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Archaeological Tour

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Enjoy 13 intriguing days in Greece as you visit some of the most important archaeological sites of the world and places of very high historical, cultural, and religious importance.

 

DAY 1

Arrive at the airport of Athens where our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. In the evening a welcome-cocktail party will take place followed by a “welcome” dinner. Overnight will be in the hotel in Athens.


DAY 2

This morning you get acquainted with the city of Athens starting with the world renown Acropolis, where you can see the architectural miracles of the Golden Age of Pericles: the Propylea, the Nike Temple, the Erechtheum and, most importantly, the Parthenon (Temple of Athena). From the top enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Athens and observe the Monument of Philopappus, the Pnyka, the Areopagus and more. Don’t miss the Acropolis Museum, where, among other masterpieces, you will see the original Caryatids from the Erechtheum and the remaining marble sculptures from the Parthenon. Walk down to the Agora, north of the Acropolis hill, and explore the excavation site. Admire the Temple of Hephaestus, the remains of the Odeon of Agrippa and the restored Stoa of Attalus, which has been turned into an exquisite museum with a number of artifacts that you will not find in other museums. Take a break in Plaka to enjoy your included lunch. Afterwards, walk to Kerameikos, the public cemetery of ancient Athens and study the interesting collection of exhibits in its small museum, grave columns and other funerary monuments, which can be seen on the very spot of the archaeological site. Overnight will be at the hotel in Athens.


DAY 3

After breakfast begin your half day city tour of Athens in order to see the landmarks of our capital; Constitution Square(Syntagma) with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Old Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian God Zeus, the Residence of the Greek President and many more. Spend the rest of the morning at the National Archaeological Museum, one of the finest in the world, with collections that offer a great overview of the long Greek history and of the trace of the ancient civilizations you will come across during your trip. The Cycladic figurines, the Mycenaean treasures, and the Santorini frescoes are just a few of the collections that are not to be missed. Early in the afternoon, you will head towards Cape Sounion, the southeastern extremity of Attica. On the way you will stop at a nice taverna near the sea and enjoy your lunch. At Cape Sounion you will admire the beautiful marble-white columns of The Temple of Poseidon and enjoy the astonishing view. In the evening return to Athens for overnight.


DAY 4

Today follow the coastal road to the legendary Corinth Canal where you will have a short stop for pictures and to enjoy the view of the Canal. Continue to ancient Corinth (Korinthos), home to one of the “Seven Sages”, Periander. The Greek-American excavation there has brought to light the well- preserved ruins of the once glorious city, including the Temple of Apollo, the Lechaion Road, the Peirene Fountain and the Bema. The Museum has a wonderful display of the famous Corinthian ceramics and a number of other interesting collections (sculptures, mosaics, etc). Before you leave, drive up the Acrocorinth to admire the superb view and the imposing citadel. Then, you head south towards Epidaurus, to the site of the once most popular Sanctuary of Asclepius (god of healing) in ancient Greece. Nowadays it is visited by thousands of people, who want to admire the spectacular Theater and experience its astonishing acoustics. This amazing Theater is preserved in an almost perfect condition, while the other remaining beautiful edifices of the Sanctuary, where the healings used to take place in a mystical manner, lie in ruins at a small distance from the Theater. In the small Museum nearby find a number of columns (plates) with medical records of the Sanctuary and also a collection of surgical instruments, which were used by the physicians-priests of Asclepius. Finish your day in Nauplion, one of the most attractive towns in the Greece, where you will have dinner at the hotel.


DAY 5

In the morning after breakfast you will have to drive to Tiryns (Tiryntha), the second in importance Mycenean acropolis in the region of Argolis and marvel at its Cyclopean Walls, the most striking of its features. Thirty minutes away is the Homeric city of Mycenae, which was uncovered by Heinrich Schliemann and was the kingdom of Atreus and his son Agamemnon. The Lions’ Gate, the Grave Circles, the Palace, the secret Water Cistern and especially, the bee-hive Tombs will undoubtedly impress you. Equally impressive is the new Museum, which houses a superb collection of architectural remains, pottery, jewelry, clay idols, Linear B tablets and many more findings from Mycenaean sites all over the Peloponnese. Many of these exhibits have never been displayed before and finally now the public have the chance to see them. Later, drive through the region of Arcadia and arrive at Olympia for dinner and overnight.


