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"On the steps of St. Paul" (15 Days / 14 Nights)
Day 1 - Istanbul
Arrival at Istanbul airport , you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight. (D)

Day 2 - Istanbul
Following the breakfast we drive to the 'Old City', we will stop by the Hippodrome before proceeding to the Blue Mosque, so called because of the impressive blue tiles lining its walls. Next on our itinerary is the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Then we will go into the St.Sophia Museum. Following this stop, we will go onto the Underground Cistern built by Justinian in 535, and on to the Suleymaniye Mosque built by the Master Architect Sinan during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Lawgiver. Dinner will be at a night spot which features live music and Folklore Show. (B,L,D)
 
Day 3 - Adana
We will take the early flight to Adana, ancient Cilicia , and drive straight to Tarsus, the birth place of St. Paul. During St. Paul's time Tarsus was a university city surpassing Athens and Alexandria. Cicero was a governor here in 51-50 BC. and the romantic meeting between Cleopatra and Mark Anthony took place in Tarsus. Highlights here will be St. Paul's well, tomb of Sardanapulus and Cleopatra's Gate. Back to Adana for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Adana
Today we journey East to Antioch-on-the- Orontes, Daphne and Seleucia Pieria. Antioch is thought to have been founded in 300 BC. Among all the cities in the world of the first century AD. Antioch offered the most ferric ground for new ideas, philosophies and religions. First to preach here was St. Peter followed by St. Paul and Barnabas whose extensive efforts proved to be very fruitful for Christianity. Incidentally, the word Christians was first coined in Antioch. The strong and wealthy community of Antioch contributed financially to the Christian community of Jerusalem. Highlights include the museum which houses a superb collection of mosaics from Antioch, Daphne and Seleucia Pieria, St. Peter's Grotto, the cave church came to be known as the meeting place of the early Christians. According to the legend, ancient Daphne was the sacred grove where Apollo tried to rape a nymph of the same name whom Eros struck with an arrow thus making her incapable of loving neither a god nor a mortal. Apart from being dedicated to Apollo, Daphne was also a place of carnal pleasures and any soldier caught in the area was dismissed from service. The next site we will visit today is Seleucia Pieria which was the port city of Antioch in ancient days. The most interesting monument here is the Tunnel of Titus which is a tremendous canal dug for the purpose of diverting waters of Orontes river. Another highlight here will be the rock tombs with their impressive facades pertaining to the Hellenistic period. Return to Adana for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
 
Day 5 - Cappadocia
After an early breakfast we drive north to Cappadocia and first stop at Derinkuyu. This is an underground city , carved into soft rocks resembling a huge labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, kitchens, wine cellars and passageways. A huge chimney ventilates this 8-levelled dwelling which was used by Christians hiding from their Roman and Byzantine persecutors. Their colorful frescoes remain as vibrant as when they were first made. Fascinating place... Derinkuyu. Further on we come to Cappadocia whose effect on the visitor is like that of a village out of Grimm's Fairy Tales.What Turks commonly call "Fairy Chimneys" are jutting pieces of volcanic rocks that have been beaten and shaped by the wind and rain. Highlights will be The Apple Church, The Church of St.John the Baptist and the Church with a Buckle in Goreme. Dinner at hotel and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Konya
Right after breakfast, we begin our drive to Konya or ancient Uconium which became an important Christian city following St. Paul's preachings. A Phyrigia legend says that Konya was the first city to be founded after the flood. St. Paul and Barnabas came here in 47 A.D. and their preaching was accompanied by many miracles. St. Paul made two more stops here on his second and third journeys.Today's Konya is quite new but the center of the city is very old. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Antalya
Early morning we will drive to Psidian Antioch (Yalvac) where St. Paul opened Christianity to the world. Yalvac's history goes back to 280 B.C. During St. Paul's time the population was a mixture of Jews, Romans and Greeks. Very little is left of Psidian Antioch today. There is the propylaea of the acropolis with a number of carved stones and the remains of a Byzantine church. We pass by Egirdir Lake and arrive in Antalya for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
 
