Tour Itinerary: Days 18-21

July 7: Turkey 

After a relaxing morning, we head to Tel Aviv to catch a late morning flight to Istanbul, Turkey. After a short layover in the Istanbul airport, we will catch a connecting flight to to Kayseri.

Dinner and overnight at the Double Tree by Hilton - Hotel Avanos.

July 8: Cappadocia

Located in Central Anatolia, Cappadocia was part of the "land bridge" connecting Europe and Asia--making it the place where a dozen empires have risen and fallen as they marched through this region. Today Cappadocia is most famous for some of the most amazing photogenic landscapes in the world--a wonderful reminder on Sabbath that God is our Creator.

During our visit we will explore the rock formations in the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys, the Citadel of Uchisar, and Goreme's breathtaking cave churches illuminated with resplendent Christian paintings and symbols.

Dinner and overnight at the Double Tree by Hilton - Hotel Avanos.

July 9: The Churches of Galatia

In addition to the 3,500 cave churches in Cappadocia, Christians also built underground cities to escape from persecution and invading armies. We begin our day by visiting one of these underground cities--the city of Kaymakli. Cities like this descend ten to twenty stories into the earth and feature carved rooms for kitchens, sleeping quarters, stables, and chapels for worship. While we wont' go all the way down, we will get to go about four stories underground, if you are willing!

After leaving Kaymakli, we head across central Turkey through the area known in the book of Acts as Galatia. In addition to traveling through Iconinum, we will stop at Pisidian Antioch, where the apostle Paul visited and preached as recorded in Acts 13. 

Dinner and overnight at the Pamukkale - Colossae Thermal.

July 10: Hierapolis, Laodicea, Colossae, Philadelphia

Today we visit the three churches in the Lycus River Valley: Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae. Hierapolis is mentioned once in the Bible at the end of Paul's letter to the Colossians. According to the earliest Christian tradition, Hierapolis was the home of Philip the Evangelist. The city was well known in antiquity for its hot springs that were believed to have medicinal properties. The high mineral content of the hot springs have also resulted in spectacular white-colored calcified cliffs that have the appearance of snow from a distance. 

Our next stop is the famed city of Laodicea, located only a few miles away. Laodicea had a thriving textile industry, a medical school that produced a eye-lotion used as an eye-salve and as a cosmetic, and was a major banking center. While the gospel once energized this city (Col. 4:15), by the end of the first century Laodicea had become spiritually dead--though they thought they were alive. In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus said to the Laodiceans, "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth." We will witness the newest excavations that are rapidly taking place there as well as visit the site that is already full of interesting remains.

Just a few miles away from Laodicea is ancient Colossae. Although Paul had not visited the city he wrote two letters to them several years later when he heard of some of the challenges they were facing. The first letter is Colossians, a general letter to the church warning them of false teachings. The second letter is written to Philemon, one of the members in Colossae. Paul appeals to Philemon to welcome back a runaway slave named Onesimus--not merely as a slave, but to grant him his freedom and accept him as a fellow brother in Christ. Unfortunately, little remains from ancient Colossae since the city has never been excavated.

Our final tour site is the remains of the ancient city of Philadelphia. Besides Smyrna, Philadelphia is the only other church in Revelation to receive no criticism. We will see the remains of the Byzantine Church of St. John the Theologian.

Dinner and overnight Hotel Kaya, Izmir

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