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Israel Tour Pastor Michael Zechman March 8, 2021

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Day by Day

Houston, Istanbul

Today we will meet at Houston International airport for our flight to Istanbul via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.


Upon arrival to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, we will meet our guide in the arrivals hall and head to our hotel located near Taksim Square, the bustling heart of modern Istanbul. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.

Istanbul, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar

After enjoying our Turkish breakfast, we will depart from our hotel and begin our tour of the historical highlights of Istanbul. First, we walk to Eminönü’s Spice Bazaar, the large covered market that has remained the city’s center for spice trade since its creation in the 17th century. Afterwards, we head to the hill where ancient Byzantium was founded and enjoy a stroll through Hippodrome Square, the former sporting and social center of Constantinople that hosted chariot races during the Roman period. Next, we are off to the domed masterpiece of Hagia Sophia, the Orthodox patriarchal basilica-turned Ottoman imperial mosque-turned secular museum commissioned by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Next we head to Topkapi Palace, the former abode of Ottoman Sultans that still houses their legion of treasures, including an extensive collection of royal jewels. We will then end our day with an evening of shopping at the Grand Bazaar, the massive covered market that houses a labyrinth of streets lined with shops selling jewelry, leather products and many other handcrafted souvenirs. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.

Istanbul, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Denizli

Today, we will eat breakfast early before heading to the pier to embark our speed ferry departing at 07:00 am. Upon arrival to the Port of Bandirma, we head to the town of Akhisar to visit ancient Thyatira, one of the Seven Churches praised for its increasing faith but admonished for its tolerance of Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-28). Next, we continue to Sardis, a once powerful city located along an important ancient highway and among the fertile plain of Hermus (Geldiz River). Though Sardis was a strong and wealthy city with a reputation for being alive, God announced that it was actually dead (Rev. 3:1-6). Here, we will explore the white marble royal way, the massive Temple of Artemis, the large gymnasium, and the famous synagogue. Annual archaeological expeditions sponsored by Harvard and Cornell Universities have unearthed over eighty Greek and seven Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors revealing this synagogue as one of the most significant synagogues of antiquity. Afterwards, we will head to the modern town of Alasehir and visit the site of ancient Philadelphia, the church that received God's highest commendation (Rev. 3:7-13). Here, we will see the remains of a brick-built Byzantine basilica adorned with 11th century frescoes. Dinner and Overnight in Denizli.

Denizli, Pamukkale, Laodicea, Kusadasi

This morning, we are off to visit Pamukkale, “Cotton Castle”, and dip our feet in the thermal waters that flow down the hilltop’s unique white travertine terraces. At the summit, we explore the archeological remains of Hierapolis, a significant site of early Christianity thanks to Paul’s missionary efforts here (Colossians 4:13). Because the city sits atop the travertine cascades of Pamukkale (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Hierapolis became a healing center wherein the site’s thermal pools were used to treat various ailments. Today, we will stroll among a number of important ruins including well-preserved Roman structures like the town theatre and Temple of Apollo before continuing on to Laodicea. This city was one of the Seven Churches that the Apostle John chastised the inhabitants for being lukewarm (Rev. 3:14-22). Here, we will see the site’s well-preserved stadium, gymnasium, and theatres, giving us insight into this city’s former prominence. Next, we drive to Kusadasi, a beautiful resort town that sits on the Aegean coast Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.

Kusadasi, Ephesus, Kusadasi

Today, we are off to explore Ephesus. Located in the modern town of Selcuk, ancient Ephesus is one of the most well-preserved archaeological sites in Turkey. Originally an ancient Greek Ionic city built in the 10th century B.C., Ephesus grew to become the largest metropolis and capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor. This political influence and the city’s large Jewish community attracted the attention of the apostles, including Paul. Today, we will walk on the Marble Road passing numerous historically rich sites including the Temple of Artemis (Diana), the fountain of Trajan, and the Temple of Hadrian. We will also see the Library of Celsus, which adorns the site’s most impressive square, and sit in the theater (the largest surviving from the Roman period). This massive theatre (capable of entertaining up to 25,000 spectators) was the scene of an uprising provoked by a merchant named Demetrius against St. Paul and his teachings (Acts 19:23). Before returning to our Kusadasi hotel, we will stop at the ruins of St. John’s Basilica. Constructed by Justinian in the 6th century, this basilica stands over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.

Kusadasi, Smyrna, Pergamum, Canakkale

This morning, we will drive to the thriving modern city of Izmir and visit the ruins of ancient Smyrna, one of the Seven Churches that the Apostle John relays the promise from God: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10). Here, we will see what remains of the Agora, the ancient market place that was built in the 4th century BC, before continuing on to Pergamum, one of the most powerful cities in the ancient world. The city rose to prominence following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and eventually came under Roman control in 133 B.C. Although the city benefited from immense wealth, in the Book of Revelations, the risen Christ instructs John to convey the message that the people of Pergamum, the site of “Satan’s throne”, needed to repent (Rev 2:13-16). Today, we will tour the Acropolis, which sits atop a 1000-foot windswept mountain, offering a view of the neighboring modern towns, the azure waters of the Aegean, and the ruins of Pergamum that cascade down from the ancient city center. Here, we will explore the Temple of Trajan, Temple of Athena and the Altar of Zeus. Unfortunately, little is left of the altar, which was once among the grandest monuments of the ancient world. In fact, every stone of the structure, including its 400-foot long frieze depicting the battle of the gods and giants, was shipped off to Berlin by German Archaeologists leaving only the altar’s foundation. Thankfully, much more remains of the Great Theatre. Among the steepest of its kind and an acoustic phenomenon, this theatre could entertain up to 10,000 spectators. Nearby are the remains of the famous Library of Pergamum. Once housing some 200,000 scrolls, the library’s collection even exceeded that of the great library of Alexandria before Mark Anthony gave it to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. Afterwards, we will drive to Canakkle for the night. Dinner and Overnight in Canakkale.

Canakkale, Troy, Istanbul

After breakfast, we will drive to the village of Tevfikiye by the entrance of the Dardanelles to see the remains of the legendary city of Troy. Settled as early as 3,000 BC, Troy was made famous by Homer’s Iliad, the epic account of the Trojan War. Afterwards, we will cross the Dardanelles by ferry and head to Istanbul for the night. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.

Istanbul, USA

Today, we say good-bye to Turkey and return to the Ataturk International Airport to board our flight back home.

No Dates for this Tour.