Arrive at Istanbul airport, meet our driver and guide. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Istanbul
After breakfast, we start group tour. We visit the Topkapi Palace Museum, lavish home to the Ottoman Sultans. For centuries, this was the place from which the sultans rule dover an empire that streched from Western Iran to the Atlantic Ocean. Arranged around a series of spacious court yards, it contains a priceles scollection of jewelry , porcelain and costumes. Legend claims that the ancient rod on display in the Pavilion of Holy Relics is the one used by Moses top art the Red Sea. Its Pavilion sand fountains evoke a sacluded, hedonistic World. At one end of a large park stands the Blue Mosque, socalled because of its exquisite tile decoration. Its courtyard is exceptionally beautiful, and it is only mosque in Istanbul to have six minarets. Next we move on to the Hippodrome, which was the scene of chariot races and great public occasions through out the immensely long history of the Byzantine Empire. The afternoon starts at the Church of St. Chora, which has immaculately preserved early 13th century mosaics and frescoes that are among the supreme masterpieces of Medival art, with the Harrowing of Hellbeinge specially note worthy. We proceed to the Suleymaniye Mosque. Designed by Sinan for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, this is the grandest and largest mosque in Istanbul. Its great dome and soaring minarets dominate the skyline of the Old City. Overnight in Istanbul
After breakfast, we start group tour. Our first stop will be the Dolmabahce Palace. Streching expansively along the European shore of the Bosphours, this ornate Baroque masterpiece, built in 1854 was the home of the late Ottoman Sultans. No expense was spared in decorating its interior, which boasts no less than fourteen tons of gold. The palace houses rich collections of Bohemian crystal and 19th and 20th century Turkish painting and sculpture. Rustem Pasha is not the largest or the best known mosque in Istanbul, but this often over looked treasure is certainly the most exquisitely decoreted. Every inch of the interior is covered with briliantly colored Iznik tiles. Close by is the 17th century Spice Bazaar, where you can find a vast diversity of spices, sacks of henna, many varieties of oil sand herbs, and of course the world’s very best Turkish Delight. We next visit Hagia Sofia which was built by the Emperor Justinianan dinaugurated in 537 AD. Forover nine centuries it was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it remains the world’s 4th largest church. Hagia Sofia contains some of the finest mosaics to have survived from the Byzantine period, including a truly remarkable mosaics of the Virgin and Child. We finish our day with visit to the Archaeological Museum, built at theend of the 19th century by Osman Hamdi, Turkey’s first modern archaeologist and the discoverer of the Alexander Sarcophagus, one of the highlights of themuseum, as well as a notedpainter in his ownright. The variety and quality of the objects on display make this among the most outstanding institutions of its kind, with fine Greek and Roman sculpture, Mesopotamian jewelry and an important collection of Hittite artifacts. Overnight in Istanbul
We have early breakfast and we fly to Kayseri in Turkey’s middle part. Cappadocian Jews were present at Pentecost Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) was home to the 4th Century “Cappadocian Fathers,” St. Basil, Gregory Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzus who spent their lives tirelessly combating the heresies plaguing the early church. Through their hard work and God’s grace, they influenced the Nicene Councils who eventually agreed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons of the same Essence.Overnight in Cappadocia.
After breakfast, full day private sight-seeing will start with the magical valley of Goreme, which is now an open-air museum. We will see hundreds of rockpinnacles, known as fairy chimney sand Byzantine Churches. GoremeValley was home to hundreds of monks who lived in cells carved from the rock. Several of the churches in Goreme have well preserved frescoes, for example the Karanlik Kilise (thedarkchurch), the Elmali Kilise(1190-1200) and the Church of St. Eustace(970-1148). Finest of alla re supremely elegant frescoes in the Tokali Kilise, which were painted in the 10th century by a certain Nikephoros, who probably come from Constantinople. . We move on to the Uchisar, an extraordinary rock formation towering above the landscape and visible formiles around. This rock, riddled with chamber sand tunnels, was once used as a fortres sand offers a magnificent panaromic view of Cappadocia and over 13,000 footpeek of Mt. Erciyes in the distance. From Uchisar we will drive to Dove cote Valley (Guvercinlik Vadisi), so called because of thehundred of dovecoatsper for ating the rock faces. The birds droppings provided valuable fertilizer fort he neighboring farmers. We will also explore the regian’s traditional handicrafts, carpet-weaving and pottery making in Avanos. Next we will visit the church of John The Baptist at Cavusin which is the oldest surviving church in Cappadocia. Beyond Cavusin lies the Zelve Valley, where there are monasteries and convents carved from the rock. Nearby Pasabag, also known as Monk’sValley, has amazing examples of hermitages hollowed out of volcanic rock formations. Overnight in Cappadocia
After breakfast we depart from Urgup to Konya., stopping off at the Sultanhani Caravanserai just like travelers from Turkey’s bygone era. Founded for military and trade purposes, the Caravanserai’s Inn was built in 1228 and reflects the Seljuk style of architecture. And next, we’re off to Konya. Nearly two thousand years ago, Paul and Barnabas visited Iconium during Paul’s first missionary journey. As he preached to the city, God used Paul to bring many Jews and Gentiles to Christ Konya is also the home of the Mystic sect of the spectral Whirling Dervishes. We’ll have an opportunity to learn more about this mysterious order when we visit the museum of its founder, Mevlana. Overnight in Konya
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. Our tour takes us into the scenic mountain region to visit Pisidian Antioch – an important stop on Paul’s first missionary journey. Although only 10% of has been excavated, the ruins from the Roman period are noteworthy along with the scenery in general. We’ll see Septimus Severus’ triumphal gate, Augustus’ Temple, the Roman baths, a theater, synagogue and a church dedicated to Paul. This afternoon we travel to the tell (large mound) of Lystra. Although the remaining hill has not been excavated, as is the case with nearby Derbe, we will read the scripture and hear of the history related to the site before allowing time to hike to the top to explore the hillside. Overnight in Konya
