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Turkey

Istanbul & the Seven Churches of Revelation

Join us on our ten day pilgrimage to the ancient land of Turkey, which lies at the heart of the New Testament church. Turkey today is a wonderful synthesis of modern life alongside a largely unspoilt land and many fascinating archeological sites, all of which evoke the flavour of the first and second century as it struggled to find its place in a frequently indifferent and openly hostile world. Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Muslim influences make western Turkey a melting pot of cultures and history, and we shall have plenty of opportunities to immerse ourselves in all it has to offer.

Our pilgrimage has three distinct parts: we begin with two days in Istanbul, one of the great cities of the world, with a culture and geography which looks both east and west. We then have some long drives through beautiful countryside visiting the seven churches of the Revelation. These churches were real, physical congregations when John of Patmos wrote the last book of the Bible around 95AD. While John was exiled on the isle of Patmos, the Holy Spirit instructed him to: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches - to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

The third part of our pilgrimage is a two night optional extension to Cappadocia, famous for its unearthly landscapes and extraordinary ancient rock cut dwellings, churches and underground tunnel complexes.

Do come and join us!

 

Itinerary

  1. Travel to Istanbul (D)

    Meet at London Heathrow Airport and fly with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul. On arrival you will be met by your local guide, who will be with you throughout the tour, and escorted to your hotel. Three-night stay at the Radisson President Hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

  2. Istanbul - Bosphorus Cruise, Topkapi Palace (B, D)

    After breakfast we begin our exploration of fascinating Istanbul! Today we take a private boat from Eminonu and sail on the Bosphorus. A traditional boat tour through the waterway separating Asia and Europe is the ideal way to appreciate the grandeur and beauty of this historic city. We then explore the spice market and continue to the magnificent Topkapı Palace, the residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. We end our day at the Archaeological Museum, a complex consisting of three main sections: Archeology Museum, Ancient Oriental Artifacts Museum, and Tiled Kiosk Museum. Today we will also visit the underground Justinian cisterns.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

  3. Istanbul - Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia & Grand Bazaar (B, L, D)

    We begin in the Hippodrome area of central Istanbul where we visit the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Once a Basilica, then a mosque and now a museum, it dates back to the 4th century. Enjoy the Ottoman Palace Cuisine at Matbah Restaurant. We then visit the Grand Bazaar, (Kapali Carsi), the oldest covered market in the world, and experience the Turkish coffee from Sark Kahvesi, Historical Coffee Roasters.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

  4. Laodicea & Hierapolis (B, D)

    Morning: drive through the farmlands of western Turkey to Selcuk to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ephesus. This ancient city is believed to have been settled in the 10th century BC by Ionians, Ephesus changed hands many times before becoming a Roman dependency in 133 BC during the reign of Emperor Augustus. It was also a very important city during early Christian times as evidenced by St.Paul’s visit and St.John being buried nearby. Ephesus was attacked. Heading up the hills behind Ephesus, you will see where the Virgin Mary is believed to have spent the last days of her life. Presently, there is a charming chapel, consecrated by the Pope, at the very spot where the House of Virgin Mary stood. The local tradition suggests that Virgin Mary lived and died here.

    Afternoon: after an included lunch we visit St. John's Basilica. It is believed that the evangelist St. John spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and is buried on the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed. The church of St John was changed into a marvellous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD). After, drive to Miletus, was considered one of the wealthiest of Ancient Greece's cities.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  5. Antioch of Pisidia, Konya, Museum of Whirling Dervishes (B, L, D)

    Morning: drive to Antioch of Pisidia, the city where St. Paul preached his first recorded sermon and was later expelled. Among the ruins we visit the remains of two basilicas. A military road, built by Augustus, and called the Royal Road, led from Antioch to the sister colony of Lystra. According to the story preserved in the legend of "Paul and Thekla," it was along this road that Paul and Barnabas passed on their way from Antioch to Iconium (now called Konya) (Acts 13:51; compare 2 Timothy 3:11; see Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 27-36).

