DAY 1. Arrival at Istanbul. Transfer to the hotel on the historical peninsula, where many wooden houses were rebuilt as they were in the late 19th century. After a brief introduction, we will begin our tour with the ancient Hippodrome where horse races took place in Roman times. In the evening we will have a meeting at the lobby of the hotel to have a briefing about the tour. Overnight in a charming hotel on historical peninsula.
DAY 2. In the morning, we will drive to the Church of St. Saviour in Chora which is the masterpiece of the Byzantine art… We will see a parade of mosaics from Bible in chronological order here. After this visit we will drive to the Blachernae Palace integrated into the nearby city walls. We will then drive to from the shores of the Golden Horn… Our next visit will be the Basilica Cistern… Then Haghia Sophia, which was a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture built in 537. The Topkapi Palace will be our next stop where we will also visit ladies’ living quarters (Harem) which is like a palace in a palace. Topkapi was the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1453 to 1856.
DAY 3. Today, we will check out from the hotel and start our day… If you don’t mind to see the Blue Mosque only from outside as we drive we can depart at 09:30. Otherwise if you prefer to see the inside as well at 08:30 am… and drive to the port to take a cruise ship which will take you up towards Black Sea through the Bosphorus zigzagging between the European and Asian continents. You will relax and enjoy the beautiful views of Istanbul. Along the shores of Bosphorus you will see magnificent palaces, pavillions, castles, old wooden villas etc. You will get off the boat at Sarıyer near the Black Sea at 12:05 where I will meet you with my car. Then we will visit the Sadberk Hanım Museum by the Bosphorus where I will give you a short chronological overview of civilisations which flourished in Anatolia. After lunch we will drive to the Asian side to Beylerbeyi Palace which 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 across the other Intercontinental Bosphorus bridge and get back to the European side…. On our way we will see the Dolmabahce Palace, its clock tower and its mosque built in Baroque architectural style, Ottoman time fountains, 16th century Fındıklı and Kılıçali Paşa Mosques, the Canon factories, a 19th century Rococo architectural style Mosque (Nusretiye), Galata tower, Galata Bridge, Yeni Mosque, the Spice Market and the Sirkeci Train station which was the last station of the famous Orient Express… The Grand Bazaar called Kapali Carsi which has been the hub of Istanbul’s trade activity for many centuries. Our walk in that area will take us to Suleymaniye Mosque, the grandest Mosque in the city built by the greatest Ottoman architect Sinan in the 16th century. The mosque he built for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificient is one of the landmarks of the Istanbul skyline with its four minarets and cascading domes. Tonight we will stay at a 5 * hotel on the Asian side in order to beat tomorrows rush hour traffic.
DAY 4. We will depart at 7:30 to Ankara, 420 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 overview based on my historical perspective of Asia Minor. Being located between Asia and Europe Asia Minor served as a bridge to many civilizations moving between East and West and therefore it is the centre of the world’s history. Overnight in Ankara…
DAY 5. After the visit of the Mausoleum of Ataturk we will depart to the ancient Capital of Hittites. This mysterious, megalithic civilization used iron tools, immigrated from Caucasus and ruled over Asia Minor for more than 500 years. We will stop at The Great Temple, Lions’ Gate, Sphinx Gate and the King’s Gate along the city walls, the old palace of the Hittite Kings. Proceed to Yazilikaya where we will see an impressive open air temple carved out of hard rock. Here we will see a parade of reliefs of some of the most important Gods of the Hittite pantheon Teshup, Hepat, Sharumma to name a few. We will also visit the museum here… Overnight in Hattusa…
DAY 6. 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 Medieval times. In this ancient Monastery among the tombs of dervishes and many wonderful objects we will also see the “keskul” (beggar’s cup) used by trainee dervishes made to beg food from people in order to defeat their pride. Other instruments such as pazarci masasi, nefir, teber, mutekka were also used by dervishes and I will explain you what those were. After these visits we will get to Bayramhaci hot springs and relax before we arrive at Cappadocia. As we arrive at Cappadocia we will visit Rose valley before sun set 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… Then we will drive to Uchisar and I will show you my lodge and a 5.5 kms tunnel which must have been part of the underground network of Cappadocian tunnels. Overnight in Cappadocia…
