St. Paul, along with St. Peter, is acknowledged as the most famous of the early Christian missionaries. It is within Turkey’s boundaries that his birthplace is found, and where all his journeys took place. Most of the first Christian communities he founded are also located in Turkey. Without doubt it is in large part down to him that Christianity spread here from Jerusalem and from here into the heart of Europe. Even though the journeys he undertook would still take months in the most modern of vehicles and despite the difficulties he encountered en route he never wavered from his road or his purpose; to tirelessly and fearlessly spread the teachings of Jesus Christ in the face of intense pressure from Rome and which, as is well known, finally led to his death. Although he also travelled in Syria, Cyprus and Greece, Turkey is where he undoubtedly spent the most time and preached the most, covering just about everywhere from its southern tip to its western extreme. The two thousandth anniversary of his birth is celebrated in 2008, and he will be remembered in the towns where he lived, the roads he travelled and in churches in many regions of Turkey. On your journey in Turkey you can visit the Saint’s birthplace, the first church in the world, and many other churches, you can visit the cities he visited on his journeys and you can follow in his footsteps on ancient roads.
( 10 Nights / 11 Days )
Istanbul(2) -Antioch(1) -Cappadocia(2) -Pamukkale(2) -Kusadasi(3)
Day 1: Arrival to Istanbul
Arrival to Istanbul Airport. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Istanbul: A world center of great value in the past as well as in the present, Istanbul embraces Asia on the one hand and Europe on the other.
Istanbul, with its historical peninsula, numerous scenic and historical beauties is a magnificently unique city that has been capital to many civilizations from past to present and still continues to be home to residents from all over the world. This rooted city, with a history dating back to 300 thousand years before, constitutes a mosaic of many civilizations and cultures combined.
Day 2: Istanbul
After breakfast today’s visits take you for full day Istanbul City Tour.
Built during the Byzantine era, the grand churches of Hagia Sophia were turned into a mosque complex after Istanbul’s conquest, which was eventually turned into a museum by the time the modern Turkish Republic was founded. Rebuilt three times at the same site, Hagia Sophia houses the museum with an outstanding mosaic collection. Of the original ceiling mosaics from the 6th century, the ones with plant and geometric designs are well-preserved.
Blue Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-1616 in the square carrying his name in İstanbul. The architect is Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa. It is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. The mosque is 64 x 72 m in dimensions. The central dome is 43 m in height and is 33.4 m in diameter. 260 windows surround the mosque. Due to its beautiful blue, green and white tilings it has been named the “Blue Mosque” by Europeans.
The Ancient Hippodrome, scene of chariot races and the centre of Byzantine civic life, stands in the area that is now in front of the Blue Mosque, and now part of Sultanahmet. Of the ornaments which once decorated it, only three remain: The Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine. Remains of the curved end of the Hippodrome wall can be seen on the southwest side of the three.
Kapalı Çarşı (Covered Bazaar) : It is the oldest and biggest closed bazaar in the world, also known as the Grand Bazaar, has around 4000 shops and over 60 alleyway, covering a huge labyrinth in the city centre. The original two structures, covered with a series of domes and remains of the 15th century walls, became a shopping area by covering the surrounding streets and adding to it over the following centuries. In Ottoman times this was the centre of trading, and a vital area of town. The Sandal Bedesten was added during Süleyman’s reign, to cope with the rising trade in fabrics, during the 16th century.
Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 3 Istanbul – Antakya
After the breakfast in hotel transfer to the Istanbul airport for the flight to Antioch. After a short flight arrival to Hatay Airport and visit of city:
St. Pierre Church (Center): It is in the Antakya – Reyhanlı road and at feet of Habibi Neccar Mountain. It is believed that St. Pierre, which was turned into a church while it was a natural cavern, is the first church of the world. Also it was firstly called the persons who are following Jesus Chirst, as “Chirstian” in the history in this church. Church, is at important religious center as being the place where one of the 12 saints of Jesus Christ, St. Pierre tried to spread the Christianity after death of Jesus Christ. In 1963, it is announced as a hajj place by Papa VI. Paul. Every year on 29th of June a ceremony is performed here. There are mosaic residues at the floor and frisks on the walls of the church.
