Footsteps of Apostle Paul in Greece & Turkey 12 days Land
Arrive in Athens, where you will be met by your representative and transferred to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
In the morning, admire the architectural miracles of ancient Athens as you follow your guide to the world- renowned Acropolis to see the Propylea, the Erectheum and the Parthenon temple. Visit Mars Hill where Paul delivered his speech on the “Unknown God”. View the Agora, the ancient center of the economic and public life of the city, where Paul preached to the skeptical Athenians. During the bus tour, you see Constitution Square with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Temple of Zeus, the Old Olympic Stadium and Neoclassical buildings of Athens like the National Library, the National University and Academy. Then, you continue your trip to Ancient Corinth. This is the once glorious city near the Isthmus, where Paul met Aquilla and Priscilla and spent a year and a half preaching the Gospel. You visit the Archaeological Museum, the Forum, the Temples and the famous Bema where Paul stood before Gallio, accused by the Jews of Corinth. Then, you drive to Cenchreae, the little harbour Paul sailed back to Asia from ending his second missionary journey. Back to Athens for dinner and overnight.
Your journey in the mainland of Greece begins with a drive from Athens to Kalambaka in central Greece. Here you find scenery of unique and striking beauty: perched on top of huge granite pinnacles, you see the ageless Meteora Monasteries full of treasures of Christian art. Visit one of them and drive to your hotel in Kalambaka for dinner and overnight.
This morning you get a taste of the beautiful countryside of Central and Northern Greece, as you drive from Kalambaka to Veria, where you visit the Bema of the Apostle Paul. Continue to Thessaloniki and get acquainted with the city of Jason and Paul. See the White Tower, the Rotonda, the Roman Arch of Galerius, the Byzantine Acropolis and visit the most famous church of Thessaloniki, the Basilica of St. Demetrius. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
Follow the route of the Via Egnatia and visit the area of Amphipolis, like Paul and his companion, to see the famous funerary Lion of Amphipolis and the site of Philippi. There, you visit the Baptistery of Lydia near the river, where Paul baptized her. Lydia was the first convert of Paul on European soil, followed by the jailer. Also visit the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, the “Prison of Paul” and the Theater. Drive to Kavala (Neapolis), a picturesque city-port and view the Byzantine Castle and the Roman Aqueduct. Dinner and overnight in Kavala.
Depart from Kavala and drive through the Greek part of Thrace, passing by the towns of Xanthi, Komotini and Alexandroupolis. Arrive at the border between Greece and Turkey and cross over to the Turkish part of Thrace. Our licensed bus will be waiting on the Greek side of the border for the border crossing. Then board on our luxury bus and we will start our scenic ride to Gallipoli, through the European lands of Turkey. We will cross the second strategic waterway, the Dardanelles Strait, by ferry. We will drive through the city of Canakkale to Troy. After visiting the legendary site of the ruins of Troy, we will drive back to Canakkale to our hotel. Dinner and an overnight will be at our hotel in Canakkale.
After breakfast, we will drive to Alexandria Troas (Acts 16: 8-11; 20:5, 6, II; Tim. 4:13; II Cor. 2:12) which was a significant port for travelling between Anatolia and Europe during the Roman era. Paul of Tarsus sailed to Europe for the first time from Alexandria Troas. Troas was visited at least twice by St. Paul. In his third journey, we know that St. Paul also traveled by land from Alexandria Troas to Assos. In Troas, we visit the theater, the Temple of Athena and the agora. After that, we will drive to Pergamum. On the 1,200 ft. high Acropolis, we will see the steepest sloped theater of the ancient world, the Temple of Trajan and the Library. We will continue our tour with a visit of the Asklepion, one of the three famous hospitals in the ancient world. We will also visit the Red Basilica which was one of the seven Churches of the Revelation. In the late afternoon, we will drive to the city of Izmir. Upon arrival, depending on timing, we will have a short city tour of Izmir, the ancient Smyrna. Dinner and an overnight will be at the hotel in Izmir.
