ItInerary

Trip Note
Description

Arrive in Istanbul airport and transfer to the hotel. You can arrive at any time today as there are no planned activities until dinner at 7pm. Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city, with an estimated population of around 17 million. If this is your first visit to Turkey, you’ll be blown away by the beauty and grandeur of its architecture and history. There will be a notice outside the lift in the lobby confirming the time of dinner.
Welcome Dinner & Night in Istanbul. (Dinner)

After breakfast, we set off to visit the Turkish and Islamic Works Museum, located in Ibrahim Pasha Palace, and which has more than 40,000 pieces of Islamic art from almost all periods in history. We will also visit the Carpet Museum and the famous Blue Mosque.
After lunch, we visit the Aya Sofya (Haigha Sophia) Museum, a former Christian church which was later converted to a mosque which has some of the most breathtaking frescoes in Istanbul. We will also visit the Basilica Cistern, the largest of several hundred cisterns that lie beneath Istanbul.
You will then have some free time to explore or rest before we meet again for dinner at 7pm.
Overnight in Istanbul. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

This morning we will visit Topkapi Palace which was the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost four centuries and is Istanbul’s premier must-see attraction.
After lunch, we visit the Spice Bazaar then enjoy a relaxing cruise of the beautiful Bosphorous, one of the most important straits of water in the world. You’ll have time to freshen up before we meet for dinner. Night in Istanbul. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Early morning flight to Adana, then we drive to Hatay (Antakya) once ruled by Alexander the Great. In ancient times, it was known as Antioch, and was where St. Paul began his missionary journeys. This is also where followers of Christ were called Christians for the first time. At one time Antakya was the third largest city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria, and it played a key role in the spread of Christianity from Palestine to the rest of the world.
After lunch, we visit St. Peter’s Church, one of the first Catholic Churches in the world, and which can be traced to the Acts of the Apostles (11:25-27) where it is related that Barnabas travelled to Tarsus to bring Paul the Apostle to Antioch. We also visit Hatay’s famous mosaic museum. Dinner and overnight in Hatay. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

We then set off on a half hour drive to the town of Samandağ (Seleucia Pieria) where St. Paul and St. Barnabas set sail for Cyprus on their first missionary journey, continuing on to Tarsus, the birthplace of St Paul, and interestingly, the place where Mark Antony and Cleopatra first met. By the time Paul was born Tarsus was already very ancient. The site has been occupied since the Neolithic period, from about the seventh millennium. It’s location on the upper tip of the Fertile Crescent seems to have created a cosmopolitan population of Tarsians who in addition to agriculture, lived on trade between east and west from the very beginning of their history. l In Tarsus we visit St Paul’s Church which has been put under protection since 1993 and underwent restoration between 1998 and 2000 Because of lack of community, regular services are not held, however ceremonies are held for groups of pilgrims. We also visit St Paul’s Well and some interesting ruins in the town.
Overnight in Tarsus. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Early start to Cappadocia, famous for its cave houses dug by hand in the natural rock formations that form the magical landscape of this area. Then, we go to the Ihlara Valley to look at the beautiful scenery as well as ruins of over 60 Byzantine churches, chapels and monasteries dating back to the 11th - 13th centuries. What makes the valley unique is the ancient history of its inhabitants - Due to the valley's plentiful supply of water and hidden places, it was the settlement of the first Christians escaping from Roman soldiers. The whole canyon is honeycombed with rock-cut underground dwellings and churches from the Byzantine period.

