7 Churches Trip
May 27 - June 6
Join Pastor Alex Himaya on a special tour to Asia Minor to explore the Seven Churches of Revelation on a tour of Christian sites in Asia Minor. You will travel to the major cities throughout Turkey, including Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicea, Philadelphia, Hierapolis, and Constantinople, with 3000 years of history. You will visit Pamukkale to see ancient temples, including the Hierapolis and magnificent Necropolis, and Canakkale, the site and legend of the Trojan Warhorse. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This tour will sell out quickly, so book now to reserve your spot today.
– Dr. Alex Himaya
11-DAY JOURNEY TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION
May 27 – June 6, 2023
Day 01 (May 27): Beginning of Our Tour Depart Dallas for Izmir, Turkey.
Day 02 (May 28): Izmir – Arrival: Upon arrival at the Izmir Airport, we will meet our guide in the arrival’s hall and head to our hotel located in Kusadasi, about an hour drive from the airport. Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 03 (May 29): Ephesus – After breakfast, we will drive to Ephesus. Located in the modern town of Selcuk, ancient Ephesus is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Turkey. Originally an ancient Greek Ionic city built in the 11th century BC, 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 St. Paul and St. John. Here, St. John carried out his mission for two years and was Bishop of the Ephesian Church before he was exiled to the Island of Patmos. Today, we will walk on the Marble Road passing numerous historically rich sites including 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). Visit the Terrace Houses located opposite the Hadrian’s Temple, a newly excavated section. The wealthy and important people of Ephesus used these houses, which are finely decorated with mosaics and frescoes giving a true impression of the ancient Roman lifestyle. Those on the upper slopes are reached via steps and situated on the slopes of Bulbul Mountain with the roof of one house forming the terrace of the one above it. Then, we will end our day at the House of the Virgin Mary, the site where the mother of Jesus is believed to have spent the last days of her life with the Apostle John. Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 04 (May 30): Kusadasi / Miletus / Aphrodisias/ Pamukkale After breakfast, we drive to Miletus. It is here where St. Paul visited with the elders of Ephesus (Acts 1:17:38), on his return to Jerusalem completing his Third Missionary Journey. Afterwards, we go to Aphrodisias, one of the most beautiful cities of antiquity dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. Visit its museum to see relief panels and sculptures recovered from the ancient structure of Sebasteion. Dinner and Overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 5 (May 31): Pamukkale Today, we will visit Pamukkale, the “Cotton Castle”, and dip our feet in the thermal waters that flow down the hilltop’s unique white travertine terraces. Here, we will also visit 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 the ancient city of 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 go to Colossae. The town is in obscurity. While you can see traces of the theater, the ancient city is mostly in undistinguishable ruins. It has not been excavated. The church here was the recipient of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Dinner and Overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 6 (June 1): Pamukkale / Philadelphia / Sardis / Thyatira / Izmir This morning, we will drive to the modern town of Alasehir and visit the site of ancient Philadelphia, the church which 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. Afterwards, we will visit Sardis, a militarily strong ancient city located along an important highway and among the fertile plains of Hermus (Gediz River). Though Sardis was a powerful 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 Road, 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. Then, we will drive to Akhisar and end our day with a visit to Thyatira, one of the Seven Churches praised for its increasing faith but admonished for its tolerance of Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-28). Dinner and Overnight in Izmir.
Day 7 (June 2): Izmir / Pergamum / Alexandrian Troas / Canakkale This morning, visit the archaeological remains of the ancient city of Smyrna in ancient Agora. Located in modern-day Izmir, Smyrna was 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). Afterwards, we drive north through farmlands, low ranges, and along the Aegean Sea onto the town of Bergama to visit 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 BC, and eventually came under Roman control in 133 BC. Although this city benefited from immense wealth, in the Book of Revelations, the risen Christ instructs St. 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, the 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. Afterward, we will explore the Asklepion. Allegedly one of the world’s first full-service health clinics, the Asklepion was the ancient world’s version of a spa, attracting health pilgrims from all over the region, including Roman Emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. Moreover, the physician Galen trained at this center and developed the foundation for modern Western medicine. Next, we continue to the ancient port of Alexandria Troas (Acts16:13), where St. Paul raised from death a boy named Eutychus (Acts 20:7). Dinner and Overnight in Canakkale.
Day 8 (June 3): Canakkale / Troy / Bursa This morning we will depart from the hotel and drive to the village of Tevfikiye by the southern end of the Dardanelles to see the remains of the legendary city of Troy. Settled as early as 3000 BC, the ancient city of Troy was made famous by Homer’s Iliad, the epic account of the Trojan War. Afterwards we continue to the city of Bursa through rich farmlands and along the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara. Dinner and overnight in Bursa.
Day 9 (June 4): Bursa / Nicea / Istanbul After enjoying our Turkish breakfast, we will drive to the modern town of Iznik, ancient Nicea, a little town set beside a picturesque lake, historically famous for hosting the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD. Upon arrival, visit the City Walls from Roman and Byzantine periods, then proceed to visit the remains of the St. Sophia Mosque, the site of the Second Council of Nicea in 787 AD, and see the remains of the mosaic floor and frescoes. Continue to Camlica hill in Asian Istanbul from where you can catch the overall view of the city with the beautiful scenery of the Bosphorus. Afterward, embark on a cruise of the Bosphorus, the winding strait that separates Europe and Asia and connects the Black Sea with the inland Sea of Marmara. This is our time to relish the views of the old wooden mansions, the Ottoman palaces, and ancient fortresses that dot the river’s coast. We will dock on the European side of Istanbul and drive to our hotel. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 10 (June 5): Istanbul – City Tour After enjoying our Turkish breakfast, we will depart from our hotel and begin our tour of the historical highlights of Istanbul. First, we will stroll through Hippodrome Square, the former sporting and social center of Constantinople, that hosted chariot races during the Roman period. Afterward, we are off to witness the incredible majesty and splendor of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Popularly known as the Blue Mosque, this 17th century Ottoman sanctuary is adorned with six minarets and more than 20,000 hand-painted tiles from Iznik, ancient Nicea. And then we will walk directly across from the mosque to visit the domed masterpiece of Hagia Sophia. Afterward, we will head to Topkapi Palace. Located on the very cape of the peninsula where Constantinople was founded, Topkapi Palace is the former abode of Ottoman Sultans that still houses their legion of treasures, including an extensive collection of royal jewels. Afterwards, we will end our day with an evening of adventure at the Grand Bazaar, the massive covered market that houses a labyrinth of streets lined with 3,700 shops selling jewelry, leather products, and many other handcrafted souvenirs. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 11 (June 6): Istanbul – Departure Today, we transfer to the Istanbul Airport where we fly back home.
NOTE: Schedule is subject to change due to various factors and your tour guide’s discretion.