Tour 17 Days – Biblical Sites Tour
Day 1. Istanbul; Arrival in Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Transfer to the hotel in the Old City, where some of the houses remain as they were 100 years ago. After a brief introduction, we will begin our tour by visiting the ancient Hippodrome where horse races took place in the ancient Roman times. Blue Mosque which is among the most beautiful examples of the Ottoman architecture is next.
Day 2. Istanbul; In the morning, we will visit the Byzantine Cistern and Hagia Sophia, masterpiece of the Byzantine art built in 537; the Topkapi Palace including the Harem quarters which are like another palace in a palace. Topkapi was the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1453-1856. In the evening we will have a meeting at the lobby of the hotel to go over the tour and to answer the possible questions of the tour members.
Day 3. Istanbul; Today, we will start our visits by New Mosque (Yeni Cami), one of the beautiful exemples of the classical Ottoman Mosques and take a walk under the hundreds of years old domes of the Spice Market (Misir Carsisi). We will relax and enjoy the beautiful skyline of Istanbul in a cruise ship that will take us up to the North towards Black Sea along the Bosphorus strait. Along the shores of Bosphorus we will see magnificent palaces, private kiosks, castles, etc. Beylerbeyi Palace is a Magnificent example of Ottoman baroque architecture built along the Asian shores of the Bosphorus. The palace, built by Balyan family in 1864, served as a summer palace for the last Ottoman Sultans. After the visit of Beylerbeyi we will drive over the Intercontinental bridge of Bosphorus to get to the seat of Greek Orthodox Christianity, the Patriarchate in Fener on the shores of the Golden Horn. Church of St. Savior in Chora (Kariye Museum) located further up, a remarkable 6th c. Byzantine church, decorated with 14th c. mosaics depicting scenes from the Bible will be our next visit. After this we will go to the Grand bazaar called kapali carsi which is the hub of Istanbul’s trade activity for many centuries. Our walk in that area will take us to Suleymaniye Mosque, the biggest Mosque in town built by a 16th century chief architect, Sinan. The mosque he built for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificient, The Suleymaniye Mosque, is one of the landmarks of the Istanbul skyline with its four minarets and cascading domes.
Day 4. Istanbul – Ankara; Today is the day we will drive to Ankara 465 km from where you will be staying. After a drive of approx. 5 hours we will arrive at Ankara and visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations located in an ancient caravanserai, built in the 15th century. Here I will give you an in depth historical and archaeological information based on my historical perspective of Asia Minor. Being located between Asia and Europe Asia Minor served as a bridge to many civilizations going principally from East to West and West to East and therefore it is the center of the world’s history. After this visit we will proceed to the Mausoleum of Ataturk the national father and the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey and will be introduced to the recent history of modern Turkey.
Day 5. Ankara – Hattusa – Cappadocia; Early departure to the ancient Capital of Hittites. This mysterious, megalithic civilization using iron tools, immigrated from Caucasus and ruled over Asia minor for about 500 years. Visit of the site. The Great Temple, Lions Gate, Ground Gate and King’s Gates along the city walls, the old palace of the Hittite Kings. Proceed to Yazilikaya where we will see an impressive size open air temple carved out of hard rocks. Here we will see a parade of relieves of some of the most important Gods of the Hittite pantheon. After this visit we will proceed to Hacibektas, a beautiful small town on our way to Cappadocia. Here we will come across the holy Monastery of Haci Bektas who was a philosopher and a poet of the Medioval ages. In this ancient Monastery among the tombs of derviches and many wonderful objects we will also see the “keskul” (beggers cup) used by future derviches forced to beg food from people in order to defeat their pride. Other instruments such as pazarci masasi, nefir, teber, mutekka were also used by derviches and I will explain you one by one what those were. After these visits we will get to Bayramhaci hot springs and relax before we arrive at Cappadocia.
