Turkey Tour 2021: Seven Churches of Revelation

August 24, 2021 – September 3, 2021

Western Turkey


Tour Hosts: Dr. Jeffrey Barrows, CMDA Senior VP of Bioethics and Public Policy, and wife Kathy

Please join us for a trip of a lifetime…

TURKEY is one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

Turkey is one of only seven countries in the world that spans two continents. With part of the country in Europe and part in Asia, it has developed its own distinct identity, mixing elements from both continents. Turkey’s history is filled with Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans.

Western Turkey was the cradle of the early Christian church. The larger part of Turkey, in Asia, is called Anatolia, or Asia Minor. This is where the apostle Paul devoted a significant amount of his time and energy. In the book of Acts, we get a glimpse of how productive Paul’s ministry was: “All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

Western Turkey was also the sphere of ministry for the uncompromising prophet John, who wrote his Revelation to open the eyes of Christians living in seven cities in the province of Asia to the challenges of living faithfully under Roman imperialism.

Churches in Turkey were instrumental in seeing the first Roman emperor convert to Christianity. When Ignatius, an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch, was on his way to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, he wrote a series of letters, which serve as an example of early Christian theology, to encourage Christian communities in Ephesus, Tralles, Magnesia, Smyrna, and Philadelphia. Numerous churches established during this time continued to thrive despite bitter persecution by the Romans and saw the triumph of Christianity when Emperor Constantine embraced the faith and the world was forever changed.

Turkey combines Old and New Testaments in a unique way. Our hope is that you will join us as we visit these sites and trace the history of the earliest church.

Main Tour
Double Occupancy (per person)   $2,650
Single Occupancy   $3,150
Optional Extention
 Double Occupancy (per person)   $950
Single Occupancy   $1,175


Tour Package Includes

  • All first-class hotel arrangements from Tuesday’s (August 24, 2021) arrival through departure (7 nights included)
  • Land transportation including shuttle transfer on arrival from Izmir Airport at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., or 6 p.m. and shuttle transfer on departure from hotel at 6 a.m., 8 a.m., or 10 a.m.
  • Two meals per day (breakfast and dinner) – beginning with dinner on the day of arrival (daily open buffet breakfasts at the hotels, 6 dinners at the hotels, 1 dinner at Sea Food Restaurant in Izmir)
  • Government Licensed, Christian tour guide throughout the tour
  • Biblical Scholar, PhD level scholar will travel and lecture throughout the tour
  • Domestic flight in Turkey during tour from Izmir(or Denizli) to Istanbul
  • Use of Whispers headsets
  • Map of Turkey for use throughout the tour
  • Tips to guides, drivers and hotel staff
  • Service charges and local taxes
  • International Travel Insurance from August 23 – September 3, 2021 (allows for an extra day of travel at beginning and end of tour). Additional days available for $5 per person, per day. This coverage includes Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Medical Expenses, Disability Income, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Crisis Management, including the expense and coordination of a security evacuation, Personal Property, and General Liability.


Optional Four-Day Cappadocia Extension Includes

  • Three nights lodging at Yusuf Yigitoglu Boutique Hotel in Cappadocia
  • Land transportation including shuttle transfer to Kayseri Airport for departure to Istanbul International Airport
  • Three Dinners , 2 dinners at local restaurants. On the last evening we will “Turkish Nights” celebration at a Cave restaurant. Over dinner, we’ll listen to traditional Turkish music while watching dancers perform an array of dances
  • Government Licensed, Christian tour guide throughout the tour


Tour Package Does NOT Include

  • International flights to arrive Izmir and depart Istanbul (depart Kayseri Airport for extension).
  • Turkish Visa Fee-to be obtained online before arrival evisa.gov.tr
  • Lunches


Travel Arrangements

Arrival to Turkey

  • Fly IN TO İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport no later than Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Departure from Turkey

  • Fly OUT OF Istanbul Airport (IST)

Tour Only – Depart Tuesday, August 31, 2021.

Tour and Extension – Depart on Friday, September 3rd after 2 p.m.

You may consider arriving a day or two before the tour begins to help recover from jet lag, or staying a few days following the tour to enjoy Istanbul on your own.  Kim Hodge can assist with additional hotel nights both before and after the tour if you need them.


Travel Agency

Travelers are welcome to make international flight arrangements through their preferred travel source or World Travel Service, Inc. is available to assist.
Direct Number: 865-777-1600


Visas and Passports

Each participant must have a valid passport. Passport expiration date must be 30 days beyond the last day of the tour.

CMDA requests a photo of the first two pages of your Passport be emailed to Kim Hodge (kim.hodge@cmda.org) 60 days prior to travel. If you prefer, you may also copy and mail to Kim’s attention at CMDA P.O. Box 7500 Bristol, TN 37621-7500.

