West Turizm Ä°stanbul

GUARANTEED DEPARTURES: Christian Highlights of Turkey

Tour Code :PER082RLG
Tour Name :Christian Highlights of Turkey
Tour Dates :15-26 OCT 2016
Duration :11 Nights | 12 Days
Available Languages :EN


If you have less than 6, but still wish to enjoy this itinerary please, contact us on reservation@peraair.com 

This small group tour focuses on the Christian Highlights of Turkey including the Seven Churches and Cappadocia. The tour also includes the other major highlights of Turkey. Our Christian Highlights tour is structured to allow more time in the sites and covers shorter distances where possible. We use high quality boutique hotels that reflect the culture, art and architecture of Turkey and centrally located 4* hotels so that you may do some discovering on your own. In Istanbul you are free to enjoy dinners in Istanbul's fine restaurants or go to an optional Turkish night or a dinner at one of the traditional Turkish kebab houses or fish restaurants. Small group tours have a maximum of 10 travellers.

Day 1 | SATURDAY | ISTANBUL | 2 Nights


Arrival at Ataturk International airport in Istanbul.
Optional: meet and greet and be transferred to the hotel for overnight.
Transfer to the Hotel along the Sea of Marmara with orientation en-route (according to traffic, from 30 to 45 minutes…). The panorama of the seaside transfer road is really beautiful: drive along the Sea of Marmara, where hundreds of cargo ships anchor, waiting to sail through the straits of the Bosphorus. The shoreline is made up of a series of gardens and tea-houses.

Meal (s): no meals
Hotel (s): MF* (see hotel class key below)



Breakfast at the hotel and drive to the Morning Mass at St. Antonio di Padova Church (Monday through Saturday starts at 08:00 am; on Sunday starts at 10:00; in English), a basilica and the largest church of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul. 

After the Mass, start visits of the sacred Christian sites of Constantinople. 
Hagia Sophia (closed on Mondays), the church of Holy Wisdom is undoubtedly one of the greatest architectural creations in the world. Rebuilt by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian circa AD 535, it was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453 and is now a museum. 

Then, stroll around the former Imperial Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, which once could hold 100.000 spectators. See the impressive granite Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpentine Column, the column of Constantine Porphyrgenitus and the German Fountain. 

Directly facing Hagia Sophia, raises the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet or better known as Blue Mosque (closed on Fridays until 2pm), perhaps the most instantly recognizable - and unforgettable - silhouette on Istanbul's skyline. It was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 1600s to rival the grand old lady of Christianity

Then visit Topkapi Palace Museum (closed on Tuesday) and see exhibits of Christian relics: the Moses’ rod, a piece of St. John the Baptist's skull and a section of his forearm, enclosed within a solid gold model, the King David’s sword, Joseph’s turban, the grain gage of Abraham. 
Within the premises of the palace there is another masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, the Church of St. Irene, which ranks, in fact, as the first church built in Constantinople. Roman emperor Constantine I commissioned the Hagia Irene church in the 4th century. It was burned down during the Nike revolt in 532. Emperor Justinian I had the church restored in 548. It served as the church of the Patriarchate before Hagia Sophia was completed in 537. 
This Great Palace of the Ottoman Sultans is the most extensive and fascinating monument of Ottoman civil architecture in existence. In addition to its architectural and historical interest, it contains as a museum, superb and unrivalled collections of porcelains, amour, fabrics, jewels, illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy and many objects of art formerly belonging to the Sultans. Topkapi was built between 1459 and 1465 as the seat of government of the newly installed Ottoman regime. You will also see the Treasury section

Then, visit the Church of Saints Sergius & Bacchus. Begun in 527 by Emperor Justinian, the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus was an early experiment in Byzantine architecture, with a large central dome supported by an octagonal base. The church is now a mosque called Küçük Ayasofya Camii (Little Hagia Sophia Mosque), named for its resemblance to the much larger Hagia Sophia built a few years later. The architecture of the building survived fully intact from the Byzantine era. So too did the Greek dedicatory inscription around the central nave. 
Return to the hotel for overnight. 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch



Breakfast at the hotel and depart following the Theodosian Land Walls where people work in their small gardens and horse cart is still being used for transportation. 
Stop to visit the Balikli Church (Sacred Spring of the Fish, Greek Orthodox Church). This forgotten shrine is 1500 years old and was founded during the early Byzantine Empire, although probably much older. The chapel courtyard is paved with tombstones written in a strange Kahramanian script. 

