Category Archive : Special Tours

Explore Macedonia, the land of Alexander the Great in a unique journey of 7.000 years of Greek history!

Description
Day 1: Leave the Capital by the towns of Thebes, Levadia and the picturesque village of Arachova. Arrival in Delphi.

Visit the most famous oracle of the ancient times, the Temple of Apollo, the Treasury of Athenians and the Museum where you will see Greek sculptures as the Sphinx, the famous athlete Aghias and the bronze Charioteer.

Departure for Kalambaka the picturesque town at the foot of the gigantic rocks, the famous Meteora. Dinner & overnight.

Day 2: Next stop is Meteora that means “middle of the sky”, seems to be “suspended in the air”. In Meteora you will visit ageless Monasteries and you will see first-hand unique specimens of Byzantine art.

Depart from Kalampaka to Thessaloniki along the longest river in Greece, Aliakcmon.

Arrival at Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece (dinner & overnight).

Day 3: At Thessaloniki, visit in the morning the era that throughout the Byzantine Empire was the “co-reigning” city. Visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture and the most characteristic churches of the Christian world. The rest of the day is free to explore more the city. Dinner & overnight.

Day 4: Departure for the historical Macedonia. Stop at Edessa where you will see the famous Waterfalls. Second stop at Naoussa where was the Aristotles School and the great philosopher taught the doctrines of morals and politics to Alexander the Great and the other Macedonians.

Next stop at Vergina (ancient Aigai) where you will see the royal tombs of Macedonia among others the tomb of King Philip II, Alexander’s father, and enjoy your visit at the unique museum.

You will visit Veria (Biblical Beroea) and the Saint Paul’s Bema and stroll through the old Jewish neighborhood and the market area.

Return to Thessaloniki. Dinner & overnight.

Day 5: Visit the capital of Alexander the Great, Pella and see the exquisite floor mosaics of the 4th century villas and the new Museum.

Next stop at the Archaeological Park of Dion, the sacred city of Macedonians cited at the foot of Mount Olympus, the highest Mountain of Greece and the residence of the 12 Gods of the Greek Mythology.

Return to Athens through Thessaly and the Valley of Tempi, pass by Lamia and see the Leonida’s Monument and Thebes.

Arrival at Athens: Late in the afternoon

The tour includes:

Overnight accommodation
Meals as per itinerary (Breakfast & Dinner)
Professional Guide
Entrance Fees
Pick-up service from your hotel (most of the hotels in Athens)
Transportation with luxurious air-conditioned coach
All taxes

Delphi – 2 Day Tour…Daily from April 1st to October 30th


Departs 08.45 – Returns 19.00

1st day: Drive through the fertile plain of Beotia, crossing the towns of Thebes, Levadia and Arachova arrive in Delphi, the center of the Ancient World. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios. Visit the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo and the Museum containing such masterpieces of Ancient Greek sculpture as the bronze Charioteer. Afternoon free. Dinner. Overnight.

2nd day: The whole morning is free for you to see more of the ragged grandeur of Delphi and take photographs to remind you of its beauty. Return to Athens by the same route.

Price:
Half board 4* hotel 170,00 € per person | Single Supplement in 4* hotel 36,00 €
Half board 3* hotel 146,00 € per person | Single Supplement in 3* hotel 29,00 €

NOT INCLUDED: The New “City TAX” for overnights in hotels. The Tax is payable by the clients before check-out as following: 5* hotel: 4,00 € | in 4* hotel: 3,00 € | 3* hotel: 1,50 € per overnight per room.

Nekromanteio is a little known archaeological site in Greece, located in the province of Epirus. The location and mythology of the place stuck with me for life. It was the place where you could make a long distance call to your ancestors and more…

The Nekromanteio at the river Acheron is another oracle like the oracles of Delphi and Dodona and it has its own unique character and story to tell. It was built at the gates of Hades thus providing easy access to anyone who dared to venture at the edge that keeps the living and the departed, apart. Nekromanteio means the “Oracle of the Dead” and in ancient times it acted as the point of those who wished to communicate with a dead ancestor or family member–usually for consultation and advice on living matters.

Pilgrims arrived here from all corners of the earth seeking advice and answers from the dead. They resided on the grounds of the Nekromanteio for an extended period of time and were fostered by sorcerers that prepared them for the awe inspiring experience of glimpsing at the afterlife. The ruins on the ground outline an elaborate complex that included the living quarters of the priests and the guests, storage facilities, rooms for ritual activities, and the main sanctuary where the meeting of the living with the dead took place.

Those who made a commitment to undergo a meeting with the spirits of the non living were putting themselves in great danger and thus they had to undergo elaborate rituals in order to be prepared physically and spiritually for such encounters. For the duration of their visit their diet and actions were strictly controlled by the priests in a way that their perception of reality slowly was altered with each passing day. The pilgrims diet consisted of foods which along with isolation and meditation induced a state of hallucination for the person who was about to encounter the dead. Once the purification of the soul and body was complete, the pilgrim in a state of altered reality offered sacrifice to the gods, and walked down a long corridor and through the three doors of the dark labyrinth that leads to the central room where the spirits of the dead spoke to the living.

