Religious Turkey and Greece with 3-day cruise
Program only valid for private groups of 20 or more people
DAY 1, SUNDAY: ARRIVE ISTANBUL
Welcome to Turkey! The land of culture, faith and mystery! Meet with your guide at Istanbul airport and enjoy a panoramic bus drive viewing the various highlights of this cosmopolitan city such as the Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus shorelines, Taksim Square, Byzantine Walls & Galata area. Check-in at the hotel and enjoy rest of the day at leisure to discover the beauty and hidden gems of this magnificent city!
DAY 2, MONDAY: ISTANBUL
This morning we start our tour with a visit of 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. In the afternoon, visit Topkapi Palace, ending your day with some free time in the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 1,200 shops.
DAY 3, TUESDAY: ISTANBUL - GALLIPOLI – DARDANELLES - TROY - CANNAKALE
We drive to Gallipoli and cross the Dardanelles Strait by ferryboat. In this area of north-western Anatolia, we visit ancient Troy and see the replica of the wooden horse before driving to Canakkale for overnight.
DAY 4, WEDNESDAY: PERGAMUM – THYATIRA - SMYRNA
Visit Ancient Pergamum (now called Bergama), with its Acropolis and Great Theater, the steepest of the ancient world. Revelation 2:12-16 describes the city as “where Satan’s seat is,” a reference to the altar of Zeus, where we pause for reflection on the fulfillment of Scripture. We continue on to Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29), famous for its purple dyes and enjoy a panoramic drive of the city of Smyrna (Izmir) before checking into the hotel.
DAY 5, THURSDAY: SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA – LAODICEA - HIERAPOLIS
Today’s journey begins with 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". See the remains of a Byzantine basilica built of brick and some 11th century frescoes. 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 continue on to Pamukkale (“cotton fortress”), where we check-in at the hotel for overnight.
DAY 6, FRIDAY: HIERAPOLIS - EPHESUS - 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. Continue to Hierapolis [Col. 4:13] and visit the Martyrium of the Apostle Philip where he was martyred during the persecutions ordered by Domitian. Drive to Ephesus and tour the spectacular ruins of Ancient Ephesus, where excavations still continue in this once great and important city, which was founded in the 10th century BC. Walk through history along marble streets lined with wonderful public buildings, among them the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the Theatre. Visit also the Basilica of the Apostle John, believed to be built on the Apostles last resting place.
DAY 7, SATURDAY: PATMOS, GREECE
In the morning, around 10 a.m. embark on your cruise ship at the port of Kusadasi. At 1 p.m. sail for Patmos, Greece (Rev 1:9). Arrive at 4 p.m. on this beautiful and almost mysterious rocky island where John was exiled and wrote the Book of Revelation. Drive up to the Monastery of St. John the Evangelist where we have a wonderful view of the island and also visit the Grotto of the Revelation. After some free time for browsing, return to the ship and sail for Crete at 9.00 p.m.
DAY 8, SUNDAY: CRETE & SANTORINI, GREECE
At 7 a.m. we arrive at Heraklion, Crete (Acts 27:7-13). Join the optional excursion to the Minoan Palace of Knossos, home of King Minos and the legendary Minotaur (half-bull and half-man). Sail for Santorini at 11:30 a.m., where we arrive at 4:30 p.m. Ride the cable car up to the white-washed town of Thera, perched high on the rim of the ancient volcano. Sail back to Athens at 9:30 p.m.
DAY 9, MONDAY: ATHENS, GREECE
After disembarkation, meet with your guide and drive to the center of Athens. Climb up to the marble-capped Acropolis and visit the famous Parthenon and the Erechtheion. From the Acropolis we can see the 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 Parliament, the Presidential Palace, Panathenian Stadium, Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Academy, the University and the National Library. We also visit the New Acropolis Museum. 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 10, TUESDAY: CORINTH CANAL – ANCIENT CORINTH
Disembark after breakfast and drive along the Saronic Gulf where our first stop will be at the Corinth Canal. Continue on 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 Cenchrea as we return to Athens. Enjoy rest of the day at leisure.
DAY 11, WEDNESDAY: DEPARTURE
As you reflect on these past few days, full of history and spiritual inspiration, you will be transferred to the Athens International Airport for your flight home.