Day 8 - Antalya (Perge- Aspendus- Side)
Ruins of Perge are 18 kms to the northeast of Antalya. This is where St. Paul began preaching after arriving from Cyprus. Highlights are, the Gymnasium, the Bath, the Agora, the Theater, the Stadium and the Hellenistic Gate. Another one of the Pamphilian cities is Aspendus. The Theater is the best preserved in the world with its incredible acoustics. Today's Side is built exactly on top of the ancient city. Side means "pomegranate" and this fruit has been depicted in the coinage found in the area. The highlights here will be the Temples of Athena and Apollo, the State Agora, the Theater and the Museum. Dinner and overnight in Antalya. (B,L,D)
 
Day 9 - Pamukkale (Laodicea- Hierapolis)
We leave our hotel early in the morning and drive to Hierapolis but before we get here we stop at Laodicea. We find here two Theaters, a large Stadium, a Water Tower and an Odeon. The city is supposed to have been named by Antiochus II in honor of his wife, Laodicea. St. Paul wrote a letter to the church here(Acts:4:16). We arrive in Hierapolis which was founded by Pergamon king Telephos and named after his wife Hiera. Most likely, the very large Jewish element in this city was an important factor in the rapid expansion of Christianity. During the Byzantine period the city became the seat of diocese with a large Christian Church dedicated to St. Philip, martyred here in 80 A.D. Highlights include the Roman Baths, the Temple of Apollo and the Theater. Dinner and overnight at Pamukkale. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Kusadasi
We start early as we will see four sights today. Closeby Hierapolis is the beuatiful ancient site of Aphrodisias . This ancient city of learning, fine arts and sculpture has provided us with exquisite pieces of work which are on display on the site. Its Stadium is among the best-preserved in the world. The "Bishops Palace", Odeon and the Theater will be the highlights here. Our nexf stop Didyma served as a religious sanctuary to god Apollo. Oracular inscriptions in Didyma indicate dates as far back as 6th cent.B.C. Legend tells us that with the arrival of Alexander the Great, the sacred spring of the Temple which had dried up began to flow again. Highlights will be the Temple of Apollo. Further north we arrive at Miletus whose history dates back to 800 B.C. Famous Philosopher Thales comes from Miletus and he is credited with the theory that all things come from water. Highlights here are the Theater, Baths of Faustina and the Council Chamber. Next on our itinerary is Priene with its well planned streets and graceful buildings and temples. Highlights will be the Agora, the Ecclesiasterium and the Temple of Athena Polias. Dinner and overnight at Kusadasi. (B,L,D)
Day 11 - Izmir (Ephesus)
On our way to Izmir this morning we will stop by the famous city of Ephesus. Our tour will begin with the Basilica of St. John "the Evangelist" who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. The Temple of Artemis, considered as on the Seven Wonders of the World, was located here. Ephesus as you will see, is in very good state of preservation and the overall existing view of this ancient city will make it evident that she was a wealthy cultural and commercial center in the past. St. Paul's preachings in the area resulted with the uproar of the Guild of Silversmiths and eventually the whole population of Ephesus. Highlights include the Library of Celcius, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan, the Brothel and the Theater. We will also stop by the House of Virgin Mary closeby, where she is reputed to have spent her last years and died. You will be able to collect some holly water from the Sacred Spring. Dinner and overnight in Izmir. (B,L,D)
 
Day 12 - Izmir (Sardis)
We drive to Sardis whose history dates back to 12th cent. B.C. Sardis felt the influence of Christianity very early and was included in the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. During the Bzantine times it was the seat of a bishopric. Highlights will be a Synagogue, Gymnasium, Byzantine Church and the Temple of Artemis. We will then proceed to Thyateria or Akhisar, which was another one of the towns where Christianity spread quickly. It was the site for one of the Churches of Revelation. We will see another one in Izmir, when we drive back for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
 
