Anatolia was a bridge in the spread of Christianity, and here are many of the most significant sites of early Christianity.
The top photograph shows the well and inscription in the garden of the house where St. Paul is supposed to have been born. Above is St. Paul's Church and Museum in Tarsus , instructed by Gamaliel the Elder in Jerusalem.
He was originally among the most fanatical opponents of the new Christian faith, but after a vision on the way to Damascus was converted.
According to the account of this event in the Bible Paul was blinded by a light from heaven, and heard the voice of Jesus saying, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?... Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told what thou must do.'
Paul remained blind for three days and was led into Damascus. Jesus instructed a man named Ananias to go and find him, saying 'Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.' Ananias found Paul and declared, 'Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight.' Paul's eyes were opened, and he set out for Jerusalem. Having with some difficulty persuaded the apostles that he was now on their side, Paul's life as a missionary began. St. Paul made three missionary journeys, all of which took him through Anatolia.
The first journey began in Antioch (today's Antakya)
in southeastern Turkey, where with St. Barnabas and St. Mark he sailed to
Cyprus, and from there to the port of Attalia (Antalya), where they travelled
by road to Perge. They next travelled northwards to Pisidian Antioch (Yalvaç in
Isparta), where Paul delivered his first sermon in a synagogue in 46 AD. Later the first church was constructed over this synagogue and dedicated to
St.Paul. They then travelled on to Iconium (Konya), Lystra, Derbe (Karaman),
and back to Perge and Attalia, where they sailed back to Syrian Antioch.
Almost all the credit for the early spread of Christianity goes to St. Paul rather than the Apostles. The hundreds of churches built near Derbe alone illustrates the great impact he had, and today this region is known as Binbirkilise, which means A Thousand and One Churches.
His second and third journeys were
longer, taking him further westwards through Anatolia to Ephesus on the Aegean
coast, and encircling the Aegean before returning to Antioch. During these
journeys which took place between 48 and 56 AD, he visited Ephesus twice, once
in August 51 AD, and for the second time in 54 AD when he remained for almost
two years. It was in Ephesus that he is thought to have written his Epistles to
the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. In Ephesus St. Paul's
teachings began to attract the active opposition of silversmiths, traders in
idols and others whose interests lay in pagan worship. They sparked off public
demonstrations against him which finally forced him to leave the city.
Paul had been intending to make a fourth journey to Spain, but in fact his last journey was as a prisoner of the Romans. In 56 AD he was arrested in Jerusalem and taken back for trial in Rome, passing on the way through Caesarea, Sidon,Myra (Demre on Turkey's southwest coast), Knidos (on the Datca peninsula near Bodrum in southwest Turkey), Crete and Malta. He and St. Peter were executed in Rome sometime around 62 AD.