Ephesus Theatre- small

NOTE:  Schedule is subject to change due to various factors and your tour guide’s discretion.

Depart Boston for Istanbul

Mid-afternoon arrival in Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople. We will begin our day at the Spice Bazaar. Also, known as the Egyptian Bazaar, this large covered market has remained the city’s center for spice trade since its creation in the 17th century. Then, we will embark on a cruise of the Bosphorus, the winding straight that separates Europe and Asia and connects the Black Sea with the inland Sea of Marmara. This is our time to relish the views of the old wooden mansions, Ottoman palaces, and ancient fortresses that dot the river’s coast. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.

First, we will stroll through Hippodrome Square, the former sporting and social center of Constantinople that hosted chariot races during the Roman period. Afterwards, we will visit the domed masterpiece of the Hagia Sophia. Today a mosque, once a museum, the structure began as a beautiful Byzantine Church, which still has Christian mosaics and paintings gracing its walls. From there we will also observe the incredible majesty and splendor of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) before walking to Hagia Irene, one of the first churches of the city and significant for being the possible location of the Council of Constantinople in AD 381 which clarified the Nicene Creed. The highlight of our day will be our visit to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum where we will observe antiquities from the Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Hittite civilizations including the world-famous Alexander Sarcophagus and the Temple of Athena. Of special interest to us in this museum are the Siloam Inscription, Jerusalem Temple Warning Inscription, and the Gezer Calendar. Time permitting, we’ll also stop at Topkapi Palace. Located on the very cape of the peninsula where Constantinople was founded, Topkapi Palace is the former abode of Ottoman Sultans that still houses their legion of treasures, including an extensive collection of royal jewels. Then, we fly to Antalya. Dinner and overnight in Antalya.

We begin this morning with a drive to the ancient city of Perga in Pamphylia, where Paul landed after sailing from Cyprus with Barnabas on their first missionary journey before being deserted by John Mark (Acts 13:13-14). Perga was a wealthy city which is still evident today with its large theatre, stadium, bath, colonnaded marketplace and street, and its remarkable gates. We then return to Antalya, which in Paul’s day was known as Attalia and was the harbor city from which he sailed home at the end of his first missionary journey (Acts 14:25-26). In the heart of the old town, we will visit the St. Paul Cultural Center, a coffee shop run by Christians that more importantly also serves as home to two modern-day churches: one Turkish and the other international. We’ll enjoy lunch here and hear from a Christian biblical scholar about his experience living and studying in the land. We continue in the afternoon with a boat tour along the Mediterranean coast of Antalya, taking in a beautiful view of the Duden Waterfalls and sailing past the ancient port of Magydos. Upon return, we’ll have time to see more of the quaint restored area of the old harbor, and we’ll walk through the ancient triple-arched monument called Hadrian’s Gate, built over the eastern gate where Paul and Barnabas would have entered the city. Dinner and overnight in Antalya.

Today, we will begin our day with a drive to the unexcavated site of Colossae. Next, we will visit Laodicea. This city was one of the Seven Churches that the Apostle John chastised the inhabitants for being lukewarm (Rev. 3:14-22). Here, we will see the site’s well-preserved stadium, gymnasium, and theatres, giving us insight into this city’s former prominence. Finally, we will travel to Pamukkale (or “Cotton Castle”) and dip our feet in the thermal waters that flow down the hilltop’s unique white travertine terraces. Here, we will also visit the archeological remains of Hierapolis, a significant site of early Christianity thanks to Paul’s missionary efforts here (Colossians 4:13). Because the city sits atop the travertine cascades of Pamukkale (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Hierapolis became a healing center wherein the site’s thermal pools were used to treat various ailments. Today, we will stroll among a number of important ruins including well-preserved Roman structures like the town theatre and Temple of Apollo. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.

Depart from the hotel to drive to Philadelphia: “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Rev. 3:8). Today’s Philadelphians still make their living from viniculture, as in Bible times. We continue our drive, through robust vineyards, to Sardis, “you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1-6). The ruins of Sardis, dating from the Roman period, still convey its wealth. We visit the Roman gymnasium, the synagogue, and the Temple of Artemis. We drive to Akhisar, ancient Thyathira, hometown of the New Testament Jezebel. The church of Thyatira was praised for its increasing faith but criticized for its tolerance of Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-28). Then we drive to Izmir visit the Roman Agora of the ancient city of Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11). Dinner and overnight in Izmir.

