Day 1: Adana
Arrive at the airport, & transfer to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 2: Alexandretta, the Grotto of St. Peter, & Museum of Roman Mosaics
After breakfast, drive along the picturesque road to Antakya, passing by cotton fields & citrus orchards. When you get there, you’ll visit the "Grotto of St. Peter" where the word "Christian" was used for the first time in history. It was here that Peter first celebrated Mass in 40 A.D. Then, you will visit the Museum of Roman Mosaics, & see the unusually rich collection of mosaics from nearby ruins. After lunch, proceed to ancient Alexandretta, then on to Samandagi (Seleucia Pereira), the port from which Paul & Barnabas sailed to Cyprus on their first journey (Acts 13:4). You will tour the site of the biblical city of Antioch & the remains of the ancient harbors, enjoying perfect panoramic view. (Acts of the Apostles 6:6; 19:30; 13:13; 15:1-2; & 22-25). Dinner & overnight stay in Adana.
Day 3: Tarsus (The Birth Place of St. Paul) & the Cilician Gate
In the morning, drive to Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul (Acts 9:11-30; 11:25; 21:39; 22:3; 25-27). Visit the house where he is believed to have been born. A beautiful Roman gate still graces the road at the main entrance into the modern city. Drive through the Taurus mountains & the Cilician Gates that Alexander the Great passed through to get to Syria in the 4th century B.C. In the afternoon, we’ll explore the region of Biblical Cappadocia, world famous for its enchanting countryside. Dinner & overnight in Nevsehir.
Day 4: Uçhisar, Göreme Open Air Monastery, & Underground City of Kaymakli
After breakfast, we’ll head to the citadel of Uçhisar to see the beautiful landscape of Cappadocia. We’ll take in the pillars, cones & phenomenal "Fairy Chimneys" left behind after the wind & the weather eroded the soft volcanic rock. Cappadocia was a center of medieval Christianity, where St. Basil & St. Gregory taught. Visit the cave dwellings before continuing to Göreme. There, we’ll see the amazing rock chapels hollowed out by early Christians. They secreted themselves away there while they were being sought by their Roman, & later Byzantine, persecutors. They are decorated with vivid frescoes which have withstood the corrosive effects of time, dating back to the 6th to 10th centuries. Then, continue to the underground city of Kaymakli, where 1400 years ago the people carved down through the earth & created huge complexes 50 meters underground. Thirty thousand people could live there for about two years in eight-story complexes of subterranean dwellings. Dinner & overnight in Nevsehir.
Day 5: Iconium, Mevlana Museum, & Lystra
Drive to Konya, the capital of the Seljuk Turks in the 12th & 13th century. It is decorated with monuments showing the glories of the magnificent civilization where St. Paul visited Iconium, using its synagogue as his forum. It is also known as the home of the great 13th-century mystic philosopher known as Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes sect. He was a poet who wrote lyrics extolling the virtues of tolerance & hospitality to every nation. Muslims, Christians & Jews revered him for his ecumenical spirit. Take a visit to his monumental tomb. After lunch, drive to Lystra, the last Roman city on the road to the east. Here Paul & Barnabas were initially treated as gods (14:11-18) & later, Paul was stoned (Acts 14:5). After we have finished our program in Lystra, we will drive to the hotel in Konya for dinner & an overnight stay.
Day 6: Antioch in Pisidia & Antalya
After leaving Konya, we will continue to Antioch in Pisidia (Yalvac), a town where Paul stayed for quite a long time & preached his first sermon (Acts 13:16). "Almost the whole city gathered to hear the words of God" (Acts 13:44). He used it as a base while spreading Christianity in the region (Acts 13:14-50). After lunch, we will drive through the magnificent pine forests of the Taurus Mountains to Antalya on the Turquoise Rivera, one of the most beautiful cities on the Mediterranean Sea. Afternoon at leisure to relax, swim & have fun. Dinner & overnight in Antalya.
Day 7: Perge & Aspendos
In the morning visit Perge, where St. Paul preached on his first missionary journey (Acts. 13:13; 14:25) & Aspendos, which has one of the best-preserved theaters in the world. Even today it is used for many spectacular attractions & has seating for 17,000 people. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Antalya to see the very best examples of early Greek & Roman antiquities of the region. Before you go to the hotel, your guide will provide you with an orientation to the city right on the beach. Dinner & overnight in Antalya.
Day 8: Laodicea & Hierapolis
In the morning we'll drive to Laodicea (Eskihisar). It was a Hellenistic city that was established in the 3rd century at the intersection of important commercial roads. It was a textile center & had a hospital where blind people came to get treatment for their eyes. The theaters, the stadium, the Nymphaeum & the other ruins will be the highlights of your visit. Next, we will be on our way to the "wonder world" of Pamukkale (Cotton Castle), where the thermal mineral waters flow from natural pools forming flowing white terraces. Visit the cascading clefts of the region. Then, on to the ancient city of Hieropolis, which was named after Hiera, wife of the founder of Pergamon. Highlights include the Roman Baths, the temple of Apollo & the Nymphaeum located next to the Acropolis. Next, we'll see the Roman Bath, which was later converted into a church named after St. Philip, who was martyred there. The Necropolis here is one of the biggest in the world, with over 1200 graves & hundreds of sarcophagi dating back to the Hellenistic & Roman era. Overnight stay in Pamukkale, where you can enjoy the hot spring pools.
