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On the Footsteps of St. Paul – from Ankara – 14 Days / 13 Nights

Summary

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14 Days / 13 Nights
FIT & Groups
Daily, Year-Round

Basic Itinerary

  • Day 1: Ankara (Arrival) | Arrival by flight. Free leisure day. Mausoleum of Ataturk if time permits.
  • Day 2: Ankara – Capppadocia | Coach ride and tour. Observed: Fairy Chimneys, Goreme Open Air Museum, Avanos, Uchisar, Zelve Valley.
  • Day 3: Cappadocia – Adana | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Ihlara Valley, Kaymakli Underground City.
  • Day 4: Adana – Antakya | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: St. Peter’s Church, Samandagi, Seleucia.
  • Day 5: Antakya – Tarsus – Silifke | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Tarsus, Issaura, Kanlidivane, Heaven and Hell Caves, Korykos, St. Thecla Church.
  • Day 6: Silifke –Derbe – Konya – Isparta | Coach ride tour. Sites observed: Derbe, Konya, St. Paul’s Church.
  • Day 7: Isparta – Denizli/Pamukkale – Kusadasi | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Laodicea.
  • Day 8: Kusadasi | Full day tour. Sites observed: Ephesus, Temple of Artemis, Library of Celcus, St. John’s Basilica, Double Church, Ephesus Museum.
  • Day 9: Kusadasi – Izmir | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Sardis, Philadelphia, Smyrna.
  • Day 10: Izmir – Pergamon – Ayvalik | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Thyatira, Pergamon, Altar of Zeus, Red Basilica, Asclepion.
  • Day 11: Ayvalik – Assos – Canakkale | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Assos, Troas.
  • Day 12: Canakkale – Iznik/Nicaea – Istanbul | Coach ride and tour. Sites observed: Nicaea: St. Sophia Church; Istanbul: Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus Cruise.
  • Day 13: Istanbul | Full day tour. Sites observed: Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Church of St. Irene, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar.
  • Day 14: Istanbul – Departure| Flight back home.

Itinerary Map

Group Options

10+0 Pax From 679 EUR

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15+1 Pax From 659 EUR

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  • Turkuaz Sultan VIP
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  • Max 24 People
  • +1 free passenger
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25+1 Pax From 589 EUR

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  • Turkuaz Sultan VIP
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  • Max 14 People
  • +1 free passenger
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35+1 Pax From 579 EUR

5 (Gold), 4 (Silver), 3 (Bronze)

  • Tourismo Travego
  • Private Guide
  • Max 45 People
  • +1 free passenger
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Ankara | Welcome, Mausoleum  of Ataturk

Flight from your home country to the capital city Ankara. Upon arrival at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, we will meet our guide, who will join us during the whole tour.  If time permits, we will visit Ataturk’s Mausoleum. Overnight in Ankara. (Dinner)

Day 2: Cappadocia | Fairy Chimneys, Goreme Open Air Museum, Avanos, Uchisar, Zelve Valley

After breakfast, departure to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is located in Central Anatolia, where a dozen empires have risen and fallen, as their massive armies moved back and forth across this “land bridge” between Europe and Asia.

Cappadocia, with its center in Caesarea (Kayseri), was once the heart of the Hittite Kingdom of the Old Testament. This vast area is one of the most photogenic landscapes in the world. Extraordinary rock formations have become symbolic of this region, where you will enjoy the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys and Goreme’s breathtaking Open Air Museum. Watch the potters at their craft, in the famous pottery producing town of Avanos. Finally, savor the natural wonders of the Citadel of Uchisar and Zelve Valley.

Overnight in Cappadocia. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 3: Adana | Ihlara Valley, Underground City of Kaymakli

Today, we will first travel to Cappadocia’s scenic Ihlara Valley, where early Christians carved some 3,500 cave churches from the tufa rock. In Acts 2:9, pilgrims from Cappadocia were assembled with the thousands in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, when they received the initial baptism of the Holy Spirit and heard the Apostle Peter preach his powerful message.

