Steps of Apostle Paul featuring Greece, Turkey including 6 nights cruise and extension to Rome
Arrival Thessaloniki, the city where Paul was received by Jason. Paul was preaching the Word of God here, until he was rushed out of the city. Our representative will meet you at the airport of Thessaloniki and transfer you to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
In the morning, drive in Thessaloniki to see the landmark of the city, the White Tower, the Walls of the Byzantine Acropolis, the Roman Arch of Galerius and the Rotonda. Visit two of the city’s oldest and most admired Christian churches, the Basilicas of St. Demetrius and St. Sophia (Divine Wisdom),the House of Jason where Paul lived and the Agora where he preached. Continue to Veria – ancient Beroea – to the memorial commemorating Paul’s preaching to the local Jews in 54 AD. Then on to Vergina (ancient Aiges), first capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Here you see the tombs of Vergina and the breathtaking collection of golden artifacts, which were found inside these two unplundered tombs of Philip of Macedon and the Young Prince. Return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
Follow the route of the Via Egnatia and visit, like Paul and his companion, the area of Amphipolis, 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 and the conversion of the jailer followed. 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 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. 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. You embark on your “home” for the next 6 nights, the CRISTAL of “Louis Hellenic Cruises”.
Begin your “Istanbul City tour”. The tour starts with the Blue Mosque, the most splendid mosque in the city, distinguished by six slender minarets and the interior decorated with blue Iznik tile, and continues with a walk through the Hippodrom, the center of Byzantine civic life housing three ancient monuments. The Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. Visit St. Sophia (Divine Wisdom), one of the greatest churches in the world, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. After the conquest of the city in 1453, it was transformed into a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror and in 1934 into a museum by Ataturk. In the afternoon, visit the famous Topkapi Palace, where the rich collection of Ottoman Treasures can be seen. The palace with a base area of 700.000 msq is spread over the promontory called the Seraglio Point; view the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. This legendary maze of buildings was the residence of the Ottoman sultans and the administrative heart of the Empire. Nowadays, it is one of the world’s greatest museums. Evening sailing for the island of Mykonos.
Afternoon arrival at the world-famous island of Mykonos. The town is a small architectural miracle, with its gleaming white-washed buildings and windmills, and 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.
You will spend the day on the island of Rhodes, where you can walk around the medieval city with its impressive walls and the Palace of the Grand Master, which was built by the Knights of St. John. Also, you will have the option to drive to the picturesque town of Lindos, to see the Acropolis and to the little Bay of the apostle Paul.
In the morning arrive at Ayios Nikolaos, 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, jewellery, 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 by cable-car, or mule.
Today you disembark from the cruise ship and you admire the architectural miracles of ancient Athens, as you follow your guide to the world renown Acropolis, to see the Propylea, the Erechteum and the Parthenon. Visit Mars Hill, where Paul delivered his ingenious 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 the Neoclassical Buildings of Athens. The afternoon is free. Dinner and overnight in Athens.
Today, you start 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 Word of God. 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, thus ending his secondary missionary journey. Afterwards drive to Patras Port and depart by overnight Ferry to Bari.
We arrive in Bari in the morning. Our deluxe motor coach will take us to Pompeii for a short visit before we continue to Rome. Check in at our Hotel. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
After breakfast we will start with the full Day Tour of this eternal city. Driving through the main streets of Rome, you will marvel at monuments of this great capital. Visit the Colosseum, which symbolizes the eternity of the Roman civilization, the Forum and the Piazza Venezia, dominated by the imposing monument to Vittorio Emanuel II. Before return to our hotel, we stop near the Fontana di Trevi. Here, following tradition by tossing a coin into the fountain, promising the return to Rome. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Our first visit will be to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel the celebrated Chapel of the Popes and the venue of the Conclaves for Papal elections. It is one of the most splendid masterpieces in the history of world art and is well known around the world for its magnificent ceiling, beautifully decorated by Michelangelo. From here, your next visit will be to the Basilica of St. Peter, the largest church in the world, which overlooks the enormous Piazza San Pietro. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
After breakfast transfer from your Hotel to the Airport in Rome for your return flight home, arriving the same day. Fly back home with a new insight into Paul’s life and teachings.