Greece

St. Pauls Steps in Greece

The Visitation and Nativity. After the breakfast the day begins visiting Gethsemane.. Is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixionto and the Tomb of the Virgin Mar. Contiusly we gonna visit the Second Temple scale model for an overview of Jerusalem as it was at the time of Jesus.

 

Day 1: Arrival in Thessaloniki (or from Athens)

Today with our arrival in El.Venizelos airport

Philip-Kavala-Thessalonikh

1st day Thessaloniki-philip-kavala-thessalonikh: After breakfast start your journey in Greece with the first stop of the day in Philippi. Philippi was the city to where Saint Paul the Apostle delivered his first sermon and where he established the first church in Europe. Philippi was an important city in eastern Macedonwhich flourished in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Periods. Situated between the Strymon and Nestos rivers, the city was valued in antiquity for its nearby gold mines. Site of the famous Battleof Philippi at the end of the Roman Republic, the city prospered in the Roman imperial era and, after a visit from St. Paul, became an important centre of early Christianity. Philippi continued to flourish as a major Byzantine city. Today the archaeological site has substantial remains including a theatre and four basilicas. There Saint Paul baptized a women named Lydia the first convert to Christianity in Europe. He’s visited the area on his second missionary journey in AD 49/50. Following the principle set forth by the Messiah, he went out ‘’two –by-two with Silas and Timothy. After Phillip we continue to the modern port city Kavala, which in the Ancient Greece called Neapolis and from there Saint Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy landed when they sailed into Europe. After the city tour we will return to the hotel to enjoy the delicious Macedonians cuisine, relax and to take a taste from the cities’ nightlife, for those who still energetic.

Meteora - Kalambaka

Thessaloniki – Meteora – Kalambaka: After the breakfast we start the city tour. St. Paul arrived in Thessalonica in the course of his second missionary journey (49-52 AD), after leaving Philippi (Acts 17:1). Thessalonica was an important port in Macedonia on the Aegean Sea (and still exists today as Salonika). He stayed in the house of Jason and was quite successful in converting many Jews there to Christianity. But jealousy arose, and he had to leave Thessalonica in a hurry (Acts 17:5-9), but later sent Timothy. This occasioned his Letter to the Thessalonians for continued instruction to his new converts to Christianity. Furthermore, there you will have the opportunity to see lots of ancient artifacts , such as the triumphal Arch of Galerius that is found at the start of Via Egnatia. Due to the convenient location, this arch was once a strategic of the Roman Empire. It was originally constructed in order to honor the Roman Emperor Galerius following the Roman victory over the Persians. After city tour, we continue to Kalambaka. In the way we will pass from the Meteora. Is an area in Thessaly and Kalampaka is the city under the rock towers of Meteora.The thing that makes Meteora so special is the monasteries on the top of the rock towers. The amound of peaks to climb, the monasteries and the paths for hiking brings in Meteora the whole year many tourists.Then, you will go to hotel, having a wonderful meal and a relaxing overnight in Kalambaka.

Kalambaka – Delphi-Athens

Kalambaka – Delphi-Athens: After breakfast we will go for a short drive to the Meteora Monasteries. Investigations leads to a number of theories about the creation of this unique place. The prevailing theory about the town is that one of the German geologist Philipson, who came to Greece in the late 19th century. According to his theory, a large river had his estuary in this area which for million of years was covered by a narrow and deep part of the sea. The river waters place matter, stones and generally several materials that were transferred by its waters at the estuary from Northern parts of primordial central Europe. From the accumulation of these materials deltaic cones were formed.

25-30 million years ago, after some geological changes took place during the centuries, the central part of today’s Europe was lifted. That’s how the opening of Tempi was created ,having as a result the pouring of the waters in today’s Aegean sea.Today, the tradition of Orthodoxy is continued uninterrupted for over 600 years by the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoro (or the Transfiguration of Jesus), the Varlaam Monastery, the Saint Stephen Monastery, the Holy Trinity Monastery, the Saint Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery and the Rousanou Monastery. All these monasteries are on the top of Meteora rocks.