Day 6. Cappadocia; Cappadocia, nature and man competed in creating some of the most unusual and most beautiful in the world. Enjoy the landscape like moon with endless formations created by the nature. The colors of the frescoes of these hundreds of years old churches are just as vivid as the colors of the rugs woven in the area. St. Paul visited the region, called Caesarea, on his 1st Missionary Journey. As you will visit the colorful “churches” of Cappadocia and admire the surrounding forms of this thrilling art buried in nature, it becomes easier to imagine how the ideas and teachings of St. Paul sprouted into life and affected the Cappadocians for thousands of years. We will start visiting Cappadocia by the old village of Sinassos. Meet local people there who used to live in Macedonia before the migration of 1923. Here we will visit the Church of Ayos Vasilios and take a walk by the Gomeda Valley. Continue to Damsa dam and arrive to Cemil village where we will see an old Chruch dating from 1914. Keslik Monastery located in the rocks will be our next stop. This old abandoned Monastery was once inhabited by Monks whose aim was to continue their existence in that pagan world of Romans of that time while trying to spread Christianity in the region. Soganli Valley (Valley of Onions) is another Valley where Christian Monks used to live. Here we will drive off road to reach the old St. Barbara church at the end of a dead end earth path. This church located at some of the most quiet places of Cappadocia is named St. Barbara and is decorated with beautiful frescoes showing important personalities and events of the Bible. Drawing pictures of Bible on the interior walls of the churches was one of best ways to spread the Christianity as most people were illiterate at that time. After we leave here we will see the underground city of Mazi where Christians of the first through fourth century had to hide away from their enemies. The same underground cities were used to hide from the Arab invaders from 7th to 10th centuries. In spite of the presence of a whole enemy army on the ground, Christians still felt safe as their security measures in these underground cities and their connections to the rest of underground Cappadocia with a series of hundreds of kms of tunnels, made them the best places to take refuge. In this amazing region we will also visit the locals in their natural homes, carved out of the peculiar land formations in the volcanic ash, some of them called Fairy Chimneys. Then we will drive to Kizilvadi (Rose Valley) and discover this fabulous place which offers fantastic views. Rose valley houses also some of the most impressive churches of the area. On our way back we will watch the sun set from an amazing high view point.
Day 7. Cappadocia; Today is the day we will see the most interesting areas in Cappadocia. Pasabag, Zelve Valley, Goreme Valley and the most beautiful rock dug churches of the area. Among those beautiful churches we will see churches like; the Apple Church, the Snake Church, the Church With Sandals, the Buckle Church each one decorated with frescoes. We will also visit a village where women weave rugs and will learn about this disappearing beautiful art of hand made Turkish rugs all made with the unique double knotting technique. In the morning we will go for an easy hike to Zelve Valley to see the 10-11th century churches, monasteries and houses carved in the rocks. Today we will also see Kizilirmak (Red River) in Avanos and pass across this largest and longest river of Turkey walking on a suspended pedestrian bridge. In Avanos we will also have the opportunity to see the traditional pottery making before we proceed to Sarihan Caravanserail, built in 13 th century to accommodate karavans at the time of the Seljukian Empire.
Day 8. Eskigumus monastery – Antioches On Orontes; Proceed to Anthioch, birthplace of St. Paul. At Nigde, we will visit the Eskigumus monastery and see the oldest known Madonna and the Child scene on a wall of a 1,100 year old church. We will continue to where St. Gregory was born and established the oldest monastery on earth. In the beauty of the Monastery Valley, one can imagine the monks contemplating to find the best way of passing the word of God to the idol worshippers of the region. We will drive through the Cilician Gates, just like Paul and Barnabas did on their first journey into Galatia “to deliver unutterable expressions into a strange land” (II Cor 12:2-4). Antioch of Cilicia (Antakya) is where St. Stephan and Barnabas organized the first followers of Christ. This is also where St. Paul met Barnabas for the first time, after his epiphany on the road to Damascus, and his proselytizing work in Namibia and in Damascus. St. Peter also traveled here from Jerusalem to resolve the disputes between the Jerusalem fathers and the “Greek School” led by St. Stephan. This is also where the followers of Christ were called Christians for the first time. We will visit St. Peter’s Church and the mosaic Museum which reveals the wealth and grandeur of the Roman city at St. Paul’s time.
