Footsteps of Paul (18 days)
Arrival to Istanbul. Your guide meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Overnight stay in Istanbul.
Day 2: Istanbul
Full day tour in Istanbul. Visit Hagia Sofia, Underground Byzantine Cistern (Yerebatan), Hippodrome of Istanbul, Blue Mosque (The Sultan Ahmed Mosque), Topkapi Palace including Harem section and Grand Bazaar. Overnight stay in Istanbul.
Day 3: Istanbul
We will first visit the Old Spice Bazaar in the morning.Afterwards you will have a 2 hour Bosphorus cruise by ferry to see the Anadolu Hisari, Rumeli Hisari, old mansions, waterfront wood houses, imperial palaces, hunting lodges, modern villas on both the European and Asians shores of the strait while cruising. Your last stop during this tour will be Chora Museum (Church of Holy Savior in Chora); return to hotel and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 4: Istanbul – Hatay (Antakya)
Early morning transfer to airport to fly to Adana; arrival to Adana, transfer to Hatay (also known as Antioch). After Rome and Alexandria it was the 3rd largest Roman city and St. Paul began his missionary journeys from there. The city became home to the first Christian church outside of the land of Israel and was the first place in which followers of Jesus were referred to as Christians. St. Peter also visited Antioch (Galatians 2:11). After lunch you will visit St. Peter Church and the famous mosaic museum. Overnight stay in Hatay.
Day 5: Hatay (Antakya)-Tarsus
We will drive to the town of Samandag (Seleucia Pieria) where Paul and Barnabas set sail for Cyprus on their first missionary journey; then we proceed to Tarsus, birthplace of St. Paul. You visit St. Paul’s Church which has been put under protection since 1993. Because of lack of community, regular services are not held, however ceremonies are held for groups of pilgrims. Overnight stay in Tarsus.
Day 6: Tarsus – Cappadocia
After breakfast we will drive to Cappadocia and on the way will visit Ihlara Valley, which itself alone needs almost a half day to complete. Overnight stay in a cave hotel in Cappadocia.
Day 7: Cappadocia
Visit Goreme Open Air Museum to see Byzantine Frescoes, Basil Church, St. Barbara church, Dark church, St. Catherine Chapel, Nunnery, the Troglodyte Village of Avcilar, Ortahisar and Avanos Village and see the fairy chimneys and St. Simeon church at Pasabag (Monk) Valley. Dinner and overnight stay in the hotel in Cappadocia.
Day 8: Cappadocia
Optional hot air balloon flight early in the morning (05:00-08:00) which is subject to availability due to weather conditions. Full day tour in Cappodocia (Cappadocia Derinkuyu Underground city, Uchisar Castle to see the panoramic points and the cone of Uchisar, Guvercinlik Valley, Love valley). Overnight stay in Cappadocia.
Day 9: Cappadocia-Konya-Yalvac
After breakfast we will drive to Konya. You will visit Konya, ancient Iconium; 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 (Acts 13:51; 14:1-21;16:2,II Tim. 3:11). You will also visit the Mausoleum of Mevlana Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, Karatay Medrese and Ince Minaret. After lunch we will drive to Yalvac to visit Psidian Antioch. That is the place where Paul preached his first recorded sermon and uttered his famous words ”Now we turn to Gentiles” (Acts 13:14-52). Overnight stay in Yalvac.
Day 10: Yalvac-Antalya
After breakfast we will to drive Aspendos to see the world’s best preserved Greco-Roman Amphitheater; then we will visit the Greco-Roman city of Perge where St. Paul gave his first speech on Christianity in the area. After a short walking city tour of Antalya you will return to hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 11: Antalya-Pamukkale
After breakfast continue to Pamukkale (Hierapolis) to visit the Gate of Domitian, the Arcadian Way, Necropolis and St. Philip’s tomb. Overnight stay in Pamukkale.
Day 12: Laodicea-Colosae-Philedelphia-Sardis
After breakfast short drive to Laodicea. The final letter of the churches of ancient Asia Minor is to the church in the city of Laodicea. We will see the Christian Ruins as well as the Statue of Emperor Augustus, Aquaduct, Stadium, Ephesian Gate. Then drive to the unexcavated city of Colossae (Honaz, Ancient metropolis of Phrygia, the recipient of Paul’s letter). The book of Colossians was addressed to the Church here (Col 1:2) and that Philemon lived in this city. Then continue to Philadelphia (brotherly love), which is not so ancient as other cities of Asia Minor, it was founded after 189 BC. It was the seat of the ‘Seven Churches’ (Revelation 3:7-12). Then we will drive to Sardis. Here was one of the seven Asiatic Churches (Revelation 3:1-6) and the capital city of ancient Lydia. You will see the early church remaining in Sardis (Sardis Gymnasium, Jewish Synagogue, Diana Temple). Overnight stay in Sardis.
Day 13: Thyateira – Miletos – Kusadasi
After the breakfast we will drive to Thyatira. It was one of the Seven Churches (Revelation 1:11;2:18-28); Lydia, the seller of purple, who sold her dyes in Philippi was from this city ( Acts 16:14). Then we will continue to the great Ionian port of Miletus, where Paul farewelled the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17-38) and then visit the newly excavated remains of a synagogue. Overnight stay in Kusadası.
Day 14: Ephesus
After breakfast we drive to Ephesus; St. Paul visited Ephesus briefly during his second missionary journey and stayed more than three years. Both St. Paul and Apostle John wrote letters to the Ephesians. You will also visit Baths of Scholastica, Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, the Theater and Temple of Artemis which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. You will visit the the Basilica of St. John to see John’s burial place. Our last stop during this tour will be the House of Virgin Mary. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 15: Izmir (Smyrna) – Pergamum – Assos
After breakfast we will drive to Smyrna (Izmir), the third largest city of Turkey. It was the second city to receive a letter from Apostle John in the book of Revelation ( Acts 19:10). The letter in Revelation (2:8-11) is filled with the affection and joy that comes from triumph over hardship and persecution. We will visit the agora of Smyrna and Church of St. Polycarp. You will then proceed to Pergamon to visit the Acropolis, Temple of Athena, Serapis Temple, Heroon, Sanctuary of Athena, Library of Pergamon, Temple of Trajan, Theatre, Zeus Altar and Red Court. Pergamon is the third of the ‘Seven Churches of Asia’ ( Rev.1:11). We will drive to Assos for an overnight stay.
Day 16: Assos – Alexandria Troas – Troy
Our first stop for is Assos. On the last leg of his third missionary journey, St. Paul walked from Alexandria Troas to Assos ( Acts 20:5-6,13-14) where he met his companions, who had gone ahead of him by sea. Then we will continue to Alexandra Troas. Here St. Paul raised Eutychus from dead (Acts 20:5-12). Our final stop is Homer’s legendary Troy where you will also see the replica of the wooden horse. Overnight stay in Canakkale.
Day 17: Canakkale – Istanbul
Departure from hotel after breakfast and five hours driving to Istanbul. Arrival to Istanbul, free afternoon and overnight stay.
Day 18: Transfer
Transfer to airport for your return flight.