During your visit, you will be able to view stunning Byzantine art, as well as the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the Monastery. Continue to Delphi the center of the ancient world (navel) of the earth, whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic world. The place is famous as the ancient sanctuary that grew rich as the seat of Pythia, the oracle consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. Moreover, the Greeks considered Delphi the navel (or centre) of the world, as represented by the stone monument known as the Omphalos of Delphi. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Phthios. Visit the site and the museum and continue to Athens.“ Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription “ to an unknown God”. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you…”. Athens, is one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Excursion to Corinth

Day 7 Athens – Excursion to Corinth: After a nice breakfast at the hotel we will start with a tour of the oldest city in the world, Athens!. The tour starts by visiting the “Areos Pagos”,at the foot of the Acropolis,where Paul delivered his famous sermon about the “Unknown God”. At this site, Paul spoke to the Athenians about the one and only God (Acts 17:22). On the sacred rock of the Acropolis the monuments date from the prehistoric period to the end of antiquity. Sights include the Propylaea, the Temple of Apteros Niki, the Erectheum and the architectural triumph of the Parthenon (optional visit at the top of the Acropolis). Visit the rock that has dominated the panorama of Athens for twenty-five centuries, the Acropolis. While in this city, you will be able to view the ancient Agora, the former public center of Athenian life. It held the focus of a political, commercial, social, religious, and cultural center.

As you are in the former political center, proceed for a drive through the city to view the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square. Also, you will have the opportunity to view the University of Athens, the oldest higher education institute in Greece, as well as, the National Library of Greece that holds 4,500 Greek manuscripts. Then, visit Panathenaic Stadium. It was built on the site of a simple racecourse by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos (Lycurgus) c. 330 BC, primarily for the Panathenaic Games. It was rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus, an Athenian Roman senator, by 144 AD and had a capacity of 50,000 seats. After the rise of Christianity in the 4th century it was largely abandoned. The stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the Zappas Olympics in 1870 and 1875. Following your visit in Athens, you will proceed to the ancient Corinth. Under the shadow of the towering Acropolis, Saint Paul lived in Corinth for two years. While here, Saint Paul felt great grief over the way that the Gentile Church in Corinth has become. As a result, he was prompted to write four letters, all with the overarching theme of love. In Corinth, you will have the opportunity to view the remains of the first century shops, the site of Saint Paul’s trial by Gallio, the Fountain of Peirene, and the Temple of Apollo. Following your visit to Corinth, return to Athens for a delicious meal and overnight.

Day 8: Athens - Start 3-day Cruise (Celestyal Cruises Cruise Lines) to

Mykonos-kusadasi-Patmos-Heraclion-Santoriny-Peraeus.

Mykonos

Mykonos: After the breakfast we will get the lagguges to port of Peraeus. Your first stop will be the most cosmopolitan Island of Greece,Mykonos. After docking, transfer to Hora, the island’s capital. There, you will enjoy a walking tour that will take you on the narrow cobbled streets of the city. Pass by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs, and white washed houses to arrive in Alefkandra. This section of Mykonos is known as the “Venice of Mykonos”, as the homes have wooden balconies on the sea and one of the most beautiful sunsets. These homes belongs on wealthy merchants and captains. Return to the cruise ship for dinner and overnight.

Ephesus-Patmos

Kusadasi – Ephesus (Mary’s House) – Patmos: After breakfast on board, arrive at the lively Turkish port of Kusadasi. Transfer to the small village of Mt. Koressos. While in this village, you will visit the small stone chapel that is situated upon the site of where the Virgin Mary spent her last days following Christ’s crucifixion. Following this visit, your group will walk through the Magnesian Gate to the ancient Ephesus. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia It was built in the 10th century BCby Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.The city was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

