Day 2: Arrival Istanbul
Arrival in Istanbul; depart from the airport for an overview of the city of Istanbul which was the capital of two major Empires. Drive over Galata Bridge. Get on board a Bosporus Cruise the best way to have a view of the city; An amazing cruise between the two continents, EUROPE and ASIA, along the Bosphorus by the Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions. Dinner and overnight at your Hotel
Our tour starts with the Hippodrome, the center of activities during the Byzantine era and Ottoman Empire time for four hundred years. Here the chariots thundered the skies and grounds had been the scene to countless military and political dramas. See the Constantine Obelisk, the Serpentine Column which was a memorial, was brought from Greece and Egyptian Obelisk which was once located at the Karnak Temple in Luxor. Enter to the Blue Mosque (The Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I), world-renowned for the thousands of blue glazed tiles covering the walls. See the grandeur of a 17th Century old masterpiece. Later walk to St. Sophia which was a mighty church at the center of Byzantine Constantinople. The building dates back to 535 AD and was built by Emperor Justinian. It was converted to a Mosque in 1452. Today it is a museum . See the largest cupola and fine Byzantine mosaics of the Church.
Visit The Basilica of St Anthony of Padua ,the most prestigious Catholic Church in Istanbul. An imposing red brick building, it was originally built on this site in 1725, but was demolished in the early 20th Century, in order to make way for a tramway. However the church was rebuilt by the architect, Giulio Mongeri and completed in 1912, and stands as a fine example of the Italian neo-Gothic and Tuscan-Lombard styles. We may celebrate Mass here.
Later we visit Topkapi Palace, a huge walled complex hugging the Bosporus. Built in 1468 by Mehmet the Conqueror, the imperial residence of Ottoman sultans is now a museum that houses the artifacts dating back six centuries. The extraordinary collection includes the imperial treasury, weapons, calligraphy, Chinese porcelain, art, artifacts and jewels
Dinner and overnight at our Hotel
Day 4: Istanbul-Canakkale
Morning drive thru Golden Horn and visit Church of Chora. The first Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (as it was originally known) was built during the reign of Justinian (527-565) on the site of a former chapel that was located just outside the first city walls (but within the Theodosian Walls that still exist today) that surrounded the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. The word chora is the ancient Greek word for countryside – a reference to the fact that the original chapel was outside the city walls, in what would have been fields. The mosaics of the former Chora Church tell biblical stories, which can be followed like a graphic novel. On the North wall of the inner narthex there are 17 images depicting the life of the Virgin Mary, including her birth, first steps, and marriage.
Visit Cathedral of Holy Spirit ;the Cathedral, built in Roman style in 1845-46, has been the See for ten years, from 1934 to 1944, of the Apostolic Delegate Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who later became Pope with the name of John XXIII. and in 2016 has been canonized. His portrait, on the left of the cathedral was painted in 2000, when his name was given to the street behind our cathedral. This cathedral is the main spiritual center for the Latin Catholics of the Vicariate of Istanbul, who is the Pastor (Apostolic Vicar – Bishop) of the Latin Community. The Holy Spirit Cathedral gave a warm welcome to four popes, whose names are written on the commemorative plaques on the church walls. We may celebrate Mass here.
Afternoon we drive to Canakkale for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Pergamum-Kusadasi
Short stop at legendary Troy and Biblical Troas where St Paul received the Vision.
Our journey today continues on the road to the ancient city
of Pergamum. See the Red Basilica which housed the 1st
Century Christian Church referred to by John in revelation.
Visit the Acropolis of Pergamum designed to imitate the
one in Athens and the Asclepeion Temple once dedicated
to the Greek god of healing. Revelation 2:12-17 records
the letter written to the Christian church of Pergamum;
verse 13 of this passage speaks of “Satan’s seat” being here
(Pergamum was a center of idolatry). Paul was not allowed
to preach here..
Proceed to KUSADASI for dinner and overnight.
Visit the most impressive biblical site of
our trip:Ephesus where Paul first came on his 2nd journey
(Acts 18:19-21). Ephesus was one of the most beautiful
cities of ancient world and its former glory can still be
appreciated today from its well- preserved streets, temples,
fountains, public baths, terraced houses and theatres.
Paul returned to Ephesus on his 3rd
journey, staying and preaching for a period of about two
years, where “special miracles” were wrought (Acts 19:120,
We visit the Basilicaof St. John, the museum of Ephesus, and then to the House of Mary where we celebrate Mass. Dinner and overnight at our hotel. (B, D)
Day 7: Cruise Embarkation & Patmos
This morning we embark on our cruise ship and sail to Patmos
Late afternoon our ship will dock in Patmos, which was considered sacred and often called the Jerusalem of the Aegean. It was here that John the Evangelist received the inspiration to write the Apocalypse. We will have a private included excursion to visit the island of Patmos, including the Monastery of St. John, a huge fortress-like building dating from the 11th century, and the grotto where tradition says that John wrote the Book of Revelation. We will have a prayer service on the island together. Overnight on board.
This morning our cruiseship docks in the island of Rhodes where the legend of Colossus meets the glories of the Knights!
Our included shore excursion takes us to Lindos, visit the Acropolis of Lindos, and view the Bay of St Paul where St Paul docked on his way to Jerusalem.
Afternoon we celebrate mass at Santa Maria Catholic Church of Rhodes
Day 9: Crete & Santorini
This morning we dock at the legendary island of Crete,land of Minoan civilization,home of Zorbas the Greek
AN OPTIONAL shore excursion is available to take us to visit the Minoan Palace of Knossos,
where King Minos lived and where the Labyrinth and the Minotaur was located! St Paul arrived in Crete with Titus and established the local church.
Afternoon call at the volcano island of santorini;take the cable car on your own to visit the top of the island
ane enjoy the panoramic view of the famous Caldera.
Day 10: Disembarkation & Athens Tour
This morning, after breakfast disembarkation and you will enjoy a City
Tour of -Athens – the birthplace of democracy. See
Constitution Square (Syntagma), the House of Parliament,
the memorial to the Unknown Soldier and the University,
the Academie and the National Library. Driving down
Herodes Atticus Street and the Evzones in their picturesque
uniforms and the Presidential Palace. On your way to the
Acropolis you will see the Panathenaic Stadium (where
the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in
1896), the Temple of Olympia Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch.
On the Acropolis mount, you will visit the architectural
masterpieces of the Golden Age of Athens: The Propylee,
the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and finally
the Parthenon – the monument that “puts order in the
mind” and “is harmony between material and spirit”-
We may celebrate Mass at St Dennis Catholic Cathedral.
Dinner and overnight in Athens
Today we will visit Corinth, where St. Paul
arrived in A.D. 50-51 to preach Christianity. Stop at the
archeological site housing many statues and artefacts. The
site includes the Temple of Apollo; the Roman Agora; the
Bema Courthouse, where his enemies brought the Apostle
before Gallio; the pavement inscription of Erastus; the
Roman Lechaion Road and the lower Fountain of Peirene.
It was in Corinth that St. Paul wrote First Thessalonians
and also, most likely, his Epistle to the Romans.
You may celebrate Mass at the Bema of St Paul.
Dinner & overnight at our hotel in Athens.
Breakfast at our Hotel and transfer to the airport in time for our morning flight home.