Early Christianity in Turkey Seven Churches of Revelation Istanbul & Seven Churches
     

Jewish Heritage
(7 DAYS - 6 NIGHTS)

Day 1. Istanbul

On arrival in Istanbul, you are greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel by an Daca or Alin Tour Representative. The rest of the day is on your own. Meet other tour members for a welcome briefing hosted by your tour director at your hotel.

Day 2. Istanbul

After breakfast, we explore this ancient city, visiting the Roman Hippodrome where chariot races and athletic events took place, the Blue Mosque , built in 1616, named for the beautiful Iznik tiles which give the mosque its color. Then visit the Sunken Palace (actually a huge 6th century Byzantine cistern) the largest water reservoir in the city from the Roman times was rebuilt by Justinian in 532 A.D., proceed to explore the World-renowned Saint Sophia (Hagia Sophia) Museum is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the history of architecture, adorned with Byzantine mosaics and Ottoman calligraphy, built in 537 by Justinian as a cathedral, it was converted into a mosque after the Turkish Conquest in 1453. After lunch, we continue to explore the more worldly treasures of the Topkapi Palace, overlooking the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara, the great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries housing priceless treasures, unique collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelains, holy relics, robes worn by the sultans and their families, and countless works of arts. The treasury section has the richest collection of its kind in the world. Worldwide famous 'Jeweled Ceremonial Helmet', 'The Topkapi Dagger', 'The Kasikci Diamond' are all in Topkapi Palace Museum. Overnight in Istanbul. (B,L)

Day 3. Istanbul and Izmir 

After an early flight to Izmir, full day Ephesus tour.Explore the world-renowned Greco-Roman city of Ephesus and its environs. Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world. Ephesus is the highlight of every trip to Turkey. During the Roman era Ephesus was known worldwide as a city of trade, art, entertainment, banking and finance. Ephesus was extremely a wealthy city. It was a dream city that everybody at the time wanted to see Ephesus at least once in his/her life. It was founded at the end of the old Silk Road, where the merchants from east and west used to meet and has always been coveted by different conquerors because of its location. First built in the 12th century B.C., Ephesus was occupied by Lydians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Under Emperor Augustus, Ephesus reached its peak as the capital of the Roman Province of Asia Minor. It was one of the three largest cities with a population of 250.000.000 in the Roman Empire. Many different religious were practiced in Ephesus. In 53 A.D. St. Paul preached and attempted to spread Christianity in Ephesus. You will truly feel you have traveled back in time, as you stroll along the 2.000 year old marble streets such famous sites as the Agora, the Bath, the private (terrace) houses, the gymnasium, the library of Celcius, and the theater. In the afternoon we visit the Ephesus Museum, which homes to many relics from Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the world), the Basilica of St. John and the last earthy house of the Virgin Mary. Return back to Izmir and overnight in Izmir. (B.L.D.)

 Day 4. Izmir. 

Morning visit the Senora and Beth Israel Synagogues then drives to Sardis to visit one of the most popular Jewish sites in Turkey. In ancient Sardis, Jews held seats on the city council and important offices in the Roman civil administration. Remains of the beautiful and richly-appointed synagogue dating from the 200s C.E. have been uncovered and restored; much of the funding for restoration came from American Jewish individuals, congregations and philanthropies.Sardis was founded in the middle of the fertile valley of the Gediz  (Hermus) in 1200 B.C. Sardis was an ancient political and cultural center of Anatolia on Royal Road built by the Persians in the 6 c B.C. It was 2.575 km/1.600 miles long. Sardis was the capital of strong and rich Lydian Kingdom, once celebrated for its proverbial (as rich as Croesus) wealth and for its sanctuary of Artemis. Croesus was the last king of Lydia (560-546 B.C.). He was very rich. Much of the wealth of Sardis is from a gold-bearing stream that ran through the city. The most popular and valuable invention of humankind coinage (coined money) was invented in Sardis. The Lydian Kingdom had dominated much of the Aegean area before the Persians came (546 c B.C. ). The city continued to flourish through the periods of the Romans and the Byzantines. The town was the site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. The principal ruins of Sardis are spread over a large area. The Roman- Byzantium Gymnasium and Bath Complex, the Synagogue, once was part of the Gymnasium Complex and converted into a synagogue in the 3 c A.D. There is some evidence that the Safarid Jews had settled in Sardis as early as 547 B.C. We also visit the Temple of Artemis, which was once among the four largest in Asia Minor. It was built by King Croesus of Lydia in the 6c B.C. Return back to Izmir and overnight in Izmir.(B.L.D.)

 Day 5. Izmir and Istanbul 

Early flight to Istanbul. Visit the newest and the largest synagogue; Neve Shalom Synagogue in Galata district, then visit the Old Jewish Neighborhood Golden Horn where the Jews who migrated from Spain during the Ottoman period settled. Continue to visit the oldest synagogue in Istanbul : the Ahrida Synagogue first was built in 550 A.D. by the Jews who migrated from Ohri in Macadonnia, which is still operated and new building restored in 1960 which was built during Ottoman period in 17th century. After visiting the Suleymaniye Mosque, drive to Ulus district to visit the largest Jewish Cemetery in Istanbul. Return back to hotel.(B,L)  

Day 6.  Istanbul 

Morning visit the Grand Bazaar (this labyrinth of streets covered by painted vaults is lined with more than 3500 of booth-like shops.) which was built between 1455-1461 by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in an attempt to enrich the economic life in the city. Today, shops selling the same kind of merchandise tend to be congregated in their own streets or in hans this was originally the Ottoman system. The atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar is very interesting for tourists and hans consequently become a very popular place for foreign visitors. After visiting the Spice Market (Egyptian Bazaar ) where the air is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme  ,  enjoy the Bosphorus Trip by boat or by bus ( due to the weather condition ) with an opportunity to take photographs of marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of Ottoman Architecture. Visit the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Sariyer. It is an old late 19th century Ottoman Yali bought by the richest businessman of Turkey Vehbi Koc. It's founded and opened as a museum by this wife Sadberk Koc in 1980. There are two sections: Old Villa Section, which has exhibits ranging in date from the early Islamic Era, Seljuk and Ottoman period the objects include metal work, imperial monograms in silver, jewelry, Turkish tiles and pottery from Iznik ( Nicea), Kutahya and Canakkale. On the upper floor there are traditional Turkish scenes including a bridal shower, a circumcision bed, maternity room, there are also beautiful examples of Ottoman costumes and Turkish embroideries. The archeological section of the museum has some 7000 antiques arranged in chronological order from different part of Anatolia throughout different civilizations. Then visit Ortakoy vicinity where three religions lived side by side for centuries including the Etz Ahayim Synagogue. Ortakoy is a lovely district with several waterside cafes, small restaurants and handcraft shops. Drive back to hotel for overnight.   (B.L.)

Day 7. Departure   

Transfer from hotel to the airport for your flight back home.(B).

PACKAGE  INCLUDES:
Arrival and departure airport transfers
Accommodation in specified category
Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Museums and sites entry fees
Transportation in non-smoking a/c coach with professional English (other languages are possible)  speaking guide and professional driver.
Sightseeings as mentioned in tour plan.

NOT INCLUDED:

International or domestic flights, portage at airports, drinks, tips to guide and driver and items of a personal nature. Domestic flights with associated transfer are optional and extra if needed; overnight coach transportation price is included in the tour price.