The Gospel of St. John made in Great Theatre, the largest ancient theatre that had a capacity of 25,000 people.The city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils (see Council of Ephesus). On the return of your walking tour, follow the exact route that Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession via the Arcadian Way. This main street runs from the Great Theatre to the main city’s harbor. On the way back to Kusadasi, you will have the opportunity to view the Basilica of Saint John. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian erected this structure over the grave of the evangelist, John. In the town you will able to enjoy free time for shopping and take some pictures from asian style of Kusadasis town before returning to the ship. After, your journey will continue to Patmos, where you will transfer to the village of Chora. Delisious gastronomic foods, ‘’souvlaki’’ hand made jewelleries and the amazing view from the hiles to the sea are some of the things that make this island so special and unique.Also, this island is a historic and theological place as here st. Johnn vision and wrote the Christian Bible’s Book of Revelation. After the city tour, you will takethe coach to the Monastery and Grotto of the Apocalypse.This marvelous structure was built nine-hundred years ago, and continues to be supported by the walls of a strong fortification. Your tour continues to the small museum, where you will view priceless ecclesiastical treasures such as books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, textiles, vestments, and jewelry. Additionally, view the three-fold crack made by the voice of God who emphasized the importance of honoring the Holy Trinity. Your day will culminate with a transfer to the port of Scala. While in this quaint and picturesque harbor, you will enjoy free time before returning to the ship.

Santorini

Day 10 Heraklion – Santorini: This morning you will awaken and transfer to the largest city on the island of Crete, Heraklion. While in this administrative capital, visit the ancient ruins of the Palace of Knossos. It is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe’s oldest city. From an archaeological point of view, the terms, “Knossos,” and “palace,” are somewhat ambiguous. The palace was never just the residence of a monarch, although it contained rooms that might have been suitable for a royal family. Most of the structures, however, were designed to serve a civic, religious and economic center. The term palace complex is more accurate. In ancient times, Knossos was a town surrounding and including Kephala Hill. This hill was never an acropolis in the Greek sense.This ancient palace is believed to have been the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. Additionally, it is the site of where Saint Paul met the owner and captain of the ship who warned him of continuing his journey to spread Christianity in Rome. Following this historical visit, you will embark the ship that will take you to the idyllic island of Santorini. Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera.It is definitively the most breathtaking island of all of the Greek Islands with its iconic white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes, and glittering boutiques that cling to steep cliffs. This evening you will return to the ship for your last dinner and overnight on your cruise.

Piraeus - Athens

Day 11 Piraeus – Athens – Tel Aviv: Today marks the end of our cruise. After disembarkation you will be transferred to Athens airport where you will board your flight to Tel Avivi. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, you will be met by the Mystakidis Tours representative and transfer to your hotel in the Tel Aviv area. Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Caesarea

Day 12 Caesarea – Stella Maris – Nazareth – Tiberias – Cana
: The Annunciation Following breakfast, we will drive to Caesarea, the former capital of Judea. The city located midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa on the coastal plain near the city of Hadera, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hof HaCarmel Regional Council. With a population of 4,970, it is the only Israeli locality managed by a private organization, the Caesarea Development Corporation and also one of the most populous localities not recognized as a local council.The site of the former Phoenician naval station was awarded to Herod the Great in 30 BC. Herod built his palace on a promontory jutting out into the sea, with a decorative pool surrounded by stoas. He went on to build a large port and a city, which he named in honour of his patron Caesar Augustus.According to the Acts of the Apostles, Caesarea was first introduced to Christianity by Philip the Deacon,who later had a house there in which he gave hospitality to Paul the Apostle. It was there that Peter the Apostle came and baptized Cornelius the Centurion and his household, the first time Christian baptism was conferred on Gentiles. Paul’s first missionary journey. When newly converted Paul the Apostle was in danger in Jerusalem, the Christians there accompanied him to Caesarea and sent him off to his native Tarsus. He visited Caesarea between his second and third missionary journeys and later, as mentioned, stayed several days there with Philip the Deacon. Later still, he was a prisoner there for two years before being sent to Rome. Continue North to Haifa. In Haifa, you will find Stella Maris, a Carmelite Monastery. In the 12th century, during the Crusader rule of the region, groups of religious hermits began to inhabit the caves of this area in imitation of Ethe sea we will go to the town where Mary once lived and Jesus grow up, Nazareth.

