Biblical Italy, Greece and Turkey
Program only valid for private groups of 20 or more people
Day 1: Rome Arrival
Arrive in Rome Airport and depart for a panoramic tour of the city before check-in at the hotel. Enjoy free time for relaxation and reflection on this city, full of wonder and inspiration, through which Apostles Paul and Peter impacted the whole Roman Empire. Take in the grandeur of the past and the vibrancy of the present as you explore the surrounding streets.
Day 2: Rome
Today we enjoy a full day tour with visits to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, Santa Pudenziana Church, Santa Prassede Basilica and San Paolo al Regola Church. The evening is yours to enjoy until we have dinner at the hotel.
Day 3: Rome
This morning we’ll travel back to the days of the Roman Empire. Visit the Roman Colosseum (inside visit), the Arch of Constantine, the Roman Forum and Mamertime Prison (Acts 27-28). Continue to St. Peter in Chains Church, Old Appian Way and the Catacombs of St. Callistus with a stop at St. Paul's Basilica Outside the Walls. You have a free evening to visit that special shop you saw earlier in the day or grab a coffee along with the rest of the Romans.
Day 4: Rome – Ferry to Patras (Greece)
Free time in the morning in Rome where you can have an authentic cappuccino, shop in the fashionable shops or just people-watch as the locals go on with their Latin lives! Late check-out from the hotel and on to Bari. Embark on the evening ferry to Patras, Greece. Overnight on board the ferry.
Day 5: Patras - Athens
Arrive at Patras port in the afternoon, meet the local guide and board the bus towards Athens.Drive eastwards on the Peloponnese peninsula. On our way we will make a short stop at the Corinth Canal. We will then continue on to Athens for check-in at hotel.
Day 6: Ancient Corinth - Athens
Today’s journey begins with a visit to Ancient Corinth, home of the Apostle Paul for 1 1/2 years (Acts 18: 1-18). Here we will see all the sites associated with his ministry: the Agora, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Odeon, the Bema and Gallio seat. We also pass from the ancient port of Cenchreae as we return to Athens, where our tour will carry on with a visit to the Acropolis with the famous temple of Parthenon. We will see Mars’ Hill, or Areopagus (Acts 17:22), where the Apostle Paul delivered his well-known sermon. Our tour continues with a panoramic drive passing by the most important sites of the city. Rest of the day is free to wander through the Plaka and Monastiraki districts, where old combines with new as you discover shops and restaurants full of Greek delicacies.
Day 7: Athens – Meteora Monasteries - Kalambaka
This morning we drive towards central Greece. Arrive in the beautiful town of Kalambaka and visit Meteora Monasteries, which are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Enjoy a spectacular drive up to the Monasteries, built by monks from 11th century onward, on top of huge gray-reddish boulders that seem to have been thrust upwards by an invisible hand. We will visit two monasteries and admire the remarkable icons, manuscripts and frescoes on display. Later check-in at the hotel in Kalambaka.
Day 8: Berea - Thessalonica
We start our drive to Berea (Acts 17:10-15) where the Apostle Paul arrived and according to his custom went to the synagogue where, to his pleasant surprise, he discovered that these Jews were “more noble” than those he had encountered in Thessalonica. We see the Byzantine mosaic in the monument commemorating his preaching and continue our journey to Thessalonica, passing through Katerini and gazing upon Mount Olympus. The city of Thessalonica is where Apostle Paul went first to the synagogue (Acts 17:1) and for three Saturdays he explained the prophecies of the Old Testament to Jews and Greeks. Enjoy a panoramic tour of the city and also visit St. Demetrius' Church, famous for its early Byzantine mosaics and St. Sophia Church, the first Christian church in Thessaloniki. Transfer to the hotel for check-in.
DAY 9: Philippi – Kavala
Today we depart from Thessalonica and enjoy our journey to Philippi (Acts 16:9-33), where Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe and sowed the seeds of Christianity. Here Paul baptized "a certain woman named Lydia" the first Christian convert in Europe. Among the ruins, located on the rocky ledge above the town's main road, is the "prison" where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. After our visit we will continue on to Kavala, the ancient port of Neapolis (Acts 16:11) where we enjoy a panoramic tour before returning to Thessalonica for overnight.
Day 10: Cross to Turkey - Istanbul
This morning we depart from Greece and cross over into Turkey. After passport control we meet the local guide and board the bus to start our journey in Turkey. Drive to Istanbul, the only city in the world situated on two continents.
DAY 11: Istanbul
Our tour starts with a visit to St. Sophia, to admire its architectural beauty. We then walk to the nearby Hippodrome Square and continue on with a visit to the Blue Mosque. After a brief stop for lunch we visit the Basilica Cistern. Our tour will end with a pleasant walk among 4,000 shops at the covered Grand Bazaar where you can practice your bargaining skills!
Day 12: Istanbul – Troy - Canakkale
We drive to Canakkale and cross by car ferry to Asia Minor. Upon arrival, we drive to Troy, the legendary city from the Trojan War. We visit the ruins of the ancient city and see the replica of the Wooden Horse.
Day 13: Pergamum - Izmir
We continue our journey to one of the early Christian Churches, Pergamum, called Bergama. (Rev 2:17).Pergamum was the capital city of the province. First visit the Acropolis, the Citadel with the city walls, where Trajan’s Temple and the Library were built. Continue to the Asclepeion, one of the foremost medical centers of Classical times, where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. Later in the afternoon we check-in at our hotel in Izmir.
Day 14: Izmir – Sardis – Philadelphia - Pamukkale
Enjoy a panoramic tour of Izmir (Smyrna), another of the Seven Churches in Asia Minor (Rev 2:8-11). It was also the birthplace of Homer and the capital of the Aegean. We will then continue to Sardis (Rev 3:1-6), the former capital city of Lydia of King Croesus. Here we see the temple of Artemis, (Cybele & Diana), the gate of the Byzantine church, the restored synagogues, Gymnasium and the Royal Road. We will then drive to Philadelphia (Rev1:11, 3:7), which means "brotherly love". Here we see the remains of a Byzantine basilica built of brick and some 11th century frescoes. In the evening we continue on to Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale (“cotton fortress”) for overnight.
Day 15: Hierapolis – Laodicea - Kusadasi
In the morning we will visit the white “cotton fortress” where hot mineral water bursts from the earth and cascades over steep cliffs forming pools, channels and stalactites. The therapeutic waters were known to the founders of Hierapolis and of Laodicea in 190 BC. In Hierapolis [Col. 4:13] we visit the Martyrium of the Apostle Philip where he was martyred during the persecutions ordered by Domitian. Continue on to Laodicea (present name Denizli) yet another of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor [Rev. 1:11; 3:14; Col. 2:1; 4:13-16]. We see the ancient theatre, the remains of a basilica and the amazing water pipe system of the ancient city. Continue on to Kusadasi.
Day 16: Ephesus - Kusadasi
Today we enjoy a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus (Acts 18:19-21). Apostle Paul preached to the Ephesians and lived here for three years. We tour the spectacular ruins along the marble streets lined with wonderful public buildings. We will also see the Temple of Diana of the Ephesians, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. We continue on to the Basilica of Apostle John and then return to Kusadasi for a farewell dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 17: Izmir – Fly Istanbul – Return Home
Drive to Izmir for a morning flight to Istanbul and from there, connect to your flight back home. As you reflect on all the Biblical sites that the Apostles traversed so many years ago with the message of the Gospel, we hope that you are inspired to carry a new sense of understanding and appreciation for the events that transformed so many lives around the world!