Glories of Turkey and Classical Greece
A cruise from Istanbul to Athens
Discover the legacy of the Greeks, from the emergence of the great Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations to the architectural achievements of the Byzantines on this cruise featuring the historic sites of Troy, Philippi, sacred Delos, Mykonos, Athens, and more.
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The ancient Greeks spread their phenomenal culture—from art, architecture, and literature to philosophy, science, and mathematics—throughout the Mediterranean, and their accomplishments continue to have a strong influence on the Western world. This journey has been designed to reveal the history and legacy of the Greeks, from the emergence of the great Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations to the magnificent artistic and architectural achievements of the Byzantines. Begin with two nights in Istanbul, home to outstanding Byzantine and Ottoman sites. During your Mediterranean cruise you’ll explore fascinating and beautiful archaeological and historic sites such as Troy, Philippi, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Knossos and Mycenae, and the islands of Skiathos, sacred Delos, Mykonos and Crete. Conclude in Athens with a guided tour of the Acropolis, a visit to the newly opened Acropolis Museum, and time to explore on your own.
September 10-11 — U.S., Istanbul, Turkey
Depart the U.S. on your overnight flight. Upon arrival in Istanbul, transfer to your hotel for your two-night stay.
September 12-13 — Istanbul, Embark
Explore Istanbul’s highlights during your included tour. Marvel at the 6th-century cathedral of Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and the Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) – all World Heritage sites. Known throughout history as Byzantium, Constantinople, and now Istanbul, this city is home to some of the most significant buildings and works of art in the Western world. Enjoy an optional tour to the Archaeological Museum and Istanbul's amazing Basilica Cisterns, or sail on the Bosphorus to view the city from different vantage points.
Transfer to the port and board Aegean Odyssey. (2B, D)
September 14 — Canakkale, Troy
Discover the storied city of Troy, long believed to be a mythical city until 19th century excavations uncovered the ruins of a fortress and evidence of a great city. This prominent trading port was considered a crossroads between East and West and is best known for being the setting of the Trojan War, described in the Illiad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Witness the historic memorials of Gallipoli, by taking a ferry across the Dardanelles. (B,L,D)
September 15 — Kavala, Greece; Philippi, cruise Mount Athos
From the beautiful port of Kavala, enjoy a morning tour exploring the famous site of Philippi where St. Paul preached. Philippi was established by the Philip II, King of Macedonia, near the head of the Aegean Sea at the foot of Mt. Orbelos. Your afternoon is spent cruising along the coastline of Mount Athos, or “Holy Mountain”, a long peninsula that rises at its southern tip to a 6,000-foot peak. Dotted along the length of this World Heritage site are some twenty monasteries, some dating from the 10th and 11th centuries. Although a restricted area, most of the monasteries are located on or near the coast and, weather permitting, will be clearly observable as the ship cruises past. (B,L,D)
September 16 — Thessalonika
Discover Thessalonika’s Byzantine heritage, including the 5th-century basilica Agios Dimitrios, the Rotonda that was built as a mausoleum for Emperor Galerius in the 4th century and the mosaics of the Agia Sofia. Thessalonika was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire and the city’s history spans 2,300 years.
Today, Thessaloniki is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political center, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe. Enjoy an optional tour to Vergina, burial site of Macedonia’s kings including the father and son of Alexander the Great. The Royal Tombs of Vergina are held to be among antiquity’s greatest treasures. (B,L,D)
September 17 — Volos, Meteora
Witness the famous Byzantine monasteries at Meteora (which means “suspended in the air”). Rock formations unfold along a winding road and soar up over a thousand feet above sea level, crowned with monasteries built by anchorite monks. There are twenty-four monasteries in Meteora and you’ll visit Agios Stephanos, the oldest and most accessible, which is now a convent. Choose to climb to the Varlaam Monastery for commanding views of the Pindus Range and to view the fabled frescoes. (B,L,D)
September 18 — Skiathos
Enjoy free time this morning exploring this charming Greek Island, including the walled town of Kastro. Skiathos is noted for its wooded hills and splendid beaches. Dionysus, the god of wine, was worshipped here and Herodotus wrote that the residents used beacons to notify the Greeks of the approaching Persian fleet in 480 B.C. Enjoy an afternoon lecture onboard as Aegean Odyssey sails towards the coast of Turkey.
