Footsteps of Apostle Paul in Greece & Turkey with 3 day cruise
Upon arrival in Athens, you are met by your guide and bus driver. Transfer to your hotel with the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
"Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription ‘to an unknown God’. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…” Today we visit Athens, one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. For twenty-five centuries, the panorama of this city has been dominated by the rock of the Acropolis, where we see the ruins of the Parthenon, the Erectheum and the Propylae. We will ascend Mars Hill where Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians about the one and only God. From here we have an excellent view of the Ancient Agora, the former center of the Athenian public life. Afterwards we board our coach bus for Corinth, taking the coastal road along the Saronic Gulf to the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean Sea with the Ionian Sea. Short stop for pictures and continue to the site of ancient Corinth, Paul's beloved city and site of his most extensive ministry. Dominated by the Acro-Corinth rising 1,700 feet above the ruins, the marketplace is laid out exactly as it stood in the days of the great Apostle. We see the bema (the judgment seat) where Paul stood before Galilo and preached (Acts 18). “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9) The museum contains a superb collection of artifacts portraying life in ancient Corinth. Time for leisure at the port of Cenchrae. Return to Athens for dinner and overnight.
This morning you will board the ship and sail to the world-famous island of Mykonos. The town is a small architectural miracle, with its gleaming white-washed buildings and windmills, and is one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world.
In the morning you will arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey, and have the option to drive to Ephesus, where Paul spent three years during his ministry. The impressive remains of Ephesus include the Agora, the Theater, the Stadium, the Library of Celsius, the ruins of the Temple of Diana (one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”) and many more. Later, you will sail for the island of Patmos, where you can choose to visit the Monastery of St. John, on one of the island’s highest points. From there, you will walk down to the Grotto of the Apocalypse, the site of the apocalyptic Revelations of St. John the Divine.
In the morning arrive in Heraklion, Crete, where you can choose to visit the Minoan Palace of Knossos, home to king Minos and his legendary beast, the Minotaur. In the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion you can find the unbelievable works of art (pieces of sculpture and pottery, jewelry, arms, frescoes) that have been found in a number of Minoan sites all over Crete. Then sail north to the isle of Santorini, the most breathtaking of all the Greek islands. The exquisite whitewashed villages, including the town of Fira, or Thira, cling to volcanic cliffs accessible only by cable car or mule.
You arrive in Piraeus, Athens, early in the morning and disembark after breakfast. Begin your trip to Veria (Berea) where we visit the monument dedicated to Paul. Also see the Bema where he stood and preached to the people of Veria. “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue.” (Acts 17:10-14) Continue to Vergina, where Philip built a massive palace and a theater. The site also features hundreds of burial mounds across the plain, some dating back to the Iron Age. The tomb of Philip was found here in 1977, undisturbed and full of treasures that are now on display in Thessaloniki’s Archaeological Museum. Continue to Thessaloniki. “Paul came to Thessaloniki with Silas and following his usual custom, he went to the Synagogue where he used the Jewish scriptures as the source for his preaching.” (Act 17:2-4) We become acquainted with this great city where Paul wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. Built by King Cassandros and named after the sister of Alexander the Great, the city flourished under the Byzantine Empire and its most important buildings date from those days. Today it is considered to be the second capital of Greece, the “Queen of the North”. Our city tour takes us to Aghia Sofia Church. Aghia Sofia is a beautiful Christian church which was built in the 8th century, modeled after the magnificent church of Aghia Sofia in Istanbul. Then see St. Demetrios Church with its valuable mosaics and frescoes. The crypt of Aghios Demetrios has been an archaeological site since its discovery in 1918. Next, visit the Byzantine Museum. The site where the monastery of Vlatadon was built is believed to be the location where Jason’s house once stood and where Paul was accommodated during his visit to Thessaloniki. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
“Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace and the following day to Neapolis" (Act 16:11) “And from thence to Philippi which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony; and we were in that city abiding certain days.” (Act 16:12) We visit the beautiful city of Kavala (ancient Neapolis), and from there on to Philippi which was a Roman garrison town and the chief city in the province of Macedonia. It was here that Paul won his first European convert, a woman named Lydia. Here is also the marketplace where Paul and Silas were brought before the rulers and the cistern which tradition identifies as the place where St. Paul was imprisoned. 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. Your final destination is Istanbul (Constantinople), the city which straddles two continents. The capital of the Byzantine Empire for more than one thousand years and of the Ottoman Empire for more than five hundred years, Istanbul is famous for many beautiful places and museums, which you will have the opportunity to see the next day. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Istanbul city tour: visit the Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans. See the treasury, containing jewel-encrusted thrones, the world's largest emerald and the famous Topkapi dagger. Continue to Aghia Sophia, the oldest Christian basilica where the ecumenical councils were held. Aghia Sophia was conceived by Konstantin and built by Justinian. Continue to see the Hippodrome of old Constantinople and the legendary Blue Mosque with six minarets and a dome of 109 feet. The finale of our tour will be a visit to the Grand Bazaar, a labyrinth over 4,000 shops. Dinner at the hotel.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home at the end of a marvelous journey.