Voyage through History: The Dodecanese Islands of Greece
Greece is a land of rugged beauty that includes over 2,000 islands stretching from the Ionian Sea in the west to the Aegean Sea in the east. Beginning and ending in Turkey, cruise by private yacht through eight Dodecanese Islands plus Samos.
With Professor John France
September 14 – 27, 2019
Why travel on Far Horizons’ Dodecanese Islands of Greece Tour ?
- Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pythagoreion, the Chorá on Pátmos, the Acropolis, and Rhodes Old Town
- Explore eight islands in the Dodecanese chain
- Three full days on the island of Rhodes
- Nine days onboard a private yacht
- Led by medieval specialist, Professor John France
- Limited to a maximum of 9 participants
(click to enlarge)
Travel & Tour the Dodecanese Islands of Greece – Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Istanbul. Golden Gate, Byzantine Walls, Zeyrek Mosque. Bosphorus cruise.
Day 3: Chora, Haghia Sofya, Yerebatan Cistern. Fly to Izmir. Board yacht.
Day 4: Samos – Heraion, Pythagorion, Panagia Spiliani Monastery
Day 5: Pátmos – Monastery of St. John.
Day 6: Kalymnos – Potia, Kasto Chrysocheiras, Temple of Dilios Apollon.
Day 7: Kos – Asclepion. Nisyros – Panagia Spiliani, Nisyros Volcano.
Day 8: Tilos – Agios Pandeleimon Monastery, Megalo Chorio, elephant Museum
Day 9: Symi – Kastro, Chorio, Megali Panagia
Day 10: Rhodes – City Walls and Gates, Fortification Towers, Moat
Day 11: Rhodes – Historic center
Day 12: Transfer to Turkey. Marmaris Castle Museum, Overnight Bodrum for two nights
Day 13: Bodrum – Bodrum Castle & underwater Museum, Masoleum
Day 14: Fly back to the USA.
Picture yourself sitting on the teak deck of a 90-foot yacht surrounded by breathless vistas, azure seas with an indigo sky above, one of only eight others onboard. Imagine watching a glorious crimson sunset and then the canopy of stars as it slowly appears overhead. Dream of a smiling crewman handing you a frosty drink and then serving you delectable cuisine created by your personal chef. See yourself standing next to the captain as he steers the craft into a silent bay, once an ancient port. Our craft, a Turkish gulet, is an all wooden handcrafted motor-sailer (YES! It sails!) that has been carefully chosen for its comfort and service.
Far Horizons has been chartering exceptional yachts since 1985. Only the best for our discerning travelers!
The stunning Dodecanese Islands of Greece dotting the azure waters of the Aegean Sea hug the southwest shoreline of Turkey. They offer the traveler a glimpse into the intriguing and varied civilizations which have existed in this region for millennia. The unsurpassed means to see and fully appreciate this region and its unique history is by sea. And to travel aboard a charming Turkish wooden gulet (traditional yacht) with only eight other participants offers a truly memorable 14-day experience.
Beginning and ending in Turkey, cruise through the azure waters of the Aegean to explore Samos, Pátmos, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros, Tilos, Symi, and Rhodes, and along the way learn that even the smallest island boasts stunning ancient temples, striking Byzantine churches, and medieval castles built when the islands were controlled by the Knights of Rhodes. This little-explored and remote part of Greece has a long history quite separate from that of mainland Greece. Highlights will be the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The 12th century village of Chorá; the medieval city of Rhodes still surrounded by formidable fortification walls; and Pythagoreion and the Heraion Temple.
Along the coast of Turkey, explore castle museums in both Marmaris and Bodrum, and walk the Byzantine walls of Istanbul.
“When I want to picture paradise, I just think of the days we spent onboard our gulet and I know it cannot be better than that.” – Barbara Matula
Dodecanese Islands of Greece Tour Leader
John France is Professor Emeritus from Swansea University in Wales and is a renowned specialist on the Medieval Period, including the Knights of Rhodes/St. John and the Byzantines. He has published numerous articles, and is the author of The Crusades and the Expansion of Catholic Christendom, Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, and Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade. Additionally, he has edited several important books including Medieval Warfare, Warfare in the Dark Ages, and War and Peace in Ancient and Medieval History. As a result of his research covering this period, he has compiled an electronic database of lives of saints prior to the year 1000. He is also an editor of the Journal of Medieval History. Dr. France was a featured scholar on the History Channel’s impressive two-part documentary, The Crusades: Crescent & the Cross.
