Footsteps of Paul Turkey & Greece Tour
Arrival in Istanbul (Constantinople), the city which straddles two continents. Istanbul was once the capital of the Byzantine Empire for more than one thousand years and capital 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 will be met by your tour guide and transferred to your hotel. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. Begin your “Istanbul City tour”. The tour starts with the Blue Mosque, the most splendid mosque in the city, which is distinguished by six slender minarets and the interior decorated with blue Iznik tile. Continue with a walk through the Hippodrome, 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 into a museum by Ataturk in 1934 . In the afternoon, visit the famous Topkapi Palace, where the rich collection of Ottoman Treasures can be seen. This palace, with a base area of 700,000 sq. meters, 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. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
See the Beauty of Kalambaka
You leave Istanbul and are transferred to the Turkish- Greek borders. After the necessary procedure at the check point there, you say good-bye to Turkey and you continue to Greece. You will be met by your Greek guide and driver and continue to Kavala (Neapolis), a picturesque city-port where you will view the Byzantine Castle and the Roman Aqueduct. Dinner overnight in Kavala. This morning you start your day by visiting the site of Philippi. There, you visit the Baptistry of Lydia near the river where Paul baptized her. Lydia was the first convert of Paul on European soil. Also visit the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, the “Prison of Paul”, and the Theater. Then you continue to Thessaloniki and see the White Tower, the Rotunda, the Roman Arch of Galerius, and the Byzantine Acropolis. Your journey will continue to Kalambaka, in central Greece. Here you find scenery of unique and striking beauty. On top of huge granite pinnacles, you see the ageless Meteora Monasteries, which are full of treasures of Christian art. Dinner and overnight in Kalambaka.
Explore the Acropolis
After your breakfast you visit the breathtaking Meteora Monasteries. After that visit, drive through the mainland of Greece and arrive in the capital city of Athens for dinner and overnight. In the morning, admire the architectural miracles of ancient Athens, as you follow your guide to the world renown Acropolis. There you will see the Propylea, the Erectheum and the Parthenon. 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, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Temple of Zeus, the Old Olympic Stadium and the Neoclassical buildings of Athens. 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. 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 from which Paul sailed back to Asia, thus ending his second missionary journey. Back to Athens for dinner and overnight.
Otional 3-Night/4-Day Greek Isles Cruise
After breakfast we transfer to Piraeus where we board our Greek Isles cruise onboard Celestyal Cruises – Olympia ship. This will be our floating hotel for the next 3-nights. After embarking on our cruise, we sail this morning from Athens to the quaint isle of Mykonos, called the island of windmills. We arrive at Mykonos, where we disembark and have time to experience the waterfront lined with shops and cafes. We stroll the charming walkways through a maze of white-washed buildings before returning to the ship for dinner and evening activities. No excursions are included today, as we will visit the island at our leisure. In the morning we arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey. Excursion Included: A short drive takes us 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 Celsus, the ruins of the Temple of Diana (one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”) and many more. Later, we sail for the island of Patmos. Excursion Included: Here we visit the Monastery of St. John, on one of the island’s highest points. From there, we walk down to the Grotto of the Apocalypse, the site of the apocalyptic Revelations of St. John the Divine. In the morning, we arrive at Heraklion, Crete and disembark. Excursion Included: During this excursion, we take a short ride through the town of Heraklion and then arrive at the Knossos excavations. Here, Sir Arthur Evan’s archaeological discoveries revealed a civilization dating back to 4000 B.C., when a great empire flourished on the island of Crete. Paul left Titus in Crete and gave instructions on appointing church leaders in the towns (Titus 1:5). In the afternoon, we cruise to the isle of Santorini and disembark. Excursion Not included: Santorini is often referred to as 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. We disembark the cruise this morning in Piraeus. After disembarkation, we will continue to Athens Airport for our return flight back to the U.S.A. and arrive the same day.