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Mediterranean Combo Tour: Greece and Turkey. St. Paul’s steps in Greece & Seven Churches of Revelation in Turkey

Highlights:

• Turkey: Istanbul – Pergamon, Ancient City of Ephesus, Pamukkale – Hierapolis.
Seven Churches of Revelation – Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira,
Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

• Greece – Athens – Acropolis – New Museum – Epidaurus – Mycenae – Nafplio – Delphi – Meteora. St. Paul Steps – Athens Mars Hill, Corinth, Veria, Thessaloniki, Philippi.

13 days / 12 nights

Day 1

Istanbul

Arrive in Istanbul airport, Transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon walk by your own in the city. Visit the Spice Market. Overnight in Istanbul.

Optional: Dinner in a typical Turkish restaurant.

Day 2

Istanbul (Constantinople until 1453) city tour

Morning visit to the Kariye Museum, the old church of St. Saviour in Chora treasuring the marvelous and superbly preserved mosaics and frescoes, which represents scenes drawn from the life of Virgin and Christ. Then drive to Hagia Sophia, the church of Divine Wisdom, built by Justinian in 537 A.D. Later visit to the Blue Mosque, famous for its magnificent interior with blue tiles slender minarets and graceful cascade of dome and semi domes. Continue to Topkapi Palace Museum which was both the symbolic and political center of the Ottoman Empire for nearly four centuries to enjoy the dazzling displays of the Treasures of Ottoman Sultans, and the porcelain collection which is Unique in the world. Then Grand Bazaar, the oldest shopping market in the world which has more than 4000 shops. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 3

Seven Churches of Revelation – Smyrna – Pergamon

Morning visit to the Orthodox Patriarchate, the Ecumenical Patriarch, on the Golden Horn followed by a visit to the Catholic Church St. Antonie on the main walking Istiklal street, formerly the Grande Rue De Pera. OR Take a Bosporus cruise by boat zigzagging between the coasts of two continents, Asia and Europe. Then transfer to Istanbul a/p. Flight to Izmir(Smyrna) to start our Seven Churches tour. Drive Smyrna to visit the St Polycarp church. Then to Pergamon the city described as having the throne of Satan, is “praised for its martyrdom and perseverance but those who hold false teachings are criticized” (Rev. 2:12-17). Here you will see the Acropolis famous for Greek & Roman Temples as well as the theatre built into the steep hillside. Return to Izmir. Overnight.

Day 4

Thyatira – Sardis – Philadelphia

Morning drive to Thyatira is “praised for its increasing faith and service, but criticized for its tolerance of Jezebel, an immoral women who calls herself a prophetess” (Rev. 2:18-29). Then to Sardis, “The church of Sardes is described as dead, and it must wake up. However, there are some who have not “soiled their clothes”(Rev. 3:1-6). End the day with a visit to ancient  Philadelphia which was known for its variety of temples and worship centers. “The church of brotherly love that endures patiently” (Rev. 3:7-13). Then drive to your hotel in Kusadasi. Overnight.

Day 5

Ephesus. Mass in the House of Virgin Mary

This morning you will visit the House of Virgin Mary and join Mass, available only on Sundays. It is believed that St. John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus after Christ death in this small house on Bulbuldagi (Mount Nightingale) where she spent the last years of her life. This house is a popular pilgrimage place for Christians and Moslems and has been accepted by the Vatican as a pilgrimage destination. We then visit Ephesus, which was the largest harbor in Minor Asia and big trade center. Ephesus was also the center of worship for Diana and Artemis. The Temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. St. Paul stayed in Ephesus longer than in any other city and it was here that Timothy was consecrated the first Bishop, acts 18 and 20. Ephesus received praise for its perseverance, bad criticism for forsaking its “first love”(Rev. 2:1-7).You will explore some of the best preserved theatres, fountains and buildings in the world. Finally visit to the Basilica of St John which stands over the believed burial site of St. John, who is identified as the apostle, evangelist, author of the Fourth Gospel and prophet, author of Revelation. Return to your hotel in Kusadasi. Overnight.

Day 6

Hierapolis – Laodicea

This morning we’ll visit the ancient City of Hierapolis as well as the world famous travertens of Pamukkale. Then take an enjoyable drive to Laodicea located in the Lycus River valley of western Asia Minor. Laodikea was a primary trade route between the cultures of the West and East, well known in the ancient world for its wealth in the textile industry, banking and medical school of Laodocea. “The “lukewarm” church with a faith that’s neither hot nor cold” (Rev. 3:14-22). After visits, drive back to Kusadasi and take a boat to Samos island. Overnight in Samos.

