Seven Churches of Revelation, Nicaea & Istanbul

May 15 - 27, 2021
- David A. deSilva, Ph.D.

Western Turkey was the cradle of the early Christian church. This area was the centerpiece of Paul’s mission and and an area to which he devoted a great deal of his time and energy. His ministry in the region was so productive that it could be said that “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). It was also the sphere of ministry of the uncompromising prophet John, who wrote his Revelation to open the eyes of Christians living in seven cities in the province of Asia to the challenges of living faithfully under Roman imperialism. When Ignatius, the bishop of the church in Antioch-on-the-Orontes, was on his way to Rome for execution, he was visited by delegations from the Christian communities in Ephesus, Tralles, Magnesia, Smyrna, and Philadelphia. The letters he wrote to encourage these congregations open windows into their ongoing life and challenges. The numerous churches established during this time continued to thrive through the bitter persecutions of the Roman Imperial period and to see the triumph of Christianity when Constantine the emperor embraced the faith and the world was forever changed. Join me on this trip as we visit these sites and trace the history of the earliest church from Paul to the Council of Nicaea.


May 15, Saturday
Depart New York – Fly Istanbul

May 16, Sunday: Arrive Istanbul – Take connection flight to Izmir
Arrive Izmir Airport. Your tour guide will meet you after the baggage claim with a “BAS – TUTKU” sign. Meet and transfer to the hotel in city center. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (D)

May 17, Monday: Ephesus – Kusadasi
After breakfast you will leave Izmir and drive to Ephesus, the first of the Seven Churches, for a visit. You will see the amazing ruins of this great city: the theater, the library, the Temple of Hadrian and the newly excavated Roman Terrace Houses. You will also visit the Cave Church of Paul and Thecla which is closed to the public. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. (B,D)

May 18, Tuesday: Magnesia – Tralles – Nysa – Kusadasi
Visit Magnesia and Tralles, two early cities where Christianity flourished in the first century. Ignatius wrote letters to churches in these cities on his way to martyrdom. Then visit the new Aydin Archaeological Museum. Continue the journey to the ancient city of Nysa with its beautiful library, theater and odeon. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. (B,D)

May 19, Wednesday: Priene – Miletus – Aphrodisias – Pamukkale
Drive south to visit the Greco-Roman site of Priene. Then, visit Miletus the site of the theater where Paul spoke to Ephesian elders. Then, drive to Aphrodisias, which is excavated by the New York University. See the Agora, Theater, Stadium, and Hadrian Baths. Then visit the Aphrodisias Museum. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (B,D)

May 20, Thursday: Colossae – Laodicea – Hierapolis – Pamukkale
After breakfast you will drive to unexcavated Colosse (Paul’s letter to the Colossians) on the foothills of Mount Honaz. Then, you will continue to Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Finally, you will visit Hierapolis where you will visit the monuments, thermal baths and the theater with its well preserved stage and Philip’s Tomb. Dinner and overnight will be in Pamukkale. (B,D)

May 21, Friday: Philadelphia – Sardis – Izmir
After breakfast you will travel to Philadelphia, now called Alasehir. We’ll see remains of a Byzantine basilica as well as some eleventh century frescoes. Philadelphia and Smyrna were the only two churches among the Seven about which nothing bad was said by John. From there we’ll travel to Sardis , one of the most picturesque areas of any of the Seven Churches. You’ll see the remains of the Temple of Artemis as well as a small Byzantine church. Finally, you will proceed to Izmir (ancient Smyrna), one of the Seven Churches and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. You’ll check in to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)

May 22, Saturday: Thyatira – Pergamum – Assos
Drive to Akhisar to visit the remains of the Thyatira church. Drive to Bergama which is the site of ancient Pergamum, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. You will visit the Acropolis there and see the impressive theater, the Temple of Athena, and the ruins of Asklepion, the ancient healing center. Continue to Assos for dinner and overnight. (B,D)

May 23, Sunday: Alexander Troas – Troy – Bursa
Visit the panoramic Temple of Athena in Assos and the Temple of Apollo Smintheon at Gulpinar. Continue to Odun Iskelesi to visit the site and the port of Alexandria-Troas where Paul raised the boy, Eutychus. Paul visited this area at least twice. Then, visit the legendary city of Troy, and see the replica of the wooden horse. Dinner and overnight in Bursa. (B,D)

May 24, Monday: Nicaea – Istanbul
Drive to Iznik (ancient Nicaea). Two ecumenical councils were held here: the First Ecumenical Council of 325 and the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787. Visit the ruins of the St. Sophia Church where the Seventh Ecumenical Council was held. In the afternoon, drive to Istanbul, the only city in the world spanning two continents; transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)

May 25, Tuesday: Istanbul
Full day Istanbul tour; visit Hippodrome Square, Hagia Sophia Church, Archaeological Museum, St Irene Church, Underground Cistern. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B,D)

May 26, Wednesday: Istanbul
Visit the Yedikule fortress, and Chora Church in the morning. Then, visit the Patriarchate in Istanbul. Drive to Bophorus strait to visit the Rumeli Fortress. This evening, we gather for a farewell dinner. (B,D)

May 27, Thursday
Transfer to Airport – Fly Back to New York


David A. deSilva, Ph.D.

Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary; Director of Music, Port Charlotte United Methodist Church

David deSilva (Ph.D., Emory University) serves as Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio. He is the author of over twenty books in the areas of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity, including Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation (2009), Unholy Allegiances: Heeding Revelation’s Warning (2013), An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods, and Ministry Formation (2nd ed., 2018), and Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance (2nd ed., 2018). He is particularly interested in how the archaeology and material culture of the Hellenistic and Roman worlds informs our reading of the New Testament. David is married to Donna Jean, with whom he shares three adult sons.


  • International flights between New York JFK – Izmir & Istanbul - JFK
  • 1 Night at 4 star Arcadia Blue Hotel in Istanbul
  • 2 Nights at 5 star Korumar Hotel De Luxe in Kusadasi
  • 2 Nights at 5 star Doğa Thermal Hotel in Pamukkale
  • 1 Night at 5 star Swissotel Buyuk Efes in İzmir
  • 1 Night at Special Class Kervansaray Hotel in Assos
  • 1 Night at 4 star Tiara Hotel & SPA in Bursa
  • 3 Nights at 4 star Arcadia Blue Hotel in Istanbul
  • Daily breakfasts and 10 dinners at hotels
  • Farewell Dinner in Istanbul
  • Transportation by private A/C bus throughout the tour
  • English speaking, Bible-oriented, professional tour guide throughout the tour
  • All Entry fees to the sites & museums
  • Tips to the hotel and restaurant staff
  • Tips to the tour guide and driver
  • Service charges & local taxes
  • Turkish Visa Fee ($20 per person for US citizens to be obtained online before arrival
  • Drinks and lunches
  • All personal expenses, laundry, phone calls, health and travel insurance
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: Travel insurance is highly recommended. You are encouraged to apply within 21 days of our receipt of your deposit to obtain coverage from a Travel Insurance company. Best quality coverage occurs if applied for within 15 days of our receipt of deposit. We recommend, but you are not limited to, Visit them online or call them at 1-800-937-1387. Mention Code 32335.


  • Deposit (due by September 14, 2020): $200 per person
  • Land/Air (based on double occupancy): $4,990
  • Single Room Supplement, Land/Air: $990
  • Balance due: February 15, 2021



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For more information, contact:

Alicia Bregon
202-364-3300, ext. 216
Email: [email protected]
Biblical Archaeology Society
4710 41st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016