Modern scholars that have examined the archaeological evidence and accounts of ancient writers have suggested that the whole operation was something of a scam. The priests would spend enough time with the pilgrims to learn about their lives and secrets, and the encounter with the dead souls was nothing else than an encounter with the image of the dead (probably a priest) that was suspended from the ceiling with the aid of an elaborate machine. Many parts of the existence of such machine have been found on the site. The visitor of course in his/her religious ecstasy had all the incentive to believe the illusion and to leave the Nekromanteio convinced that an encounter with the dead had taken place.

Nekromanteio is a small archaeological site, easily navigated in one or two hours. I wandered through the rooms and storage areas before entering the long corridor where in ancient times so many must have walked trembling in anticipation of an encounter with the dead. Of the three arched gates in the labyrinth two survive in good condition and the labyrinth with its massive walls is still an imposing structure. I walked through the third door into the main hall where the hallucinating pilgrims believed in the encounter with the underworld inhabitants.

Through a small hole on the floor of the main hall I descended a steep metal staircase down into the dark crypt that was the palace of Persephone and Hades. The passage even today appears ominous and the room is stunning in the contradiction of its irregular rocky floor and the perfectly masoned stone arches that soar overhead. The crypt was probably carved out of the rock in the same place where an ancient cave may have started the cult.

Above this passage to the underworld of a pagan cult, in later times a Christian church was built that crowns the ancient stones. It stands as a silent witness to the long history of the land that manifests itself on strata of symbolic monuments to conflicting ideologies.

Nekromanteio is not as well known as the other oracles of Greece, but well worth a visit for its charm and the fascinating cult that made it all possible. I enjoyed my walk through the ruins as I tried to imagine the gamut of feelings that an ancient believer must have experienced on his/her way to meet the dead with shaking knees and a spinning head.

Driving away you can say that you descended and escaped from the dwelling of Hades; a feat reserved for the bravest of men: Orpheus who went for love, Hercules who went for the three-headed dog, and Odysseus who went for the future to be told.

Sparti: One of the two most powerful city-states in Classical Greece, Sparta is located in the Evrotas river valley, almost completely surrounded by mountain ranges. Unlike most of the other Greek city-states, Sparta was not a fortified city-state center with huge religious and civic buildings, but it was a loose collection of smaller villages spaced over a large rural area. Traditionally, Sparta’s founding is given at the middle of the 10th century B.C. by the Dorian Greeks. By the 7th century the warlike Spartans had conquered all of the surrounding Laconia and Messenia, and by the next century much of the remaining Peloponnese was under Spartan control. In the 5th century Sparta allied herself with Athens and other city-states in order to repulse the Persian aggressor, but soon after this the two city-states fell out, embarking on a century-long struggle for supremacy in the Peloponessian War, which ended with Spartan victory in 405 B.C. By the 4th century, however, Spartan power declined with its defeat by Thebes in 371 B.C., and, by 193 B.C., she had entirely lost her territorial possessions. Sparta thrived briefly under Roman Imperial rule, but was sacked by the Goths in 395 A.D and completely abandoned.
We will visit the archeaological remains of ancient Sparta, including the 2nd century BC theatre, the sites most discernible ruin (virtually nothing remains of the ancient city). The monuments on the site have not been restored yet but there are plans in the works for this under the auspices of the European Union. Important monuments of the site include the temple of Athena Chalkoikos on the top of the acropolis ; the ancient theatre, dating from the early Imperial period, the orchestra and walls of which still stand; a circular building of unknown use, which some scholars think was some kind of assembly; remains of shops, constructed in the Roman Imperial period, which served visitors to the theater; and finally, the remains of a Basilica of the Middle Byzantine period, dated to the 10th century A.D.
Mystras: Mystra enjoys one of the most beautiful situations in Greece, lying along a steep slope of Mt. Taygetos. At the top is the Kastro (fortified citadel), and on successive levels below are several Byzantine churches (most notably the Pantanassa), the Palace of the Despots, and everywhere spectacular views.
Few kilometers west to the Byzantine town Mystra on the slopes of Mt. Taygetos, an impregnable fortress, built by Guillame de Villehardouin in 1249. When the Byzantines won back the Morea from the Franks, Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus made Mystra its capital and seat of government and Mystras became the leading city of the Peloponnese. It was governed by a Byzantine Despot, usually either a son or a brother of the Emperor in Constantinople.It soon became populated by people from the surrounding plains seeking refuge from invading Slavs. From this time, until the last despot, Demetrios, surrendered it to the Turks in 1460, a despot of Morea (usually a son or brother of the ruling Byzantine emperor) lived and reigned at Mystra. Mystra declined under Turkish rule. It was captured by the Venetians in 1687 and it thrived once again with a flourishing silk industry and a population of 40,000. It was recaptured by the Turks in 1715, and from then on it was downhill all the way. It was burned by the Russians in 1770, the Albanians in 1780 and Ibrahim Pasha in 1825. Not surprisingly, at the time of Independence it was in a very sorry state, virtually abandoned and in ruins. Since the 1950s much restoration work has taken place. Once inside Nafplion Gate, the tour will see the main sites of this ancient city such as the Palace of the Despots.