The beauty and quaintness of these chapels, with numerous wall paintings and Christian symbols, is astonishing. Persecuted Christians – tens of thousands of them – escaping into the earth to flee Arab invaders in the tenth century, tunneled out more than twenty underground cities of refuge here in Cappadocia. Such cities, with carved rooms for kitchens, sleeping quarters, stables, and chapels for worship, descend five to ten stories into the earth. You will enjoy your own-guided tour to one of the best-preserved underground cities in Cappadocia, the city of Kaymakli.

Afterwards, we will continue to Adana; the country’s fourth largest city. Adana is situated some thirty miles east of Tarsus, birthplace of St Paul. Overnight in Adana. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 4: Antakya | St. Peter’s Church, Samandagi, Seleucia

After breakfast, we will directly drive to Antakya (Antioch), the city where the disciples were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11:26) and which was the first stop of St Paul in his missionary journey.

We will first visit St. Peter’s Church, one of the first four Catholic Churches in the world; and the mosaic museum. Afterwards, we will continue to Samandağı (Seleucia Pereira), the port from where Paul and Barnabas sailed to Cyprus on their First Journey (Act 13:4). We will visit the cave where they met in secrecy, where St. Peter first celebrated Mass. South of the church, The Iron Gate was one of the actual entrances of Biblical Antioch. Strolling through the old part of the city, you cannot help recalling the saints who walked these old streets, for little has changed since that time. St. Paul and Silas departed from here on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:35-36). Discover the impact of leaders such as Ignatius of Antioch and John Chrysostom.

Then, we will continue our visits with the archaeological remains of Seleucia, the port from which St. Paul, St. Barnabas and John Mark departed from Antioch for St. Paul’s First Journey (Acts 13:4). Then we will visit an unbelievable tunnel system carved through the mountains by the emperors Vespasian and Titus. Overnight in Antioch. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5: Silifke | Tarsus, Issaura, Kanlidivane, Heaven and Hell Caves, Korykos, St. Thecla Church

After breakfast, we will depart for Tarsus by coach for approx. 335 km (4hr 50min drive ), the birth place of St. Paul, visiting his house.

Then we drive to Silifke (Seleucia of Issaura) for lunch. We will continue the day by visiting the historical sites of  Kanlidivane, Heaven and Hell Caves, Korykos, Uzuncaburun, Ura, the Temple of Zeus and the St. Thecla Church, which gets its name from a female saintly figure who was a good student of St. Paul, displaying miracles through healing people, and who is said to have been buried there.

Overnight in Silifke. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 6: Isparta | Derbe, Konya, St. Paul’s Church

Today, we will depart for Derbe by coach again and drive for approx. 465 km (6hr 45min), the last Roman City on the road to the East, which was graced by St. Paul’s visit for three different times.

From there, we will proceed to Konya (Iconium) where St. Paul and St. Barnabas were threatened with being stoned (Acts 14:5). Iconium, after its conquest by the Seljuk Turks, became home to a sect of mystical Muslims called Swirling Dervishes, carrying the Sufi tradition, and is the place where Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi and his student Shems have spent the latter years of their lives, contributing a significant amount of literature to the Islamic world, whose wisdom is revered by many Turkish believers today.

We will then do a tour of the city including St. Paul’s Church, and afterwards, continue via Egridir towards Isparta (Sparta) for dinner and overnight. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7: Kusadasi | Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Laodicea

Today, we will first drive to the city of Denizli, where the famous Pamukkale (Cotton Castles), the brilliant white calcium formations and hot-water travertines reside; where hot mineral waters emerge from the earth and cascade over cliffs.

The travertines form shallow pools supported by colorful stalactites. This enchanting place is one of the natural wonders of Asia Minor. The churches here in Hierapolis, Colossae, and Laodicea once flourished under the ministry of Epaphras (Colossians 4:12-13). We will explore incredible excavations at Hierapolis, including a Byzantine church, the Great Theatre, the Temple of Apollo, and the Plutonium, which pagan cults once called “the entrance to hell”.

