Greece & Turkey
Travel with St Paul and his companions as they courageously preached the word of God and kept the early Christian communities vibrant and alive in faith. Be prepared to capture afresh the fervour and spirit of the Church’s greatest evangelist.
Athens (2 nights) • Corinth • Meteora (2) • Berea • Kavala (2) • Philippi • Thessaloniki • Samos (1) • Patmos (2) • Kusadasi (2) • Ephesus • Izmir
Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast (L) = Lunch (D) = Dinner
Athens today is the thriving capital of Greece, but, more importantly, we have entered into the world of the New Testament where St Paul and his companions established the first Christian communities throughout his four missionary journeys.
Welcome to Athens. Tonight, join with your fellow pilgrims for our first group dinner.
Athens overnight (D)
When St Paul first came to Athens it was predominantly a city which worshipped pagan gods. St Paul was taken before the city council at the Areopagus Hill, a rough outcrop of limestone rock from which he preached the Gospel message to the Athenian philosophers (Acts 17:16-21).
We begin our pilgrimage with a tour of Christian Athens including the Acropolis, the Areopagus where St Paul delivered his famous sermon about the identity of “the Unknown God” (Acts 17:15-34). Visit the Ancient Agora and the Plaka (Old Greece) and explore the Parthenon. Also see the Kallimármaro Stadium, dating back to 330BC and restored for the first modern Olympic Games held here in 1896.
Journey out to Ancient Corinth this afternoon where the apostle Paul lived for almost two years, teaching the people the Word of God and converting many. We visit the ancient ruins and see the site where he preached the Gospel from the Rostrum. See the Peirene fountain, and the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo before an outdoor Mass in this stunning pilgrimage setting. Finally, we come to Cenchreae, the ancient port from where St Paul said farewell to the believers and departed for Ephesus (Acts 18:18).
Athens overnight (BD)
Today we travel west out of Athens to the remarkable Byzantine Monastery of Hosios Loukas, built in the 11th century on the slopes of Mt Helikon. In 1990 UNESCO included this site on their World Heritage List. On arrival we will celebrate Mass in the grounds of the Monastery and be taken on a guided tour of the Churches, crypt and surrounds where we admire the amazing frescoes and mosaics.
We journey north this afternoon to the small town of Kalambaka built at the foot of the majestic grey rocks of Meteora.
Kalambaka overnight (BD)
We spend some time today marvelling at this unique phenomenon of nature – 24 perpendicular rocks where 600 years ago Byzantine monks chose to worship God and build their Monastic community of Meteora. We will visit some of these living monasteries and view the extraordinary collection of priceless religious frescoes and other treasures that will make this a remarkable day.
Enjoy some free time this afternoon.
Kalambaka overnight (BD)
Departing Meteora, we journey north to Berea (modern Veria). The “Bema” – an impressive monument to Paul – is believed to incorporate the steps from the original synagogue from which he preached the gospel to the Jews, who welcomed the word of God and began to study the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-12).
A small church was established here and we will also view the ‘hidden churches’, a collection of about 20 Byzantine structures, camouflaged in the form of barns from the invading Ottoman Turks.
We then journey east to the port city of Kavala (ancient Neapolis), once named “Christoupolis” after being the first European city to accept Christianity. It was here that St Paul, St Timothy and St Silas first landed from Troas (Acts 16:11), one of the great moments in the history of Christianity.
Kavala overnight (BD)
Arise and journey along the ancient route of the Apostle Paul to nearby Philippi, named after Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. It was here that St Paul won his first European convert, a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira (Acts 16:12-40). Visit the Baptistery of Lydia for a beautiful outdoor Mass on the River Zygaktis and renew our Baptismal vows. Visit the marketplace (where St Paul and St Silas were brought before the rulers) and the cistern which tradition identifies as the place where St Paul was imprisoned.
Continue to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, founded in 315 BC, and where St Paul preached during the winters of 49-50AD and wrote the two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. It was here that he established the first Christian Church in Europe. See the ramparts of the city, the triumphal Arch of Galerius and the Roman Agora where St Paul once preached. Time permitting, we visit St Demetrios’ Church with its valuable mosaics and frescoes and will drive up to the upper town, which offers a marvelous view of the city.
Kavala overnight (BD)
Free time this morning after Mass. This afternoon we will be transferred to Thessaloniki airport for our flight to the Greek island of Samos.