Kyparisia: about 40 miles southeast from Mystras, through some of the most striking and at times hair-raising scenery in Greece, to Kalamata, and from Kalamata it’s another 32 miles to Kyparissia. Kyparisia: In his “description of Greece” Pausanias describes Kyparissia in these words: “having come to Cyparissiae we see a spring below the city near the sea. They say that Dionysus made the water flow by smiting the earth with his wand; hence they name it the spring of Dionysus. There is also a sanctuary of Apollo at Kyparissae, and another of Athena surnamed Kyparissian…there is a temple of Aulonian Aesculapius and an image of him” (4.36) Today, the Spring of Dionysus can still be seen on the beach of Ai Lagoudia in Kyparissia, a town on the south-western Peloponnese, but of the temples little remains. In Byzantine times Kyparissia was called Arkadia because of the Arkadian people who came to live there. The Arkadians built a massive castle on the site of the old acropolis, which was later rebuilt by the Franks. The castle and the ancient harbor are the main monuments on Kyparissia today. However, the town is a popular summer getaway because of its attractive beaches and summer festivities.

Pylos: The home of Nestor, the “elder statesman” of the Greek warriors at Troy, Pylos is located on the hill of Epano Englianos, near Navarino Bay, the southwest coast of the Peloponneseus. Occupied as early as the Middle Bronze Age, the site is dominated by a monumental structure, known as Nestor’s palace, which is the best preserved of the existing Mycenean palaces. Built in the Late Bronze Age (ca.1300 B.C.), the palace consists of 105 ground floor apartments. The most important compartments of the palace are the the big “throne room”, with its circular heath, a room with a clay bath tube, and stores with numerous storage jars. The walls of the palace were decorated with beautiful frescos. Thousands of clay tablets in Linear B script were found in the palace. (The Linear B script has been found to be based on the Greek language and was deciphered by a British archaeologist, Michael Ventris, in the 1950s).The palace was destroyed by fire in the 12th century B.C., and by a happy accident of chance, the linear B tablets were preserved by baking in the fire.
Spending the day in and around Pylos, visiting the Venetian castle at Methoni, the Mycenean palace at Pylos (called the Palace of Nestor, the garrulous old advisor in the Iliad), and the Pylos Museum. The Palace of Nestor was first excavated by Carl Blegen of Cincinnati in 1952 and was destroyed by fire at the end of the Mycenean period (around 1200 BC). It is quite a bit smaller than Mycenae, and it is here that the first Linear B tablets found on the Greek mainland were discovered in 1939.

Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina

Spend a day on Aegina

Visit Aegina, capital of Greece (1827-1829), on a day trip from Piraeus

Take the morning ferry from Piraeus and in 1h20m. you arrive in Aegina. The tiny church of Agios Nikolaos, at the port of the island, welcomes you. The beautiful neoclassical buildings remind you of the glory of the island.

What can you do in Aegina

What can you do in Aegina

Visit the Archaeological Site of Kolona.

Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina

Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina

The Hill of kolona was inhabited in prehistoric times through the classical period. Extensive walls and foundations have been discovered and excavations are still in progress. One single column is still standing, the only remaining from the Temple of Apollo built in the 6th c. BC.,

 

The small Museum  (Tue-Sun 08:30-15:00), containing a small but rich collection of pottery and sculpture from all periods of Aegina’s history. One of the most significant exhibits is the statue of the Sphinx (460 BC), which was dedicated to the Temple of Apollo. It is an extraordinary sculpture, with a head of a woman and a body that is half eagle and half lion,

 

 The Doric temple of Aphaea

The Doric temple of Aphaea

The Doric temple of Aphaea that we see today in a very good condition, was built about 490 BC of local porous sandstone. It stands on top of a pine-clad hill above Agia Marina. The first temple on the site (700 BC) was dedicated to Aphaea, a deity from Crete. Aphaea was worshiped at this sanctuary but the myth can be traced back to the 14th c. BC. and according to Greek mythology she was a beautiful young lady, another illegitimate child of Zeus. King Minos of Crete had fallen in love with her. Trying to escape from him she jumped into the sea but was caught in the net of fishermen. They took her on their boat. A fisherman, captivated by her beauty, fell in love and wanted to keep her for himself. Aphaea escaped, got out in Aegina, and asked for help from her half sister, goddess Artemis. She vanished in the woods of the island. When the fishermen arrived on the spot, they found only a statue. “Aphaea” in Greek means ‘invisible.’
On a clear day, you can see the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio, as well as the Acropolis of Athens. These three temples form the sacred triangle of antiquity, an isosceles triangle, between North, East and South. (Open daily 08:00-17:00, Museum: Tues-Sun 08:30-14:15).\

 
The Church of Agios Nektarios (named after its patron).

The Church of Agios Nektarios aegina

The Church of Agios Nektarios aegina

St Nektarios, died in 1920 and was canonized in 1961.

His memory is celebrated on 9 November.

You may have lunch in a taverna at the port, swim in a nice sandy beach and in the afternoon board the ferry back to Piraeus.