Optional Turkey Prelude
August 4 - 8, 2025
Churches of Revelation

Sunday, August 3

Depart United States

Depart the United States for overnight transatlantic flights to the ancient city of Izmir, Turkey (airport code ADB).

Monday, August 4

Arrive in Izmir

From the Izmir airport, hop in a waiting taxi for transfer to Swissôtel Grand Efes, a five-star gem with the country's first recognized "Leading Spas of the World" designation. Revel in your first glimpses of the Aegean during lunch at a seaside taverna.

Tuesday, August 5


Following breakfast, the first of the Churches of Revelation await us today. Smyrna is right under our feet - Smyrna was renamed "Izmir" by the Turks in 1930. Only a few blocks from our hotel, we visit the site where Smyrna's ancient two-story agora has been excavated. Encouraged by our Lord's words in Revelation 2:10, "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer," Smyrna's bishop, Polycarp, went to his martyrdom near here during a period of persecution in A.D. 156.


Traditional Turkish Shop

Wednesday, August 6

Sardis, Philadelphia, Pamukkale

Temple of Artemis, Sardis

This morning we head into the Turkish countryside to visit the spectacular ruins of Sardis, wealthy capital of the ancient kingdom of the Lydians. Here we inspect the Roman gymnasium (excavated by Harvard archaeologists) and a restored Jewish synagogue. Most unforgettable, though, are the huge columns of the Artemis Temple. Commissioned in the fourth century B.C. by Alexander the Great, the sanctuary dedicated to Artemis was ultimately three times the size of the Parthenon in Athens.

After lunch in a countryside taverna, we make a short visit to the site of ancient Philadelphia where the crumbling pillars of the city's seventh-century Basilica of St. John still stand watch.

Later we continue to Pamukkale for our spa hotel, the Colassae Thermal. Enjoy a rich dinner at our hotel featuring local produce and savories.

Thursday, August 7

Pamukkale – Hierapolis – Colossae – Laodicea to Istanbul

After breakfast, it is only a five-minute drive to Hierapolis, the "Holy City" founded by the Romans in the second century B.C. Most impressive are the well-preserved 15,000-seat theater; the Temple of Apollo; and the necropolis where more than 1,200 sarcophagi, mausolea, and funerary monuments have been found and excavated.

Next to Hierapolis is Pamukkale — the "Cotton Castle." Now a protected World Heritage site, few geological wonders compare to these white cliffs and crystalline terraces created over time by mineral-rich spring water gently cascading 330 feet down a mountainside. From basin to basin, stair step terraces of white stalactites form an amazing fairyland of thermal pools.

After lunch at our hotel, we'll journey to the site of biblical Colossae off in the distance en route to the mournful ruins of Laodicea, the "lukewarm" church addressed in the book of Revelation. Christianity came to this city as a result of Paul's ministry in Ephesus. By the fourth century, Laodicea had left another important footprint in church history as the host venue for a strategic ecclesiastical council. Today, Laodicea is one of the most active archaeological "digs" going on in Turkey. The archaeologists are usually happy to show us whatever they are unearthing that very day!

Hop aboard your late afternoon flight to Istanbul. Complimentary private transfer to your luxury accommodation at Çırağan Palace Kempinski awaits your arrival.

Pamukkale's White Cliffs

Friday, August 8


Topkapi Palace

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

After breakfast at our hotel, we'll visit the 17th century Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul’s most colorful, bustling attractions. Next, we travel the Golden Horn on our way to an unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus, the majestic strait that runs through Istanbul, linking Europe and Asia. From our ship, we view the dramatic sights lining the Bosphorus’ wooded shores: mosques, a bridge that for a time was the world’s longest, and Rumeli Hisarı, a massive fortress built by Mehmet the Conqueror in just three months as he prepared to take Istanbul. Also noteworthy on this tour are the 19th century mansions of the Ottoman elite and the Sultans’ fanciful gingerbread palaces and hunting lodges.

Enjoy lunch at a historic train station in the older part of the city followed by a visit to the breathtaking Underground Cistern built in 532. In the cool, subterranean air, take a stroll in the forest of hundreds of marble columns arranged with symmetrical precision. We will end the day with the world-famous Topkapi Palace. Home to Ottoman rulers for over four hundred years, the Palace's buildings, courtyards, and jewel collection reflect the astounding wealth and power that were the sole privilege of the Sultans. Our leisurely visit will include a rare peek inside the Palace's harem, only open by special arrangement for select touring parties.

We can help with dinner suggestions anywhere in the city. You are free to have dinner tonight whenever and with whomever you choose.

Turkey Prelude

Owner's Suite:  $3,575/person
Cabin Categories B & C:  $2,975/person
Cabin Categories D & E:  $2,745/person
Single supplement $510
(prices based on 25 travelers)

Saturday, August 9

Core Itinerary Begins

Join the rest of our group for a half-day tour of Istanbul and embarkation on the majestic SEA CLOUD II, our luxurious yacht.