Day 9. Harbiye – Titus Channel – Tarsus; Today we will visit to the ancient town of Harbiye on the way of Yayladag. In Harbiye, wealthy Romans had houses decorated with beautiful mosaics, now displayed in the museum of Antakya. Proceed to Samandag where we will find the ruins of Seleucia Pieria, ancient city founded in 300 bc by King Seleucus I, at the foot of the Samandag mountain, by the Mediterranean, north of the mouth of the Orontes River. The city was the seaport of Antioch and rose to great prominence during the wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies of Egypt for possession of Syria. The Romans officially recognized the independence of Seleucia about 70 bc. Titus channel was built by the emperor Titus in his short reign from 79 to 81 to protect the ancient city of Seleucia Pieria from being flooded. After this visit. we will drive to Tarsus the birth place of St. Paul. We will see the foundations of the house where he was born and the famous well of the courtyard of the house where St. Paul was born. We will also visit the holy place of Prophet Daniel recently discovered underneath the main boulevards of the city center. The tomb of an oriental doctor Lokman Hekim, who had a deep knowledge about plants and remedies for several diseases. Handicraft center and the mosque of Hz. Bilal who was the first to chant the prayer and an historical Turkish bath with a statue of Sahmeran king of the snakes in front of it, are all located in this area.
Day 10. Anamurium – Antalya
Today we will driver towards East and pass by places like Kanlidivane, Cennet Cehennem. The ancient town of Anamurium is also on our way to Alanya. In Alanya we will see the red tower built as part of the castle on the high cliff rising above the town, the ship arsenals of Seljukian Turks. From here we will take a small boat to go around the peninsula on which rises the cliff. There are amazing caves opening to the sea from around this peninsula with crystal clear waters allowing one to see all the way to the bottom of the sea. Phosphorescent Cave, Pirate Cave, Damlatas cave are some of them. We will end our boat trip on the sand beach of Kleopatra. Overnight in Alanya.
Day 11. Aspendos -Perge – Antalya; Today we will visit the ancient cities of Aspendos and Perge, through which St. Paul and St. Barnabas passed on their way to Antioch of Pisidia, during Paul’s first Journey. In Aspendos we will see the best preserved Roman theater and in Perge our highlights will be the, Stadium and the theater, the Hellenistic gate, the Roman Baths, the Agora, the pillar of Artemis Pergeia, the waterways and the monumental fountain at the end of the way. In Antalya we will see the Hadrian gate built in the fortress walls to honor Emperor Hadrian, the fortress and the old port which now provides shelter for local yachts and boats. Overnight in Antalya.
Day 12. Thermessos – Laodicia – Hierapolis; After breakfast, we will drive to Pamukkale (Hieropolis), the most unusual natural phenomenon of Turkey, formed of snow-white calcite deposits, cascading down hundreds of feet and washed by mineral-rich hot springs. On the road to Pamukkale, we will visit the nomads in their black goat hair tents. These Turcoman nomads have been leading a life which has not changed much since they had left Central Asia in the 10th Century. In their Islamic ways can be traced all the way back to the Shamanism of Central Asian steppes, from where Turks have originated more than two thousand years ago. It will be another experience to see how culture determines the way religions are practiced. We will visit the ancient
sites of Laodicea and Hierrapolis and swim in the natural pool which used to be a Roman spa. Enjoy feeling the Roman ruins under your feet while soaking in the bubbling waters of the pool. Overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 13. Aphrodisias -Priene – Miletus; After Pamukkale we will proceed to Aphrodisias through high plateaus and hills. As we will start strolling among the ruins you will be surprised to see such an heritage in the middle of nowhere. The history of the city goes back to 3rd millenium B. C. and the name of the city is Ninoe which was the name of an oriental goddess similar to Ishtar or Astarte. Lately Aphrodite became the main deity in this old city. People who wanted to arrange their love affairs were coming from remote places to pay respect and ask the assistance of the Goddess for a solution. Eros relieves and especially the ones in the ancient odeon (music hall) riding the Dolphin are truly remarkable. The ancient temple of Aphrodite was transformed to a church after the 4th century here, a bishop was sent here and the name of the city was changed to Stavropolis meaning the city of Cross. About