Meteora mountains and monastery in Greece
Meteora mountains and monastery in Greece

Greece: Myths & Monuments


15 days From $5,995

September 23 2019

In perhaps no other nation of the world does the heritage of history confront the traveler as powerfully as in Greece. Itself heir to the great achievements of the Minoan and Mycenaean peoples of the Aegean Bronze Age, the Classical Greece of 2,500 years ago is acknowledged as the birthplace of modern Western civilization – its cultural legacy still resonant today in the fields of architecture, philosophy, science and government.

The magnificent span of its archaeology, architecture, art and antiquities is the unifying theme of this invitation to our far-ranging and insightful journey into Greece’s ancient roots.

From the Acropolis, eternal symbol of Classical Athens, we travel via Corinth into the Peloponnese to the great healing center and theatre at Epidaurus. We explore the Bronze Age sites of fabled Mycenae and Tiryns with their echoes of Greece’s epic ‘heroic age’. At medieval Mystras we view the remains of resplendent Byzantine churches and Frankish castles and, a ‘modern’ contrast with the awesome Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi to follow. We learn at Pella, Vergina and Aigai of Alexander the Great’s impact on the eastern Mediterranean, while Thessaloniki traces the fascinating transition from the pagan late-Roman era to the world of Byzantium.

What's included?

  •  A/C coach
  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local Transport
  •  Entries & Tips

Led by...

Prof. Gerald Schaus

Professor Gerald Schaus is President of the Canadian Archaeological Institute in Athens, and has recently retired as Professor of Archaeology and Classical Studies at Wilfred Laurier University, Canada.

Book Now $5,995
Includes deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,300

Tour highlights:

  • Explore Epidaurus, home to the original Olympic Games of the Ancient World, and its stadium, gymnasium, wrestling school, temples and hippodrome
  • Marvel at monasteries built atop huge columns of ancient rock pinnacles Meteora is one of Greece’s most extraordinary sights
  • Enjoy the many flavors of authentic traditional Greek cuisine – try rich and hearty moussaka or grilled lamb with tzatziki yoghurt sauce
  • Discover the mountainous Peloponnese, Greece’s great southern peninsula and land of Homer’s heroes and the great Bronze Age citadels from which they came
  • Gaze upon at the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Tour details

Dates September 23 2019 - October 07 2019
Duration 15 days
Cost $5,995
Single supplement: $1,300
Deposit: $1,250 , balance due by 01 July 2019
Activity Level Challenging
Tour code A19GRE

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

September 23 2019: Itinerary

On arrival in the Greek capital we transfer to our hotel, with the rest of the day free for relaxation. In the evening we enjoy our first dinner as a group.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Athenaeum Palace & Luxury Suites, Athens

Today we take our first exploratory steps into antiquity here in a 3,000-year-old city that is home to a number of the Western world’s most inspirational archaeological treasures. Our first morning is devoted to the grandest of these - the ‘sacred rock’ of the Acropolis, whose ancient citadel’s awesome remains still evoke the spirit of classical Athens and the Age of Pericles. From the Theater of Dionysus we ascend to the Acropolis proper to view the great Propylaia entrance, the Temple of the Wingless Victory, the vast Parthenon and the Erechtheion, while also visiting the impressive Acropolis Museum. Refreshed by a traditional Greek lunch, we continue to the Areopagus, the seat of Athens’ ancient supreme court, and later to the Agora - once the city’s major place of assembly and site of the Theseion temple and the arcaded Stoa of Attalos.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Athenaeum Palace & Luxury Suites, Athens

Our morning at Athens’ acclaimed National Archaeological Museum reveals a host of fascinating exhibits that foreshadow our own rewarding journey to come. Especially notable are its outstanding displays of marbles and the Mycenaean collection, including the “Gold of Mycenae” discovered in the 19th century by Heinrich Schliemann. After lunch we walk amid the atmospheric excavations of Kerameikos Cemetery, whose Street of Tombs, begun in 394 BCE, reveals intriguing styles of funerary sculptures. Our day’s visits conclude with the Olympieion (the great Temple of Zeus), the Arch of Hadrian and the exquisite Attic architecture of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Athenaeum Palace & Luxury Suites, Athens