Purchase Turkish Visa before travel

Turkish Visa Fee-to be obtained online before arrival www.evisa.gov.tr.


Detailed Itinerary
For a detailed itinerary, click on the “Schedule” link.


Activity Level
The activity level for this tour is moderately strenuous. You should be able to walk several miles on uneven terrain without difficulty. If you have mobility issues, this tour may not be for you. If you have questions, please contact Kim Hodge before registering.


Postponing or Cancelling Reservations
If Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) cancels your tour:

  • Passengers booked on a tour where the cancellation is initiated by CMDA and our in-country partner can have all funds paid to CMDA applied to a future tour or returned in the original form of payment. We ask that you be patient and allow 10 – 15 days for the refund process.

If you would like to postpone or cancel your reservation:

  • If you choose to cancel your reservation, your cancelations and requests for refund must be submitted in writing to the CMDA. Attention Kim Hodge P.O. Box 7500 Bristol, TN 37621-7500 or email kim.hodge@cmda.org.

Cancellation charges will be assessed as follows:

  • Before or on March 1, 2021 $150 per person
  • March 2 – April 1, 2021 $300 per person
  • April 2 – May 1, 2021 $500 per person
  • May 2 – June 30, 2021 $700 per person
  • On or after July 1, 2021 No Refund

Participant safety is always going to be a priority for CMDA including the biblical tours we organize. We are deeply concerned about the COVID pandemic and its impact on individuals throughout the world. Without the availability of COVID vaccines and reduction in COVID concerns globally, tours like this one will be rescheduled until a later date.

Because of the lead time that many CMDA members need to schedule time away from their practice and the length of time it takes to plan and market biblical tours, much of this work is done 8-12 months in advance. In times like these with COVID, we continue to offer a generous refund policy of 100% if a tour is canceled due to continued COVID related concerns.

Thank you for understanding that we are not ignoring the realities of COVID as we announce future tours. We hope that through the COVID vaccine interventions, wearing masks, social distancing, and limiting group gatherings, that all will once again enjoy global travel and opportunities to grow spiritually through biblical tours.

Lodging included in cost of tour.

Breakfasts and dinners included. All lunches are “on your own”.

Hosted by Dr. Jeffery Barrows, CMDA Senior VP of Bioethics and Public Policy and his wife Kathy along with George Courtney, CMDA VP of Stewardship & Legacy Giving and his wife Rose.


Meg Ramey (Ph.D., University of St. Andrews) is the Founder and Executive Director of WorldKind Journeys (www.worldkindjourneys.com), a teaching ministry that facilitates studying the Bible “on the ground” while journeying to historic places and into sacred spaces across the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Europe. Previously, she was Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Messiah College. She has published on biblical studies and popular culture topics, edited the “Bible in Fiction” project for Oxford Biblical Studies Online, written for the Biblical Archaeological Review, including a recent article on “Hiking in Paul’s Footsteps” in Turkey, and lectured at universities and churches around the world.

Monday, August 23, 2021:  Depart from the U.S.


Tuesday, August 24, 2021: Arrive Izmir Airport. Meet shuttle transfer to hotel. Overnight Izmir (3 nights).


Wednesday, August 25, 2021: Visit Pergamum (Rev 1:11; 2:12–17) and Thyatira (Rev 1:11; 2:18-29)

Travel north to visit the first of the seven cities of Revelation—Pergamum. It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in all of Turkey. Its attractions are hard to surpass: a 10,000–seat theatre on the side of the Acropolis that is the steepest in the ancient world; the magnificently restored Temple of Trajan; the remains of a library of 200,000 volumes second in size only to that in Alexandria; the base of the Altar of Zeus; the Temple of Dionysus; and the medical center of Asclepion. This ancient healing center had its own theater, library, underground tunnel and other buildings. John warned the church here that they were living in a place of “Satan’s throne” (Rev. 2:12–17).

On our way back to Izmir, we’ll make a brief stop at the ancient city of Thyatira, where, due to the presence of the modern city of Akhisar, few archaeological remains have thus far been uncovered. John warned the church here about its toleration of a woman symbolically called Jezebel who was leading believers astray, causing them “to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:18–29). Return to Izmir. Dinner and Overnight Izmir.