    Afternoon: an included lunch followed by the drive to Konya (Iconium), where St. Paul and St. Barnabus spent time until the community stirred up opposition to St. Paul, the Apostle, on his first visit, in 47 or 48 CE; he returned in 50 and 53.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  6. Sardis, Philadelphia, Pamukkale (B, L, D)

    Morning: drive to Sardis known  as the home of the church that received the fifth letter to the Seven  Churches of Revelation, Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire and one of the greatest cities of the ancient world. Located on the banks of the Pactolus River, Sardis was 60 miles (97 km) inland from Ephesus and Smyrna. The city was home to the famous bishop Melito in the 2nd century. In the area also visit the Temple of Diana, the synagogue and the gymnasium.

    Afternoon: after an included lunch continue to Philadelphia established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamon (197–160 BC). Eumenes II named the city for the love of his brother, who would be his successor, Attalus II (159–138 BC), whose loyalty earned him the nickname, "Philadelphos", literally meaning "one who loves his brother". The city is perhaps best known as the site of one of the seven churches of Asia in the Book of Revelation.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  7. Laodicea & Aphrodisias (B, D)

    We continue this morning with a drive to Laodicea, a remote spot in beautiful countryside which was, in ancient times, an important Christian site. Our principal visit today is to the Roman city of Aphrodisias, dedicated to Aphrodite. The largely intact  remains of its  stadium is one of the finest still standing. Three night stay at Richmond Ephesus Resort

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  8. Priene, Didyma & Miletus (B, D)

    We continue with a circular tour of three important religious sites, beginning at Priene, which overlooks the rich farmland of the Meander Valley.Today's highlight is a visit to the ancient oracle in the Temple of Apollo at Didyma.

    After lunch, we visit the port of Miletus where much remains intact, including the Lion Harbour and theatre. Here we remember Paul's emotional farewell to the elders of Ephesus.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  9. Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, Basilica of St. John and Miletus (B, D)

    Today, we complete our tour of the Seven Churches with a visit to Ephesus. St Paul lived here for some years and it is one of the most impressive archeological sites in the world. Much has been reconstructed and it is easy to visualise the riot of the silversmiths in the vast theatre. After lunch, we ascend the hills behind Ephesus to visit the traditional house where the Virgin Mary is believed to have spent the final years of her life. We will share in the Eucharist there.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

  10. Depart for the UK (B)

    We drive to Izmir Airport for our Turkish Airlines return flight to Heathrow via Istanbul.

    OR  Join the two night optional extension to Cappadocia.

    Please note the itinerary may be subject to change due to local conditions and flights can also be subject to alteration.

    There will be quite a bit of walking on this pilgrimage. Please  call the McCabe office for advice if you are at all concerned.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • Istanbul: Bosphorus cruise
  • Istanbul: Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia Complex, Topkapi Palace & Museum
  • Istanbul: Spice Market and The Grand Bazaar with Turkish coffee tasting in a local coffee house
  • The Seven churches of the Revelation
  • Pergamon: the Asklepion and the Acropolis
  • Thyatira
  • Sardis;  Temple of Diana, synagogue and gymnasium
  • Philadelphia: one of the oldest dioceses of Asia Minor
  • Laodicea and Aphrodisias
  • Priene, Didyma and the Ancient City of Miletus
  • Kusadasi: Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary and Basilica of St. John of Patmos

Optional excursions

  • Cappadocia: Zelve Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum, Underground City of Kaymakli and Avanos
  • Cappadocia: Devrent Valley and Uchisar with cave house visit

Included extras

  • Hotel baggage porterage
  • Local guide and drivers’ gratuities
  • All restaurant, hotel and many small local gratuities
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • Services of a knowledgeable Local Guide with you throughout
  • Optional worship with our travelling Tour Leader

Included meals & drinks

Meals: all breakfasts, which will be buffets in the hotels, and all evening meals. One lunch is included in Istanbul.

Drinks: All drinks including those with dinners in the hotels are at your own expense.

Our team in Turkey

This holiday includes a qualified local guide to bring the history of Turkey, St. Paul's, St. John's and St. Barnabus' time in the region, as well as the wonders of ancient empires, to life. They will be staying with you and escorting you throughout. Each departure also includes a faith leader who will offer optional opportunities for worship and reflection for all during and after these moving visits.

Your journey

The flight is direct from London Heathrow to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines returning from Izmir or Cappadocia (Nevsehir) with a change in Istanbul.

