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The Ancient Stones of Athens: An Educational Exploration of Europe’s Oldest City

Departure     October 1 – 9, 2019                            

Look once more e’re we leave this specular Mount.  Westward, much nearer by Southwest, behold.  Where on the Aegean shore a City stands.  Built nobly, pure the air, and light and soil.  Athens, the eye of Greece, Mother of Arts.  And Eloquence, native to famous wits.                                           – Milton, Paradise Regained

One of the world’s most venerable cities, Athens has been inhabited continuously for 7,000 years, making it the oldest city in Europe.  Athens achieved its Golden Age in the 5th century BC, when in a span of some 100 years it witnessed an unprecedented explosion of intellectual and artistic flowering.  This is the time when democracy flourished, the tragedies and comedies of the great playwrights when written, Socrates roamed the streets of the city, and the great temples and other monuments on the Acropolis were built.  But Athens does not rest alone on its ancient glorious history.  Today, it is a dynamic and vibrant city with a thriving culture.

This program focuses on Athens and its contributions to the Western tradition – from antiquity to the present. 

Why Travel with Thalassa Journeys

Thalassa Journeys was established by the principals and managers of Travel Dynamics, the company that 50 years ago pioneered the concept of educational travel for America’s educational and cultural institutions. The belief that travel is primarily a learning experience forms the core principle of Thalassa Journeys.

Each Thalassa Journey is constructed around a particular theme. Unlike most tours, each of our journeys are intimate, and led by lecturers who are truly subject-matter experts for each theme. Although many other companies claim to have expert lecturers, few truly have accomplished, renowned experts in their fields, like Thalassa.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Depart THE USA

Depart the United States for Athens, Greece.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Tour ATHENS, GREECE

Arrive in Athens and transfer to the Hotel Athens Plaza, our home for the next seven nights, located on Constitution Square, the center of the city. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 3 : Tour ATHENS– A walk through the ancient monuments, the Agora, the Kerameikos & Plato’s Academy

One of the world’s most venerable cities, Athens is the capital of Greece and the oldest city in Europe. Its ancient monuments are testimonials to its glorious past that gave birth to democracy and many other ideas and institutions that form an integral part of the Western tradition. Drive to the entrance of the pedestrian street for a walk on this historic route that connects most of the city’s main ancient monuments. Included is the Theater of Dionysos, built on the slope of the Acropolis and dating from the 6th century BC, and the Asklepieion, originally built in the late 5th century BC. Walk by the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, a magnificent theater built in 161 AD, and continue to the hill of the Pnyx, the meeting place of the Assembly under the Athenian democracy, and the hill of the Areopagus, the meeting place of the ancient Council of Athens.

After lunch at a local taverna, explore the Agora, the civic and commercial center of ancient Athens and the living heart of its democracy. See the remains of the civic buildings and visit the Agora Museum, housed in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalus, originally built in the 2nd century AD, as well as the well-preserved 5th –century BC Temple of Hephaistos. Continue to the Kerameikos, the principal cemetery of ancient Athens. Nearby is the ground where the world’s most famous school of philosophy stood, Plato’s Academy.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 4 : Tour ROMAN ATHENS & THE NATIONAL GREEK LIBRARY

In the morning, explore the monuments that were built when Athens was ruled by Rome. The magnificent edifices built during this period represent the last flowering of Greek architecture in Athens before the decline of Greco-Roman civilization. Start at the Temple Olympian Zeus, which was started in the Archaic period, but it was finished 700 years later under the reign of Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-38), the greatest civic benefactor of the city. Nearby stands the Arch of Hadrian. Continue to the Roman Agora, accessed by a four-columned Doric portico, and the Tower of the Winds. In the afternoon, drive to the new Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center, a magnificent complex, designed by the celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano, that houses the Greek National Opera and the Greek National Library. Visit the Library and attend a discussion that will cover contemporary issues.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 5 : Tour ATHENS – The Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum

Morning at leisure for independent activities. In the afternoon tour the Acropolis and its fabled monuments. Occupied since prehistoric times, the rocky plateau of the Acropolis (the word “acropolis” means “upper city”) rises dramatically out of the plain and dominates the modern city as it did in ancient times. The incomparable Parthenon and the other temples and structures built in the 5th century BC represent the highest achievement of architecture and art of the Classical period. After exploring the Acropolis visit the Acropolis Museum. Built at the foot of the Acropolis, it houses an outstanding collection of sculpture and other artifacts. Enjoy dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Acropolis.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 6 : Tour ATHENS/ELEUSIS/DAPHNI/ATHENS

Drive in the morning to Eleusis, home of the great Sanctuary of Demeter, the goddess of crops, and of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Famous throughout antiquity, the Mysteries began and ended in Athens and lasted for nine days. Initiates walked in procession along the Sacred Way, which led directly from Athens to the sanctuary. Large sections of the road have survived. After exploring the site, enjoy lunch at a local taverna and then drive to nearby Daphni to visit its splendid 11th-century Monastery, which has some of the finest Byzantine mosaics in Greece.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 7 : Tour ATHENS/MARATHON/BRAURON/SOUNION/ATHENS

Today we drive to Attica, the countryside of Athens, to explore two sites connected to the history of Athens. Start at Marathon, the site of the great battle fought in 490 BC between the large invading Persian army and a much smaller force of mostly Athenian citizen-soldiers. The victory of the Athenians enabled Greek democracy to flourish. A runner was sent to Athens, 26 miles away, to announce the victory, initiating the race known today as the “marathon.” Continue to Brauron, an important sanctuary dedicated to Artemis. Enjoy lunch at the seaside town of Lavrion and then drive to nearby Sounion, where on a headland high above the sea stands the majestic 5th-century BC Temple of Poseidon.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 8 : Tour ATHENS – the National Archaeological Museum & the Hellenic-American Union

In the morning visit the National Archaeological Museum, home to outstanding collections that represent Greece’s long history and cultures. Among other exhibits, we find here the most important finds from the Mycenaean period, including the artifacts excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in Mycenae, and the world’s finest collection of ancient sculpture. End the morning at the headquarters of the Hellenic American Union for a lecture on the current state of immigration to Greece, and the country’s geopolitical importance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Spend the afternoon at leisure.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 9 : Transfer ATHENS/USA

Transfer to the airport for the return flight home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$4,580 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $680

Journey Extension

Post Journey Extensions

OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO CRETE & SANTORINI - Explore the achievements and the incredible creations of the Bronze Age Minoan culture, Europe’s first civilization, in Crete and Santorini on a five-day post-Athens extension. During our three-nights and two nights in Crete and Santorini respectively, we will explore Minoan palaces and towns, visit museums where exquisite artifacts from the period are housed, meet with locals and taste the food for which both islands are justifiably famed. Price: $ 1,890 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement: $ 490

Inclusions

Cities and Sites on the Itinerary

Call/Email us to book

E-Mail : Reservations@ThalassaJourneys.com

Phone : +1 866.633.3611