Christianity was born in the Holy Land, but it became a world religion in that other Holy Land, Roman Asia Minor.
St Paul—Paul of Tarsus—took the message of Christianity to his homeland, making four significant journeys to the churches of Asia Minor.
Today you can visit his home city of Tarsus, the Seven Churches of Revelation at Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna(İzmir), Pergamum (Bergama), Sardis (Sart, east of İzmir), Philadelphia (Alaşehir), Laodicea (Goncalı, between Denizli and Pamukkale) and Thyatira (Akhisar).
The story doesn’t end with Paul. Christianity throve in Asia Minor for well over a millennium.
Saint Nicholas, whose story later to give birth to the legend of Santa Claus, was born in Patara on the Mediterranean coast, and preached and served as a bishop in nearby Demre. You can visit the church in Demre where he was buried.
There’s plenty more to see in this Other Holy Land of Asia Minor. The easiest way is on a good Christian-interest tour. Orion Tour of Istanbul has long experience of guiding Christians through their heritage in Asia Minor.
—by Tom Brosnahan
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