July 11: Pergamum
Today we drive north to Pergamum, one of the Seven Churches in Revelation. Revelation refers to Pergamum as the place "where Satan's throne is." This is not surprising since Pergamum was well known for its many temples, and as the city that became the site of the first cult of a living Roman emperor. At the time John wrote Revelation, Christians were suffering persecution for refusing to worship the emperor Domitian. We will visit the acropolis with its many temples, and the Asklepion, one of the famous healing sanctuaries in the ancient world.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Kaya, Izmir
July 12: Smyrna and Sardis
Today we begin with a trip to the remains ancient Smyrna. The Christians in Smyrna are one of only two churches in Revelation that received only praise and no criticism. Two traits characterized this congregation: persecution and poverty. An example of the former is the death of Polycarp, the local Christian bishop, who was put to death here for his faith in Jesus in A.D. 156. We will see the ancient remains of the city's agora.
Our second tour site is the ancient city of Sardis, another one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Jesus told Sardis, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead" (Rev. 3: 1-6). Once the capital of a powerful empire, Sardis is credited with being the first city in antiquity to devise the necessary technology to mint coins and to dye wool. Compared to several of the sites we have visited, much of ancient Sardis remains. One can see the foundation and the massive columns of the Temple of Artemis, which was converted into a small chapel by the early Christians, the city's gymnasium, and what was once the largest Jewish synagogue in Asia Minor.
Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi at the the Charisma Deluxe Hotel
July 13: Patmos
Today we board our private boat that will take us on a special journey to the island of Patmos. It was here that John was exiled for his faith, and wrote the book of Revelation. In Patmos we will visit the cave where tradition says he received his vision. We will also visit the monastery of St. John.
Lunch is included at a lovely cafe on Patmos.
Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi at the Charisma Deluxe Hotel
July 14: Ephesus
Our last full day of touring will be extra special since we will visit one of the most important archaeological sites in the world—ancient Ephesus. Ephesus was once the most important commercial city in Asia Minor. The Apostle Paul spent nearly 3 years in Ephesus, before he was driven out of the city by a riot stirred up by Demetrius the silversmith (Acts 19:23-34). It is from this city that Paul wrote his letters to the Corinthians. In addition to walking the streets of this ancient city and visiting the theater, we will also visit the famous Terrace Houses, the place were the most important people of Ephesus lived. We will also visit the remains of the ancient Temple of Artemis.
Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi at the Charisma Deluxe Hotel.
July 15: Swimming in the Aegean and Heading Home
After three weeks traveling through the Bible Lands, our trip has nearly come to an end. Our last event together will be a private morning swim in teh Aegean on our own private boat. We will get to enjoy the beautiful weather, the crystal clear water, while reflecting on our amazing journey!
After lunch, we head to Izmir where we will catch a later afternoon flight to Istanbul. After a three hour layover, we fly to Dubai at 7:25 pm on Emirates #122 and arrive 4:35 minutes later at 1:00 am (July 16). We then have a 12:00 hour layover. Since our layover is so long, we qualify for a free hotel. So we will head into Dubai for some rest. Our flight back to Seattle leaves at 9:55 am am on Emirates #229. It is a 14:35 flight, arriving in Seattle at 1:25 pm (July 16)---what a long flight, but at last we are back in the USA!
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