Turkey Side Trip: The 7 Churches

It is not commonly known the Seven Churches from Revelation were in Turkey and can still be visited today.   Whether interested in the religious, cultural or historical, this is a wonderful 3-4 day excursion that you can do with a tour or on your own.

To visit on your own, I recommend flying into Izmir and renting a car.  Depending on what time of day you arrive, either start with Ephesus or Smyrna.  Smyrna is right downtown Izmir and is a very quick stop.  You want at least half a day to explore Ephesus and more if you combine it with St. John’s Basilica, Temple of Artemis and Mary’s House.  I highly recommend including each of these as they are either literally on your way to Ephesus or in the case of Mary’s House, within an easy drive.

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At Ephesus, follow the signs to park.  However, then avail yourself of a taxi and take it to the other entrance.  This serves three purposes.  1)  The first is to save you the time (and effort) to retrace your steps inside.  2)  But more importantly, you will be at the main entrance to the city and better able to visualize how the city would have looked 2000 years ago.  3)  And most importantly, you will get the most magnificent view of the Library as you come down the hill.  It takes my breath away every time.  Ephesus rivals any ruins you will find in Italy or Greece!  (If spending the night, and you are anxious about the lack of services immediately around Ephesus, you can travel a few minutes to the cruise port town of Kusadasi where they are used to tourists and cater accordingly).

7churches3Next on your route should be Laodicea, Hierapolis and Pamukkale.  (Note:  Hierapolis and Pamukkale are not churches but they are nearby and worthwhile stops) If you start early from Izmir you can fit it all into one very very long day.  If starting from Ephesus then it is much more relaxed.  It was fascinating to see the sights in person, for example, you may recall the passage “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  And when you visit Laodicea you will learn the water merges from the hot springs of Pamukkale and the cold of the ocean, so the natural waters of the area are luke warm.

7churches5While interesting, Laodicea is not a long stop, but plan on some time to explore the extensive ruins of Hierapolis (this is also where Philip was killed and buried) and in the thermal pools of Pamukkale.

Philadelphia, Saris and Thyateria are all within an easy drive of each other and all quick stops.

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Your circle then takes you north to Pergamum (Bergamon) where you will need an hour or two for a proper visit.  This was once a major city and still has a lot to explore even if many of the relics are in Europe’s museums.

Then return to Izmir to visit Symra (if you didn’t make it your first stop), spend a day or two by the sea, to drive North to visit Troy and Gallipoli, for a flight to Cappadocia or Cyprus or to return to Istanbul.

Note: If combining the 7 Churches with Gallipoli or Troy then see Bergamon on the way to or from Izmir as you will pass it.

I don’t know anything about this company or website, but they have one of the best maps of the churches I have found.  http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/seven-churches.html

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