DAY 6

The first half of the day is dedicated to the discovery of the splendors of Olympia. Stroll around the archaeological site and see the remains of the Gymnasium, the Palaestra, the Workshop of Phidias and the Leonidaion. Then, inside the Sacred Precinct (Altis), admire the massive foundations and pillars of the Temple of Zeus, inside which the gold and ivory cult-statue of Zeus once stood (one of the seven “Wonders of the Ancient World”). Also, see the Philippeion, the Temple of Hera, the Nymphaion and, of course the legendary Stadium, where the Olympic Games were held every four years. These games were a symbol of Greek unity and peace, due to the “Sacred Truce” that was observed among all the Greek cities during the competitions. The unique experience of Olympia continues in the Museum, which possesses a new display of breathtaking works of art: bronzes, weapons, architectural fragments, ceramics and magnificent sculptures, among them the “Nike” of Paionios and the “Hermes” of Praxiteles. The prides of this Museum are the sculptures and the metopes from the Temple of Zeus. In the afternoon you will be driving back to Athens following the coastal road of the Northern Peloponnese. This will offer you splendid views of the Ionian Sea. Dinner and overnight will be in the hotel in Athens.


DAY 7

Our representative will take you to the airport for your flight to the charming town of Chania, on the island of Crete. According to the legend Zeus was born on this island.  Chania is probably the most attractive town on this island. It is full of Neo-classical mansions and is surrounded by impressive Venetian fortifications, which testify to the city’s glorious and diverse past. Visit the interesting Archaeological Museum in the Venetian Church of St Francis to see Minoan findings from Chania, like clay artifacts and tablets with Linear A and Linear B signs, and also coins, jewelry, sculpture, inscriptions, mosaics etc. Then depart for Rethymno, another charming town with an old Venetian Quarter and Castle. Take time to explore the old town, before driving to the capital of Crete, the city of Heraklion (Iraklio), famous for its turbulent history and massive fortifications, which remind the Cretans of their many conquerors. (Romans, Arabs, Venetians, Turks). Dinner and overnight will be in Heraklion.


DAY 8

In the morning, go south to Gortys (Gortyna) which was, according to tradition, it was the first city of Crete to accept Christianity. See the Roman Odeion, the Gortyn Law Code (5th B.C.), which was based on Minoan tradition and the cross-shaped Church of St. Titus, the first bishop of the island. Continue to Phaistos (Festos), which was once the wealthiest and most powerful Minoan center, in southern Crete, in order to admire the Palaces (old and new) with their terraces, central courts, royal quarters, store rooms, workshops etc. This is where the intriguing Disc of Phaistos was found, now on display in the Heraklion Museum, which you will be able to see the following morning. In the same museum you will see the painted Sarcophagus found at Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity), the site you visit next. In the Royal Villa of Aghia Triada, you will be able to notice it presents typical features of the palatial architecture and a few steps away; you can examine the “Agora” with its shops, the Mycenaean Settlement and the Cemetery with the vaulted tombs. Later, drive to Matala, a picturesque village by the sea, for your included meal. Overnight will be in Heraklion.


DAY 9

This will be the day that will give you the opportunity to understand the Minoan civilization and of all the forms of its art. Begin with the outstanding Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, the world‘s finest storehouse of Minoan art, which has twenty rooms with findings from the palaces, houses, tombs and caves in Crete. Some of the most important items of the exhibition are the “Snake Goddesses” from Knossos, the “Rock-crystal Rhyton” from Zakros, the “Bull’s Head Rhyton” from Knossos, the “Bull-leaping” fresco also from the Palace of Knossos and the “Fruit-stand” of the “Kamares Style” from Phaistos, together, of course, with the “Disc of Phaistos” and the “Aghia Triada Sarcophagus”. After a 20-minute drive arrive at Knossos, the seat of the legendary King Minos. The Palace is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur also the story of Daidalus and Icarus. This is the largest and known of the preserved Minoan palatial centers, with four wings around a central courtyard. Explore the royal quarters, the throne room, the shrines, the workshops and storage rooms and discuss the controversial restoration carried out by Arthur Evans. Other interesting monuments of the site are the “Little Palace”, the “Royal Villa”, the “House of the Frescoes” and the “Caravan Serai”. Your lunch is included and will be served at the traditional village of Archanes, not far from Knossos, where you will also have the opportunity to see the local Archaeological Collection. Afterwards, head back to Heraklion where you will spend the night.


