GUARANTEED DEPARTURES: Grand Biblical Tour of Asia Minor

Tour Code :PER082RLG
City :ADANA
Tour Name :Grand Biblical Tour of Asia Minor
Tour Dates :ON REQUEST
Duration :15 Nights | 16 Days
Available Languages :UPON REQUEST

ANTAKYA - ADANA - CAPPADOCIA - ANTALYA - PAMUKKALE - KUSADASI - CANAKKALE - ISTANBUL

THIS PROGRAM IS A SAMPLE ITINERARY ONLY.
IT CAN BE CUSTOMIZED, TAILOR-MADE, AMENDED OR DESIGNED IN ACCORDENCE WITH THE PARTICULAR REQUESTS.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT THE GOUP IS ACCOMPANIED BY THE SPIRITUAL LEADER/PRIEST.
 

Turkey is rightly considered the second holy land. Follow in the footsteps of St. Paul's journeys in Turkey and the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. It includes the religious sites and places such as Tarsus, Antioch, Iconium, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, Sardis and Nicea as well as the land of cave churches, Cappadocia. A must pilgrimage for all the Christians and true believers. 

Day 1 | .... | ANTAKYA (ANTIOCH) | 1 night

ARRIVAL IN ANTAKYA

Arrival at Istanbul International Airport, meet up with your tour guide and connect to the domestic flight to Hatay (Antakya). 
Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Dinner 
Hotel (s): upon request 

Day 2 | ANTAKYA | ADANA | 1 night

ANTAKYA MOSAIC MUSEUM, SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, ST.PETER'S CHURCH, SELEUCIA PEREIRA | DRIVE TO ADANA

Ancient Antioch was a city of great religious importance. It was the home of several Roman temples. It had also been the home of a large Jewish community since the city's founding in 300 BC. Antioch played an especially important role in Christian the base for Paul's missionary journeys, where Jesus’ followers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26) and where the Gospel of Matthew was probably written. Antioch hosted a number of church councils, developed its own characteristic school of biblical interpretation, and produced such influential Christian figures as the martyr-bishop Ignatius of Antioch, the pillar-saint Simeon and the golden- mouthed” preacher John Chrysostom.

After breakfast at the hotel we will start our tour of the area and drive passed the Antakya Citadel and Walls which was built by Seleucos Nitakor I in 300 BC and is among the most important buildings in the world.
Then, visit Antakya Mosaic Museum that contains the mosaics from Daphne and Seleucia Pieria. 

Our next stop will be at one of the Syrian Churches. The Syrian Orthodox Church is one of the most ancient Christian Churches tracing its roots to the Church of Antioch. Antioch was at the time of Christ the capital of the Roman province of Syria and an important centre of commerce. As a city imbued in the Hellenistic culture, Greek was the common language. But the majority of the people in the region, especially outside the cities spoke Syriac, the Edessene dialect of Aramaic, the language spoken by our Lord.

Later, visit the Cave Church of St. Peter, also known as the Grotto of St. Peter, an ancient cave church with a stone facade, located just outside Antioch. This cave is widely believed to have been dug by the Apostle Peter himself as a place for the early Christian community of Antioch to meet, and thus to be the very first Christian church. The attractive stone façade of the church was built by Crusaders, who identified the grotto during their rule of Antioch from 1098 to 1268. (Giving the group is escorted by the spiritual leader private mass can be arranged at the church)

In the afternoon, take a brief coach ride to Samandagi (Seleucia Pereira), the port from where Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus on their first missionary journey 45-46 AD (Acts 13:4).and which is mentioned in the New Testament. Visit the famous Titus water tunnel, which is a tremendous water canal dug for the purpose of diverting the waters of Orontes River. Another highlight here will be the rock tombs with their impressive facades pertaining to the Hellenistic period. Drive to Adana and to your hotel for late dinner and overnight.

