Discovering Greece and Turkey program

Description

ITR-PCL-00051548

Day 1 Arrival Athens

Group arrives at the airport. Meet & greet by our representative at the arrivals hall. Escorted transfer to the 4* selected hotel in Athens. Orientation meeting, welcome dinner and overnight at the hotel

Day 2 Delphi tour & drive to Kalambaka

After buffet breakfast at the hotel we load the bus and drive northbound and through the picturesque village of Arachova we reach Delphi. Delphi considered the navel (omphalos) of the ancient world. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Pithios. Visit the site and the museum where we can see among other archaeological treasures, the unique bronze statue of the Charioteer. Free time for lunch and continue to Kalambaka. Check-in at hotel, dinner and overnight

Day 3 Meteora, Beroea, Thessaloniki tour

Today we will marvel Meteora, the supernatural mix of natural landscape and human-made constructions. Meteora is not only a unique witness of monastic life and art in Greece, but also an incredible place to mesmerize at amazing views, green valleys and steep rock formations that will leave you breathless. Continue to Beroea for visiting St. Paul’s Bema surrounded by mosaics of Paul and the plaque of scripture regarding the “more noble” church. Free time for lunch and drive to Thessaloniki. St. Paul preached in the city and wrote two epistles to Ancient Thessalonians.
Visit the old city ramparts, the Forum, St George’s church, the ancient Roman monument which transformed into a church and Galerius Arch which rises over the famous via Egnatia. We will also see the beautiful Basilicas of martyred Christian and former distinguished member of Roman army St Demetrius as well as St. Sophia. Check-in at hotel, dinner and overnight.

Day 4 Amphipolis, Kavala, Philippi, Alexandroupolis

Less than an hour drive from Thessaloniki we will visit Amphipolis, the most important naval base of Macedonian kingdom, see the fortifications, the famous Amphipolis Lion and from the closest range permitted, the Kasta Hill Tomb site of the last excavations. Continue to Philippi, where St. Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe, sowing the seeds of Christianity. In this site St. Paul baptized a certain woman named Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe. Among the ruins located above the town’s main road is the prison where Paul and Silas where thrown. We continue into the modern port city of Kavala, ancient Neapolis, where St. Paul accompanied by Luke, Silas and Timothy, first set food in Europe. Free time for lunch and walk at the beautiful seaside promenade of the city. Continue to Alexandroupolis for dinner and overnight.

Day 5 Ipsala border, drive to Istanbul – Bosporus cruise

A short drive from Alexandroupolis and we arrive at Greek/Turkish borders. Customs formalities and drive eastbound to Istanbul. Early pm arrive in Istanbul (former Constantinople and capital city of Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires).
Check in at the hotel, some time to freshen up and get on the bus for the short transfer to port.
Embark on a boat for an unforgettable Bosporus tour (boat trip); it is probably the most overlooked Istanbul tourist attraction. During your boat ride on the Bosporus from the sea you will view most extra ordinary Ottoman Mansions (Yalis) and the most expensive modern houses/villas , Ottoman Palaces, and Fortresses on both sides (European and Asian side ) of Istanbul and will cross under the two giant Suspension Bridges. The Bosporus (Istanbul Strait) is a natural border between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. Because of this it is one of the most strategic passage way and has the strategic importance for the world. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at the hotel

Day 6 Istanbul Highlights tour

After breakfast our guide will take us to the bus for beginning a really interesting day. Today’s tour include the visits at Hagia Sophia Museum, built in the 4th century during the Byzantine rule of Constantine, Sultanahmet Mosque a unique monument with six minarets, built in the 16th century, Hippodrome, once the scene of chariot races, Grand Covered Bazaar and Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman Sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries. Dinner will be at local restaurant before returning at the hotel for overnight.

Day 7 Troy, Troas, Canakkale

This morning we drive to Canakkale. Visit the legendary Troy, immortalized by Homer’s Illiad. This is the epic story of the war between Greeks and Trojans over beautiful Helen during the 1200 B.C. This was the first war between the Europe and Asia, lasting 10 years, and finally ending when Greeks invaded Troy using the famous wooden horse. Excavations have unearthed nine cities or settlement, dating from 3000 B.C to 400 A. D. Drive to Assos with a stop on the way to Alexandria Troas, an important city at the time of Lysimachos in 2 B.C., a place frequently visited by St. Paul. Assos is famed for its relation with Aristotle, the tutor of Alexander the Great. This ancient city went through the Lydian , Persian, Alexander the Great, Pergamum, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. St. Paul visited Assos on his missionary journey in 58 A.D. He met Luke and other companions in the city and they sailed to Lesbos. Continute to Canakkale hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 8 Pergamum, Smyrna

We drive southbound to Pergamum – the church that needed to repent (Revelation 2:12-17) a city perched atop a windswept -mountain along the Turkish coastline and gazing proudly –almost defiantly- over the azure Aegean Sea sit the ruins of the Greek city of Pergamum. Although the majority of its superb intact monuments now sit in Berlin’s Pergamum Museum, enough remains of the acropolis for the visitor to sense the former greatness of the city that once rivalled Alexandria, Ephesus and Antioch in culture, art and commerce, and whose scientific advancements in the field of medicine resonate through the corridors of today’s medical treatment facilities. It became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamum during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty 281-133 BC. Under the rule of Emenes II, Pergamum was a wealthy, developed city. During the Christian period it was described as one of the Seven Churches of Asia .Pergamum is cited in the Book of Revelation and described as ‘’Satan’s Throne,’’, which some scholars interpret as referring to the Great Altar of Pergamum, one of the most magnificent surviving structures from the Greco-Roman world. Visit Acropolis: The Alter of Zeus, the famous Library, Temple of Athena, Temple of Dionysus, Royal Palaces, Underground Water Reservoirs, City Walla Arsenal, Gymnasiums, Agora, Temple of Trajan and Asclepion perhaps the world’s most famous ancient medical centre. Named after the healing god Asclepius founded during the 4th century BC. Continue to Smyrna – the church that would suffer persecution (Revelation 2:8-11) and visit the Agora. Dinner and overnight at Izmir

