A fifteen day tour of pilgrimage. Following the route of a native Anatolian, St.Paul of Tarsus, we try to find out the cultural background which nourished the rise of the Cross as well as the others.
Day 01 Upon arrival at Istanbul airport, meet your local lecturer-guide and transfer to hotel . Overnight in Istanbul
Day 02 Morning start sightseeing of major highlights in Istanbul which was the capital city of three Empires. Tour includes visits to the Roman Hippodrome, Blue Mosque famous for interior Blue colored Iznik tiles, St Sofia Church- Museum which was once the biggest Roman Cathedral of the world, the Underground Cistern . Lunch will be served in the historical restaurant at the Topkapi Palace overlooking the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. After lunch continue visiting the major sections of Topkapi Palace which was the royal seat of Ottoman Sultans more than 400 years. Late afternoon enjoy exploring the streets and alleys of the Grand Bazaar. Overnight in Istanbul
Day 03 Morning departure for Troy. A scenic coach drive will go along the northern shores of the Sea of Marmara and then crossing Dardanelles by a ferry. Afternoon visit the ruins of Homeric Troy where St.Paul made a visit during his second campaign to Asia Minor and Macedonia. Dinner and overnight at Tusan Hotel situated at the Asian coast of the Dardanelles offering a fascinating sun set over The First World war memorial.
Day 04 Departure for Ephesus at Selchuk. En route visit the ruins of Hellenistic city Pergamum where one of the seven churches of Apocalypse was located.. Then stroll through the colorful traditionally preserved streets of modern Bergama. Continue driving towards southern Aegean region by passing Izmir, so called , the pearl of Aegean Sea arrive at the town of Selcuk. Dinner & overnight in Selcuk.
Day 05 Day to explore Ephesus, one of the most well-preserved Greco-Roman city of ancient world. Tour starts with a visit to Mother Mary's House which was announced as to be a pilgrimage place for Roman Catholics by Pope Paul VI. Then visit the spectacular remains and edifices of the city of Ephesus including the State Agora,Odeon, Curetes Street, Marble Road. Temples of Hadrian and Trajan. Then onto Celcius Library and finally the famous Amphitheatre where St.Paul preached to Ephesians. Lunch will be served at one of the local restaurants in Selchuk. Afternoon continue visiting St.John's Basilica and the local museum where the major findings from Ephesus on display. Dinner at Sirince village located 7 Km. from Selchuk on a mountain and famous for house wines.
Day 06 Drive to Pamukkale. En route visit the ruins of Aphrodisias, a Roman city dedicated to Aphrodite the goddess of Love and beauty. The city houses a rich-variety of Roman sculpture. After lunch in a local restaurant continue driving to Pamukklae. Before reaching Hierapolis, visit the ruins of Laodecia of which people were addressed by St Paul in one of his letters written from Patmos Island. Late afternoon arrive at Pamukkale, 'The Cotton-Castle', world-famous geological formation with eye-taking white travertine caused by the calcareous hot spring waters. Enjoy your time walking in the thermal waters and white slopes before checking in hotel. Dinner and accommodation in Pamukkale.
Day 07 Morning sightseeing of Hierapolis, visits include Necropolis, the Amphitheatre, The Temple and Baths of Trajan. Then continue driving to Konya. En route visit Yalvac, Antioch ad Psidia and after lunch by the Egridir Lake, continue driving to Konya, Upon arrival Konya, Icononium visit the Tomb of Mevlana, the founder of Mevlevi Sect, the Whirling Dervishes, Karatay Medrese and Yivli Minaret the early Seljuk Empire edifices. Dinner and overnight in Konya.
Day 08 After departure for Tarsus, visit the ruins of 1001 Churches en route. Then drive along Konya Plateau and cross the Taurus Mountains arriving at Tarsus, the home town of St.Paul. Upon arrival enjoy your lunch in a typical Kebab-House. Afternoon explore the ancient remains of Tarsus which was once a rich harbour city enjoying a rich cultural and political life. It was the place where Antonius Caesar and Kleopatra first met each other and fell in love. Sightseeing includes the St.Paul's Church, the ruins of his house and the well, ancient road, Kleopatra Gate, The Grand Mosque, The Kubad Pasha Medrese and the Bedesten (Bazaar) . Dinner and accommodation in Mersin.
Day 09 Drive to Antakya via Adana and Issos where Alexander the Great defeated the Persians Afternoon arrive at Antakya, Antioch ad Oronthes. Afternoon visit St.Peter's grotto and church, Mosaic Museum, Seleucia of Prieria and Titus Tunnel. Dinner at Daphne, accommodation in Antakya.
Day 10 Morning departure for Kayseri and onto Cappadocia. Upon arrival Kayseri, Caesareia a busy trade colony since the Assyrian and Hittite periods. St.Paul made many missionary visits to this city. After lunch in a local restaurant enjoy a short sightseeing in the town. Then continue driving to Cappadocia via Soganli Churches. Dinner and accommodation in Cappadocia.
Day 11 Full day sightseeing of Cappadocia including visits to Göreme Rock-hewn churches, Uchisar, Zelve Valley, Avanos, the pottery town, also visit a hand-made carpet workshops. Lunch in a local restaurant, dinner in the hotel.
Day 12 Morning visit to Kaymakli and Derinkuyu underground cities where the early Christians once sheltered from non-Christian tribes. Afternoon free at leisure Dinner in the hotel.
Day 13 Morning flight from Nevshehir to Istanbul. Upon arrival. Visit Chora Church and Sergius & Bachus Churches.Dinner and overnight.
Day 14 Morning enjoy Bosphorus Cruise and a short excursion to Asian side. Afternoon free for last minute shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Farewell dinner.
Day 15 Transfer to airport for departure.