After breakfast, we will start our busy day with a visit to Thyatira to look at the standing columns. Don’t expect too much from Thyatira as not much has been excavated. Continue onto Sardis, the capital of ancient Lydia. We will see the Temple of Diana (which later became a church), the earliest built Synagogue discovered so far in Turkey and the Gymnasium. Sardis was one of the 7 Churches of Revelation. After Sardis, we will drive to Philadelphia, which was also one of the 7 Churches of Revelation. After the visit, we will drive to Laodicea, which was extensively excavated in 2009. Laodicea was one of the 7 Churches and the only one today where the exact location of the Church has been discovered. Dinner and an overnight will be in Karahayit (Pamukkale).
After breakfast, our next visit will be the ruins of Hierapolis, with its beautiful calcium deposit covered travertine terraces, the ancient Necropolis, baths, theater and St. Philips's Martyrdom. After this visit, we will drive to the world-famous Ephesus area and visit the house of the Virgin Mary, where she was said to have spent her last years. After that, we will proceed to the Ephesus ruins, where new excavations were completed in 2010. We will see the Odeon, the Bouleterion, the fountains, the temples, the library and the theater where St. Paul had preached. Dinner and an overnight will be at the hotel in Kusadasi town.
After an early breakfast, there will be a departure transfer from our hotel in Izmir to the airport for our flight to Istanbul. Arrive in Istanbul Airport and transfer to the old town. We will start our full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul. First we will visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its blue Iznik (modern name: Nicaea) tiles and unique 6 minarets. After the Blue Mosque, we will walk to the Hippodrome which was the center of sports events (chariots races and athletic games) and political activities in the old city. From the Hippodrome, we will walk to Hagia Sophia which is right across from the Blue Mosque. Built as the church of divine wisdom, it is still one of the greatest marvels of architecture in the World. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian constructed it as a basilica in the 6th century. Hagia Irini (Eirene) Church will be our next visit (in the Topkapi Palace Garden). It was built as a church dedicated to divine peace on the former site of a temple of Aphrodite. Constantine the Great had it built in 324 AD. In the afternoon, we will continue with a tour of the Topkapi Palace Museum, which was the imperial residence of Ottoman sultans. Today, in the rooms of this palace there are exhibits of the imperial treasury, Chinese porcelain, weapons and Holy Relics (the Sword of King David, the staff of Moses, the Turban of Joseph, Relics of St. John the Baptist). We will end the day after a visit to the Grand Bazaar. It is the biggest oriental bazaar (market) in the world with around 4,000 shops that sell antiques, jewelry, gold, carpets, leather, etc. Dinner and an overnight stay will be at the hotel.
After breakfast, we will set off for a full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul. Today’s itinerary will start with a visit of Chora Church (Museum of Kariye – in Edirne Kapi district). It was originally built as a church of a Byzantine Monastery. The best-preserved Byzantine Mosaics in Turkey, depicting Biblical scenes, are in this church. The Spice Market will be our second visit. Built in the 17th century, this is the second largest oriental covered bazaar in Istanbul. In the Spice Market, the enchanting and savory aroma of exotic oils, herbs and spices hang in the air. People looking for herbs, spices, tea and Turkish delight (a traditional sweet) have frequented this 350- year-old market for centuries. Today also selling nuts, honey, dried fruits, traditional sweets, and herbal remedies, the Spice Bazaar’s vendors will try to lure you into their shops with their amusing calls. ** Unique Moment: During the visit of Spice Market, we will have a short break at Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir’s shop – the inventor of Turkish delight. Since 1777 (when it was founded) the name Haci Bekir has become a legend in Ottoman and Turkish confectionery and a leading symbol of this gastronomical art. After the Spice Market, we will take a short walk to the Rustem Pasha Mosque. The Ottoman imperial architect Mimar Sinan designed it for the Grand Vizier “Damat” Rustem Pasha (husband of Princess Mihrimah, the beloved daughter of the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent). The construction took 2 years, from 1561 to 1563. The Rustem Pasha Mosque is famous for its exquisite Iznik tiles, displaying a wide variety of beautiful floral and geometric designs which cover the Rustem Pasha Mosque inside and out. These tiles exhibit a cherry-red color, which was the characteristic feature of the early Iznik period tiles (1555-1620). We will end the day with a Bosporus Cruise on an exclusive boat. During the boat ride along the strait separating Asia and Europe, we will see imperial palaces, old Ottoman wooden mansions, Ottoman fortresses, embassy estates and small fishing villages located on the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. Dinner and an overnight stay will be at the hotel.
After breakfast, there will be a departure transfer from our hotel to Istanbul airport for our flight back home.