Pearls of Antiquity
Sail through the Aegean to the idyllic Greek islands as you explore remarkable ruins, stroll Turkey's storied coastal cities, and visit the greatest cities of the ancient world
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Join us next spring in the eastern Mediterranean to explore the influence of the Greeks on Western civilization and enjoy islands and landscapes ablaze with colorful wildflowers. After a two-night stay in Athens, embark Aegean Odyssey for a ten-night voyage to some of the great centers of antiquity, accompanied by art historians Gillian Hovell or Allan Langdale. Cruising the Aegean, stop to visit six of the most important Greek Isles, including the important religious site of Delos, and the ancient Minoan sites of Akrotiri on the breathtaking island of Santorini and the Palace of Knossos on Crete. You'll also see Kos, with its 4th-century B.C. site of Asklepeion, and Rhodes, renowned for the Citadel of the Knights of St. John. Your voyage then continues to outstanding archaeological sites in Turkey, including the extensive Roman city of Ephesus, legendary Troy, and the ancient hilltop capital of Pergamum. Conclude with three nights in Istanbul, where you'll enjoy tours of the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Church of St. Savior in Chora, and more.
*Please note that our September 13th departure operates in reverse of the below itinerary.
Days 1-2 — U.S., Athens, Greece
Travelers depart their gateway city on overnight flights for Athens, Greece. Arrive Athens International Airport. Transfer to the Hotel NJV Athens Plaza located on Constitution Square. The evening is at leisure to relax and discover the area around the main square of the city.
Day 3 — Athens
Join fellow travelers this morning for a tour of Athens including the Acropolis and the newly opened Acropolis Museum with its myriad of beautiful, ancient artifacts. The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a high rocky outcrop above the city containing the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The afternoon is free for independent exploration. You may want to head to the old quarter known as the Plaka. (B)
Day 4 — Athens and Piraeus
The morning is at leisure. This afternoon, motor to the port of Athens at Piraeus where you will embark the MV Aegean Odyssey. En route, visit the Benaki Museum, dedicated to Greece’s artistic heritage. The museum, established and endowed in 1930, is housed in the Benakis family mansion. (B,D)
Day 5 — Delos and Mykonos
Discover the rocky island of Delos, once believed to be the birthplace of the god Apollo. Historically, Delos was the religious and commercial center of the Cyclades Islands. Cruise on to Mykonos where you have time to explore on your own. The island enjoys a vibrant mix of boutiques, whitewashed homes, bougainvillea and ubiquitous windmills. This evening, join fellow travelers for the Captain’s Welcome Reception. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Santorini
The Bronze Age, Minoan settlement of Akrotiri is the highlight of todays shore excursion. Some historians hold the settlement, as well as the disaster that left it unknown to most of history, was the inspiration behind Plato's story of Atlantis. After a remarkable tour of the excavations, continue with visit to several of Santorini’s picturesque villages. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Crete, Rethimnon
The Palace of Knossos is a remarkable complex, the center of the ancient Minoan Kingdom on the island of Crete, and home of the mythical Minotaur. The palace was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan civilization and culture. It appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and storerooms close to a central square. Arthur Evans, the British Archaeologist who excavated the site in 1900 A.D. restored large parts of the palace in a way that it is possible today to appreciate the grandeur and complexity of a structure that evolved over several millennia. The original palace was destroyed, and its replacement was damaged during earthquakes, invasions and a volcanic eruption. Today, the restored palace offers a look into how magnificent it once was. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Kos
Just off of the Turkish coast, the island of Kos is best known as the birthplace of Hippocrates. The father of western medicine was born here in 460 B.C. Visit the Asklepeion, the island’s most famous landmark. Named after the god of healing, it was a temple as well as the hospital where Hippocrates received his training. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Rhodes
Travel from the port of Rhodes City and motor to the site where the Colossus of Rhodes is said to have stood. Continue the tour to visit a stunning ensemble of Gothic architecture. Visit an outlook known at Mount Smith with its Acropolis and the Grand Master’s Palace. This remarkable palace was built in the 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Fethiye
Enjoy an excursion to this Turkish city of Patara. As legend has it, Pataras, a son of Apollo founded the site, and was the birthplace of St. Nicholas in 275 A.D. Patara is noted for its wonderful temple to the oracle of Apollo. It is considered second only to that of Delphi. During the tour, see the seaside ruins of an ancient amphitheater, a temple and a depression that may have been the seat of the oracle. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Izmir
Located just an hour’s drive from Izmir, Ephesus, one of the most important archaeological sites of the ancient world. There is evidence that St. Paul, St. John and the Virgin Mary lived in this fabled city. Highlights of your walking tour include the Library of Celsus, with its splendid columned façade, the Grand Theater where St. Paul once preached his sermons to the Ephesians, the terraced houses, and the Temple of Hadrian. Few places bring antiquity so vividly to life. (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Izmir
Today’s excursion takes you by cable car to the hilltop capital of Pergamon. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans left their mark on Pergamon. One look at the unassailable site reveals how the city got its name: from the Greek word for citadel. Pass through the Royal Gate to explore the noted library, the 10,000-seat theater carved into the steep slopes, and the dramatic Temple of Trajan overlooking the Selinus River below. See a shrine to Dionysus, a sanctuary of Demeter, the gymnasium, the Agora and the ancient spa and sanitarium. (B,L,D)
Day 13 — Canakkale
Canakkale is the gateway to the storied city of Troy, a city described in ancient Greek lore. Troy itself was long believed to be a mythical city until the late 19th century, when a series of excavations uncovered the ruins of a fortress and other evidence of a great city. These digs provided vital information about the ancient Greeks and Romans who built the city, which as a great trading port helped develop this region as the crossroads between East and West. View the massive walls, a Roman Theater and the reputed Palace of King Priam, along with a remarkable replica of the Trojan Horse. (B,L,D)
Day 14 — Istanbul
Disembark the Aegean Odyssey and begin a tour of the city of Istanbul. Formerly the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires, the city once called Constantinople is today a blend of East and West. Visit the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th century during the rule of Ahmed I, the Hagia Sophia, once a Greek Orthodox basilica, then an imperial mosque, and now a museum. Continue to the Topkapi Palace, where stunning Ottoman jewels and treasure can be viewed, highlighted by the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond. Ottoman sultans resided in the palace for four centuries. (B)
Day 15 — Istanbul
Join a guided excursion to the 16th-century Suleymaniye Mosque, which includes a hospital, library, madrasah, hospice and a hammam or Turkish bath. Then, admire the more intimate Church of St. Savior in Chora, which is now a museum and mosque with fine Byzantine mosaics and 14th-century frescoes. The balance of the day in Istanbul will be at leisure to discover its many treasures. A walk through the Grand Bazaar is a must. (B)
Day 16 — Return to the U.S.
Depart the ship after breakfast and transfer to Intanbul’s Ataturk International Airport for homeward flights. (B)
Note: Itineraries, included features and schedules are subject to change.