Day 1 – ISTANBUL / NICEA / BURSA
Upon arrival at Istanbul Ataturk airport, meet at the airport and drive to embark ferry boat to Yalova. Drive to Iznik, formerly 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, whixh 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 / PERGAMON / KUSADASI
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. Drive to Kusadasi for overnight.
Day 3 - 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 vangelist” 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 XXII proclaimed this place to be sacred. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 4 - KUSADASI / THYATIRA / SARDIS / PHILADELPHIA / PAMUKKALE
After breakfast drive to Izmir and visit Church of Smyrna. Next, we will stop by Thyateira 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.
Day 5 – PAMUKKALE / LAODICEA / HIERAPOLIS /PAMUKKALE
In the morning drive to Pamukkale , On the way 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. Then we visit Hierapolis, which was founded by Pergamon King Telephons 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”). Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 6 - PAMUKKALE / KONYA / CAPPADOCIA
Following an early breakfast, we drive to Pisidian Antioch (Yalvac). During Paul’s time, the population was made up of Jews, Romans and Greeks. Very little is left of Pisidian antioch today. Thereafter, we proceed to Konya and stay the night there. Then drive to Cappadocia. On the way visit Sultanhani Caravanserai Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 7 – CAPPADOCIA
After breakfast, visit Natural Fortress in Uchisar, where you can capture a panoramic view of the beautiful plateau. Next visit Pasabagi in Zelve area where monks used to live in seclusion in rock cut rooms. Then, we visit the Valleys of Goreme to explore the unusual troglodyte dwellings, remains of the early churches comprising complicated rooms hollowed out of the cones of volcanic ash and decorated with scratched frescoes. We will visit Goreme Open Air Museum include the Apple Church, the Church of Sandals, and the Church with a Buckle. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 8 – CAPPADOCIA / ISTANBUL
After breakfast check-out from the hotel and visit Kaymaklı Underground City carved into soft rocks resembling a huge labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, kitchens, wine cellars and passageways. A huge chimney ventilates this 8-level dwelling, which was used by Christians hiding from their Roman and Byzantine persecutors. Their colourful frescoes remain as vibrant as when they were first made. Then proceed to the pottery town of Avanos where Kizilirmak (Hallys), the longest river of Turkey, meanders leaving the red clay on its banks that has been the raw material of pottery for centuries. Afternoon transfer to Kayseri Airport for flight to Istanbul. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 9 - ISTANBUL
After breakfast check-out form the hotel, we drive to the ‘Old City’ where we will visit the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles. Saint Sophia, this church - turned mosque - turned museum takes the breath away with the sheer architectural size of its interior and magnificent dome. Then we will visit Underground Basilica Cistern. Lastly, we will visit to the aromatic Spice Bazaar, where the smells of cinnamon, cloves and thyme, rise from hundreds of colorful muslin bags at every store-front. Then
we take the Bosphorus cruise to enjoy the unique experience of cruising between 2 continents, Asia and Europe. Transfer to the airport for flight to home