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The oldest form of tourism in the wold,in fact, that of pilgrimage,can come to life again particulary in this area. Anatolia and the Mediterranean region is the region which after the idea of a single god had been formed in particular ambraced the three great religions which believe in a single god. This area awaits those firm believers in all four corners of the world who are interested in ancient religions . Some of the disciples and St.Paul, one of the pillars of the Chritian religion and St.Nicholas Who is today indivisible fro the spirit of Chrismas, all lived or worked in this area. St.Paul’s Well Which has for centuries been a source of health to believers is still to be found surrounded by old houses in Tarsus today.The cave of heaven, one of the places of secred worship used by the first Christians where the dead were left in the belief that they would rise to heaven, is not far from the well in the garden of St. Paul’s house.St.Peter’s Church,hollowed out of rock 2 mile northeast of Antakya,was proclaimed a place of holy pilgrimage by Pope Paul VI in 1963. St.Peter who came to Antakya in the year 29 A.D. after the death of Jesus preached to the people in this rock-hewn church where the term “Christian” was usedfor the first time. The fact that St.Peter and the other disciples had the use an escape tunnel ( today covered over with earth ) shows what great persecution they had to face in the course of bringing the message of Jesus to the people. The water which drips from the rock-face inside the church has for centuries been declared to have healing properties and has turned this sacred place in to a shrine where people from every faith can seek a solution to their cares.
15 kilometres east of Nevsehir and 6 west of Ürgüp lies one of the most interesting places not to the missed, the Open-air museum of Cappodocia. From Avcilar to Ürgüp, Göreme, Avanos, Zelve and Ihlara, more than 300 churches hewn in the rock are to be found. Already an ideal place where hermits would retire in search of an ascetic life closer to God, it developed as a monastic centre in the fourth century, after Saint Basil the Great wrote the Rule of the Monastic Life. The churches richly decorated, depicting the life of the Lord and figures of Saints are the cradle of christian monastic art which paved the way to the Byzantine art later embellishing the famous churches of the cities.
NICAEA / IZNIK / Saint Sophia
Named Antigoneia, after its founder, Antigonos, a General in the army of Alexander the Great, changed its name when it was captured by Lysimachus, who gave it as a gift to his wife Nicaea. It was the venue of the first and seventh Ecumenical Councils in 325 and 787 respectively. The church of Haghia Sophia, right in the centre of the city, at the crossroads, was built by the Emperor Justinian in the six century. The II Nicaean Council met here. Another church still existing, is the Church of the Assumption in the south-western part of the city, half way between the gates of Lefke and Yeni?ehir.
ISTANBUL / Byzantion / Constantinopolis /Istanbul
One of the most fascinating cities of the world, a city bridging two continents, Asia and Europe, the capital of three great empires, ?stanbul has been ruled by 123 monarchs: 10 Roman Emperors, 82 Byzantine Kings and 30 Ottoman Sultans.
An unmatched blend of cultures, traditions, folklore and faiths, its rich history of more than two and a half millennial make of ?stanbul a unique city also today, in spite of its being overpopulated and of the shabby gecekondu (night-dwellings) surrounding it.
HAGHIA SOPHIA- The first church to be built on this spot, dedicated to the Divine Wisdom, was officialy opened on February 15, 360 during the reign of Constantius, son of Constantine the Great. It was destroyed during the riots protesting the exile of the Patriarch John Chrysostome by Empress Eudoxia, wife of the Emperor Arcadius in 404. Reconstruction work was taken up by Theodosius II, Son of Arcadius in 408 and it was completed and dedicated in October 10, 415 to be again gutted by flames during the Nika Revolt in 532. Justinian immediately set out to build the church on a greater scale and commisioned the task to Anthemius of Traelles and Isidorus of Miletus, the two greatest architects of the age. The construction work was finished late in 538 and it was dedicated on December 26, Saint Stephen’s day of the same year. Sultan Mehmet the Conquerer, on the very same day he entered the city, May 29, 1453, converted it into a mosque and served as such for nearly five century. In 1935, by the will of the Founder of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk, it was declared a National Museum.
HAGHIA IRENE CHURCH- One of the oldest churches in Byzantion, Constantine the Great rebuilt it on a larger scale, dedicating it to Christ Our Peace. Until the construction of Haghia Sophia it was the Patriarchal Cathedral. Gutted by flames during the Nika Revolt, Justinian built it again together with Haghia Sophia and it was rededicated approximately at the same time. Located in the first courtyard of Topkap? Saray, it is now used as a concert hall.