Thursday, August 26, 2021: Visit Ephesus
(Acts 18:19–21, 24–26; 19:1–20:1; 20:16–17; 1 Cor 15:32; 16:8; Eph 1:1; 1 Tim 1:3; 2 Tim 1:18; 4:12; Rev 1:11; 2:1–7)Tour of ancient Ephesus. The day will begin as you travel to Mount Bulbul and stop at the House of the Virgin Mary. Both Christians and Muslims consider this site sacred, and on their visits they light candles and leave their prayers and wishes tucked into a wall there. Next, we’ll visit the famous ancient city of Ephesus. This site had successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements and was an outstanding example of a Roman port city with a sea channel and harbor basin into which the Apostle Paul sailed. He lived and ministered here for 2-3 years after a riot in the Great Theater, which we can still visit today. Excavations have revealed other grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including marble-paved roads, terrace homes of the elite, Roman Baths, the Celsus Library, and more. Today, Ephesus is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.We’ll enjoy a Turkish lunch in the Town of Selcuk while visiting a local Anatolian Handmade Carpet and Kilim production center and learning how our world-famous Turkish rugs are made. We may even see a flying carpet or two!After lunch, we’ll tour the Archaeological Museum of Ephesus displaying ancient coins, statues, and mosaics from early and late Roman periods. Next, we’ll visit the Tomb and Basilica of St. John, the last-surviving disciple of Jesus who is said to have lived in Ephesus during his final years along with Jesus’ mother Mary. Finally, we’ll see the remaining pillars of one of the seven ancient wonders of the world—The Great Temple of Artemis of the Ephesians. In the evening, you’ll enjoy strolling along the Izmir Bay.
Friday, August 27, 2021: Visit Smyrna (Rev 1:11; 2:8–11), Sardis (Rev 1:11; 3:1–6), and Philadelphia (Rev 1:11; 3:7–13)

Start the day with quick visit to St Polycarp Church (if open), which was dedicated to Polycarp, disciple of John, bishop of Smyrna, and martyr, and ponder John’s word of commendation for the Christians in Smyrna who were persevering in their faith despite persecution. We’ll also visit the ancient Agora of Smyrna. Then we’ll depart for Sardis, one of the other cities of Revelation. Here, we’ll see the remains of the magnificent temple of Artemis (later converted into a church), the beautifully reconstructed gymnasium and public baths, and the largest known synagogue outside Palestine.

We’ll make a brief stop in Philadelphia, where much of this ancient city has either been destroyed or lies buried under the modern city. John wrote to the church here (Rev. 3:7–13), commending them for their patience endurance in spite of persecution. Our day will end in ancient Hierapolis, modern-day Pamukkale, “the Cotton Castle.” This area is another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its breathtaking waterfalls and calcium cliffs. Dinner and Overnight in Pamukkale (2 nights).


Saturday, August 28, 2021: Visit Colossea (Col 1:2), Laodicea (Col. 2:1, 4:13–16; Rev 1:11; 3:14–22), and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13-15; 4:16)

You will enjoy the scenic Lycus River Valley where three important biblical cities are to be found: Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Our first stop in Colossae will be brief since this city is one of the only biblical sites in Turkey that remains unexcavated. Nevertheless, this is an important site for Christians to visit since Paul sent here two letters: one to the church of Colossae and one to Philemon, who hosted the Colossian church in his home.

Our second stop is Laodicea, a major city in Roman times that is rapidly being uncovered. Laodicea had not one but two theatres, a stadium, an aqueduct, and over 20 churches dating to Byzantine times that archaeologists have already uncovered. Laodicea is the last of the seven churches to whom John directed the book of Revelation (Rev. 3:14–22). It also had a close relationship with the nearby churches of Colossae and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13–15) and was the recipient of one of Paul’s now lost letters (Col. 4:16).

Finish the day with a walk along Pamukkale’s dazzling Calcium Cliffs. In addition, we’ll visit the remains of ancient Hierapolis to see the newly found Tomb and Martyrium of St. Philip and the city’s theater with one of most impressive reconstructed Roman skenes. Dinner and Overnight in Pamukkale.


Sunday, August 29, 2021: Visit Istanbul (The other “City of Seven Hills” and “The only City on Two Continents”)

This morning, we’ll fly to Istanbul (flights booked and included with tour). After arriving in Istanbul, we’ll visit Hagia Sophia (the church of “Holy Wisdom”). Built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century as the crowning achievement of his sacred building program, this church was the center of the Christian Byzantine Empire. It’s one of the world’s greatest architectural marvels and a designated World Heritage site. Located nearby is the Hippodrome (a.k.a. Sultanahmet Square) that once stood in the heart of the Byzantine city of Constantinople and originally held up to 100,000 people. Although little is left of this gigantic horseracing arena, there are a number of impressive columns and other structures situated at the site, such as the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpent Column, and the gazebo-styled German Fountain.

We’ll end our day with a relaxing Boat Tour along the Bosphorus that offers an excellent vantage point to view Istanbul’s many famous landmarks that dot both its European and Asian shores. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul (2 nights).