Day 9 Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Pamukkale

Drive to Akhisar (ancient Thyatira) – the church that had a false prophetess (Revelation 2:18-29). Continue to Philadelphia – the church that had endured patiently (Revelation 3:7-13) and Sardis – the church that had fallen asleep (Revelation 3:1-6), the ancient capital of the state of Lydia, where gold and silver coins were first minted. Sardis was also a center very receptive to early Christian teaching and had a substantial community of believers by the 1st century AD. Visit the pre-Christian ruins in the Sardis area which includes the Temple of Artemis, the stadium and the Roman theatre. Continue to Pamukkale for dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 10 Hierapolis, Laodicea, Colossae, Kusadasi

Hierapolis – meaning “sacred city” was an ancient center for pagans until it was transformed into a Christian center in the first century. Apostle Philip lived and martyred here. The connection between Hierapolis and Laodicea lies behind St. Paul’s reference to these two cities in his epistle to Colossians. Laodicea – the church that was lukewarm and insipid to God (Revelation 3:14-22) we will visit the stadium and the remnants of a sophisticated water system. Colossae is well known from St. Paul’s letter to Colossians. Travelling westbound we will arrive to Kusadasi for dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 11 Ancient Ephesus & Virgin Mary House

After breakfast, drive to the nearby town of Selcuk for a visit to the Basilica od St. John, housing an immersion baptismal and believed to be the resting place of St. John. We have an excellent overview of Ephesus harbor, the mosque of Jesus and Temple of Artemis, listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus – the church that had forsaken its first love (Revelation 2:1-7). Visit the Fountains of Trojan, Polio, The Temples of Hadrian and Domition, Private House, the Library of Celsius, Various and Scholastic Baths, Bouloterion the Great Theatre with capacity of 24.000 spectators and the House of Virgin Mary. Dinner & overnight at hotel.

Day 12 Embark cruise – Patmos St. John & Grotto

After breakfast we transfer to Kusadasi port and embark our Celestyal cruise ship for two nights cruise. Pm dock at Patmos (16:00-21:00), shore excursion is included. The fortified Monastery of St. John, whose walls are more than 15 meters high, was built with local gray stone. In 1088 St. Christodoulos requested the entire island of Patmos from Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Comnenus so he could found a monastery dedicated to St. John. Even after “The Blessed” was driven from Patmos by pirates, monks continued building the monastery which, within a few centuries, became an important cultural, religious and spiritual center. Within its warren of chapels and courtyards, the Monastery of St. John houses medieval icons of the Cretan school and the Chapel of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary), whose beautiful frescoes date to the 12th century; the monastery’s main chapel dates to the end of the 11th century. There is also a museum within the monastery, with icons, religious objects of silver and gold, sacred relics and embroidered vestments of inestimable value on display.
Halfway down the mountain to Plaka we stop at the Holy Grotto of the Apocalypse. According to Christian tradition, three fissures (a symbol of the Holy Trinity) opened in a wall in the grotto, and St. John heard the voice of God, who granted him a series of visions of the future (revelations), vivid pictures of how the Church would grow, battle the wicked powers of earth and hell and ultimately emerge victorious. The voice commanded the saint to transcribe these visions: St. John dictated the revelations to one of his disciples, Prochoros, and this text became the Book of Revelations. During his time in this sacred cave, St. John also composed the Fourth Gospel. The entrance to the grotto is marked with a mosaic of the visions of the saint. Inside the grotto, the nightly resting place of the saint’s head is fenced off and delineated in beaten silver. We return to Plaka, where you’ll have free time for shopping and a coffee beside the harbor.

Day 13 Crete – Santorini

Am call at Crete / Heraklion (7:00-11:30) – A tour to Knossos Palace is optional
Pm call at Santorini (16:30-21:00) – Cable car or donkey ride to caldera is optional

Day 14 Athens Acropolis-Mars Hill – Ancient Corinth tour

After breakfast we disembark the ship, pick up the luggage and load our bus for a full day tour. Drive to Ancient Corinth site passing the Corinth Canal. And he argued in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded Jews and Greeks. And when they opposed and reviled him he shook his garments and said to them “your blood be upon your heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles”…Acts 18:4-6. Here the Apostle worked with Aquila and Priscilla. The mostly Gentile Church he founded here caused him much grief and prompted from him at least four letters to them. Paul’s trial by Gallio took place in the agora (Acts 18:12-17). It is from Corinth, also, that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. On the return, we visit the ruins of Cenchaeae, the harbor from which St. Paul sailed to Ephesus (Acts 18:18).
Continue to Athens. The striking contrast between breathtaking monuments of glorious past and modern elegant structures is what you will enjoy during your tour of Athens. Visit the Acropolis, the crowning beauty and glory of Ancient Athens, with its many monuments atop its rocky base, including the awesome Parthenon, the Propylea, the temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion, with its Porch of Maidens. Afterwards, we will ascend Mars Hill where St. Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians about the one and only God. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…Acts 17:22-31. From here we have an excellent view of the ancient agora; former center of the Athenian public life. Drive to the Roman Temple of Olympic Zeus, the Panathinaikon Stadium (site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896), and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament House on Constitution Square. See views of government buildings and elegant structures of the 19th century. Drive along Panepistimiou Avenue and view the Catholic Cathedral, the Academy, University, and National Library. Continue to the hotel for check-in, dinner and overnight.

Day 15 Depart

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the scheduled flight back home.