatra first met, and is the birthplace of Paul the Apostle. According to Acts, Paul was born “Saul of Tarsus”, but was brought up in Jerusalem and became “Paul the Apostle” after his encounter with Christ (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3). Here, we will visit the Well of St. Paul and the Gate of Cleopatra. Afterwards, we head north to Cappadocia, where we will stop at Pigeon Valley to enjoy a panoramic view of this region’s unique rock formations, popularly known as fairy chimneys. Formed over many centuries by wind and water erosion on soft volcanic rock, these rock formations rise high from the valley floor like chimneys. Early inhabitants of this region carved these chimney tops with birdhouses to collect pigeon droppings long used by local farmers as fertilizer. Dinner and Overnight in Cappadocia.
This morning, we will visit the Kaymakli Underground City, the most impressive of the subterranean settlements due to its ventilation system. Afterwards, we are off to explore the Monastic Center of Goreme. This open-air museum is dotted with quaint carved-from-rock churches and chapels embellished with colorful frescoes. Then, we will visit Ortahisar to see its gorgeous valleys and stop at the Three Beauties, the most famous of the region’s many conic rock formations. Today, we will also hike through the valley of Zelve and see its hundreds of carved-from-rock houses and chapels and we will visit Pasabag Valley, also known as Monk’s Valley, to explore its tower-shaped hermitages. We will then end our day at the potter’s studio in Avanos, a town established by the Hittites on the banks of the Halys River. This town has carried on the Hittities’ tradition of pottery that uses the river’s famous red clay to make ceramics. Dinner and Overnight in Cappadocia.
This morning we leave Cappadocia bound for Konya. First, we reach ancient Iconium, where Paul the Apostle and Barnabas invested a lot of their missionary efforts preaching the Gospel despite persecution. According to Acts, they spoke boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:1-3). Then, we will head to Konya’s city center and visit the Mevlana Museum, which houses the tomb of the great 13th-century Persian poet and founder of the Order of the WhirlingDervishes, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi. Popularly known as Rumi in Western countries, meaning “Roman” in Arabic, his followers and Muslims alike call him “Mevlana”, meaning “our master”. We will then end our day at the Karatay Museum. This former medrese, or place of learning, was founded in 1251 by the Seljuk emir Celaleddin Karatay as an institution for Islamic studies. However, the building is now a museum showcasing the most beautiful examples of Seljuk tile work. Dinner and Overnight in Konya.
saturdayKonya, Antioch Pisidia, Antalya
Today, we depart Konya and head to the modern town of Yalvac to see the ruins of Antioch in Pisidia. Sitting on the southern foothills of the Sultan Mountains, this city was once a major Roman colony that Paul the Apostle visited on his First Missionary Journey with Barnabas. Here we will tour the archeological site and visit the Yalvaç Archaeological Museum to see a display of many of the site’s discovered artifacts. Afterwards, we will continue onto Antalya, Turkey’s largest international sea resort which sits on the beautiful Mediterranean coast. Dinner and Overnight in Antalya.
sundayAntalya, Perge, Aspendos
After breakfast, we are off to the archeological site of Perge, a chief city of Pamphylia that was visited twice by Paul the Apostle and his companion St. Barnabas (Acts 13:13–14 and 14:25). Here, we will explore Perge’s extensive ruins, including a well-preserved theatre, the Agora, a colonnaded boulevard, Roman baths, a gymnasium, the necropolis, a memorial fountain, and the Greek and Roman gates. Next, we are off to the ancient Greco-Roman city of Aspendos to see the best-preserved theatre of antiquity. Here, we will also see the ruins of a basilica, agora, nymphaeum, Roman aqueduct, and the Roman Eurymedon Bridge before returning to our Antalya hotel. Dinner and Overnight in Antalya.
Today, head to the Antalya Airport to board our flight back home via Istanbul.