Nicea was the venue for the first Ecumenical Councils in 325 and the last Ecumenical Council in 787, meetings of representatives of all Christian churches. The Nicean Creed which is recited by many Christians as their belief, was first formulated by the bishops in Nicea in AD 325. You will pray in the very same spot.
The Nicean Creed “I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that isseen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father.…….”
“I john, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the island that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what you see, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and untoPhiladelphia, and unto Laodicea. The Revelation 1:9-11
Anatolia (Asia Minor) has been the center of Christianity ever since St.Paul, St.Peter, St.John, St.Barnabas and their companions John Mark, Silas, Luke came here to preach the Gospel of the teachings of Jesus Christ. This trip will allow you full insight into the achievements of these early Christian missionaries and the seven churches of The Revelation.
During this trip we also will see homeland of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) which was a stop on the route of pilgrims from Europe to Jerusalem into the 15th century. Also on St. Paul’s third missionary journey, he and St. Luke stopped here enroute from Miletus to Jerusalem.
Day 1 Istanbul Arrival
Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. You will be met and transferred to your hotel. After check in, free time. Dinner and Overnight. (D)
Day 2 Nicea – Bursa
After the breakfast, we leave Bursa behind us and drive to Nicea. Nicea was the venue for the first and the last Ecumenical Councils, meetings of representatives of all Christian churches. The first Ecumenical Council was held in Nicaea in 325. At the main crossroads of Iznik is the Church of St. Sophia which is museum now. The church was built in the 4th century and has a mosaic floor which dates to the 6th century. All gates and walls date from the Byzantine times. This is the building in which the Seventh–and last–Ecumenical Council was held in 787.The Nicean Creed which is recited by many Christians as their belief, was first formulated by the bishops in Niceain AD 325.
In the 16th century ceramists in Nicea ( Iznik) created the most beautiful Turkish Tiles ever made in Turkey. We will have some time to see unique Nicean ( Iznik) Tiles before we drive to Istanbul. Dinner and overnight in Bursa.(B,L,D)
Day 3 Bursa – Pergamum – Izmir
After breakfast we will drive to Pergamum. Pergamum’s place in religious history is largely because of the paragraph addressed to its Christian believers by St. John in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 2:12-17). He characterized Pergamum as the place where Satan was enthroned. (Revelation 2:13)
St.John saw a group he called the Nicolatinas as an additional threat to the believers. Who these people were is not clearly known. ( Revelation 2:14-15 ) St. John condemned them for adultery and for eating food that had been sacrificed to pagan gods. St. John also promised a white stone and hidden manna to those who repented of their false beliefs and immoral behavior (Revelation 2:16-17). Drive to Izmir for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Izmir–Basilica of St. John-Ephesus–House of Virgin Mary-Kusadasi
After breakfast we will drive to the Basilica of St. John “The Evangelist” who came here with Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. Then we will carry on to Ephesus ancient city. People visiting Ephesus today can visualize the city when it was the capital of the province.
St.Paul preached and taught in Ephesus for over 2 years. During that time he sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia to continue the missionary work there. The names of several other early Christians are recorded as residents of Ephesus. Among them are the eloquent Apollos with whom St. Paul associated himself, saying that he planted, that Apollos watered, but that God gave the growth ( I Cor. 3 :6 ) A couple, Priscilla and Aquilla, established a house church in Ephesus ( I Cor. 16:19 ). The daughters of the Apostle Philip lived in Ephesus. A small stone building high up on the west corner of the city wall is pointed out as St. Paul’s Prison. He wrote the letter to the Ephesians from this place.
In Ephesus highlights include Double Church where in 431 the Third Ecumenical Council was held, the Library of Celcius, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Theater for many Christians the best-known building in Ephesus where a 1st century AD silversmith attempted to stir up a riot to get rid of St. Paul who was damaging his business of making images of Artemis.
About 3 miles away in the forested mountain above Ephesus is House of Virgin Mary. Today it is visited by pilgrims from all over the world. It is a modest stone house. St John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus in keeping with Jesus’s admonition to him to care for his mother. (John 19:27)
House of Virgin Mary, is now visited by over a hundred thousand pilgrims each year. The pilgrims come to drink the waters of the sacred spring, to mediate, to pray for health, and to breathe the atmosphere of if. You will be able to collect some holly water from the Sacred Spring.
Both Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1979 have celebrated mass here. Many people congregate at this sanctuary every August 15 to observe the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. It was first identified in 1818 by an Austrian peasant, Anne Catherine Emmerich, who saw it in a dream exactly as it was found. The setting is beautifully peaceful, encouring reverence and contemplation. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Kusadasi – Laodicea – Hierapolis – Pamukkale
After breakfast we leave our hotel and drive to Hierapolis but before we get here we stop at Laodicea Ad Lycum. The site of one of the Seven Churches addressed by St. John in the Book of Revelation ( Rev. 3:14-22 ), Laodicea is on a low hill on the south bank of the Lycus River (Curuksu). As a commercial center, it had a large
Jewish community. For St.John in Revelation, the Christians of Laodicea were neither hot nor cold and becauseof their indifference he wanted to spew them out of his mouth. “ I know all your ways, you are neither hot or cold. How I wish you were either hot or cold. Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of mymouth” ( Revelation 3:15-17 )
St. John promised in “ the words of the Amen” (Revelation 3:14) that for those who were sensitive enough to hear and respond to what was being said, the Spirit would join them in the great feast. “Here I stand knocking at the door; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sit down to supper with him and he with me “ ( Revelation 3:20)
Then we will drive to Pamukkale (The Cotten Castle of white travertine terraces), and Hierapolis ancient city where St. Philip was martyred. Recently Italian archeologists have discovered his Martyrium, an octagonal chamber forming a double cross surrounded by a square. St. Philip lived here after the Apostles scattered from Jerusalem. Hierapolis is listed in the New Testament along with Laodicea as the center of Epaphras’s work ( Colossians 4:13 ). Dinner and overnight atPamukkale. (B,L,D
Day 6 Pamukkale – Saklikent (Secret city) Gorge – Kayakoy – Fethiye
After breakfast we will drive to Fethiye. On the way, we will visit and have our lunch in spectacular Saklikent (Secret city) Gorge which cut into the Akdaglar mountains. An incredible experience you will have.