Next, visit the Kariye Museum (closed on Wednesday), also known as St. Savior in Chora Church. This 11th Century church of St Saviour in  Chora is after St Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul. Inside the walls are decorated with superb 14th century frescoes and mosaics.
Then, we will visit Eyup Imperial Mosque and have lunch, then depart Istanbul for Canakkale crossing the Dardanelles Straits by ferry. Arrival at the hotel for dinner and overnight.

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



After breakfast at the hotel we depart to visit the excavation site of Troy, the legendary city of Homer and the beautiful Helen, which has nine principal levels of occupation covering a period of 3000 years. You will see a copy of the Trojan horse, the museum and the new excavations.
Then, continue to Assos (Behramkale) and visit the ancient city of Assos and Temple of Athena, high upon a hill. You can see the Greek Island of Lesvos from here. Assos was the place where the first philosophy school of Aristotle was located and St. Paul departed for Greece. We will have free time in the  village and then drive down to the small ancient  harbor, where we will have lunch by the seaside.
We will continue to Ayvalik with Cunda Island and its old Greek houses and churches for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



After breakfast at the hotel we will drive to Bergama to visit the site of ancient Pergamum, once a capital of the Kingdom of Pergamum and an important center of the Hellenistic Civilization which became a part of Roman Empire.  Pergamum was home to a library said to house approximately 200,000 volumes and is credited with being the home and namesake of parchment (charta pergamena). Prior to the creation of parchment, manuscripts were transcribed on papyrus, which was produced only in Alexandria. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city. This was made of fine calf skin, a predecessor of vellum. 
See the stunning Acropolis of the Hellenistic city perched 1000 feet above the town. Remains include the Altar of Zeus, palaces, the Temples of Trajan and Dionysus and the world’s steepest amphitheater. The Temple of Zeus was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The German engineer, Carl Humann, brought the altar now known as the Altar of Pergamum to Berlin.

Explore the Asklepion, a famed ancient medical center built in honor of Asclepius, the son of Apollo and the god of healing and health. Among the types of therapy practiced here were mud baths, sports, theatre, psychotherapy and use of medicinal waters.  It was also the world's first psychiatric hospital.  Here the great physician named Galen laid down the basic rules for all the doctors who would come after him for centuries. John of Patmos mentioned Pergamon in Revelation. Pergamon (Rev 2:12-17) - the church that needed to repent (2:16). 

Continue to Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-29). Christ praised the church for its love, faith, service and perseverance. The range of praise regarding Thyatira’s spiritual status was perhaps the widest given to any of the seven churches. It was the only church that is said to have improved its spiritual condition (Rev. 2:19), Nowadays, there is only one very small and old church in the middle of the cemetery and very little Christian population.
Then to the ancient site of Sardis with its temple of Artemis and ancient gymnasium and synagogue. Sardis (Rev 3:1-6) - the church that had fallen asleep (3:2). 
Arrive in Izmir for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



After breakfast we will visit Saint Polycarp Church, the oldest church in Izmir that symbolizes the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. Saint Polycarp was martyred at age 86 in A.D. 155 at Kadifkale by the Romans. According to tradition, when they tried to burn him at the stake the flames wouldn’t touch him so they finally stabbed him to death. The church was reconstructed in 1620.

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (ca. 69 – ca. 155) was a second century bishop of Smyrna. He died a martyr when he was stabbed after an attempt to burn him at the stake failed. Polycarp is recognized as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. It is recorded that He had been a disciple of John. This John may be identified with John the Apostle, John the Presbyter, or John the Evangelist. 
With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. His sole surviving work is his Letter to the Philippians.

Then, we will have a short sightseeing in Izmir and continue to Ephesus, first to visit the House of Virgin Mary, now a Chapel. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place.The peaceful site is sacred to both Christians and Muslims, and is visited by many tourists and pilgrims.
The spring that runs under the Virgin's House is believed to have healing properties, and many miracles have been reported. Inside the house are crutches and canes said to be left behind by those who were healed by the sacred spring.

