Depart Canada on our overseas flight. Overnight on the aircraft.
Upon arrival, we are met, assisted and transferred to our hotel in Istanbul. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
In the morning we drive along the Sea of Marmara and ferry across the Dardanelle waterway to Troas visited by St. Paul on his third journey (Acts 16:8-11, 20:5-12;2 Cor 2:12-13). We then continue to Assos (Acts 20:13-14) where St. Paul was joined by St. Luke. Dinner and overnight in Assos.
After breakfast we visit Pergamum (Rev2:12-17) and Aesculapiums, then continue to Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29, Acts 16:14) a city of artisans' guilds from St. Paul's time. For evening we continue to Izmir (Smyrna, Rev. 2:8-11), Homer's birthplace on the Aegean coast. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.
This morning we explore Ephesus with its expansive synthesis of Greco-Roman and Christian remains (Ephesians; Rev 1:11; 2:1-7; Acts 18:19-28). It was the home of St. Paul between 54 and 57 AD. Nearby we visit the Virgin Mary's House on a wooded hilltop where it was miraculously discovered. Finally we stop at the restoration of St. John's Basilica where, according to legend, he was buried. This evening, we continue on to Pamukkale, the white "Cotton Fortress," of lime cascades of the Roman spa Hierapolis. Enjoy a leisurely bath in the warm mineral waters of your hotel's pool. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
After breakfast we visit the Hierapolis. This was Philip the Evangelist's home. We will tour the extensive necropolis, churches and baths then stop at nearby Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22; Col 2:1; 4:13-16). Then continue to Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13), a favourite city of St. Paul and St. John. We visit Sardis (Rev 3:16) with its beautiful gymnasium and marble paved synagogue. Dinner and overnight in Bursa.
Morning drive to Nicea where two Church Councils were held. The First Ecumenical Council of 325 AD and the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787 AD. Then continue to Istanbul. The afternoon is free. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Tour Istanbul exploring the ancient city including the Topkapi Palace (main residence of the Ottoman Sultans), Saint Sophia Basilica, the ancient seat of the Byzantine Church, the Blue Mosque (famous for unequaled ceramic tiles), the Byzantine Hippodrome (once used for chariot races) and finally the Grand Bazaar with its 3,000 exotic shops along covered alleyways. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Transfer to the airport for departure to Israel. Upon arrival, you are met, assisted and transferred to your hotel in Tel Aviv for dinner and overnight
Leave Tel Aviv and drive along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea Maritima, built by Herod the Great in honour of Augustus Caesar. It was here, in Caesar's town, that Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, was converted. Paul used this port to make his missionary journeys and it was here that he was imprisoned before his trial in Rome. Continue to Megiddo, one of the chariot cities of King Solomon. On to Mt. Carmel and Muhraka, which was the site of the prophet Elijah's triumph. Travel to Haifa for a panoramic view of the Bay and the River Kishon. Proceed to Zippori to see the magnificent mosaic floors, Crusader castles and church. Continue to Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
Enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Visit Capernaum and see the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught. Here too, is the stone with the carving of the Ark of The Covenant. Visit Tabgha, where Jesus fed the 5000, and see the Church of Multiplication of Loaves & Fishes with its 4th century mosaic floor. On to the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Travel the road to the Golan Heights. Visit the Banias springs at Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus spent time with his disciples. It was here that Peter said to Jesus said that He “ is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Dinner and overnight in Tiberias.
Visit the Jordan River baptismal site at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. Continue to Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, and the Church of the Annunciation. Past the Gilboa mountains, drive to Beit Shean with its recently excavated amphitheater. Through the Jordan Valley travel to Jericho, the first city conquered by Joshua. Observe the Mt. of Temptation where Jesus spent 40 days in the desert tempted by Satan. Ascend the Judean hills to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Our day in the Holy City begins as we enjoy the unforgettable view from atop the Mt. of Olives to view a magnificent panorama of Jerusalem. We follow in Christ's footsteps from the triumphal entry to the Resurrection. View Bethpage, the starting point of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as we recollect the Palm Sunday Walk. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations. Drive to Mt. Zion and visit the Upper Room, place of the last supper, near King David's tomb. Continue to the House of Caiphas and visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. We will enter the Holy City by the Zion Gate. We visit the newly restored Jewish Quarter. This sector will take us along the excavated Cardo, the ancient main street of Jerusalem dating from the time of Jesus. Visit the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site. View the Temple Mount where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac and view the Dome of the Rock. Walk along the Via Dolorosa to reach the unadorned, beautiful Crusader Church of St. Anne, the Pool of Bethesda (where Jesus healed a lame man) and Pilate's Judgment Hall. We walk under the Arch of the Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) and follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Walk through the bazaars of the Old City to David's City. We will end this rewarding day with a visit to the Garden Tomb or Gordon's Calvary. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Depart Jerusalem through the Judean mountains to the lowest point on earth, the shores of the Dead Sea, 1300 feet below sea level. At Masada, ascend the eastern slope and walk on this mountain refuge. Excavations have uncovered luxurious palaces, mosaic floors, a synagogue, Biblical scrolls and many other fascinating artifacts. Drive to Qumran, home of the Essenes , and see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Opportunity for a unique experience to bathe in the Dead Sea. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Today visit the New City of Jerusalem. First to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust. Tour the complex and walk along the Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles where trees have been planted to commemorate the many Christians who helped to save lives of Jews during World War II. Next visit the Jerusalem Model, a replica in miniature of Herodian Jerusalem. Visit the Israel Museum to see the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are exhibited. Continue to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, birthplace of Jesus. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Transfer to the airport for your early morning flight home to Canada.