Then we will go and visit Kayakoy ( Karmylassos) Town. This town of 2000 stone houses was deserted after World War 1 because of exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece. 2 churches are still prominent. Then we will reach Fethiye, the ancient Telmessus, played its part in Christian history as a Crusader stronghold. Today it is a port city on the east side of the large Bay of Fethiye. On the Acropolis are walls of a medieval castle probably built in the 12th or 13th century by the Knights of St. John, the same group that built the Castle of St. Peter in Bodrum. Dinner and overnight in Fethiye. (B,L,D)
Day 7 Fethiye – Patara – Myra (Demre) – Antalya
Patara figures in Christian history several times. It was a port of call on St. Paul’s third missionary journey when he and St. Luke stopped here enroute from Miletus to Jerusalem. Patara was the birthplace of St. Nicholas ( c. 300 AD ) who became first the Bishop of Myra. Into the 15th century Patara was a stop on the route of pilgrims from Europe to Jerusalem.
Then We will carry on to Myra (Demre). In Roman times Myra was on the sea. It was the port where St. Paul and his companions St. Luke and Aristarchus changed ships on their way to Rome in about 60 AD ( Acts 27:5-6 ).
St. Nicholas, as an adult became the Bishop of Myra. He is known for his miracles; he continues to be loved because he cared for people in need. He is the patron saint of Greece and of Russia, and the protector of children, scholars, merchants and sailors. St.Nicholas persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian and kept in prison because of his faith; later he is supposed to have been present at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea (Iznik).
In old pictures he is often shown standing in a tub with three boys. These boys were murdered and concealed in a tub of salt belonging to their butcher. St. Nicholas restored them to life and health. He gave anonymous gifts to dowryless girls to save them from lives of sin. We will visit the 11th century Church of St. Nicholas in Myra that has recently been refurnished; a church service there on December 6th celebrates his memory. Then we drive to have dinner and overnight in Antalya. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Perge – Side – Manavgat Waterfalls – Antalya Half Day City Tour
Ruins of Perge are 18 kms to the northeast of Antalya. Perge is one of the cities that St. Paul visited withBarnabas and his cousin John Mark on their first missionary journey in about AD 47 or 48 ( Acts 13:13, 14:25 ). It was Perge that John Mark left the others to return Jerusalem.
John Mark did not accompany St. Paul on the second missionary journey; instead he and Barnabas went together to Cyprus while St.Paul went with Silan into Anatolia (Acts 15:63-41). Perhaps St. Paul and John Mark were reconciled later for St. Paul includes greetings from a Mark to Philemon ( Philem. 24 ). Highlights are, the Gymnasium, the Bath, the Agora, the Theater, the Stadium and the Hellenistic Gate.
After we finish our visit in Perge, we will continuo to Side. Side was an important port on the Mediterranean from thetime it was founded about the 6th century BC until the 7th century. Roman engineers brought Side’s water through tunnels and an aqueduct from about 30 km inland. Today’s Side is built exactly on top of the ancient city.
We will have lunch and see Manavgat waterfalls. Then we will drive back to Antalya. Antalya located in the region called Pamphylia, was founded by Attalus II, King of Pergamum in the 2nd century BC. St. Paul sailed from Antalya about AD 48 on his return to Antioch after his first missionary journey. Dinner and overnight in Antalya.(B,L,D)
Day 9 Antalya – Istanbul Half Day City Tour
We will fly to Istanbul and after lunch we will drive Chora Church Museum (The Church of Holy Savior) to see breathtaking frescoes and mosaics from 14th century. The church is aremarkable example of Byzantine art.Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. (B,L,D)
Day 10 Istanbul Full Day City Tour
Following the breakfast we drive to Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) where you can smell of different aromas of various spices. Then we will get in the ferry to have Bosphorus Cruise, through the waterway separating the two continents, Asia and Europe, with a possibility to take photographs of marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of Ottoman architecture besides modern residentials and luxurious apartments.
After lunch in a seafood restaurant, we will drive to the ‘Old City’, we will stop by the Hippodrome before proceeding to the Blue Mosque, so called because of the impressive Iznik ( Nicea) blue tiles lining its walls. Then we will go into the St. Sophia Church Museum. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Istanbul Departure
Free till transfer to the airport. (B)
For specifically interested parties, the program may include one day visit to Patmos Island (Greece) where St. John wrote the book of Revelation.