Samos overnight (BD)
Today we board our boat transfer to the Dodecanese Holy Island of Patmos, where St John wrote the Book of Revelation. Lying between the islands of Leros and Ikaria is the ‘ascetic shaped’ Patmos, called the ‘Jerusalem of the Aegean’ due to the overwhelming atmosphere of the island during the great celebrations of Christianity.
Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to rest and enjoy the atmosphere of this amazing and historic island.
Patmos overnight (BD)
Enjoy a guided afternoon tour of Patmos firstly visiting the main square of the village of Chora. This is the traditional settlement and capital of Patmos, where the narrow streets were designed to ward off pirates over the centuries.
Ascend to the Monastery of St John the Beloved, a huge fortress-like building dating from the 11th century, for a visit and celebration of Mass.
Our exploration of this living monastery will culminate with time in the actual Cave of Revelation where God chose to reveal to St John the mysteries of the last book of the Bible – the Apocalypse. The cave is now at the foot of the monastery, which houses priceless icons and manuscripts, sacred relics, vestments embroided with silver or gold threads and bejeweled with precious stones.
Later continue to the active Convent of Evangelismos (Annunciation) built by the hieromonk Nikiphoros who was cured from the plague after praying to St Luke the Evangelist. Visit the Convent of Zoodochos Pigi with icons dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Finally, we will enjoy a short scenic tour of the island.
Patmos overnight (BD)
Enjoy some free time this morning before our afternoon boat ride in St Paul style bound for Kusadasi, gateway to Ephesus and the Churches of Revelation.
On arrival in Kusadasi we will be met and transferred by coach to our centrally located hotel.
Kusadasi overnight (BD)
We travel directly to Ephesus this morning, the most famous of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev 2:1-7) where St Paul spent more than two years in the course of his third missionary journey. It was to the Christian community of Ephesus that St Paul wrote his greatest and most challenging letter (the epistle to the Ephesians) and also succeeded in converting many away from worship of the god Artemis.
Our visit today will include the ruins where St Paul lived and preached. See the prison of St Paul; walk through the ancient marble streets founded in the 10th century BC and see this most ‘complete’ Roman city providing us with an excellent window into Imperial Rome. Pass the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, the enormous amphitheatre (Acts 19:29-31), and finally come to the ruins of the Christian Basilica where the Third Ecumenical Council took place in 431AD, and where Our Lady was proclaimed “Mother of God”.
We ascend the hill to the House of the Virgin Mary where it is said Mary spent the later years of her life. We celebrate our group Mass here in one of the chapels. Finally, we visit the restored remains of the 6th century Basilica of St John at Celcuk where a small church was originally built over the tomb of St John the Evangelist.
Kusadasi overnight (BD)
This morning we set out towards Izmir, once the site of ancient Smyrna, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev 2:8-11). This was home to a lively Christian community under the pastoral care of its bishop – the saintly Polycarp. After Mass we are transferred to the airport for our homebound flight connections. (B)
All tour inclusions and order of daily arrangements remain subject to change due to any unforeseen circumstances, which may arise, or at the discretion of the tour leadership.
*Per person, twin share
**PPPD: Per person, per day
Costs are based on prices as at December 2023 and must remain subject to possible change in the event of significant exchange rate variations, hotel changes or minimum group size factors beyond Harvest’s control. Refer to Harvest Terms & Conditions for more details.
Fr Rem is a Missionaries of God’s Love priest and Parish Priest at St. Benedict’s Parish in Canberra. He was born in Tamil Nadu, India in a Catholic family and journeyed with an Italian Religious Order (Servants of Charity) for ten years. Then he was drawn to the charismatic way of life and joined the MGLs in 2009 and went through formation & mission with the Disciples of Jesus & MGL Community. He lived as a Missionary in Darwin for a year reaching out to the indigenous community and refugees. He was ordained in Melbourne in 2016. Fr Rem is very social and easy to work with and enjoys ministry to the elderly and young. He loves traveling around Australia and other parts of the world.
From Athens to Corinth, passing through Antioch and Ephesus, here is a map of St Paul’s missionary journeys. St. Paul spent time in most of the cities that made up the known world during his time.
“My respect for St Paul was enhanced by his dogged determination and belief in what he was preaching. He was a smart … determined man.”
“Even now, when I recall the particular places that I have entered, I find it too overwhelming to contemplate it for long.”