Private Seven Churches

Take the morning flight from Istanbul. Upon arrival in Izmir you will be met by your private guide at the airport. Today we visit Pergamon, which is one of the finest archaeological sites in Turkey. The city was a great center of culture and the capital of East Roman Empire. On the Acropolis there are numerous remains including the celebrated Library, the steepest theatre of Anatolia, the Temples of Trojan and Dionysos, the place of the monumental Altar of Zeus famous with the relief of God and devils, the Sanctuary of Demeter, the Gymnasium situated on terraces and the lower Agora. After lunch we continue to the Aesclepion, the first known medical center of the ancient world and was dedicated to the God of Health, Asclepios. We will view the Red Basilica (St. John’s Church). Then we continue our visit to Thyatira, now called Akhisar, another one of the Seven Churches of Asia [Rev. 1:11; 2:18-24; Acts 16:14]. It was a city famous for purple dyes. We visit the remains of a basilica and some architectural fragments from the Roman period. Lydia, the seller of purple in Philippi, was from Thyatira. We will also view the remains of ancient Smyrna. Overnight in Izmir. (B.)

Today we will visit one of the most impressive Greco-Roman Cities of the ancient world, Ephesus. Explore the Temple of Hadrian, Domitians temple, Hercules gate, famous Celsus Library, Great theater and other Roman sites. You will also visit House of the Virgin Mary where it is believed to have spent her last years. On November 29th, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the House of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus to be sacred. After lunch we will visit the Basilica of St. John, 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). We then drive about 3 hours to Pamukkale and overnight in Pamukkale. (B.D)

Today we see Laodicea. Situated at the crossroads of ancient trade routes and a famous producer of black wool that was highly prized. Under Roman dominion, Laodicea was one of the most successful commercial cities of its time in Asia Minor and was also well known for its medical school. We know from the late 1st century writings of Josephus that there was likely a large Jewish population in the city and, from his letter to the people of nearby Colossae, that Paul was concerned also with the people in Laodicea as well as their neighbors in Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13,15,16). The city’s remaining ruins leave no doubt as to the prosperity of the local population and in Revelation the angel of the church at Laodicea is described as boastful about the accumulation of wealth, full of pride, self-satisfied, deluded and, furthermore, ignorant of its spiritual indigence (Revelation 3:17). In reference to the choice of wording used to describe the lack of obedience to God amongst the Laodiceans, lukewarm, neither cold nor hot (3:16) it is interesting to note that water was supplied to the city from a hot spring about 4 miles away through an aqueduct that you will see ruins of today along with others including walls and temples, the stadium, gymnasium and theaters. We will continue to the North Gate of Pamukkale (Hierapolis). You will see the Necropolis (cemetery) of Hierapolis which is one of the biggest ancient cemeteries in Anatolia with 1.200 graves, Roman Bath, Domitian Gate, and the Main Street, Byzantium Gate. Then, you walk to the natural warm water terraces which were formed by running warm water that contains calcium. The temperature of the water is about 35. You can see the gleaming white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, located next to the ruins of Hierapolis. The layers of white calcium carbonate, built up in steps on the plateau, gave the site the name Pamukkale (cotton castle). You will have some free time to swim with antiquities in the Cleopatra Ancient Pool (optional – entry fee not included) which is warmed by hot springs and contains ruins of ancient marble columns. We continue to Alasehir where the ancientPhiladelphia community was located, then continue to Sardes, ancient capital city of the Lydians and the visit the remains of Sardes including a large Synagogue. Continue to Izmir airport for your flight to Istanbul.. (B)

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