Pictures from Turkey

The Roots of Faith

Exploring Christian, Muslim and Jewish Heritage in Eastern Turkey

Led by:

The Rev. Les Hughs

May 1 – 14, 2010

Trip map

DAY 1, Saturday, May 1, 2010 - Depart the United States - We begin our pilgrimage with a trans-Atlantic flight from New York’s JFK Airport with a connection in Frankfurt for our flight into Istanbul. D

DAY 2: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - Arrive in Trabzon - We arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our final flight to Trabzon.  Here in this city, founded by Greeks on the Black Sea coast in seventh-century B.C., we meet our friendly “Merhaba” (Hello) from our guide, Mehmet, who will escort us to our hotel for a get-acquainted dinner.  Overnight in Trabzon. BD

DAY 3: Monday, May 3, 2010 - Trabzon/Erzurum - This morning we begin with a visit to the Armenian-style Church of Aya Sofia – built in 1250 and converted to a mosque in 1461 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II.  Then, leaving Trabzon behind, we will travel by motor coach to the astonishingly beautiful fourteenth-century Sumela Monastery carved out of, and seemingly hanging from, the rock walls of a cliff.  At one time it was the most important monastery in Asia.  In the afternoon, we travel by bus to Erzurum, founded in 400 A.D. and called Arz-er-rum, “Land of the Romans.”  “Inşallah” (God willing), there will be time for a visit to some of the local Seljuk monuments such as the Great Mosque and Double Minaret, products of the Turco-Islamic renaissance – unforgettable for their unique architecture.  Overnight in Erzurum. BD

DAY 4: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 - Erzurum/Ani/Kars - Our bus drives along the Araxes River arriving at Kars.  We proceed to Ani on the border between Turkey and Armenia.  Once known as The City of 1,000 Churches, it was a medieval metropolis, with numerous churches and buildings of great splendor, that served as the capital of Christian Armenia.  All that remains of this once prosperous city, in addition to its fortified walls, are a handful of churches, including the lovely Virgin Mary Cathedral, and an early mosque, all in ruins.  That which remains reminds us of the glory that once was here.  Overnight in Kars. BD

DAY 5: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 - Kars/Doğubeyazit/Mt. Ararat/Van - A southbound drive will take us through the countryside to Doğubeyazit where we visit remote and lovely Işak Paşa Sarayi, the palace of an eighteenth-century provincial Ottoman governor who built it using a mixture of Georgian, Persian and Osmanli (Ottoman) architectural styles.  We continue our journey around Mt. Ararat (Arğı Dağı), an inactive volcano that, at 16,400 feet, is capped with ice and snow year-round.  The Bible records that it was on this mountain that Noah’s Ark came to rest after the Great Flood.  The beautiful Muradiye waterfalls will be our last stop before arriving in Van.  Overnight at Lake Van. BD

DAY 6: Thursday, May 6, 2010 - Van - Today we have a full-day tour around Van (ancient Tuşpa) and Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey.  Our first stop will be the Citadel which dates to the ninth-century B.C. with cuneiform inscriptions in Babylonian, Persian and Medic.  From Van we will travel south to Çavuştepe, with its Urartian palace dating from 750 B.C., and then on to picturesque Hoşap Castle, a “modern” castle-in-the-sky built by a seventeenth-century Kurdish warlord.  Following a lake-side lunch, we will enjoy a boat ride to Akdamar Island where we will visit the beautiful tenth-century Armenian Church of the Holy Cross.  The outside walls of this well-preserved cruciform structure are lavishly decorated with intricate reliefs of biblical scenes and Armenian saints.  Overnight at Lake Van. BD

DAY 7: Friday, May 7, 2010 - Van/Hasankeyf/Mardin - From Van we drive west with a quick stop along the way to visit the thirteenth-century Malaabadi bridge, one of the largest spans of single-arched bridges of the past.  We will continue on to the area of Batman where we will explore the remains of Hasankeyf on the Tigris River, before it is lost beneath the water after the installation of a proposed hydroelectric dam.  The first dwellings here were caves in the same rock cliff that later served as the foundation for a stone fortress, mosque, palaces and many lesser homes. Next to the river stands a single minaret unique because of its double spiral staircases within.  We will then continue on to Mardin.  Overnight in Mardin. BD