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 3 | ADANA | CAPPADOCIA | 2 nights

VISITS OF TARSUS, THE MONASTERY OF GUMUSLER, THE UNDERGROUND CITY OF KAYMAKLI

After early breakfast at the hotel drive to Tarsus, ancient Tars, and the birthplace of St. Paul. Christianity came early to the city. The first converts to the new faith come from the large Jewish community whose origins trace back to the Seleucid era. One of them was the future St. Paul born there in 5CE as Saul, the son of a tentmaker. Paul returned to Tarsus on his Second and Third Journeys. Tarsus was also a seat of an important bishopric. 

Stop at the Cleopatra’s Gate, which dates to around 40 BC. Mark Anthony and Cleopatra lived in Tarsus in the 1st century BC.

Then, see the St. Paul’s Well located in a courtyard and is long believed to be the site of St. Paul's house. Archaeological studies have shown St. Paul's Well and surrounding areas to have Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Period cultural layers. The site is a pilgrimage destination for some and the water from the well is believed to have healing powers.

Then, continue to Cappadocia where your first visit will be to the Eski Gümüş (Monastery of Gümüşler), a monastery church carved from the rock in Gümüşler. This 10th century monastery is entered via a vaulted door.  The church is situated to the north side of the courtyard, while rooms carved from the rock line the rest of the courtyard.  The church is built on a closed cruciform plan, and has a central dome, four columns, cross vaults and three apses. 
Scenes: Nativity and Presentation of Jesus in the Temple scenes are quite articulated. On the apse there are Deesis and the Apostles, several portraits of Mary, portraits of saints and angels. 

Our last detination of today will be the Underground City of Kaymakli, one of the widest underground city of Cappadocia region; it was carved out underneath a rock hill (Kaymakli Castle). The first three floors were probably carved out by Hittites about 2000 B.C. There were those underground cities where the first Christians hid excaping the persecution of the Roman authorities. In war time about 5000 people found refuge in.
Not For the Claustrophobic 
Arrive at the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 4 | CAPPADOCIA

THE MOST REMARKABLE CAVE CHURCHES OF GOREME OPEN-AIR MUSEUM AND IN VICINITY

After breakfast at the hotel depart to visit the Göreme Valley “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.
You will see Tokali Kilise (Buckle Church), Carikli Kilise (Sandals Church), the Kizlar Monastery (Nunnery), the St. Basil Church, the Yilanli Kilise, Snake Church of St. Onuphorius, the Chapel of St. Catherine. 
Special attention deserves the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church), the most well-preserved of all the other churches. The church's name comes from a small oculus looking out of the narthex which only lets in a very small amount of light. This feature is what has preserved the richness of the pigments and allowed them survived the test of time. Newly restored frescoes, depicting scenes from the New Testament, are the best preserved in all of Cappadocia and a fine example of 11th-century Byzantine art. Scenes: Deesis, Annunciation,  Journey to Bethlehem, Nativity,  Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem,  Last Supper, Betrayal of Judas, Crucifixion,  Anastasis, Women at the Tomb,  Blessing and Mission of the Apostles, Ascension, Hospitality of Prophet Abr. 

Then, continue to Pasabag Valley (the Monks' Valley). Many fairy chimneys with multiple stems and caps some housing chapels and living areas can be found here, this style being unique to this area. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon, and a hermit's shelter is built into one such fairy chimney with three heads. Inside the shelter are an oven, living and sleeping areas and small windows to let the sunlight in. The hermits of Cappadocia distanced themselves from the world by cutting into fairy chimneys rather than living on top of columns. They hollowed out the chimneys from bottom to top creating rooms 10 - 15m high. They lay on beds made from rock.  

Our next visit will be to the old Greek Village of Cavusin (read Chavushin) with its two famous churches: Church of St. John the Baptist; this church and its paintings date back to the 5th century, making it the oldest church in the region and the Cavusin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church built around 964/965. 