Today we journey into mainland Greece’s beautiful Peloponnese peninsula south of the Corinth Canal, home of Virgil’s Arcadia. This is the legendary land of great Olympia, Corinth, and Sparta, whose major archaeological sites illuminate a long and epic past. Our morning stop is at Corinth, once a major East-West trading center and among the richest city-states of ancient Greece. The splendid setting of its majestic Acrocorinth acropolis offers a wealth of interest amid extensive excavations. Our afternoon is spent at Epidaurus, the verdant setting of a strikingly preserved 14,000-seat classical Greek theatre still demonstrating amazing acoustics. The day ends in the welcoming seaside town of Nafplio (Venetian in origin and the first capital of modern Greece), where we spend our next two nights.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Grande Bretagne, Nafplio

An interest-filled day opens with exploration of the nearby ruins of the Mycenaean citadel of Tiryns, over 3,000 years old and with well-preserved fortification walls. We continue to the major archaeological site of fabled Mycenae – from where came Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks against Troy, later infamously betrayed in legend by his ruthless wife Clytemnestra. Here, too, in the royal tombs near the imposing Lion Gate, was discovered the treasure trove that we admired in Athens’ National Archaeological Museum. The afternoon is ours to enjoy at leisure amid Nafplio’s picturesque squares and colorful seaside cafés.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Grande Bretagne, Nafplio

This morning we travel to ancient Lerna, in Greek mythology the location of the entrance to Hades, and where Hercules slew the Hydra. Here we visit the “House of Tiles”, a two-storey palace dating from about 2200 BCE, before continuing to Tegea’s award-winning museum and 4th century BCE temple of Athena Alea. Later we enjoy an especially memorable interlude wandering amid the haunting remains of Frankish castles and fresco-decorated Byzantine churches of medieval ‘ghost’ town of Mystras - perched dramatically on the slopes of Mt. Taygetos amid spectacular views. The short drive to Sparta concludes a day of fascinating contrasts.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Today we explore at a leisurely pace the site of the great city of Sparta, which sprang up when, in 371 BCE, after centuries of war, the enslaved Messenians finally liberated themselves from their Spartan warrior masters. Extensive fortification walls with towers and gates enclose an atmospheric site of immense archaeological interest – with well-preserved or restored public and religious buildings that include the Doric sanctuary of Asklepios, the Ecclesiasterion-Odeion, the Theatre, the grand Arsinoe Fountain, the Agora and Stadium. Later in the day a scenic drive northward brings us to Olympia.

All meals included

Hotel: Amalia Hotel, Olympia

An exhilarating highlight of our day is the impressive site of Oympia in the “Valley of Gods”. Dedicated to Zeus, this major Panhellenic sanctuary was where the original Olympic Games were first held - and then celebrated every four years for a millennium. As well as walking amid the evocative ruins of the great stadium where the original athletes trained and ran, we view the ruins of the massive temple of Zeus and the earlier temple of Hera (wife to Zeus) - and the workshop where Pheidias sculpted his giant statue of Zeus, acclaimed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The adjoining museum features a wealth of intriguing treasures, from the superbly fashioned decoration of the temple of Zeus to the famous statues of Hermis of Praxiteles and Nike of Paionios. Late in the day we cross the Gulf of Corinth to reach Delphi.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Delphi brings us another encounter of infinite interest and rewards. This beautiful landscape setting was the site of the sacred Panellenic sanctuary - where the Oracle of Apollo spoke - and of the symbolic omphalos, representing the “navel of the world”. Our visit embraces each of the sanctuary’s three sections, beginning with Marmaria, at the lowest level, with its mysterious circular marble “tholos”. We then follow the Sacred Way up to the Sanctuary of Apollo proper on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, before reaching the stadium on the heights above. Our appreciation of Delphi’s importance in Greek history is enhanced by ample time for unhurried study of the site museum’s rich collection of artifacts – especially notable among them the renowned bronze Charioteer of Delphi and a life-size silver image of a bull.

