Discovering the Peoples and Cultures that Shaped Modern Turkey

Turkey, Crossroads of Religion and Culture

Pilgrimage to an Early Christian Heartland

Day 1:

Arrive in Istanbul and connect to our final flight into Kayseri, Turkey. Here we meet our driver and guide and travel to Urgup in the heart of Cappadocia for dinner and overnight.MD

Day 2:

After breakfast we begin our full day exploration of Cappadocia where we see the fairy chimneys that were formed through years of erosion. We visit the Goreme Valley Open Air Museum where the paintings in the ancient churches have a special place in Christian art as the effects of both the east and west are discernable. We continue to Zelve Valley where the entire village was carved into the rocks as a hiding place during the early Christian period. Now we continue to Avanos to visit the town located along the Red River where we can visit the local pottery workshops. Our explorations take us through the surreal landscapes of volcanic ash that was formed 50 million years ago and we see the Uchisar and Ortahisar villages before we return to our hotel at Urgup for dinner and overnight. BD.

Day 3:

Those who choose can take the optional hot air balloon ride this morning, weather permitting. We will be picked up very early at our hotel and then returned to a designated area where we will meet our coach.We will visit Kaymakli , one of the many underground cities where Christian Cappadocians hid when they were under siege from Arab raiders. We continue to Selime, where you will again find the violet-gray fairy chimneys and to Mustafapasa where there are many Christian Cave Churches. We see Pigeon Valley and Derbent before we return to our hotel in Urgup.After dinner, we will see a performance of the world famous whirling dervishes. BD

Day 4:

If weather did not permit our balloon ride previously, we will try again this morning. We travel toward Konya, one of the fastest growing cities in Turkey. On the way we will visit Sultanhani, a well preserved Seljuk period Caravanserai on the ancient Silk Road.Once in Konya, we see more Seljuk architecture than anywhere else in Turkey. Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas delivered sermons here in Konya and it was the location of one of the ecumenical councils in 235. We will visit the tomb of Mevlana Turbesi, the founder of the mystic order of the Mevlana dervishes. After exploring the city of Konya, we will continue to the beautiful area of Egridir where we will overnight. BD

Day 5:

We will continue to Pamukkale where you will see the ruins of the Roman baths. St. Phillip was martyred here in 80 AD. We will walk the famous avenue of tombs and the Necropolis which has more than a thousand cut-stone sarcophagi spilling all the way down the hill. We will have the possibility of a relaxing soak in the mineral-rich volcanic spring water at Pamukkale. Dinner and overnight at Pamukkale.BD

Day 6:

We will drive to Aphrodiasis, the city of Aphrodite, goddess of love.The archaeological site is huge and the ruins are breathtaking although only a portion of the site has been excavated so far. We will visit a location where the famous Turkish carpets are made. There will be a demonstration of the techniques of dyeing the wool yarn as well as the intricate art of hand weaving the carpets. We will continue to Kusadasi, where we will spend the next three nights. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. BD

Day 7:

We will visit Selcuk where we will see the ruins of the Basilica of St. John which ranked with Hagia Sophia as one of the largest Byzantine churches. The grave of St. John the Divine is located here. We will visit Mary’s House, thought to be the last home of the Virgin Mary and Ephesus, the best preserved ancient city in the world. Once on the sea, Ephesus is now about 3 miles inland. Paul preached at the Stadium (Acts 19) and the Theater and wrote some of his Epistles here.We will visit the Double Church of Mary where we will celebrate Holy Eucharist before returning to our hotel in Kusadasi for dinner and overnight. BD

Day 8:

After breakfast we travel to Bergama, the modern name for the ancient Greek-Roman site of Pergamum, another of the Seven Cities of Revelation and a magnificent architectural and artistic center in its heyday. We visit the Acropolis, Asklepieion, and the ruins of the ancient library which once contained 200,000 books. We will drive to Izmir for a late afternoon flight to Istanbul.BD

Day 8:

We begin our day with a visit to Topkapi Palace, located on Seraglio Point where the Bosporus meets the Golden Horn.The palace was home to the sultans and their harems until 1868. The museum within the palace contains breathtaking jewels, robes and other riches from the time of the sultans. We will continue our day with a cruise along the Bosphorus to the fishing village of Sariye where we will have lunch. We will return to Istanbul for a visit to the Kariye Museum which occupies what was once the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora.The 14th century mosaics and frescoes depicting biblical scenes are considered to be among the finest Byzantine works in the world.View the Constantinian Walls, built by Theodosius II in 413 AD. The massive walls are 10 to 20 feet thick and protected ancient Constantinople from attack. We will have dinner and overnight in Istanbul. BLD

Day 8:

We will visit the Hippodrome, once a Roman stadium and the Yerbetan Saray (sunken palace) part of an underground network of waterways. We will explore the great Blue Mosque, a grand monument to Islam and then visit Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom), Christendom’s most important church for 900 years before it was turned into a mosque in 1453. Although the mosaics were covered with plaster, they have since been uncovered and are on display here.BD

Day 8:

Transfer to airport for your return flight. B

Abbreviations: B : Breakfast L : Lunch D : Dinner


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