Our today's last destination will be the artisans in the traditional rock carved village of Avanos, the village 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! 
At the carpet factory guests will be introduced to the fascinating process of the weaving of the famous Turkish carpets and then, enjoy unforgettable show of the demonstration of the most beautiful sample. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 | CAPPADOCIA | KONYA | ANTALYA | 2 nights

VISITS IN KONYA | PISIDIAN ANTIOCH | DRIVE TO ANTALYA

After breakfast at the hotel along the Silk Road to Antalya and stop on the way in 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 (nowadays Hatunsarayi) 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. 
St. Thecla was born in Iconium-Konya as a member of a wealthy family. She was converted to Christianity in Iconium by St. Paul. According to the apocryphal “Acts of Paul and Thecla”, when St. Thecla first met St. Paul and heard him speak she said to him: “I shall cut my hair and follow thee whithersoever thou goest”. 
Iconium is the site of one of the first church councils; 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 lunch in Konya, continue to Pisidian Antioch (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. 
Further the road passes the Lake Eğirdir the fourth largest (second largest freshwater) lake in Turkey and head to Antalya. Arrivae at the hotel for dinner and overnight. 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 6 | ANTALYA

ANTALYA ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, RUINS OF PERGE, ASPENDOS THEATRE

Breakfast at the hotel restaurant and depart to enjoy our first pilgrimage day in Antalya. Christianity started to spread in the region after 2nd century. Antalya was visited by Paul of Tarsus, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14:25-26), wherein Antalya is referred to by its ancient name, Attalia. “From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia”. 

Visit Antalya Archaeological Museum that offers an excellent survey of the great periods in Pamphylia's history, from the Neolithic on through the Bronze Age (urn burials) to Hellenistic and Roman times: well-preserved statures, sarcophagi, floor mosaic tiles. Alongside with numerous antiquities the museum hosts few Christian Relics such as fragments of St. Nicholas remains, church utensils, XI–XV century Orthodox icons.

Continue to the ruins of Perge. Founded on a wide plain between two hills 4 km. west of the Kestros (Aksu) river it was one of Pamphylia's foremost cities.  (Acts 13:13-14) -  In 46 A.D., Perge became the setting of an event important to the Christian world. The New Testament book, the Acts of the Apostles, writes that St. Paul journeyed from Cyprus to Perge, from there continued on to Antioch in Pisidia, then returned to Perge where he delivered a ser mon. Then he left the city and went to Attaleia. 
In the first half of the fourth century, during the reign of Constantine the Great (324-337), Perge became an important centre of Christianity once this faith had become of official religion of the Roman Empire. The city retained its status as a Christian centre in the fifth and sixth centuries. Visit gymnasium, baths, agora, ancient theatre, stadium and the Hellenistic gate.

Next visit will be to Aspendos, an ancient city of Pamphylia noted for its Roman ruins. It is commonly believed that Aspendos was founded by colonists from Argos. One thing is certain: right from the beginning of the 5th century, Aspendos and Side were the only two towns to mint coins. Aspendos' theatre is the best preserved Roman theatre anywhere in Turkey. It was designed during the 2nd century A.D. It’s thirty-nine tiers of steps—96 meters long—could seat about twenty thousand spectators. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 | ANTALYA | DEMRE-MYRA | PATARA | FETHIYE (1 Night)

VISIT OF MYRA & THE CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS | SUNKEN CITY OF KEKOVA | RUINS OF PATARA

Breakfast at the hotel and drive to Demre, ancient Myra. Myra was a leading city of the Lycian Union. The date of Myra's foundation is unknown. There is no literary mention of it before the 1st century BC, when it is said to be one of the six leading cities of the Lycian Union (the other five were Xanthos, Tlos, Pinara, Patara and Olympos). It is believed to date back much further however, as an outer defensive wall has been dated to the 5th century BC. St. Paul changed ships at Myra's port on his way to his trial in Rome, in about 60 AD, after he had been arrested in Jerusalem after being charged with inciting to riot. 
Saint Nicholas of Myra was the bishop of Myra in the 4th century. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker also known in Europe as Santa Clause.  The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered both among Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
Giving the group is escorted by the spiritual leader a private mass or acathistus to the Saint can be arranged in the St. Nicholas Church 
Next, board a yacht and continue by water, visiting the ruins of the ancient Lycian city of Kekova that partially has sunk as a result of the earthquake in 240 A.D.
Kekova is an island as well as the name of a whole ensemble of picturesque islands, numerous bays and ancient cities. These bays provide natural harbors in all seasons. Along the northern shore of Kekova Island at Apollonia, earthquakes have disturbed the land causing some of the ancient houses to sink under the clear water, creating a sunken city. 

