ISTANBUL AND SEVEN CHURCHES TOUR
Day 1 ARRIVAL in ISTANBUL
We will meet you at the Istanbul airport and start our tour with the visit Hagia Sophia; the church of the Divine Wisdom which was changed into a mosque and later to a museum. The Topkapi Palace; the former imperial residence of the Ottoman Empire with its large collection of porcelain and silverware, unique
pieces of jewellery like the ‘spoon makers diamond’. We visit the Hippodrome; the former center of sports and political activities, the Blue Mosque; so called because of its stunning color of the tiles and the frescoes and have free time for shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 2 IZMIR (SMYRNA) – PERGAMUM
Fly to Izmir for the visit of Smyrna poor and persecuted, the church at Smyrna suffered amidst prosperity for its refusal to worship the Roman Emperor. This proved to be the last stronghold of Christianity in Asia Minor. Home of the great second century Bishop Polycarp who was burned alive at the age of eighty-six.
Continue to Pergamum; a most memorable experience will be Pergamum, with its acropolis and Great Theatre, the steepest of the ancient world. Revelation 2:12-16 describes the city as “where Satan’s seat is”, a reference to the altar of Zeus, where we pause for reflection on the fulfillment of Scripture. Nearby, visit the Red Basilica; once a pagan temple, it later converted into a Christian church. Finally, walk through the Asclepion, the famous medical center of antiquity. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Izmir.
Day 3 THYATIRA – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA
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). Travel 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. They 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. They will see an ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 4 HIERAPOLIS – LAODICEA
After the breakfast at the hotel, depart for the visit of Hierapolis; an ancient city of pagan cults, Hierapolis or “holy city” was evangelized by Paul and Epaphras. The Apostle Philip lived and is said to be buried here. Pamukkale, or “cotton castle” is a spa and resort center with its hot springs and cascading limestone pools. Col. 4:12-13.
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 and witness the newest excavations in Laodicea. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 5 EPHESUS
Full day tour of 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. The St. Paul’s first visit to Ephesus was brief – during his second missionary tour (Acts 18:19-21).
His second visit lasted about three years – during his third missionary tour (Acts 19:1 to 20:31). Luke’s account of the worship of Diana appears in Acts 19:34-35.
The Great Theatre (stadium) mentioned in Acts 19:29-31 could seat 25,000 people. Walk the marble-paved street with grooves made by chariot wheels. See the Fountain of Trajan, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theatre. Visit the Chapel of the Virgin Mary (Double Church), where the Third Ancient Council convened.
Continue to visit the Basilica of St. John; early tradition associated John, the disciple of Jesus, the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation with the city of Ephesus. As early as the 4th or 5th century a Christian church was built over a simple grave, supposedly the grave of St. John. In the 6th century Emperor Justinian had an impressive domed basilica built to replace the earlier church. The church, known as the Church of St. John the Theologian, is located on Ayasuluk Hill, which can be reached by a street leading up from the center of the town called Selcuk.
Visit the Museum of Ephesus for an up-close look at artifacts from the ancient city. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 6 END OF TOUR
Transfers to Izmir 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.
The Seven Churches of Revelation
İzmir – Manisa – Denizli
The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor, the geographical location of modern-day Türkiye. Each letter, as proclaimed by Christ and recorded by St. John the Apostle, declares the triumphs and failings of the recipient churches and warns each congregation that they must repent.
The seven churches of the Revelation were among a number of early Christian communities in Asia Minor. These particular seven churches may have been chosen to receive Christ’s apocalyptic message because they were located along an established, circular trade route that brought together the most populous and influential parts of the province.
All seven churches of the Revelation are located in the Aegean region of western Türkiye.
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.