Footsteps of St. Paul in Asia Minor (17 Nights/18 Days) Tour Itinerary:
Day 1: Istanbul.
Arrival and transfer from the airport to your hotel. Brief tour outline and city orientation given. Free day at your own leisure. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2: Istanbul.
Pick up from your hotel to visit Topkapi Palace, with royal treasury and elegant four courts. After lunch, proceed to the Hagia Sophia, a great Byzantine architectural masterpiece, whose interior is resplendent with golden mosaics. Then admire the delicate design and Iznik tiles of the Blue Mosque. Explore the ancient Roman Hippodrome with Egyptian Obelisk and Serpentine Column. Finally, stop off at the dazzling Grand Bazaar with over 4000 shops. Drop off to hotel. Overnight in Istanbul. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 3: Istanbul.
Pick up from your hotel to visit the bustling Spice Market – a colourful bazaar heaped with various sweets and spices. Stop into the beautifully tiled tiny Rustem Pasha Mosque before taking a relaxing Bosphorus boat cruise between the continents of Europe and Asia – gliding past Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, ornate wooden Ottoman mansions and mosques, Rumeli Fortress and the Bosphorus Bridge. Free afternoon at your leisure. Drop off to hotel. Overnight in Istanbul. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Ankara.
Pick up in the morning and drive to Ankara, where you can stroll the streets of the old quarter and the Ankara Citadel, before visiting the Mausoleum of Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Later you will have time to admire the magnificent treasures of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, where Neolithic frescoes, Bronze Age emblems, Hittite objects and the remains of the fabled Phrygian King Midas are exhibited. Overnight in Ankara. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Cappadocia.
Pick up in the morning for Cappadocia. Explore Devrent and Monk’s Valley, to see the extraordinary mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles or ‘fairy chimneys’. Continue on to the small village of Avanos, famous for clay pottery design. After lunch, proceed to the Goreme Open Air Museum, featuring the most impressive rock-carved churches and Byzantine frescoes in all Cappadocia. Finally enjoy a view of the moonscape valleys from the rock-perched natural citadel at Uchisar. Drop off to hotel. Overnight in Cappadocia. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 6: Cappadocia.
Pick up from your hotel to and start with a gentle hike through orchards, unusual volcanic rock formations and rock-cut houses at Red & Rose Valley, (approx. 5km). Visit the old Christian Village of Cavusin, followed by lunch and then an excursion to Pigeon Valley. In the afternoon, visit Kaymakli Underground City, which hid local Christians from Arab invaders, Ortahisar Castle and Mustafapasa Greek village. Drop off to hotel. Overnight in Cappadocia. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: Adana.
Pick up in the morning and drive to Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul, and cultural centre of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, later controlled by Arabs, Crusaders and Mamelukes. Drive through the Taurus Mountains and visit St. Paul’s Arch, the Well of the Blessed Water (said to be on the site of St. Paul’s house) and Cleopatra’s Gate (built in 2 AD after the Egyptian queen who met the Roman Mark Anthony here). Overnight in Adana. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 8: Adana.
Antakya Region Tour Biblical Antioch-on-Orantes and third largest city in the old Roman Empire. Here Barnabas brought Paul to join in the congregation’s ministry for the first sustained efforts to bring non-Jews into the Christian community, calling the first converts ‘Christians’. Visit the town of Samandag, once the ancient biblical port of Seleucia ad Piera serving Antioch. See the Grotto of St. Peter – a little cave church where early Christians secretly met for prayer, the Titus Water Tunnel and the exquisite Roman mosaics on display at the Mosaic Museum. Overnight in Adana. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 9: Konya.
Pick up in the morning for Konya, from which St. Paul and St. Barnabas were forced to flee due to persecution. Centuries later, it became the focus for the Whirling Dervishes’ mystical order, under the founding ‘Mevlana’ or master Sufi philosopher. Visit the Whirling Dervish Museum and Monastery, which houses the sacred silver and gold decorated Tomb of the Mevlana. Nearby, you will visit the beautiful hill-perched Syrian and Selcuk style Alaeddin Mosque and its unique medrese with tiled dome of stars, hunting friezes and ceramic collection. Overnight in Konya. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Antalya.
