Day 1: Arrival Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul, after you clear customs meet your guide and driver. Continue to your hotel for rest and dinner.
Day 2: Full Day tour Istanbul PM Flight to Smyrna
Our full-day tour of the old city begins as we step onto the grounds of the Topkapi Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Turks. Poised on the hilltop of the Golden Horn, it beckoned home the sultans of old, and today it has that same magnetic appeal. Just around the corner, we will visit St. Sophia—now a museum, the original structure was built by Constantine in 326 A.D., and for 916 years it functioned as a Christian church. With its 184’ dome, mosaics and frescoes, it is considered an architectural wonder. Of it, Justinian stated, “Solomon, I have surpassed you.” Across the street, we enter the Yerebatan Sarayi(Underground Cisterns) built during the time of Justinian I and probably by Christians when one considers the manner in which many of the temple columns and capitals are placed. From here we take a short walk along the Hippodrome built in the times of Byzantium for horse and chariot races. Today, on the site of the imperial box seats, is the William II Fountain, and monuments line the field where once as many as 100,000 sat or stood and cheered at athletic competitions. As we continue our walk, we reach Sultanahmet Mosque better known as the Blue Mosque, a name derived from its exquisite, blue-colored tiles decorating the interior of the building, which is further distinguished by its six minarets. After your tour continue to the airport for your flight to Izmir. Arrival at Izmir, transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Morning Tour Smyrna, Ephesus
This morning you begin with a tour of Smyrna. Smyrna (Izmir) Old Smyrna was located just across the bay from present-day Izmir. Polycarp, a bishop from 115 to 156 AD, was one of the earliest members of the church at this site. There are several contemporary accounts of him and some of his own writings are still preserved. In a letter to the Philippians, he warned them “…the love of money is the root of all evil.” A martyr, he was important to the early church as a preserver of the purity of the gospel. John told the Christians in Smyrna not to be afraid to suffer, but “…be faithful till death…” (Revelation 2:10-11). We Continue to Ancient Ephesus. Ephesus, the site of the world’s largest excavated ruins, will amaze you with how vividly you can imagine the ancient city. Close your eyes for a moment and realize here the Apostles once walked along streets lined with wonderful public buildings such as the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the Theater and the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders. Later we visit St. John’s Basilica where the Apostle John is buried and the Ephesus Museum, the site of some of the best treasures of antiquity found in this region. Dinner and Overnight in Smyrna
Day 4: Laodicea, Hierapolis, Philadelphia
An exciting day awaits ahead of you! Your first stop today is Laodicea. Laodicea was at the crossroads of north-south traffic between Sardis and Perge and east-west traffic from the Euphrates to Ephesus. From this advantageous location, the city became wealthy. John cited very harsh warnings of the “lukewarm” attitude of the church here (Revelation 3:15-17). In Hierapolis(Pamukkale) the dazzling white hillside is a major tourist site today and probably even in ancient times. The first reference to it in the New Testament associates the city and the church there with the work of Epaphras, who in prison later became acquainted with Paul. Then on to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, founded by Pergamon King Attalos II for his brother Eumenes. Attalos wanted his new city to become the center of the Greco- Roman Civilization. The sixth letter of the Apostle John to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor was the letter to Philadelphia. Dinner and overnight in Smyrna.
Day 5: Izmir, Pergamum, Troas, Canakkale
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. Continue to Troy, the immortal city of the legendary Helen of Troy and Trojan House which was destroyed and rebuilt nine times. Then on to Canakkale along the straights of Dardanelles for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Day 6: Philippi & Kavala
After breakfast, we depart to Turkey-Greece borders and continue to Philippi, which was a Roman garrison town and the chief city in the province of Macedonia. It was here that Paul won his first European convert, a woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods. Visit the Baptistry of Lydia., the market place (where Paul and Silas were brought before the rulers), the cistern which tradition identifies as the place where Paul was imprisoned. Dinner and overnight in Kavala.
Day 7: Thessaloniki Tour & Overnight
This morning you drive to Thessaloniki. Apostle Paul came to Thessaloniki and went straight to the Synagogue. As described in your Bible in Acts 17:1-9, Paul preached in the Synagogue for three consecutive Sabbaths, and he gained many followers who believed. A couple of the Jews who were not persuaded created an uproar and attacked the House of Jason, one of the believers Paul was staying with during his visit. During your tour, you will have the Biblical Experience of those verses as you will see the agora in Thessaloniki, where Paul preached to the local Jews, as well as the House of Jason, where he lived! You will also have the opportunity to visit St. Demetrius Basilica, dedicated to a distinguished member of the Roman army and a martyred Christian convert, and see the Galerius Arch rising over the famous via Egnatia. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 8: Thessaloniki, Berea, Meteora Monasteries
This morning you drive to Berea, as described in Acts 17:10-15 Paul and Silas go to Berea and preach at the Synagogue. Many of the Jews became believers, but Paul's ministry was cut short. While you are in Berea, you will see St. Paul's Bema, where he preached to the local Jews in 54 AD. Continue to Meteora Monasteries. Here we see the world famous Byzantine monasteries that are perched precariously on summits of gray rock pinnacles of varied and beautiful shapes. Their history goes back to the 14th century when the monks sought refuge in the cliff side caves then fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, later transformed into monasteries. Dinner and overnight in Kalambaka
This morning you travels southward past Thermopylae where we learn of the famous Spartan battle of 300 to reach Athens. Once you reach Athens you can your afternoon free to explore on your own. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 10: Athens & Corinth of Apostle Paul
In 51 AD, Apostle Paul traveled from Berea to Athens by boat. His boat anchored at Faliron that used to be the main port serving Athens. Apostle Paul traveled from port to Athens. While waiting for Silas & Timothy to come from Macedonia, he spent most of his time talking with citizens at the Synagogues and the Agora. The Athenians took an interest in his teachings and invited him to present it more analytical at the Aeropagus, the hill west of Acropolis. Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and gave his famous Aeropagus Sermon, emphasizing the need to known God rather than worship the unknown as described in Acts 17:16-34. Follow your guide on a journey to the ancient Acropolis where you will see the Propylaea, the Parthenon and the Erectheum. View Mars Hill where Paul preached the gospel to the intellectual Athenian community of his day (Acts 17: 15-34). View the ruins of the Agora, ancient market place and center of Athenian public life, where Paul preached to the skeptical Athenians. You will view the Olympic Stadium, where the modern Olympics began and where the games returned in 2004. Continue to Corinth, Corinth Visit Corinth (Acts 18: 1-18), a city that inspired of St. Paul's most familiar letter. You will visit the Archeological Museum, the Market Place, and Temples. Walk among the ruins and stand on the Bema where Paul stood. Read Paul's letter to the Corinthians and visualize his address to the Gentiles as he began the task of building Corinth's church. Imagine where Aquila and Priscilla lived and where they had their tent making business. Acts 18:9-11 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. Return to Athens for Dinner and overnight.