Greek Orthodox Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
*While visiting churches please dress modestly and speak softly.
Day 1 TEL AVIV/LOD/JAFFA/TEL AVIV D
On arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, you will be met and transferred to Lod, the ancient city of Lydda and the traditional site of the martyrdom of St. George. Stop at the 4th century “Church of St. George the Dragon Killer” dedicated to the 4th century Christian martyr Saint George, the patron saint of England. Then travel to the ancient port of Jaffa famous for its affiliation with the Biblical stories of Jonah the Prophet and Solomon. Proceed to Tel Aviv for dinner and overnight.
Day 2 TEL AVIV/CAESAREA/HAIFA/AKKO/NAZARETH B/D
A morning drive along the Mediterranean Coast to the ancient Roman city of Caesarea built by Herod the Great, known as Caesarea Maritima. Tour the excavations before heading on to Mt. Carmel and Haifa viewing sites connected to the Prophet Elijah. See the 19th century Carmelite Church and Monastery of Stella Maris Monastery perched high over the Mediterranean. Sitting on the coast is the Crusader City of Acre, the holiest city of the Baha’i faith. See Saint George’s Orthodox Church built during the Turkish period. Our day ends in Nazareth, the capital of the Galilee, childhood home of Jesus and center of Christian pilgrimage where many religious shrines commemorate Biblical events. Dinner and overnight.
Day 3 NAZARETH/CANA/MOUNT TABOR/TIBERIAS B/D
There are many churches in Nazareth. Our tour takes us to see St. Gabriel’s Church, the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of the Holy Family and the Church of Mary’s Well. Travel to the Biblical village of Kfar Cana where Jesus performed His first Miracle turning water into wine at the wedding feast. Perched at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley is Mount Tabor where the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration sits on its peak marking the traditional site where Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured. Drive to the summit by taxi before continuing to Tiberias sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 TIBERIAS/MT. OF BEATITUDES/TABGHA/CAPERNAUM/YARDENIT/TIBERIAS B/D
We start at the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the moving 9 versed Sermon on the Mount and then continue to Tabgha on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee where we see the Church of the Multiplication of Fishes and Loaves and its mosaic floor, the earliest known example of Christian art found in the Holy Land. Head to the old fishing village of Capernaum, the center of Jesus’ activities in the Galilee and hometown of the Apostles, Peter, James, Andrew and John. Relax as you take a boat ride across the tranquil waters of the Sea of Galilee. Take part in a traditional Baptism site at Yardenit on the Jordan River frequented by pilgrims. Our last stop today will be at Banias, source of the Jordan River where Peter was asked by Jesus to build a church (Matt. 16: 13-20). Return to Tiberias for dinner and overnight.
Day 5 TIBERIAS/JORDAN VALLEY/BEIT SHE’AN/JERICHO/JERUSALEM B/D
Leaving Tiberias journey to Beit She’an, one of the most ancient cities in the country where excavations have uncovered a series of temples from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Next is Jericho, known as the “City of Palms” one of the oldest cities in the world. A short drive will take us to the Mount of Temptation where Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:8) for 40 days and nights. We ascend by cable car to the summit where you will find the Greek Orthodox Qarantal Monastery rising some 350 meters above sea level. Afterwards journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem arriving at your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 JERUSALEM/EIN KAREM/JERUSALEM B/D
Standing on the Mount of Olives, enjoy the panoramic view of the old city. Today you will see such landmarks as the Chapel of the Ascension believed by many to mark the spot where Jesus ascended to heaven and the Church of Mary Magdalene built in 1886 by Tsar Alexander II honoring his mother Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia located near the Garden of Gethsemane, where according to the Gospels, Jesus prayed and His disciples slept the night before His Crucifixion. The Tomb of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Mount of Olives is the burial place of the mother of Jesus. In the Old City retrace the Nine Station of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief) to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre containing the last Five Stations. Stop at the Temple Mount of important to all three religions. Pass the Western Wall (Wailing Wall or Kotel) en route to the ancient village of Ein Karem, the traditional spot where Elizabeth felt life and where John the Baptist was born and raised and see the Church of the Visitation honoring the visit paid by Mary, Jesus’ mother to Elizabeth, John the Baptists’ mother. Return to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Day 7 JERUSALEM B/D
On the ground floor of the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey on Mount Zion stop to visit King David’s Tomb. On the Upper Floor of the same building is the Cenacle, (Room of the Last Supper). Still on Mount Zion see Dormition Abbey commemorating the memory of the Virgin Mary (also known as Hagia Maria Sion Abbey). We are now on our way to Givat Ram where we see the Israel Museum which houses the Shrine of the Book containing the priceless Dead Sea Scrolls, the Holy Land Model of Jerusalem as it was at the time of the Second Temple carefully recreated on a scale of 50:1 and the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) with its giant bronze Menorah. Our last stop today will be the fortress like appearance of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Cross located outside the Old City which holds a special connection to the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 JERUSALEM/BETHLEHEM/BETHANY/WADI KELT/QUMRAN/DEAD SEA/JERUSALEM B/D
On a hill overlooking Jerusalem sits the Greek Orthodox Mar Elias Monastery founded in the 6th century which according to Christian belief, Elijah rested after fleeing from Jezebel. It is also held to be the burial place of the Greek Bishop Elias of Bethlehem and the Egyptian Monk St. Elias. Continue to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and a major pilgrimage site for Christians. Stop to visit Rachel’s Tomb marking the burial place of Jacob’s wife revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. In Bethlehem see the Basilica of the Nativity one of the oldest surviving Christian churches marking the spot where Jesus was born.
Near Jerusalem is the village of Bethany acknowledged as the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and the site of the miracle in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Afterwards head for Wadi Qelt in the eastern West Bank on the road to Jericho to visit the 6th century cliff hanging Monastery of St. George of Koziba inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks and reached by a pedestrian bridge across Wadi Qelt. The monastery is said to have been built around a cave where it is believed Elijah was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:5-6). Proceed to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave in 1947. There will be time to float in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea before returning to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
Day 9 JERUSALEM/ B
Transfer to the airport for departure or extend your stay in Israel.
* Itinerary is subject to changes pending final flight arrangements and site availability.
Tours are based on a minimum of 20 participants, but can be customized for individuals based on their specific requests.
YOUR LAND TOUR INCLUDES:
All airport transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary
Hotel accommodation based on double occupancy in hotels specific or similar.
Meals as specified breakfast and dinner daily (B-Breakfast; L-Lunch; D-Dinner)
The service of English speaking local guides
Entrance fees to the monuments
Taxi ride to Mt. Tabor
Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee
Baptism ceremony at Yardenit
Cable car at The Qarantal Monastery
YOUR LAND TOUR DOES NOT INCLUDE:
Airfare, taxes, meals not specified, insurance, gratuities