the end of our visit among pomegranate, pear trees and tobacco fields you will find a fantastic stadium of 30.000 people dating from the 1st century AD. This is the best preserved stadium you can see in all of Turkey. Our next destination is Miletus and Priene two remarquable ancient Ionian sites. Priene and Miletus (Act 20:13-17), Priene is truly one of the most impressive ancient sites of Turkey. Here we will see the Athena temple, the Prytaneion (town hall), the Bouleterion (a building where bureaucrats and the demos, which means people used to take word and argued in a democratic way). Furthermore we will see the Agora and the meat and fish market located nearby and I will give you full archaeological explanations. Later on we will walk all the way down to the other main gate of the ancient town which gave access to the old harbour and on this main boulevard of the town you will see the house where Alexander the Great is thought to have stayed. We will proceed our visit here with the Byzantine church and of course we will also see the famous theater of 6500 spectators, the best example of surviving Greek theater in Turkey. After this visit we will proceed to Miletus. Which was the most important city of Ionia until the defeat of Kroisos of the Lydian Empire and the defeat of the Ionian fleet in Lade war, in 494 BC. A magnificent theater largely modified during Roman times will offer us an amazing athmosphere and shade where I will give you general information concerning the history of the town. After the theater we will walk down to the ancient Lion harbour and see the harbour monument and the still visible heads of the two giant size lion statues. Each of these lions were places at one side of the entrance of the harbour and were symbolically protectiong the harbour from the ennemies. We will proceed our tour by exploring the other parts of the ancient town while walking back towards our minivan. On our way back we will see the Delphinion a temple dedicated to Delphi (The people of a town like Miletus surrounded by seas from every corner knew well what kind of fish Dolphin was. They knew Dolphin was intelligent and a music loving fish often helping sailors in their difficult times showing them the best direction when their ships were pushed into shallow seas with heavy storms. We will also see the beginning of the sacred way where annual pilgrims procession were started from the Delphinions towards the Apollo temple of Didyma 20 kms further down in the South. We will then see a Nympaion (where water fairies Nympes used walk around the abundant waters of these colossal size fountains), a bouleterion (the senate building), Serapis temple, food depots and Faustina Baths built in the second century AD for Faustina, the wife of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. On our way back after 5 kms. we will see a hill which was an Island in those times before the Meander river silted the sea in that region and created the fertile plain. The two harbours of this island which is now this hill, was housing the famous Ionian fleet designed to fight the Persian fleet but a sudden Persian attack in 494 BC. put fire and destroyed the Ionian fleet before even Ionian ships had time to move out of the harbor. Overnight in Ephesus.
Day 14. Ephesus; Today, we will visit the ancient site of Ephesus, the Ephesus Museum and the house of the Virgin Mary and the Basilica of St. John. Ephesus was the 4thlargest city of the Roman Empire, after Rome, Alexandria and Antioch of Cilicia. Today, Ephesus is the largest Roman excavation site in Turkey. The grand avenues and intact social buildings help one build the city in their imagination with not too much of an effort. As one walks in the theater, which had a seating capacity of 24,000, the sounds of the enraged Ephesians, led by Demitrius the silversmith, can almost be heard. According to Acts 19 St Paul, who visited Ephesus twice, was never given an opportunity to speak in this theater when the Ephesians were reminded that St Paul and his teachings were a threat to the way they made their living. So Paul wrote everything he had to say to the Ephesians in his letters. Thus Ephesus is mentioned not only in Acts but there is a whole big chapter in the Bible named the ”Epistle of Apostle Paul to the Ephesians.’ Ephesus had the pleasure of having St Paul twice. But the riot at this theater endangered his life. Thousands of Ephesians cried “Great is Artemis of Ephesians” when they realized what sort of a threat Paul was to their religion. Here will not miss the opportunity to visit the Church of Virgin Mary located close to the old harbor. Where Pope Paul VI made a prayer during his visit here in 1967. This is where the 3rd Ecumenical Council was held in 431 Ad.