September 19-20 — Kusadasi, Turkey; Ephesus, Aphrodisias
Marvel at Ephesus, the ancient Roman capital of the province of Asia, one of the greatest sites of the classical world, featuring the Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian and the Grand Theater where St Paul once preached his sermons. Visit the great theater at Miletus and the Temple of Apollo at Didyma during an optional afternoon tour. Enjoy evening hours ashore during your overnight stay in Kusadasi. Next day, continue exploring the classical world with a visit to Aphrodisias, founded around one of the finest marble quarries in antiquity and named after the Greek goddess of love. It was the center for Greek and Hellenistic sculpture for nearly seven centuries. The site is two and a half times the size of Pompeii, and monuments include a magnificent theater, vast stadium and the remains of a great temple. (2B,2L,2D)
September 21 — Delos, Mykonos, Greece
Delos was the paramount religious sanctuary of the ancient Greek world and is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Greece. Explore the temples and buildings, and view the famous marble lions that guard the sanctuary of Apollo. Continue to nearby Mykonos, a perfect contrast with its lively cafes and quaint streets in the charming main town. (B,L,D)
September 22— Rethimnon, Knossos, Crete
Begin your day exploring the Minoan site of Knossos. The heyday of Minoan civilization (2000-1600 B.C.) was marked by the construction of great palaces and this is the best known. Knossos was the administrative and religious center of the Minoan kingdom. Excavations were begun in 1899 by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who controversially “restored” the palace according to his own eccentric ideas of Minoan interior design.
The magnificent palace complex with its flamboyant decoration, courts, audience chambers and residential areas is an impressive and inspiring site. Enjoy free time to explore the well-preserved Venetian and Ottoman architecture in Rethimnon. (B,L,D)
September 23 — Monemvasia
The castle town of Monemvasia has been called the Gibraltar of Greece. Pass through a gap in a rocky cliff and emerge into a Medieval scene on your morning tour, witnessing the narrow streets which are sometimes only wide enough for two. Visit the 13th-century Church of Christos Elkomenos (Christ Chained to the Cross), home to several icons and choose to climb to the ethereal Agia Sofia, a rare example of a domed octagonal church with original wall paintings. From here the views out over the sea and lower town are a spectacular reward. (B,L,D)
September 24 — Nauplia, Mycenae, Epidaurus
Today your ship anchors off the port of Nauplia for your visit to the World Heritage Site of Mycenae, reputedly Agamemnon’s capital and the citadel of Homer’s Iliad. The great Mycenaean culture flourished in this area, known as the Argolid plain, between 1600 and 1300 B.C. You’ll enter Mycenae on foot through the Lion Gate, then explore the Royal Palace and relive the tragic stories at an archaeological briefing in the Treasury of Atreus, also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon. As an alternative to visiting Mycenae, enjoy a morning tour to ancient Corinth. Explore the classical elegance of Epidaurus on an optional tour and witness the magnificent theater with seating for 14,000 carved into the hillside. This ancient city was sacred to the god of medicine, Asclepios, and the temples and hospital buildings provide insight into the healing cults of the 6th century. (B,L,D)
September 25-27 — Athens, Disembark
Disembark Aegean Odyssey and delve deeply into ancient history during your guided morning tour of the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of Athens. Built during the “Golden Age” of Athens between 447 and 438 BC under the orders of the great statesman Pericles, the Acropolis represents the magnificent achievements of the Athenian culture during this remarkable era. Your Athens tour also features the remarkable new Acropolis Museum and a separate exclusive visit to the Cycladic Museum included during your two-night hotel stay.
Marvel at treasures housed at the National Archaeological Museum during an optional tour. This astonishing museum features Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean and Classical Greek art, Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities as well as treasures from the sea. Enjoy ample free time if you prefer to explore Athens on your own.
Transfer to Athens airport for your flight home. (3B)