Turkey in Depth - Christian Tour

15 Day First Class Land Package

For Groups of 10 or more

Day 1 - Depart US
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 - Cappadocia
Today we begin our adventure to the ancient and historical country of Turkey.  Our first stop, Cappadocia (located in central Turkey), has seen its share of history.  Cappadocian Jews were present at Pentecost (Acts 2: 9)  Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) was home to the 4th Century "Cappadocian Fathers,"  St. Basil, Gregory Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzus who spent their lives tirelessly combating the heresies plaguing the early church.  Through their hard work and God's grace, they influenced the Nicene Councils who eventually agreed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons of the same Essence.  We'll arrive into Kayseri late in the day and be transferred to our hotel. We will spend two nights in the Cappadocia region.  

Day 3 - Goreme, Underground Cities & Avanos
Today we'll spend all day exploring the history and scenery of  Cappadocia.  First off, we'll visit the gently folding volcanic rock formations and "fairy chimneys" of Goreme Open Air Museum.  These rock formations are not only beautiful, but functional as well.  Many early Christian communities lived and worshipped deep in the rocks and crags, leaving their frescoes and paintings to be marveled at centuries later.   Other communities lived underground, and we'll visit these dwellings too.  To protect themselves from Roman persecution and marauding bandits, local people began to live in underground caves forming "cities" that reach a depth of up to 7 stories below the surface.   Other sites include the Natural Citadel of Uchisar and the small, picturesque village of Avanos - famous for their red clay pottery.  In Avanos we'll visit "The Potter's Place: Gift Shoppe and Cultural Center" and have time for visiting local potter for a demonstration and maybe try your own hand at the potter's wheel.   

Day 4 - Konya (Iconium)
Early this morning we'll depart Cappadocia and head for Konya (ancient Iconium) included in Paul's first missionary journey.  En-route, we'll stop at the Sultanhani Caravanserai just like travelers from Turkey's bygone era.  Founded for military and trade purposes, the Caravanserai's Inn was built in 1228 and reflects the Seljuk style of architecture.  And next, we're off to Konya.  Nearly two thousand years ago, Paul and Barnabas visited Iconium during Paul's first missionary journey. As he preached to the city, God used Paul to bring many Jews and Gentiles to Christ (Acts 14: 1-6).  Konya is also the home of the Mystic sect of the spectral Whirling Dervishes.  We'll have an opportunity to learn more about this mysterious order when we visit the museum of its founder, Mevlana.  We'll spend two nights in Konya. 

Day 5 - Lystra & Pisidian Antioch
This morning our tour takes us into the scenic mountain region to visit Pisidian Antioch - an important stop on Paul's first missionary journey.   Although only 10% of  has been excavated, the ruins from the Roman period are noteworthy along with the scenery in general.  We'll see Septimus Severus' triumphal gate, Augustus' Temple,  the Roman baths, a theater, synagogue and a church dedicated to Paul. This afternoon we travel to the tell (large mound) of Lystra.  Although the remaining hill has not been excavated, as is the case with nearby Derbe, we will read the scripture and hear of the history related to the site before allowing time to hike to the top to explore the hillside.

Day 6 - Aspendus, Perge Side & Antalya
This morning we'll depart for the bustling, palm-lined streets of Antalya.   Founded on the "Turquoise Coast" of the Mediterranean, Antalya has boasted a mild climate and beautiful beaches and harbors for centuries.  In fact, Paul and Barnabas sailed from Antalya harbor in the 1st Century on the first missionary journey.  Today, we'll visit the best preserved Roman Theatre in the world in Aspendus and the impressive excavations in the neighboring town of Perge.  It was in Perge that John Mark decided to part company with Paul and Barnabas, while they continued on their missionary journey.  Ruins of the city's streets, baths, gates and theater are still visible.  We also pass neighboring Side, a bustling tourist town with an array of artifacts and archeological treasures.  We'll spend two nights Antalya.

Day 7 - Demre (Myra)
After breakfast, we'll depart Antalya for a leisurely trip along the beautiful coastline to Demre (ancient Myra) to visit the 11th Century Church of St. Nicholas. The church was built to commemorate an early Christian bishop who was present at the First Ecumenical Council and eventually became known as Santa Claus. It is interesting to hear our guide speak of how time has turned this early church father into a mythical hero. To view the red and white statue of Santa Claus standing in the square, see the Muslim vendors peddling statues (idols to their thinking) and hear the call to prayer from the nearby mosque is strangely bizarre.  In Myra we will also visit the port where Paul and Luke changed ships en route to Rome. As the Myra of today is the sailing center of the Anatolia region, It is very interesting to see the many wooden boats lined up as it would have been in Paul's day. We'll also visit the picturesque and fascinating rock tombs cut into the cliff above the theatre.  These tombs, some with paintings, shows us what typical life might have been like in ancient Myra. Later this afternoon we stop at the area known to be the port of Patara, where Paul changed ships en route to Rome on his final voyage. Our lodging this evening will be in Fethive.