DAY 7. Optional Balloon flight. Nature and man competed in creating some of the most unusual and most beautiful landscapes of the world here. So you will enjoy this ‘lunar’ landscape with endless formations created by the nature in this amazing place. We will start exploring Cappadocia by visiting Derinkuyu underground city where Christians had to hide from their enemies. In spite of the presence of an enemy army on the ground, Christians were safe here under the ground… All security measures were taken in these underground cities and tunnels were dug to ensure their connections to other areas. Other than security all commodities were made available to ensure a comfortable life in these subterranean labyrinths. In this amazing region we will also visit the local people in their natural homes, carved out of the peculiar land formations in the volcanic ash, some of them called Fairy Chimneys. 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 dirt track. This church is located at some of the most quiet places of Cappadocia and is named St. Barbara and 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 teach and spread the Christianity as most people were illiterate at those times. After we leave here drive to the old village of Sinassos. Meet local people there who used to live in Macedonia before their migration in 1923. Here we will see the Monastery of St. Nicholas. Tonight we will have an opportunity to attend an optional dervish ritual and a show of folk dances from various regions of Turkey in a rock dug underground cabaret while wining and dining…
DAY 8.Today is the day we will see the most interesting areas in Cappadocia. In the morning we will go for an easy hike in Monks’ Valley (Pasabag). It is the place where you will see some of the most beautiful mushroom looking rocks so called Fairy Chimneys in the area. Goreme Valley has the most beautiful rock dug churches of the area. The colours of the frescoes of these hundreds of years old churches are just as vivid as the colours of the rugs woven in the area. As you will visit the colourful “churches” of Cappadocia and admire the surrounding forms of this fantastic 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 hundreds of years. Among those beautiful churches we will see the Apple Church, the Snake Church, the Church With Sandals, the Buckle Church… each one decorated with frescoes. We will also visit a small town where women weave rugs and will learn about this disappearing beautiful craft of hand made Turkish rugs all made with the unique double knotting technique. The town of Avanos located on the banks of the Red river will be also on our agenda today and we will pass across this largest and longest river of Turkey by walking on a suspended pedestrian bridge. In Avanos we will also have the opportunity to see a pottery museum and watch traditional pottery making art with our own eyes… We will continue our visits driving to Sarihan Caravanserail, built on an ancient caravan route of Seljukian times. There will be a possibility to have a traditional Turkish Bath experience at the end of this long day…
DAY 9. We will proceed to Anthioch on Orontes (Antakya), where St. Paul lived. On our way we will stop near Nigde and visit the Eskigumus monastery. In the church of the monastery a fresco of Madonna and the Child scene can be dated to 11th or 12th century… In the beauty of this place, one can imagine the monks contemplating to find the best way of passing the word of God to the worshippers of the region. After this visit we will drive through the gorge of Cilician Gates. Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch on Orontes. This is also where the followers of Christ were called Christians for the first time. We will visit the St. Peter’s Church which is regarded as the first Christian church of the world. Overnight in Anthioch on Orontes.
DAY 10. Today we will visit the Mosaic Museum which reveals the wealth of the Roman citizens who lived in this area at St. Paul’s time. We will 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. 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. A handicraft center and the mosque of excellency Bilal who was the first to chant the prayer, the statue of Sahmeran, king of the snakes will also be on our way. Overnight in Tarsus.
DAY 11. Today we will drive towards East and pass by places like Kanlidivane the natural pit so called Hell and Paradise. 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 trip 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 caves are some of them. Our boat trip will take us all the way to the golden sand beach of Cleopatra. Overnight in Alanya.
