Key Information about Biblical Asia Minor Tour (13 Nights – 14 Days)
Tour Duration: 13 nights / 14 days
Days of Operation: Private Tour – Regular Tour
Destinations: 3 nights in Istanbul, 1 night in Antioch, 2 nights in Cappadocia, 1 night in Konya, 1 night in Pamukkale, 1 night in Izmir, 2 nights in Kusadasi, 1 night in Pergamum, 1 night in Bursa.
Hotel’s Class: 5 Star Hotels
Season: All year
Tour Customizable: Yes
When you arrive at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, one of our bilingual guides will welcome you and assist you with your transition to the hotel. In Istanbul, you’ll have dinner and spend the night in a 5 star hotel.
Flight to Adana, Turkey’s fourth largest city, in the early morning. Adana is about thirty miles east of Tarsus, where the Apostle Paul was born. After breakfast, travel to Tarsus to see the Apostle Paul’s well, the Cleopatra Entrance, and the most recent excavations. Then we head to the ruins of Seleucid, the port from which Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark set out on their first missionary journey from Antioch (Acts 13:4). Your overnight will be in Antioch.
Believers were first referred to as Christians in Antioch on the Orontes (Acts 11:26). Pay a visit to the cave where they secretly met. Paul and Silas embarked on their second missionary journey from here (Acts 15:35-36). Learn regarding the influence of leaders like Ignatius of Antioch and John Chrysostom. On the Day of Pentecost, thousands of pilgrims from Cappadocia met in Jerusalem to undergo the original baptism of the Holy Spirit and hear the Apostle Peter spread his strong message, according to Acts 2:9. We’ll visit the picturesque Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia, where early Christians carved 3,500 cave churches out of tufa limestone. These chapels are breathtaking in their elegance and quaintness, with various wall paintings and Christian icons. Persecuted Christians – tens of thousands of them – tunneled out more than twenty underground cities of refuge here in Cappadocia to escape Arab invaders in the tenth century. You will have your own guided tour of this amazing area at Kaymakli, one of the better preserved of these towns. You will be in Cappadocia for the night.
Cappadocia is in the city of Caesarea (Kayseri) which was the heart of the Hittite Kingdom of Old Testament long time ago. This region is one of the most photogenic areas in the world. The Valley of the Fairy Chimneys and Goremes breathtaking Open Air Museum have become landmarks of this area, where you can enjoy every part of the city. In the famous pottery making town of Avanos, observe potters at work. Finally, take in the natural splendors of Uchisar Citadel and Zelve Valley. You will be in Cappadocia for the night.
Take a trip to the Sultanhani Caravansary for an interesting peek at one of the ancient camel caravans’ rest stops. Caravansaries appeared at intervals of around twenty-five miles along the trading routes, the average distance that camels could cover in a day. Go on to Lystra, where a crowd stoned Paul on his first journey (Acts 14:6-19) and Timothy joined him on his second journey (Acts 14:20). (Acts 16:1-3). Travel to Iconium, where Paul preached and inspired believers on his first missionary trip (Acts 14:1-6). Iconium was once home to the Whirling Dervishes, a mythical Muslim sect. In Konya, you will spend the night.
We will drive to Antioch, Pisidia, where Paul preached to nearly the whole city on his first missionary trip (Acts 13:14-52). The ancient church and the glorious first-century Temple of Augustus are among the magnificent excavations. Today, you’ll ride the Royal Route, which used to connect Ephesus to Babylon. Visit the ancient Colossae site near Honaz, which has been excavated. One of the Apostle Paul’s prison epistles was written to the church at Colossae, a city on the Lycus River. You will enjoy the Cotton Castles of bright white calcium rock formations and hot-water travertene at Hierapolis (Pamukkale), where hot mineral waters emerge from the land and cascade over cliffs. The calcium crystallizes and clings to the cliffs as the water cools, creating snowy white travertine (white stone waterfalls) that give the name Pamukkale (cotton castle). Over night in Pamukkale.
Explore the remains of Hierapolis, which include a Byzantine cathedral, the Great Theater, the Temple of Apollo, and the Plutonium, which pagan cults once pointed to as the gateway to hell. Explore the interesting locations of the Revelation Churches. The book of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) will take you to the first century. Your Bible will come alive when you read it in light of firsthand research at Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-12). This city was built on a major trade route that connected Pergamum to Laodicea in the north and Laodicea to the south. Twelve Asian cities, including Philadelphia, were destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17, and residents lived in fear of aftershocks for a while. Emperor Tiberius helped in the rebuilding of Philadelphia. Your attention will shift to the Old Testament era after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. at Sardis (Rev. 3:1-5). The earthquake of A.D. 17 wreaked havoc on Sardis, which was the worst hit of the twelve cities devastated. According to Tacitus’ Annals, Emperor Tiberius rendered major assistance in the reconstruction of the city. The imperial court and an ancient Jewish synagogue will be included in your tour of Sardis. You’ll study in the light of prophetic Scripture while sleeping in the shadow of the Temple of Artemis. Finally, we will have dinner at one of Smyrna’s famous kebab or seafood restaurants. Overnight stay in Izmir.