Day 13 - Ayvalik
On our way to Ayvalik this morning we will stop by hauntingly beautiful Pergamon which rises high on a hill as one nears the city of Bergama. Being one of the richest and most powerful of kingdoms of the ancient world, one look will tell you it still retains its past grandeur even in its shattered yet dignified present state. Highlights will include the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Trojan and the Theater. Coming down the mountain we will stop by Asclepion, a leading health center of the ancient world where methods of treatment included music therapy and barefoot walking. Dinner and overnight in Ayvalik. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - Bursa (Troas-Assos)
We leave our hotel and proceed to Troas and Assos before heading towards Bursa. Troas was a busy port situated on the north-west coast of Asia Minor. Recent excavations revealed a dozen different cities covering 3000 years of human occupation. During his stay in Troas, St. Paul had a dream in which he saw a vision of a man asking him to "Come over to Macedonİa and help us" after which he decided to go to Europe. All in all, he stopped and preached here 3 times. Assos perched high on a cliff overlooking the Aegean and the Island of Lesbos is breathtaking. Its Acropolis carries the imressive Temple of Athena. Arriving at Assos on foot from Troas, St. Paul preached here and climbed down to the little port on the shore to board the boat on his return journey to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Bursa. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - Istanbul (Iznik/Nicea)
After the breakfast, we will visit the Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) and the Yeşil Türbe (Green Tomb). The Ulu Camii is completely Selcuk in style, a big rectangular building with immense portals and a forest of supporting columns inside. After a stop at the Ottoman House Museum, we leave Bursa behind us and drive to Nicea . The city was founded around 1000 B.C. In 325, the First Ecumenical Council was held here for the purpose of condemning the heresy of Arianism. The Seventh Ecumenical Council was also held here in the St. Sophia Church, which we will visit first. The church was built in the 4th century and has a mosaic floor which dates to the 6th century. All gates and walls date from the Byzantine times. We proceed to Istanbul and check into our hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 16 - Transfer (B)



Seven Churches of Asia Minor" (8 Days / 7 Nights)
Day 1 - Istanbul

Arrival at Istanbul airport , you will be met and transfered to your hotel. Overnight.(D)
 
Day 2 - Istanbul
Following breakfast, we drive to the 'Old City' where we will visit the Hippodrome, The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, the Blue Mosque, famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles and Saint Sophia. This church - turned mosque - turned museum takes the breath away with the sheer architectural size of its interior and magnificent dome and next we will visit the spectacular Topkapi Palace. Built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex commands views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It was the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire for many centuries (1453-1852) and we will see the extravagant Treasury, the priceless Chinese porcelain. Following our return to the hotel for a quick rest and a change, we will proceed to welcome the evening with dinner. (B,L,D)
 
Day 3 - Izmir (Pergamon / Thyateria)
We will take an early flight to Izmir and from the airport drive north to the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 B.C., we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. The Asclepieum of Pergamon was a famous health centre where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. On our way back to Izmir, we will stop by Thyteria to see the remains of the church. This was one of the principle towns where Christianity spread quickly. We journey back to Izmir for the night. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Izmir /(Sardis-Philadelphia)/ Pamukkale
We leave in the morning for Sardis which holds a prominent place in mythology. Sardis felt the influence of the Seven Churches of Revelation and highlights include the 3rd century A.D. Synagogue, Gymnasium, House of Bronzes, Temple of Artemis, and of course the Church. Next on our itinerary is Philadelphia which was an important Christian centre during Byzantine times. We will see the Basilica and several interesting mosques. Overnight at Pamukkale. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - Pamukkale (Laodicea-Aphrodisias) Kusadasi
We journey on to Laodicea Ad Lycum where the remains are found on a flat-topped hill. Christianity came to the area during the time of St. Paul, brought by Epaphras of Colossae. Laodicea became the seat of Bishopric and hosted an important Ecumenical Council in the fourth century A.D., it was named in the Revelations as one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. Highlights will be the Water Tower, Stadium and the Council Chamber. Our next stop will be Aphrodisias, a site presently under excavation. Highlights will include the Stadium, the Baths of Hadrian, the Theatre and the "Bishop's Palace" Overnight at Kusadasi. (B,L,D)
 