Monday, August 30, 2021: Visit Istanbul (Ancient Byzantium/Constantinople)

You will enjoy a guided Istanbul Tour first passing the Golden Horn and making a quick stop at the St Chora Church famous for its Golden Mosaics. Today, we’ll visit Hagia Sophia’s sister church–Hagia Irene (Holy Peace). Also rebuilt by Justinian, Hagia Irene is particularly important in Christian History as the location of the 2nd Ecumenical Council (381 AD). Then we’ll explore Topkapi Palace, the Imperial Residential Palace of the Ottoman sultans between the 16th and 19th centuries and the oldest and largest of their remaining palaces in the world. Its displays include priceless world-class collections of jewelry, porcelain and costumes of the sultans.
After lunch, we will make our way to Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum—one of the most celebrated collections in the world. Among its treasures are the Siloam inscription from Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem (cf., 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chron. 32:30; John 9:7), Herod’s Temple Warning Inscription forbidding Gentiles to enter upon pain of death (cf., Acts 21:27-31; 24:6,12,13), the Gezer calendar (one of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions dating to the 10th cent. BCE details the agricultural seasons in Israel), and stunning tile panels from Nebuchadnezzar’s Ishtar gate in Babylon (ca. 7th-6th cent. BCE). If not under construction and time allowing, we will also visit the Blue Mosque, which was built during the years of 1609–1616 and which was intended to compete with the impressive beauty of the Hagia Sophia. Inside, the famous blue–and–white tile work from which the mosque gets its nickname, is bathed in light from 260 windows. The day will end with a stroll through the colorful and fragrant Egyptian Spice Market, a feast for the senses, to enjoy its sights, smells, and tastes. Dinner and Overnight in Istanbul.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021: Take transfer to Istanbul Airport. From the airport, you will either fly to Cappadocia for the tour extension or connect with your flight home.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021: Cappadocia Tour Extension (3 Nights)

From the airport, you will fly with the group to Cappadocia (flights book and included with extension), famous in Christian history for the Cappadocian Church Fathers and Mothers who established early Christian communities here. After arrival, we will have a full day of sightseeing in northern Cappadocia visiting the Zelve Valley area famous for its lunar landscapes and whimsical fairy chimneys. These stem and cap rock formations made from volcanic ash are unique to this area of the world. A short drive will take us to the Avanos pottery village to see this local handcraft passed down from generation to generation since the Hittite period as well as the Onyx they also produce. Overnight at our unique boutique Cave Hotel.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021: Cappadocia

This morning, we’ll continue exploring northern Cappadocia with our first stop is at the Göreme Open Air Museum where we will see the remains of several hundred early monasteries, chapels, and churches, including the famous “Dark Church,” that were hollowed out of the cones of volcanic ash. Some of them are decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible. That area also includes the Red and Rose Valleys, aptly named for their red and pink cathedral-like rock spires. It’s one of the loveliest trekking valleys in the region, so we’ll hike through the valley in order to explore more rock-hewn churches before taking a break for lunch in an old Cavusin Greek village known for its Christian heritage.

In the afternoon, we’ll visit Kaymaklı, an underground city that was an early Christian center extending downward in the earth for at least eight floors and housing several thousand people in the 8th & 9th centuries. Then we’ll head back up to check on the Uchisar area to see Love Valley and discover how it gained this moniker. This region also includes Pigeon Valley where the birds’ manure helps to fertilize the rich local vineyards, and those who wish will have an opportunity to try local Cappadocian wine. Our day will end with a hike up to the Uchisar rock castle, the highest point in Cappadocia, to gain a spectacular sunset view of the area. Overnight in Cappadocia.


Thursday, September 2, 2021: Cappadocia

Our tour will head to southern Cappadocia. First, we’ll stop in the Ihlara Valley for a lovely walk along the river that runs through the heart of this gorge carved from the volcanic rock. This valley alone contains almost 60 Byzantine (11th-13th centuries) churches, chapels, monasteries, and hermits’ caves.

Next, we’ll visit the canyons of Soğanlı, an area that has been occupied since Roman times and was a centre for Christianity in the Byzantine Empire. Today, it’s a bit an off-the-beaten path and less visited by most tourists, so we’ll be able to explore at our leisure more cave churches with evocative animal names, such as “Doves,” “Deer,” or “Snake” Churches. Our drive back will take pass through some traditional Turkish villages where you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. Overnight in Cappadocia.


Friday, September 3, 2021: Transfer to Kayseri airports, return flight to Istanbul. Connect with returning flights home.

Kim Hodge
PO Box 7500
Bristol, TN 37621