1st Day : IZMIR (Smyrna)
Arrive to Izmir Airport and transfer to the hotel in Izmir.
2nd Day : Izmir (Smyrna) – BERGAMA (Pergamum)
Situated on the Aegean coast, the birthplace of Homer, Smyrna was commercially successful due to its harbor and its location (approximately 35 miles north of Ephesus) at the end of a major route through Asia Minor. Izmir, the modern name for the city that once was known as Smyrna, is the third largest city and second busiest port of actual Turkey.
In the Book of Revelations, John of Patmos sent messages to churches in seven cities in Asia Minor; the message to the church at Smyrna is the shortest . It was one of only two churches that received only praise and no criticism from John of Patmos (the other was Philadelphia). Two traits characterized this congregation: it had suffered affliction, and it was poor. Although the city of Smyrna was commercially prosperous, its Christian inhabitants apparently did not share in its prosperity.
"Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna and say, 'Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again : ·I know the trials you have had. and how poor you are-though you are rich-and the slanderous accusations that have been made by the people who profess to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan. ·Do not be afraid of the sufferings that are coming to you : I tell you, the devil is going to send some of you to prison to test you, and you must face an ordeal for ten days. Even if you have to die, keep faithful. and I will give you the crown of life for your prize. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: for those who prove victorious there is nothing to be afraid of in the second death.'
Visit ancient Agora of Smyrna. Then contemplate Izmir from Kadifekale, (the ancient Mt. Pagus), the site where Lysimachus founded the city.
Departure to Bergama (Pergamum) approximately 65 miles north of Izmir.
The only specific reference in the Bible to the city of Pergamum occurs in the book of Revelation, written by John of Patmos.
"Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum and say, 'Here is the message of the one who has the sharp sword, double-edged : ·I know where you live, in the place where Satan is enthroned, and that you still hold firmly to my name, and did not disown your faith in me even when my faithful witness, Antipas, was killed in your own town, where Satan lives."
Nevertheless, I have one or two complaints to make : some of you are followers of Balaam , who taught Balak to set a trap for the Israelites so that they committed adultery by eating food that had been sacrificed to idols; ·and among you, too, there are some as bad who accept what the Nicolaitans teach.
You must repent. or I shall soon come to you and attack these people with the sword out of my mouth. ·If anyone has ears to hear,, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: to those who prove victorious I will give the hidden manna and a white stone - a stone with a new name written on it, known only to the man who receives it.'
We will visit in the afternoon the Acropolis of Pergamum , unquestionably one of the most impressive archaeological sites in all of Turkey.
Pergamum’s attractions are hard to surpass—the breathtaking view from its theater carved out of the side of the acropolis, the magnificent restored Temple of Trajan, the foundations of the Great Altar of Zeus, the Temple of Serapis.
We will finish our visits of the day with The Asklepion a popular healing center in the antiquity.
3rd Day : Bergama -Thyatira –Sardis – Philadelphia – PAMUKKALE
Departure to Thyatira (the modern city of Akhisar) located in western Turkey, approximately 30 miles from the Aegean coast and 50 miles northeast of Izmir, on the broad Akhisar Plain, the city was in the northern part of the ancient kingdom of Lydia.
The city of Thyatira is first mentioned in the Bible in the book of Acts.
According to Acts 16, when Paul and Silas traveled to Philippi, they met there a woman named Lydia, who is described as “from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth” Lydia became a convert to Christianity and, along with her household, was baptized. Lydia then insisted that Paul and Silas stay at her home during their visit to Philippi.
