Footsteps of Apostle Paul in Greece & Turkey with 4 day cruise (including Delphi)
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.
This morning travel to scenic Delphi, one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, which in antiquity was believed to be the “navel” (omphalos) of the world. Walk along the Sacred Way to see the Athenian Treasury, the Temple of Apollo where the oracle delivered her ambiguous prophecies, and the Theater. Also visit the Museum with its splendid collection of ancient works of art, including the Sphinx of the Naxians, the Silver Bull, the Column of the Dancers, the “Omphalos” and the pride of the museum, the 5 th century B.C. bronze “Charioteer”. Dinner and overnight in Delphi.
After breakfast begin your trip to Meteora, which has particularly impressive scenery. Continue to the Meteora Monasteries, perched upon the summits of gigantic rocks which have been etched into variety of strange shapes. Grey gigantic stalagmites rising towards the sky seem to be nature's gift to the pious who opted for monasticism and for a life totally dedicated to the worship of God. The monastic history of the Meteora goes back to the 11 th century A.D. when the first hermits sought peace and solitude in the rifts and caves of these rocks, but the first monasteries were not built until the 14th century A.D. and attained their peak in the 16th. Of the 13 large and 20 small monasteries and hermit cells, only four are not occupied: Megalo Meteoro, Monie Varlaam, Monia Aghias Triadas and Moni Aghiou Stefanou. Apart from portable icons, miniatures, ecclesiastical robes, utensils and crosses (all excellent examples of Byzantine art), the Meteora Monasteries also contain rare editions and manuscripts. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Early in the morning and after breakfast, you begin your trip to Veria (Berea) where we visit the monument dedicated to Paul. We 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) Then 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 1977, undisturbed and full of treasures that are now on display in Thessaloniki’s Archaeological Museum. Continue to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
“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. We return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
Enjoy breakfast and begin your trip to Thessaloniki. We become acquainted with this great city, the “Queen of the North”, 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 back to those days. Today it is also considered to be the second capital of Greece. Our city tour takes us to Aghia Sofia Church. Aghia Sofia is a beautiful Christian church which was built in the 8 th 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. 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. Continue to Athens for dinner and overnight. “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)
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 whitewashed buildings and windmills, and is one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world.
In the morning you will arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey, and 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 will 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.
You will spend the day on the island of Rhodes, where you will visit the Acropolis of Lindos and the Citadel of the Knights. Afterwards you can walk around the medieval city with its impressive walls and see the Palace of the Grand Master, which was built by the Knights of St. John.
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 Corinth. Drive along 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 Cenchreae. Return to Athens. "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…” 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 is dominated by the rock of the Acropolis, where we see the ruins of the Parthenon, the Erectheum and the Propylaea. 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. Farewell dinner in Plaka and overnight in Athens.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home at the end of a marvelous journey.