All meals included

This morning’s scenic mountain drive takes us into Thessaly and to Kalambaka. From here we visit neighboring Meteora – a highlight of our tour, famed for its amazing “rock monasteries” clinging precariously to huge columns of sandstone rock that rear skywards from a wild and rugged landscape. The largest and most important Eastern Orthodox monastery group in Greece after those of Mt. Athos, they house priceless artifacts and wall paintings. Here, after invasion by the Serbs, and where once there were only hermits’ caves, the first monastery was founded in the, 14th century. Today only four of 24 known monasteries remain in use.

All meals included

Hotel: Amalia Hotel, Kalambaka

Heading north through the lush gorge of the Vale of Tempe, venerated by Greek poets as the haunt of Apollo and the Muses, we pause beneath Mt. Olympus, legendary home of the gods, to visit the notable sanctuaries and archaeological museum of Dion. Here Philip II of Macedon celebrated his capture of Olynthos, and here his son, Alexander the Great, made a sacrifice at the great temple before conquering Persia. An hour’s further drive brings us to the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea and Thessaloniki., the second city of Greece – where a 3-night stay allows us to explore what in ancient times was Macedonia’s principal port and one of four capital cities of the late Roman Empire. Evidence of its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history remains, although the 20th century city (rebuilt after the 1917 fire) now has a lively modern European layout.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Modernist, Thessaloniki

Today we visit ancient Philippi, a former colony of the island of Thassos, occupied by the Macedonian King Philip II in 356 BCE and once a flourishing Hellenistic city whose ancient walls, gates, theater and funerary heroon shrine can still be seen. Later Roman occupation brought a wealth of public buildings and the “mini-Rome” that Philippi became can be visualized as we walk on the ancient Via Egnatia, a great highway of the Roman Empire liking Europe and Asia. Following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE, the city became a center of the Christian faith. Later we travel the short distance to the seaport of Kavala to explore the colorful Old Town with its quaint Ottoman houses, ancient ramparts and Suleiman the Magnificent’s great 16th century aqueducts. After visiting the museum, we return to Thessaloniki, stopping on the way to admire the Lion of Amphipolis, an imposing 4th century funerary monument.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Modernist, Thessaloniki

We focus today upon the ancient world of the Macedonians and their great leaders, Philip II and Alexander the Great. Our first call is at the archaeological site of nearby Pella, whose excavations have revealed a sophisticated city of substantial Hellenistic houses with colonnaded courtyards and rooms featuring world-famous intricate pebble-mosaic floors (also beautifully presented in the excellent museum). On a low hill to the north is the still only partly-excavated royal palace of Philip of Macedon - where Alexander was born and his conquest of Asia conceived. Our afternoon is dedicated to the site of Vergina, ancient Macedonia’s first capital, to admire the royal tombs of the Macedonians in the unique subterranean museum erected above them –where their superb treasures (recognized and one of Greece’s most important recent archaeological finds) are on impressive display

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Modernist, Thessaloniki

Our final morning of touring features leisurely exploration of Thessaloniki’s Archaeological Museum, whose excellent collection features a notable array of luxury vessels in precious metals, including the 4th century BCE bronze Dherveni Krater urn. We also visit the Church of Saint Demetrius, a splendid landmark in Byzantine art, and the ruins of Roman Emperor Galerius’ 4th century palace, including the Rotunda that has been both a church and a mosque. There’s also time for a stroll around the well-preserved Roman forum area, discovered only some 50 years ago. The remainder of the day is at leisure or for personal sightseeing before our group gathers in the evening for a farewell dinner at the end of a memorable and enriching journey.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Modernist, Thessaloniki

We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

September 23 2019: Additional Info

September 23 2019: Accommodation

Situated in Athens, just 350 yards from Onassis Cultural Center, the 4-star Athenaeum Palace & Luxury Suites offers elegantly decorated rooms and suites with free WiFi access. Facilities include an on-site restaurant serving Greek cuisine, a 24-hour front desk and free parking.