Later, visit Ephesus (open-air museum) that was one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the Book of Revelation (and remains a sacred site for Christians due to its association with several biblical figures, including St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary. The Gospel of John might have been written here. 
The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), which was destroyed by the Goths in 263. It is also the site of a large gladiator graveyard. Also see the Library of Celsius, Terrace Houses, Colonnade Street, ancient Agora and the Theater of Ephesus. 
The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614. The importance of the city as a commercial centre declined as the harbor slowly filled with silt from the river. 
Within the premises of Ephesus open-air museum the Church of Mary, a church of great historical significance is located. It is also known as the Double Church, because it is thought one aisle was dedicated to the Virgin and the other to St. John; and the Council Church because the Council of Ephesus is believed to have been held here. 

Near Ephesus there is a Grotto of the Seven Sleepers. The Seven Sleepers were seven young men who had been walled up in a grotto during the persecutions under Decius (c.250). They fell asleep, miraculously waking up around 435 in the time of Theodosius II. The seven men wandered into the city of Ephesus, amazed at all the churches and the freedom of worship for Christians. The Sleepers later died naturally (and permanently) and were buried in the grotto in which they had slept.

The Basilica of St. John was a great church in Ephesus constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It stands over the believed burial site of St. John, who is identified as the apostle, evangelist (author of the Fourth Gospel) and prophet (author of Revelation). Legend had it that John wrote his gospel in Ephesus at the request of other disciples, and then died in the church named for him on Ayasoluk Hill. Later legends developed that he was not really dead, but sleeping, and dust could even be seen moving above his grave as he breathed.
Arrive at the hotel in Kusadasi for dinner and overnight 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



After breakfast, drive to Pamukkale and first stop will be at Laodicea, which was the smallest among all Seven Churches of Asia Minor. Laodicea, modern Eskihisar (means “Old Castle) was on the crossroads between the important Ionian cities of that time. This helped the city to claim a big wealth due to the existing high volume commercial activity in the region. There was a rich and influential Jewish community long before the Christian era. But, most of the locals were respecting Zeus more than any other god. 
Laodicea means both “people’s opinions” and people judged.

Note: there is no any survived church building here that’s why you can just say some short prayers. Since it’s a museum, in general the local authorities do not allow any unauthorized religious activities here but a short prayer can be conducted.

Continue to Colossae, also known as Chonae or Kona, an ancient city of Phrygia. Its biblical significance lies in the fact that the book of Colossians was addressed to the church here (Col 1:2) and that Philemon lived in this city. 
It flourished as a trading town until eclipsed by neighboring Laodicea. The area around Colossae was famous for fantastic theological theories in early Christian times. Although Paul himself never went there, he addressed his epistle to the Colossians (New Testament letter) through his fellow worker, Epaphras, who lived at Colossae. 

Later, drive to Hierapolis, which name means sacred city, was believed by the ancients to have been founded by the god Apollo. It was famed for its sacred hot springs, whose vapors were associated with Pluto, god of the underworld. In the first century it was part of the tri-city area of Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis.  This connection between the cities lies behind Paul’s reference to Hierapolis and Laodicea in his epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:13).  Before 70 A.D. Phillip (either the apostle or the evangelist) moved to Hierapolis, where he was believed to have been martyred. 
See the Column Street and Byzantine Gates, the Temple of Apollo, the Theatre, and the Necropolis.

You can also enjoy swimming in the Cleopatra Pool, the mineral water sources from the thermal springs of Cal Mountain. It is collected in a pool, known as the Sacred Pool of ancient times, where you can swim amidst the historical remains of Hierapolis. The Sacred Pool is warmed by hot springs and littered with underwater fragments of ancient marble columns. Associated with the Temple of Apollo, the pool provides today's visitors a rare opportunity to swim with antiquities! 
Note: the entrance fee to Cleopatra Pool is not included to the price and should be paid locally, at the spot (approx. €10. - per person)
Arrive at the hotel in Pamukkale for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



After breakfast depart for Konya. First visit on the way will be Yalvac, former Pisidian Antiochea, aslo known as Antiochia Caesareia or Antiochia Caesaria. It has been a tradition to claim that the city dates back to the 3rd century BC. Antioch was a capital city for many different cultures because of the economic, military and religious activities of the region. This is the reason why Paul of Tarsus gave his first sermon to the Gentiles (Acts 13:13–52) and visited the city once on each of his missionary journeys, helping to make Antioch a center of Christianity in Anatolia.
Continue to Konya. Once known as Iconium, Konya is historically and religiously significant on several counts: it was one of the missionary destinations of St. Paul. 
Iconium & Listra are mentioned in New Testament: “At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed” (Act. 14:1). 
Iconium is believe to be the birth place of Paraskevi Friday, a second-century martyr of Rome and a healer of the blind. 
Iconium is the site of one of the first church councils. 
It was also the capital of the Seljuk Empire from 1150 to 1300; and the home of Rumi (Mevlana), the Sufi saint who founded the Whirling Dervishes. After lunnch we will visit the museum and the tomb of Mevlana and the great Seljuk monuments such as the Karatay Medrese and the Ince Minaret Medrese
Arrive at the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



