Day 1: ARRIVAL TO ISTANBUL
Upon our arrival at Istanbul International Airport “Ataturk”. Meet, assist and transfer to hotel. Its original name is Byzantium then Constantinople. It is a most fascinating city, which actually crosses two continents Europe and Asia. It is a city of amalgamation of bazaars, minarets, mosques, churches, palaces, and restaurants catering to every one’s taste, museums, customs and twelve million people.
We will enjoy a panoramic bus drive showing the various highlights of this cosmopolitan city such as the Byzantine Walls of Constantinople, the Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus shorelines. Check into our hotel Dinner and overnight.
Day 2 : ISTANBUL ( Breakfast )
After breakfast, pick up from hotel and Our journey begins in Istanbul, the only city in the world situated on two continents. Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul - its three names span more than 2600 years, nearly 1600 of them as the capital of two of the greatest empires the world has known, Byzantine and Ottoman. We visit the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque and Hippodrome, where chariot races and the Byzantine riots took place. Visit the Grand Bazaar for shopping. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 3 ISTANBUL – SANLIURFA – HARRAN ( Breakfast, Dinner )
After breakfast at hotel, transfer to Airport for your flight to Sanliurfa. You will be transferred to your hotel and leave your luggage. We will start the tour from the cave of Abraham where he was born in around 1800 BCE. We will also visit pool of Abraham, Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque) and Sanliurfa Museum. Overnight in Urfa.
Day 4 : MOUNT NEMRUT ( Breakfast, Dinner )
Drive to Mount Nemrut. When you reach the summit, you are going to see stone heads which were ordered to build by King Antiochus which were symbolizing Greek Gods (facing west) and Persian Gods (facing east). The heads were sitting their seats but fallen to the ground of the tomb dedicated to King Antiochus. Overnight in Urfa.
Day 5 : SANLIURFA – IZMIR ( Breakfast, Dinner )
After breakfast at Hotel, transfer to airport to take a flight to Izmir. Arrive in Izmir (Symirna) and we enjoy a panoramic ride of Smyrna, the third largest city in Turkey and one of the sites of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 2:12-17]. Smyrna is a city scarred with a bloody history of trade and warfare. We ascend to Mount Pagus where we visit the Citadel of Lysimachus, commander of Alexander the Great, erected in the 4th century BC. We will also see the Clock Tower. Check in at the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 : PERGAMON – THYATIRA - IZMIR ( Breakfast, Dinner )
After breakfast we drive to Pergamum, actually called Bergama. It is one of the sites of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 2:12]. Here we explore the impressive Acropolis, the steepest theatre in the world, the Asklepion, famous medical Centre of classical times, see the Altar of Zeus which is mentioned as the «Throne of Satan» in the book of Revelation, the marble columns of the Temple of Trajan and the Library which was foremost in the world and was long a rival of the equally famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Its wealth of volumes was estimated at over 200,000. It inspired the invention of parchment.
We also visit the Red Basilica (St. John's Church). Then we continue our visit to Thyatira, now called Akhisar, another one of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 2:18-24; Acts 16:14]. It was a city famous for purple dyes. We visit the remains of a basilica and some architectural fragments from the Roman period. Lydia, the seller of purple in Philippi, was from Thyatira. Overnight in Izmir
Day 7 : IZMIR – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA - LAODICEA – HIERAPOLIS ( Breakfast, Dinner )
Today we depart early in the morning to one of the most picturesque areas of any of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 3:1-4], Sardis, presently Sart. This was the capital of the ancient Lydian kingdom of the 6th century BC, portrayed as a dying church. We visit the great Temple of Artemis and the Temple of Cybele, which became a Byzantine Church. We will also visit the restored gymnasium and reconstructed Synagogue. We also see the last several meters of the royal Persian Road from Susa to Sardis built by Cyrus the Great and the «golden» river Pactolus. Lunch en route.
Then we continue our journey to Philadelphia, nowadays called Alasehir, another church of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 3:7], and the only church not censured. There we see the remains of a Byzantine basilica built of brick, with a bit of high arch and some 11th century frescoes. We drive to the healing city of Hierapolis, actually Pamukkale, the white «cotton fortress» where hot mineral water bursts from the earth and cascades over steep cliffs forming pools, channels and stalactites. The therapeutic waters were known to the founders of Hierapolis and of Laodicea in 190 BC. In Hierapolis [Col. 4:13] we visit the Martyrium of the Apostle Philip where he was martyred during the persecutions ordered by Domitian. Proceed to Laodicea (present name Denizli) yet another of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor [Rev. 1:11; 3:14; Col. 2:1; 4:13-16]. We see the ancient theatre, the remains of basilica and ancient stone water pipes.
We visit the Gate of Domitian, the Arcadian Way, the 2nd century AD Theatre, the Nymphaeum, the Temple of Apollo, the Plutonium and the Necropolis. Check in at hotel for dinner and overnight in a Thermal Hotel.
Day 8 : MILETUS – DIDYMA - KUSADASI ( Breakfast, Dinner)
Drive 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 Apostle Paul, on his third missionary journey, called for the Ephesians elders and preached a powerful message to them (Acts 20:15-38). It was also here that 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, Miletus 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. Nearby, at Didyma, visit the massive Temple to Apollo, one of the most impressive sites in Anatolia. Ordinary people did not reside in ancient Didyma. This was home only to a priestly family whose oracle came from Delphi and who lived in luxury, as they guarded their temple treasuries supplied by the people they deceived. Continue to Kusadasi for overnight.
Day 9 : EPHESUS ( Breakfast, Dinner)
Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7), major port city on the Aegean, was the commercial, political, and religious center of all of Asia Minor. After a lunatic completely burned the Temple of Diana (Artemis) on the night that Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C.., the Ephesians worked for 120 years to complete a magnificent reconstructed temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The city became part of the Roman Empire in the second century B.C. As a Roman capital of Asia Minor, Ephesus boasted a population approaching 250,000 people. The Apostle 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 Trojan, the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Visit the Chapel of the Virgin Mary (Double Church), where the Third Ancient Council convened. Enjoy St. John's Basilica (built on the site of the Apostle John’s tomb) and ponder the remains of the Temple of Diana. Overnight Kusadasi.
Day 10 : ISTANBUL - HOME ( Breakfast)
Early breakfast at Hotel and transfer to Airport to Istanbul to catch your international flight back to home. End of services.