Length of flight to Istanbul: approximately four and a half hours

Flight times are confirmed with your final paperwork

Your hotels

ISTANBUL—Radisson Hotel President Hotel

IZMIR – Kordon Hotel Cankaya

PAMUKKALE—Adempira Hotel 

EPHESUS—Richmond Ephesus Resort

OPTIONAL CAPPADOCIA EXTENSION

Monday 12 May 2025| TO CAPPADOCIA
Today we fly to Kayseri. Upon arrival, we will be met by our local guide and transfer to our hotel. Two night-stay at the Mustafa Cappadocia Resort. Dinner in the hotel.

Tuesday | GOREME, ZELVE VALLEY AND AVANOS
Optional Excursion: Early morning opportunity to join an unforgettable Hot Air Balloon ride over the unique Cappadocia valleys.  (additional cost applies and is paid locally).

This morning we visit the Monastic Centre of Goreme which was founded by St. Basil as the first Monastic Center of Christianity during 4th Century. We continue to the small town of Uchisar and its castle and the Zelve Open Air Museum. Zelve is an open valley with a large Byzantine-era cave settlement.

We end our day at Avanos, a small town established by the Hittites, famous for some of Turkey’s prettiest pottery. We will visit one of the studios of a pottery artist of Cappadocia before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Evening opportunity to enjoy Whirling Dervishes show (additional cost applies and is paid locally).

 Wednesday 14 May | KAYMAKLI - HOME
After breakfast, we begin our exploration of fascinating Kaymakli Underground City, a subterranean settlement composed of troglodytic cave dwellings providing shelter for early Christians. Kaymakli, with its eight different levels, had the capacity to house a total of 5000 people.

We then transfer to Kayseri Airport for your returning flight

TOUR INFORMATION

 The cost is £ 650 per person sharing a double or twin room. The price is based on a minimum number of 10 participants. If the final number is lower than this, a supplement may be applied to the final invoice.

The tour includes Turkish Airlines scheduled flights from Izmir Airport to Kayseri and then from Kayseri to London Heathrow and two nights at the Mustafa Cappadocia Resort. Daily breakfast, two dinners, coach transfers, all entrance fees and gratuities are also included.

Not included

Travel insurance: this is essential. We require all travellers to have adequate coverage for their journey.

Single rooms: a limited number of single rooms are available at a supplementary cost of £115.

 

 

 

Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Turkey freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for 150 days after your return from Turkey.

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Health & wellbeing

If you haven't had a booster in the last ten years it is recommended that you be vaccinated for Tetanus and Polio. Food and waterborne diseases are more common, so we recommend vaccinations for typhoid (valid 3 years) and Hepatitis A (validity varies). Vaccination, Covid-19 and health information can change so please contact your local health care provider for the most up to date information. We will send up to date information on entry requirements with your final paperwork approximately 14 days before departure.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.

Climate

In Istanbul and Cappadocia the average daily lowest and highest temperature range during your tour will be; April: 08-19; June 18-24; September 18-25; October 15-22 degrees centigrade. When travelling in the mountains temperatures will be a few degrees cooler particularly in the mornings and evenings. Rainfall averages are; April: 6 days; June: 4 days; September: 3 days; October; 4 days and are usually just the odd short thunderstorm.

Clothing

Dress is cool and casual throughout your time in Turkey. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Casual clothing is recommended in the day-time with evenings being smart/casual. As this tour requires a certain amount of gentle to intermediate walking, we suggest you take a pair of lined shoes or boots with decent grip. Sports shoes or trainers are fine as well as walking boots. It is advisable to bring just a couple of warmer items for the evenings as well as coastal walks where the wind may reduce the temperatures.

Mobility

There is a certain amount of walking, light undulations with just one or two steep sections but a number of stairs involved on a daily basis during your time in Turkey so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Local Guide will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up then please make sure you tell your Local Guide who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled and ancient sites can have some uneven ground. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers.  You must be prepared to be on your feet for up to 90 minutes without the necessity to sit down and walk up to a mile and be able to climb two to three flights of stairs unaided. Hiking sticks are fine.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

https://www.holidayextras.com/travel-insurance

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here

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Dates

Our Programme Tour Leader Tour Dates Availability
10 Day Turkey Departing From To be Confirmed Prices from £2695 pp The Revd Mark Hunt 03/05/2025 for 10 days Download brochure Book now Make an enquiry

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