DAY 1 Departure
Depart for your overnight flight to Greece. Meals will be served on board!
DAY 2 Athens
The trip will start with your arrival at Athens airport where we will meet and transfer you to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure, dinner, and overnight in Athens.
DAY 3 Athens City Tour
After breakfast we will go on a city tour where we will visit the main points of interest in the city: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Royal Palace, Pan-Athenian Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and visit the world-famous Acropolis, with its new Museum as well as Monastiraki (the Old Flea Market) and Mars’ Hill (Areopagus) where Paul preached the truth to the Gentile Nation. The tour will continue on a walk around the historic churches found in Athens. We start from what is known to Athenians as the Russian Church, the Holy Church of Lykodemos Sotira is one of the oldest and largest Byzantine churches in Athens. The next stop will be located on Monastiraki Square, the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, or Pantanassa, was once called the Great Monastery, and today is known commonly as Monastiraki. This 10th-century arched basilica was first mentioned in a 17th-century document when the church was managed as part of the Kaisariani Monastery. Kapnikarea Church will be the final stop and it stands out as a major landmark in Athens’ Byzantine past. Dating from the 11th century, the church lies in the middle of Ermou Street and is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. The church was built atop an older, Christian temple, commissioned in the fifth century AC by the Byzantine empress Eudokia, wife of Theodosius the Younger. Constructed on the foundations of the ancient temple of Athena or, perhaps, Demeter, Kapnikarea Church is today owned by the University of Athens. The rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner and Overnight in Athens.
DAY 4 Athens / Piraeus (Embarkation) / Mykonos
Embark on a wonderful 3-night cruise to the Greek Islands and Turkey. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily while on board. Mykonos, the whitewashed jewel of the Cyclades Islands, is your first stop. This charming, mountainous island is known for the hundreds of tiny chapels, white-washed buildings, and beautiful windmills that dot its landscape. Don’t miss taking a stroll down Mykonos Town, where mazes of narrow streets link the whitewashed buildings and traditional life continues amidst the bustling activity. Enjoy free time to explore this little paradise in the middle of the Aegean Sea.
DAY 5 Kusadasi / Ephesus / Patmos
Breakfast and stop at the Turkish port of Kusadasi for an included excursion to the ruins of Ephesus where Paul the Saint spent three years during his ministry and where its inhabitants were the recipients of Paul’s famous epistle. Ancient Ephesus was the Roman capital of Asia Minor and an important center for Christianity from AD 50s. During AD52-54 Saint Paul lived here working with the congregation and organizing his missionary activity and taught the Word of God (Acts 20:31) and this is where he wrote the Epistle to Corinthians I. Additionally this was one of the seven cities found in the Book of Revelation(Acts 2:1-7), indicating a strong church. We will visit the house of the Virgin Mary where she lived with John, on the hill behind the city. After this amazing experience we will have lunch and then visit the Basilica of St. John as well as the ruins of the famous Diana’s temple with the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Odeon, the Arch of Hercules, the Temple of Hadrian, the Agora and the Greco-Roman theater. Continue your cruise to the island of Patmos, a beautiful and spiritual island where In 95 AD, St. John the Theologian – one of the twelve disciples of Jesus – was sent into exile. St. John remained on the island for eighteen months during which time he lived in a cave below the hilltop temple of Diana. In this cave exists a small hole in the rock wall, from which derived a series of oracular messages that Prochoros, a disciple of St. John, transcribed as the Biblical chapter of Revelations. During his time in the sacred cave, now known as the Holy Grotto of the Revelation, St. John also composed the Fourth Gospel. During our time there we will visit the Monastery of St. John the Theologian UNESCO World Heritage Site where we will see the Holy Grotto as well as priceless icons and manuscripts. Afterward, drive back to the port of Scala and enjoy some free time in this quaint and picturesque harbor.
DAY 6 Heraklion (Crete) / Santorini
In the morning the ship will dock at the port of Heraklion on the island of Crete. In Heraklion Paul met the owner and captain of the ship, who warned him about continuing his journey to Rome. You can take a tour (optional) to the Palace of Knossos, the center of the Minoan civilization. After lunch, the ship will travel to the most beautiful island in the Aegean Sea known as the “Black Pearl of the Aegean”, the volcanic Santorini where we will enjoy the breathtaking Panoramic View. The latest excavations have suggested that Santorini might be the lost sight of Atlantis.
DAY 7 Piraeus (Disembarkation) / Athens / Thessalonica
After early morning disembarkation, we will travel towards the largest city in Northern Greece, Thessalonica which was an early center for Christianity, where Paul visited and preached during the winters of 49-50 A.D. and wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. On the way, we will make a stop at Thermopylae, famous for its heroic defense by King of Sparta Leonidas and his courageous Spartans warriors against the Persian army. In Thessalonica, we will visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture, one of the finest museums in the world devoted to Byzantine art and civilization with an impressive collection of many Byzantine and early Christian frescoes, icons, and artifacts. We will have dinner and stay overnight in Thessalonica.