Thyatira In the Book of Revelation:
"Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira and say, 'Here is the message of the Son of God who has eyes like a burning flame and feet like burnished bronze: ·I know all about you and how charitable you are; I know your faith and devotion and how much you put up with, and I know how you are still making progress. ·Nevertheless, I have a complaint to make: you are encouraging the woman Jezebel who claims to be a prophetess, and by her teaching she is luring my servants away to commit the adultery of eating food which has been sacrificed to idols. · I have given her time to reform but she is not willing to change her adulterous life. ·Now I am consigning her to bed, and all her partners in adultery to troubles that will test them severely, unless they repent of their practices; and I will see that her children die, so that all the churches realize that it is I who search heart and loins and give each one of you what your behavior deserves.! But on the rest of you in Thyatira, all of you who have not accepted this teaching or learned the secrets of Satan, as they are called, I am not laying any special duty; ·but hold firmly on to wh.at you already have until I come. ·To those who prove victorious, and keep working for me until the end, I will give the authority over the pagans ·which I myself have been given by my Father, to rule them with an iron scepter and shatter them like earthenware. And I will give him the Morning Star.'' ·If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.'
After the visit of the biblical city of Thyatira, we will proceed to Sardis. (Actual Salihli). Once the capital of the ancient Lydian Kingdom, Sardis lies approximately 60 miles east of Izmir.
Sardis In the Book of Revelation:
"Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, 'Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars : I know all about you : how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead. ·Wake up; revive what little you have left: it is dying fast. So far, I have failed to notice anything in the way you live that my God could possibly call perfect, ·and yet do you remember how eager you were when you first heard the message? Hold on to that. Repent. If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, without telling you at what hour to expect me. ·There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their robes from being dirtied, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white. ·Those who prove victorious will be dressed, like these, in white robes; I shall not blot their names out of the book of life but acknowledge their names in the presence of my Father and his angels. ·If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.'
Visit the site of Sardis with its impressive Bath-Gymnasium Complex and its Synagogue with a capacity of at least a thousand people, the largest of any Diaspora (non-Palestinian) synagogue ever found.
Then continue to Alasehir (Biblical Philadelphia)
Philadelphia in the Book of Revelation:
"Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia and say, 'Here is the message of the holy and faithful one who has the key of David, so that when he opens, nobody can close, and when he closes, nobody can open" : ·I know all about you ;and now I have opened in front of you a door that nobody will be able to close and I know that though you are not very strong, you have kept my commandments and not disowned m y name. ·Now I am going to make the synagogue of Satan-those who profess to be Jews, but are liars, because they are no such thing-I will make them come and fall at your feet and admit that you are the people that I love. ·Because you have kept my commandment to endure trials, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is going to come for the whole world, to test the people of the world. ·Soon I shall be with you: hold firmly to what you already have, and let nobody take your prize away from you. ·Those who prove victorious I will make into pillars in the sanctuary of my God, and they will stay there for ever; I will inscribe on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God in heaven, and my own new name as well. ·If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.'
Visit in Alasehir the ruins of a Byzantine church, almost all that remain of the Christian past of Philadelphia. A rectangular building of six pillars, the church is known as the Church of St. John the Theologian. Three of the church’s pillars are still standing, with their lower portion made of stone and their upper portion made of bricks.
After the completion of our visit to Philadelphia, we will proceed to Pamukkale for two consecutive nights stays at hotel. Enjoy the thermal baths at your hotel in Pamukkale.
4th Day : Pamukkale – Hierapolis – Laodicea - Colossae – PAMUKKALE
Today we will visit Colossae, Laodicea, Pamukkale and Hierapolis.
Laodicea is situated 10 miles from Colossae and 6 miles from Hierapolis. This area was a part of the region of Phrygia, although it was sometimes considered a part of Lydia or Caria.
The ongoing excavations at Laodicea are impressive and once ignored city of tourists in modern times, attracts more and more visitors each year.
