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Biblical & Historical Turkey

Turkey is a democratic country with a historically strategic location that delineates the boundary between Europe and Asia. This makes Turkey one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world.  This tour highlights its ancient historical and religious foundations.

Bosphorus Bridge

Day 1 Thursday – Istanbul -
Arrival in Istanbul, the city that bridges two continents, “Europe” and “Asia” (literally, the Bosphorus Bridge above connects both continents). You will be met at the airport, and transfered to the hotel. There you will have a briefing and welcome cocktail. Overnight in Istanbul. (D) 

St Sophia
Day 2 Friday - Istanbul -
Morning visit to the Museum of St. Sophia (the Church of Divine Wisdom, built by Justinian). The building was a basilica, later a mosque, now a museum. Famous for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 A.D.  and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site (the previous two had both been destroyed by riots).  It was the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years.  It was the church in which Cardinal Humbert excommunicated Cerularius, marking the official start of the division between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.  Afterwards, we visit to the Hippodrome, where chariot races and athletic events took place during the Roman period. Continue to the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent. Lunch at Daruzziyafe, a formal medieval Islamic college. Then an afternoon visit to the Kariye Museum, the old church of St. Savior in Chora treasuring the marvelous mosaics and frescoes that represent scenes drawn from  the cycle of the life of the Virgin and of Christ that have been restored under the guidance of the Byzantine Institute of Boston. Visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the world.  Overnight Stay in Istanbul (B, L, D) 

Illustration of Pergamon
Day 3 Saturday - Pergamon - Thyatira -
Early in the morning, take flight to Izmir then proceed to Pergamon (Bergama). The Acropolis holds the remains of an altar believed to be dedicated to Zeus. It was perhaps to this altar that John of Patmos referred to as "Satan's Throne" in his Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:12-13). The Acropolis is also home to the second largest library in ancient Greece. Mark Anthony gave this library to Cleopatra as a wedding gift.  Visit the Church of Pergamon. In the first century AD, the Christian Church at Pergamon inside the main building of the Red Basilica was one of the Seven Churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed (Revelation 2:12). The forecourt is still supported by the 193 m wide Pergamon Bridge, the largest bridge substruction of antiquity.  After lunch,  we drive to Thyatira, the fourth of the seven Churches of Asia Minor to receive an epistle from the Apostle John (Rev. 2:18-29). Overnight stay in Izmir Kusadasi. (B, L D) 


Day 4 Sunday -  Smyrna - Sardis - Philadelphia - Leodicia - Pamukkale (Hierapolis)-
Departure to Sardis, to see the Sardis Synagogue, perhaps the most impressive yet discovered from antiquity, yielding over eighty Greek and seven Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors. Next, continue to Philadelphia, another of the Christian congregations, and a city built in 2 BC by King Eumenos. Continue to Paumukkale (Hierapolis). Visit Leodicia enroute. Watch the sunset over the petrified waterfalls. Overnight in Pamukkale. (B, L D) 

Mary's Chapel
Day 5 Monday - Chapel of the Virgin Mary – Ephesus -
After visiting Pamukkale, drive towards Ephesus, one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the Book of Revelation. It was home to Paul the Apostle between 53 AD - 57 AD, and it's also possible the Gospel of John may have been written here. Ephesus is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard.  We will stop at Chapel of the Virgin Mary where it is said John brought her to live in peace in her final years. Continue to the impressive St. John’s Basilica and his tomb. In the afternoon visit the remains of the Temple of Artemis, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Odeon, the marble street where Paul walked and held daily discussions (act. 19:9), the Celsus Library, the Temple of Hadrian and the theater Where Paul preached. Dinner and overnight in the resort town of Kusadasi. (B, L D) 

Day 6 - Cappadocia
- After early morning breakfast we transfer to Izmir Airport for short flight to Cappadocia. The name  Cappadocia was traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history and is still widely used as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders. There are natural landscapes here not seen anywhere else. The region is mentioned in the Biblical account given in the book of Acts 2:9. The Cappadocians were named as one group hearing the Gospel account from Galileans in their own language on the day of Pentecost shortly after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:5.   (B, L, D)

Day 7 - Cappadocia  -
After the eruption of Mount Erciyes about 2000 years ago, ash and lava formed soft rocks in the Cappadocia Region, covering a region of about 20,000 km2. People of Göreme realized that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries. These Christian sanctuaries, now called the Open Air Museum, contain many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period. The frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from this period.  After lunch we visit Uchisar Castle, offering a magnificent view of the region, Pasabag Valley with its unique natural formations called fairy chimneys, the amazing Pigeon Valley and Avanos. (optional evening Turkish Night). (B, L, D) 

Day 8 
- Cappadocia  – Cappadocia contains several underground cities largely used by early Christians as hiding places before they became an accepted religion. Some of the cities have up to 10 stories and housed approximately 60,000 people. Today we visit one of those underground cities.  We also visit Ihlara Valley, the first settlement of Christians escaping from Rome, and the impressive rock-hewn cathedral in Selime. Overnight in Cappadocia(B, L,D)

Day 9 
- Istanbul – Today we fly back to Istanbul where you can continue on an extension of this trip or transfer to airport for flight home. (B)  

Price Includes
 - Arrival, departure airport transfers
Transportation in non-smoking mini/midi bus with professional English speaking guide and experienced driver.
Domestic flights as mentioned 
Accommodations in 4 and 5 star hotels, double occupancy
Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Entrance fees to the various sites

Price Does Not Include
 - International flights from U.S.
Tips to guide/driver
 - Optional tours

Other 3-14 day itineraries also available. Contact us today for details!

See also - Eastern Turkey