Athens city break: To the cradle of Western civilization

Ath 1 City breaksCultureEducationShort stayBus trips SounioKesarianiAthens (Downtown)
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4 DAYS
LEVEL 1

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Acropolis, its monuments and surroundings
  • The Acropolis Museum
  • The National Archaeological Museum
  • The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
  • The Monastery of Kaesariani on the slopes of Mt Hymettus
Athens is a European city with six thousand years of history. The second half of the 5th century BC is the high classical period of ancient Greek culture. After their victories in Marathon, Salamis and Plataea against the Persians, the Hellenes keep participating at the Olympic Games, where the winner was crowned with a simple olive wreath, and traveling to the Oracle of Delphi, to ask Apollo about the future. In Athens, the intellectual and cultural centre of Greece, democracy blooms. Pericles, the most prominent statesman of the city, orders the construction of the Parthenon and the other monuments of the Acropolis. Phidias adorns these temples with his sculptures. The great Tragedians of classical Greece take the old myths as an occasion to deal with existential questions, and their tragedies are performed during the dramatic competitions in honour of the wine god Dionysus. Hippocrates elevates the ancient healing practices to scientific medicine. The Sophists declare that man is the “measure of all things” and Socrates asks him to know thyself. In such an environment lives Plato in his youth. The foundations of Western civilization are laid. Romans, Christians and Turks came later. The classical past was ousted, and Athens sank into insignificance. When Modern Greece was established, the young prince Otto of Bavaria was elected king, and Athens was chosen as its capital. At the end of the same century, the first modern Olympic Games took place here. After a difficult 20th century (Balkan Wars, World War I, Asia Minor Catastrophe, World War II, Civil War, Dictatorship), Athens is today a big modern city; with a new face, and it had successfully organized the Olympic Games of 2004. The great city is a must-do for every traveler interested in classical culture. It is really beautiful to walk along the cobblestone promenade beneath the Acropolis, then watch from the Philopappos Hill the Parthenon in the last daylight; or take the tram till the coast of the Saronic Gulf to enjoy sunset from the waterfront promenade.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Welcome

Arrival in Athens. Transfer to the hotel. First meeting with your tour leader.

Day 2: Acropolis, Agora and Plaka. The Acropolis Museum

We go through the bustling market hall and walk through a part of the old town. Pilgrimage to the Acropolis, where the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike stand proud witnesses of the Age of Pericles and the high classical Greek architecture. Then we go to the Hill of Areopagus, where St. Paul spoke to the Athenians, and to the Ancient Agora; in the late Antiquity the last pagan philosophers and the Early Church Fathers were studying side by side in its schools of philosophy. In the Agora Museum, you can see the water clock that measured the time of speeches during the course of trials, a kleroterion or allotment machine that assigned jurors to the courts and pieces of broken pottery (ostracon) used as voting tokens in the ostracism procedure. In the afternoon we will visit the amazing new Acropolis Museum, a modern building of glass, concrete, steel and marble which provides a fabulous home for the masterpieces of the Acropolis. In the evening it will be time for a walk through the Plaka area (old town of Athens); dinner in a traditional Greek tavern.

Day 3: Archaeological museum. Athens sightseeing. Monastery of Kaesariani. Poseidon’s temple

The National Archaeological Museum is housed in a beautiful neo-classical building. The sculpture collection gives an overview of the development of Greek Glyptic during one millennium. The gold mask of Agamemnon and the two gold cups from Vafio depicting bulls and cows are exhibited in the hall with the Mycenaean Antiquities. The highly stylized Cycladic idols dating from the early Bronze Age brings to our minds modern art. On the first floor is the hall with wall paintings from the Minoan excavation of Akrotiri on Santorini; and of course the rich collection of pottery with beautiful examples of Black- and Red-figure attic vases. On the City tour you will see the historical neoclassical buildings of the University of Athens, the Parliament, Old Parliament, Stadium and Temple of Olympian Zeus. Then we visit the monastery of Kaesariani, located in a green area on the slopes of Mt Hymettus; its church is decorated with post byzantine frescos. In its surroundings we have the opportunity for a short hike with panoramic views over the city. In the afternoon we go to Cape Sounion where we visit the Temple of Poseidon and wait for the sunset. Farewell dinner in a traditional Greek tavern.

Day 4: Farewell

This short stay in Athens ends. Transfer to the airport or holidays extension or next tour.

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS

3 Overnight stays in a good, centrally located hotel, within walking distance from the metro station and the old town; breakfast in the Hotel, 2 dinners (except on the arrival day) in local taverns. For lunch there will be the possibility for a stop at a restaurant or a picnic.

SERVICES INCLUDED

Transfers and tours according to the program
Privet bus with professional driver
2 overnight stays on HB basis + 1 overnight BB
Professional Greek tourist guide
All admissions to museums and excavations

NOT INCLUDED

Flights to/from Greece
Travel insurance
Drinks/beverages

PRICE

In double room: from 328 € / person
In single room: from 418 € / person

TIP

The tour can be extended by one more day to visit the island of Aegina. Sea our program “Athens city break and the nearby island of Aegina”.

 
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  • Sounio
  • Kesariani
  • Athens (Downtown)
 
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