Laodicea in the Book of Revelation:
"Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, 'Here is the message of the Amen, the faithful, the true witness, the ultimate source of God's creation: I know all about you: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, ·but since you are neither, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. ·You say to yourself, "I am rich, I have made a fortune, and have everything I want," never realizing that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too. ·I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you really rich, and white robes to clothe you and cover your shameful nakedness, and eye ointment to put on your eyes so that you are able to see. ·I am the one who reproves and disciplines all those he loves: so repent in real earnest. ·Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him. ·Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I was victorious myself and took my place with my Father on his throne. ·If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.' "
Colossae was situated near the Lycus River (today the Aksu Çay), the chief tributary of the Meander River. Located in the Phrygian region of Asia Minor, the city was approximately 120 miles east of Ephesus. During the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.E. Colossae was a large and prosperous city. At that time the leading city of the Lycus Valley, Colossae was eventually eclipsed in importance during the Hellenistic and Roman periods by the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis. Today unfortunately, nothing much remain in Colossae.
The Letters of St. Paul: Ephesians. Colossians. Philemon.
All three letters are closely related and were written while Paul was under arrest in Rome. It appears that the relation between Ephesians and Colossians is like that between Romans and Galatians. The news of a crisis at Colossae led Paul to write a letter to the Christians there against the growing belief and trust in celestial and cosmic powers. Paul accepts these powers as the angels of Jewish tradition, but he shows that in the great scheme of salvation they have only a prepatory and subordinate part and now there is a new order in which Christ is all. About the same time, he wrote a fuller and more systematic treatment of the same ideas and this is the letter that we know as "Ephesians" though it was probably written for circulation through all the churches.
Return to Pamukkale and visit the ancient city of Hierapolis and Pamukkale.
Along with Colossae and Laodicea, Hierapolis was one of the major cities of the Lycus River valley. While Colossae and Laodicea are on the southern side of the Lycus River, Hierapolis (today known as Pamukkale) is north (or northeast) of the river. The most striking aspect of the city, in ancient as well as modern times, is the sight of the calcified white cliffs, formed by mineral deposits from the water flowing over the cliffs. Hierapolis derived its modern name of Pamukkale (meaning “cotton castle”)
Biblical Significance of Hierapolis:
Hierapolis is mentioned only once in the Bible. In Colossians 4:12–13, Epaphras, a Christian from Colossae, is praised for his faithfulness and hard work. The Colossians are told, “He has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” Epaphras was likely the primary person responsible for spreading the Christian faith in the Lycus River valley and starting churches there, including in Hierapolis.
5th Day : Pamukkale – Ephesus – KUSADASI
Departure to Ephesus.
Ephesus in the Bible:
Of all the cities mentioned in the New Testament that were visited by Paul, Ephesus is the only one that was also addressed in the book of Revelation. According to Acts, Paul visited the city of Ephesus on both his second and third missionary journeys.
Ephesus in the Book of Revelation:
"Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, 'Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives surrounded by the seven golden Iampstands : ·I know all about you : how hard you work and how much you put up with. I know you cannot stand wicked men, and how you tested the impostors who called themselves apostles and proved they were liars. ·I know, too, that you have patience, and have suffered for my name without growing tired. ·Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. ·Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first, or else, if you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lampstand from its place. ·It is in your favor, nevertheless, that you loathe as I do what the Nicolaitans are doing. ·If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: those who prove victorious I will feed from the tree of life set in God's paradise.'
In the afternoon we will tour the extensive remains of Ephesus with the amphitheater where St Paul caused a riot (described in Acts 19), the Odeon, the Roman Baths, the Agora, the impressive Celcus Library among many other monuments as well as the ruined basilica of St Mary where the council of Ephesus was held in 425, granting Mary the title of Theotokos or Bearer of God. We will also visit the recently restored Terrace Houses in Ephesus.
6th Day : Kusadasi – House of Mary -Basilica of St. John – KUSADASI
Depart to the nearby Franciscan-run Shrine of Meryem Ana, the Holy House of Mary in her last years.
Then we will go to nearby Selcuk to see the castle and ruined basilica of St John with his tomb. In Selçuk we will also visit the Archaeology Museum of Selçuk (known also as Ephesus Archaeology Museum).
Return to Kusadasi.
7th Day : Departure
Transfer to Izmir Airport.