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The Aegean Adventure

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The Aegean Adventure - Page Text Content

BC: Ya'll Come Back Now, Ya Hear!

FC: Aegean Adventures An Academic Photojournal from the Palm Beach Atlantic University Summer Travel Study Trip to Turkey and Greece by Jordan DeBord

1: As with all travel study trips, ours began with plenty of travel. After departing from Miami and flying for a solid 8 hours or so, we arrived in Charles de Gaul airport in Paris, France. Another 4 hour flight to Istanbul, Turkey commenced our two-week adventure.

2: Our arrival in Istanbul brought us first to the famous Hippodrome. The Hippodrome, which was the arena for chariot races during the Byzantine era, was also the location of the infamous Nika Revolt in 532 A.D., which was ended in a massacre of some 30000 people.

3: Our drive through Istanbul provided opportunities to see many ruins from the city's ancient past, like these aqueducts, built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius. | But despite our quick pace in moving around the city, we did not pass up the truly unique and essential sites of the city, like the Blue Mosque.

4: The Blue Mosque

5: Left: Blue iznik tiles Right: Dr. St. Antoine in front of the muezzin mahfili, where the muezzin responds to prayers | The Blue Mosque, so named for the blue Iznik tiles decorating the interior of the building, was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I and built by Mehmet Aga from 1409-1416. The dome shown is the central and highest dome of the mosque, with a Koranic verse describing Allah written in Aramaic in the very center.

6: The Church of the Saviour in Chora is a stunning example of Byzantine churches as they existed during that period. The church is decorated throughout with elaborate mosaics and frescoes, as well as beautiful marble decorations, such as those seen at bottom left. The southern dome of the inner narthex, shown here, depicts Christ and his ancestry. The church as it now stands dates from the 11th century, with mosaics and frescoes restored by Theodore Metochites in the 14th century

7: After visiting the Church of the Saviour, we made our way to the grand Topkapi Palace, which was originally built and inhabited by Sultan Mehmet II. Rather than a single large building, the palace complex is composed of 4 large courtyards like the one seen at the top of this page. The outer courtyards were open to the public, but the inner courts were | open only to the royal family and a small number of important officials. Within the fourth courtyard was an area from which the Bosphorus river was visible, as is seen in the middle picture. The Bosphorus not only divides the city in two, but it stands as a border between the continents of Asia and Europe, with the palace stationed on the European side.

8: Hagia Sophia, one of the highlights of Istanbul, was our next destination. Originally a church built in the 6th century, it was later converted into a | mosque by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. Today, decorations from these periods remain in the building, which has been turned into a museum.

9: Among the main attractions of Hagia Sophia are its monumental central dome which reaches 56m in height and the many mosaics which remain from the Byzantine period. Many of these mosaics date from the 9th century or later, after the iconoclastic era. The building has undergone numerous reconstructions and renovations as a result of both natural disasters and the effects of time upon the building.

10: The Basilica Cistern, which was constructed during the reign of Emperor Justinian in 532 A.D., is by far one of the most eerie sites we visited on our trip. The cistern was commissioned in order to meet the demands of the Great Palace. | Among the 332 8m-tall columns within the cistern is this unique column, called the tear-drop column because of the tear-shaped carvings that run all the way up the columns height. | Another interesting find within the cistern, and the eeriest of the objects found there, is a pair of Medusa head column bases found in the rear of the cistern. These heads are evidence of the common practice of Byzantines to scavenge materials from old monuments.

11: After leaving the marvelous city of Istanbul, we made our way to the site of the highly romanticized city of Troy. Along the way to the city, we came across the fiberglass horse used in the movie Troy. But our brief encounter with Hollywood magic did not distract us from the city itself.

12: Although the city of Troy today lies almost completely in ruins, enough remains of the city's walls, some small structures, and its theatre to confirm its identity. On the right, several generations of the city's walls are marked by small white plaques. The city was first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in 1873.

13: Though the myths surrounding the city do tell of how the Greeks claimed the city of Troy for themselves, why the once great city now lies in ruins is less widely known. One major reason for this, as with many ancient cities, is the silting up of the harbor used by the city for trade and transport. With such a costly feature to maintain, it is no wonder why Troy has fallen.

14: Our next stop, and the first biblical site, was the ancient city of Troas. The Apostle Paul stayed briefly in Troas on his second missionary journey. it was here that he received a vision of a Macedonian man asking for his help. | The most significant ruins of Troas are those of the bath complex built by Herodes Atticus in 135 BC.

15: Next, we briefly visited the site of yet another biblical city, Assos. Paul spent some time in this city, as is related in Acts 20:13-14. On his third missionary journey, Paul came to Assos to sail with some companions back to Palestine. Some remains of the ancient harbor Paul may have used can be seen in the bottom picture. The continued existence of this harbor is one reason why Assos is still an existing village. Another important site at Assos was the Temple of Athena, seen above. The temple, which was built around 530 BC, was the central building on the city's acropolis.

