The apostle Paul is considered the second-most influential figure in Christian history after Jesus himself. Asia Minor, or Anatolia, is where many of the events associated with Paul’s life and ministry took place. Paul was a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, one of our stops. From Antioch to Miletus we will follow the routes traveled during his journeys by land and sea. We will see some of the Roman roads upon which he walked. At each site we will explore the archaeological realia still remaining. In museums we will encounter the artifacts that the apostle saw and touched. Unique to this tour is that for the first time we will stay at the new archaeology hotels recently opened in Antakya and Antalya. Please join me for this exciting two-week adventure tracing the footsteps of Paul in Turkey.
April 23, Saturday: Depart from the USA – Fly to Istanbul
April 24, Sunday: Arrive Istanbul Airport
Your tour guide will meet you at the Istanbul Airport with a “BAS – TUTKU” sign. Meet and transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight. The next day you will explore the wonders of Istanbul. (D)
April 25, Monday: Istanbul
You will start at the Hippodrome and see the monuments on its spina. Nearby is the historic Blue Mosque. After briefly stopping at the Golden Mile of the Egnatian Way, uou will visit the magnificent Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From there you will visit the historic Hagia Irene Church. Afterwards you will walk to Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum—one of the most celebrated collections in the world. Among its treasures are the Siloam inscription, the Gezer calendar, and the Thanatos inscription from Jerusalem’s temple mount. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. (B,D)
April 26, Tuesday: Transfer for flight to Hatay – Tel Tayinat/Atchana – Antioch Hippodrome – Antakya
Early Morning flight to Hatay airport; we begin with site visits at Tel Tayinat and Tel Atchana; after lunch where you will taste Antakya’s famous dessert, künefe, we will visit the hippodrome and temple site with a local archaeologist; finally, we tour the museum and the archaeology hotel in Antakya for dinner and overnight. (D)
April 27, Wednesday: Antioch – Seleucia – Antakya
First you will visit the grotto Church of St. Peter where Jesus followers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). At the new Antakya Archaeological Museum you will see one of richest collections of mosaics in the world. Drive to After lunch, you will go to the Seleucia Pieria, the port town from which Paul and Barnabas departed and returned on their first journey (Acts 13:4). There we will see the Titus, one of Rome’s engineering wonders. If time allows, we will visit the monastery complex of Simon Stylites. Dinner and overnight at archaeology hotel in Antakya. (B,D)
April 28, Thursday: Tarsus – Adana Museum – Adana
Drive through Cilicia to Tarsus, the home of the Apostle Paul. There you will visit the Roman baths and see the ancient bridge over the Cydnus River. You will next visit the Cardo Maximus street of the Roman city and then Donuktaş, one of the largest temples of the ancient world. After lunch you will drive to Adana to walk across the Sarus River on the Roman bridge and visit the Adana Archaeology Museum. Dinner and overnight in Adana. (B,D)
April 29, Friday: Cilician Gates – Derbe – Lystra – Iconium – Konya
We first pass through the Cilician Gates in the Taurus Mountains and then continue to Derbe visited three times by Paul visited(Acts 14:20). We continue to Lystra, the home of Timothy, visted by Paul on his three journeys. After a short drive to Iconium, we will first visit the ancient acropolis in Konya’s city center and then visit the archaeological museum and its important inscriptions mentioning Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Dinner and overnight in Konya. (B,D)
April 30, Saturday: Pisidian Antioch – Antalya
You will depart early for Yalvaç, the site of the Roman colony of Pisidian Antioch. Paul visited this city on his three missionary journeys. His first recorded sermon in Acts 13 addressed the congregation of Jews and Godfearers in the synagogue. You will also visit the St. Paul Room in the Yalvaç Museum. Then you will make a scenic drive through the Pisidian lake country before descending through the Taurus Mountains to the plain of Pamphylia. Dinner and overnight in Antalya. (B,D)
May 1, Sunday: Perga – Attalia – Antalya
You will begin with a visit to Perga visited by Paul and Barnabas on their first journey (Acts 13:13-14). There you will see its well-preserved stadium and colonnaded street divided by a water channel. Returning to Antalya, you will see Hadrian’s Gate and the Roman mausoleum of ancient Attalia. After lunch at the St. Paul Cultural Center, you will visit Antalya’s renowned archaeological museum. Later in the afternoon you will take a boat ride from the port that Paul and Barnabas sailed from at the end of the first journey (Acts 14:25). Dinner and overnight in Antalya. (B,D)