After disembarkation drive to Patara. Patara's place in history is well documented. It was the birthplace of Saint Nicholas, the 4th-century Byzantine bishop of Myra. Before that, Patara was celebrated for its temple and oracle of Apollo, of which little remains. It was Lycia's major port – which explains the large storage granary still standing. And according to Acts 21:1–2, Saints Paul and Luke changed boats here while on their third mission from Rhodes to Phoenicia. 
Then, continue to Fethiye for dinner and overnight. 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 8 | FETHIYE | PAMUKKALE | 1 Night

VISITS OF COLOSSAE, LAODICEA & HIERAPOLIS

Breakfast at the hotel and depart for Pamukkale.
Our first visit will be to Colossae, also known as Chonae or Kona), an ancient city of Phrygia. 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. It was written to the Christians of Colossae and Laodicea, ostensibly by Paul while he was in prison, presumably in Rome (c. AD 60). Its writing was provoked by the appearance of false teachers who taught some sort of Gnostic doctrine involving either the worship of angels or the worship of God in mystical communion with the angels, and ascetic and ritual observance evocative of Jewish practice. The letter was well-known to the ancient fathers of the Church. 

Then continue to Laodicea, 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.This meaning of the name is a reference to what Jesus said about the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:16, and is related to the implications of Revelations 3:19. In Revelation 3:16, Jesus said that because the Church of Laodicea is lukewarm, He will vomit them out of His mouth.

Then, we will reach to Pamukkale, ancient 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. The city also had a significant Jewish community. 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.
Before arriving at the hotel do not miss your chance to walk barefoot through the travertive terraces with hot water. This water comes out at 35.6°C and highly contains calcium carbonate. Unesco declared Pamukkale and Hierapolis as a World Heritage Site in 1988. Arriva at the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Dinner 
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 9 | PAMUKKALE | KUSADASI | 2 Nights

VISIT OF MILETUS, DIDYMA, PRIENE

After breakfast at the hotel we will depart for Kusadasi and on the way we will visit three important towns of Asia Minor: Miletus, Didyma and Priene. 
First will be Miletus, an ancient city on the western coast of Anatolia, near the mouth of the Meander River in ancient Caria. 
Miletus had a Christian bishop by the time of Decius, when St. Thyrsus and his companions were martyred at Miletus. Eusebius, Bishop of Miletus, attended the Council of Nicaea in 325. Miletus was one of St. Paul's stops on his Third Missionary Journey. According to Acts 20:16-38 Paul was here on his way back to Jerusalem and in a hurry because he wanted to reach the holy city by the day of Pentecost. Coming from Troas, he bypassed Ephesus but paused at Miletus and called for the elders of Ephesus to come meet him there. 
See the ruins of the ancient theatre, aqueducts, Baths of Faustina, Byzantine castle, the Byzantine Church of St. Michael, built in the 6th century AD on the site of a temple of Dionysus.

South of Miletus lays the site of Didyma. The word Didyma meant twins and was associated by some as being the meeting place of Zeus and Leto to have their twins Apollo and Artemis. Didyma was famed as a prophecy center dedicated to Apollo which served a similar purpose as the Delphi of Anatolia. It was not a city but a sanctuary linked to Miletus by Milesians with a 19 km sacred road. 
Here we will see the huge Medusa relief standing next to the temple, a 2C AD piece that has fallen off the frieze and the remains of an altar and a well.

North of Didyma & Miletus, on the way to Kusadasi, lays the third of these three towns, Priene, which during the Byzantine reign became a Bishopric. 
By the eleventh century B.C. it was one of the twelve colonies forming the Ionian Confederation and enjoyed considerable prestige and prosperity. It was situated below the mass of Samsun Mountain (formerly Mikale) on the shore before river Maeander silted up the port. Now the sea is fifteen kilometers away and surrounding plains have become immense cotton plantations. The city rebelled against Persian domination under King Cyrus and in revenge the Persians razed it to the ground. New Priene was reborn under Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and after countless struggles and invasions became a Roman province in 129 A.D. The city regained its prosperity under the Emperor Augustus in spite of having a population of only seven thousand. Priene became part of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century. The streets of Priene are unusual in the way that they are all horizontal and vertical, parallel and perpendicular, like a chess board. 
Arrive in Kusadasi for dinner and overnight. 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 10 | KUSADASI

