Day 1, Saturday: Arrival in Ankara. Upon arrival at Ankara airport, you will be met by our local representative with a friendly “Merhaba” (hello) and escorted to your hotel. Welcome dinner and overnight. Includes: (D).
Day 2, Sunday: Ankara/ Cappadocia
This morning, visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilization housed in the beautifully restored 15th century “bedesten” (covered bazaar). The museum displays rich and unique collections of Anatolian civilizations, such as treasures of the Hittite Empire. Next, visit Anitkabir, the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. After lunch, you will drive along the Salt Lake into the heart of central Anatolia to the volcanic region of Cappadocia. On the way, stop at Agzikarahan, a Seljuk caravanserai for insight into the life of a traveler in the 13th century. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Cappadocia. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3, Monday: Cappadocia
A full day tour to discover the early Christian heritage of Cappadocia, a fantastic region with lunar landscapes which once provided remote places of dwelling and retreat for the early Christian communities. Here, the winding landscape is decorated at every twist and turn with a maze of cones, slopes and fairy chimneys, products of centuries of wind and rain. Visit the Red Valley enroute to the Goreme Valley. Now an open-air museum, Goreme’s churches were carved into the stones between the 7th and 13th centuries. Inside they are decorated with fine Biblical frescoes that provide a window into the beliefs of the early Christians. Some of the churches you may see include the Church of St. Barbara, the Church of the Serpent, the Church of the Sandal, the Church of the Apple and the Church of the Buckle. You will als9o visit Avcilar Valley, Kiliclar Valley with their old cave-dwellings and fairy chimneys; the Valley of the Pigeon Houses; and Avanos, a small town located on the banks of the Kizilirmak, famous for its pottery. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4, Tuesday: Cappadocia/ Tarsus/ Mersin
In the morning, you will visit the underground city of Derinkuyu organized on seven levels and used as shelter by the local population in period of invasions where they could live beneath the ground for months. Then, you will head south, to Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul and the home to one of the first Christian churches in Asia Minor. Visit St. Paul’s Well and St. Paul’s Church where the Vatican organized the St. Paul Symposium and Ceremony in 1992 and 1993, Ulu Cami Mosque, Eski Cami Mosque, the Gate of Cleopatra crossed by the Egyptian queen and mark Antony when they met in Tarsus. Continue to Mersin, Turkey’s most important free port on the Mediterranean Sea. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5, Wednesday: Mersin/ Antioch/ Mersin
In the morning, drive to the Biblical city of Antioch (Antakya) through the Plain of Issus where Alexander the Great crushed Darius III’s Persian army and which is overlooked by the Fortress of Toprakkale built by the Crusaders. Antioch, whose people lived in exuberant luxury, was the third largest city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Barnabas and St. Timothy all preached in Antioch, and the disciples of Jesus were called “Christians” here for the first time. Visit the old part of the city, the Grotto of St. Peter, a cave church where Apostle Peter is believed to have preached. Also visit the Mosaic Museum which displays one of the richest collections of Roman and Byzantine Mosaics in the world. After lunch, continue to Seleucia of Pieria to visit the ancient seaport of Antioch from which Paul and Barnabas set sail on their first missionary journey. Return to Mersin. Dinner and overnight. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6, Thursday: Mersin/ Konya
Enjoy a coastal drive in the morning to Silifke. Enroute, stop at Kanlidivane, the ancient Kanytelis where tombs resembling small temples, churches, Roman and Byzantine sarcophagi have hung for centuries on the sides of a deep chasm. Near Silifke, where Emperor Barbarossa drowned in the Calycadnos River during the Third Crusade, visit Ayatekla (Meryemlik) where you will see the remains of a 5th century church built on the site of the cave where St. Tekla, who is considered to be the first martyred woman, died. Then you will drive hinterland along a scenic mountain road. Visit the site of Alahan Monastery, a Byzantine monastery dating from the 5th century built on a natural terrace overlooking the Goksu Valley. After lunch in Karaman, the old capital of the Karamanid Emirate, continue to Manazan, a Byantine monastery carved into the rocky hillside. Continue to Lystra which, like Derbe, was an ancient city where Paul, along with Barnabas, fled when city officials of Iconium plotted to stone him. Arrive in Konya in the evening. Dinner and overnight. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7, Friday: Konya/ Antalya