‘John France was a delightful companion. His knowledge and enthusiasm provided perspectives that we would never have thought of. We learned a great deal from his conversational presentation of details. Both his scholarship and his wit were a pleasure.’ – Mark & Cynthia Coleman
‘John France was excellent – knowledgeable, approachable. He did not overload us with too lengthy explanations, but was always willing to go into detail. He was entertaining too. I learned a lot. He was a big “plus”.- Moira Robertson
‘Professor France was one of the things that really made this trip a success. He is very knowledgeable, and, more importantly, can get his knowledge across. He is also an enjoyable lunch and dinner companion, mixing well with everybody – if it wouldn’t sound condescending I would say he was “entertaining.”’ – Henry Shapiro
‘John France was the highlight of this trip. His command of the topic knew no end, and he was very able to explain some complicated issues in an understandable way. In addition, he is a warm and most friendly person. We really enjoyed seeing how excited he got over some of the sites! ‘ – Graham & Jacque Loynd
‘PRICELESS! Now I am spoiled! I want someone like John – always!’ – Ruxanda Manuila
‘Superlative. I cannot say enough great things about John, his knowledge, his sociability, his willingness to answer questions and interact; he is amazing.’ – Cathy Scofield
Dodecanese Islands of Greece Tour Itinerary
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA for Istanbul Turkey.
Day 2: Arrive into Istanbul. Our welcome lunch will be in a restaurant within a restored Ottoman mansion serving authentic Ottoman cuisine. We will then walk along the fortified walls of the ancient city. Numerous additions and modifications made them one of the most complex and last great fortification system of antiquity. Begin at the Golden Gate, the imperial entrance into the capital, used for the triumphal return of victorious emperors from battle. Finally, visit the Church of the Pantocrator, formerly a monastery and one of the most important historic landmarks of the Byzantine period; today it is the Zeyrek Mosque. Late this afternoon, we board a private yacht for a leisurely cruise up the Bosphorus, the sinuous strait separating Europe from Asia. In the 17th and 18th centuries it became fashionable for high-ranking people of Istanbul to own a summer home on the Bosphorus. These wooden yalis, as they are called, were extremely beautiful and elegant, of a perfection of structure and a refinement of decoration that are the supreme examples of their architects’ and painters’ genius. As we cruise, we will view these lovely wooden villas and elegant marble palaces along the shore, and Remeli Hisar, the fortress built by Mehmet the Conqueror to close the Bosphorus to Christian invaders. With the creation of this citadel, the Selcuk Turks brought down the Byzantine Empire. Dinner is on our own. Overnight for one night in the Ottoman Imperial Hotel, located in the heart of the city’s historic area. (L)
Day 3: Begin today in the great church of Hagia Sophia, the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years. In the Fourth Crusades, the cathedral was ruthlessly attacked, desecrated and plundered by the Crusaders, who also forcibly replaced the Patriarch of Constantinople with a Latin bishop. This event cemented the division of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Originally located outside the first set of city walls, the 11th century Church of St. Saviour in Chora Monastery, or Kariye Museum, was almost destroyed by the crusaders during the Fourth Crusade in the 13th century when forces from the western Christian churches pillaged Orthodox Constantinople. Rebuilt in 1313, the stunning mosaics and frescoes in the interior date from this period, and are some of the best examples of the Byzantine Renaissance. Yerebatan Cistern is the largest and most magnificent covered cistern in Istanbul. It was built in the 6th century in the reign of Justinian and supplied water to the Byzantine Great Palace complex nearby. After lunch, transfer to a flight to Izmir, one of Turkey’s loveliest seacoast cities, and drive south to Kuşadası where we board our yacht. Gather on deck for cocktails and our welcome dinner under the stars. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Cruise across the Mycale Strait to Samos, the Greek island that is the closest to Turkey in the Aegean Sea. We will explore this small island with its many layers of civilizations from as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. Our drive along stream beds and mule tracks and through secluded mountain villages offer thrilling views of the sea and landscape . Our destination is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pythagoreion, an ancient port that was originally encircled by fortification walls that can still be seen today. Renowned since ancient times, it was as a place of pilgrimage for the cult of the goddess Hera, queen of the gods and wife of Zeus. According to Greek mythology she was born and raised here, and was the motivation to make her temple the largest in antiquity. The Heraion of Samo was the first of the gigantic free-standing Ionic sanctuaries, and the earliest known Greek Temple dedicated to the goddess Hera. The remains of the city are fascinating, with still visible monuments including the 4,000 foot long Tunnel of Eupalinos, one of the greatest engineering achievements. Excavated through a limestone mountain to supply the town with water, this 6th century BC masterpiece was the longest tunnel of its time. Nearby, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani was built inside a large cave and hosts a marble icon of the Virgin Mary that is considered miraculous. Archaeologists believe that this was a sacred spot thousands of years ago as part of an ancient temple was found inside the cavern. The Castle of Lykourgos Logothetis was important to the War of Independence. (B/L/D)
