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© Δημήτρης Αλωπούδης
The Acropolis is home to a number of classical ruins including the famous Parthenon. You will also find the Erechteon, the Temple of Athena, the Propylea and the Acropolis Museum. Below the Acropolis are a number of other classical ruins including Hadrian’s Arch, the Roman Forum and the Temple of Zeus.
The Greeks began construction of the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena, in 447 BC, when the Athenian Empire was at its most powerful. It is a true example of the culmination of Doric culture, art and architecture and is seen as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and Athenian democracy. Its very size and grand structure open up to students the scale of the wealth, power and strength of the ancient Greeks in a way that can only really be experienced by going there. There's so much to discover, not only about the Parthenon, but about the whole Acropolis and beyond, that classics students will really benefit from a trip to Greece's capital.
The Agora Museum and Site
The Agora was the equivalent of today's city centres, with shops, stalls, entertainments, a place to set up social meetings and to make political announcements. You will be able to see a museum as well as ruins of temples and shops where Athenians came to hear the news, to complete their shopping and to meet with their friends. Your students might be interested to know that 'agoraphobia,' comes from the Greek word 'agora,' because it relates to the fear of open and public space, such as the old Greek Agora.
© Tilemahos Efthimiadis
National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art. It was founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, displaying their historical, cultural and artistic value.
© George Rex
The Old Parliament Building
The Old Parliament Building was completed in 1840 in early Neoclassical style. Originally built to be a royal residence it was to become the seat of Greek government. The building was rebuilt in the 1850s after a fire. Today the building is the site of the National Historical Museum.
The Panathenaiko Stadium
The Panathenaiko Stadium, also known as the Kallimarmaro, is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of the ancient Greek stadium, the Panathinaiko is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble and it is also one of the oldest stadiums in the world. Contrast it with the stadium built for the 2004 games for a look at how Olympic stadiums have changed across the years.
Pláka is the old historical neighbourhood of Athens, clustered around the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and Neoclassical architecture. It is built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens and is known as the 'Neighbourhood of the Gods' due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites. The Old Quarter shops, tavernas and colourful streets make it the ideal place to spend an evening. We can also arrange a typical ‘Greek evening’ in this area.
The Peloponnese Excursions
© Daniel Enchev
Delphi occupies a stunning location on a hillside and is a classicist's dream; home to the Oracle, the Sanctuary of Athena, the Temple of Apollo and the Delphi Theatre.
The Delphic Oracle is now the most famous of all oracles that ever existed in Greece, and in ancient Greece it was considered the most important and authoritative oracle, supposedly inspired by the Greek God Apollo. The first record of the Oracle at Delphi has been traced to the 8th century BC and the last record was made in the 4th century AD, after Theodosius I ordered the closure of all pagan temples. The Delphic Oracle, which was also known as Pythia, is also one of the most widely written about having been mentioned by such names as Aristotle, Euripedes and Herodotus.
Although the Sanctuary of Athena is not as famous or important as other classical sites, it is home to some of the most picturesque ruins at Delphi. Overlooking a beautiful valley carpeted with olive trees, most of the sanctuary's structures have been reduced to foundations and fallen fragments, including two successive temples of Athena. The oldest part of the sanctuary is the eastern part, where the remains of a Mycenaean settlement were unearthed. Since its first construction in the 7th century BC it has undergone considerable destruction due to various landslides and earthquakes, yet groups will still be able to get a sense of the site's importance in Greek society and a taste for the beautiful Doric architecture that was used throughout much of the site.
© troy mckaskle
Olympia was the site of the ancient Olympic Games, which were celebrated every four years by the Greeks. Situated in a valley in Elis, it was not a town, but a sanctuary with buildings associated with games and the worship of the gods. It became the Greek national shrine and contained many treasures of Greek art such as temples, monuments, altars, theatres, statues, and votive offerings of brass and marble. Excavations began here in 1829 and were not finished until 1960-61, during which time many valuable objects were discovered, the most important of which was a statue of Hermes, the messenger of the gods. One of the most famous sanctuaries, the Sanctuary of Zeus, was also discovered and is well worth a visit.