16: Continuing our adventure, we visited the incredible site of Pergamum, which rests on a hill above the modern town of Bergama. | It was in Pergamum that we gained our first glimpse of the majesty of the Imperial cult, due to the stunning Temple of Trajan. The temple was built in the 2nd century AD.

17: Not only did Pergamum provide us with a glimpse of Roman aesthetic skill, it also gave us a view of their ingenuity, as was demonstrated by the large support vaults below the Trajan Temple and by the 3rd century BC theatre that has a capacity of 10000 people. But even Pergamum's majesty paled in comparison to some of the coming sites.

18: Another famous set of ruins at Pergamum are those of the Great Altar of Zeus, which has been reconstructed in the Pergamum Museum of Berlin. The foundation alone remains at the original site. | Just outside of the ancient city of Pergamum was its famous Asclepeion, or healing center. The Asclepeion was essentially a temple to the god Asclepius where sick people would undergo sacred rites and treatments to heal their ailments. | Pergamum also has some biblical significance due to its identity as one of the seven churches written to by John of Patmos in the book of Revelation where it is referred to as "Satan's throne," possibly because of the strong presence of the Imperial cult in the city.

19: Ephesus

20: Few sites on our trip were as biblically and historically important as Ephesus. This city was once the financial, cultural, religious, and governmental center of Asia Minor. The city stood as the crossroads for trade and travel throughout the Eastern Roman Empire and had a major port, bringing immense wealth to the city, as well as a broad cultural diversity. | The city's Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, made the city both a religious and financial center, since the temple functioned as a bank. Finally, Ephesus was an imperial gem. It served as the capital for the Roman province of Asia and was named as neokoros, or temple warden for the imperial cult at least four times. Some of the most famous sites at the

21: city include the remains of the Temple of Domitian (top left), the portico of the Temple of Hadrian (bottom left), the Library of Celsus (top and middle right), and the ancient theatre (bottom right). The elaborately decorated facade of the Library is part of the scant remains of this ancient structure which once housed 12000 scrolls. It was built as a monument to Tiberius Julius | Celsus Polemaenus by his son from 105-107 AD. The facade is a two story structure with Corinthian columns and four statues of women representing virtues on the first level. The ancient theatre was originally built in the 2nd century BC, but was later enlarged in the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. The theatre boasted a capacity of 25000 people.

22: Ephesus is a very significant biblical site due to the time Paul spent there on his second and third missionary journeys, especially the third when he spent nearly three years in the city. According to early Christian tradition, the apostle John of Patmos and Mary the Mother of Jesus lived and died in Ephesus after the persecution of Christians began in Jerusalem. It was from Ephesus that John was exiled to Patmos, though he later returned to the city. John was buried at the site of the Church of St. John the Theologian (top). Mary's house is a short drive from the main site of the city (bottom).

23: After our visit to Ephesus, we said goodbye to Turkey and hello to Greece! We spent the next few days sailing across the Aegean, | visiting a few islands along the way. Our first stop was on the biblically significant island of Patmos, where John received his Revelation.

24: On the island of Patmos, we visited the grotto where, according to church tradition, John of Patmos had the Revelation that is recorded in the Bible. Because of the religious significance of the grotto, the island has been claimed as a holy island, and churches, chapels, and monasteries are littered about the island. As a holy island, all the buildings on it are painted white each year just before Easter as a symbol of life.

25: The next island we visited was Rhodes, my favorite island throughout our cruise. Though the island does have a rich history in connection to the Knights | of the Order of St. John, there is little biblical significance other than a very brief mention of the island during Paul's return trip to Jerusalem on his third journey.

26: The third island we visited during our cruise was the island of Crete, which was the home to one of the most ancient civilizations in history, the Minoans. While on the island, we visited the ancient Minoan capital, Knossus, where the city''s palace complex has been wonderfully excavated and restored. Perhaps the most famous area of the city is the red pillars and bull fresco, shown on the right, which is a faithful | reproduction of the original structure. Shown in the center is a long, narrow road leading away from the palace's small theatre in the direction of the house of the high priest. This road is said to be the oldest paved road in all of Europe.

27: The final island we visited was the picturesque Santorini. In order to reach the towns high atop the island's cliffs, one has to either walk or ride a donkey up a gruelling set of switch-backs, or take a gondola up.

