July 3: Pool of Abraham and Gobekli Tepe
During the morning in Sanliurfa we will visit the place where according to Islamic tradition Abraham was born. We will stop at the pools of Abraham, where Nimrod is said to have cast Abraham into a huge fire pit that turned to a pool of water.
After lunch, we will drive to Gobeklitepe to see its enormous, prehistoric temple. The complex was constructed in circular format with a number of stones, like Stonehenge. While Stonehendge was built around 3000 BC, the temple in Gobekli is said to be 7000 years early--built in 12,000 BC.
After our visit, we will drive to Hatay, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
July 4: Antioch
Antioch is the city where the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians.” The believers in Antioch, many of whom had fled there from persecution in Jerusalem after the death of Stephen (Acts 11:19), were the first to welcome gentiles into the church (Acts 11:20-21). With such strong support for reaching gentiles, the apostle Paul made Antioch the headquarters for his missionary journeys across the eastern Roman empire (Acts 13:1-14:28; 15:36-18:22; 18:23-38). It was also in Antioch that the apostle Paul rebuked Peter for no longer eating with the gentile converts when Jewish Christians arrived from Jersualem (Gal 2:11-14). In the morning, we will visit the cave church where early Christians worshipped and tour the Antakya Museum.
After lunch we will also reflect on Paul’s missionary zeal as we visit Seleucia Pireaus, the harbor from which Paul sailed on his first three missionary journeys recorded in Acts (Acts 13:4). Dinner and overnight in Adana.
July 5: Tarsus
Today we visit Tarsus, the capital of the Roman Province of Cilicia, which is situated between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to being the hometown of St. Paul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), it was also the city St. Paul returned to after his escape from Jerusalem (Acts 9:30). Barnabas found St. Paul in the city and enlisted him to service at Antioch (Acts 11:25ff). St. Paul may have visited on his Second and Third Missionary Journeys (Acts 15:41; 18:22-23). During our time in Tarsus, we will visit St. Paul's Well, the Gate of Cleopatra, and the latest excavations. Later in the day we will drive to Cappadocia, where we will stay in a cave hotel!
July 6: Cappadocia
Discover the wonder of Cappadocia’s unique fantasy-like landscape with its winding valleys, fairy chimneys and carved cave churches decorated with incredible frescoes. This region, which was once the heart of the ancient Hittite Kingdom, is the result of soft volcanic rock that has been eroded through wind and weather to form all sorts of unusual pillars, cones, and other formations. Our first stop will be Uchisar Castle, where we will have a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding area. Next we visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum with its valley houses, churches, and monasteries carved out of rock. Our final stop will be to the most impressive “fairy chimneys” in the Pasabag Valley. If you are adventurous you can even do a little climbing into some of these amazing structures.
Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
July 7: Avanos and the Kaymakli Underground City
Our second day in Cappadocia begins with a stop at the charming town of Avanos, which is well-known for its pottery, a craft that dates back to the Hittite period. After visiting Galip's famous pottery shop, we stop at the Kaymakli Underground City, where Christians fled invading armies from the 7th to the 12th centuries. Kaymakli has eight underground levels, though we will only explore the first four. From here take a flight to Izmir.
Dinner and Overnight at the Kaya Thermal Hotel in Izmir.