Greece 2018: Tentative Itinerary

Hephaisteion Temple in Athens

  • 09 May — Departure from Fredericton, flying overnight to Athens.

    10 May — A late afternoon arrival at Athens International Airport, and transfer to our hotel.  The evening is at leisure, and some will want to begin exploring the PLAKA, the heart of 19th Century Athens and home to hundreds of restaurants and shops.  Instructors will provide an orientation session.  (Athens: Hotel Achilleas)

    11 May — This morning we visit the AGORA, the civic centre of ancient Athens.  Among important remains there are the Theseum, the best preserved classical temple in Greece, the “Prison of Socrates”, where he is said to have drunk the hemlock poison, the Stoa of Attalos, originally given as a gift from the King of Pergamon, and rebuilt in the 20th Century by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens to provide space for their ongoing study of the Agora and as the Agora Museum, and the 11th Century Church of the Holy Apostles, the last remaining building of the pre-excavation neighborhood.  After lunch, we follow the sacred way to the ACROPOLIS, stopping briefly at the Areopagus, where Paul the Apostle gave a speech to philosophers and religious leaders who are described as “wanting to hear something new.”  Climbing higher we visit the Roman Odeion of Herodes Atticus, an ancient opera house originally built in the 2nd Century AD by the wealthy philanthropist in memory of his wife, Regilla.  Here, since its renovation in 1950, modern musical and dramatic extravaganzas are still produced.  Finally, we pass through the Propylaea (monumental gateway) whose magnificent marble columns lay buried for centuries within the structure of a medieval castle (complete with a Frankish Tower 26 metres in height) created to be the Palace of the Duke of Athens.  Today we can see the striking monument which was built under the leadership of Pericles in the 5th Century BC.  Behind the gates we study the Parthenon, an awe-inspiring political statement by the Athenian Democracy, the Erechtheum, the most holy place on the Acropolis, and the tiny Temple of Athena Niké, built to commemorate Athenian victories over Sparta in the Peloponnesian War.  Before descending we have opportunity to view the larger city of modern Athens in all directions, and then a short walk takes us down to the Theatre of Dionysus, where the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were originally performed.  (Athens: Hotel Achilleas)

    12 May — Making good use of our air-conditioned coach, we make an early morning visit to the NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, an incomparable collection of masterpieces from excavations throughout Greece.  Later we transfer to Piraeus for a swift ride on a Delfini (hydrofoil) to the ISLAND OF AEGINA, where we go by yet another coach to the lofty site of the Temple of Aphaia atop a pine-clad hill overlooking the Saronic Gulf.  This temple has been called “the most perfectly developed of the late Archaic temples in European Hellas”.  Here we can study many of the architectural principles of temple building, and after a lunch provided for us in Aegina town, we return to our hotel in Athens.  (Athens)

    13 May —  We take a pleasant walk down Hermou Street to the ancient cemetery of the KERAMEIKOS, with a series of artistic burial monuments along its Street of the Tombs, the beginning of the broad dromos which led to the Academy, and impressive remains of the Dipylon and Sacred Gates from the City Walls of ancient Athens.  (Don’t step on the baby tortoises!)  In the well laid out Oberlaender Museum we can appreciate the many burial-related finds from this site.  After lunch we enter the award-winning new AKROPOLIS MUSEUM, one of the outstanding museums of Europe, and here we see an amazing collection of beautiful female statues, kourai, and a whole floor dedicated to the sculpture of the Parthenon. (Athens: Hotel Achilleas)

    14 May —  Today we begin our two-week tour of southern Greece.  But before leaving Athens we visit the PIRAEUS MUSEUM to see fascinating artifacts ranging from a remarkable collection of collossal bronze statues of Greek gods, to the bronze beak from an Athenian warship.  While in Piraeus we stop at Naval Park at Palaio Faliro, to examine a modern recreation of an Athenian trireme of the 5th Century BC — the HS Olympias — and then we continue on to study the walls of the ancient harbour.  After lunch we drive along the western shore of Attica toward SOUNIO, where we climb to the remains of the Temple of Poseidon, majestically situated on a precipitous, rocky headland.  Our journey then takes us north along the eastern coast toward the Bay of MARATHON, where Athenian hoplites won a legendary victory over a powerful invading Persian army in the first Persian War (490 BC).  Here we pause to view the burial mound which marks the last resting place of 192 victorious Athenian defenders.  (Néa Mákri: Marathon Beach Hotel)

    15 May — This morning we make our way first to the small town of PLATAEA, where a combined army of some 80,000 hoplites from an alliance of Greek city states won a decisive victory over the army of Xerxes in 479 BC, to seal the defeat of the Persian efforts to conquer the Greece in the second Persian War.  Then we visit the site of the Battle of LEUCTRA, where in 371 BC the army of Thebes, using innovative tactics developed by General Epaminondas, defeated the Spartans and thus broke their hegemony over southern Greece.  In the afternoon we visit the newly-renovated MUSEUM OF THEBES, the city which was the legendary home of Oedipus.  (Thebes: Hotel Meletiou)

    16 May — With an early start our coach carries us to sites to visit two battlefields where battles of tremendous consequence for Greek history were fought.  We stop first at the Lion of CHAERONEA, which is a memorial to the victory in 338 BC of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great over a combined army from several Greek city- states.  In this battle the freedom of the Greek “city-states” of the Classical Period came to an end, as the Macedonian Empire asserted its control over all of mainland Greece.  Our next stop is at the site of the Battle of THERMOPYLAE, where one might say that the Classical period of the Greek city-states began in 480 BC, when 300 Spartans died leading a small Greek army in defense of a pass, where they attempted to turn back a huge Persian army.  Later in the day we travel up the southern slopes of Mount Parnassus on which lies the site of Apollo’s Oracle at Delphi, the most important religious shrine in Classical Greece and home of the Pythian Games.  (Delphi: Hotel Acropole)