28: Athens

29: After our wonderful cruise came to an end, we arrived in the famous city of Athens. By far, this was one of the sites I looked forward to with the most anticipation. Not only was this city historically rich, the city was also home to my favorite philosophers, Plato and Socrates, and the Apostle Paul even spent some time evangelizing in the city. In the ancient world, especially before the city's conquest by the Romans in the second century BC, Athens was the jewel of Greece. A center of culture, religion, and especially philosophy, Athens enjoyed immense wealth and power throughout much of its history. Perhaps the most famous feature of the ancient city was its Acropolis, which reached the height of its glory during the reign of Pericles. It was during his reign that the Parthenon (shown on opposite page), the Propylaea (main gate to the Acropolis), the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion were built. The Parthenon, which was the largest temple in the ancient world when it was completed in 432 BC, was commissioned by Pericles in 447 BC after the defeat of the Persians.

30: The Erechtheion, which was certainly one of the most complex structures at the Acropolis, consisting of several levels of rooms divided into a complex of temples, shrines and tombs. These female figures called caryatids support the southern porch of the Erechtheion. | The Propylaea, shown here, was begun in 437 BC but was never totally completed due to the start of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. The monumental gate had five main entrances fitted with wooden doors. | The Beule Gate was originally built for defensive purposes in 237 AD when the Herulian Goths attacked Athens. The gate, which is shown here, takes its name from the French archaeologist that discovered it.

31: Mars Hill, also known as the Areopagus, is the site at which the Apostle Paul spoke to a gathering of Stoic and Epicurean philosophers about the Gospel in his Sermon of the Unknown God, which is found in Acts 17. The source of the name for this limestone outcropping has been debated since antiquity and any structures which once stood upon it have fallen.

32: Down below the Acropolis is the site of an ancient Agora, or commercial, religious, and social area of Athens. The main attractions at this site are the Stoa of Attalus (left) and the Temple of Hephaestus (top).

33: Overall, Athens presented us with a fascinating view of time is a powerful thing to overcome. As we travelled around the city we saw sites as ancient as the Agora and the Acropolis, yet minutes later saw something as comparably new as the Olympic stadium from the 1896 Olympic Games (at bottom).

34: After we had explored Athens, we moved on to the biblically significant city of Corinth. It was here that Paul addressed some of his most famous epistles. | Some of the most important sites here were the Corinthian canal, the bema seat where Paul appeared before the proconsul Gallio, and the Temple of Apollo.

35: From Corinth, we moved on to visit the nearby ruins of Mycenaea. Though Mycenaea is not a biblically significant site, its ancient | history gave it great significance for our group. This site was especially rich in rendering ancient artifacts which were on display at such museums as the National Museum in Athens, which will be seen later.

36: Our final ancient site was the famous city of Delphi. It was to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi that mythical kings and heroes came to speak to the Oracle, a sort of mystical fortune teller, concerning their fates, strategies they should take or avoid on their quests, or any other sort of advice they asked for. I found this site especially interesting because it was here that Socrates first chose the life of a philosopher.

37: Throughout our trip, our group had several opportunities to explore some fantastic museums in both Turkey and Greece that housed some truly magnificent artifacts like this bronze statue of Poseidon at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

38: The first museum we visited was the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, Turkey. This museum houses hundreds of artifacts found in and around Ephesus. Within this museum are such famous artifacts as the statue of the Great Artemis (top) with its three-tiered headdress, the remains of a colossal statue of either Emperor Domitian or his brother Titus (bottom left) which originally stood almost 25ft. tall, and the original friezes from the Temple of Hadrian (bottom right).

39: Next, we visited the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece. This was one of my favorite museums due to the display of such magnificent works as the bronze statue of Poseidon and the statue of the Boy Jockey (top). Also at the museum was a great collection of artifacts from Mycenaea, including the golden burial coverings for two infants (bottom left). An assortment of kouros (bottom right), statues which stood as offerings in front of temples, was also available for viewing.

40: At Corinth, we visited a small museum on the actual site of the city where we found some very interesting artifacts like the beautiful floor mosaic seen here, an assortment of terra cotta body parts which would have been given as offerings in thanks for healing at the city's Asclepeion (bottom left), and some engravings that give evidence of a Jewish population within Corinth (bottom right).

41: The final museum we visited was at Delphi. This museum contained some very significant artifacts such as the bronze statue of a charioteer (top), a marble statue of a man named Antinoos (bottom right), and the famous Gallio Inscription (bottom left). The statue of Antinoos is particularly interesting because, unlike normal statues of mortals, his right foot is placed forward, which is a sign of divinity in Classical sculptures. The Gallio Inscription is an incredibly important artifact because it contains information that has established the dates for all of the Apostle Paul's missionary journeys.

43: With that we have reached the end of our Aegean Adventure. After seeing over a dozen sites featuring ruins with historical and biblical significance, we have all come to understand a little bit more how time can both unite and divide us. We may be drastically different from the people who lived in these ancient civilizations, but the human spirit within us has endured throughout the countless centuries.

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Jordan DeBord
  • By: Jordan D.
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  • Title: The Aegean Adventure
  • An academic tour of major biblical and historic sites throughout coastal Turkey, the Greek Isles, and the mainland of Greece.
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  • Published: over 9 years ago