After breakfast we will continue from Konya on the Old Silk Road trade route and visit 13th century Sultanhani Caravanserai from the Seljuk period,  and a hidden Crater lake before arriving in Cappadocia.
Here you will visit Selime, a village of rock cones below a mesa. It is possible to see the two-story colonnaded church, kitchens, pekmez house and camel tunnel all carved into the rock and the biggest rock-cut monastery of Cappadocia, Selime Monastery dated to the 13th century. This is a monastery complex of cave rooms, chapels, classrooms but what is really real fascinating is the structure.

We will have lunch in Belisirma village on the Melendez River then visit Ihlara Valley. Then, walk in the most scenic part of this canyon flanked by sheer rock walls. What is unique about this valley is the ancient history of its inhabitants. The whole canyon is honeycombed with rock-cut underground dwellings and churches from the Byzantine period. Due that the richness of the watering possibility and its hidden form and easily to hide structure it was the first settlement place of the first Christians escaping from the Roman soldiers. In the Ihlara Valley there are hundreds of antic churches caved in the volcanic rocks.
Next visit will be to Derinkuyu or Kaymakli Underground City, the widest underground cities of Cappadocia region carved out underneath a rock hill. The first three floors were probably carved out by Hittites about 2000 B.C. The underground city was originally carved out as eight floors; however four floors are visit able. In war time about 5000 people found refuge in. Not for claustrophobic
Arrive at the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): MF*



In the morning you will wake up in a world you have never imagined. Experience the feeling of living in an Anatolian village, where houses are built in caves, and life goes on as it has for centuries. You may see villagers baking bread, drying fruit on their rooftops or riding on donkeys to their fields. 
After breakfast we will begin our visit to the enchanting fairy chimneys (conical and unusual rock formations) in Devrent Valley, which is also known as Imaginary Valley and also as Pink Valley does not have cave churches like the other valleys of Cappadocia. There are no Roman castles or Roman tombs in Devrent Valley, either. Actually it was never inhabited. So what makes it so famous?  The lunar landscape! 
Then, Pasabag “fairy chimneys” with twin and even triples rock caps. This style is unique even for Cappadocia and these “fairy chimneys” are named mushroom shaped fairy chimneys. 
We will also visit Cavusin Village and see abandoned troglodyte houses cut high up in the rock face. 

For lunch will be guests to one of the local families, which will serve us a wonderful local, village food.
Our next visit will be to the Göreme “open air museum”, a nicely packaged instant version of what the whole area has to offer with its bizarre and charming churches and chapels carved into stone. It also holds the region's best collection of painted cave churches. Medieval orthodox Christian monks (1000 - 1200 AD) carved the caves from the soft volcanic stone and decorated them with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. The valley, and other troglodyte (cave- dweller) habitations in Cappadocia, may have been inhabited since Hittite times, but Göreme is known for its thousand-year-old churches. 
Finish your day visiting the artisans and carpet factory in the traditional rock carved village of Avanos. This village is famous for its’ red pottery and traditional Turkish carpets. In one of the most famous potteries guests will first see a demonstration from the professionals before they will have a chance to make their own ‘Symbol of art’ – let that artist free inside you! 

After the tour, transfer to the airport for a flight to Istanbul and upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Village Lunch
Hotel (s): MF*

In Istanbul you are free to enjoy dinners in Istanbul's fine restaurants or traditional Turkish kebab houses or atmospheric fish restaurants



You will have breakfast at the hotel and than, free day or optional tour. Overnight at the hotel 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast



Breakfast at the hotel.

This morning bid a fond farewell to your guide and driver and to this wonderful country as your memorable holiday comes to an end.
Optional: transfer to Ataturk Airport for your outbound flight.