Then, we will continue towards Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 3: 14-22), who 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 a chance to witness the newest excavations in Laodicea.

Finally, we drive off to Kusadasi and check-in at our hotel. Overnight in Kusadasi. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8: Kusadasi | Ephesus, Temple of Artemis, Library of Celcus, St. John’s Basilica, Double Church, Ephesus Museum

Early in the morning, we drive to the ancient Hellenic/Roman city of Ephesus and one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 2:1-7), once a major port city on the Aegean and the commercial, political, and religious center of all of Asia Minor.

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 Theater (stadium) mentioned in Acts 19:29-31 could seat 25,000 people. We will walk the marble-paved streets with grooves made by chariot wheels. We will see the Fountain of Trajan, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theater.

We will then visit the Chapel of Virgin Mary (Double Church), where the Third Ancient Council convened. We will visit St. John‘s Basilica (built on the site of St. John‘s tomb), and ponder the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Finally, we will visit the Ephesus Museum.

Afterwards, we will drive to Miletos, home of ancient philosopher Thales (640-546 B.C.), one of the fathers of Greek geometry, astronomy, and philosophy. It was here, in the first Christian century, that St. Paul, on his third missionary journey, called for the Ephesian elders and preached a powerful message to them (Acts 20:15-38). It was also here that St. Paul left his friend Trophimus, who was too ill to continue (II Timothy 4:20). As a port at the mouth of the Meander River, Miletos was a natural outlet for Phrygian trade. Like the one at Ephesus, however, Miletos’s sea harbor eventually filled with silt, and commerce dwindled.

Overnight in Kusadasi. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9: Izmir | Sardis, Philadelphia, Smyrna

Today, we will travel towards Sardis, another of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Jesus Christ told the people of Sardis, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3: 1-6). Coins minting and currency as we know it, and the dyeing of wool originated in Sardis. You will be impressed by the massive scale of the Temple of Artemis, the white marble Royal Road, the gymnasium, and the synagogue.

We will then 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.

Finally, we will continue to the modern city of Izmir, called Smyrna in ancient times. The church at Smyrna suffered amidst prosperity for its refusal to worship the Roman Emperor, and hence became revered as one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Smyrna’s message speaks of false Jews and impending persecution, but encourages perseverance which will be rewarded. (Rev. 2:8-11)

Overnight in Izmir. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10: Ayvalik | Thyatira, Pergamon, Altar of Zeus, Red Basilica, Asclepion

Today, we will visit our final two of the Seven Churches of Revelation. First, we visit Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-28), where you will see the ruins of an ancient commercial center, located in the fertile valley where many trade routes passed. One of the town’s cloth and dye merchants was a woman named Lydia, who conducted business as far away as Philippi, where she became the first European convert to Christianity, during St. Paul‘s second missionary journey (Acts 16:11-15).

A most memorable experience will be Pergamon (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, we will visit the Red Basilica; once a pagan temple, it later converted into a Christian church. Finally, we will walk through Asclepion, the famous medical center of antiquity.

Overnight in Ayvalik. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11: Canakkale | Assos, Troas

Today we begin our tour with Assos, where St. Paul rejoined his companions after walking across the headland on his own and visit the ruins of the city.

Then we drive to Troas, founded about in 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 party 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.

Afterwards, we reach the city of Canakkale, which is by the Dardanelles strait, where one of the biggest battles in recorded history, the Gallipoli Campaign, took place during World War I. The site, along with its surroundings, are full of memorials dedicated for the losses of both sides of the war, as a monument to the equality of mankind and the invaluable sacrifices made.

Overnight in Canakkale. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 12: Istanbul | Nicaea: St. Sophia Church; Istanbul: Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus Cruise

Today, we drive towads the ancient city of Nicaea, now called Iznik, where we will see the remains of Constantine’s Palace, now covered by the water at the shore of Lake Iznik. It was here in this palace chapel that the First Ancient Church Council convened in A.D. 325 to produce the Nicene Creed.