DAY 8 Thessalonica / Philippi / Kavala / Thessalonica
After breakfast, we depart for our one-day Philippi Christian tour. Philippi is the town where Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe, sowing the seeds of Christianity. “And from there (He went) to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman Colony. We remained in this city some days…” (Acts 16:12-18). Paul arrived here with Silas and Luke in the winter of AD 49 to AD50. There the first Christian baptism was performed, of a woman named Lydia. Although they were prosecuted and arrested, they received God’s help to escape from prison (Acts 16: 11-23) where there was the conversion of the jailer (Acts 16: 23-26). We will visit the Roman Theatre, the probable site of the prison where Paul and Silas were arrested. We will continue towards the city of Kavala and the ancient city of Neapolis (Acts 16:11) where Paul landed with his disciples, Timothy and Silas. It was later renamed Christoupolis, meaning the city of God, because it was the first European city to accept Christianity. We will visit the Roman Aqueduct and the ruins of the Acropolis. Dinner and overnight in Thessalonica.
DAY 9 Thessalonica / Vergina / Veria / Kalambaka
Breakfast and city tour of Thessalonica, where Paul preached the gospel in the second and third missionary journey. For the early Christians of this city, he wrote epistles “To the Thessalonians.”. We will visit the Cathedral of St. Demetrius, the Protector Saint of the city, the Church of Saint Sofia, the great Church of Saint George which is hosted in a medieval building, the Byzantine temple of «Panagia Chalkeon», the historical Church of Prophet Elias, the White Tower and the Byzantine fortress of the city, the triumphal Arch of Galerius starting at the Via Egnatia, once a strategic artery of the Roman Empire. Then we will head to Vergina, the legendary burial site of the Macedonian kings. This place is considered a World Heritage Site, also known as the Royal Tombs, and houses the tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great and conqueror of Greek territories which resulted in the expansion of Hellenism. The next stop will be Veria (Berea), another town evangelized by Paul (Acts 17.10-14). When Saint Paul visited this town in AD50, he came across a more “noble” Jewish community where he preached and created an important Church. This is where Paul met Sopatros, who would later become a valuable comrade who followed him on his return journey to Asia. We will visit the ancient synagogue where we will see the Byzantine mosaic in the monument commemorating his preaching. According to tradition, it was at this place where he preached. Depart for Kalambaka for dinner and overnight.
DAY 10 Kalambaka / Meteora / Delphi
After breakfast, the trip continues with a visit to the spectacular Meteora, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a mountainous region of stunning scenery. You will see hundred-year-old Byzantine monasteries on top of huge rocks, during the Middle Ages, first built in the 14th century by monks seeking isolation and salvation. We will visit the most famous of them, which is now a popular museum, the Great Meteoron, to admire superb icons, old manuscripts, unique mosaics, and frescoes. We will continue to Delphi for dinner and overnight.
DAY 11 Delphi / Corinth / Cenchrea / Athens
Breakfast and exploration of Delphi. Delphi is the famous oracle where the priestess of Apollo, Pitia, influenced, with their prophecies the history of cities and states of antiquity. Visit the archaeological site and museum. The museum houses an impressive collection associated with ancient Delphi, including the earliest known notation of a melody, the famous Charioteer, golden treasures discovered beneath the Sacred Way, and fragments of reliefs from the Siphnian Treasury. Close to the exit is the inscription that mentions the Roman proconsul Gallio. The reference to proconsul Gallio in the inscription provides an important marker for developing a chronology of the life of Apostle Paul by relating it to the trial of Paul in Achaea mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (18:12-17). In the same region, you will find the famous Monastery of Hosios Lukas. This is a historic walled monastery and one of the most important monuments of Middle Byzantine architecture and art and has been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. We will continue toward ancient Corinth (Acts 18.1-18). It was in ancient Corinth where Paul came and worked, established a thriving church, and wrote two of the epistles, which are now part of the New Testament. We will see all the sites that are associated with his ministry: the Agora, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Odeon, the Bema and Gallio’s seat, the pillars, stairs, and the place of public worship, where Paul preached. All these visits will certainly enhance the understanding of Corinthians I and II. Before ending the tour and returning to Athens, we will visit the ancient Greek port of Cenchrea (Acts 18:18) where Paul was during his second missionary journey, and the ruin of the early Christian 5th Century basilica. Return to Athens, dinner, and overnight.
DAY 12 Athens Airport
According to the schedule of your return flight, you will be taken to the airport in Athens.