DAY 8: Saturday, May 8, 2010 - Mardin - Today we explore the area around Mardin, especially Tur Abdin, “the plateau of the servants of God,” and Midyat, well-known for its stone carvings and monasteries.  Much of the population of this area is Suryani or Syrian Orthodox Christian.  We visit the fourth-century monastery Mar Gabriel where the Aramaic language from the time of Jesus is still in use.  We return to Mardin where you will visit the archeological museum or wander the quaint narrow streets and take in the shops and sights on the high hillside overlooking the vast Mesopotamian plains.  Overnight in Mardin. BD

DAY 9: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - Mardin/Şanlıurfa - We will drive west to Şanlıurfa (Urfa, Edessa), believed by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden.  While there we will visit the mosque containing the cave reputed to be the Birthplace of Abraham and the nearby Pool of Abraham with its sacred carp.  A short bus ride will bring us to Harran where it is said that Abraham and Sarah were living when God’s call to go to the land of Canaan was received.  It is also the location of Jacob’s Well, the site of the famous meeting between the patriarch Jacob and his beloved Rachel.  We will see ruins of the oldest Islamic university, which was also an astronomy center with its observation tower still standing.  Today the village is best known for its unique mud houses with beehive-shaped domes.  We will return to Şanlıurfa to wander and “window” shop in the bazaar.  Overnight in Şanlıurfa. BD

DAY 10: Monday, May 10, 2010 - Şanlıurfa//Mt. Nemrut/Adıyaman - After an early start we will head north to Mt. Nemrut (Nemrut Dağı).  While at 7,053 feet it is the highest point in Northern Mesopotamia, we walk up only the last 1,000 feet to see the first-century B.C. funerary monument of Antiochus I, whose famous sculptures of the gods sit with their colossal heads at their feet as a result of long-ago earthquakes.  From the top of the mountain we can enjoy a spectacular view of Upper Mesopotamia.  We will be able to observe more ruins of the Commagene kingdom on the way to Kâhta and our hotel in Adıyaman.  Overnight in Adıyaman. BD

Day 11: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - Adıyaman/Gaziantep/Antakya - Today we travel to Antakya by way of Gaziantep (Antep), a 4,000-year-old Hittite capital city known for the world’s best baklava.  Schedule permitting, we will visit the new Zeugma Museum housing the mosaics rescued from a recently submerged Roman city built on the banks of the Euphrates as a military outpost. In the afternoon, we will arrive in Antakaya (Antioch) where St. Paul began his ministry with St. Barnabas.  They were joined there by St. Peter and it is here that the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians.”  We visit the cave church outside the city where St. Peter gathered the early Christians to pray.  The Antakya Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of Roman mosaics in the world, will be another highlight of our visit to this ancient city.  Overnight in Antakya. BD

DAY 12: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - Antakya/Tarsus/İstanbul - This morning a relaxing drive along the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean with the Taurus Mountains to our right will take us to Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul.  Here we will visit the Well of St. Paul located near a recently unearthed first-century Roman street.  The city is rich in more than religious history.  Cleopatra and Marc Antony are said to have first met here, and Alexander the Great marched his armies through this land, as did the Crusaders.  After visiting Tarsus we will continue on to Adana, one of the largest cities of Turkey, where we will proceed to the airport for our evening flight to İstanbul.  Overnight in İstanbul. BD

DAY 13: Thursday, May 13, 2010 - İstanbul - Rest, relax, explore and enjoy your day at leisure in this picturesque city.  We have a Farewell Dinner while enjoying the view of this fabled city from the rooftop restaurant of our hotel.  Overnight in İstanbul. BD

DAY 14: Friday, May 4, 2010 - Depart Turkey - Following breakfast at our hotel, we will leave for the airport and our return flight scheduled to arrive in New York in the afternoon. BLS

Price: $3,699.00.  Price is based on double occupancy without airline taxes and fuel surcharges.  Roundtrip air from New York/Newark.  Air transportation available from other cities.  Single supplement $499.00.

Deposit of $300.00 per person due by January 15, 2010

*A $20.00 USD Cash Only Payment (Exact amount) due upon arrival into Turkey for your Visa.  *Price for Turkish Visa subject to change without notice.

Final Payment due March 1, 2010

Cancellation Penalties
◊ $100.00 per person before January 15, 2010.
◊ $200.00 per person before February 28, 2010.
◊ After March 1, 2010: NO REFUND

An application for travel insurance will be included with the receipt for your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you seriously consider this coverage.

Meals: B Breakfast, L Lunch, D Dinner, S Snack

The itinerary is subject to change due to local conditions or at the discretion and direction of the leader or guide.