While Israel holds prominence as the “Holy Land,” fewer know there is a second “Holy Land.” Referred to as Asia Minor in the Bible, Turkey holds over 60 percent of sites mentioned in the Bible. This includes the seven churches mentioned in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation.
On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” – Revelation 1:10–11
These seven cities were the gathering points for the early Church, which was suffering persecution by the Romans. Revealed to him in a vision from God while imprisoned on the island of Patmos, the apostle John’s letters to these churches took the form of prophetic instruction and admonishment, as well as praise. When you tour these ancient cities, you will see historic remnants and landmarks of a bygone era, indicative of their reputations as hubs of culture and trade.
Closest to the island of Patmos, Ephesus is the first city listed among 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.
Considered one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in its day, modern Smyrna has been largely absorbed by the city of Izmir, but you can still find remnants of its heyday. Located approximately 50 miles north of Ephesus, Smyrna’s reputation as a port city vied with that of Ephesus. Take time to see the massive arches and columns of the Roman Agora—or marketplace—which once operated as a sort of town square.
Just up the coast from Smyrna is 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 artisans, particularly weaving, pottery, 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. Today, its ruins are situated just outside the village of Sart. Stop here to see the remains of the Temple of Artemis, a Byzantine church, and a synagogue.
Not far from Sardis, the city whose name means “brotherly love” was only one of two churches not censured by John. Philadelphia was a missionary city, but there is little evidence of it 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.
Experience the Seven Churches of Revelation
when you plan your next trip to the Lands of the Bible!
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