Day 6 - Kusadasi (Ephesus) / Izmir
Leaving Kusadasi behind us we will proceed to Seljuk and the ancient city of Ephesus and first visit the Basilica of St.John, "the Evangelist" who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel. Close by is the House of the Virgin Mary where she is believed to have spent her last years. On August 18th, 1961, Pope John XXll proclaimed the House of Virgin Mary at Ephesus to be sacred. You will have a chance to take a phial of Holy Water from the Sacred Spring. Dinner and overnight in Izmir. (B,L,D)
 
Day 7 - Istanbul
We leave Izmir in the morning after a city tour and a glimpse at one of the Churches of Revelation. Catching our plane to Istanbul we settle into the hotel for the night. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Transfer. (B)




"Discover Turkey East" (16 Days / 15 Nights)
Day 1 - Adana
We will meet upon arrival at Istanbul airport and transfer you to the domestic terminal for our flight to Adana. Dinner and briefing at our hotel in Adana. (D)
Day 2 - Iskenderun
Following an early breakfast at the hotel we will proceed to Antioch-on-the Orontes, a city thought to have been founded in 300 B.C. Due to its geographical position, Antioch (or present day Antakya) became a meeting pot of Hellenistic and Oriental worlds. Its prosperity and mild climate turned the Antiochenese into people who welcomed all kinds of vanities, pleasures and excesses. Due to these conditions it was not difficult for a new religion to gather plenty of adherents among the Gentiles of Antioch. The word "Christans" was first coined here. St. Paul, St Peter and Barnabas were very effective in converting people to Christianity. The museum of Antioch has a superb collection of mosaics found in Antioch, Daphne and Seleucia Pieria. St Peter Grotto, next on our itinerary, is a cave church known as the meeting place of the early christians. Pope Paul VI held a service here and declared that a plenary indulgence might be gained at any time by pilgrimage to the church. Nerby Daphne has been claimed to be one of the places where Paris choose Aphrodite as the "most beautiful" among the goddesses. Daphne is also depicted in mithology as the sacred grove where Apollo tried to rape a nymph of the same name just as Eros struck her with one of lead-tipped arrows thus turning her into a tree and making it incapable of loving neither a god or a mortal. Dedicated to Apollo, Daphne became notorious for its morals and soldiers who were cought visiting the place were dismissed from service. Roman Emperors, however never missed a visit when they were in the area! Not much is left and a lot needs to be excavated here. Our next stop, Seleucia Pieria was the port city of Antioch. St. Paul and Barnabas sailed to Salamis from here. The two rock tombs and the Tunnel of Titus will be our highlights. We will spend the evening at our hotel in Iskenderun. (B,L,D)
 
Day 3 - Urfa
After an early breakfast we proceed to Urfa which dates from very early times. An important stage on the "Fertile Crescent" route from the Mediterranean shore to Upper Mesopotamia, Urfa saw the rival armies pass beneath her walls. Tradition has it that Abraham stopped here on his way to Ur in the land of Canaan. The mosque of Halil Rahman will be one of the highlights of Urfa. Dinner and overnight in Urfa. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Adiyaman
On our way to Adiyaman from Urfa this morning, we will stop by Harran, referred to in Genesis (XI,31,32; XII,4,5) as Charan. Among the ruins we shall visit are the Citadel, the Grand Mosque and the city walls. Dinner and overnight at Adİyaman (or Kahta) (B,L,D)
 