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. We’ll depart for the bustling, palm-lined streets of Antalya. Founded on the “Turquoise Coast” of the Mediterranean, Antalya has boasted a mild climate and beautiful beaches and harbors for centuries. In fact, Paul and Barnabas sailed from Antalya harbor in the 1st Century on the first missionary journey. Today, we’ll visit the best preserved Roman Theatre in the world in Aspendus and the impressive excavations in the neighboring town of Perge. It was in Perge that John Mark decided to part company with Paul and Barnabas, while they continued on their missionary journey. Ruins of the city’s streets, baths, gates and theater are still visible. We also pass neighboring Side, a bustling tourist town with an array of artifacts and archeological treasures. Overnight in Antalya
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. We’ll depart Antalya for a leisurely trip along the beautiful coastline to Demre Myra to visit the 11th Century Church of St. Nicholas. The church was built to commemorate an early Christian bishop who was present at the First Ecumenical Council and eventually became known as Santa Claus. It is interesting to hear our guide speak of how time has turned this early church father into a mythical hero. To view the red and white statue of Santa Claus standing in the square, see the Muslim vendors peddling statues (idols to their thinking) and hear the call to prayer from the nearby mosque is strangely bizarre. In Myra we will also visit the port where Paul and Luke changed ships en route to Rome. As the Myra of today is the sailing center of the Anatolia region, It is very interesting to see the many wooden boats lined up as it would have been in Paul’s day. We’ll also visit the picturesque and fascinating rock tombs cut into the cliff above the theatre. These tombs, some with paintings, shows us what typical life might have been like in ancient Myra. Later this afternoon we stop at the area known to be the port of Patara, where Paul changed ships en route to Rome on his final voyage. Overnight in Fethiye
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. We’ll start the day off by traveling to the nearby towns of Miletusand Dydima. Miletus was a proud and important coastal city of its day and was visited by Paul during his missionary journeys. It was here that he said goodbye to his friends. Dydima was a close-by pagan worship center for the people of Miletus. With the rise and spread of Christianity, eventually, Christian chapels were founded in Dydima which were later destroyed by Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. Overnight in Kusadasi
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. We begin the day with a visit to the Church of St. John for a tour and a scenic overview of the surrounding area. From here our guide will point out the location of the ancient harbor of Ephesus and describe the silting process that led to the demise of this important Roman city. Of special interest is the tomb of John and the baptismal where new believers were immersed. We will also be able to view the site of the ancient wonder – the Temple of Artimus and the nearby Mosque of Jesus (Jesus is a respected prophet to Muslims). This afternoon we’ll view a wealth of artifacts awaiting us at the Museum of Ephesus and visit the archeological site of Biblical Ephesus, which hosts a large restoration effort and miles of ancient treasures. Ephesus was once a thriving port town of 250,000 people. Today you can still see the spectacular excavations of the major streets in this ancient city where we view the Library, Agora, theatre, colorful mosaics, a panoramic view of the surrounding ancient port area including a wealth of church history and cultural insight. Overnight in Kusadasi
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. Hierapolis, meaning “Sacred City,” was an ancient center for pagan cults until it was transformed into a Christian center in the first century. According to tradition, the Apostle Philip lived and was martyred in Hierapolis. It was the likely the hot springs of Hierapolis in contrast to the cold mountain springs near Colossae that combined to bring application to the “luke warm” Laodiceans. This connection between the cities lies behind Paul’s reference to Hierapolis and Laodicea in his epistle to the Colossians. Colossae is well-known throughout Christian circles as the receiver of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Today, the town has fallen into obscurity and nothing remains. Laodicea contains many acres of ruins to visit including a stadium and remnants of a sophisticated water system. Overnight in Pamukkale
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. Philadelphia was referred to as the “New Jerusalem” in the Book of Revelation, yet today, not much is left of the city except for the ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica in the modern city ofAlasehir. Sardis was berated by John for its facade of strength when in reality, it was weak. Here coins were minted and the dyeing of wood originated. We’ll visit the gymnasium and synagogue. A stop will be made in Thyatira to view the ancient roadway and period columns. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and a long time center for Jews and Christians. In Paul’s day, Izmir was known as Smyrna and was another of the Seven Churches. Here we’ll see Polycarp’s Church and the ancient agora. Overnight in Izmir
After breakfast, we start our full day tour. Once a busy trading center and famous as a “seller of purple,” the most favored of the Seven Churches, the church ofPergamum was praised for its forbearance. It was here that the first Christians were executed by Rome. We’ll visit the fabled Acropolis, pass through the Royal Gates, view the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and visit the ruins of the library, which once held 200,000 volumes. Ancient Troy is well known for its 3rd and 4th Century BC excavations. Don’t forget to have your picture taken from the top of the Trojan Horse. We pass by the area known as Troas, where Paul had a vision during his second missionary journey and was called to Macedonia. Paul later spent a week in Troas preaching here and Eutychus was resurrected. Overnight in Canakkale
After breakfast, we take a drive to Istanbul Airport connecting with your home bound flight.