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Join Dr. Carl Cosaert for an unforgettable trip following in the steps of the apostles Paul and John in Turkey and Greece. As you retrace the spread of the gospel across the ancient Mediterranean world, visiting the Seven Churches of Revelation and many of the cities Paul visited, the stories of the early church will come to life unlike anything you’ve experienced. Drawing on his rich background as a Professor of Biblical Studies, published author, and international tour leader, who has led over a thousand people to the Middle East during the last decade, Dr. Cosaert will be both your teacher and guide. Dr. Cosaert has carefully chosen the best sites, hotel accommodations, and restaurants to ensure that your trip will be an amazing experience.
Istanbul International Airport (IST)
Depart from the airport of your choice. The final destination airport will be Istanbul International Airport (IST).
Welcome to Turkey! A representative of Advent Tours will meet our group at the Istanbul International Airport (IST) and transfer them to the Armada Hotel (or similar) in downtown Istanbul.
Discover the history woven throughout Istanbul as we experience the magnificent colors, fragrances, and sounds of the ancient Spice Market. Built in 1664, the Spice Market was the final stop on the Silk Road. Like visitors of old you will be fascinated with its rich variety of exotic spices, teas, and a host of other intriguing souvenirs.
Our adventure continues as we visit the Blue Mosque, which Sultan Ahmet built in 1609. It is called the Blue Mosque due to the interior walls that are covered with twenty thousand blue Iznik tiles. From here we will visit the ancient Hippodrome with all its magnificent monuments. The highlight of our day, however, will be the Hagia Sophia. Built by the Emperor Justinian I in 573, the Hagia Sophia was the largest and most beautiful Christian church for nearly one thousand years. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the church was converted into a mosque. Although it turned into a museum after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it was reestablished as a mosque again in 2020.
Our day begins with a morning flight to Antioch, the city where the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians.” The believers in Antioch, many of whom had fled there from persecution in Jerusalem after the death of Stephen (Acts 11:19), were the first to welcome gentiles into the church (Acts 11:20-21). With such strong support for reaching gentiles, the apostle Paul made Antioch the headquarters for his missionary journeys across the eastern Roman empire (Acts 13:1-14:28; 15:36-18:22; 18:23-38). It was also in Antioch that the apostle Paul rebuked Peter for no longer eating with the gentile converts when Jewish Christians arrived from Jerusalem (Gal 2:11-14). During our Antioch, we will visit the cave church where early Christians worshiped, tour the Antakya Museum, and reflect on Paul’s missionary zeal as we visit Seleucia Pireaus, the harbor from which Paul sailed (Acts 13:4). Dinner and overnight at the intriguing Museum Hotel, which is part of an archaeological site!
Following breakfast, we depart for Tarsus, the capital city of the Roman Province of Cilicia—and the hometown of the apostle Paul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3). Situated along the main road leading through the Taurus Mountains, Tarsus was a prosperous city connecting east and west. Although Paul grew up in a devout Jewish family, he also learned to speak Greek and understand the Greco-Roman culture, since his family dealt with both Jews and Greeks in their tent-making business (Acts 18:3). This background gave Paul the skills to share the gospel with gentiles once he became a Christian. After visiting the apostles following His conversion, Paul returned to Tarsus (Acts 9:30), where he remained for some six years before Barnabas invited him to come to Antioch (Acts 11:25ff).
In Tarus, we will visit Paul’s Well, Cleopatra’s gate, a portion of the ancient city wall that dates to the time when Cleopatra visited Tarsus, and most importantly, the remains from ancient Tarsus, a portion of the main city road, uncovered houses, shops, courtyards, and mosaics that give us a glimpse into Paul’s world. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia, at the Uchisar Kaya Hotel.
The first ever cave-carved hotel!
Discover the wonder of Cappadocia’s unique fantasy-like landscape with its winding valleys, fairy chimneys and carved cave churches decorated with incredible frescoes. This region, which was once the heart of the ancient Hittite Kingdom, is the result of soft volcanic rock that has been eroded through wind and weather to form all sorts of unusual pillars, cones, and other formations. Our first stop will be Uchisar Castle, where we will have a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding area. Next we visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum with its valley houses, churches, and monasteries carved out of rock. Our final stop will be to the most impressive “fairy chimneys” in the Pasabag Valley. If you are adventurous you can even do a little climbing into some of these amazing structures.
Our second day in Cappadocia begins with a stop at the charming town of Avanos, which is well-known for its pottery, a craft that dates back to the Hittite period. After visiting Galip’s famous pottery shop, we stop at the Kaymakli Underground City, where Christian fled invading armies from the 7th to the 12th centuries. Kaymakli has eight underground levels, though we will only explore the first four. From here take a flight to picturesque Antalya, where we will stay at the Akra Hotel on the Mediterranean coast.
