Days 1 & 2 – Arrival
Depart US,  Arrive Istanbul

Depart Chicago and arrive in bustling Istanbul. Here we begin our adventure in one of the greatest cities of the world located on the crossroads of civilization. Overnight in Istanbul. (D)

Topkapi palace

Topkapi palace

Day 4 – Istanbul:
Topkapi Palace | Hagia Irene | Bosporus Cruise

The day begins with a tour of the spectacular Topkapi Palace, its Treasury, and Harem. Built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex commands views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus and the Golden Horn. Just inside the gate we step into Hagia Irene to recite the Nicene Creed in the very place it was crafted. In the afternoon, we continue our tour by water as we board our boat for a cruise up the Bosporus. While in the harbor area we venture into the Spice Market to close out our day. Overnight in Istanbul. (B,D)  

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

Day 6 – Istanbul to Izmir

This morning we leave the hustle and bustle of Istanbul for the Aegean coastline and the ancient city of Ephesus. Our morning flight is only one hour, leaving us plenty of time to explore this ancient city where the Apostles John and Paul carried on their ministries. Here we visit the Terrace Houses with their outstanding frescoes, the church that held one of the great ecumenical councils, and the grand theater. We’ll also visit the Ephesus Museum with its Greek and Roman artifacts, including the statue of Domitian, the emperor responsible for John’s exile to Patmos. Overnight in Kusadasi. (B,D)

pamukkale

pamukkale

Day 8 – Laodicea | Philadelphia | Sardis

This morning we depart for the recently excavated ancient city of Laodicea, familiar to many as the city of the “lukewarm church” mentioned in Revelations. From here we continue to Philadelphia to read Jesus’ letter addressed to its church. After lunch we travel to Sardis with its expansive gymnasium and Jewish synagogue. Sardis was the home of King Croesus renowned for his great wealth. Again we pause to read the Scriptures and learn the lessons of Jesus. Overnight in Sart. (B,D)

laodicea

laodicea

Day 10 – Smyrna (Izmir)

Smyrna, noted for its delicious figs, is a vibrant coastal city that has still retained the charm of its beautiful boardwalk along the Aegean Sea. Here we recall the ministry of Polycarp who was martyred in the second century by the Romans for his faith. We visit Smyrna’s ancient agora and take in a spectacular view from one of its many Ottoman and Crusader castles. As we close our travels, we do so with a time of sharing and a farewell dinner. Overnight Izmir. (B,D)

izmir

izmir

hagia sophia

hagia sophia

Day 3  Istanbul:
Hagia Sophia | Hippodrome | Blue Mosque

After our orientation we set out on our first full day in Istanbul - the great city of Emperor Constantine and the monuments of the Eastern Roman Empire. We begin in the heart of the ancient forum with its hippodrome, serpent column, and Egyptian obelisk. Next we take in the expansive Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles. After visiting one f Islams' most religious sites, we make our way to Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine Church of Holy Wisdom, once the Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica and the leading church in all Christendom. Overnight in Istanbul. (B,D)

the gates of the Dolmabahçe Palace

the gates of the Dolmabahçe Palace

Day 5 – Istanbul:
Grand Bazaar - Free Day

Stroll through the Grand Bazaar with its covered streets and more than 3,000 shops to purchase a Kilim rug or some Turkish delight. Or, venture over to the Dolmabahçe Palace, home of the sultans during the 19th century. If Byzantine mosaics intrigue you, there is no better place to see them in the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora. Overnight in Istanbul. (B)

library of celsus in Ephesus

library of celsus in Ephesus

 

Day 7 – Ephesus | Pamukkale | Hierapolis

What better way to celebrate our Lord’s Day than in worship at the ancient Basilica of St. John, built over the site where it is believed John was buried. After worship, we depart for Hierapolis where we’ll see the gleaming white travertine terraces created by the thermal springs. Were these the inspiration for Jesus’ message “I wish you were either hot or cold"? Here we’ll also tour the mile-long necropolis as well as its theater, one of the best preserved in the Mediterranean world. In the afternoon, you may choose to enjoy a swim in the thermal baths of Pamukkale. Overnight in Pamukkale. (B,D)

market of kusadasi

market of kusadasi

Day 9 – Thyatira | Pergamum

After enjoying a Turkish breakfast we depart for the artifacts of Thyatira, then on to splendid Pergamum where the great Temple of Zeus once stood. Here we tour the monuments of worship in the upper site as well as the lower portion’s Sanctuary of Asclepius, famed as a therapeutic center. Galen, the most renowned physician of antiquity after Hippocrates, was born in Pergamum. We return to Izmir for our overnight. (B,D)

view from the acropolis of pergamum

view from the acropolis of pergamum

 

Day 11 – Izmir | Istanbul | Chicago

We depart Izmir for a quick flight to Istanbul to catch our plane heading back to the United States. We do so with wonderful memories of travel and new insights into God's Word.