DAY 10

Board the morning ferry for the volcanic island of Santorini, the southernmost island in the Cyclades. In 1650 B.C. the volcano of Santorini erupted, the island exploded and what remains are broken pieces of its rim, encircling a deep lagoon, called the Caldera. The exquisite white-washed villages cling to volcanic cliffs above beaches of black, lava origin, sand. In the capital village of Fira, you can visit the two small Museums; the Archaeological, with sculpture, inscriptions and clay vases and figurines, mostly found in Ancient Thera, and the Prehistoric Museum, with findings mainly from the excavations of Akrotiri(at the south of the island) and other sites of the island. The exhibits include fossils of plants and archaeological objects, like pieces of pottery, plaster casts of furniture, bronze vessels, tools, weapons, seals, Linear A tablets and magnificent wall-paintings; all that will give you a first taste of the culture that flourished Akrotiri. Dinner and overnight will be at your hotel in Fira.


DAY 11

Today, after breakfast you will drive up the mountain Mesa Vouno, to get acquainted with Ancient Thira, the classical city of the island, founded by Dorian colonists in the 9th c. B.C. The preserved ruins belong to the Hellenistic and Roman phases of the city and there you will be able to see the Sanctuary of Artemidoros, the Agora, the Royal Stoa, the Temple of Dionysus and a lot more. Your expedition continues with the visit to the ‘Pompeii’ of Santorini, the Minoan town of Akrotiri, buried and preserved for thousands of years under more than 30 feet of volcanic ash. Akrotiri was one of the most important prehistoric, urban centers and ports of the Aegean; it was a large settlement with sophisticated multi-storied buildings with amazing frescoes, furniture and vessels. It possessed an elaborate drainage system and a wide network of external relations and thus we understand that this city had great development and prosperity. As you explore the site, don’t miss: the Xeste 3 (a large two-storied edifice with frescoes on the walls, this was believed to be a sacred place), the West House (a small but well-organized building, where some of the most famous wall-paintings were found), Sector B (two separate buildings again with very famous frescoes) and Complex Delta (includes four houses, where the fresco named “Spring” and a number of Linear A tablets were found). Your lunch included and will be served in a traditional restaurant at Pyrgos. In the evening you will be transferred to the Santorini airport in order to take your flight back to Athens. Overnight in Athens.


DAY 12

Enjoy a scenic drive to Delphi, passing the cities of Thiva (Thebes) and Livadia. This breathtaking place was believed to be the “navel” (omphalos) of the world and Apollo’s most important and famous oracle was there. Follow the Sacred Way up to Apollo’s Temple, to the place where his priestess Pythia delivered his oblique prophecies and marvel at the beauty of the landscape. Study the remains of the Roman Market-place, the Treasuries (especially the restored Athenian Treasury), the Stoa of the Athenians, the Theater and the Stadium of Delphi, where quite important athletic contests used to take place to honor the god Apollo, the god of light and harmony.  Then, precede to the exquisite Museum, which is full of masterpieces, all of them offerings of the ancient pilgrims, who visited the sanctuary in order to receive the advice of Apollo. The pride of the Museum is the bronze “Charioteer” (Iniochos), one of the finest examples of classical sculpture of the “severe style”, of course, there is a lot more to be admired there; f.e. the Archaic Kouroi, the Sphinx of the Naxians, the Frieze of the Athenian Treasury, the Statue of Antinoos, and other excellent works of art. On your way back to Athens, view the ruins of the Gymnasium and the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaea. Your farewell dinner will take place in a Greek taverna in Plaka and afterwards you spend your overnight at the hotel.


DAY 13

Fly back home, having accumulated lots of wonderful memories and having gained a new insight into the great archaeological sites and history of Greece.

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