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Classical Greece, Rome and Istanbul

Duration: 15 Days

Day 1: Arrival in Rome
Welcome to Rome! This cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display! Enjoy a panoramic sightseeing drive of the Eternal City and a visit to the Pantheon, the best preserved and influential building of ancient Rome.
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Day 2: Rome - Colosseum
Our day begins with an inside visit to Rome’s most recognizable landmark and one of the ancient city’s most vital social centres, the Colosseum. After a brief stop at the Arch of Constantine, arrive at Palatine Hill, the birthplace of Rome & the most famous of the Seven Hills. Admire the view of the Roman Forum and Nero’s Circus Maximus where chariot races were once held. We see the Pantheon at Piazza de la Rotunda before reaching the world-famous Trevi Fountain. After tossing a coin in the fountain for good luck, continue to the Spanish Steps or Borghese Park for a sunset view over the city.
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Day 3: Vatican City
Discover the Vatican City State visiting its Museums and the Sistine Chapel, to see Michelangelo’s famous Creation of Adam painting. We also see the famous Italian Renaissance church of St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.
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Day 4: Rome - Athens
Our day begins with a visit to the Capitoline Museums, three of the oldest in the world containing artefacts and artworks from the ancient Roman World. Next stop is the Baths of Diocletian at Piazza Republica before walking on the Ancient Appian Way, the primary road that let into Rome. Continue with a visit of the Catacombs before heading to Rome International Airport for our flight to Athens, Greece. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for check-in.
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Day 5: Athens
Today we travel back in time! Visit the ancient Roman Odeon of Herod Atticus where modern musical concerts take place to this day. Continue to the world famous Acropolis: Pass through the magnificent monumental gates of Pericles (the Propylaea) and learn about the importance and architectural uniqueness of the Parthenon temple, the most sacred site in Athens. Enjoy the spectacular view of the city and agora below before continuing the tour to the impressive Acropolis Museum.
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Day 6: Ancient Agora & National Archaeological Museum
Our morning begins with a visit to the ancient Agora, the heart of ancient Athens, which was the focus of political, commercial, administrative and social activity. Our tour continues with the National Archaeological Museum, which displays finds from all parts of the ancient Greek world that date from Neolithic times to the last years of the Roman Empire. En route to the hotel we enjoy a panoramic sightseeing drive viewing the highlights of modern Athens including: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House, the Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Academy, the University and the National Library.
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Day 7: Athens - Ossios Loukas Monastery - Delphi
Depart from Athens by bus driving through the fertile plain of Boeotia. Our first stop will be at the 11th century Byzantine Monastery, Ossios Loukas, one of the greatest buildings in medieval Greece. See its stunning domed churches and mosaics. Continue through the town of Arachova, famous for the colorful woolen rugs and ski resort town, before arriving at the archaeological site of Delphi. This is where the Priestess Pythia pronounced her famous oracles in the Temple of Apollo to visitors from all over the world. Visit the archaeological museum containing masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture such as the bronze Charioteer and the famous athlete Aghias. Overnight at hotel in Delphi.
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Day 8: Delphi – Olympia
In the morning we depart for Ancient Olympia, passing through the towns of Itea and Nafpaktos before crossing the state of the art bridge from Antirio to Rio and continuing to Olympia. Enjoy a visit of the archaeological site, which holds the stadium where the first panhellenic games took place and from that point on every 4 years up until today. Our day ends with a visit to the museum next to the site before checking into our hotel for an overnight stay.
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Day 9: Olympia - Nafplion
Drive through the central Peloponnese to the beautiful city of Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece. Upon arrival, visit the Palamidi Fortress and its spectacular panoramic views from above. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at your own leisure.
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Day 10: Epidaurus - Nafplion
This morning we depart to Epidaurus and visit the religious healing centre of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and the best preserved Greek Theater that seats over 12,000 spectators and is still in use today! Return to Nafplion for free time to stroll through the picturesque alleys which lead to the beautiful harbor. Overnight in Nafplion.
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Day 11: Mycenae - Athens Airport - Istanbul
Today we visit the archaeological site of Mycenae and see the remains of the prehistoric citadel fortified with Cyclopean walls, the Lionesses' Gate, the Mycenaean Palace and the beehive tomb of Agamemnon (which we will actually enter!). Following the tour, continue to Athens International Airport for an evening flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel for check-in. Free time to explore Istanbul, a fascinating city which actually crosses two continents, Europe and Asia!
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Day 12: Istanbul
Our tour starts with the ancient Hippodrome, the center of Byzantine social life and the scene of fiercely competitive chariot races. We see the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, the Column of Constantine and the German Fountain. Continue with a visit to one of the biggest mosques of Istanbul from the 17th century, the Blue Mosque, famous for its blue Iznik tiles and six minarets. Next we see the Church of Holy Wisdom “Hagia Sophia” undoubtedly one of the greatest architectural creations in the world, once a church, then a mosque and now a museum. Our tour ends with a visit to the Underground Byzantine Basilica Cistern which stored water for the Great palace and nearby buildings.
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Day 13: Topkapi Palace and Istanbul Archaeological Museums
Today we will visit the great Topkapi palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries, housing an exquisite collection of crystal, silver, Chinese porcelain and famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury. Continue to the Istanbul Archaeological Museums which house various artifacts from civilizations that had lived and left their traces in Turkey.
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Day 14: Egyptian Spice Bazaar & Bosphorus Cruise
Enjoy a morning cruise along the Bosphorus straits and view the Dolmabahce Palace and ottoman Fortresses. After our cruise, we visit the Egyptian Spice Bazaar filled with the fragrance of the exotic spices, dried fruits, cheeses, sausages, jams, nuts and other edibles. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at your own leisure.
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Day 15: Istanbul Departure
Transfer to Istanbul International Airport for your departure flight home.
As you reflect on your visit to the sites that brought history to life, you may realize that you have just touched the surface of all that these magnificent countries have to offer!
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Classical Greece, Rome and Istanbul