Day 5: We leave Samos and travel to Pátmos, reputed to be where St. John wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. Our exploration of the island begins in the town of Chorá, one of the few settlements in Greece that has remained largely unchanged since the 12th century. It was designated UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. Crowning the top of the hill in Chorá and dedicated to the disciple, the 10th century Monastery of St. John has been a place of pilgrimage since in was constructed. The Cave of the Apocalypse is believed to mark the spot where St. John received the vision of the Revelation, which his devotee Prochoros recorded and is now the last book of the New Testament. There will be time to wander in Chorá village with lunch in a local taverna. Return to our vessel in the late afternoon with dinner onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 6: Our early morning crossing takes us to scenic Kalymnos, known as the sponge fisher’s island. Shadowed by stunningly-beautiful, dramatic massifs, the lively town of Pothia is the capital and port of the island. Begin in the Archaeological Museum where there are displays of objects from the prehistoric to the Byzantine era; the Folklore Museum that highlights life within a traditional house; and the Nautical Museum presenting the history and traditional methods of sponge-fishing. Several eras of history will be revealed as we move into the countryside of the island. The many caves dotting Kalymnos’ mountains were inhabited during the Neolithic period. The Temple of Delios Apollo was an ionic-style temple entirely constructed of marble. Its columns are preserved, but are now part of the church of Panagia Haritomeni at Chorá, the old capital. In 1310 the island came under the control of the Knights of Rhodes, and during this time the Castle of Chrisocheria was constructed and became the medieval capital of Kalymnos. This evening’s dinner is free to search out one of Porthia’s seaside tavernas. (B/L)
Day 7: Cruise through the beautiful islands of Leposo and Leros to Kos. In antiquity Kos was renowned for its healing Temple of Asklepios, founded after the death of the famed physician Hippocrates. The Asklepion functioned as a hospital for about a thousand years, before finally falling into disrepair. The Knights of St. John, who were established on Rhodes, took control of Kos in 1315 AD. A century later, they built the superb fortress that stands today at the entrance of Kos harbor. In the afternoon, we pull anchor and motor to Nisyros. According to Greek mythology, this island was formed during the battle between the Giants and the Gods. Our walk takes us along winding lanes to the Monastery of the Madonna of the Caves (Panagia Spiliani), the patroness of the island. Built in 1600, it is linked with many traditions and has a lovely 18th century iconostasis. Then it’s on to the island’s highlight, the still active volcanic crater that formed this land mass. Dinner is on our own to search for a local restaurant in the old part of Nisyros town. Overnight onboard in Nisyros. (B/L)
Day 8: Move on to Tilos, which according to legend was named after the youngest son of Alia and Apollo. It is an unspoiled Aegean island with nineteen beaches, twelve mountains, seven medieval castles, a Byzantine monastery and two hundred churches, a cave full of natural discoveries, a village that is declared a cultural monument, one hundred bird species, hundreds of wild flowers and herbs, and five hundred residents. We will have time to explore the island including St. Panteleimonas Monastery, originally built in 1470. The sanctuary’s zenith was reached during the 18th and 19th centuries as it printed bank notes used on the island, owned vast tracts of land with animal herds and served as a key economic as well as spiritual center. We pass through a walled courtyard leading to the church whose inspiring, centuries-old frescoes have been restored after the removal of the plaster covering by the Turkish occupation. In Megalo Chorio, view the Fortress of Misaria, a medieval building founded by the Knights of Saint John. Elephants lived on the island from 45,000 years ago and disappeared in the second millennia BC. Learn about this curiosity in the Dwarf Elephant Museum. Dinner will be onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 9: This morning we will explore the rocky, mountainous island of Symi, northwest of Rhodes, and one of the most beautiful of the Dodecanese chain. It was part of the Roman Empire, then the Byzantine Empire, and then was conquered by the Knights of St. John in 1373. The deep harbor is like an amphitheater, with elegant, multi-colored two- and three-story 19th century neo-classical homes of the former sponge trading merchants, and churches with colored domes climbing up the steep hillsides. The high hill overlooking the harbor is Kastro, with the original settlement of Chorá and dominated by the Church of Megali Panagia containing beautiful frescoes and the ruins of the Byzantine castle that was expanded by the Knights of St. John. The afternoon is free to explore the town with dinner onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 10: After breakfast, pull anchor and motor to Rhodes. The island has always been important strategically and its position on the vital trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean has greatly influenced the course of its history. Protected by impregnable 14th -century walls, the medieval city is renowned for its archaeological treasures and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Knights of the Order of St. John occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and set about transforming it into a stronghold. This afternoon, we will walk the almost four miles of still-standing, formidable city walls and see the 11 entry gates and towers incorporated within the ramparts. Dinner is on our own this evening to enjoy a meal in one of the town’s many exceptional restaurants. (B/L)
