THE EARLY CHURCHES & BYZANTIUM

  • Duration:9 NIGHTS/10 DAYS
  • Highlights:Istanbul, Seven Churches of Asia Minor and the Sacred Island
  • Tour Inclusions:
    • Airfare NYC – Istanbul – NYC
    • Flight Istanbul- Izmir
    • Accommodations in first class hotels
    • Hydrofoil to Patmos
    • Buffet breakfast and dinner daily
    • English speaking guide throughout
    • Comprehensive sightseeing as listed
    • Transportation by private air-conditioned motor coach
    • Baggage handling of one bag per person
    • Select International Travel Portfolio

DAY 1: DEPART U.S.A.

Depart on an overnight flight to Turkey.

DAY 2: ISTANBUL

Arrive in Istanbul late morning. You are greeted by your guide and transferred to the hotel. Balance of the afternoon is at leisure to become acclimated to a new time zone. You may wish to visit the Grand Bazaar and bargain for countless treasures. Overnight Istanbul. (B.D.)

DAY 3: ISTANBUL- NICAEA

Situated on two continentals, Europe and Asia. Ancient Byzantium became Constantinopolis in the 4th century, the “New Rome” and Christian Capital of Eastern Roman Empire, lasting over a millennium. In 1453 from the most important Christian city it passed to Islam under the rule of the Ottoman Sultans. Today you plunge into history and discover the principal Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. We visit the spice market and the Church of St. Saviour in the Chora Monastery. The Mosaics and frescoes inside are masterpieces of Byzantine art. We travel to historic Iznik (Nicaea). The first Ecumenical Council was held here in 325 at the palace of Constantine on the shore of the lake. This Council condemned the heresy of Bishop Arius and affirmed the human and divine nature of Jesus. Also, the creed of Nicaea was set forth. Nicaea was known for its magnificent tile, and you have the opportunity to purchase beautiful pottery here. Back in the city we visit the church of St. Sophia, now a museum. Built by Justinian in the sixth century, it hosted the seventh Ecumenical Council in 787. St. Sophia was the largest church in Christendom, for a 1000 years. The church has 107 columns; fossil embedded white marble floors and beautiful glass mosaics, now it is home to Byzantine art. We proceed to the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and sparkling interior tile decoration.

DAY 4: ISTANBUL- PATRIARCHY

Drive to Topkapi Palace, built on the ancient location of the Byzantine Acropolis, and home of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years. You see the splendid Porcelain Collection and the Sultan’s Treasury. At the entrance of Topkapi Palace we visit the Church of St.Irene built by Justinian in 537 AD. It is now used as a concert hall. Constantine built the first church here in 330. The second Ecumenical Council was held here in 381. The foundations of St. Irene are on a Roman Temple to Aphrodite, and it has the honor of being the oldest church in Istanbul. In the afternoon we have a meeting at the Byzantine Patriarchy, to explore how the once powerful Byzantine Orthodox Church survives in modern age Turkey. Overnight Istanbul. (B.D.)

DAY 5: ISTANBUL- IZMIR- PERGAMUM- THYATIRA

Depart on an early morning flight to Izmir (Smyrna), one of the seven churches.  Before leaving for Bergama or Pergamum, we visit St. Polycarp’s Church,one of the seven churches. We will visit the majestic Acropolis, the foundations of Zeus, the Temple to Athena, the ruins of the library, the Grand Theater, the ruins of the so-called Red Court, the Church of St. John, the Health Center, and museum. This was the most favored of the early churches and Christianity reached the city very early. In Pergamum, the first Christians were executed by Romans. We will have lunch and then go to Thyatira. It was a busy trading center and famous as a “seller of purple”. Thyatira is one of the Seven Churches of Asia and Paul may have visited the town during his missionary journeys. We then drive back to Izmir and stay overnight. (B.D.)

DAY 6: SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA – HEIROPOLIS- PAMUKKALE

After breakfast we drive to Sardis, another of the seven churches. This church was berated by John for its facade of strength when in reality it was weak. In Sardis, coins were minted and the dyeing of wool originated. You will be impressed by the size of the gymnasium, the synagogue, the white marble road, the massive scale of the temple of Artemis in ruins and the church near it with round walls and arched windows. We then travel to Philadelphia, one of the seven churches, referred to as “New Jerusalem”. Continue to Hieropolis, the city of mineral springs. Christianity was brought to Hieropolis by Paul .We see the long row of Roman ruins covering more than a mile, the impressive amphitheater, city gates, column lined streets, a Christian basilica, and the ruins of St. Philip. This was built to honor the martyred Apostle Philip. The area, known as Pamukkale, is so named after the limestone-laden hot springs, which cascade from one white edged terrace pool to the next. Overnight Pamukkale. (B.D.)

DAY 7: LAODICEA- COLOSSAE- MILETUS – KUSADASI

Today we go to Laodicea. This is one of the seven churches. The church was chastised for being lukewarm “You are neither cold nor hot” and for being too comfortable incorporating pagan and Christian beliefs. Next we go to Colossae. The town is in obscurity, as it has not been excavated. The church here was the recipient of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Next we go to Miletus. On his return to Jerusalem, completing his third Missionary Journey, Paul visited with the elders of Ephesus. The day ends along the blue Aegean Sea. Overnight Kusadasi. (B.D.)

DAY 8: PATMOS

Today we take a ferry to the island of Patmos. Here St. John the Divine received the mystical revelation, which forms the last book of the New Testament. You visit the Grotto of the Revelation and the 11th century Monastery of St. John, which houses the original manuscript of the Gospel.  We return to Kusadasi for overnight. (B.D.)

DAY 9: EPHESUS- IZMIR- ISTANBUL

Our first stop is Ephesus, one of the seven churches. During the first century AD, Ephesus was the largest and the most important city in antiquity. St. Paul came to Ephesus in 53 AD.  For three years he preached the Gospel and gained followers, first in synagogues and then everywhere in the city. He also established the church of Ephesus. We visit the church of St. John. In the fourth century, a wooden church was built over his tomb. The emperor Justinian enlarged the church from 527-565. John and the mother of Jesus lived in Ephesus. Mary died in Ephesus and a church was built in her honor. The third Ecumenical Council was held in Ephesus at this church in 431. This Council decreed that the Virgin Mary came here with John and died in this area. Before proceeding to the marvelous ruins of many ancient cities built in Ephesus, you will visit the house of Mary. Step back in time as you walk through the streets of this ancient city and marvel at the beauty of the well preserved public buildings, the baths, the temple of Hadrian, the great theater, the library of Celsus, the Agora, the temple of Artemis, and more. In the afternoon depart for Izmir and our flight to Istanbul. Overnight Istanbul. (B.D.)

DAY 10: RETURN TO U.S.A.

After breakfast, we drive to the airport and board our return flight home (B.)

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