DAY 13 – FRIDAY, MAY 8
This was our last full day. Once again, the weather was perfect, with sun and highs in the 70s. It was a day of focusing upon the Churches of Revelation (Rev. 2-3). We checked out of our hotel in Izmir and visited ancient Smyrna, the first of four churches of Revelation that will saw today. While the excavations here are limited, at least we could peak through the fence and see the agora (market place). Later in the 2nd century AD, this is where Polycarp lost his life (in 153 AD).
From here we drove to Sardis. It is a site out in the country-side today. We saw the impressive (and huge) Temple of Artemis as well as the gymnasium and synagogue (3rd century AD). Driving about an hour through many small Turkish villages was very interesting. Most Turks in rural areas live in modest ways. The many fields of flowers (poppies) were beautiful!
We next visited Thyatira. Excavations here are also limited and unimpressive (mostly Late Roman). We once again read the narrative John wrote about the church here in the 1st century. After the visit, we enjoyed a great lunch. Most of us had either the meatballs or a “ram” burger.
Our last site to visit was the highlight of the day – Pergamum. We took the cable car to the top of the acropolis. From on top, the visibility was superb, allowing us to see at least 25 miles (almost to the coast of the Aegean Sea!). Pergamum was a city of about 10 pagan temples. We saw the ones dedicated and built in honor of Trajan, Hadrian, and Dionysus. The “altar of Zeus” could also be seen. This was probably what John had in mind when he wrote about the “throne of Satan.” Given all the white stone at the site, we also celebrated that fact that we are “proclaimed innocent” through Christ (the judicial act of holding up a white stone was a way to display an innocent verdict).
Upon descending by the cable car down to the bottom, we briefly visited the Red Bascillica (Late Roman) before driving about two hours back to Izmir. After check-in, we boarded and flew to Istanbul. We were met by our agent and bus. We drove to our hotel for a late dinner and overnight.
It was a great full day here along the western coast of Turkey.
DAY 14 – SATURDAY, MAY 9
We plan to fly home on a morning flight back to JFK, NY.