Today we reconnect with the travels of the apostle Paul who visited Antalya and Perga during his first missionary journey with Barnabas. After stopping briefly in Perga (Acts 13:13-14) on their way to Antioch in Pisidia, they returned to Perga and preached the gospel (Acts 14:25). We will reflect on Paul’s ministry as we walk on the same streets he did as we explore Perga’s ancient agora, the southern baths, and visit the theater and the impressive stadium, all of which are well preserved.
In the afternoon, we drive to Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will visit Hierapolis, a city Paul mentions in Colossians (4:13). Hierapolis was known as a place of healing due to its hot springs which were thought to have medicinal properties. The high mineral content of its thermal springs has resulted in spectacular white-colored calcified cliffs that look like snow. We will walk in the shallow pools of water along these beautiful terraces and see the remains of the ancient city. Tonight enjoy the wonderful pools at the Richmond Thermal Hotel in Pamukkale.
Today will see the spectacular remains of ancient Laodicea and Sardis, two of the Seven Churches of Revelation, and Colossae.
Laodicea, known in Revelation as the church that was lukewarm in its faith (Rev 14:22), is an exciting place to visit since it is quickly being rebuilt. We will see remains of two theaters, temples, an agora, churches, a stadium, and even walk on colonnaded streets. Close by is the smaller city Colossae, the town to which Paul wrote two letters, Colossians and Philemon. Paul asked the believers in Colossae to welcome back a runaway slave named Onesimus as a fellow brother in Christ and grant him his freedom.
Next we travel to Sardis, which has some of the most stunning archaeological remains of the Seven Churches. We will see a temple dedicated to Artemis, a large gymnasium, several small shops along a colonnaded street, and what was once the largest Jewish synagogue in Asia Minor. From here we drive to Kusadasi, where we stay at my favorite hotel in Turkey–the Charisma Deluxe, on the Aegean Sea.
Our tour today takes us to the most amazing Biblical site in all of Turkey – Ephesus, the famous city that was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the most important commercial city in Asia Minor, Ephesus was a bustling port town of some 250,000 residents. Evidence of the city’s importance can still be seen in its beautifully colonnaded streets paved with marble and its impressive monuments. In addition to being one of the Seven Churches in Revelation (Rev 2:1-7), Ephesus is also connected to the ministry of the apostle Paul. The apostle spent nearly three years in the city, during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1-20:1). It was at that time that Paul learned about the problems in Corinth and wrote 1 Corinthians.
We will see the Agora where the Christians gathered, the theater, which held up to twenty-five thousand people, the Library of Celsus, and the famous gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates, which was built in 4 BC to honor a visit from the Emperor Augustus. We will also explore the famous Terrace Houses, the elegant homes that once belonged to the city’s most prominent inhabitants. We will also see the remains of the Temple of Artemis and the latest archaeological remains on display in the Museum of Ephesus.
Our adventure continues as we board our private boat tto the beautiful Island of Patmos. It was on Patmos that John was exiled for his faith (Rev 1:9, 19) and wrote the book of Revelation. While on Patmos, we will visit the grotto where, according to early tradition, John received his vision.
We will also visit the monastery of St. John the Theologian, which resembles a medieval fortress. The monastery, which offers an amazing view of the island, was built in 1088 over the remains of an early Christian basilica and an even earlier temple of Artemis. Among the interesting things we will see is a collection of priceless icons and ancient artifacts, including one of the oldest surviving copies of the Gospel of Mark, which is written in silver letters on purple vellum.
Before returning, we will watch an entertaining cultural show while we enjoy a delicious meal together.
Our day begins with a trip to ancient Smyrna, which is located in the modern city of Izmir. Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only churches in Revelation which received no criticism. Although persecuted, they remained faithful, as did Polycarp, a local Christian bishop, who was put to death in A.D. 156 for his faith in Jesus. In Smyrna we will see the remains of the Ancient Agora.
Next we drive drive to Pergamum, another of the Seven Churches in Revelation. Pergamum is referred to as the place “where Satan’s throne” is located and where he “dwells” (Acts 2:13). Such a description is fitting since Pergamum was home to many pagan temples and it was also where the first cult of a living Roman emperor arose. At the time John wrote Revelation, Christians ere suffering persecution for refusing to worship the emperor Domitian. The archaeological remains in Pergamum are impressive. We will take a cable car to the Acropolis, with its stunning view of the entire region. We will see many temples, and be amazed at the steep mountainside theater, where the stage is 122 feet below the top row of seats. After leaving the Acropolis, we will visit the Asklepion, one of the most famous healing sanctuaries in the ancient world.
Depart for home with a transformed faith and memories to last a lifetime! OR join the optional Greece extension as we catch a short flight to Athens, Greece and transfer to the Hotel Titania with its beautiful view of the Acropolis.
Our adventure begins with a beautiful drive to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where we will first stop for a brief visit at the Corinth Canal, which now connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Next we will visit ancient Corinth, the city where the apostle Paul founded a church and ministered for eighteen months at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18). The mostly Gentile congregation caused the apostle much grief and prompted him to write at least four letters to them, two of which are found in the New Testament.