During the visit to Nazareth we visit the church of the Annunciation which includes the church of St Joseph ( It’s not Byzantine – it’s from 1914-21 built over Byzantine ruins) which tradition identifies it with the workshop of Joseph and the house of the Holy family. Then, we are going to The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. It is the largest and most modern Catholic Church in the Holy Land. Its importance is in the fact that it was built on the site of the Incarnation.  Church of the Incarnation, viewing at Grotto the remains of the house of the Blessed Virgin where the Angel appeared and announced the good news. Following Pilgrims path the next stop will be to Cana where you will visit the Franciscan Wedding Church. Couples will have the opportunity to participate in the ceremony to renew their wedding vows. Your first day culminates with a transfer to Tiberias. Upon arrival in Tiberias, you will check-in to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

Sea of Galilee

Day 13 Tiberias: Sea of Galilee-Jordan River – Mt. Tabor – Jericho – Jordan River – Jerusalem Theme: Ministry of Christ in the Galilee.After breakfast we start with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. After this, see the remains of a boat that dates back to the time of Jesus, found buried in mud. Continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, scene of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount. End the day at Capernaum, from where Jesus launched his Ministry; see the synagogue which dates to the time of Jesus and the church built over the site of Peter’s home. Following the piligrims drive to Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration, with time to reflect on Christ’s Humanity and Divinity. At this point there is the opption to enjoy a delishius food before to get the bus for the way where Jesus Mass here will be a good preparation for the journey to Jerusalem where Jesus was to suffer the crucifixion and resurrection, Jerusalem. Drive down the Jordan Valley to Jericho, we will visit the Baptismal site on the Jordan River then to Jerusalem, where you check-in to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

Jerusalem

Day 15 Jerusalem: Temple Model – Ein Karem – Mt. Of Olives – Gethsemane – Mt. Zion – Western Wal- Via Dolorosa – Holy Sepulchre
 Theme: The Visitation and Nativity. After the breakfast the day begins visiting Gethsemane.. Is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixionto and the Tomb of the Virgin Mar. Contiusly we gonna visit the Second Temple scale model for an overview of Jerusalem as it was at the time of Jesus. Also, we will go up to Mt. Zion to visit the Upper Room, which commemorates the Last Supper. Nearby is the Benedictine Church of the Dormition. Dinner and overnight at your hotel. In the way we will pass the small village of Ein Karem, birthplace of John the Baptist, to visit the church that commemorates his memory. Pray the Mystery of the Rosary on the walk up the hill to the Church of the Visitation. Then, you will have the opportunity to see the panoramic view of mounth of olives and then we continue to the Pater Noster shrine, where Jesus taught His disciples the Pater Noster . Walking down the Palm Sunday Road stop at the beautiful little church, Dominus Flevit – “The Lord wept.” It was here that Jesus wept over Jerusalem [Luke 19:41]. During the afternoon and in way back to the hotel we will gonna pass throught the old city from the Via Dolorosa (road-The Way of the Cross) at the Antonia Fortress, where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. From there He was taken through the city to be crucified. The Stations of the Cross lead, through the markets of the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here is the site of Calvary and the Tomb of Christ. In the end of this full day programe we will have enought for mass and rest overnight until the sun agoes up again.

Dead Sea

Day 16 Bethany – Dead Sea
Theme: Early Years in Jerusalem & the Wilderness. This morning drive down the Jordan Valley to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Afterwards there may be time for a dip in the Dead Sea for those who want to. Drive through the Judean Wilderness where Jesus spent 40 days fasting, and it is in this area that John the Baptist lived and baptized Christ. Then to Bethany where He raised Lazarus from the dead. Celebrate Mass here before returning to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.

Bethlehem

Day 17 Jerusalem: Bethlehem-Free day: In the afternoon visit Bethlehem to see the cave at the Shepherds’ Field. The caves have soot marks of the fires that shepherd’s lit to keep warm while watching over their flocks. In the afternoon we will depart to Bethlehem, beginning at Manger Square, which stands in front of one of the oldest of Christian churches, the Church of the Nativity. Enter the Church and down to the Grotto of the Nativity which marks the spot of Jesus’ birth. Beneath the Altar, there is a silver star with the Latin inscription: HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS (Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary.) After Mass we will return to the hotel in Jerusalem. Then when we will come back to Jerusalem you will have enought time to make your shopping , see every corner of the town take dinner and overnight.

Jerusalem-Tel Aviv -Airport