FOOTSTEPS OF ST. PAUL TOUR
Day 1 ISTANBUL
You will be met upon arrival by our airport representative and transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 2 ISTANBUL – ADANA
The bejeweled city of Istanbul sits between two continents and is home to 3000 mosques. Today’s visits begin with Istanbul’s Hippodrome, once a stadium with 100,000 seats, where chariot races and circuses often degenerated into violence. Then the famous Blue Mosque, with its six minarets and sparkling interior. You’ll visit the Topkapi Palace, once home to
royal Sultans. Inside, you’ll see the fabled jewels of the Treasury, delicate displays of Chinese porcelain in the Kitchen Quarters. Walk through St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) which, for 1000 years, was the largest church in Christendom. Built by Justinian (532-537 AD), the church has 107 columns, fossil imbedded white marble floors and beautiful glass mosaics. Today, it is the Museum of Byzantine Art.
Catch a whiff of cinnamon, cloves, thyme and other exotic spices as you explore the Grand Bazaar. Over 4000 shops sell everything form herbs to gold. This afternoon, you’ll fly to Adana, known as the “biggest village in Turkey” due to its rural atmosphere. Overnight in Adana.
Day 3 ANTIOCH (ANTAKYA) – TARSUS
Ancient Antioch was the center of Hellenistic civilization in the region and home to a massive temple and oracle complex dedicated to Apollo. The temple functioned until the visiting Emperor Justinian threw out the last remaining priest and ordered the place burned to the ground. Christian roots go deep into Antioch’s soil. It was to Antioch that many Jerusalem Christians
fled after the death of Stephen (Acts 11: 19-21). St. Paul and St. Barnabas stayed in Antioch for a year and assembled with the church and taught many people (Acts 11:22-26). Later, the city became the center from which St. Paul performed his missionary labors (Acts 13: 1-5, 14-44; 14: 26-28; 15: 22-41; 18: 22-23). It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians”, and it was here that the first non-Jews were accepted into the early church. You will visit one of the oldest churches in Antioch, Church of St. Peter. Continue to Tarsus which was the birthplace of St. Paul (Acts 22:3) and he visited on his second and third missionary journeys. Reaching back to the 14th century B.C., Tarsus is a city with a resplendent history. Back to Adana for an evening flight to Antalya.
Day 4 PERGA – HIERAPOLIS
Perga, a Hellenistic city where St. Paul preached (Acts 14:25). The ruins of a large stadium, baths and tomb give ample evidence of its former greatness. St. Paul and St. Barnabas visited here on their first journey. Hierapolis is blessed by hot mineral springs and some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Asia Minor. Paul mentions Hierapolis in his
Letter to the Colossians in saluting Epaphras, a fellow laborer, for his love of the brethren there (Colossians 4: 13). The ruins cover more than a mile. You’ll see the impressive amphitheatre with seats still in perfect condition. You’ll see the City Gates, column-lined streets and arches which have stood through time and earthquake. Today, the area is known as Pamukkale, meaning the “Cotton Castle”, named for the limestone-laden hot springs, which cascade from one white-edged terrace pool to the next. Overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 5 COLOSSAE – LAODICEA
You’ Famous as the receiver of St. Paul’s Letter to Colossians, the town of Colossae has fallen into obscurity. While you can still see traces of the theatre, the Necropolis and the Church, the ancient city is mostly indistinguishable ruins. Not far away is Aphrodisias, another town whose fame has been obscured by time. This city of marble
thrived as the major center for worship of the pagan goddess Aphrodite until 500 years after Christ. The Christians of Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches, (Rev. 3: 14-22) were chastised for being lukewarm, “You are neither cold nor hot” (Rev. 3: 15), and for being too comfortable incorporating pagan and Christian beliefs. In the famous scripture from Revelation (3: 20-21), Jesus says to the Laodicean church: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”. Today, there are many acres of ruins to see, including the stadium and columned streets. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 6 EPHESUS
Ephesus is one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 1: 11). In ancient days, Ephesus was a bustling port town of 250,000, graced with wide, colonnade bordered streets. Today, you will be impressed with the spectacular excavations of the major streets of ancient Ephesus. You will view the Library and the huge Agora. The Temple of Artemis was declared one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today, only a single column remains to mark the site.