Day 9: Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, & Kusadasi
After breakfast, we'll drive to Philadelphia. We'll walk through the streets in Alasehir. Then proceed to Sardis, once known as "the richest city & man in the world." (The first coins were minted here.) It was the capital of the Lydian realm of Croesus, located by the ancient Pactole River. The city was the beginning of the famous "King's Road" & stretched all the way up to the Black Sea. We'll enter Sardis from the marble way passing by the old Byzantine shops. Another "must see" is the old Synagogue (3rd c. AD), with its dazzling decoration. Next to that, there is a very well restored gymnasium complex. Lunch is going to be served in Sardis. After lunch, we'll depart for Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey, which has the distinction of being the home of early Christianity & the city where St. Polycarp was martyred. The birthplace of Homer, Izmir will be the starting point for our special Seven Churches of Revelation tour in Asia Minor. Dinner & overnight in Izmir.
Day 10: Ephesus Virgin Mary's House & St. John’s Basilica
Today, we'll depart for one of the greatest archaeological sites as well as the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. The city of Ephesus (1:11, 2:1-7 Acts 18:19-28, 19:1-41) (Ephesians 19:24-40), where St. Paul preached, is an ancient city. In 2nd century, it was the second largest Roman city & was a leading center of worship. Its Temple of Artemis is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The city continued to be an important religious center later, not only in the Byzantine era but also in the Turkish period, due to its strategic position. St. John is buried there & the Holy Virgin spent her last days in this city as well. The east Gymnasium, the state Agora, the remains of the Temple of Isis (Goddess of Egypt), the Heracletes Gate, Curates Street named for the college of the virgin priests guarding Holy Fire of Vesta are all located here. You will also see the Scholastic Baths, the Brothel, the well-preserved two-story Celsius Library, the Marble Road, & a great theater that still hosts concerts & festivals. After Ephesus, we will go to the Basilica of St. John, which contains the crypt where he was buried & which later became a center of worship. Then, we will visit the home of the Virgin Mary, who was brought to Ephesus by John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. Over a hundred thousand pilgrims now visit the home of the Virgin Mary on a hilltop, where she lived out her days. It may be the only place in the world where Christians & Moslems pray side by side. In the afternoon, we'll depart for Izmir, where we will have dinner & stay overnight.
Day 11: Pergamum & Thyatira
We leave for Thyatira (Akhisar) (2:18-29 Acts 16:14). We'll explore the remains of the basilica dedicated to St. John, which dates back to the Byzantine era. Then, proceed to Pergamum (2:12-17), once a kingdom in its own right. It even ruled Ephesus for a short time. An early Hellenistic city, it was a center of culture, commerce, pagan worship & medicine. It was home to philosophers, scientists, fortune tellers & artists who created the masterpieces of the ancient world, such as "the Altar of Zeus," We’ll see the Acropolis & the remains of the celebrated library (where Parchment was first invented) & which held more than 200,000 books in the Roman era. Antonius gave these books as a gift to Cleopatra. The world's steepest Hellenistic-style theater, the marble columned temples of Trojan, the Temple of Dionysus, the Temple of Athena, the sanctuary of Demeter, & the Altar of Zeus are all found here in Pergamum. We will proceed to Asclepion, the great medical center, where you will have a chance to see the curing methods of the ancient doctors for the mentally ill. When we finish our program, we'll proceed to Ayvalik for dinner & an overnight stay.
Day 12: Bursa
We’ll depart for Bursa, one of the biggest & the most beautiful cities of Turkey. When we get there, we are going to have lunch in a famous restaurant with the special “skender Kebab” menu. Then, take a visit to the “Green Tomb” & the “Green Mosque” which is part of a 15th-century monumental Ottoman Complex consisting of a tomb, mosque & medrese (theological school). Then, proceed to the Grand Bazaar & the Silk Bazaar next to it. Dinner & overnight in Bursa.
Day 13: Nicea & Istanbul
Today, we are heading up North to Nicea (Iznik), where the St. Sophia Cathedral was the seat of the first ecumenical council of 325 & the seventh council of 787. We will visit the ruins of Christian edifices remaining in Iznik. After lunch, proceed to Istanbul for dinner & an overnight stay.
Day 14: Istanbul
Head to the "old city" to visit the Hippodrome, which once seated 100,000 spectators. These spectators watched chariot races & gladiator fights performed in the monumental coliseum. The Blue Mosque is famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles, one of the masterpieces of the Ottoman Empire. Right across the street is the Museum of St. Sophia, a fantastic Byzantine church. This church - converted to a mosque & then a museum - takes one’s breath away with the sheer size of its interior & the magnificent dome. Then, we will visit the spectacular Topkapi Palace. This huge complex offers a wonderful view of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus & the Golden Horn. It was the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire for several centuries (1453-1852). There we will see the the priceless Chinese Porcelain collection & the Imperial Terrace. (Treasury & Harem complex excluded). We will also visit the Grand Bazaar, the largest in the world, with over 4000 shops.
Day 15: Return to the US
Transfer to the airport, & board your return flight home.