May 2, Monday: Apamea – Colossae – Laodicea – Pamukkale
You will then drive inland again over the Taurus Mountains to Apamea and follow Paul’s route to Colossae. Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 3:14–22) and addressed by Paul (Col. 4:13-16). Then you will drive to the unexcavated site of Colossaeon the foothills of Mount Honaz, to which Paul wrote the letters to the Colossians and Philemon. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (B,D)
May 3, Tuesday: Hierapolis – Tralles – Magnesia – Kuşadası
At Hierapolis you will walk through its extensive necropolis, then see its well-preserved theater as well as Philip’s Martyrium and basilica (Col. 4:13). Later traveling westward down the fertile Meander valley, you will visit the archaeological museum at Aydın, ancient Tralles, and later visit Magnesia on the Meander. These cities had churches, later addressed by Ignatius in the early second century A.D., that were probably started during Paul’s time in Ephesus. Dinner and overnight in Kuşadası. (B,D)
May 4, Wednesday: Miletus – Didyma – Priene – Kuşadası
You will first visit Miletus with its four harbors and well-preserved theater originally built in the Hellenistic period and expanded in Roman times. Paul made a farewell speech here to the elders of Ephesus on the return leg of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:17–35). We will also visit briefly its small but informative archaeological museum. You will then visit Didyma, home to the Temple of Apollo, one of Turkey’s best-preserved ancient temples. After lunch you will drive to Priene, the best-preserved Hellenistic city in Turkey. We will visit the Jewish synagogue, whose excavation was funded by the Biblical Archaeology Society and Dr. Wilson was a member of the excavation team. Return to Kuşadası for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
May 5, Thursday: Ephesus – Ephesus Museum – St. John’s Basilica – Izmir
Today will likely be the high point of the tour for most of the group, as we visit the impressive biblical site of Ephesus. You will take a walking tour starting in the upper city at the State Agora, then walking downward to the iconic Library of Celsus and Tetragonos Agora. You will make a slight detour to see the exquisite terrace houses where the rich and famous citizens of Ephesus lived. Your city tour ends at the theater where 24,000 citizens shouted “Great is Artemis!” in a riot started in response to Paul’s ministry there (Acts 19:1–20:1). We will stop briefly to view the remains of the Artemis Temple, formerly one of seven wonders of the ancient world. In the afternoon you will visit the Church of St. John, where tradition holds that theapostle and revelator was buried. Nearby is the Ephesus Museum housing important artefacts from Ephesus. Dinner and overnight in İzmir. (B,D)
May 6, Friday: Smyrna – Izmir
Ancient Smyrna is the second of the seven churches (Rev. 2:8–11). We will first visit archaic Smyrna located at Bayraklı. Then we will visit the Agora and its important collection of Greek graffiti, the largest from the ancient Greek East. We conclude with a brief visit to the archaeology museum in the fairgrounds. Lunch on your own with free time in the afternoon. You may wish to visit St Polycarp Church or wander around the Kemeralti Bazaar. Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant with overnight in Izmir (B,D)
May 7, Saturday: Transfer to Izmir Airport (ADB) for flight back to the USA
Mark Wilson (D.Litt. et Phil., University of South Africa) is an American scholar who has lived in Turkey with his wife Dindy since 2004. He is the founder and director of two organizations—the Seven Churches Network and the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya. Their purpose is to promote the study of early Judaism and Christianity in Asia Minor within the context of the Greco-Roman world. Wilson regularly leads study trips to the biblical sites in Turkey and other countries in the eastern Mediterranean. He has also conducted several seminars for Turkish tour guides on Turkey’s biblical heritage. Wilson is the author and editor of over a dozen books including four studies on the book of Revelation.
He has also authored many articles on Jews and Christians in Asia Minor (available on www.academia.edu). Other articles can be found in the ESV Archaeology Bible and the Lexham Geographic Commentary Acts through Revelation. He is a member of nine academic societies, and has been involved in video projects on Ephesus, St. Nicholas, the Seven Churches, and Paul’s Journeys. His research interests include ancient synagogues as well as ancient roads and biblical routes. Mark and his wife Dindy have four adult children, four grandsons and four granddaughters.
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