At the hotel, rooms and suites come with a desk, a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Each unit is fitted with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV and and some open to a balcony.

Guests can start their day with a buffet American breakfast, while coffees, drinks and light snacks can be enjoyed at the on-site bar.

The lively Koukaki area, where hip bars and restaurants are featured, can be reached within a 20-minute walk and the Acropolis Museum is a 25-minute walk.

Boasting a privileged location right on Nafplio promenade, the Neoclassical-style Grande Bretagne offers luxuriously decorated rooms and suites with free WiFi access. It serves American buffet breakfast and has a lounge bar.

The air-conditioned rooms and suites at Grande Bretagne hotel come with Oriental-style carpets, draped curtains and wooden floors. They are equipped with a satellite TV, minibar and safety box. Some units enjoy views over the Argolic Gulf, while others have a private balcony.

Light snacks, coffees and drinks are served at the hotel’s bar featuring an impressive hand-painted ceiling with a big chandelier. Guests can also relax at the lounge of Grande Bretagne with its dark leather sofas and armchairs.

Seaside taverns can be found within walking distance, while the central Syntagma Square is 100 yards away and has many traditional cafes.

Amalia Olympia is located in the entrance of Ancient Olympia. Surrounded by Mediterranean gardens, it features an outdoor pool, restaurant and spacious lounges and a bar with fireplace.

The hotel’s large rooms are spread over 3 wings and 3 levels, all facing the serene gardens through balconies and terraces. They are air conditioned, and equipped with direct dial telephone, radio and satellite TV. Ironing facilities can be provided upon request.

Amalia Hotel Olympia is 0.9 miles from the town center and only 550 yards from the archaeological site, the stadium and the rest of the sacred temples. 

Artemis Restaurant serves a rich American buffet breakfast, as well as a la carte lunch and dinner. Refreshments, drinks and snacks can be enjoyed at the hotel’s lounges or at the open-air terrace.

The 4-star Amalia Hotel Kalambaka features an Olympic-size swimming pool and a furnished sun terrace surrounded by lush gardens. Made of traditional materials and fitted with beamed ceilings, the hotel's public areas include a lounge bar with fireplace, a piano bar and 2 restaurants.

The spacious rooms of Amalia Kalambaka are equipped with air conditioning, a satellite TV and a fridge. Each unit is elegantly decorated with dark wooden furnishings and soft colors and features a bathroom with hairdryer and free toiletries. Ironing facilities can be provided upon request.

A rich breakfast can be enjoyed daily at the hotel's dining area or in the rooms upon request. Greek and International flavors are served at the elegant setting of the on-site restaurants for lunch or dinner, while coffee and drinks can also be enjoyed by the fireplaces throughout the day.

 

In the heart of Thessaloniki, The Modernist combines old-world grace with casual luxury, set in a striking 1920’s heritage building. Restored in a minimalist, yet sensual style, this hotel is just a short stroll from everything Thessaloniki has to offer. Free WiFi is provided throughout.

All units at The Modernist are fitted with parquet floor and a flat-screen, satellite TV. Elegant in style, all rooms are complete with a private bathroom, while certain rooms here will provide you with a balcony. Air conditioning comes standard.

Breakfast is served daily from 7:30 – 10:30 on the rooftop terrace. All ingredients are carefully selected and prepared in the open plan kitchen.

Massage appointments can be arranged upon request. Guests of The Modernist enjoy discounted rates at a nearby fitness center.

With staff speaking German, Greek, English and French, information is available at the 24/7 reception.

Several boutique shops, fancy restaurants and bars can be found in the surrounding area. The Modernist is just a short stroll from the seafront promenade. The nearest airport is Thessaloniki Airport, 8.1 miles from the property. 

September 23 2019: Enquiries

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