VISIT THE ANCIENT EPHESUS, ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, ST. JOHN BASILICA AND THE HOUSE OF VIRGIN

After breakfast at the hotel drive to Ephesus.
Ephesus, the name of the Church that had lost its first love, and was historically the shortest, literally means not lasting. At one time (early 2nd Century), Ephesus was the unofficial capital of Christianity.

The ancient city of Ephesus, located near the Aegean Sea was one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor. During the period known as Classical Greece it was located in Ionia, where the Cayster River flows into the Aegean Sea. It belonged to the Ionian League. Ephesus 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. 
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.
Here in Ephesus there is the Church of Mary, which is of great historical significance. 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 Cave of the Seven Sleepers. The Seven Sleepers were seven young men who had been walled up in a cave 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 cave in which they had slept. 

Next, we will see the Archaeological Museum of Selcuk that consists of a large hall, small hall, another big hall and a colonnaded courtyard. A big statue of Artemis from the Roman period, water palace, a niche room containing the Socrates fresco, statuettes from the fountains of Trajan and Pallio, the statue of Dionysus, Triton a relaxing warrior and Zeus are exhibited here. 

Continue to the Basilica of Saint John, a great church in Ephesus constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It stands over the believed burial site of Saint 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. 

House of Virgin Mary is 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. 
Mass (morning or evening) can be arranged at the private chapel next to the main house, provided the group is accompanied by a spiritual leader. 
Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast,  Dinner

Day 11 | KUSADASI | BERGAMA | 1 Night

VISITS OF PHILADELPHIA, SARDIS, THYATIRA

Buffet breakfast at the hotel and depart to visit the site of Philadelphia, modern day Alaşehir (means “City of God”), founded in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamum (197-160 BC), who named the city for the love of his brother who would be his successor, Attalus II (159-138 BC). 
The ancient city of Philadelphia had several temples. It was hit with a devastating earthquake in 17 AD; the city was rebuilt with the help of Emperor Tiberius. Ancient Philadelphia was the sixth of the Seven Churches of Revelation (written around 100 AD). In Revelation 3:12, the believer who overcomes is compared to a pillar in the temple of God.

Philadelphia is the sixth church of the seven. (Rev 1:11). A letter specifically addressed to the Philadelphian church is recorded in (Rev 3:7-13). According to this letter, the Philadelphian Christians were suffering persecution at the hands of the local Jews, whom Revelation calls the synagogue of Satan (Rev 3:9). The city's history of earthquakes may lie behind the reference to making her church a temple pillar (Rev 3:12). Permanency would have been important to the city's residents. Philadelphia means Brotherly Love - because the church in Philadelphia has kept faith with Jesus, he will keep them from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth (3:10). This expression hour of trial refers in Revelation to the affliction on the world to come before God’s kingdom is established on the earth. Christianity is still prospering in Philadelphia. The Christian population is numerous and has its own bishop and 25 churches. 

Next destination is Sardis, also Sardes (Lydian: Sfard, Persian: Sparda), modern Sart, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. It was one of the great cities of western Asia Minor until the later Byzantine period. The early Lydian kingdom was far advanced in the industrial arts and Sardis was the chief seat of its manufactures. There was a huge and magnificent temple of Kybele in Sardis as well as glorious a palace of King Croesus. The king Croesus was the wealthiest man of his time and Sardis became the richest city of antiquity. The famous wise man of Athens, also the reformer, Solon, came to see this great city and its famous king. It is thought that the famous story teller Aesop was a Phrygian who lived in Sardis during the reign of King Croesus. “Sardis” means “Of the Flesh. The church at Sardis was pronounced as being dead (3:1). It appeared to be alive – had a reputation of being alive – looked spiritually vibrant on the outside – but was spiritually lifeless. The church was Christian in name only. This recalls Christ’s scathing rebuke of the Pharisees who look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).

