11 Days Steps of Paul, 7 Churches, Athens and Rome
DAY 01: NORTH AMERICA / EUROPE. Tour members will gather at the ticket counter at the airport two hours prior to their departure to Europe.
DAY 02: THESSALONIKI. “Paul came to Thessaloniki with Silas and following his usual custom, he went to the Synagogue where he used the Jewish scriptures as the source for his preaching” (Act 17:2-4). Upon arrival we are met by our tour escort and begin with a panoramic tour of Thessaloniki, the “Queen of the North”. Considered the second capital of Greece, Thessaloniki was founded in 31 BC by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Cassander, who was married to Alexander’s step-sister, Thessaloniki. In her honor, he named the town built in the form of an amphitheater at the head of Thermaikos Gulf. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
DAY 03: KAVALLA / PHILIPPI / ALEXANDROUPOLIS. Today we become more acquainted with Thessaloniki, where Paul wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. We will drive along the waterfront to the massive White Tower and nearby Triumphal Arch of Gallerius, built in 303 AD.
“And from thence to Philippi which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony; and we were in that city abiding certain days (Act 16:12) We visit the beautiful city of Kavala (ancient Neapolis), and from there on 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. Continue on to Alexandroupolis along the Straits of the Dardanelles for dinner and overnight.
DAY 04: CANNAKKALE / PERGAMUM / IZMIR – 7 Churches. After breakfast, we cross over the Greek—Turkish border and take a ferry to Cannakkale and continue on to Troy, the immortal city of the legendary Helen of Troy and Trojan House which was destroyed and rebuilt nine times. Then on to Pergamum where the first Christian was put to death by the Roman state. Here we will visit Asklepion and the Acropolis. Continue to Izmir for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 05: IZMIR / PHILADELPHIA / SARDIS / PAMUKKALE (HIERAPOLIS). Day long tour from Izmir, through Philadelphia and Sardis, once the capital of Lydia. Both Philadelphia and Sardis are referred to in the Book of Revelations, with Sardis remaining “one of the most picturesque of any of the Seven Churches”. Then to Hierapolis, which means holy city, to see the famous necropolis. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Pamukkale.
DAY 06: LAODICEA / EPHESSUS / KUSADASI. This morning we leave for Laodicea where we see the ruins of this ancient city. Visit Ancient Ephessos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was here that the special miracles were wrought by the hands of Paul. The apostle John was one of the early leaders of the church of Ephessos. It is believed he brought Mary , the mother of Jesus, here. On Mount Setimisses near Ephessos, one is shown a beautiful little chapel built on what some believe was the home where Mary spent her last days. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Kusadasi.
DAY 07: KUSADASI / PATMOS / FERRY. Today we take a ferry to the island of Patmos, considered a sacred island for the Christian religion. It was here in Patmos where John the Divine, while in exile, wrote the Apocalyptic Revelations which constitute the last part of the new Testament. Our tour takes us up to the monastery of John which still keeps its character of a medieval fortress. Inside the walls you will be able to admire the Byzantine wealth of the Christian Orthodox religion while from its ramparts you will have the most stunning panoramic view of the luminous sea. This evening we take an overnight ferry to Athens.
DAY 08: ATHENS / CORINTH / FERRY. Upon arrival in Athens, you are met by your guide and bus driver. Today we visit Athens, one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. For twenty five centuries, the panorama of this city is dominated by the rock of the Acropolis; we see the ruins of the Parthenon, the Erectheum and the Propylae. Thereafter, we will ascend Mars Hill where Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians about the one and only God. From here we have an excellent view of the ancient agora; former center of the Athenian public life. We board our coach for Corinth, taking the coastal road along the Saronic Gulf to the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean Sea with the Ionian Sea. Short stop for pictures and continue to the site of ancient Corinth, Paul’s beloved city and site of his most extensive ministry. Dominated by the Acro-Corinth rising 1700 feet above the ruins, the marketplace is laid out exactly as it stood in the days of the great Apostle. We see the bema (the judgement seat) where Paul stood before Galilo and preached (Acts 18). The museum contains a superb collection of artifacts portraying life in ancient Corinth. Then to Patmos port and the ferry for our overnight sail to Italy.
DAY 09: BRINDISI / ROME. Upon arrival we will be met and transferred to our bus for our drive to Rome, Italy. The Seven churches were all built under Emperor Constantine marking the presence of the first Christians in Rome. They comprise: Saint Peter’s, Saint John in Lateran, Saint Mary Major, Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Saint Laurence Outside the Walls, The Holy Cross Church, the Church of the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian and the ancient Appian Way. This afternoon our tour highlights of Ancient Rome include the Coliseum – site of early Christian martyrdom – the Forum, Mamertime prison, possibly the final place of confinement of the Apostle Paul before his execution and then St. Paul Outside the Walls. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
DAY 10: ROME /VATICAN CITY. Today, after breakfast, our sightseeing will include the Vatican City which includes the Museum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square, Church of St. Peter, and the Basilica of St. Paul where you can admire one of Michelangelo’s magnificent works of art “La Pieta”. In the afternoon we continue on the Appian Way and a visit to the Catacombs. See the Trevi Fountains and Spanish Steps. Return to our hotel for dinner.
DAY 11: ROME / NORTH AMERICA. After our breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight home – the end of an unforgettable journey.