    17 May — Our morning in DELPHI is filled with a visit to the site of the sacred precinct of Apollo, where we see The Treasuries, the Temple of Apollo, the Theatre and the Stadium.  After lunch we visit its newly refurbished Museum, where we see, among other important artifacts, the bronze Charioteer.  (Delphi: Hotel Acropole)

    18 May — Descending out of the mountains, this morning we drive along the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth and cross the 2km suspension bridge to the Peloponnese at Rion/Antirion.  After lunch we tour the OLYMPIA MUSEUM, with its famous sculptures from the  pediments of the Temple of Zeus, its statue of Hermes by Praxiteles, and one of the most impressive collections of Greek armour in the world.  (Olympia: Hotel Neda)

    19 May — Today we make a morning tour of the PRECINCT OF OLYMPIA itself, home of the Olympic Games, with its Gymnasium, Palaestra, Workshop of Phidias, Temple of Zeus, Temple of Hera, Stadium and remains of many other important buildings.  The afternoon is at leisure.  (Olympia: Hotel Neda)

    20 May — With an early start we wind our way high into the Arcadian Mountains to find the lonely Temple of Apollo Epikouros at BASSAE.  Built in the mid 6th Century BC, it is one of the best-preserved monuments of classical antiquity.  Later we descend to the coast and travel the CHORA MUSEUM, where we can see Mycenaean materials, such as the earliest Linear B tablets unearthed in Greece.  Time permitting, we will make a stop at the recently-reopened PALACE OF NESTOR, home of the aged Homeric hero who offers sage advice to the Greek kings surrounding Troy in Homer’s Iliad.  (Pylos: Hotel Karalis City)

    21 May — This morning we travel by small boat to the ISLAND OF SPHACTERIA, where the Athenians under the leadership of Cleon in 425BC were the first to capture Sparta hoplites alive.  In the afternoon the coach will take us to the Venetian Castle of METHONI, where we may explore the grounds of the castle and enjoy the beautiful sand beach.  (Pylos: Hotel Karalis City)

    22 May — Departing Pylos promptly in the morning, we travel to Epaminondas’ MESSENE, with its magnificent walls and towers of its fortifications stretching out over the crest of Mount Ithome, and its town water supply still running down from mountain springs.  Here we see the remains of the Agora, a Temple to Asklepios, a Theatre, and a reconstructed Stadium.  After a lunch overlooking the site, we journey on to MISTRA, a remarkable mediaeval town clinging to the side of a mountain and overlooking ancient Sparta.  It has been likened to a Byzantine Pompeii.  (Sparta: Hotel Maniatis)

    23 May — This morning our coach takes us to the site of the second BATTLE OF MANTINEA, where in 362 BC the Thebans under Epaminondas again met the Spartans.  Here all that was achieved was to weaken both sides sufficiently so that neither could withstand the rising strength of Macedonia.  Later in the day we will enter the Argolid and visit the NAUPLIO MUSEUM, home of fascinating examples of early Greek armour.  If we have time, some may wish to climb the 1000 steps to the Palamidi, a Venetian fortress which stands on a lofty and almost inaccessible rock overlooking Nauplio and commands a view of the whole of the Argolid. (Tolo: Hotel Tolo)

    24 May — This morning we will visit two outstanding Mycenaean strongholds.  At MYCENAE, the leading city of the civilization immortalized in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, we shall see the Lion Gate, the shaft graves of Grave Circle A, the Beehive Tombs, the Megaron of the Royal Palace and the Fortifications of the citadel.  (Some hardy souls may wish to descend the stairs into the Cistern—bring a flashlight.)  TIRYNS is a fortress palace thought by some to be even more impressive than Mycenae itself.  After lunch we drive on to EPIDAUROS, where we visit the religious healing centre of Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine.  After walking through the many buildings associated with the healing rites,  we will pay special attention to the Theatre, one of the best preserved of all Hellenistic Greek theatres. (Tolo: Hotel Tolo)

     25 May — A morning visit to NEMEA, with its well preserved Stadium, site of the Nemean Games, its partially reconstructed Temple of Zeus, and its very helpful Museum, is followed by an afternoon tour of the remains of ROMAN CORINTH.  In Corinth we will visit the Museum, and then explore the remains of the Agora, with its archaic Temple of Apollo, vaulted shops, Roman temples, public latrines, fountain houses, and the Lechaion Road to the North Harbour.  (Loutraki: Hotel Mantas)

    26 May — This morning we will scale lofty heights of the ACROCORINTH, with its many sets of fortifications and a view which, as the ancients said, “allows a defender to see an army coming for three days.”  After lunch, we shall visit the Diolchos, the road on which boats were carried across the isthmus, the remains of the Lechaion Basilica, a huge 4th Century Christian church at the north harbour of Corinth, the tiny south harbour of Cenchreae, with its sunken quay, and, lastly, the CORINTHIAN CANAL.  (Loutraki: Hotel Mantas)

    27 May — This morning, as we return to Atherns, we will stop at the Sanctuary of ELEUSIS, home of the Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone.  The afternoon will be at leisure to allow for review in preparation for the examination.  (Athens: Hotel Achilleas)

    28 May — The examination is scheduled for 11:00am to 2:00pm.  Remainder of the day is at leisure (Athens: Hotel Achilleas)

    29 May — Early morning transfer to Athens International Airport for departure to Canada.