The last visit of today will be to Thyatira today is a small Turkish village Akhisar (White Castle) with population less than 7000 people, basically Muslim and very few Christians. There is one very small and old church in the middle of the cemetery. 
“Thyatira” means Constant Labor and/or Guarding the Door. 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). However, the church did need admonishment on one vital issue. The church had tolerated the teachings of a false prophetess.Continue to Bergama and to the hotel for dinner and overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Dinner 
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 12 | BERGAMA | CANAKKALE | 1 Night

ANCIENT PERGAMUM - ACROPOLIS, ASCLEPION, RED BASILICA; ALEXANDRA TROAS, ASSOS, TROY

After breakfast we will start our tour visiting Bergama, the modern territory of the ancient Pergamum. Once it was the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamum and an important centre of the Hellenistic Civilization which became a part of Roman Empire. 
“Pergamum” means either “people or the city of a highland or citadel”. 
Pergamum was home to a library said to house approximately 200,000 volumes. 
Pergamum is also 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.

Pergamum was an important city in the New Testament and was mentioned by St. John as one of the Seven Churches of Revelation in the Book of Revelation.
The religious climate at Pergamum was not conducive to the Christian life. That’s because Satan’s throne was in the city (2:12). While the phrase has received differing interpretations, it almost surely refers to Pergamum as a major center of pagan religion, especially the imperial cult. The city symbolized secular power and civil religion working in concert as Satan’s proxies.

We will 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; 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; and the Red Basilica, a huge brick edifice built in the 2nd century as a Roman temple to the god Serapis and later converted into a Byzantine church.  

Then, continue to Alexandra Troas, Assos and Troy. 
Alexandra Troas
was founded by Antigonus and Lysimachus at the command of Alexander the Great, and its fortifications date from that time. The city had a good but artificial harbor, which helped it become a thriving commercial center. 
The city is mentioned six times in Bible. St. Paul visited Alexandria Troas at least twice; the first when he and Timothy had wanted to go into Bithynia but had been prevented by the Holy Spirit. Instead they skirted Mysia and reached Troas where during the night Paul saw a vision of a Macedonian asking him to come help him (Acts 16:7-10). Probably Luke joined them here: from this point on in Acts the story is in the first person plural, we. Rather than spending much time in Troas they found a ship quickly and sailed first to Samothrace and then went on to Neapolis (Kavala) and Philippi. In Troas the second time Paul spoke to the group that had gathered for the breaking of bread on Saturday night. The meeting went on until late, Paul himself speaking until midnight. A boy named Eutychus who was sitting on one of the window ledges went to sleep and fell three stories on the ground. He was picked up for dead, but Paul, who went down, looked at him and said, Stop this commotion; there is still life in him (Acts 20:10).

Then, see Assos (modern Behramkale). After visiting Alexandra Troas Paul headed to Assos (Acts. 20:13) and preached here and then, went to the small harbor and board the ship to return to Jerusalem. Assos is located on the top of the cliff facing the Aegean Sea and overlooking the Island of Lesbos, the view is stunning.  The acropolis of Assos, reaching 238 meters above sea level, is still protected by towers and walls and crowned by the ruins of a sixth-century BC temple to the goddess Athena.

After visiting some of the same cities St. Paul had seen on his first trip, he went to the region called Mysia to visit Troy (Truva), then, crossing the Dardanelles, he ventured into Macedonia. 
Troy, with its 4,000 years of history, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The first excavations at the site were undertaken by the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. In scientific terms, its extensive remains are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece in the 13th or 12th century B.C., immortalized by Homer in the Iliad, has inspired great creative artists throughout the world ever since. Arrival in Canakkale, dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel (s): upon request)

