The Seven Churches of Revelation & Istanbul
Patmos - Kusadasi - Pamukkale - 250 Kms
Drive to the top of Mr. Coressus to the church of the Virgin Mary where according to tradition, she lived the last years of her life. Then drive down to the excavated site of Ephesus, which was the most famous metropolis of Asia Minor, colonized by Greeks in about 1000 B.C., the city is known for its many outstandingarcheological ruins. In the New Testament times, the city was surrounded by a circuit wall nearly 6 kms long. It was the home of the nature goddess, Diana (Artemis) and was a very wealthy commercial center. TheTemple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient World, was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. Paul arrived in Ephesus around 55 A.D. where he ministered for nearly three years. Next to Rome, this wasthe most important city Paul visited. Tradition says that Timothy was the first bishop of the city. Ephesus also was one of the seven churches to whom Christ wrote (Rev 2:1-7). Then visit the Basilica and the tomb of St. John. Proceed to Laodicea, founded in 261-247 B.C. by Antiochus II of Syria, it was named for his wife, Laodicea, and populated with Syrians and Jews from Babylon. It was known for its fine black wool and Phrygian powder for the eyes. A heathen temple and a medical school were located here. Because of a spirit of lukewarm ness and worldliness in the church, Christ's message to the Laodiceans was a fearful one (Rev. 3:14-22). After completion the visit of Laodicea, we will drive to Hierapolis, to visit the ancient city built on the calcareous cascades of Pamukkale (Cotton Castle). This is the site of Philip the Evangelist's martyrdom and world-famous necropolis. Check in to your hotel for dinner and stay overnight.
Pamukkale - Philadelphia - Sardes - Izmir (Smyrna) - 225 Kms
Our first visit of the day will be Alaşehir (Philadelphia), "the city of brotherly love". Philadelphia was a center of the wine industry, and its chief deity was Dionysus. Philadelphia has suffered many earth quakes, and for the most part, the people lived outside the town to watch for the next catastrophe. The Christian church here was a missionary church that had before it "an open door" of opportunity (Rev. 3:7-13). Christ promised that he would keep them from the hour of temptation. Next we will drive west toward ancient Sardis, 70 miles east of Smyrna. The fifth church named in the letters to the seven churches (Rev. 3:1-6), Sardis was located on important commercial routes running east and west through the rich kingdom of Lydia, of which it was the capital. The first coins were said to have been minted here under the wealthy Croesus. The Sardians embraced the mystery cults. Among the ruins of Sardis are the remains of the ancient temple of Artemis of the fourth century B.C. as well as a Christian church dating from the fourth century A.D. The letter to this church accused the people of pretending to be what they were not. They had an outward show of strength, but were not watchful. After our visit to Sardis, we will drive to Izmir, biblical Smyrna. After a short visit to Mt. Pagos, known as Kadifekale (Velvet Castle), we will view Symrna, one of the seven churches Christ addressed in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 2:8-11). Symrna was a rich and prosperous city, 40 miles north of Ephesus. Once it was one of the finest cities in Asia. Largely inhabited in ancient times by Jews bitterly opposed to Christ, and Christianity, the church at Smyrna became the type of a suffering church. In Christ's letter, the Christians in Smyrna were commended for their faithfulness, and no word of reproach was uttered. Polycarp, an outstanding second-century church leader, served in Symrna and was martyred there around A.D. 169. If time permits we will visit the Polycarp church and then check-in to our hotel for dinner and stay overnight.
Izmir - Thyatira - Pergamum - Canakkale - 420 Kms
After tbreakfast and check-out we will drive to Akhisar, biblical Thyatira. Another of the famed seven churches of the Revelation, Thyatira is located 60 miles northeast of Smyrna. Thyatira was the home of Lydia, a wealthy seller of purple dye and Paul's first convert in Macedonia. The letter to Thyatiran (Rev.2:18-29) reflects the presence of "that woman Jezebel" who brought havoc in the church. The faithful believers were encouraged to "hold fast what they had" until Christ comes. Thyatira also was famous for the artists' guilds during the time of Paul. We will continue our tour to the Acropolis of Pergamum, which one was one of the strongest Anatolian city states of Pre-Hellenistic period. The letter to the church at Pergamos (Rev.2:12-17) indicates that the power of evil was present there, although a strong witness for Christ was noted. Antipas was martyred at Pergamos because of his faith. We will also visit the Red courtyard that was converted to a church. Then our visit of Pergamum vill be completed by visiting the Asclepieum, the medical center of the ancient world. We will continue driving to Canakkale. (Due to the short days and early sunset, we will skip the visit of Troy today, and visit it tomorrow morning). Dinner and overnight at Canakkale.
Canakkale - Troy - Istanbul - 415 Kms
The fabled town of Troy, with its worldwide recognition because of the epic poem of Homer, The Illiad, will be our first visit before heading for Istanbul, the ancient Constantinople via crossing the Dardanelles strait. Drive through the 1st World War battle fields of Gallipoli to Istanbul. Bosphorus cruise by a private motor boat on arrival at Istanbul in the afternoon. Cruise along the Bosphorus in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast we will leave hotel for a full day city of Istanbul; We will then visit the Hippodrome, where athletic events took place during the Roman and Byzantine times. The Blue Mosque, which was built in 17th century and unique with its 6 minarets and 12th century blue tiles. St. Sophia, which was originally built as the first Christian Cathedral in A.D. 536, then converted into a mosque following the conquering of Constantinople. It was finally made a museum by Ataturk after the foundation of The Turkish Republic. Topkapi Palace museum displays the wealth of the Ottoman Empire. The 16th century The Grand Bazaar with its more than 400 shops will be the last visit of the day. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Istanbul - ...
After breakfast, check out the hotel and transfer to the airport in time for homebound flight.