Day 5 - Diyarbakir
We leave very early in the morning for NEMRUT. This is where King Antiochus I of Commagene built a colossal funerary sanctuary, a temple dedicated to himself, to the Greco-Persian gods and to his Persian ancestors. The East and West terraces have a central courtyard surrounded with colossal statues of lions, eagles, etc. Colossal statues of seated figures are Apollo, Hermes, Zeus and Hercules. Sun rise from the top of Mount Nemrut will be incomparable to anything you have seen before. If an unexpected situation develops, we shall plan to be there for sunset, instead. Back to Diyarbakir for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Diyarbakir
We will have a city tour of Diyarbakİr in the morning. This city's history stretches back to the Hurrian Kingdom of Mitanni (1500 B.C.) In the course of history it was dominated by civilizations of Urartu, Assyria, Persia, Alexander the Great and Seleucids. Arabs conquered the city and renamed it "Diyar Bakİr" (land of copper). In 1085 it was conquered by Seljuks and then the Ottomans took over in 1515. Highlights will be the four old city gates, the Grand Mosque and the Church of St. Mary (17th Century). In the afternoon we will visit Mardin , a city on the south slope of a mountain where we will see a 1500 years old Monastery. Also in Mardin are the remains of a medieval citadel. Back to Diyarbakir for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
 
Day 7 - Van
We leave early in the morning for our drive to Van. We will pass by an ancient city called Ahlat where the ruins of a citadel from 16th century await our visit. Dinner and overnight in Van. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Van
We will have a city tour in the morning. Van was the capital of the Kingdom of Urartu and the castle dates back to the 9th cent. The museum in Van contains some very impressive Urartian jewellery, inscriptions, cylindricals seals, bronze belts. At Gevaß, a small port on the south shore of Lake Van we take a boat to Akdamar Island where we will visit the church of the Holy Cross. We then drive to ‚avußtepe which is composed of two citadels on a hill with two summits connected by a saddle. Dinner and overnight at Van. (B,L,D)
 
Day 9 - Dogu Beyazit
We drive to Doğu Beyazit in the morning. Behind the city rises the spectacular Mount Ararat where the search for Noah's Arc still continues. We will visit the Ishak Paßa Palace which is an amalgamation of castle-palace-mosque, built in 17th cent. Dinner and overnight at Dogu Beyazit. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Kars
We start early in the morning for our trip to Kars which got its name from Turco-Bulgarian tribe called Karsaks during the 1st cent. B.C. Kars was held by the Russians between 1878-1920 which accounts for the 19th century Russian aspect of the town. We drive East to visit Ani which was the capital of an Urartian State. Byzantines took it over in the 11th century. In 1239 the Mongols arrived and cleared everybody out and the place became a ghost city. The castle and the ruins of 8 churches date from the 10th century. Back to Kars (or Sarikamis) for Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
 
Day 11 - Erzurum
We begin our drive to Erzurum in the morning. This is the largest city of Eastern Anatolia. Highlights are ‚ifte Minareli Medrese (The twin minaret) an outstanding example of Seljuk architecture, the Yakutiye Theological School which dates back to 1310, the time of the Mongols. Dinner and overnight at Erzurum. (B,L,D)
Day 12 - Trabzon
Leaving Erzurum behind us we proceed to Trabzon by way of Zigana and Kopdağ passes which will give us some magnificent views of these mountains. Dinner and overnight at Trabzon. (B,L,D)
 
Day 13 - Samsun
After an early breakfast we leave our hotel and drive to Sumela Monastry, built on a steep and rocky slope in 6th century and abandoned in 1923. The various chapels and rooms are mere shells but with a good deal of fine fresco paintings. It is mysterious and impressive. We will continue our drive to another port city on the Black Sea, Samsun. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - Ankara
On the way to Ankara this morning, we will visit the hittite cities Hatusas and Alacahoyuk. The Hittites swept into Anatolia around 2000 B.C. and conquered the Hatti territory and established themselves at Hatußaß, the Hatti capital. Most of the Hittite artifacts are in Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. AlacahšyŸk is another Hittite city. On the site , low reliefs and a few worn sphinxes have been left in place. All else has been taken to the museum in Ankara. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
 
Day 15 - Istanbul
After a city tour and a visit to the museum in Ankara, we drive to the airport for our flight back to Istanbul. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 16 - Transfer (B)

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