HAGHIA EUPHEMIA CHURCH – What remains of this church are just ruins. It was built in honour of Saint Euphemia, a virgin, martyred in Chalcedon in 303. Her remains were transferred to Constantinople in the seventh century in a newly built church. Some frescoes representing scenes from her life and martyrdom are still preserved, protected by glass pains, in bad condition.
SAINT SAVIOUR PANTEPOPTES – This church dedicated to Christ the All-Seeing Saviour, was founded by the Empress Anna Delasenna, mother of the Emperor Alexius Commenun, between 1085-90. She, later in her life, retired in this monastery where she died in 1105. It is in a sad state of delapidation.
THEOTOKOS KYRIOTISSA CHURCH- By some called mistakenly Saint Saviour Kataleptos, today it is certain that it was dedicated to Saint Mary Kyriotissa (Lady). Converted into a mosque it is called Kalenderhane Camii. It dates to the late twelfth century. The most sensational thing about this church is the discovery of a fresco cycle of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi in one of the side chapels, probably painted in the late thirteenth century, a few decaeds after the Saint’s death. Masterly restored, it can be seen in the Byzantine section of the Museum of Archeology.
THEOTOKOS PAMMACARISTOS CHURCH- The main church was built in the twelfth century by a certain John Comnenus and his wife Anna Doukaina. At the beginning of the fourteenth century Michael Glabas added a side chapel to the southeast as a resting place for himself and his family. In the side chapel beautifully restored, one can admire some of the finest examples of Byzanthine mosaics of the early fourteenth century. The main building still used as a mosque is known as Fethiye Camii.
SAINT SAVIOUR IN CHORA MONASTERY & CHURCH- Dedicated to Christ the Saviour, it was originally outside the Constantine Walls, hence in “in Chora” meaning in the country. Very probably it was first built in the fifth century, restored or rather rebuilt in the late eleventh century, and finally modified to its present form two centuries later. For its superb series of frescoes and mosaics dating back to 1315-1321 approximately well preserved and magnificently restored, it is the most important Byzantine church in Istanbul. Converted into a mosque in the early sixteenth century, Ataturk declared it a National Museum.
PANTOCRATOR MONASTERY&CHURCH- This composite building consisting of two churches and a chapel in between was built between 1120 and 1136. The monastery, which today is no more, and the church dedicated to Christ. The Almighty was built by the Empress Eirene some years before her death. Her husband, John II Commenus, after her death, erected its twin church dedicated to the Holy Virgin Eleousa (The Merciful) and the chapel connecting the two churches as a mortuary for himself and the Commenian family. This chapel is today used as a mosque, but the whole unique complex needs to be urgently restored, if it is to be saved for posterity.
HAGHIA THEODOSIA CHURCH – The church dates back to the late eleventh or early twelfth century and is dedicated to the Virgin Martyr Theodosia. It is said that when the city was captured on May 29, feast of the Saint, the church was decked by roses and when the Ottoman soldiers entered the church, they found the roses still in place. Hence the name Gül Camii, i.e. the Mosque of the Roses.
MONASTRY&CHURCH OF CONSTANTINE LIPS - Another complex made up of two churches and a monastery. The first was built by Constantine Lips in 907 and dedicated to the Theotokos Pamachrantos (The Immaculate Mother of God). The second added to the original some 350 years later by Empress Theodora, wife of Michael VIII Paleologus was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.
SAINT ANDREW IN KRISEI CHURCH- The history of this church is very obscure. The most attendable version is that identifying it with the one built by the Princess Theodora Raoulaina about 1284 and dedicated to Saint Andrew of Crete on the foundations of an earlier church bearing the name of Saint Andrew the Apostle, considered as the Apostle who brought the faith to Byzantion.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John The Apostle
EPHESOS- Very probably the largest archeological site in Turkey, it rises on the north slope of Mount Pion extending southward to the slope of Mount Koressos. First founded some 2000 years before Christ, it was rebuilt in the year 1000 B.C.. Lysimachus, left here by Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. fortified the city by walls for the fist time. Third after Alexandria and Antiochia, during the Roman period it was designated as the capital of Asia Minor. Paul came to Ephesos for a first short visit in 51 A.D., but was back for three years from 54 to 57 A.D.. Among other things, in Ephesus there are the remains of the first church to be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, where the Third Ecumenical Council was held in 431 A.D.. Saint John lived here and wrote his Gospel and the last Book of the New Testament, the Apocalypse or Revelation. The first letter of this Book is addressed to the community (church) of Ephesos. He died here at a very old age and was buried on Ayasulug Hill, where the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century build a famous basilica, now in ruins.
