Day 1 ISTANBUL / NICEA / BURSA
Upon arrival at Istanbul in the morning, meet at the airport and we drive to embark ferry boat to Yalova. Drive to Iznik, known as Nicea.The city was founded around 1000 BC. In 325 AD, the First Ecumenical Council was held here for the purpose of condemning the heresy of Arianism. The Seventh Ecumenical Council was also held here in the St Sophia Church, which we will visit. 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. Later we proceed to Bursa for dinner and overnight.
Day 2 BURSA / THYATIRA / SARDIS / PHILADELPHIA / PAMUKKALE
After breakfast drive to Pamukkale. We will stop by Thyteria to see the remains of the church. This was one of the principle towns where Christianity spread quickly.Then we will drive to Sardis whose history dates back to 12th century B.C. Sardis felt the influence of Christianity very early and was included in the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. During the Byzantine times it was the seat of a bishopric. Highlights will be a Synagogue, Gymnasium, Byzantine Church and the Temple of Artemis. Next on our itinerary is Philadelphia which was an important Christian centre during Byzantine times. We will see the ruins of the Basilica. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (B/L/D)
Day 3 PAMUKKALE / HIERAPOLIS / LAODICEA / KUSADASI
In the morning we visit Hierapolis, which was founded by Pergamon King Telephus and named after his wife, Hiera. During the Byzantine period, the city became the seat of diocese with a large Christian Church dedicated to St Philip, who was martyred there in 80 AD. Highlights include the Roman Baths, , the Theatre and the famous white calcium cascades of Pamukkale (the white “Cotton Castles”). Then we will visit Laodicea, where we will find a Theatre, a large Stadium, a Water Tower and an Odeon. This city is supposed to have been named by Antiochus II in honour of his wife, Laodicea. Thereafter, we proceed to Kusadasi. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 4 KUSADASI / EPHESUS / KUSADASI
Then drive to Selcuk town, we will visit the famous ancient city of Ephesus, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites. Our tour will begin with the Basilica of St John the Evangelist” who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel in Ephesus. Highlights include the Library of Celcius, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Theatre. We will also stop by the House of Virgin Mary (on top of Mt Coressos). She was believed to have spent her last years in this area. On 18 August 1961, Pope John XII proclaimed this place to be sacred. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 5 KUSADASI / IZMIR / PERGAMON / AYVALIK
After breakfast drive to Izmir and visit Church of Smyra. Then we drive to the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 B.C., we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. The Asclepieum of Pergamon was a famous health centre where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. Thereafter, we proceed to Ayvalik. Dinner and overnight in Ayvalik.
Day 6 AYVALIK / ASSOS / TROY / CANAKKALE / ISTANBUL
We leave this morning for Troas and Assos. Troas was a busy port situated on the north-west coast of Asia Minor. During his stay in Troas, St. Paul had a dream in which he saw a vision of a man asking him to “come over to Macedonia and help us” after which he decided to go to Europe. Assos perched high on a cliff overlooking the Aegean and the Island of Lesbos is breathtaking. Its Acropolis carries the impressive Temple of Athena. Arriving at Assos on foot from Troas, St. Paul preached here and climbed down to the little port on the shore to board the boat on his return journey to Jerusalem. Then we proceed to Troy to see the legendary city and the replica of the Trojan Horse. Drive to Istanbul for overnight.
Day 7 ISTANBUL
After breakfast we drive to the ‘Old City’. Our first stop is the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the centre of Byzantine civic life, where horse and chariot races used to take place. We then travel towards the Blue Mosque, known for the impressive blue tiles lining its walls. The Basilica of Haggia Sophia (Divine Wisdom), now called the Ayasofya Museum, is unquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time. Built by Constantine the Great, it was reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century. Last stop at Spice Bazaar, where the smells of cinnamon, cloves and thyme rise from hundreds of colourful muslin bags at every store-front. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 8 ISTANBUL Departure
After breakfast, check-out from the hotel. Than embark the Bosphorus Cruise Boat. A scenic journey along the Bosphorus between two continents, Asia and Europe. Lunch at a sea food restaurant. In the afternoon, we visit the famous Topkapi Palace, which was home to the sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries. It is now a museum exhibiting imperial collections of crystal, silver, Chinese porcelain and imperial costumes. Then transfer to the airport for International flight.