According to the Book of Revelation 1:11, Jesus asks John of Patmos to write seven letters and send them to the seven churches of Asia. Patmos is a Greek island located fifty kilometers off the Aegean Coastline of Turkey nearby Didim. John of Patmos is possibly John the Apostle according to the Book of Revelation and was instructed by Jesus Christ to send letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in his dream. Thanks to the Book of Revelation, House of the Virgin Mary, and the Basilica of Saint John, the western part of the Republic of Turkey has always been a popular destination among Christians and travelers. Many discoverers traveled extensively on the west coast of Anatolia to find the House of the Virgin Mary during Ottoman times. Her House was discovered in 1891 by two French priests and was confirmed by Pope John XXIII.
What are the Seven Churches of Asia and where are they?
The Seven Churches of Asia as stated in the Book of Revelation are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Today, all these are existing names in Turkey as they are ancient cities protected by the Culture and Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey. They are located in the Izmir, Manisa, and Denizli provinces of Turkey. Smyrna is the ancient name of Izmir city which will possibly be your starting point of a tour of the Seven Churches of Asia. Smyrna is located in Izmir city and Pergamum is only 2 hours away from Izmir. Thyatira is located one hour east of Pergamum. Sardis and Philadelphia Churches are very close to each other and they are less than an hour away from Thyatira. The furthest Church of Revelation is Laodicea which is two hours away from Sardis. To complete the tour of Seven Churches, you need to drive to Ephesus which is 2,5 hours away from Laodicea. The House of the Virgin Mary and the Basilica of Saint John is within the vicinity of Ephesus. In three days and two nights in Pergamon and Pamukkale, you can easily visit the Seven Churches of Asia along with the House of the Virgin Mary and The Basilica of Saint John. If you would like to explore the surroundings of the Seven Churches, you should spare a few more nights in the west coast of Turkey.
According to the Book of Revelation (2:1-7) Ephesus is known for having labored hard and not fainted, and separating themselves from the wicked; admonished for having forsaken its first love. The city is very important for Christianity as John the Apostle tought and missioned in Ephesus city. It is widely accepted that The Gospel of John was written in Ephesus. There is a Basilica built in the name of John the Apostle which is located right next to the Ayasuluk Castle which was the first settlement of the people before the Ephesus ancient city. The city survived many invasions during history but the port silted and an earthquake destroyed the city in the 7th Century. Ephesus never gained her earlier importance yet never lost her fame for being the biggest metropolis of its time. Ephesus was home to two councils of Christianity in 449 and 475 which stresses her importance in the Christian World.
Smyrna is admired for its tribulation and poverty; forecast to suffer persecution according to the Book of Revelation (2:8-11). Named after an Amazon Princess, Smyrna was a prosperous city of ancient times thanks to the easily defendable port and is located at the end of the many trading routes coming from Anatolian hinterland. Ancient Smyrna names live in the name of present-day Izmir city. One of the Seven Churches of Asia was established in Smyrna thanks to the big Jewish population in the city. Polycarp's martyrdom in Smyrna is also an important historical event of Smyrna.
The temple of Zeus in the ancient city of Pergamon is stated as the seat of the satan in the Book of Revelation (2:12-17). Pergamon was the second most important city of the Hellenistic Era and the Kingdom of Pergamon established many cities in the western and Mediterranean regions of Anatolia such as Hierapolis nearby Pamukkale and Attelia which is Antalya at present. The ancient Serapis Temple was converted into a Church by the early Christians and one part of the Serapis temple is still used as a mosque today by the Muslim community of today's Bergama city.
Known for its charity, whose "latter works are greater than the former"; tolerates the teachings of a false prophetess says the Book of Revelation about Thyatira (2:18-29). The quote is because of a woman named Jezebel who called herself a prophetess and tried to convince the Christians of Thyatira to make fornication and eat the meat of the sacrificed animals to the pagan gods. Paul the Apostle and Saint Silas is believed to have visited the city during the second journey of Saint Paul. The Christian community remained in Thyatira until the population exchange held between Greece and Turkey in 1922.
Sardis is admonished for - in contrast to its good reputation - being dead; cautioned to fortify itself and return to God through repentance according to the Book of Revelation (3:1-6). Sardis has always been an important city in history thanks to her location. The city is erected on the fertile plains of Aegean low lands and busy trading routes. The city sparkled thanks to the first coins minted in history. Sardis was the capital to the Persians and a seat of a proconsul during Roman times. The Synagogue of Sardis and the Jewish community attracted the early Christians to settle and build churches in the area along with one of the Seven Churches of Asia.
Philadelphia is known as steadfast in the faith, keeping God's word, and enduring patiently according to the Book of Revelation 3:7-13). Philadelphia means the one who loves his brother in the Greek language. King of Pergamon Eumenes II built the city in the name of his brother who was his successor as the King of Pergamon. Like Thyatira, there was a big Christian community in Philadelphia until the end of the first World War. Today Protestant Christians use the "Philadelphia" name for their churches to emphasize their faithfulness.
Laodicea is called lukewarm and insipid in the Book of Revelation (3:16). The Church of Laodicea stands in the ancient city of Laodicea which is very close to the popular tourist destination Pamukkale. Meaning cotton castle in Turkish, Pamukkale is a white travertine mound stretching roughly a kilometer. Due to the thermal waters, Pamukkale - Hierapolis has always been a popular tourist destination shadowing Laodicea. However, thanks to the recent excavations in Laodicea and her importance in history, the last church of Asia will gain popularity very soon. Thanks to the enormous Jewish population of the Phrygian cities such as Hierapolis and Colossae, Laodicea was of great importance to Paul the Apostle.
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