OR transfer to the airport to take a flight back to Istanbul and afterwards fly to Athens

Day 7

Samos – Patmos

Morning boat transfer to Patmos to visit the sacred island of Patmos. We’ll Visit St. John monastery and the grotto, where St John the Evangelist wrote the Apocalypse. Apostle had a vision, a vision of the world to come. His student, Prohoros, wrote down this vision by order of the Lord, and it is known as the 27th and final chapter of the Holly Bible. In the evening embarkation on the ferry boat Patmos – Piraeus. Overnight on board in double / triple cabins.

Day 8

Athens

Arrival in Piraeus in the morning. Athens sightseeing tour, guided visit to Acropolis with its Parthenon, a place any civilized person has to visit, and its new museum. Constitution Sq. Presidential Place, Panathinaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 and the Mars Hill, where St.Paul made his famousspeech to the Athenians for the “Unknown God”. In the afternoon free time in Athens to walk by your own to Plaka, Athens old town. Overnight in Athens

Optional: Folklore night in a tavern at Plaka with Greek food, wine and Greek dances.

Day 9

Ancient Corinth – Corinth canal – Epidaurus Theatre – Mycenae – Nafplio

This day we have a daily excursion to Argolida. We take the highway to Peloponnesus. On the way we have a short stop at Corinth canal, separating Greece mainland from Peloponnesus. Its first cut attempt was in 59 B.C. Then we’ll visit ancient Corinth which was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and Western Europe passed through its harbors. St. Paul’s first visit lasted nearly two years and established a Christian community there about 51 AD. (Acts of the Apostles (15:36-18:22). He also addressed 2 epistles to Corinthians. The 1st one (56 AD) opens with a plea for Christian unity and remarkable is his passage on Love. 2nd one (57 AD) – “God has given us the Holy Spirit as a pledge (1:22, 5:5).” Then we visit the open Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, famous for its acoustic (4th century B.C.), the Homeric city of Mycenae (1300 B.C.) – home place of Agamemnon, leader of Greeks in the Trojan war – to see the Lions Gate, the Cyclopean Walls, the Royal Tombs and the beautiful Nafplio, the first capital of Greece in its modern history. In the afternoon we drive back to Athens. Overnight.

Day 10

Delphi – Kalabaka

Delphi city considered by the ancients Greeks to be the center (omphalos) of the world and a religious center. This is the place where you might get Pythia’schrism for your future and the future of the world, as many other Kings and Emperors in the past have done. Even Alexander the Great got her advice before conquering the word. Guided tour to Archeological site, Temple of Apollo, theater, market and the famous Omphalos (navel of the earth), and the Delphi museum with the amazing sculptures. Then we visit the traditional village of Arachova and latter with driving through central Greece we arrive in Kalabaka. Overnight.

Day 11

Meteora – Veria – Vergina

Short drive to the unique Meteora to visit the Byzantine Monasteries standing between earth and the sky atop huge rocks and containing historical and religious treasures. We’ll visit two monasteries. One of the Monasteries we’ll see is the Great Meteoron (Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ). It is the highest, largest and oldest one of the remaining six. The 1st monastery in the area was hand-built by a monk from Athos in 14th century. Then we continue our drive north and we stop at Veria to see the “Vima” (place-platform) where Saint Paul’s preach to the inhabitants. Short drive from Veria and we arrive  to Vergina to see the tomb of King Philip, Alexander’s the Great father, and the Vergina treasures. Late in the afternoon we arrive to Thessaloniki. Overnight.

Day 12

Thessaloniki

Today we’ll see Thessaloniki the city to which St, Paul wrote two “epistles”. We’ll visit the White Tower built in 15th century. From the top of White Tower we will admire a panoramic view of whole Thessaloniki. We continue our city tour visiting two Byzantine churches. St. Dimitrios – main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki, dating from a time when Thessaloniki was the second largest city of the Byzantine Empire and Aghia Sophia – church probably built in early 8th century. Then we continue to archaeological Museum where we will see finds from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from the city of Thessaloniki but also from the region of Macedonia in general. Overnight in Thessaloniki.

Optional: Dinner in a local tavern at Ladatika, at the old part of the city next to the harbour, with local food, wine and Greek music.

Day 13

Kavala – Philippi

Morning drive through the picturesque county of North Greece and we arrive to Kavala. We’ll visit Philippi the place which St. Paul visited twice on his missionary journeys and where he established a strong church, the first in Europe. We will see the places where St. Paul stepped first time in Europe, where Lydia was baptized and became the first convert, Philippi Agora, Apostle Paul’s and St. Sylas prison. After a short stop in Kavala we drive back to Thessaloniki. Overnight in Thessaloniki

OR transfer to Thessaloniki airport for your departure. OR Return to Istanbul (440 km– 5 hrs) for your flight back home.

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