Hatay Archeology Museum (Antakya Mosaic Museum): The museum is the second place in the world with its richness in mosaic collection and in the third place with its richness of coin collection. Various jewelry, statues, tombs and archeological findings belonging to various periods discovered at the excavations executed in Harbiye, Antakya, Aççana, Çevlik and İskenderun are exhibited in the museum.
Overnight in Antioch.
Day 4 Antioch – Tarsus – Cappadocia ( 492 km )
After the breakfast drive to Tarsus which has long been an important stop for traders. First visit at the city is to the Gate of Cleopatra. Then visit of the Church and Well of St. Paul. St. Paul’s Well is in a courtyard long believed to be the site of St. Paul’s house, which is approximately 300 meters north of the Republic Area in Kızılmurat District. Archaeological studies have shown St. Paul’s Well and surrounding areas to have Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Period cultural layers. The site is a pilgrimage destination for some and the water from the well is believed to have healing powers.
Departure for Cappadocia for overnight.
Day 5 Cappadocia
Today’s visits take you to the labyrinthine tunnels of the Underground City of Kaymakli. 85 meters below the ground with a complete city structure, Kaymaklı underground city is located in Nevsehir province. This underground city contains many sophisticated structures such as ventilation, church, stable and cellar, but only one-tenth of the city is accessible.Some of the wells in the site have no connection with the ground level in case of poisoning during an invasion. So visitors who want to get a taste of a dramatically different life under the ground will be attracted by this place. The tour proceeds to Goreme Open Air Museum, Devrent Valley and Pasabag.
The Goreme Open-Air Museum resembles a vast monastic complex composed of scores of refectory monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own fantastic church. It is obviously the first sight to be visited by any traveler in Cappadocia, standing as it does in the very center of the region with easy access from all directions. It contains the finest of the rock-cut churches, with beautiful frescoes (wall paintings) whose colors still retain all their original freshness. It also presents unique examples of rock hewn architecture and fresco technique. The Goreme Open Air Museum has been a member of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984, and was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.
Pasabag in Cappadocia is located on the road to Zelve, coming from Goreme or Avanos. Highly remarkable earth pillars can be seen here, in the middle of a vineyard, hence the name of the place which means: the Pacha’s vineyard. Pacha means “General”, the military rank, in Turkish and it is a very common nick name. This site is also called Monks Valley. The name was derived from some cones carved in tuff stones which stand apart. Currently, there is a vineyard and a number of tuff cones standing right next to the road.
Devrent Valley, which is also known as Imaginary Valley and also as Pink Valley reveals many different rock formations and is only a 10 minute drive from Goreme. The small fairy chimneys in the valley form a lunar landscape, or moonscape, by their strange look. The valley also has many animal shaped rocks. It looks like a sculpture zoo made by nature. Some of the most important, or the easiest seen animal shapes are camel, snake, seals, and dolphin. If you let your imagination run free you will find many others. It is like looking at clouds and seeing a dragon. There is even a rock pillar which looks like Virgin Mary, holding Jesus Christ.
Overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 6 Cappadocia – Konya- Pamukkale (640 km)
Breakfast at the hotel and departure for Pamukkale via Konya. Konya (also spelled Qonya, Koniah, Konieh, Konia, and Qunia) is an ancient city in central Turkey. It has a population of about 900,000 and is known for the piety of its residents and as the center of Sufi mysticism. Once known as Iconium, Konya is historically and religiously significant on several counts: it was one of the missionary destinations of St. Paul; the site of one of the first church councils; the capital of the Seljuk empire from 1150 to 1300; and the home of Rumi (Mevlana), the Sufi saint who founded the Whirling Dervishes. Follow a link below to explore the rich spiritual heritage of Konya.
Mevlana Museum: The museum is housed in the first tekke (lodge) of the Dervish sect, and is considered to be a holy place because it contains the tomb of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, one of the most important philosophers of Turkish Islamic Mysticism. It is thought that the site was presented by the Seljuk sultans to the dervishes, and the buildings which were mostly constructed during the 15th and 16th centuries, are attractive and ornate.
