DAY 1 ARRIVAL
Arrival in Istanbul and transfer (optional) to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
DAY 2 ISTANBUL - SULTANAHMET (GROUP WALKING TOUR)
8:10 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. Today we will visit the Saint Sophia (Haghia Sofia) which was built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D and stands over much older remains of a church. See beautiful mosaics of biblical scenes and the Byzantine emperors and empresses. We continue to the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is the only imperial mosque with 6 minarets, then theHippodrome, a stadium and meeting place in Byzantine times, theSerpent Pillar from Delphi and the Egyptian Obelisk, with theFountain of Wilhelm. Visit the Caferaga Medresesi which was designed by the architect Sinan and built in the 16th century, now used as a learning center for traditional Turkish arts. We will then explore theTopkapi Palace. It was the home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th-19th century A.D. We see the Imperial Treasury with the famousSpoonmaker Diamond. (Harem section is optional and due an extra entry fee). The tour ends in the Grand Bazaar, which has over 4000 shops full of treasures Return to your hotel around 17:30. This tour may be done completely as a walking tour. *Note that on Sunday the Grand Bazaar is closed. On Monday the St Sophia is closed and on Tuesday the Topkapi Palace is closed. (All sights that are closed except for Grand Bazaar are replaced by a visit to the Yerebatan Underground Cistern). Overnight in Istanbul. B. L.
DAY 3 BYZANTINE CITY WALLS AND CHORA (PRIVATE TOUR - OPTIONAL)
8:30 – 08:45 Departure from your hotel. Today we will see Istanbul’s Byzantine City Walls that were for the most part built during the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius and are 8 km long. Built near the walls and the Marmara Sea is the Castle of the Seven Towers which was used as a prison during Byzantine and Ottoman periods and was situated near the famous Golden Gate. We continue to the Kariye Museum (Chora Church) with its 14th century mosaics and frescoes with scenes from the Bible and then the Tekfur Palace (view only) built during the 13th century, it is the only Byzantine Palace still standing today. We will also see the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople which has been in service since the 6th century. After lunch we continue to Eyup Imperial Mosque (view from outside). It is one of the most holy places in Istanbul and the burial place of Eyub el-Ensari, who was the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed. We then take a Cable Car up to Pierre Loti Hill where you will get a beautiful view of the Golden Horn and can enjoy a tea or coffee in the famous Pierre Loti Café. We end the tour with a short cruise on the Golden Horn. Overnight in Istanbul. B.L.
DAY 3 GOLDEN HORN TOUR (HALF DAY GROUP TOUR - OPTIONAL)
8:30 – 08:45 Departure from your hotel. We will take a ride by boat on the Golden Horn passing churches and historical buildings. We then take a Cable Car up to Pierre Loti Hill where you will get a beautiful view of the Golden Horn and can enjoy a tea or coffee in the famous Pierre Loti Café. We continue to the Kariye Museum (Chora Church)with its 14th century mosaics and frescoes with scenes from the Bible. We see Istanbul’s Byzantine City Walls that were for the most part built during the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius and are 8 km long. Topkapi Gate (view only) takes its name from the time of Fatih (Mehmet). Get more detail of the walls in the Panorama 1453 Museumduring the time of the conquest of Sultan Mehmet II. At the end of the walls on the Marmara Sea side of the city walls view the Castle of the Seven Towers (view only). It was used as a prison during Byzantine and Ottoman times. Return to your hotel around 12:00. Overnight in Istanbul. B.L.
DAY 4 ISTANBUL – IZMIR – THYATIRA – PHILADELPHIA – KUSADASI OR SELCUK (PRIVATE TOUR)
Transfer to the airport (optional) and flight to Izmir. Arrival in Izmir and meet your guide.Today we will begin to see some more of the Churches of the Revelation. We will make a visit of Izmir, the ancient site of Smyna and St. Polycarp Church. We will continue to Thyatira(Akhisar), with remains of a temple, colonnaded street and a large church, We then drive to Philadelphia, which was one of the 7 Churches of the Revelation. See: (Rev 3:7-13) - the church that had endured patiently (3:10). Drive to Kusadasi or Selcuk and overnight. B.L. (D).
DAY 5 IZMIR - EPHESUS – HOUSE OF VIRGIN MARY (GROUP OR PRIVATE TOUR)
Today we see the House of Virgin Mary, which is a major pilgrimage site, then Ephesus, with the Library of Celsius, Temple of Hadrian, Agora and fantastic Greco-Roman theater. Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7) - the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4). Saint Paul lived for over two years in Ephesus and it was one of the main points from where Christianity spread into Asia Minor. We will also visit the Basilica of St. John (private tour option only) and remains of the Temple of Artemis, which was known as one of Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Overnight in Izmir. B.L.D.
DAY 6 LAODICEA – PAMUKKALE/HIERAPOLIS (PRIVATE TOUR)
Today we drive through the Meander valley and visit Laodicea, which has been newly excavated. (Rev 3:14-22) - the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16). We continue to Pamukkale with its impressive calcium terraces and see the ancient site of Hierapolis with theTemple of Apollo, Theater and Martyrium of St. Phillip and see a large and extensive Necropolis. St. Philip is connected with the early church in Hierapolis and played an important role in the history of the city. (Colossians 2; 18,4;13). Finally we visit the calcium terraces and pools. You may swim in a thermal pool (extra). Return to Kusadasi or Selcuk and overnight. B.L (D)
DAY 7 PERGAMON – ISTANBUL (GROUP OR PRIVATE TOUR)
We will visit the Pergamon Acropolis, where the ruins of Zeus Altar "Throne of Satan" can still be seen today. Pergamon was a center of Roman authority and a place of persecution for Christians who denied imperial worship. The acropolis is situated high above the plain and has a unique panoramic view. The very narrow and steep theater on the hillside could seat up to 10,000 people. Parchment paper was first produced in Pergamon. We will visit the remains of the Great Library, which rivaled the one of Alexandria in Egypt, the palaces of the kings, and temple of Trajan. Visit the Asclepion, which was known as the first place of medical science. Galen, who originated from Pergamon and became the most famous doctor of his time, treated his patients here. Transfer to the airport for flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival transfer (optional) to your hotel and overnight in Istanbul. (Or overnight bus to Istanbul). B. L.
DAY 8 DEPARTURE
Transfer to airport (optional) for departure. (B).
- Accommodation in hotel category of your choice
- Meals as mentioned only (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Main museum entry fees
- Transport in non-smoking vehicles with prof. English speaking guides on tours (Sultanahmet is a walking tour)
- Izmir, Kayseri/Nevsehir Airport transfers
Order of tour itinerary may vary and other options may be available, extensions available for any point of the tour or shorter version of tour is also available (this tour is a tailored tour comprised of daily group and private tours)
NOT INCLUDED: International or domestic flights, Istanbul airport transfers, drinks, tips to guide and driver and items of a personal nature.
OPTIONAL: 4 x Istanbul airport transfers, additional nights in Istanbul or Turkish Night.