PAUL IN TARSUS
Tarsus is the birthplace of Paul. Tarsus is included at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. Places to see are:
- CHURCH OF PAUL; Serving as a monument museum today, the Church of Paul is located in the Ulu Mosque quarter. The Church dedicated to Paul was originally built in the 11th and 12th centuries and went under a major renovation in 1862. There are frescoes depicting Christ and the Four Evangelists with Angels on the roof. The Church hosted the "St Paul Symposium and Ceremony" organized by Vatican in 1992-93.
- PAUL'S WELL; An ancient well thought to be from the courtyard of Paul's house is located in the Kizilmurat quarter close to the Cumhuriyet Meydani (Republic Square). The water level never drops and the water is believed to be sacred with healing properties.
- ANCIENT ROAD; The road used by Paul on his journeys and when he lived in Tarsus is an ancient road of basalt stone that has survived to this day. It is located in the Cumhuriyet Meydani, 300 meters south of the well's courtyard. By stepping onto this ancient road, it is possible to travel in time to the years Paul lived.
PAUL IN ANTIOCH:
The name Antioch is derived from Antiochus, the father of Seleucus I, who was a contemporary of Alexander the Great. Because of its strategic location at the crossroads of Anatolia and the Middle East, Antioch has been host to many civilizations. After Rome, Alexandria and Ephesus, Antioch was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire. It became the starting point for Paul’s journeys.
After having converted to Christianity, Paul and Barnabas have been visited by the Holy Spirit who instructed them that their mission was to spread the name of Jesus Christ. This was the beginning of Paul’s many years of travelling. On his first journey, Paul and Barnabas travelled from Antioch in 46 AD by boarding a ship from Seleucia Peria (Samandag) to Cyprus. The starting point for his second and third journeys was also Antioch.
Places to visit:
Cave Church of Peter: Located in the northeast of Antioch, it is the oldest church in the world. It is where Peter and Barnabas prayed alongside Paul. Peter was regarded the head of the church. The first Christian Meeting was held in this cave. For the first time in the history, the name Christian was used here for the congregation of this church. Today, there are the remains of mosaics dating back to 5th century AD. There is a tunnel to the left of the altar, and it is assumed that this was to facilitate the escape of the church members in times of persecution. The church was extended by several meters in the 11th century by crusaders. In 1863 Pope Pius IX renovated the church with the help of Napoleon III. In 1963 Pope Paul IV confirmed it as a place of pilgrimage for Christians. Every year on the 29th of June there is a religious ceremony in the church attended by people coming from various places.
Samandag: The monastery of Simon is constructed on the highest peak of Samandag in remembrance of Simon who patiently spent long years living on top of a 13 meters tall column. The name Samandag is derived from the Arabic word of Simon, Sam, thus the name means literally Simon’s Mountain.
PAUL IN MERSIN
Mersin, located on Turkey's southern coast, was visited by Paul during his second journey. By travelling along the roads that took him through Tarsus, Silifke and Mut, you can see the places where he was born and where he lived as well as the churches dating from the early Christian period dedicated to Paul and others.
PAUL IN PERGA
Paul visited Perga (Perge) twice during his first journey. He came by sea to Perga at the start of his first voyage. On his way back, he visited Perga again and preached the word of God to the locals. Most of the churches that have survived today are in basilica style and date from the 5th and 6th centuries. The symmetrical towers that are the symbol of Perga are situated on either side of the city’s most important entrance gate. It is probable that Paul entered the city by this gate and that he went down the column-lined street beyond it.
PAUL IN PSIDIAN ANTIOCH (YALVAC)
Paul visited Psidian Antioch twice during his first journey. Paul’s speech affected many people to such degree that they wanted him to address them again. For the next sermon almost the whole population of Psidian Antioch assembled to hear him speak. As a result, many people converted to Christianity. However some opponents of Christianity in the city were angry at the newcomers and started to persecute Paul and Barnabas, and the two of them were ejected from the city limits. Despite this seatback Paul had achieved his purpose and on leaving here for Iconium (Konya), he left behind many new believers.
In Psidian Antioch, you can see the ruins of Church of Paul built in 325 AD on the site of the synagogue in which Paul first preached. This is believed to be the first church dedicated to Paul. The floor is covered by remarkable mosaics. Amongst the mosaics can be found the name of the Bishop Optimius who attended the Ecumenical Council held in Istanbul in 381 AD. When Paul visited Psidian Antioch in the 1st Century, it had a population of approximately 70,000 and was one of the biggest cities in the Roman Empire. Today, you can also see the Temple of Augustus, the Theatre, a Monumental Fountain, the Roman Baths and the Yalvac Museum.
