6-Night Turkey Extension

 Churches of Asia Minor

This morning our group flies to Izmir in Turkey. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel before visiting Smyrna, Turkey's second largest tourist center. Izmir serves as the capital of popular Aegean resorts and has an abundance of archaeological sites and natural wonders on its outskirts. Izmir itself is a city that has contributed to mythology and historic remains prove its importance to ancient history. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Kusadasi.

Departure for a full day visit to Kusadasi, Ephesus of ancient and Biblical times, was the site of one of the seven wonders of the world (Temple of Artemis) and one of the seven churches of Revelation. Once the most important city in Asia Minor, it was where the Virgin Mary took refuge with Saint John after the Crucifixion and where She lived out last years of her life. St. John is believed to be buried in Ephesus, in a large basilica dedicated to him. This city was the richest of the area and today's ruins bear testimony to its wealth, with marble paved streets, arches of shops, temples and villas of the riches. Overnight in Kusadasi.

Departure for Pammukkale. Drive through the valley of Maender and visits of Aphrodisia and Laodicea, and of Hellenistic and Christian Hierapolis. Pammukkale, "Cotton Castle", formed by hot mineral waters cascading down a hillside, snow white terraces, each holding a small pool of turquoise water. Hierapolis is an ancient spa town on the top of a hill. Visitors can swim among the marble Roman columns in a pool considered to have miraculous healing power. Dinner and overnight in Pammukkale or Denisli.

Departure for Bergama. Visit Philadelphia, Thyatira, and Sardis, going back to the 13th Century BC has well preserved ruins including the gold refineries of Croesus, the gates which Alexander the great laid siege to, and a palace where an ancient queen fell in love with Hercules. Dominating these ruins are the remains of a newly restored colossal synagogue, the largest of its kind found. Overnight in Bergama.

Departure for Izmir. Visit of Bergama, ancient Pergamum, where parchment was first made. Its library was so famous that Cleopatra asked Anthony to give it to her, also famous was Asclepion, the health spa dedicated to the god of healing. People from all over the ancient world came to be cured of their ills, mental or physical. The well preserved ruins of the Acropolis and the Asclepion still draw thousands of visitors from all corners of the world. Transfer to Izmir Airport for the flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel for dinner.

Visit the church of St. Savior one of the earliest and most important churches in Istanbul and famous for its mosaics, then the Byzantine Hippodrome in which you see the obelisk brought from Egypt by Theodosius, and the bronze Serpent Column taken from Delphi by Constantine. The Blue Mosque, which has six minarets and a middle dome of 109 feet, is the next stop before Saint Sophia, an originally Christian Basilica conceived by Constantine and rebuilt by Justinian, then turned into a Mosque in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. The Basilica is now a museum. In the afternoon, visit Topkapi Palace which served as the home of Ottoman Sultans for 400 years. Now it serves as a museum with an exquisite collection of porcelain and Ottoman treasures. Return to the hotel for dinner.

Morning transfer to Istanbul airport for your return flight.


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