If you are planning a trip to Israel, consider extending your journey to Turkey—once known as Asia Minor—the place where the Apostles walked and the backdrop for the churches of Revelation.
From Israel, fly into Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Its designation as a European Capital of Culture cements its standing not only as a hub for commerce and culture, but also as an historic center.
The remaining vestiges of Istanbul reflect its erstwhile identity as an imperial capital for centuries. Its re-establishment as Constantinople ushered in a new era of Christianity during the Roman and Byzantine periods. It was renamed Istanbul after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in AD 1453. The capital was then moved to Ankara.
Your experience in Istanbul may include a guided tour through Topkapi Palace, the seat of Ottoman sultans for nearly five centuries. Enjoy the view from the palace terraces, which overlook the mighty Bosporus strait—which spans two continents, Europe and Asia—the Marmara Sea, and the famous Golden Horn. Head southward to Nicaea, home of the architectural marvel that is the Hagia Sophia, the location of two ecumenical councils.
Considered one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in its day, present-day Smyrna has been largely absorbed by the city of Izmir, but you can still find remnants of its heyday. Take time to see the ancient Roman Agora, which once operated as a sort of town square.
From there, journey to ancient Ephesus, the first of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Walk among the ruins of this once great city: the stately Celsus library, the grand theatre built into the slope of a hill, the Temple of Hadrian, and the newly restored Roman terrace houses. You can also see the ceremonial grave of St. Luke, and much more. You can plan to spend a few days here.
One of the most highly visited sites by visitors per year, Pergamon was a large, bustling city, dominated by pagan worship. You can still see surviving structures, which include a theatre, gymnasium, and two temples. The early Christians living in Pergamon were praised by John for their persistence in the faith and admonished those who turned to worship of the pagan gods.
Thyatira was once famed for its craft work in weaving and bronze. It is now among Turkey’s largest exporters of tobacco and olive oil. You can see the remains of an ancient Byzantine church here. There is evidence throughout to suggest Thyatira was indeed a center of Christian worship.
Central to the growth of the early Church, Sardis was a thriving center of trade. Stop here to see the remains of the Temple of Artemis, a Byzantine church, and a synagogue.
The city whose name means “brotherly love” was only one of two churches not censured by John. It was a missionary city, but there is little evidence left, except for a Byzantine-era basilica built from brick, and some eroded 11th century frescoes.
Continue to Laodicea, a once-flourishing trade city built on the river Lycus. The last of the seven churches of Revelation, it was destroyed by earthquakes many times over the centuries. Excavation and restoration projects have uncovered basilicas containing intricate mosaic floors. You can also see the ruins of a small theatre, a stadium, a fountain, and a cross-shaped church, which are located all over the cities of the seven churches.
While encouraging and facilitating travel to Israel is our primary focus, Israel Advantage Tours also provides guided tours to other biblically significant destinations such as Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Regardless of the destination, we provide the same level of exceptional customer service and support.