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast


- 11 nights of accommodation at the hotels of the indicated category with buffet breakfast daily
- 7 dinners at the hotels outside of Istanbul (all drinks are excluded)
- 9 lunches during the tours (all drinks are excluded)
- Fully qualified, professional English speaking guide through the itinerary
- Deluxe, fully air-conditioned, non-smoking minivan (capacity 13-16 seats with luggage) throughout
- Full 9 days of the touring program as featured on the itinerary
-  Entrance fees to all museums featured on the itinerary
- Airfare Kayseri / Navsehir airport - Istanbul in ecomony class
- One Way Transfer to/from domestic flight in Cappadocia and Istanbul


- Any personal expenses
- Meals unless specified above and any kind of drinks except for tea/coffee/juice for breakfast at the hotels
- Transfers on the first and the last days of the trip
- Tips & gratuities
- Optional activities cost
- Turkish visa fee
- Travel and Health insurance


Airport Transfers
Pera-Kaktüs Travel pleased to offer complimentary airport transfers at any time either on the first or last day of the holiday or on other days in conjunction with pre- and post-trip accommodation booked through Pera-Kaktüs Travel. Note that flight times must be provided to Pera-Kaktüs Travel no fewer than 21 days before flight departure.

Domestic Flights 
All featured domestic flights are indicative; the airline and flight number can change on the time of the actual booking but the flight times will be similar or very close to those featured on the itinerary.  

- These prices are LAND-ONLY. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however prices and itineraries are subject to change, please confirm all details and final cost at time of booking.
- For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Term & Conditions page. Conditions can be found in the footer under Information. 
- Early Payment Discounts are not available on every Pera - Kaktus Travel trips; some trips may be excluded. Book early to avoid disappointment as the number of seats available at discount prices are limited. The Early Payment Discount icon will be indicated on the "Pricing and Availability" page of the selected trips where this Early Payment Discount is applicable. 
- This itinerary is operated with minimum 6 people and maximum 10 people 
- If you are a group of 10 people and wish to make any changes to the itinerary, we are happy to help you customize your travel. Please simply let us know the amendments that you would like to make and we will gladly assist.

Important to Know: 
-Guests must be able to walk approximately 2,5 km (1.5 miles) over uneven and cobblestone surfaces, inclines and 10 - 30 steps. 
-Comfortable shoes, a hat and plenty of sunscreen are recommended in summer as shade is limited. 
-The sequence of the tour itinerary may vary in order to avoid congestion. Guests should watch their step at all times in order to avoid injuries. 
- On Mondays, when Hagia Sophia is closed, we visit the Yerebatan Museum (the Underground Roman Cisterns), built by Emperor Justinian in 532, possibly as an enlargement of an earlier cistern of Constantine. The vast awesome columned cavern was the water source for both the Grand Palace of the Byzantine and for the Ottoman’s Topkapi Palace. It is 140 meters long by 70 meters wide with 336 columns. 
- In winter the Dolmabahçe (Bezm-i Alem Valide) Mosque is visited instead of the Yildiz Royal Gardens 
- Harem Section of the Topkapi Palace is not included into the program. Should you wish to visit it, you may do so during the free time your guide will give you 
- While visiting mosques, please cover your shoulders, knees & women, additionally, heads
- Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, during Ramadan Festivities (5-6-7 July 2016), Kurban Festivities (12-13-14-15 September 2016), National Republic Day (29 October 2016), and will be replaced by other authentic shops. 
- Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar is closed during Ramadan Festivities (5-6-7 July 2016) & Kurban Festivities (12-13-14-15 September 2016) 
- Other languages are available with an extra fee upon request

*Hotel Class Key 
ST = Superior Tourist (3*), MF = Moderate First Class (classic boutique, ranked as 4*), FC = First Class (4*), SF= Superior First Class (5* classic), MD = Moderate Deluxe (5* Deluxe), and D = Deluxe (5* Boutique or Luxury) 
- Hotels are subject to change. 
- Twin-share option is not available for trips unless you travel with your own partner or travel companion.
- Star ratings are used to symbolize the overall quality, level of service, food standard and range of facilities available in any given property. They may differ from international standards but the outlines in our "Terms & Conditions" section (clause 13) will give a general understanding of what can typically be expected within each category: (THESE RATINGS ARE FOR GUIDANCE PURPOSES ONLY AND ARE NOT A GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY OF ANY KIND BY PERA AIR AND TOURISM).

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