We will see the ruins of the ancient shops where Paul would have worked with Aquila and Priscilla, the Roman Forum where Paul stood before the governor Gallio, and the Erastus Inscription, which bears the name of one of the early Christians from Corinth who Paul mentions in Romans 16:23. Among other things, we will see the remains of the Temple of Apollo, a theater, and visit the site’s archaeological museum. After lunch, we will also visit the Acropolis of ancient Corinth, where the famous Temple of Aphrodite was once located. After enjoying the spectacular view of the region, we will head back to Athens. On the way, we will stop at the ancient harbor of Cenchrea, from which Paul often sailed.
Today we explore the wonders of Athens, the Greek city-state where democracy was founded twenty-five hundred years ago. Our first stop will be the Acropolis, the rocky outcrop at the center of the city with its fortification walls and celebrated monuments. After passing through a stunning monumental gateway known as the Propylaea, we will visit the famous Parthenon. The Parthenon was built to honor Athena, the city’s patron goddess, for helping the Greeks defeat the Persians. It was the largest temple in the classical world at time of its construction. While there we will also visit the Erectheum, an even older Greek temple built to honor both Athena and Poseidon.
Later in the day we will visit the Ancient Agora, the marketplace and center of life in ancient Athens. It was here that the apostle Paul tried sharing the gospel with Gentiles who had no background in Judaism (Acts 17). Wanting to hear more, the Athenians took Paul to the Areopagus (Mars Hills), a council of city leaders. Remembering an idol he had seen in the agora dedicated to an unknown god, Paul claimed the god the Athenians worshiped, but did not know, was the one true God, the Creator of the universe. When Paul began to refer to Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, many of the Athenians mocked him, but some chose to become followers of Jesus. Before returning to the hotel, we will have some free time to explore the charming shops and cafes in the famous Plaka.
Depart for home with a transformed faith and memories to last a lifetime!
You are invited to register for the tour here through the Advent Tours website or by mail (see below). Please note that all payments will need to be sent separately by check or Zelle payment. Payment by credit card is not available.
$2,879 per person in a double room. A single room is an extra $500. These prices are subject to change if the group size is smaller than 30 and/or in case of any increase of governmental taxes, sales taxes, entrance fees or fuel charges, or if the Euro to the USD rate changes significantly before the final tour costs are paid.
I invite you to join me on this trip to Turkey and Greece. This trip will not only broaden your understanding of the world as you experience different cultures, but the way you read and experience the Bible will also be enriched. Simple expressions like “they rushed together into the theater” (Acts 19:29) will take on an entirely new dimension once you have stood in that same theater yourself. Towns like Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus will no longer be lifeless names on a page. Instead, they will be places full of meaning since you will have visited them yourself and have connected them to the stories you know from the Bible. And most importantly, the significance of the resurrection of Jesus will take on new significance as we reflect on the gospel message that captivated the hearts of the early Christians and transformed the ancient world.
Our time together is sure to build your faith and forever enrich your reading of the Bible. I assure you it will be a trip you will never forget!
My husband and I just got back from Egypt with Dr. Cosaert in December 2019 and once again we had an AWESOME TIME! That was our third trip with him. Dr. Cosaert’s trips are well organized, infused with local customs, safe, informative, and make the Bible come alive!
My wife and I went on a tour of lsrael and Jordan with Dr. Cosaert in 2018. It was hands down one of the highlights of our lives. We will never read the Bible the same after seeing the biblical sites in person with Carl’s thoughtful devotional thoughts and the insights of amazing local guides. Highly recommend going on one of these trips!
I have been on Dr. Cosaert’s Turkey and Greece (Footsteps of Paul) trip in 2009, Jordan and Israel trip in 2014, and most recently, this past December 2019, his Egypt tour. Every single experience has been incredible. The sites are amazing, the food delicious, the hotels comfortable, the local guides knowledgeable, our safety a constant priority, and best of all the entire experience spiritually uplifting. This is a true life “mountain top experience” with each part of the trip carefully constructed to not only be historical but also connect the travelers to the Living God, personally interested in a relationship with them. Meeting other travelers from all over the world also broadened my horizons and I keep in touch with many of them years later, considering them each dear friends. If you are considering going on any of these trips, you absolutely must decide to do it. Your life will be changed for the better.
We visited Eygpt in 2017. Learned so much and saw some amazing sights. Very well organized. Accommodations were excellent. Local tour guide very knowledgeable. Call and his wife were great hosts. Looking forward to Steps of Peter and Paul in Turkey and Greece in a couple of months.
My daughter and I have done all three Advent Tours …. Carl is a great tour guide who pays close attention to all the details of the trip while at the same time providing a deeply enjoyable and spiritual experience. Loved holding a book in the Alexandria library, riding camels at the great pyramid of Egypt, boating on Galilee, and swimming in the Dead Sea! His trips provide a great mix of history, adventure, opportunities to make the Bible come alive and for spiritual growth! Just do it!