Day 1: Departure
Today we embark on our Journey to the lands of ancient treasures and Christian history with an overnight flight to Turkey. Prepare yourself for a life-changing experience. Get some rest on the flight…Tomorrow you will be walking where the apostles walked!
Day 2: Arrive Turkey, Smyrna
We arrive in Izmir and transfer to our lodging for the evening. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and a long time center for Jews and Christians. In Paul's day, Izmir was known as Smyrna and was another of the Seven Churches (Rev. 2:8-11). Here we'll pass by the church of Polycarp and visit the ancient agora.
Day 3: Ancient Pergamum & the “Cotton Castle” Pamukkale
Our highlight today is Pergamum. Once a busy trading center and famous as a "seller of purple," the most favored of the Seven Churches, the church of Pergamum was praised for its forbearance (Rev. 2:12-17). It was here that the first Christians were executed by Rome. We'll visit the fabled Acropolis, pass through the Royal Gates, view the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and visit the ruins of the library, which once held 200,000 volumes. Other things of special interest are the mountainside theatre, the series of underlying stone archways used to support agora, temple and acropolis areas. We travel inland to our lodging for the next two evenings in a lovely hot springs spa hotel in Pamukkale.
Day 4: Hierapolis, Laodicea & Colossae
Hierapolis, meaning "Sacred City," was an ancient center for pagan cults until it was transformed into a Christian center in the first century. According to tradition, the Apostle Philip lived and was martyred in Hierapolis. It was likely the hot springs of Hierapolis in contrast to the cold mountain springs near Colossae that combined to bring application to the "lukewarm" Laodiceans (Rev 3:14-22). This connection between the cities lies behind Paul’s reference to Hierapolis and Laodicea in his epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:13). Laodicea contains many acres of ruins to visit including a stadium and remnants of a sophisticated water system. Nearby Colossae is well-known throughout Christian circles as the receiver of Paul's letter to the Colossians. Time will be allowed today for you to take advantage of the many services offered by your spa hotel.
Day 5: Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia
A stop will be made in Thyatira to view the ancient roadway and period columns en-route to Sardis. Sardis was berated by John for its facade of strength when in reality, it was weak (Rev. 3:1-6). Here coins were minted and the dyeing of wool originated. We'll visit the gymnasium and synagogue. Our next stop is nearby Philadelphia from where we are challenged to “hold fast” and look forward to the coming of the "new Jerusalem" (Rev. 3:7-13) in the Book of Revelation. Not much is left of the city except for the ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica in the modern city of Alasehir. Our lodging for the next two nights will be in the charming seaside village of Kusadasi.
Day 6: Ephesus
We travel to the nearby town of Selcuk for a visit to the Basilica of St. John, housing an immersion baptismal and believed to be resting place of John. From here we have an excellent overview of the Ephesus harbor and the Temple of Artemis, completed in its most famous phase around 550 BC and listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Next, we travel a short distance down the hill to visit the Mosque of Jesus (Jesus is a respected prophet to Muslims). A wealth of artifacts awaits us at the nearby Museum of Ephesus. We spend the remainder of our day in Ephesus, the city of the Bible and one of the largest restorations still in progress with miles of ancient treasures. Ephesus was once a thriving port town of 250,000 people. Today you can still see the spectacular excavations of the major streets in this ancient city where we view the Library, Agora, Temple of Artemis, theatre, colorful mosaics, a panoramic view of the surrounding ancient port area including a wealth of church history and cultural insight. The day will not be complete without a visit to a local Turkish Rug cooperative.
Day 7: Depart for Home
This morning we transfer to the Izmir airport for our flight back home.
CAPPADOCIA EXTENSION: We are considering an add-on tour to include Cappadocia, Lystra, Konya, Pisidian Antioch, Perge and Antalya.
Call our office 800.322.0788 if you are interested or email Steve Fidler at firstname.lastname@example.org.