Take an unforgettable journey along the beautiful coasts of the Aegean to visit the sites that gave birth to the Western world. So much of what we claim as Western (indeed, world) civilization is anchored in this relatively small area, the meeting point of Europe and Asia. We will explore over 3,000 years of history, from ancient Mycenae to today’s modern cities.
A three-day pre-trip extension will allow guests to relax in the sun-drenched Aegean and/or explore the fascinating Minoan culture from which Europe emerged. This will depend upon the group’s consensus of Crete (sun and Minoans) or Mykonos or other island (sun and Classical & Hellenistic world).
We will begin in Athens, Greece, and explore the beautiful and culturally rich cities, towns and landscapes of the south, including Corinth, Thebes, Delphi, Nafplion, Thermopylae and others. From the dawn of history with Homer, Thucydides and Herodotus to the beginnings of drama with Aeschylus and Sophocles and more, we will visit the sites that created our shared world.
We will then cross over into Asian Turkey and from Izmir we will depart back into time for a visit to Ephesus, the most complete ancient city in Europe and the Mediterranean. From there we journey into the heart of Anatolia to the magical landscapes around Cappadocia before continuing on to the city of Istanbul, the city that bestrides the Europe-Asia linkage like a colossus. Napoleon said, “If the World was a country, Constantinople would be its capital.” There we will explore from Roman times to the present.
Our two-day post-tour extension is a journey to Nicaea, Homer’s Troy and Alexander’s first great victory at the Granicus River. In the ancient city of Troy, we will see where fought Paris and Achilles, Hector and Agamemnon. We will then cross the narrow water separating the continents, the Hellespont, and hike the incredible Great War battlefields of the Gallipoli Peninsula, scenes where the narratives of the three modern nations – Turkey, Australia and New Zealand – were forged in bitter battle. For those who do not wish to walk through Gallipoli, an alternate option is enjoying a day at Bozka island, famed for its clear waters and fabulous wine-tasting and seafood.
Throughout, there will be incredible experiences with food, drink, art, culture and history. From the Acropolis and Parthenon to the Delphic Oracle, from the pass at Thermopylae to the Hagia Sophia, and so much more! The Christian faith journey will be brought into stark and warm relief as we visit the sites where Paul preached (Ephesians, Galatians, Corinthians) and Gospel writers John and Luke lived, wrote and died, along with the last home of Mary and the first church in her name, and the site of the first great council that gave us the Nicene Creed. The art and architecture that defined the Hellenic world and inspired our modern one will be at close hand as we explore the ancient sites. We will experience the sparkling azure waters of the Aegean as well as hike the olive-and grape-clad mountainsides, visiting small hill villages of thousands of years to bustling modern metropolises, this truly will be an epic adventure – Homeric even!
In both Greece and Turkey, we will enjoy the insights and guidance of a local tour guide, as required by law in both countries. This trip is a partnership with Essential History Expeditions with Aegean Aurora Travel Designers in Greece and Baltic Tours in Turkey.
Expedition highlights include:
- The cities that helped create the western civilization – Athens, Corinth, Mycenae, Thebes, Ephesus and Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul and more
- The architecture, artwork, literature and theatre that shaped how we see our world
- The battlefields that shaped world history – Troy, Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea, Leuctra, Gallipoli and more
- Spectacular meals, drinks and natural beauty