Day 1 : ISTANBUL
Upon our arrival at Istanbul International Airport “ Attaturk”. Meet, assist and transfer to hotel. Its original name is Byzantium then Constantinople. It is a most fascinating city, which actually crosses two continents Europe and Asia. It is a city of amalgamation of bazaars, minarets, mosques, churches, palaces, and restaurants catering to every one’s taste, museums, customs and twelve million people. We will enjoy a panoramic bus drive showing the various highlights of this cosmopolitan city such as the Byzantine Walls of Constantinople, the Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus shorelines.Check into our hotel Dinner and overnight.
Day 2 : ISTANBUL ( B. )
Discover the Byzantine and Ottoman treasures of Istanbul. We visit St. Sofia, the (church of the sacred wisdom), converted to a mosque from a Christian basilica after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. We see the Hippodrome and the Obelisk brought from Egypt. Then our next visit is the Blue Mosque with its six minarets. Before lunch we will visit the Underground cistern . Continue with the Grand Covered Bazaar. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 3 : ISTANBUL ( B. )
Morning private Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul . After free time in Spice Market lunch near Spice market. Afternoon We will visit the Topkapi Palace which was the residence of the Ottoman sultans, with its fabulous treasure chambers. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 4 : ISTANBUL – TROY – CANAKKALE ( B. D. )
After breakfast we depart for Gallipoli, through the European lands of Turkey. Cross the Dardanelles Strait by ferry-boat. Lunch en route. Visit ancient Troy, see the legendary walls and the replica of the wooden horse. Drive to Canakkale, that lends its name to the Straits of the Dardanelles (in antiquity it was called Hellespont). This narrow passage connects the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and further north opens into the Black Sea, on the southern shores of the former USSR. Check in at the hotel followed by dinner and overnight.
Day 5 : PERGAMON – THYATIRA – IZMIR ( B. D. )
After breakfast at our hotel in Canakkale, we drive to Pergamum, actually called Bergama. It is one of the sites of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 2:12]. Here we explore the impressive Acropolis, the steepest theatre in the world, the Asklepieion, famous medical centre of classical times, see the Altar of Zeus which is mentioned as the «Throne of Satan» in the book of Revelation, the marble columns of the Temple of Trajan and the Library which was foremost in the world and was long a rival of the equally famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Its wealth of volumes was estimated at over 200,000. It inspired the invention of parchment. We also visit the Red Basilica (St. John’s Church). Buffet lunch is provided at a local restaurant. Then we continue our visit to Thyatira, now called Akhisar, another one of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 2:18-24; Acts 16:14]. It was a city famous for purple dyes. We visit the remains of a basilica and some architectural fragments from the Roman period. Lydia, the seller of purple in Philippi, was from Thyatira. Before we check in at the hotel in Izmir, we enjoy a panoramic ride of Smyrna, the third largest city in Turkey and one of the sites of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 2:12-17]. Smyrnas is a city scarred with a bloody history of trade and warfare. We ascend to Mount Pagus where we visit the Citadel of Lysimachos, commander of Alexander the Great, erected in the 4th century BC. We will also see the Clock Tower. Check in at the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 : IZMIR – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA – HIERAPOLIS ( B. D. )
Today we depart early in the morning to one of the most picturesque areas of any of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 3:1-4], Sardis, presently Sart. This was the capital of the ancient Lydian kingdom of the 6th century BC, portrayed as a dying church. We visit the great Temple of Artemis and the Temple of Cybele, which became a Byzantine Church. We will also visit the restored gymnasium and reconstructed Synagogue. We also see the last several meters of the royal Persian Road from Susa to Sardis built by Cyrus the Great and the «golden» river Pactolos. Lunch en route. Then we continue our journey to Philadelphia, nowadays called Alasehir, another church of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 3:7], and the only church not censured. There we see the remains of a Byzantine basilica built of brick, with a bit of high arch and some 11th century frescoes. We drive to the healing city of Hierapolis, actually Pamukkale, the white «cotton fortress» where hot mineral water bursts from the earth and cascades over steep cliffs forming pools, channels and stalactites. The therapeutic waters were known to the founders of Hierapolis and of Laodicea in 190 BC. In Hierapolis [Col. 4:13] we visit the Martyrium of the Apostle Philip where he was martyred during the persecutions ordered by Domitian. We visit the Gate of Domitian, the Arcadian Way, the 2nd century AD Theatre, the Nymphaion, the Temple of Apollo, the Plutonium and the Necropolis. Check in at hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 7 : LAODICEA – APHRODISIAS – KUSADASI ( B. D. )
We depart for Laodicea (present name Denizli) yet another of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor [Rev. 1:11; 3:14; Col. 2:1; 4:13-16]. We see the ancient theatre, the remains of basilica and ancient stone water pipes. Aphrodisias is our next stop. We visit the best-preserved ancient stadium ever excavated where the seating capacity was 30,000. We see the odeon with its extraordinary blue marble stage, the Temple of Aphrodite that marks the site of ancient veneration, Hadrian’s Bath and the Bishop’s Palace, part of a building christened by the archaeologists. Lunch is provided at a local restaurant. Drive to Kusadasi where we will have supper and spend the night at the hotel. In the Turkish language, Kusadasi, this lovely and peaceful little port and fashionable resort, means “Island of Birds”. It is built along the shores of a glittering bay, around a tiny islet covered with pine-trees and flowers. The terraced town overlooks the most beautiful bay of the Aegean Sea and seems it has been created purely for the delight of the holidaymaker. Check in at hotel. Dinner and overnight.
Day 8 : EPHESUS – KUSADASI ( B. D. )
Breakfast at the hotel. Today we enjoy a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus including the Basilica of St. John. The Apostle Paul preached to the Ephesians and lived here for three years. This church also received an epistle from him. We tour the spectacular ruins where excavations still continue in this once great and important city, which was founded in the 10th century BC. Walk through history along marble streets lined with wonderful public buildings, among them the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the Theatre. The Temple of Diana of the Ephesians, another of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was built in this city. We visit the Basilica of St. John. Lunch at a selected restaurant. Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 9 : IZMIR – ISTANBUL – HOME ( B.)
Pick up from hotel and transfer to Izmir airport for flight back home.