Visit the ramparts of Smyrna’s Velvet Castle, built in the fourth century B.C. by Alexander the Great on Mount Pagus. (The fortress walls were said to resemble rubbed velvet.) During the first Christian century, in the stadium that once stood on the hill below Mount Pagus, Polycarp, friend of the Apostle John and pastor of the church at Smyrna, was arrested by the Roman governor and tried in a public gathering. An angry mob burned him for treason. He had refused to curse Christ and to acknowledge Caesar as his sovereign. Just before his martyrdom, Polycarp said, “Eighty six years I have served Christ and He never did me any wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” Still standing is part of the agora built by Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the third century. Today, Smyrna is the country’s major Aegean port and third largest city. Drive to Miletus, 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 the Apostle Paul, on his third missionary journey, called for the Ephesians elders and preached a powerful message to them (Acts 20:15-38). It was also here that 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, Miletus was a natural outlet for Phrygian trade. Like the one at Ephesus, however, Miletuss sea harbour eventually filled with silt, and commerce dwindled. The city’s remote quietness makes it special to devout students of Scripture. Its ancient ruins include the marvelous 15,000-seat theatre. Nearby, at Didyma, visit the massive Temple to Apollo, one of the most impressive sites in Anatolia. Ordinary people did not reside in ancient Didyma. This was home only to a priestly family whose oracle came from Delphi and who lived in luxury, as they guarded their temple treasuries supplied by the people they deceived. Continue to Kusadasi for overnight.
Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7), a major Aegean port city, was Asia Minor’s economic, political, and religious hub. Following the complete demolition of the Temple of Diana (Artemis) by a lunatic on the night Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C., the Ephesians worked for 120 years to restore a glorious restored temple, which became one of the ancient world’s Seven Wonders. In the second century B.C., the city was conquered by the Roman Empire. Ephesus, as the Roman capital of Asia Minor, had a population of about 250,000 citizens. On his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul paid a short visit to Ephesus (Acts 18:19-21). On his third missionary trip, his second visit lasted almost three years (Acts 19:1 to 20:31). The Trajan Fountain, the Celsus Library, and the Great Theatre are all worth visiting. Visit the Virgin Mary Chapel (Double Church), which housed the Third Ancient Council. St. John’s Basilica (built on the site of the Apostle John’s tomb) and the ruins of the Terrace Houses are both worth visiting which are optional.
Today, we’ll visit the last two of Revelation’s Seven Churches. The remains of an ancient trading site, situated in the fertile valley where the trade road traveled, can be found at Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-28). Lydia, one of the town’s textile and dye traders, did business as far away as Philippi, where she became the first European convert to Christianity, during Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 16:11-15). Pergamum, with its acropolis and Great Theater, the steepest in the ancient world, would be a memorable experience. The city is mentioned in Revelation 2:12-16 as Satan’s seat, a reference to Zeus’ altar, where we pause for contemplation on the fulfillment of Scripture. Visit the Red Basilica, which was once a pagan temple until being turned into a Christian shrine. Finally, take a stroll through Pergamum Asclepion, an ancient medical center. Pergamum is where we will be spending the night.
Enjoy a stunning tour of recent excavations in ancient Troy, which has become legendary due to Homer’s account of Helen and the Trojan Horse. Then drive to Troas, which was built about 300 B.C. by one of Alexandria the Great’s generals. The Macedonian call to Europe came to the Apostle Paul from Troas on his second missionary trip. Luke’s account moves from there to us (Acts 16:6-12), meaning that he joined Paul’s group in Troas. Paul was in Troas for a week after returning from Macedonia on his third journey when the young man Eutychus plunged from the third loft as Paul preached. Paul easily walked thirty miles to Assos, where we would follow in his footsteps to the ancient city walls (Acts 20:5-14). You’ll pass through Assos’ old marketplace to see the conference hall and Athena Temple. We will continue with the city of Bursa, where you can see the centuries-old silk market. Bursa is where we will spend the night.
At Nicea, you can see the ruins of Constantine’s castle, which are now submerged in the river by Lake Iznik. In A.D. 325, the First Ancient Church Council met in this palace chapel to compose the Nicene Creed. Niceas St. Sophia Monastery, where the Seventh Church Council met in 787, is a must-see. Continue on to Istanbul, where you can have lunch at the Spice Bazaar. Istanbul, the world’s only city that covers two worlds, was formerly known as “Byzantium” until Emperor Constantine called it “Constantinople” and built a palace here in A.D. 330. In 1453, it was called “Istanbul.” Discover the special shops, peddlers, and stands selling nuts, pistachios, iced drinks, and black coffee – a must-see for any tourist. Relax on a private sailing ride around the Bosphorus. Finally, take a sightseeing tour of the city. In Istanbul, spend the night.
Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultan Ahmet and Grand (an ancient covered market of some 4,000 shops) Bazaar will be discovered. Overnight in Istanbul.
These two weeks will be remembered for a lifetime. Your own Bible will act as a continual reminder of the privilege gleaned from these ancient and Biblical places where you have walked and read. A goodbye meeting in the hotel lobby, with the hope of seeing you again soon.