Explore Konya in the morning that was known as Iconium in the days of St. Paul. Centuries later, the city became the capital of the Sultanate of Rum and the holy city of the Seljuk Turks. You will visit the Museum of Mevlana, the famous mystic and poet who founded the Sufi Order of the Whirling Dervishes in the 13th century. Also visit the medrese of Karatay and the mosque of Aladdin. Later, depart for the mountainous Lake Region. Lunch en route at lovely Lake Beysehir. Upon arrival in Yalvac, visit the Archaeological Museum and the site of Antioch of Pisidia, a Roman military colony where St. Paul gave a sermon. Continue to Antalya via Isparta, renowned for its valuable rose oil. Arrive in Antalya, overlooking the Turquoise Mediterranean Sea. Dinner and overnight. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8, Saturday: Antalya/ Demre/ Antalya
Drive to the ancient city of Phaselis located in the middle of a pinewood, in a natural site of great beauty. Phaselis was the most important port city in the region until the foundation of Attalala (Antalya). Continue to Myra where Paul set sail on his journey to Rome and where the best examples of Lycian rock-cut tombs that overlook the Roman theater, can be seen. At Demre, where the legend of Santa Claus began, visit the Church of St. Nicholas built over the tomb of the martyred saint who was bishop of Myra. After lunch, (weather permitting) motorboat ride to Kekova Bay to explore the ruins of the Sunken City in the crystalline waters, and the Lycian sarcophagi of Simena, one of which, emerging from the sea, has become the symbol of pretty Kalekoy village. Drive back to Antalya. Dinner and overnight. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9, Sunday: Antalya/ Side/ Antalya
In the morning, drive through the coastal plain of Pamphylia to Side located on a peninsula. Visit the ancient city, long reputed as a slave market, but which later was devoted to trade and became very prosperous, as can be seen through the numerous monuments built during that period including the Roman baths and theater which once accommodated 25,000 people. Continue to Aspendos, whose theater is the best preserved Roman theater in Asia Minor. The acoustics are still as perfect as they were when it was built in the 2nd century AD that a coin dropped from the orchestra pit can be heard in the top row. After lunch, continue to Perge visited by St. Paul on his first missionary journey, and where you can stroll along the mosaic sidewalk of a colonnaded street past the stadium and theater. Drive back to Antalya to visit the Archaeological Museum where numerous beautiful sculptures from Perge are displayed. Stroll in the narrow streets of the picturesque old town with its narrow streets and typical wooden houses overlooking the marina, to discover Hadrian’s Gate, the Fluted Minaret, the Truncated Minaret, and Hidirlik Tower. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10, Monday: Antalya/ Aphrodisias/ Pamukkale
In the morning, crossing the Taurus Mountains, you will drive to Aphrodisias to explore the marvels of the ancient city dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, Love and Fertility. Aphrodisias was known as a center for the arts throughout the ancient world, specifically for its school of sculpture. Visit the stadium, seating 30,000 people dating to the 1st century AD, which is the best preserved in Anatolia, as well as the Temple of Aphrodite, the Tetrapylon, the Theater, and the Museum. After lunch, continue to Pamukkale, a unique natural site. Visit this “Cotton Castle” where the hot waters, leaving their limestone deposits, have created an unreal landscape with petrified waterfalls and basins cascading down the hillside in the midst of a dry, barren landscape. In Pamukkale, you will also visit Hierapolis, and ancient city and Roman health spa where Phillip moved before 70 A.D., and where he was later martyred. Hierapolis has a well preserved necropolis which is one of the largest in the ancient world with tombs from ancient Greek to early Christian times. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Pamukkale. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11, Tuesday: Pamukkale/ Sardis/ Izmir
Today you will be able to visualize four Biblical references which were four of the Seven Churches of Revelation. In the morning, visit Laodicea which, in the 1st century AD, formed a triad of cities in the area with Hierapolis and Colossae. These cities received the gospel from Epaphras of Colossae to whom Paul had sent a letter. Then depart for Philadelphia where you will see the remains of the church named after St. John. Proceed to Sardis and after lunch, visit the remains of ancient city, the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia where the world’s first coinage was invented and which was famous for its wealthy King Croesus. Visit the Bath, Gymnasium Complex, the 3rd century AD marble-paved Synagogue, the Temple of Artemis located in the Pactolus Valley. Continue to Izmir, ancient Smyrna, Turkey’s third largest city known as “the Pearl of the Aegean”. Visit the Church of Polycarp dedicated to Polycarp, a disciple of St. John martyred here in 155 AD by the Romans. Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only churches among the seven about which nothing negative was said by St. John. In the evening, you will have the opportunity to take a stroll along the lovely waterfront boulevard and enjoy a dinner at one of the restaurants there. Overnight at the hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12, Wednesday: Izmir/ Ephesus/ Izmir
