Thessaloniki and Alexander the Great

“The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
In Greece there are 16 cultural and 2 “mixed” monuments/places protected by UNESCO. 4 of them are situated at the province of Macedonia and will be the focal point of this travel program. Follow us to a wonderful journey through history and time!

Day 1: Welcome in Thessaloniki!

Flight to Greece and arrival at “Macedonia” International Airport of Thessaloniki. Welcome and transfer to your booked hotel for 5 overnight stays.

Day 2: Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki

The city and port of Thessaloniki, which was founded in 315 BC, played a major role in the spread of Christianity. The above mentioned can be proven by the existence of innumerous Christian monuments in the city, some built on the Greek cross plan and others on the three-nave basilica plan. Among those are Hagia Sophia (8th century), the Monastery of the Vlatades (14th century), Profitis Ilias (14th century) and the Basilica of Aghios Demetrios (5th century) with the crypt discovered in the early years of the 20th century. The church of Saint Demetrios is located north-eastern of the ancient agora in the present Aghiou Demetriou Street, almost in the centre of the old city.
Saint Demetrios is the patron saint of the city, and thus the Basilica – built with dissimilar stones placed together – is the most widely known church in Thessaloniki and very important for the locals. The original building was built in about 413 AD by Leontius, the eparch of the Illyrian prefecture. The church was built in the position of an old chapel, dedicated to Saint Demetrios the “Myrrh-streamer” (in Greek: Myrovletes). In the great fire of Thessaloniki in 1917, the monument was almost totally destroyed and later it was rebuilt with the remains of its original parts. All the above mentioned Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

Day 3: To Philippi and the Lost Kingdom of Philip II

Philippi, our first stop for the day, is regarded as the most important archaeological site in Eastern Macedonia. Philippi was the former city of Krinides, founded in 360 BC. Soon after its establishment, Krinides was threatened by the Thracians (365 BC) and turned to King Philip II of Macedon for help. Because of the economic and strategic of the city, Philip conquered, fortified and renamed it after himself. The construction of Via Egnatia through the city in the 2nd century BC made Philippi an important city of the area. The architecture of Hellenistic Philippi was impressive; it had a fortification wall, a theater, several public buildings and private houses. The city was conquered by Emperor Octavian in 42 BC and under the Romans it was turned into an important artistic, administrational and financial center of conquered Greece. Philippi was also the place where Apostle Paul founded the first Christian community in Europe in 49 AD. Excavations at Philippi began in 1914 under the French School of Athens and continued after WWII under the Greek Archaeological Service and the Archaeological Society of Athens. The archaeological site of Philippi was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.
Second and last stop of this one-day trip is the wonderful city of Kavala, about half an hour away from Philippi. Kavala is a significant commercial and port city exporting mostly tobacco and wool. The city was founded in the 7th century BC by the inhabitants of the neighboring island of Thasos and its first name was “Neapolis”. Because Neapolis was the only colony of Thasos in the mainland, it was easier for it to achieve its independence in 411 BC. The ancient gold and silver mines at the Mountain of Lekanis were the cause of wealth for the city. During the Byzantine times the city was renamed as “Christopolis” (the city of Christ). “Kavala”, its current name derives from the fact that the city was an important carriage station on the Egnatia Road (Italian “cavallo”, which means “horse”). The most important monuments of Kavala are the following: the two-storey Roman aqueduct (“Kamares”); the fort, dating back to the Byzantine times (about 16th century AD) and situated on the ancient acropolis of the city; the birth house of Pasha Mehmet Ali, founder of the last Egyptian king dynasty; the church of Mary, dating back to the 15th century AD; Panagia, the old Turkish quarter of the city with the steep pathways; the Imaret, a former almshouse and student house with many rooms, such as public soup kitchen, hamam (Turkish bath), mosque etc; the tobacco museum.

Day 4: Aigai & Vergina

Vergina is just a small village 75 km away from Thessaloniki, but its name was written with golden letters in history, because the ancient city of Aigai came to light there. Aigai was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia and its cemetery contains the tombs of the royal dynasty and especially the tomb of the legendary King Philip II. The royal tombs were discovered in 1977-8 by the archaeologist Manolis Andronikos. The whole atmosphere in the underground building which hosts the museum of Vergina is mystic and leaves various feelings in the visitor’s heart. The tombs contained so many treasures, that everybody would wonder how luxurious the unfound tomb of Alexander the Great would be. The archaeological site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.

Day 5: To the “Abaton” of the Holy Mountain

Mount Athos is really a small republic of monks with 20 monasteries, where no women or other female creatures are permitted since the 11th century. The only exception are the hens, because the monks need the eggs for icon painting. From the boat perspective (which is allowed to proceed up to 500 meters away from Athos), we catch a glimpse of the monasteries and the hermitages. Although the peninsula had once 20,000 monks, now they are only about 1,700 monks, who live according to their own rules as well as their own calendar and hour adjustment. Among the 20 monasteries, the 17 ones are inhabited by Greek, one by Russian, one by Bulgarian and one by Serbian monks. Moreover, not all monks live in the big monasteries; some have chosen to live in small traditional village-like monk houses, others in hermitages and other in totally isolated places on the peninsula. The Holy Mountain was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

Day 6: Flight Back Home – “Geia sas”

0030 210 8981836
0030 210 8981837
0030 210 8981838

AgoraTravel S.A.
Vas. Georgiou Str. 71,
GR-16675 Glyfada-Athens
Rating of Hotels
Type of Hotels