We depart from Lavrion and return to Lavrion, one of the major ports of Athens, One of the world’s oldest, most vibrant, most cosmopolitan cities, Athens is dense with ancient monuments, chic cafés and unique shops. Wander through Plaka to the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, one of the best in the world. There’s thousands of years of art and history here, and it’s a heaven for walking – you can see it all on foot, with plenty of stops for great meals and coffee along your way. There’s plenty of fantastic shopping, too, of course.
60 kilometers from Athens, Lavrion is an ancient silver mining center and a bustling port. From here you can tour the Temple of Poseidon, with its incredible view of the Saronic Gulf, and Cape Sounion – the giant columns at the Temple of Poseidon were “excavated” in Lavrion, which is also home to the oldest and largest ancient amphitheater in Greece. The city’s silver mines date to prehistory.
We sail from Lavrion to Thessaloniki, Greece’s “second city” and the “Bride of the Thermaic Gulf. “The Apostle John preached here during the winter of 49-50 – he wrote two Epistles for the ancient Thessalonians and founded the area’s first church. The ruins of this ancient church lie near the Arch of Galerius and Rotunda; nearby are the city walls, the house of Jason and the ancient forum. We’ll also visit Veroia, a small city southwest of Thessaloniki, whose patron saint is Saint Paul. Here you may “touch” the Tribune of Saint Paul, the site where it’s believed Paul preached the gospel to the inhabitants of Veroia, also home to the Church of the Resurrection of Christ the Savior (Anastasis), the Church of Christ.
We leave Thessaloniki around sunset to sail overnight to the port of Kavala, the biblical Neapolis, which is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo and is one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. Just outside the city, at Philippi, Saint Paul preached his first sermon in Europe. Philippi is also where the Saint baptized the first Christian in Europe, the “woman by the name of Lydia.” We will also visit the prison where Saints Paul and Silas were held.
From Kavala we sail to magical Istanbul, one of the world’s great cities, home to Byzantine jewels such as Hagia Sofia and the Greek Patriarchate, and the Blue Mosque. From Istanbul we depart for Dikili, a short drive from ancient Ephesus and the Terrace Houses, the House of the Virgin Mary. Ephesus, one of the seven cities of Roman Asia, is an archeological wonder, one of the best-preserved, most extensive ancient sites in the Mediterranean. It was the most important Christian city between Rome and Antioch between the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period.
The path of St. Paul ends at the blessed island of Patmos. Many believe John the Apostle wrote the Book of Revelations in a mountainside grotto on Patmos, where he heard the voice of God. Further up the mountain, within the white walls of Hora, the monastery founded in his honor in 1088 stands guard above the island. You’ll feel your spirit soar as you ascend the mountain beyond the port, Skala, to these holy sites.
Our last call before we return to Athens is Syros, the Cycladic Princess. The port of Ermoupoli is the capital of the Cyclades – you’ll want to tour the Vaporia district to see the mansions built by the island’s bankers, merchants and ship owners in centuries past. Expect the warmest of welcomes as you wander the cobbled streets of Ermoupoli and its marbled central square.
We sail overnight on peaceful seas to greet the sunrise in Lavrion after a pilgrimage designed to deepen your faith and refresh your spirit. End of Pilgrimage Voyages 7-Day Cruise.