In the morning, you will depart for Selcuk to visit Ephesus, one of the most fascinating cities in the ancient world which was among the Seven Churches of Revelation. You will stroll along the Marble Street past the Agora, the Odeon, the Nympheaum of Trajan, the Temple of Trajan, and the Celsius Library. You will sit in the Theatre where St. Paul preached words which triggered off a riot by the supporters of the worship of Artemis who felt he was a threat for their religion and business. You will also see the remains of the Temple of Artemis which was once of the Seven Wonders of the World, and visit the House of the Virgin Mary which has been designated by the Vatican as a place of pilgrimage and which is located in a remote setting in the heights of Ephesus. For lunch, you will proceed to Sirince, a picturesque charming village set in the hills above Selcuk, where the old Greek houses have been restored with their original characteristics. Back in Selcuk, you will visit the Basilica of St. John with the Tomb of the Apostle and the museum which displays, between other artifacts of great interest, two beautiful statues of Artemis. Return to Izmir. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13, Thursday: Izmir/ Bursa
Today, you will discover two cities, home to two more of the Seven Churches of Revelation. First, you will depart for Thyatira which, in the time of St. Paul, was reputed for its guilds of artisans. Then proceed to Pergamum, the capital of the Attalid dynasty, to explore this ancient city where parchment was invented: you will see the Acropolis with the ruins of the agoras, temples, palaces, the library which contained 200,000 volumes, the podium on which stood the Zeus Altar which was sent to Berlin, and the impressive theater built into the steep hillside which provides a wonderful panorama of the surroundings. After lunch, in the lower part of the ancient city, visit the Asclepion, a sanctuary and a healing center dedicated to the god of healing, Asclepius. Also visit the remains of a church dedicated to St. John who referred to the city, a cult center for emperor worship, as “the place where Satan has his throne”. Continue to green Bursa, located at the foot of Old Mt. Olympus (Uludag). Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14, Friday: Bursa/ Iznik/ Istanbul
You will spend the morning exploring the lovely city of Bursa the first capital of the Ottomans between 1326 and 1364. Visit the Green Mosque renowned for its interior tile decorations in brilliant shades of turquoise, green and blue, the Green Mausoleum of Sultan Mehmet I, the Tombs of the Sultans founders of the Ottoman dynasty, Osman and his son Orhan, and the Silk Bazaar. The Great Ulu Camii Mosque, with its twenty domes, remains the religious and social center of Bursa. After lunch you will proceed to Iznik, the ancient Nicaea which became the Byzantine capital during the Latin occupation of Constantinople in the 13th century. Nicea is known for the two ecumenical councils which were held there in the Byzantine times, and for its famous workshops where the beautiful enameled tiles which decorate the Ottoman mosques and palaces, were manufactured. Continue to Istanbul and cross the Bosphorus that separates Asia from Europe and connects the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea. From the bridge, you will be struck by the particular beauty of Istanbul. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 15, Saturday: Istanbul
Enjoy seeing some of the greatest Christian treasures to be found in the world today. You will discover a fascinating city what bridges Europe and Asia which, under the name Byzantium and Constantinople, was the capital of the Romans and Byzantine Empires, and in 1453, became the third and last capital of the Ottomans. Today, visit the Blue Mosque, renowned for its six minarets. Built between 1609 and 1616 for Sultan Ahmet I, it is the beautiful 21,043 Iznik tiles dominant shade of blue that give the mosque its name. Next discover the Hippodrome where political, cultural, and sports activities took place during Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times.
Visit magnificent Haghia Sophia, originally the largest church in the Christian world, it was converted into a mosque in 1453 by Mehmet II and under Ataturk, it became a museum and is a living testament to the beauty of Christian and Islamic arts and architecture. Explore Topkapi Palace, the opulent residence of the Ottoman sultans between the end of the 15th and the first half of the 19th centuries. End the day at the historical Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered market places in the world, where you will have free time to wander and shop. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a downtown restaurant. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 16, Sunday: Departure. All too soon it is time to bid this magical land “gule gule” (goodbye) as you are transferred to the airport for your return flight home.
Also see tour packages in:
Middle East Turkey Spiritual Odyssey Biblical Tours Archeology/History