DAY 12. 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 13. Early departure after breakfast, on the road to Pamukkale, we will visit Termessos, a magnificent Pamphilian site located on top of the mountains at an altitude of 1050 metres. On our way through the Taurus mountains we might see nomad tents made of black goat hair and stop for a tea. These Turcoman nomads have been leading a life which has not changed much since they had left Central Asia in the 10th Century. Their life style can be traced all the way back to the Shamanism of Central Asian steppes, from where Turks have originated thousands of years ago. We will continue to Pamukkale. Here there is the most unusual natural phenomenon of Turkey, formed of snow-white calcium deposits, cascading down hundreds of feet. We will have an opportunity to swim in a thermal pool created on the ruins of the ancient Hierapolis. Enjoy feeling the Roman ruins under your feet while soaking in the bubbling waters of the pool. Overnight in Denizli.
DAY 14. Today we will drive 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 BC. Earlier in those times the town was called Ninoe which was also the name of an oriental goddess equivalent to Ishtar or Astarte. Lately Aphrodite became the main deity in this place and a temple for Aphrodite was built in the 1st century BC. and the town became a centre for the cult of Aphrodite. People who needed the help of the Goddess to find their dreamed love were coming from remote places. Here they paid respect and asked the assistance of the Goddess. Eros carvings and especially the ones in the ancient odeon (music hall) riding the Dolphin are remarkable. The ancient temple of Aphrodite was transformed into a church after the 4th century and a bishop was sent here. During those times the town took the name of Stavropolis, meaning the city of cross. About the end of our visit among pomegranate and 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 Roman stadium in the world. After a short rest we will continue to Miletus and Priene which are two remarquable ancient Ionian sites very close to the Aegean coast. Priene is truly one of the most impressive ancient sites of Turkey. As we will finish climbing up the hill we will see the Prytaneion (town hall). Next is Bouleterion a buiding designed for the meetings of the bureaucrats working in the adjacent town hall. As we continue we will see the Asclepion temple, a medieval church and a large Agora (market place). Continuing down hill as we pass so called house of Alexander the Great we will discover the gate of the other end of the city. We will continue our visits here with the temple of Athena and a Byzantine church before we arrive finally to a theatre built to accommodate up to 6,500 spectators in the 2nd Century BC. This is the best example of surviving Greek theater in Turkey. You will admire the way Greeks built these magnificent theatres, which also provided a panoramic view behind the scene. After we finish our visits here we will proceed to Miletus. Miletus was the most important city of Ionia until Persians occupied the area and Miletus was defeated in Lade battle, in 494 BC. A magnificent theater largely modified during Roman times will offer us an amazing athmosphere where we will talk about the history of the city. As we reach the heights of the theatre and look down from here we will see a hill about 5 kms away which was an Island before the Meander river silted the sea and created the fertile plain around it. That island called Lade at that time, was housing the fleet designed to fight the Persians. But Persian intelligence discovered the location of the fleet and the Persian fleet sneaked into the harbor and catched the Ionian ships at surprise. Most Ionian ships were already in fire before even they had time to manouver and move out of the harbors… After the visit of the theater we will walk down to the ancient harbour of Lions. Here we will see the harbour monument and two giant lion statues which were originally placed up above on both sides of the entrance of the harbor. These lions were symbolically protecting this harbor from ennemies. We will proceed our tour by exploring the other parts of the ancient town making a circular walk around the ruins and slowly coming back to where we started our visits. As we walk we will see the Delphinion, a temple dedicated to Delphin (Dolphin). The people of a town like Miletus surrounded by seas from every corner knew dolphin was intelligent and a music loving creature 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 pilgrim walks were started from the Delphinion towards the Apollo temple of Didyma, 20 kms in the South. We will then see a Nymphaeum (where water fairies Nymphe’s used walk around the abundant waters of these colossal size fountains), a bouleterion (the senate building), a Serapis temple, food depots and Faustina Baths built in the second century AD for Faustina, the wife of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, before we get back to the parking. Overnight in Ephesus.
