July 9: 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.
In the afternoon, we will visit Miletus, home of ancient philosopher Thales (640-546 B.C.), one of the fathers of Greek geometry, astronomy, and philosophy. It was here, in the first Christian century, that St. Paul, on his third missionary journey, called for the Ephesian elders and preached a powerful message to them (Acts 20:15-38). At the conclusion of his address he quoted an otherwise unknown saying of Jesus that has become famous, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). It was also here that St. Paul left his friend Trophimus, who was too ill to continue on his journey with Paul (II Timothy 4:20).
July 10: Private Boat and Swim: Morning
After breakfast, we head off for a carefree morning on our own private boat ride. We will stop at small cove, where we will be able enjoy some free time swimming or sunbathing in the Aegean Sea. Once we are finished, we will head back to the hotel to shower and grab our luggage as we head off to catch our early afternoon flight to Istanbul.
July 10: Istanbul: Evening
After arriving in Istanbul and enjoying supper at our hotel, we will head out for a beautiful evening cruise on the Bosphorus.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Armada.
July 11: Istanbul
On the last day of our summer tour, we will visit four fascinating sites in Istanbul. We will first experience the magnificent colors, fragrances, and sounds of the ancient Spice Market. Built in 1664, the Spice Market was the final stop on the Silk Road. Like visitors of old you will be fascinated with its rich variety of exotic spices, teas, and a host of other intriguing souvenirs. Next we will visit the Blue Mosque, which Sultan Ahmet built in 1609. It is called the Blue Mosque due to the interior walls that are covered with twenty thousand blue Iznik tiles. From here we will visit the ancient Hippodrome with all its magnificent monuments.
In the afternoon, we visit the Underground Cistern, which is a massive underground water cavern of beautiful arches and Roman support columns, which used to be the Byzantine city’s main water storage when it was under siege or suffering in hard times.
The highlight of our day, however, will be the Hagia Sophia. Built by the Emperor Justinian I in 573, the Hagia Sophia was the largest and most beautiful Christian church for nearly one thousand years. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the church was converted into a mosque. Although it turned into a museum after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it was reestablished as a mosque again in 2020.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Armada.
June 12: Flight Home
After nearly four weeks traveling through the Bible Lands, our trip has come to an end. While it will be good to be home, you'll never forget the experience we shared together.