You will visit the Basilica of St. John, traditional site of his grave. From the basilica, enjoy a commanding view of the area. You will visit the Museum of Ephesus for an up-close look at artifacts from the ancient city. You will have time to explore this powerful city on your own and recreate some of the footsteps of Paul. Overnight in Izmir.
Day 7 SMYRNA – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA
The third largest city in modern Turkey is Izmir, long a center for Jewish and Christian communities. In St. Paul’s day, the town was known as Smyrna. It was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 2: 8-11). You’ll see the Agora, the colonnaded commercial center where Roman statues can still be seen. Continue to Sardis, another of the Seven
Churches of Revelation. Jesus told Sardis, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead”(Rev. 3: 1-6). Coins were minted and the dyeing of wool originated in Sardis. You will be impressed by the massive scale of the Temple of Artemis, by the white marble Royal Road, by the gymnasium, and by the synagogue.
Visit the site of Philadelphia also one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 3: 7-13). Christ told those who overcame that He would write upon them “the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem.” (Rev.3: 12) Today, not much is left to mark the spot. You will see an ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica. Back to Izmir and overnight.
Day 8 THYATIRA – PERGAMUM
Depart for the visit of Thyatira; was once a busy trading center and famous in dyeing of purple clothes. Thyatira is one of the Seven Churches mentioned in Revelations tolerated the false prophetess, Jezebel (Rev. 1: 11; 2: 18-29). Continiue to Pergamum which was another of the seven churches mentioned in Revelations (Rev. 2: 12). It displeased the Lord because
it tolerated the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes which Christ hated (Rev. 2:13-17). Towering 1000 feet above the town and commanding a spectacular panorama is the fabled Acropolis. As you pass through the Royal Gates, you will enter one of the great centers of classic Greek culture. You will see the foundations of the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Athena, and the ruins of the Library which once held 200,000 parchment volumes. You will see the remains of the Temple of Trajan, the Grand Theatre, the Gymnasium, and the Health Center (Aesclepion). Overnight in Ayvalik.
Day 9 ASSOS – ALEXANDRIA TROAS
Today you begin your tour with Assos where Paul rejoined his companions after walking asross the headland on his own and visit the ruins of the city. Then drive to Troas, founded about 300 B.C. by one of the generals of Alexander the Great. During St. Paul’s Second Journey, it was from Troas that he received the “Macedonian call” to Europe. This is where
Luke’s account changes from “they” to “we” (Acts 16:6-12), indicating that he joined St. Paul’s team at Troas. Returning from Macedonia during his third journey, St. Paul was in Troas for a week, when the young man Eutychus fell from the third loft as St. Paul preached. Overnight in Canakkale.
Day 10 ISTANBUL
Continue to Istanbul via the beautiful Dardanelles and you will visit the Church of St. Savior in Chora which is located at the city walls and famous for its mosaics and frescoes.
Day 11 DEPARTURE
Transfers to airport for your flight home.
– We can design shorter or longer itineraries according to your interest.
– You may add one day trip to Patmos Island with private boat including the tour of St. John Monastery, The Museum and The Cave of St. John to above program.
House of the Virgin Mary
Ephesus is particularly important for faith tourism as it contains the House of the Virgin Mary. It is believed that the Virgin Mary was taken to this stone house by St John, where she lived until her death at the age of 101. The Church of the Virgin Mary, close to the original harbour of Ephesus, was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431. Two other religious sites worth visiting are the Basilica of St John, built in the sixth century, and İsa Bey Mosque, which is a sample of Seljuk architecture. Ephesus is not just a touristic site. It is home to the International İzmir Festival utilizing its grand amphitheatre, Celsus Library and the House of the Virgin Mary.
As one of the most important centres of the ancient era that is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015, Ephesus had been inhabited approximately for 9000 years throughout the Hellenistic Era, Roman Period, Byzantine Era, the Period of Principalities and the Ottoman Era. It was a very important port city and centre of culture and commerce. The whole site comprises Çukuriçi Mound, Ayasuluk Hill (Selçuk Fortress, the Basilica of St. John, İsa Bey Bath, İsa Bey Mosque, Temple of Artemis), the House of the Virgin Mary, and of course the ancient city of Ephesus.