Day 15. Sardis – Thyatira – Pergamon; Proceed to Pergamon via Sardis capital of the old Lydian Empire, where you will see a magnificent Synagogue built by Jewish communities. St. Paul had his first attempts to convert people among Jewish communities there. But he could well be lynched in this Synagogue where Jewish returned him brutally thinking they were the only elite people of God. This recently restored Synagogue is located near the Gymnasium and the very majestic start of the king road with big marble slabs connecting Sardis to Susa in Persia. Several shops can be seen at the corner of this area. In Sardis we will also see a pseudo dipteros Artemis temple built with Ionic capitals. (Pseudo dipteros means fake dipteros temple. Dipteros Temple means a colossal size temple with two column ranges, like the Apollo temple in Didyma) Looking at it from a distance a stranger thinks it is a huge glorious dipteros temple while it is just a illuding peripteros. The temple was dedicated originally to the cult of Kybele but transformed lately to a church. Meanwhile I will tell my guests the sad story of Kroisos mentioned by the father of history Herodotes. While visiting this marvelous site we will have the opportunity of looking at the ancient river of Pactolus which brought gold to Kroisos and the gold workshops where the gold was melted and worked. Ruins of Sardis are at a distance of 74 kms from Thyatira (Akhisar) where one of the seven churches of the book of revelation together with Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea was located. We will see the ruins of the site and proceed to Pergamon. We will reach the Acropolis of the ancient Pergamon after a scenic drive of 122 kms. and we can cover this in about 1.5 hours. We will have an in depth detailed promenade here in this magnificent Acropolis situated high above a plain with a unique panoramic view. We will visit the palaces of Pergamon kings, the remains of the Great Library where more than 200000 volumes and manuscripts made of papirus and parchment paper (pargamena) which was first produced in Pergamon. We will see the Temple of Trajan, the Athena temple and the very narrow and steep theater on the hillside which could seat up to 10,000 people. The stylish Dionysus temple and it’s steps heighing 4.5 meters. The ruins of Zeus Altar which was one of the seven wonders of the world in the Hellenistic period. After our visit in Acropolis we will descend down to Asclepion, which was known as one of the first places of medical science in the ancient world together with Epidauros in Greece. Galen who was born in Pergamon in 129 AD became a notorious physician of his time and treated his patients here. Here I will tell you how the doctors treated their patients here with natural ways. Overnight in Pergamon.
Day 16. Assos – Troy – Gallipoli; We drive all the way around the Bay of Edremit, enjoying the coastal scenery, then visit the Temple of Athena, in Assos. (Act -20) Proceed to Troy and visit the legendary town of Homeros. Several ancient cities have been excavated here, but the site’s real romance comes from the decade-long Trojan War, in the thirteenth century B.C.E. The face that launched a thousand ships, the Achilles heel, the wooden horse — all of it happened here, in Homer’s telling of the war in the Iliad. This legendary city of Homer and the beautiful Helen has nine principal levels of occupation covering a period of more than 3000 years. You will see a reproduction of the Trojan horse, the museum, city walls dating from the time of Trojan war, Schiliman’s Trench and more. After Troy we will pass across the Dardanelles by ferry and explore the battlefields of Gallipoli. The Museum, Anzac Cove, Lone Pine, Trenches, Chunuk Bair and Turkish and Anzac memorials and the cemeteries. In Anzac Cove you will also see a memory stone on which you will read the words of Ataturk. “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours. … You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.” After our sad tour in this battlefield we will overnight in Gallipoli.
Day 17. Gallipoli – Istanbul; We will drive back to Istanbul along the Marmara Sea. It is a drive of approx. 300 kms. going through Tekirdag a famous town for the production of the national drink of Turkey called Raki. Arrival to Istanbul transfer to the location of your choice and end of my services.
Where to find the biblical sites of Turkey in the Bible
Noah: the flood – mount Ararat Abraham
CANAAN Genesis 12:7
NIMROD Genesis 10:8
UR Genesis 11:28,
Adam and Eve – Garden of Eden
Urartu (Kingdom of Ararat)
Urartu Castle -Dogubeyazit
Event or place references in the King James version of the Bible
Paul was born in Tarsus Acts 21:39; 22:3 Phrygia and Galatia Acts 16:6
Cilician Gates Acts 15:41 ANTIOCH AD ORONTOS Acts 16:7
Mysia Acts 16:7,8 Iconium Acts 14:1
Antioch (in Pisidia) Acts 14:14 Lystra and Derbe Acts 14:6
Myra Acts 27:5 Patara Acts 21:1
Colosse Coll 1:2 Philemon Philemon: 8
Assos Acts 20:13,14 Troas Acts 16:8,11; 20:5,6; 2 Cor 2:12; 2 Tim 4:13
Perga Acts 13:13,14; 14:25 Miletus Acts 20:15, 17
Attalia Acts 14: 25 Ephesus Acts 18:19,21,24; 19:1,17,26,35; 20:16,17; 1
Cor 15:32; 16:8; Eph 1:1; 1 Tim 1:3; 2 Tim 1:18; 4:12; Rev 1:11; 2:1
THE BOOK OF REVELATION
Ephesus 2: 1 – 7
Smyrna 2: 8 – 11
Pergamum 2 : 12 -17
Thyatira 2: 18-29
Sardis 3: 1-6 Philadelphia 3: 7-13
Laodicea 3: 14-22