Day 13 | CANAKKALE | IZNIK | ISTANBUL | 3 Nights

Early morning departure after breakfast and we head to Nicaea (Greek. Nicaia), modern Iznik founded in the 4th century BC by the Macedonian king Antigonus I Monophthalmus, Nicea was an important centre in late Roman and Byzantine times. 
In 325 AD, the great Council of Nicea was called by Constantine the Great, who had converted to Christianity a decade earlier and replaced official persecution of Christianity with official support. The Council of Nicea was the first ecumenical (worldwide) council of the church and the first of Seven Ecumenical Councils recognized by most Christian denominations as having doctrinal authority. Around 300 bishops from across the Christian world attended. 
Another important council was held at Nicea in 787 to deal with the iconoclastic controversy (the dispute over whether the use of icons was appropriate or constituted idolatry). This is known as the Second Council of Nicea and the Seventh Ecumenical Council. It concluded that icons were worthy of veneration but not worship, and restored their use in the Byzantine Empire.
In Iznik we will see the former Saint Sophia Church (now converted to mosque). 
The highlight for religious travelers and historians are the ruins of the 4th-century St. Sophia Cathedral, the site of the Second Council of Nicea. It is located in the town center. Renamed Orhan Ghazi Mosque in 1331 and badly damaged by earthquake and fire, the building was restored by the famous architect Sinan in the 16th century. The ceiling of Haghia Sophia has collapsed but much still remains. On the wall of a grave room there was a fresco of Christ (now coverred) and surviving mosaic pavements on the floor (now under the carpets).

Drive to take fast ferry boat to Istanbul. Arrive at the hotel for overnight. 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast 
Hotel (s): upon request

Day 14 |ISTANBUL

ANCIENT HIPPODROME, HAGIA SOPHIA, UNDERGROUND CISTERN, CHURCH OF SAINTS SERGIUS & BACCHUS, TOPKAPI PALACE & HAGIA IRENE, EVENING MASS AT SANT'ANTONIO DI PADOVA CHURCH

After breakfast at the hotel we will start our day visiting the most important sites of the Old City Quaters and see the Hagia Sophia Cathedral Museum (in winter closed on Monday). 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. 
Next, stroll through the Hippodrome, the Imperial centre, evidence of the illustrious past that imbue the entire area with a sense of history. Monuments decorating the Hippodrome include the 3500-year-old Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius, brought to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius in 390 AD; the spiral bronze base of a three-headed Serpentine Column brought from Delphi in Greece; the German Fountain donated in 1900 to the Ottoman Empire by the German Emperor Wilhelm II after his visit to Istanbul in 1898. 

Next, see the Underground Cistern 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.

Continue to Topkapi Palace (closed on Tuesday), the Great Palace of the Ottoman Sultans and 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. 
See the 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. Also visit of the Treasury section. 
At the premises of Topkapi Palace stands the Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene (Holy Peace), a former Eastern Orthodox Church. The building reputedly stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple. It 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. It was also a place of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council. 

Last visit will be to 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 Kucuk 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.

We will then attend an evening Mass at Sant'Antonio di Padova Church, alternatively known as St. Antoine or St. Antuan, which is the largest cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul. It is located on İstiklal Avenue in the Beyoğlu district. The original St. Antonio di Padova Cathedral was built in 1725 by the local Italian community of Istanbul, but was later demolished and replaced with the current was constructed on the same location.The cathedral is run by Italian priests. 

Saturday mass is in Italian and begins at 19:00, Sunday mass is in English and begins at 10:00, and Tuesday mass is in Turkish and begins at 11:00. 
If the group is escorted by a spiritual leader a private mass can be arranged at any time.

Return to the hotel for overnight.

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast 

Note: Depending on the church denomination the Mass can be arranged at the Orthodox, Anglican or Protestant Churches.

Day 15 | ISTANBUL

SAINT SAVIOR IN CHORA CHURCH, BALIKLI CHURCH, RESIDENCE OF ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH, VLACHERNA CHURCH, SAINT MARY OF THE MONGOLS CHURCH, BOSPHORUS CRUISE

After breakfast we will start our day by visit to the Kariye Museum (closed on Wednesday), former St. Savior in Chora Church. This 11th Century church is after St Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul. Inside the walls are decorated with superb 14th Century frescoes and mosaics. 