This afternoon we visit a carpet-weaving centre to learn about the art of Turkish handmade carpets. The rest of the afternoon is free to wander and soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful area.
Dinner and night in Uçhisar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Today we will tour key sites in the region, visiting places such as Paşabağ (where the most unusual of the rock formations are located) and Goreme Open Air Museum which consists of a cluster of rock-cut churches, chapels and monasteries. It was originally home to around 20 Byzantine monks, and from the 17th Century, became a pilgrimage site. The monks carved the caves from the soft volcanic stone and decorated them with elaborate Byzantine frescoes.
Many of the frescoes in the churches have been damaged by wind, water, weather, earthquakes, and also by locals, who were taught that the images were sinful. In spite of this, the beauty of the churches and their decoration is still apparent.
We also visit Kaymakli Underground City which was built by early Christians fleeing Roman persecution and Avanos which is famous for its pottery.
Dinner tonight will be at a Turkish Nights cultural show which showcases all of the different types of dancing from Turkey – from folk dances from various regions to Belly Dancing. Night in Uçhisar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Before sunrise enjoy a fabulous 1 hour hot air balloon ride over the top of the amazing landscape of Cappadocia. Enjoy champagne on landing.
After breakfast, we depart for Konya (Iconium) with a stop along the way for morning tea at Sultan Hanı, once the largest caravan serai along the Silk Road in Turkey.
Konya was visited by St Paul during his first missionary journey and it is believed that he and Silas visited it again during his second missionary journey.Konya is also a place of religious significance for people of the Islamic faith, as it was also the home of Rumi, a 13th century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian and Sufi mystic spent most of his years. We visit St. Paul’s Church, the Whirling Dervish Museum and Mevlana Mausoleum.After lunch we drive to Lystra which is mentioned five times in the New Testament and was visited a few times by the Apostle Paul, along with Barnabas or Silas. We also visit Yalvaç (Pisidian Antioch) where Paul preached his first recorded sermon and uttered his famous words “Now we turn to Gentiles”. While in town we also visit the ruins of two Basilicas.
Dinner and Night in Egirdir. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Early morning departure for Antalya, stopping to visit Perge where St Paul and Luke stayed long enough to preach and talk with people on their return from Antioch (Acts 14:25). Then, a short city tour of Antalya (Attalia) from where they went back to Antioch to complete their first journey. City tour includes the Hadrianus Gate and the Groove Minaret Mosque.
Dinner and overnight in Antalya. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

This morning we drive to Pamukkale, the location of the ancient Roman spa town of Hierapolis, and the site of St Phillip’s tomb. We stop to visit Akkhan Caravan Serai on the way. On our way in to Pamukkale, we will also stop to visit a textile factory, as the Denizli region which Pamukkale is part of, is famous for its textiles and cotton products which are exported all over the world.
Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

After breakfast, we go to the nearby small ruin site of Laodikya that receives passing mention in the Letter to the Colossians and is one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Return to the hotel for lunch and a rest, then in the late afternoon, after all the big tour buses have gone, we will visit the Roman city of Hierapolis, which was the centre of Epaphra’s work (Colossians 4:13) when Paul was writing to strengthen his preachment. This is also the place where one of the Apostles, St Philip, was martyred. During the tour we will also visit the Cleopatra Antique Pool – its thermal waters are reported to have significant health benefits, and the temperature of the water makes it suitable for swimming all year round. You will be given free time to either swim in the pool or explore and take photographs.
We conclude today’s tour with a visit to Pamukkale’s famous white travertine pools (calcium pools) which are likened to a frozen waterfall. You will have the opportunity to stay on at the travertines to sit and enjoy a beautiful Pamukkale sunset.
Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

After breakfast, we move on to ancient Philadelphia which was known for its variety of temples and worship centres. “The church of brotherly love that endures patiently” (Revelation 3:7-13). The city is perhaps best known as the site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia in the Book of Revelation.
Next we visit Sardis, located on the banks of the Pactolus River in western Asia Minor. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times. As one of the Seven Churches of Asia, it was referred to in the Book of Revelation in a way that gives the impression that its residents were fainthearted. In ancient times, Sardis was important because of its military, and its location on a highway to the Aegean coast. It was also a very fertile agricultural area.
Then it’s off to to Akhisar which also hosted one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Thyateira, Thyatira).

