Day 1: USA
Depart for Istanbul.
Day 2: Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul, Turkey, the city known for its ancient culture & stunning display of Ottoman & Byzantine architecture. Arrive at the airport, & transfer to the hotel. Before dinner, enjoy a sightseeing tour around the city.
Day 3: Istanbul
Discover the wonders of Istanbul today. Take a walk through the Hippodrome, the gathering place for politics & sports events during the age of the Byzantine Empire. Visit the 17th-century Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or “Blue Mosque,” which boasts a beautiful interior décor, consisting of marble & handcrafted ceramic tiles. Explore the magnificent Hagia Sophia, & learn about its conversion throughout history, from church to mosque to the Museum of Byzantine Art. Venture through the Grand Bazaar, home to thousands of shops featuring antiques, spices, jewelry, & more. Other highlights include the imperial Topkapi Palace, previous home to the ruling Sultans.
Day 4: Istanbul – Izmir – Thyatira – Sardis – Philadelphia – Pamukkale
In the morning, transfer to the airport, & board flight to Izmir. Upon arrival, depart for today’s final destination, Pamukkale. The journey features visits to the sites of three of the seven churches of Revelation. Learn about the history of Indigo use & trade in ancient Thyatira, home to the church that allowed Jezebel to falsely advise its members. See the remains of Sardis, which includes the acropolis, the gymnasium, the synagogue, & the famous Temple of Artemis. Next, travel to ancient Philadelphia, home to the church who “endured patiently,” as depicted in Revelation 3:10. Afterward, enjoy dinner & an overnight stay in one of Turkey’s most charming cities.
Day 5: Pamukkale – Hierapolis – Laodicea – Kusadasi
Explore the Hierapolis archaeological site. The book of Colossians reminds us that it was here that the Apostle Paul preached the gospel, & Christianity later arose amidst a community who worshipped false-gods. Afterward, head for Laodicea, another site of one of the seven churches of Revelation. The number of remains that can be seen within this ancient community, of whom the Apostle John prophesied to be lukewarm, is quite impressive. Highlights include the sports stadium, the aqueduct, & the hillside theatre. Afterward, travel to Kusadasi for dinner & an overnight stay.
Day 6: Kusadasi – Ephesus – Izmir
Spend the day discovering the wonders of Ephesus, a site of one of the seven churches of Revelation & one of the most amazing displays of ancient Greek & Roman architecture. Learn about the long-lost Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Stand on the stage of the Great Theatre, where the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to the Ephesians. This amazing structure, which can hold a congregation of 25,000, is still being used for events to this day. Other famous structures include the library of Celsus & the Gate of Augustus. Later today, visit the house where the Virgin Mary spent her last days on Earth & the Church of Mary (optional). See the ruins of the former Basilica of St. John & its replacement, the Church of St. John the Theologian. Enjoy dinner & an overnight stay in Izmir.
Day 7: Izmir – Pergamum – Canakkale
After breakfast, leave Izmir for Pergamum. See the stunning Hellenistic theatre, one of the world’s steepest, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C. See the remains of the Red Basilica, a magnificent Roman structure which served as a pagan house of worship before converting to a Christian church. Before heading to Canakkale for the evening, visit Asclepion, & learn about the traditional healing rituals carried out within this ancient medical facility.
Day 8: Canakkale – Alexandria Troas – Kavala
Walk in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul today as you explore the ancient city of Alexandria Troas. It was within this great, Greek province that Paul spread the word of God, brought back Eutychus from the dead, & received the vision of the Macedonian man asking Paul to help him and his people. Later today, cross the Greece-Turkey border, & enjoy an overnight stay in Kavala.
Day 9: Kavala – Philippi – Neapolis – Thessaloniki
Head for the ancient city of Philippi, the site of the first baptism in European history, the baptism of St. Lydia by the Apostle Paul himself. Paul also ministered in Europe for the first time in this same city. See the ruins of the Roman forum & the prison where Paul & Silas were incarcerated. Visit the ancient city of Neapolis, & see the memorial commemorating the Apostle Paul’s landing on the coast, as told in the book of Acts. Travel to Thessaloniki to see the ancient remains of the city walls, which date back to the 4th century B.C. The Christian church that stood within these walls is the congregation to whom Paul addressed the First & Second Thessalonians Epistles. Other sightseeing highlights in Thessaloniki include the Arch of Galerius.
Day 10: Thessaloniki – Veria – Athens
Travel to Veria, the Apostle Paul’s destination after fleeing Thessaloniki. Admire the apostle’s memorial, The Bema, constructed in honor of his missionary work in the ancient Jewish community. Afterward, journey along the Thermopylae on the way to the capital of Greece.
Day 11: Athens
Take a stroll through modern Athens to see several of its famous monuments, including Syntagma Square & Panathenaic Stadium, home of the 1896 Olympic Games. Afterward, journey back into the Golden Age. Visit the ancient Agora, & stand atop Mars Hill, where Paul gave his famous sermon, found in the book of Acts. Enjoy scenic views of the city from atop the Acropolis, one of Athens’ most precious gems. Highlights of the ancient site include the famous Greek temple, the Parthenon, which served as a Christian church during the 6th century A.D. Discover many other fascinating sites today, including the Temple of Athena Nike.
Day 12: Athens – Corinth – Athens (to USA) OR – Patras Port (to Bari)
Enjoy a day trip to the ancient city of Corinth. The path from Athens is similar to that of the Apostle Paul’s & includes a visit to the Corinth Canal, the body of water connecting the Saronic Gulf & the Gulf of Corinth. Explore the city’s ruins, which include the Temple of Apollo & the Agora. Travel back to Athens for dinner & an overnight stay. Tomorrow, transfer to the airport, & board return flight home. – OR – Depart Corinth, & travel to Patras Port. Board an overnight ferry to Bari, Italy.
Day 13: Bari – Pompeii – Rome
Upon arrival to Bari, disembark the ferry, & transfer to Pompeii. Discover the city that was hidden for nearly 1500 years due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Learn about the ancient Roman ruins that were found during the excavation process. Afterward, travel to Rome for an overnight stay.
Day 14: Rome
Experience the essence of Rome’s ancient history & culture. Visit the Colosseum, the late Roman Empire’s largest amphitheater, known today as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Hear the legend of Peter & Paul’s imprisonment in Rome at Mamertine Prison. Explore Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman stadium where thousands gathered to watch chariot races, games, & other forms of entertainment. Other highlights of today’s tour include the Roman Forum & the Arch of Titus.
Day 15: Rome
Tour the Vatican Museums: a spread of palaces, chapels, museums, & galleries. You’ll marvel at the stunning Sistine Chapel. Most famous for its ceiling, the chapel displays some of the most beautiful, inspirational, & spiritual illustrations of all time. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church, which features the only autographed work by Michelangelo. See the catacombs of the Christian martyr San Sebastiano & the site where the Apostle Paul became a martyr himself, Tre Fontane Abbey. Other highlights include a walk down the famous street Via del Corso, the legendary Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza de Spagnia, & Piazza Navona.
Day 16: Rome – USA
Transfer to the airport, & board return flight home.