In the close vicinity to St. Savior in Chora there is another Eastern Greek Orthodox Church, the church of St Mary of the Spring or Balikli Church. It is one of the sacred grounds for Byzantine Empire where the Royal Family used to spend a week during the Ascension time. The present day church, which is a rather late structure dating to 19th century bears the same dedication as the shrine erected in this place between the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century and is built over the sacred pool (ayzma).  Ayazmas are fountains which are believed by the Christian world to have healing powers. The real name of the Balıklı Ayazma, being the most famed ayazma in Istanbul and being called as Holy Water by the Orthodox Christian world, is Zoohodos P i y i which, in fact means life sparing fountain. Christians dedicate it to Virgin Mary. According to Byzantine traditions, the fish in the pool is related to the fall of the city. In the small graveyard, there are tombs of Greek Patriarchs with the crosses and double headed eagles. 

Next, we will drive to the districts of Fener & Balat, which are as old as Istanbul’s history itself. Fener is the neighborhood has the honor of belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located within the district of Fatih, on the western side of the Golden Horn. Balat was first known as Fanarion, after the most important lighthouse in the Golden Horn, which was located here. A wide variety of historical churches, mosques and houses are located here, including the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate with its Church of St. George (Aya Yorgi). 
Constantinople has been the center of the Eastern Christian Church since the Emperor Constantine moved the Roman capital there in the 4th century. To this day, the city remains the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is recognized as the first among equals of all Orthodox spiritual leaders. 
The Patriarchate complex includes the Authorization Offices, the Patriarchate Library, the Financial offices, the public enterprises of Patriarchate and the Patriarchate Cathedral Church of Saint George, which had been part of a monastery before it welcomed the Orthodox Patriarchate. Over the centuries, it has been periodically damaged, the last time during the fire in 1941. Repairs began in 1989 and were completed in 1991. The church's main boast, aside from its association with the Patriarch, are its artifacts and relics, which include: the patriarchal throne, believed to date from the 5th century; three rare mosaic icons; the Column of Flagellation to which Jesus was tied and whipped; relics of Sts. Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom; and the tombs of three female saints. 

Nearby Saint Mary of the Mongols Church (All-Holy Theotokos”) is the only Byzantine church of Constantinople that has never been converted to a mosque, always remaining open to the Greek Orthodox Church. Tradition holds that Sultan Mehmed II endowed the church to the mother of Christodoulos, the Greek architect of the Fatih Mosque in acknowledgment of his work. The grant was confirmed by Bayazid II, in recognition of the services of the nephew of Christodoulos, who built the mosque which bears that sultan's name.

Next visit will be to the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae & Holy Spring (Ayazma). This church sits atop the site of one of the most celebrated shrines to the Virgin Mary in Byzantium. But even before Constantine set foot inside the city walls, the spring located on this spot was considered sacred. Citizens of Constantinople made regular pilgrimages to the spring, and in the 5th century A.D., Empress Augusta Pulcheria, wife of Emperor Marcian, had a church built on the site.

From here we will drive to the nearest pier to take 1 hour enjoyable trip on the Bosphorus Straight. One of the world’s most eulogized stretches of water, the Bosphorus is a source of pride for Istanbul’s residents and of admiration for its visitors. The 30-km strait divides Europe and Asia and connects the Marmara and Black Seas (only way in/out to/from Black Sea) is one of the city highlights. The Bosphorus has, for all ages, been the subject of legend and art. A striking feature of Istanbul, the Bosphorus coast is lined by “yalıs” (old Ottoman wooden residences) flirting with the sea each with a tale of their own, marble palaces, sultans’ summer residences, gardens etc. The cruise will provide a taste of the Bosphorus that won’t leave your buds for a long time to come. 
After disembarkation, return to the hotel for overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast

Day 16 | DEPARTURE

DEPARTURE

Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Ataturk International Airport for your outbound flight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast

INCLUDES

- Transportation in fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle through the itinerary 
- Professional English-speaking tour guide throughout 
- Entrance fees to the museums featured on this itinerary 
- 16 nights of accommodation at the featured hotels or similar with buffet breakfast daily 
- 12 dinners at the hotels ouitside of Istanbul

EXCLUDES

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

NOTES

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.  

Disclaimer 
- 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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Kaktüs Tourism Travel Agency - Pera Air and Tourism
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