Pick up in the morning for Yalvac, site of the ancient city Antioch-in-Pisidia near the foothills of the snow capped Sultan Mountains. It was here in a local synagogue that St. Paul’s sermon presenting Jesus in light of Israel’s history to a mixed audience was recorded. See the ruins of the paved and colonnaded streets, theatre and aqueduct. In the afternoon, drive to Antalya, a coastal resort town with picturesque old quarter, shopping bazaars and natural yachting harbour. Overnight in Antalya. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 11: Antalya.
Pick up in the morning for an excursion to the ancient city of Perge – a Pamphylian city where St. Paul later preached after arriving from Cyprus. Walk through the Roman Gate and down the Colonnaded Avenue past the Agora, Baths, Hippodrome and Aqueduct terminating at the Nymphaeum or great fountain. This is followed by a visit to the Aspendos Theatre, a gigantic 2nd century Roman design so well preserved that it is still in use today. Continue on to the ancient city of Side and the Temple of Apollo, at whose ancient port landed St. Paul, Barnabas & Mark during their missionary journeys, en route to Antioch. Overnight in Antalya. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Pamukkale.
Pick up in the morning for Pamukkale or ‘Cotton Castle’, famous for the healing properties of its thermal mineral baths and beautiful cascading snow-white terraced cliff side basins and waterfalls. After lunch, visit the ancient Roman city ruins of Hierapolis, where St. Philip the Apostle was martyred in 1AD. See the magnificently preserved Necropolis, Avenue of Tombs, Gates, Thermal Baths, Devil’s Hole and the Masterpiece Theatre. Drop off to hotel for a leisurely bath in the hot spring pool of your hotel. Overnight in Pamukkale. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 13: Kusadasi.
Pick up in the morning to visit Eskihisar, site of the ancient city of Laodicea. It ranked among the Seven Churches of Asia, to which St. John addressed his letter concerning the city’s faith and its waning progress. This is followed by a tour of one of Turkey’s most beautiful ancient cities – Aphrodisias, renowned for its intricate stone friezes and aesthetic architecture. See the Temple of Aphrodite, the monumental Tetra Pylon Gateway, the ancient Gladiator Stadium and many delicate carvings and sculptures in the onsite museum. Overnight in Kusadasi. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 14: Izmir.
Pick up from your hotel. Visit the House of Virgin Mary, where she is said to have spent her final years. Continue on to the marble white ancient city of Ephesus, where St. Paul’s Third Journey involved a long ministry. See spectacularly restored monuments such as the great Library of Celsus, Agora, Odeon, Trajan Fountain, Domitianus Temple, Roman Latrines, Theatre and Stadium in which St. Paul preached the gospel. Following a lunch break in Selcuk, visit the Archaeology Museum and St. John’s Basilica, a Byzantine church ruin marking his burial place. Also stop-off at the picturesque Sirince village. Drop off to hotel. Overnight in Izmir. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 15: Izmir.
Pick up in the morning for an excursion to the Church of St. Policarp in Izmir, one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. This is followed by a visit to Sardis – the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. Walk the Royal Avenue and see the site of one of the Seven Churches built on the foundations of the Temple of Artemis. Then proceed to the ancient Philadelphia Church at Alasehir and one of the last cities to fall to the Ottomans. Overnight in Izmir. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 16: Canakkale.
Pick up in the morning for Akhisar to visit the Church of ancient Thyatira, one of the Seven Churches, set in an ancient commercial town with strong ties to Troy and Sardes. This is followed by a visit to the hill-perched Acropolis, Asclepion (hospital), Altar of Zeus and other pagan temples of ancient Pergamum at Bergama. Also see the church ruins at the site of ancient Serapium and the Red Court of St. John. Drive to Canakkale. Overnight in Canakkale. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 17: Istanbul.
Pick up in the morning for the ancient city of Troy. Following a lunch break en-route, visit the archaeological site of this 5000 years old city, scene of the legendary Trojan War as described in Homer’s Iliad. See a reconstruction of the fabled Wooden Horse, the city ruins from a succession of 9 civilizations, the Roman Bouletarion, Theatre and onsite Museum. St. Paul travelled through the southern city of Troas nearby here several times. After the tour, continue to drive back to Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 18: Departure.
Free Day. Depart from Istanbul / Additional nights in Istanbul. Includes: (B).
Notes: Airfare is not included in the tour price.
(B), (L), (D); B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner
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