The House of Mother Mary is on the top of Bulbul Da? (the Mount of the Nightingale), seven kilometres south of the ancient city of Ephesos. Here the Blessed Virgin is said to have lived her last years on earth. It was reconstructed on the foundations unearthed in 1891 by the Lazarist Fathers following the detailed description given by a German bedridden pious lady who claimed to have been shown this neighbourhood during visions of the Virgin Mother with which she has been pridileged. Soon after, this place started to attract pilgrims and today this is visited by pilgrims who come from all over the world. Pope John XXIII visited this shrine many times during his stay as Apostolic Delegate in Turkey while Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II came here as pilgrims in 1967 and 1979 respectively.

MYRA / DEMRE / Saint Nicholas
This was an ancient Lycian city built on the banks of the river Myra, 2 kilometres from Kale. In the harbour of Myra, Paul starts the second leg of his voyage to Rome, where he was to stand judgement. The prisoners were transferred to a cargo vessel carrying grain to the Capital and set out on their hazardous trip. Here one can see what remains of the church originally built in the fourth century as the resting place of Saint Nicholas and later enlarged to today’s dimensions.
TARSUS / Saint Paul
This country, 27 kilomtres east of Mersin, was the most important commercial port in the province of Cilicia since 2300 B.C.. Some decades before Christ, the Romans granted her the status of a free city with the priviliges such a title entailed. Paul was born here and never disowned his birthplace. On the contrary, in Jerusalem, as he was being arrested and taken into the fortress, Saint Paul somewhat proudly, told the tribune: “I am a Jew and a citizen of the well-known city of Tarsus in Cilicia”.
Clinging to a cliff face, on a sharp slope near Altindere, is the most important and prestigious monastery of the area. Its name is corruption of Panaghia tou Melas, or “The Virgin of the Black Rock” or “The Black Virgin”.

HARRAN / CARRHAE / The Patriarch Abraham
40 kilometres east of Edessa, it was both a cultural and religious centre throughout ancient history. Here Abraham, considered as the Father of the three Monotheist Religions, was born ofi Terakh a migrant from Ur of the Chaldeans. From here he set out, at God’s command, wandering in the unknown towards the Promised Land.
Antioch was founded by Seleucius I, a Commander in the Army of Alexander the Great, in the year 300 B.C.. Because of its strategic position it soon became an important commercial center. Under the Romans, 64 B.C. it was the third city after Rome and Alexandria and the most important commercial and political centre in the Middle-east. At the crossroads between east and west with a strong Jewish diaspora, it became a bridge bringing closer Hellenistic philosophy to the monotheistic concept underlying Jewish culture. Here, the Judaeo-Christians, escaping or expelled from Jerusalem during the first persecution (34 A.D.) brought the new faith in the risen Lord. When the news reached the Apostles they immediately sent Barnabas to assess the situation. Having ascertained the prevailing favourable conditions, he went to Cilicia looking for Paul and with him he came back. For one year, together they taught and confirmed the converts in their new belief. We know that Peter visited the flourishing Christian community made up of Jews and pagan converts and stayed here for some time. The tradition that he was the first bishop of this church belongs to a later date, however one thing is certain: he was the first among the Twelve to visit this church. It was and is still considered as one of the first four most important churches of the first Christian century, together with Rome, Jerusalem and Alexandria.
THE CHURCH OF SAINT PETER -A cave on the slope of Mount Sipylus, two kilometres outside the city, is said to be the first meeting place of the Christians, where Paul and Barnaba gathered the faithful for the liturgy and where Peter himself celebrated the Eucharist. The facade dates back to the time of the Crusades.
SELEUCIA AD PIERA- A harbour which served the city of Antioch from the very first years of its foundation in 300 BC. Under the Romans it became the base of the fleet. Saint Paul set sail from here on his missionary journeys.
SAINT SIMON STYLITE MONASTERY On the highway connecting Samandað to Antakya, close to Nahýrlý village, there is the base of a pillar on which Saint Simon Stylite the Younger (521-592) chained himself and lived for 25 years. Around this column is the complex octagonal layout of the monastery founded by him enshrining the remains of two churches. PISIDIAN
Pisidian Antioch, 56 kilometres west of Aksehir, was one of the cities which Saint Paul together with Barnabas, visited on his first missionary expedition in Anatolia. After preaching in the syragogue, where he was strongly contested, he “turned to the pagans”, who with great joy listened to his sermons and embraced the New Way. A church, the remains of which were excavated some years ago, was dedicated to Saint Paul during the late fourth or early fifth century. The aqueduct to north of the city can still be admired.

Hierapolis is right on the ridge of Pamukkale, to the east of village bearing the same name and 22 miles in the same direction from Denizli. One of the largest necropolis, it had once a famous basilica on the Martyrion of Saint Philip.



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