We end the day with a visit to Miletus and its Great Harbour Monument where, according to the New Testament, Paul stopped on his way back to Jerusalem by boat on his third journey. This is where St. Paul gave a speech to spread Christianity and met with the Ephesian elders – when he addressed them he cautioned them to keep watch over their flocks (Acts 20:35). The elders were very emotional at the parting, understanding that they would probably never see Paul again.
Miletus is also well known for its massive Hellenistic theatre which was reconstructed by the Romans and, for many people, is the most impressive theatre structure in Turkey.
Drive to the coastal town of Kuşadası where we will have dinner.
Night in Kuşadası. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Today we have an early breakfast so we can beat the crowds for our visit to nearby Ephesus which was the most influential capital city of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea. “Ephesus receives praise for its perseverance, but criticism for forsaking its “first love” (Rev. 2:1-7). Here you will explore some of the best preserved theatres, fountains and buildings in the world. Imagine Paul proclaiming the gospel as you sit in the impressive theatre of Ephesus and imagine the streets of Ephesus filled with people as it was in Paul’s time here.
In Ephesus, Paul’s preaching caused trouble. The local silversmiths made their living selling effigies of the Anatolian fertility goddess (Cybele/Artemis/Diana) to pilgrims coming to visit the gigantic marble Temple of Artemis. The more the Ephesians listened to Paul, the less they believed in Artemis—and the fewer effigies they bought.
The silversmiths brought spurious charges against Paul, but after a dramatic 'kangaroo court' in the Great Theater he was released, having committed no crime. He continued his journey, later visited Miletus. After lunch, we then visit the House of the Virgin Mary, a place of pilgrimage for people of all denominations, and accepted by the Vatican as a pilgrimage destination.
Finally, we visit the Basilica of St John which stands over the believed burial site of St John, the Apostle, evangelist (author of the Fourth Gospel) and prophet (author of Revelation).
Free night for you to go out and sample some of Kuşadası’s fantastic restaurants and enjoy the atmosphere of this coastal port town.
Dinner and Night in Kuşadası. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Early morning start to Izmir (ancient Smyrna) which was one of the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. Saint Ignatius of Antioch visited Smyrna and later wrote letters to its bishop, Polycarp. Here we will visit the St Polycarp Church, the oldest church in Izmir and reconstructed in 1620.
We then drive to Bergama, ancient Pergamum, ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s generals and then by the Romans. The road up to the Acropolis winds 5km up around a hill that takes your breath away. There is also a Temple & library and a vertigo inducing theatre which must have been very impressive in its time. Lunch, then continue to Assos which was also visited by St Paul. Go back in time in this village of hand-built rock houses and enjoy the sunset over the beautiful harbour setting.
Dinner and night in Assos. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

We leave Assos, driving to Alexandra Troas where St Paul met Luke. Continue to Troy visiting this famous archaeological and mythological site, home of the famous Trojan Horse and Helen of Troy. We make a late afternoon visit to the Gallipoli battlefields which will leave you feeling very emotional.
Dinner and Night in Çanakkale. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

This morning we drive to Bursa, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Here we visit the mausoleum of Bursa’s founder, Bursa’s famous silk bazaar and the Green Mosque. For dinner tonight we will go to a restaurant that specialises in the Iskender (Alexander) kebab, one of Turkey’s most famous dishes which originated in Bursa.
Overnight in Bursa. (Breakfast, Lunch)

This morning we set out for İznik ( Nicea ) where the First and Seventh Ecumenical Councils took place. Iznik was also a major pottery-making centre in Ottoman times, with Iznik tiles used to decorate many of Istanbul’s mosques. While this industry has been relocated to other centres, some pottery continues to be made here.
We then drive to Yalova from where we catch a car ferry back to Istanbul. Free night.
(Breakfast, Dinner)

A sleep in this morning and then after breakfast, we visit the historical Grand Bazaar whose 4500 shops filled with ceramics, carpets, jewellery, leather and a range of other treasures will amaze you. After a brief information session, you have some free time to shop or simply find a place to sit and watch the world go by.

After lunch we meet up to go over to Taksim, the city centre of Istanbul – here we will walk along the famous Istiklal Caddesi which is a favourite place for Turkish people to stroll and enjoy the sights. We will also visit beautiful St Anthony’s Catholic Church and the French district with its charming French architecture and its restaurants with French décor.
St Anthony’s of Padua Church (known locally as Sent Antuan) is the largest Catholic Church in Istanbul, and has a large, active community. The original church was built in 1725 by the local Italian community, but was later demolished and replaced. The church is considered a minor basilica, and is run by Italian priests. Pope John XXIII preached here for 10 years as the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey prior to being elected Pope. He was affectionately referred to as the “Turkish Pope” because of his fluent Turkish as his well-known love for the city of Istanbul.
You will have time for a rest and freshen up before we meet for our farewell dinner.

Free morning for shopping, transfer to airport. Fly home.
(Breakfast)
Inclusions:
 18 nights in comfortable hotels
 All entrance fees
 18 breakfasts
 16 lunches
 16 dinners
 1 domestic flight from Istanbul to Adana
 Arrival and Departure Airport Transfers on tour start and finish days. (Transfers on other days will be subject to an additional charge)
 Full transport in air-conditioned, non smoking bus
 Turkish Registered Professional English Speaking tour guide
 Turkish Cultural Night including Drinks

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