Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the hotel. Free time for leisure. Overnight: Istanbul
Today we start our day with a visit to the impressive Topkapi Palace (closed on Tuesdays), which served as the palace of the Ottoman Sultans between the 16th and 19th centuries. It has a superb position overlooking the Bosphorus. (Harem not included) We also pay a visit to the magnificent Haghia Sophia (St Sophia’s Basilica-closed on Mondays) built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century. It is one of the world’s greatest architectural marvels. Then we will visit the fascinating and impressive Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), famous for its six minarets, its beautiful blue Iznik tiles, unique architecture and marble latticework. Then visit the Byzantine Hippodrome, the center of Byzantine life for 1000 years, where chariot races and competitive athletic events took place. We will finish the day with a visit to famous Grand Bazaar. Overnight: Istanbul
Early departure from the hotel and leaving Istanbul behind, your drive takes you to the Northern Aegean city of Canakkale across he Dardanell. This afternoon visit the legendary city of Troy, immortalized by Homer in the stories of King Priamos, Hector, Paris and the beautiful Helen. See the archaeological excavations that have revealed nine separate periods of settlement and the ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre. Also see the symbolic replica wooden Trojan horse that commemorates the epic war machine that was constructed in the 13th century BC. We will check into the hotel in the afternoon. Overnight: Canakkale
Upon arrival proceed to Bergama to visit Pergamum (2:12–17), the capital of Pergamum Kingdom and a great Hellenistic city with superb setting on the top of the mountain that rises above the surrounding plain. We will walk around the well preserved ruins of Pergamum. The view from top of the Acropolis toward the Aegean Sea is spectacular. This is also the place where a beautiful Altar of Zeus once stood. The Altar was taken to Berlin Pergamum Museum and now you can see the basement of the building only in Bergama. Later continue to Thyatira one of the Seven Churches of revelation (Rev. 1:11; 2:18-29) Church of ancient Thyatira set in an ancient commercial town with strong ties to Troy and Sardis. It is also said this is where (according to the Acts of the Apostles) the first Christian that St Paul encountered on the European. Overnight: Izmir
Proceed to Ephesus one of the Seven Churches in Revelation (Rev. 1:11), once populated with hundred and fifty thousand people. Ephesus was a great city and metropolitan center of the antiquity, whose extensive ruins are among the best preserved in the world. As we walk down the main street of Ephesus, we will visualize its ancient life and buildings. We will visit Library of Celsus, Agora, Odeon, Trajan Fountain, Domitianus Temple, Roman Latrines, Theater and Stadium in which St. Paul preached the gospel. It came under Roman rule around 130 BC. The evangelist Paul stayed in Ephesus for 2 years, and wrote the first letter to the Corinthians there, and probably other Epistles also preached in the synagogue and the lecture hall of Tyrannus, and after 2 years everybody in the province had heard the word of the Lord. God accomplished miracles at the hands of Paul, and when pieces of cloth that touched Paul’s skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and they were healed (Acts 19:8-12)Through Paul’s preaching, people stopped buying miniature silver shrines of Artemis. Demetrius the silversmith started a riot amongst the idol-making craftsman and they seized two of Paulʹs companions, Gauis and Aristarchus. After the disturbance was over, Paul left Ephesus and continued on his missionary journey. Other well-known disciples preached in Ephesus, including Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos, Erostus, and John the Apostle. Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was in Rome. The first letter to the 7 churches in Revelation, chapters 2-3, was written to Ephesus, and except for the love of the church towards Christ not being as strong as it was at first. The rest of the letter was positive. Overnight: Kusadasi.
Drive to the ancient city of Sardis, the capital of the ancient Lydian kingdom from 6th C BC (Rev. 3:1-6) and home of the famous king Croesus. There we will see the marble court with a beautiful facade with marble columns, passing the large palaestra we will come to a large Jewish Synagogue built in Roman times, then we walk out to the ancient street lined with ancient Roman and Byzantine shops. Next proceed to the great Temple of Artemis built during the Hellenistic ages and offers a spectacular view having the acropolis of Sardis in the background. Thenl visit Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) referred to as the New Jerusalem, one of the sites of Seven Churches of Asia, to see the church of St. John. Afternoon drive to Hierapolis tour the spectacular natural site of Pamukkale. Its hot thermal springs of calcium spill over the plateau’s edge creating dazzling white formations called Cotton Castles. Visit the ruins of Hierapolis which also was the home of Papias and Epicitus, early Christian writers and Philip the Evangelist. The Martyrium of St. Philip, an octagonal chamber has recently been discovered. Overnight: Pamukkale.
A short drive from Pamukkale is Laodicea, another site of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Laodicea was founded in the 2nd C: BC by the Seleucid king Antiochus II Theos who named it for his wife. Laodicea is known as Laodicea-ad-Lycum, since there were many other towns named Laodicea founded by the Seleucid kings. Laodicea soon became a prosperous city after trading its fine quality purple-color wool. Overnight: Pamukkale.
Drive to Bursa which was once the first capital of Ottoman Empire. Visit the Grand Mosque constructed of golden-hued limestone from Mt. Olympus (Uludag) It was the first congregational mosque erected in 1399 by the Ottomans. It is a typical pillared mosque, very much in Seljukian tradition, a big rectangular building with immense portals on three sides and a forest of supporting columns inside. Next visit the 26 Green Mosque was built during the reign of Mehmet 1 (1413-21). It is one of the great master works of the Ottoman religious architecture and superbly beautiful building in a fine setting and it represents a turning- point in Turkish architectural style. Facing the Green Mosque, rather higher up, is the Green Tomb (Yesil Turbe) of Mehmet I. The decoration inside and outside combine to make the tomb as one of the most beautiful buildings in Turkey. Overnight: Bursa.
Head out to Nicea (Iznik) occupies the site of ancient Nikaia, founded by Antigonos, Alexander the Great’s general in the 4th C.B.C. After suffering destruction in a number of earthquakes it was rebuilt by Hadrian and thereafter enjoyed a period of great prosperity after the triumph of Christianity, it became an important missionary center. At the First Council of Nicaea in 325 the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, was condemned and the Nicaean Creed, which sets out the criteria of Christian orthodoxy, was formulated. The first steps were also taken to establish formal co-operation between church and state. In 325 Nicaea, the see of a bishop, was the meeting-place of the First Ecumenical Council (Council of Nicaea). In 787 the Seventh Ecumenical Council which condemned iconoclasm met in Nicaea. Cross Marmara Sea and arrive at Istanbul. Overnight: Istanbul.
Depart for transfer to the airport and our services end here.