Today continue to the ancient Miletus to visit the theater and the harbor area, where Paul stopped on his way to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey (Acts 20). We will then drive toward Ephesus, one of the Bible’s most significant cities (Rev. 2:1-7), with 200,000 inhabitants in its day. The Apostle Paul visited in AD 53, and, according to tradition, the Apostle John wrote his Gospel here. We will visit the House of the Virgin Mary where it is believed she spent the last days of her life with John. We then take a short drive to the abundant ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. As capital of the Roman Province of Asia Minor, Ephesus was the scene of many political intrigues. With a respectable Jewish community, Ephesus attracted the attention of the apostles, including Paul, who carried out his mission here for two years. We walk on the Marble Road through the city, noting temples dedicated to the emperors Domitian and Hadrian. The Library of Celsus adorns the most impressive square. We tour the ancient residential section, observing the luxury in which some Ephesians lived. The theater is the largest surviving from the Roman period. This massive building was the scene of an uprising provoked by a merchant named Demetrius against Paul and his teachings (Acts 19:23). Finally, we visit the Basilica of John, built in the 6th century on the traditional tomb of John the Evangelist. One of the greatest Christian shrines, it was constructed using stones from the Temple of Artemis, visible from its outer gardens. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.

Depart from the hotel for a drive north along the Aegean coast to the town of Bergama for a visit to the Acropolis of the Hellenistic City of Pergamon (Rev. 2:12-17). We drive by Assos, where Paul stopped on his return to Jerusalem for Pentecost at the end of his third missionary journey. The ruins of Assos lie under the modern-day fishing village of Behramkale. We continue to the ancient port of Alexandria Troas where Paul had a vision to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10) and where he raised from death a boy named Eutychus (Acts 20:7). We continue to Troy, site of the Trojan War on which Homer based the Iliad. Founded 5000 years ago, it controlled the Dardanelles until the Roman era. Dinner and overnight in Canakkale.

Today we arrive at the Turkish border where we will meet our bus and guide to cross into Greece and start our way to Kavala, ancient site of Neapolis. Dnner and overnight in Kavala.

After breakfast, we will start our day with a visit to the ancient harbor of Neapolis where Paul first landed in Europe on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:11). From there we will visit Philippi, which is an archeological site with a glamorous history. Named after Philip II of Macedonia, Philippi was the witness to Paul’s first Christian converts on European soil. We will see some old sections of the Via Ignatia, St. Paul’s prison, and the archeological museum, before traveling to St. Lydia’s Baptistry where it is said Paul baptized the first Christian women in Europe. Next, we drive to Thessaloniki where we will tour the city Paul and Silas visited (Acts 17) including the famous White Tower and the churches of St. Sophia and St. Dimitrios, the Arch of Galerius, and the Roman Forum. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.

Today we continue to Veria (Berea) where Paul escaped the hostility he encountered at Thessaloniki (Acts 17:10). We will see the monument built to the Apostle at the southern part of the city, also known as the Bema. Continue to Kalambaka (Meteora) where we will see the unique hanging Byzantine monasteries from the Medieval centuries. There are 24 but only 6 are inhabited, and we will visit one of them. Dinner and overnight in Kalambaka.

After breakfast, we will head to Athens through the amazing nature of this country. Arriving to Athens we will have a panoramic tour to see some of the important sites of the city: the National Library, the Temple of Zeus, the Panathenaic Stadium, Omonia Square, Constitution Square and the Royal Palace. Then we will visit the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and Mars Hill where the Apostle Paul delivered his well-known sermon (Acts 17:22). Dinner and overnight in Athens.

Today after breakfast, we will visit the amazing Agora in Athens which was a dynamic place with courts of law, the gymnasium, and temples and it had the foundations of democracy as it symbolized freedom, justice, and social conscience. It was here that Sophocles, and others, spent many hours discussing and debating their philosophies. Here also Paul had preached for the first time to the Greeks in AD 51 (Acts 17). We will then travel west toward ancient Corinth, where Paul had lived for a year and a half and met Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18). On the way, we’ll see the modern Corinth Canal connecting the Aegean Sea and Adriatic Sea and a portion of the ancient Diolkos, the roadway built to move cargo and small boats across the isthmus. We will then visit the archaeological site and museum to see, among other things, the Bema where Paul preached. We’ll then continue to the port of Cenchreae, which is the port from which Paul sailed for Ephesus (Acts 18:18) and the location of Phoebe’s house (Romans 16:1). Dinner and overnight in Athens.

Today we will transfer to the airport for our return trip home.



  • TK  82    13MAR  BOS-IST   2110 1345
  • [Domestic Flight IST-AYT]
  • TK1844  26MAR  ATH-IST   0950 1220
  • TK  81    26MAR  IST-BOS   1550 1925