Welcome to Turkey!
Arrival in Istanbul and meeting at the airport just outside the arrival’s gate with a sign bearing your name then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, Grand Bazaar
Breakfast at the hotel. After you meet with your guide at the lobby, you will begin your tour of the Sultanahmet district, the heart of old Istanbul, at Hagia Sophia. Built by the Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century AD and designed by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus, the church is one of the marvels of world architecture. Converted into a mosque in 1453, it is now a museum. Its massive dome still dominates the skyline of old Istanbul. Next we visit the Blue Mosque which takes its name from the exquisite tiles adorning its interior. The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, held 100,000 spectators and featured objects from all corners of the empire. The Grand Bazaar was the commercial heart of the old city and its 4,000 shops are full of treasures including carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, ceramics, icons, and leather goods. Wandering through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some shopping, Ottoman style.
In the afternoon we continue our tour at Topkapi Palace, which, from the 15th to the 19th century, was the principal residence of the Ottoman Sultans. We will visit the fabulous Imperial Treasury and the Baghdad Kiosk. Topkapi Palace is now a museum and has unrivalled collections of jewelry, including the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, the 3rd largest in the world. It also possesses numerous Ottoman court costumes and ceramics, notably including one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese celadon ceramics, many of which were gifts from other rulers. Interestingly, some of the ceramics have a special glaze that was said to change color in the presence of poison. We also visit the Imperial Armory, displaying centuries of Ottoman weaponry. But perhaps the loveliest feature of Topkapi Palace are its courtyards with their ancient trees; it is easy to imagine the sultan strolling here far from the cares of state and empire. Overnight in Istanbul.
Spice Bazaar, Bopshorus Cruise
We begin with a brief visit to the 17th century Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul’s most colorful, bustling attractions. Next, we travel the Golden Horn on our way to an unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus, the majestic strait that runs through Istanbul, linking Europe and Asia. From our cruise boat, we view the dramatic sights lining the Bosphorus’ wooded shores: mosques, a bridge that for a time was the world’s longest and Rumeli Hisari, a massive fortress built by Mehmet the Conqueror in just three months as he prepared to take Istanbul. Also noteworthy on this tour are the 19th century mansions of the Ottoman elite and the Sultans’ fanciful gingerbread palaces and hunting lodges. Overnight in Istanbul.
In the morning we will meet you in the hotel lobby and transfer you to Istanbul Airport to fly Izmir. Upon your arrival we will begin our Seven Churches Tour!
After arrival to Izmir Airport we will depart for the visit of ancient Smyrna; poor and persecuted, the church at Smyrna suffered amidst prosperity for its refusal to worship the Roman Emperor. This proved to be the last stronghold of Christianity in Asia Minor. Home of the great second century Bishop Polycarpwho was burned alive at the age of eighty-six. Continue to Pergamum; a most memorable experience will be Pergamum, with its acropolis and Great Theatre, the steepest of the ancient world. Revelation 2:12-16 describes the city as “where Satan’s seat is”, a reference to the altar of Zeus, where we pause for reflection on the fulfillment of Scripture. Nearby, visit the Red Basilica; once a pagan temple, it later converted into a Christian church. Finally, walk through the Asclepion, the famous medical center of antiquity. Overnight in Izmir.
Depart for the visit of Thyatira; was once a busy trading center and famous in dyeing of purple clothes. Thyatira is one of the Seven Churches mentioned in Revelations tolerated the false prophetess, Jezebel (Rev. 1: 11; 2: 18-29). Travel to Sardis, another of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Jesus told Sardis, “I know thyworks, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead”(Rev. 3: 1-6). Coins were minted and the dyeing of wool originated in Sardis. You will be impressed by the massive scale of the Temple of Artemis, by the white marble Royal Road, by the gymnasium, and by the synagogue.
Visit the site of Philadelphia also one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 3: 7-13). Christ told those who overcame that He would write upon them “the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem.” (Rev.3: 12) Today, not much is left to mark the spot. You will see an ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica.Overnight in Pamukkale.
After the breakfast at the hotel, depart for the visit of Hierapolis; an ancient city of pagan cults, Hierapolis or “holy city” was evangelized by Paul and Epaphras. The Apostle Philip lived and is said to be buried here. Pamukkale, or “cotton castle” is a spa and resort center with its hot springs and cascading limestone pools. Col. 4:12-13.
The Christians of Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches, (Rev. 3: 14-22) were chastised for being lukewarm, “You are neither cold nor hot” (Rev. 3: 15), and for being too comfortable incorporating pagan and Christian beliefs. In the famous scripture from Revelation (3: 20-21), Jesus says to the Laodicean church: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”. Today, there are many acres of ruins to see, including the stadium and columned streets and a chance to witness the newest axcavations in Laodicea. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Ephesus is one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 1: 11). In ancient days, Ephesus was a bustling port town of 250,000, graced with wide, colonnade bordered streets. The St. Paul’s first visit to Ephesus was brief – during his second missionary tour (Acts 18:19-21).
His second visit lasted about three years – during his third missionary tour (Acts 19:1 to 20:31). Luke’s account of the worship of Diana appears in Acts 19:34-35.
The Great Theatre (stadium) mentioned in Acts 19:29-31 could seat 25,000 people. Walk the marble-paved street with grooves made by chariot wheels. See the Fountain of Trajan, the Library of Celsus, and the Great Theatre with a capacity of 24.000 spectators. Visit the Chapel of the Virgin Mary (Double Church), where the Third Ancient Council convened.
Continue to visit the Basilica of St. John; early tradition associated John, the disciple of Jesus, the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation with the city of Ephesus. As early as the 4th or 5th century a Christian church was built over a simple grave, supposedly the grave of St. John. In the 6th century Emperor Justinian had an impressive domed basilica built to replace the earlier church. The church, known as the Church of St. John the Theologian, is located on Ayasuluk Hill, which can be reached by a street leading up from the center of the town called Selcuk. Overnight in Kusadasi.
We will meet at your hotel lobby and transfer you to Izmir Airport for your flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival Istanbul Airport continue to international terminal for your homebound flight.
Turkey Insiders team says so long and looks forward to be your host again until next time on your travel pleasure for other destinations. Gule Gule.
- 7 nights hotel accommodation.
- Services of professionally licensed guides on local tours.
- All domestic flights mentioned in the itinerary.
- We use fully air-co, non-smoking vehicles on local tours and transfers.
- English speaking guided tours mentioned in the itinerary.
- Inbound and outbound airport transfers to/from your hotel.
- All taxes, entrance & museum fees.
- International airfares.
- VISA needed for Turkey.
- Tips to guide, driver, hotel staff etc.
- Travel Insurance and personal expenses.