Sultanhan is a masterpiece art of Selcuklu’s Period by the perspective of architecture, stone masonry and decoration arts built by Alaaddin Keykubat in between the 1228 – 1229. The Inn was builded purposes to make, Konya – Aksaray roadway safe that way was important for military and trade purposes. Inn has classical formation of Selcuklu Inn organisation with summer, winter, barn sections and with a small mosque.
Overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 7 Pamukkale
Breakfast at the hotel and visit of Hierapolis, whose name means “sacred city,” was believed by the ancients to have been founded by the god Apollo. It was famed for its sacred hot springs, whose vapors were associated with Pluto, god of the underworld. The city also had a significant Jewish community and was mentioned by Paul in his Letter to Colossians. Today, Hierapolis is a World Heritage Site and popular tourist destination. In addition to interesting Classical ruins, the site offers a thermal Sacred Pool in which you can swim with ancient artifacts, a view of the spectacular white terraces of Pamukkale, and a good museum. Continue to the tour with Laodicea. A large area littered with broken marble, tops of stone masonry walls, and public buildings: Two theaters, a large stadium, a water tower, and an odeon. The city was at the crossroads of north-soth traffic between Sardis and Perga, and east-west traffic from the Euphrates to Ephesus, so it quickly became a rich city in its time. Overnight in Pamukkale
Day 8 Pamukkale – Kusadasi (267 km )
Breakfast at the hotel and departure for Kusadasi. On the way visit of Aphrodisias, which is one of the oldest sacred sites in Turkey. Dedicated to the ancient Mother Goddess and then the Greek goddess Aphrodite, it was the site of a magnificent Temple of Aphrodite and the home of a renowned school of marble sculpture. The Temple of Aphrodite later became a Christian basilica through an impressive swapping of columns.Today, the Temple of Aphrodite is well-preserved and partially restored; it is not hard to imagine its ancient splendor. Aphrodisias also offers ruins of a large theater, a stadium and other structures, as well as an on-site museum displaying artifacts. Drive to Kusadasi for overnight.
Day 9 Kusadasi
After breakfast, you will visit the Ephesus Ancient City, the most interesting archeological site in Turkey. There is a great theater on slopes of Mt. Pion, to the north of the theater one can see the decorated arch, the entrance to the stadium. A wide street called the Arcadian Way streched from the base of the theater lined with statues, porticos and public buildings. Just north of the Arcadian way is the Church of the Virgin Mary. Another street streches from the theater south to the library of Celsus. To the west of the library are stairs, the tumbled columns, and the exquisite decorations of the temple of Serapis. When Paul was returning from Corinth to Ephesus talked in a synogogue where he was asked to stay longer in Ephesus, and promised, “I shall come back to you if it’s God’s will.” It is believed that John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus and she lived out her days on a hilltop south of the city. The House of Mary, is now visited by many pilgrims each year coming to see and pray in this ancient spot of worship. Last visit of the day is to the Basilica of St. John (St. Jean Aniti) which was a great church in Ephesus constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It stands over the believed burial site of St. John, who is identified as the apostle, evangelist (author of the Fourth Gospel) and prophet (author of Revelation).Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 10 Kusadasi
After breakfast departure from hotel for the visits of Miletus, Didyma and Priene:
Miletus, near the coast of western Turkey, was one of the most important cities in the ancient Greek world, but eventually declined due to the silting up of its harbors. St. Paul stopped at Miletus on his Third Missionary Journey, on his way back to Jerusalem. There are many well-preserved ruins to be seen at the site, including a Temple of Apollo, a Byzantine church, and an important inscription relating to Jews.
Didyma, on the west coast of Turkey, was an important sacred site in the ancient Greek world. Its famous oracle and Temple of Apollo attracted crowds of pilgrims and was second in importance only to Delphi. Today, the temple’s magnificent ruins still attract thousands of visitors – Didyma is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey.
Priene is an ancient Hellenistic city located just to the north of Miletus in western Turkey. It was an ancient Greek holy city and the home of an important temple of Athena. Priene’s picturesque ruins include several columns of the Temple of Athena, much of the city wall, a well-preserved theater and a council chamber. The ruins are next to the modern town of Güllübahce. Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 11 Departure from Izmir
After breakfast, transfer to Izmir Airport for flight to your country