Day 11: Our exploration today takes us to many impressive sites in the Old City, a living museum. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital, and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is inspired by the conservative and monastic character of the holy order. The result is one of the most beautiful urban centers of the Gothic period. We will walk through several other parts of the town to view the Mosque of Suleiman, the Jewish Quarter, the Hospice of St. Catherine, and the Archaeological Museum, containing a large collection including the tombstones of many of the Crusader Knights of St. John who once made this island their own. Lunch will be in a local taverna and dinner will be onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 12: This morning we journey across the Aegean Sea to Marmaris, located on Turkey’s western coast, and where we say goodbye to our lovely yacht and the crew that took such good care of us for the past nine days. In the afternoon, walk to the castle, first built by the Ionians in 1044 BC, and later on repaired during the era of the Alexander the Great. The Castle was rebuilt and widened by Suleyman the Magnificent during his campaign for the Greek island of Rhodes in 1522, and it now houses an archaeology museum. Drive north to Bodrum one of the loveliest towns on the western coast of Turkey, and where we will overnight for two nights in the lovely boutique Hotel Karia Princess. Dinner will be in one of Bodrum’s fabulous dining spots. (B/L/D)
Day 13: As a place where people have lived continuously for thousands of years, Bodrum has an incredibly rich past. In ancient times known as Halicarnassus, this town is the location of the Tomb of King Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Dominating the harbor is the Castle of St. Peter, begun in 1402 by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John as a hospital for pilgrims to Jerusalem. It soon became part of a network of fortresses to defend the southeastern Aegean. Now it houses the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum containing a wide range of fascinating underwater findings displayed throughout the Castle in a myriad of atmospheric halls and galleries. The afternoon is free to relax before the long flight back home. Gather this evening for our final dinner party in one of Bodrum’s fine restaurants. (B/L/D)
Day 14: Our morning flight departs for Istanbul and our flight to the USA. (B)
LIFE ONBOARD THE YACHT: You will be spending nine nights/days aboard a traditional gulet, or wooden motorsailer, built in Turkey based on designs of vessels that have sailed these waters for millennia. Our yachts are carefully selected and larger than many, but they are still yachts, with all the limitations of sea travel. The eight double-occupancy cabins are finished in varnished pine and fitted with beds, a small closet and a private bathroom. These accommodations are simple but quite comfortable. We recommend that you pack with comfort and limited storage space in mind.
$10,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes two domestic flights within Turkey; nine days and nights onboard a private chartered yacht; all hotels; most meals (as listed in the itinerary); all entry fees; gratuities to drivers, guides, and yacht crew; and ground transportation.
Single Supplement: $1,995.00. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged. NOTE: Only one single supplement is available on the yacht.
Cost does not include: International flights from New York to Istanbul; a separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project; passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; email, telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. We will be designating a donation project shortly.
A deposit of $750.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $450.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.
International flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If you do not arrive or depart on the designated flights, you are responsible for all transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Travel in This Part of the World
Along the Turkish coast and throughout the Dodecanese Islands, the scenery is beautiful, the archaeological sites magnificent and the people warm and hospitable. This trip is not difficult. The yacht has been selected for its passenger comfort and service on board, but it’s still a yacht. The outside area is spacious and comfortable with several seating areas. Our small, double-occupancy cabins are simple but comfortable. While in Greece, we must follow Greek law and anchor in designated harbors. The boutique hotels are charming but rooms are often smaller than those in the United States. If you would like to be upgraded to a larger room or suite at the hotels for an additional cost, please contact the Far Horizons office. At times we will be walking over uneven terrain for a mile or more. All participants are expected to be physically active and able to walk independently throughout our touring days. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other group members or staff. A flexible attitude, team spirit and a good sense of humor will reward you with a wonderful and memorable experience!
This Archaeological Tour to Turkey and Greece is limited to 9 participants