DAY 15. 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 4th, largest city of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor. The grand avenues and intact social buildings help one build the city in their imagination with not too much 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, St. Paul who visited Ephesus twice, was not given an opportunity to deliver the message he had 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 an uprising of the people in this theatre 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 we 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 also the place where the 3rd Ecumenical Council was held in 431 AD. Proceed to Pergamon via Sardis capital of the old Lydian Empire. In Sardis you will see a magnificent Synagogue built by Jewish communities. St. Paul had his first attempts to convert people among Jewish communities in places like this. But he had the risk of being lynched even among Jewish communities as they 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 2700 km royal road made with with stones 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 an 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. We will reach the Acropolis of the ancient Pergamon after a scenic drive. 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 200,000 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 accommodate up to 10,000 people. The stylish Dionysus temple and it’s steps heighing 4.5 meters and 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 made prescriptions for Roman emperors. Here I will tell you how the doctors treated their patients with natural therapies. Overnight in Pergamon.
DAY 16. Departure in the morning. Drive to Kozak Plains where you will see a sea of Green Pinenut trees (Pinus Pinea). We will make a short stop at the top of the mountains here and visit a Turcoman Yuruk village. At Ayvalık we will visit the Taksiyaris church, try delicious olive oil food in a local restaurant in the afternoon we will stroll in the typical old streets of Ayvalık and at 18:00 we will take a ferry to Lesbos island. The island was visited by St. Paul during his third journey… Upon clearing customs at the Greek side we will drive ovrenight at Mytilene.
DAY 17. Today we will discover the Lesbos island… Lesbos was an island where highly educated people lived… In the 7th century BC there lived a highly civilized community who loved arts, literature, music and a pleasant life. In this town men used to enjoy themselves outside until late hours. If you were a traveller in those days and walked along the streets you would witness crowds in market places, women wearing nice yellow boots, bracelets on their arms and if they had sandals possibly rings on their ankles. In the evenings nice musical melodies and joyful people’s laughings, coming from the half open windows could be heard. Sappho was an artist woman living in this island, a poet and a highly skilled person. She was transferring her knowledge to the other women around her.. These women respected and deeply loved each other with pure sentiments. Time passed and gossips came out about them who simply had a passion to talk and friendly loved each other… They were called Lesbos island women, lesbians.. We will drive to the house of Sappho in Eressos and come back to Mytilene in the afternoon… We will dedicate the rest of our time for the visits in Mytilene. Some of the interesting places in Mytiline are; The Mytilini Castle, The Petrified Forest, Agios Athanasios, The Archaeological Museum, The Iakovidis Digital Museum, Monastery of Taxiarchis, The Molyvos Castle, Roman Aqueduct, The Hot Springs…
DAY 18. Today we will take the ferry back to Ayvalık at 09:00 oclock… and arrive at Ayvalık at 10.30… We will continue our way and stop at the olive oil museum at Küçükkuyu. Then proceed to Assos driving in the North of the Bay of Edremit, enjoying a coastal scenery… Temple of Athena is on the very top of Assos from where we will have an amazing panorama… After our visit in Assos we will proceed to Troy and visit the legendary town mentioned in Illiad of Homer. The father of poetry. Several ancient cities have been excavated here, but the site’s real romance comes from the decade-long Trojan War, in the 13th, century BC. The first beauty contest of the world, a face that launched a thousand ships, the Achilles heel, the wooden horse are all stories related to this land… 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 hypotetical reproduction of the Trojan horse, 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 19. Today we will drive back to Istanbul, along the Marmara Sea… Istanbul will be at a distance of approx. 300 kms. We will stop at Tekirdag a famous town for the production of the national drink of Turkey called Raki. Drive to Cafe Pierre Loti to have a view of the Golden Horn with the city walls and enjoy a cup of Turkish Coffee together.. Departure to the airport 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