PAUL IN ICONIUM (KONYA)
After having left Yalvac and before crossing the Sultan Mountains, Paul and Barnabas arrived in Konya by following the Eastern Trade Route and the King's Road through Ilgin-Ladik. Konya was a place in which they made many moving speeches and where they succeeded in converting many people to Christianity. The most important of these people was St. Thecla who was much affected by Paul's sermons and went on to become one of Christianity's foremost missionaries. She was the first female martyr.
While one group supported Paul, there was another group set against him. When Paul heard that the other group were thinking to assault them, Paul and Barnabas escaped from Konya to go to Lystra and Derbe.
PAUL IN LYSTRA (HATUNSARAY) & DERBE
Coming to Lystra, Paul performed a miracle by endowing a man who had been crippled from birth and who had never walked, with the ability of walk. The people of Lystra were greatly impressed by the miracle and attributed to Paul and Barnabas the names of pagan gods because they assumed that they were these gods. They wanted to organize ceremonies at the city gates and sacrifice animals in their honor. Hearing this Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and went among the people saying "we are people just like you and we have brought you the Good News. Leave empty gestures like this and turn to the one God that created everything" and thus prevented the sacrifice. However, elements against Christianity from outside the city took the people of Lystra to their side and had Paul stoned. Despite the heavy injuries he incurred he did not stop to recuperate but went together with Barnabas to Derbe where he succeeded in converting many people to Christianity with his words. Derbe was the final stop of the First Journey. Paul also visited Lystra and Derbe on his Second Journey. In Lystra he found one of his greatest supporters Timothy whom he kept close to him and together with whom he continued his journeys.
PAUL IN EPHESUS
Paul first visit to Ephesus was during his Second Journey. Here, Paul went into Synagogues and spoke on various subjects. When asked by the Ephesians to stay longer he answered "if it is God's will, I will come back to you". On his Third Journey, Paul stayed in Ephesus three years 53-56 AD. He wrote his epistles that appear in the Bible here explaining God's decrees to the Ephesians, Galatians and other communities. He talked at Synagogues. He performed many miracles. These miracles had the effect of greatly enhancing the respect in which Jesus and Paul were held. Supporters of pagan Goddess Artemis were not happy and they did not let Paul speak at the Grand Theater in Ephesus. Paul went to Macedonia to attract new disciples. When he arrived back from Macedonia, at Miletus he invited the City Elders of Ephesus and told them with a heavy heart and with tears how he served God and continued to spread the word inspire of all trials and tribulations. However, he told them that he had to go to Jerusalem.
Ephesus is an important city in terms of Christianity. Home to one of the Seven Churches of the Revelation, Ephesus is the place where the third Ecumenical Council took place in 431 AD. Gospel author John the Evangelist who was given the tasks of conveying messages to the first seven churches lived here in Ephesus.
Cave of Paul & Thecla: Carved out of rock, the cave is on the northern slopes of Bulbul Mountain. It consists of a corridor with the dimensions of 15 x 2 meters and a room connected with this corridor. Closed to the entrance are depictions of Paul and Thecla. In interior parts is an inscription which reads "God, help your servant Timothy| and other inscriptions beseeching Paul.
Church of John: John the Evangelist came to Ephesus with Virgin Mary. The Emperor Domitian wanted him executed but he escaped each attempt to kill him by performing a miracle. After spending a time in exile he came to Ephesus and it is believed he died here. For this reason the first monumental tomb dedicated to him was built here in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. In the 4th century AD, a church was constructed on top of his tomb by the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora who built Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
PAUL IN TROAS
Paul first visited Troas (Canakkale) in order to get to Macedonia on his Second Journey. On his Third Journey he spent more time here. Going to Troas by sea he found people expecting him and he spent seven days here preaching. One of the miracles he performed in Troas was to resurrect from the dead of a child that had fallen from a window whilst listening to him. After leaving Troas he chose to walk rather than go by sea and he took the direct route to Assos (Behramkale). After having met in Assos, Paul and his companions travelled to Miletus by sea.
PAUL IN DEMRE
Demre was the first port that the ship Paul was boarded on the way to Rome.
Santa Claus was born in Patara but, served as the Bishop of Demre. St. Nicholas did what he could to help all people, not only children as is believed nowadays. Christmas tradition of giving presents dates back to his leaving gifts outside the doors of the poor families in 270 AD.