Day 8 -  Miletus & Dydima
This morning we'll start the day off by traveling to the nearby towns of Miletus and Dydima.  Miletus was a proud and important coastal city of its day and was visited by Paul during his missionary journeys.  It was here that he said goodbye to his friends.  Dydima was a close-by pagan worship center for the people of Miletus.  With the rise and spread of Christianity, eventually, Christian chapels were founded in Dydima - which were later destroyed by Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate.   We'll spend the next two nights in the port city of Kusadasi. 

Day 9 - Ephesus, Ephesus, Ephesus
We begin the day with a visit to the Church of St. John for a tour and a scenic overview of the surrounding area.  From here our guide will point out the location of the ancient harbor of Ephesus and describe the silting process that led to the demise of this important Roman city. Of special interest is the tomb of John and the baptismal where new believers were immersed. We will also be able to view the site of the ancient wonder - the Temple of Artimus and the nearby Mosque of Jesus (Jesus is a respected prophet to Muslims). This afternoon we'll view a wealth of artifacts awaiting us at the Museum of Ephesus and visit the archeological site of Biblical Ephesus, which hosts a large restoration effort and 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, 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 for a description of the silk harvesting and rug making process.

Day 10: Hierapolis, Colossae & Laodicea 
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 the likely the hot springs of Hierapolis in contrast to the cold mountain springs near Colossae that combined to bring application to the "luke warm" 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).  Colossae is well-known throughout Christian circles as the receiver of Paul's letter to the Colossians. Today, the town has fallen into obscurity and nothing remains.   Laodicea contains many acres of ruins to visit including a stadium and remnants of a sophisticated water system. Our lodging this evening will be in a lovely spa hotel in Pamukkale.

Day 11: Philadelphia, Sardis, Thyatira, Smyrna
Philadelphia was referred to as the "New Jerusalem" (Rev. 3:7-13) in the Book of Revelation, yet today, not much is left of the city except for the ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica in the modern city of AlasehirSardis 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 wood originated. We'll visit the gymnasium and synagogue. A stop will be made in Thyatira to view the ancient roadway and period columns. 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 see Polycarp's Church and the ancient agora. Our lodging this evening will be in Izmir.

Day 12:  Pergamum & Ancient Troy 
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. Ancient Troy is well known for its 3rd and 4th Century BC excavations.  Don't forget to have your picture taken from the top of the Trojan Horse.  We pass by the area known as Troas, where Paul had a vision during his second missionary journey and was called to Macedonia (Acts 16:8-13). Paul later spent a week in Troas preaching here and Eutychus was resurrected (Acts 20:6-12).  Our lodging this evening will be in picturesque Çanakkale.

Day 13: Constantinople
This morning our bus boards a large ferry for the scenic crossing of the Dardanelles to "Trace," the European portion of Turkey.  Views of the bunkers on the hillside and the ocean going vessels give clear understanding to the commentary of the British major losses and World War I defeat in the Dardanelles Strait.  Sea of Marmara with thousands of summer homes will provide the scenery as we travel to  Istanbul. Upon arrival we will visit the fascinating Topkapi Palace housing the many priceless treasures and colorful stories of Ottoman Sultans.  Our lodging for the next two evenings will be in Istanbul.

Day 14: Bustling Istanbul
The tour today will be an unusual combination of Greek Orthodox, Roman, Ottoman and modern day Islam with a city driving tour and entrance into the famed Blue Mosque and St. Sophia Church.   Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey is a thriving seaport and commerce center with a marvelous Bazaar and Spice Market allowing for a perfect opportunity to pick up those last minute souvenirs and gift items. The entire afternoon is free for you to shop and enjoy the hotel facilities.

Day 15: Homeward
An early morning flight will bring us home by this afternoon.

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Price Includes: NYC departure (low cost add-on fares available nationwide), first class (4 Star) lodging, breakfast and dinner daily, modern transportation, sightseeing as listed.

Not included:
Air taxes, transportation to domestic airport, travel insurance, gratuities, visa payable upon arrival in Turkey (currently U.S. $30.00, Canadian $60.00 USD).

Land Only Visa fee is payable upon arrival at airport.

PLEASE NOTE! Bare shoulders, shorts, and shoes are not permitted in the Mosques. Due to some walking at certain sites, comfortable, non-slip shoes are recommended. The order of sites may change if needed to avoid overcrowding.

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My Impressions of Turkey by Angie Vick (pastors wife)
Recommended Reading:  Turkey

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