July 8: Pergamum and Thyatira
Today we drive to Pergamum, another of the Seven Churches in Revelation. Pergamum is referred to as the place "where Satan’s throne” is located and where he “dwells” (Acts 2:13). Such a description is fitting since Pergamum was home to many pagan temples and it was also where the first cult of a living Roman emperor arose. At the time John wrote Revelation, Christians were suffering persecution for refusing to worship the emperor Domitian. The archaeological remains in Pergamum are impressive. We will take a cable car to the Acropolis, with its stunning view of the entire region. We will see many temples, and be amazed at the steep mountainside theater, where the stage is 122 feet below the top row of seats. After leaving the Acropolis, we will visit the Asklepion, one of the most famous healing sanctuaries in the ancient world.
Our final stop is the city of Thyatira, which was once a busy trading center and famous as a "seller of purple" in the ancient world. Today it is a famous for Persian rugs. Thyatira is one of the Seven Churches mentioned in Revelations tolerated the false prophetess, Jezebel (Rev. 1: 11; 2: 18-29).
Dinner and Overnight at the Kaya Thermal Hotel in Izmir.
July 9: Smyrna, Sardis, and Philadelphia
Our day begins with a trip to ancient Smyrna, which is located in the modern city of Izmir. Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only churches in Revelation which received no criticism. Although persecuted, they remained faithful, as did Polycarp, a local Christian bishop, who was put to death in A.D. 156 for his faith in Jesus. In Smyrna we will see the remains of the Ancient Agora.
Next we travel to Sardis, which has some of the most stunning archaeological remains of the Seven Churches. We will see a temple dedicated to Artemis, a large gymnasium, several small shops along a colonnaded street, and what was once the largest Jewish synagogue in Asia Minor.
From Sardis we travel to Philadelphia. All that remains of ancient Philadelphia is a few columns from a Byzantine church, on which some frescoes are still visible.
Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale at the Colossae Thermal Hotel.
July 10: Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae
In the morning we will visit Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient city was called Hierapolis. It is a city Paul mentions in Colossians (4:13). Hierapolis was known as a place of healing due to its hot springs which were thought to have medicinal properties. The high mineral content of its thermal springs has resulted in spectacular white-colored calcified cliffs that look like snow. We will walk in the shallow pools of water along these beautiful terraces and see the remains of the ancient city.
After lunch we will first stop at Laodicea, and one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Laodicea, known in Revelation as the church that was lukewarm in its faith (Rev 14:22), is an exciting place to visit since it is quickly being rebuilt. We will see remains of two theaters, temples, an agora, churches, a stadium, and even walk on colonnaded streets. Close by is the smaller city Colossae, the town to which Paul wrote two letters, Colossians and Philemon. Paul asked the believers in Colossae to welcome back a runaway slave named Onesimus as a fellow brother in Christ and grant him his freedom.
Dinner and overnight at the Charisma Deluxe Hotel in Kusadasi.
July 11: Ephesus
Our tour today takes us to the most amazing Biblical site in all of Turkey – Ephesus, the famous city that was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the most important commercial city in Asia Minor, Ephesus was a bustling port town of some 250,000 residents. Evidence of the city’s importance can still be be seen in its beautifully colonnaded streets paved with marble and its impressive monuments. In addition to being one of the Seven Churches in Revelation (Rev 2:1-7), Ephesus is also connected to the ministry of the apostle Paul. The apostle spent nearly three years in the city, during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1-20:1). It was at that time that Paul learned about the problems in Corinth and wrote 1 Corinthians.
We will see the Agora where the Christians gathered, the theater, which held up to twenty-five thousand people, the Library of Celsus, and the famous gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates, which was built in 4 BC to honor a visit from the Emperor Augustus. We we will also explore the famous Terrace Houses, the elegant homes that once belonged to the city’s most prominent inhabitants. We will also see the remains of the Temple of Artemis and the latest archaeological remains on display in the Museum of Ephesus.