© Ronny Siegel
In the 2nd century BC Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization with a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. It was such a strong Greek centre that the period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. Go there to see The Tomb of Agamemnon and the ancient Citadel of Mycenae, with the Royal Tombs and Lions Gate.
© Alun Salt
Corinth has had a varied and fascinating history, occupying a strategic trading position on the Greek coastline, which meant that many people have vied for its power and control. Archaeological excavations of the area have brought to light the agora, temples, fountains, shops, porticoes, baths and various other monuments. Many of the finds are exhibited in the on-site Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, but nothing is better than visiting the sites themselves to get an idea of Corinth's historical importance. The most popular visitor sites include the Ancient Baths, Acropolis and other Roman ruins as well as the engineering feat that is the Corinth Canal.
The ruins of ancient Corinth, a short drive from the modern city of Corinth, are spread around the base of the rock of Acrocorinth. Most of the surviving buildings are Roman rather than Greek, dating from the city's prosperous age after Caesar rebuilt much of the original Greek city. The city has been toppled by recurring earthquakes over the centuries since then. On the Acrocorinth itself are ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite, of which little remains. Also on Acrocorinth are the ruins of a stone minaret and ancient defensive walls.
The most notable ruin of ancient Corinth is the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo, built on a hill overlooking the remains of the Roman marketplace (the agora). Seven of the original 38 Doric columns still stand, and it is one of the oldest stone temples in Greece. It was still a functioning temple when the Apostle, Paul, went to Corinth as a missionary.
© Dennis Jarvis
Nauplion, Tiryns and Epidavros
Nauplion was the ancient capital of Argolis, and was also the capital of modern Greece between the years 1821 and 1834. Go and see the fortress of Palamidi and, en-route take a visit to the Epidavros and Tiryns, the birthplace of Hercules. The Sanctuary of Epidavros is the home of modern medicine.
The Fortress of Palamidi was built by the Venetians in 1685 and was the last ever major overseas construction by the Venetian Empire. It was built to strengthen the city of Nauplion, but the Venetians only commissioned eighty soldiers to defend the fortress and so it fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1715.
The asclepieion at Epidavrus was the most celebrated healing centre of the classical world. To find out the right cure for their ailments, they spent a night in the enkoimeteria, a big sleeping hall. In their dreams, the god himself would advise them what they had to do to regain their health; there was a guest house consisting of about 160 guest rooms and there are also mineral springs in the vicinity which may have been used in healing.
© Andrea Tosatto
Sparta and Mistra
Sparta was once an important rival to Athens and features heavily in classical history as a city of supreme military prowess. It was regarded as the overall leader of the Greek forces during the Greco-Persian wars and was the principal enemy to Athens during the Peloponnesian war, from which Sparta emerged victorious (though at great cost). It remained relatively strong until the Roman conquest in 146BC. Sparta was unique in ancient Greece, which explains why it still draws in so many classical historians as well as film producers and directors. This is partly down to its social system and constitution, which completely focused on military training and excellence and was particularly liberal in its attitude towards women. Its inhabitants were classified as Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights), Mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans), Perioikoi (freedmen), and Helots (state-owned serfs/enslaved non-Spartan local population). Spartiates underwent a rigorous training and education regimen, and Spartan phalanxes were widely considered to be among the best in battle, whilst Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical world.
The Byzantine city of Mistra enjoyed relative power from the 15th century onwards, but was abandoned with the rise of Sparta. You can still see ruins of the fortress, palace, churches and monasteries that were there and inhabited until King Otto abandoned the city in order to take over the newly-built Sparti.
4 centre Greece school tour - 8 days
- Arrive Athens
- Explore Athens by foot & local transport
- Morning at leisure
- Transfer to Delphi
- Sanctuary at Delphi
- Transfer to Olympia
- Sanctuary of Zeus
- Olympic Games
- Continue to Tolon
- Tomb of Agamemnon
- Citadel of Mycenae
- Day at leisure
- Fly home