We will then Enjoy Nicea‘s St. Sophia Church, where the remainder of the Seven Ecumenical Councils met, and where the Second Council of Nicaea convened in 787, noteworthy for the schism in Christianity as the Churches of East and West. The city was also once the capital of the Empire of Nicaea, the capital of the Asia Minor holdings of the Seljuk Empire (which was liberated by the First Crusade), and finally, a major artizan city of the Ottomans. The blue tiles adorning the Blue Mosque have arrived from Iznik.

We will then continue to Istanbul for lunch at the Spice Bazaar. Istanbul, the world’s only city that spans two continents, was originally “Byzantium”; it became “Constantinople” in 4th. A.D. 330, when Emperor Constantine renamed it for himself and built a palace here. It became “Istanbul” in 1453 with the Ottoman conquest. We will experience the unique markets, peddlers, and stalls selling almonds, pistachios, iced drinks, and black coffee – a vigorous anthill of Turkish life. We will then relax on a Bosphorus Cruise on a private boat.

Overnight in Istanbul. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 13: Istanbul | Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Church of St. Irene, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar

Today’s visits begin with Istanbul’s Hippodrome, once a stadium with 100,000 seats, where chariot races and circuses often degenerated into violence. We will then visit the nearby Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), famous with its blue Iznik porcelain tiles and unique with 6 minarets.

We will then visit the Hagia Sophia, built by Justinian in 532 after rioters burned down the city’s two major churches. Upon entering his newly built Hagia Sophia for the first time, Justinian exclaimed, “Glory to God that I have been judged worthy of such a work. Oh Solomon, I have outdone you!”. This church was also where the the Fifth Ecumenical Council convened in 553.  For a thousand years, this was the largest church in Christendom. When Mehmet the Conqueror made it a mosque in 1453, he added four minarets (prayer towers). The building has not been used as a mosque since 1935, when it became the Museum of Byzantine Art.

Afterwards, we will visit the Church of St. Irene, the first church ever built in Istanbul and the city’s cathedral church, until the first Hagia Sophia was completed in 360. The Second Ecumenical Council (381) convened in St. Irene. The church stands today within the walls of Topkapi Palace.

The day will continue with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, a huge walled complex hugging the Bosporus, the former palace of the Ottoman Sultans that is now a museum with an extraordinary collection of Chinese porcelain, art, artifacts and jewels including the Topkapi Diamond, and relics from the Prophet Mohammed.

Following Lunch at a local restaurant, we will head towards the Grand Bazaar, the largest and the oldest covered market place in the world with more than 4,000 shops in the labyrinth of streets. Enjoy the colorful array of shops that offer an endless selection of goods that includes jewelry, fabrics, spices and local handicrafts. After all the visits, you will be transferred to your Hotel. Overnight in Istanbul. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 14: Istanbul | Departure

Memories of these two weeks will last a lifetime. Your own Bible will constantly remind you of the storehouse of riches obtained from these ancient and Biblical sites where you have walked and studied.

We will pick you up from your hotel in the morning after your breakfast at the hotel. You will then be transferred to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, from where you will catch your homebound flight. (Breakfast)

Inclusions & Exclusions

  • Accommodations in Ankara (1 night), Cappadocia (1 night), Adana (1 night), Antakya (1 night), Silifke (1 night), Isparta (1 night), Kusadasi (2 nights), Izmir (1 night), Ayvalik (1 night), Canakkale (1 night), Istanbul (2 nights)
  • All tours mentioned in the itinerary, including entrance fees and guide.
  • Meal plan as indicated in the itinerary: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D).
  • Airport – Hotel – Airport transfers.
  • All tours and transfers in an airconditioned, clean and comfortable coach.
  • International flights
  • Any tours labelled as “optional” or otherwise not mentioned in the program
  • Drinks during the meals, use of minibars and other hotel extras
  • Any meals that have not already been mentioned in the program

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