Special Educational

1st day: Arrival in Athens – Plaka: Window Shopping through Time

Arrival at the Athens International Airport. Pick-up and transfer to our booked hotel. Hotel stay for 2 nights. In the afternoon, you will have the time for your first exploration walk in the streets of Athens. The romantic winding old city of Athens with its narrow streets, the numerous stairs, as well as the free-standing houses and churches has managed to retain until today its seemingly rural character. Plaka is a part of the city always preferred for visits with or without a guide; a place to live in and love. According to an old Greek saying “Time is the soul of the world”. The placid walk through the streets of Plaka is like a walk through time, because here basic parts of the Athenian history meet each other in every step of your way: ancient ruins, Roman columns, Byzantine churches, Turkish mosques…But the modern buildings have also this Greek charm matching with the lively rhythms of this city district. In cafés and taverns, where Greek music sounds in the evening hours, the locals meet each other for chitchat or business talks. With spices, drinks and music around them, the visitors can take a break from everyday life and enjoy the magic of Greek mythos to the fullest. However, maybe the temptation for you could be the rich variety of souvenir and gift shops.Visit Plaka according to your mood: you can either explore the old city by yourself, or just follow the guide through the paths of Greek history.

A.) Evening tour through the harbour city Piraeus, known from the film “Never on Sunday” and visit of the yacht ports of Marina Zeas, Pasalimani and Mikrolimano.

2nd day: Athens for Sightseeing Fans

Experience the important monuments from the bus perspective: the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896; the Presidential Mansion which was the Royal Palace until 1974; the Parliament House, palace of the first king of Greece, Otto von Wittelsbach; the numerous neoclassical buildings from the 19th century surrounded by the main streets of Athens… In the centre you can find the squares, where you can be part of the social life and nightlife of Athens. Take a deep breath of democratic history as you reach the Acropolis. The first part of the tour ends underneath the Acropolis, the landmark of Athens. On the more than 2,500 years old Greek monument you can admire the remnants of a glorious era: the marble Parthenon, the magnificent Propylaea, the delicate Erechtheion with the Caryatid Porch… The strong feelings in the fresh air of the altitude become stronger at the foot of Acropolis, as another absolute museum highlight is waiting for you after lunch: the New Acropolis Museum, which is included among the 10 most beautiful museums in the world and opened in 2009 under the oversight of the Swiss architect Bernard Tschume. In the museum you can find 300 statues and metopes, as well as 4,000 other smaller objects from the archaic period, the classical antiquity and the late antiquity, displayed till now in the Old Acropolis Museum on the hill of Acropolis or – because of lack of space – in magazine photos. The new museum is really a must for every museum fan!

A.) Lunch in ”Bairaktaris“, one of the oldest Greek taverns, famous for its souvlaki and kebab specialties.
B.) Visit of the new concert hall of Athens www.megaron.gr

3rd day: Apostle Paul – Corinth

Southern of Athens is located the peninsula of Peloponnese. Nowadays, a canal which is more than 6 km long creates the isthmus between the mainland of Attica and Peloponnese. Ancient Corinth, with 300,000 inhabitants in the past, was a commercial centre between Europe and Asia. The city layout is a parade example of Roman city construction art with numerous excavations.
Trip to ancient Corinth, which was once one of the most important harbour and commercial cities of the ancient world and target location of Apostle Paul (Acts 18, 1-18): visit of the Doric Temple of Apollo, the Agora and the Lechaeum Road with the Fountain of Peirene. Hotel stay at the Corinthian Gulf for 3 nights. Welcome cocktail with Greek snacks.
A.) Drive up to the rock of Acrocorinth: wandering through the enormous fortifications which offer you a breathtaking view.
B.) Take a boat across the CorinthCanal.
Until 1893, seamen had to travel around the rugged shores of Peloponnese to land e.g. in Sicily. The spectacular cutting through of the Isthmus between the Saronic and the CorinthianGulf clearly reduced the sea routes from Athens to the Mediterranean Sea. The builders blew up the rock at a length of 6.34 km, dug 60 m deep in the earth and created a shipping channel 24.5 m wide and 8 m deep. It is really something you have to see once from the boat perspective!

4th day: Agamemnon Kingdom and Epidaurus

In the morning, drive to Epidaurus… Visit the ancient theatre of the old Peloponnese city which dates back to the 4th century B.C., has an absolutely unique acoustic and still hosts theatrical plays.
Epidaurus and Argos were allies of Athenians and later of Corinthians. The most important monuments of the city were the theatre and the Temple of Dionysus (god of joy and wine) and Artemis-Diana (goddess of hunting). The famous Asclepieia, athletic games and music competitions, were held here every 5 years. Thousands of musicians and athletes from all over Greece came to Epidaurus to participate in these games. The most important historic monuments in Epidaurus are: the Temple of Asclepius which dates back to the 4th century B.C. and was designed and built by the architects Theotokos and Thimotheos; the Healing Temple Asclepieion which was designed for 250 patients (70.92 m x 9.42 m); the Library, which was later built by the Roman emperor Antonios and his successors; the Gymnasium (69 m x 53 m), as well as the Theatre, with an incomparable acoustic for 14,000 spectators.
Not far away from this location you can find the legendary fortress of Mycenae. The around 3,000-year-old fort with its massive Cyclopean Walls, the worldwide famous Lion Gate weighing tons and the legendary shaft graves is one of the most historically important cultural attractions in Greece. All these were discovered by the German Heinrich Schliemann about 120 years ago.
Finally, relaxation begins. In the dreamy small harbour city of Nafplion, you can taste and enjoy once more the Greek cuisine. Nafplion is a dream destination. The small city with the 18,000 inhabitants is located at the foot of a mighty cliff which extends into the Argolic Gulf. The narrow streets, the beautiful port promenade and the quiet squares give the picturesque old city a fascinating charm and beauty.
A.) Visit of an ouzo distillery www.karonis.gr
Since the 19th century, Greek ouzo (37.5 – 46% Vol. alcohol) is being distilled and possibly hasits roots in tsipouro, which is said to have been the pet project of a group of monks living in a monastery on Mount Athos in about 15th century. The name “Ouzo” is trademarked and in Greece it is traditionally served with water and on the rocks.

B.) Visit of a traditional olive press www.melasoil.gr

5th day: Hercules and the Stymphalian Birds

We take a tour around the almost untouched by modern life mountainous area around the massif of Killini (2,376 m). We visit the romantic mountain lakes Stimphalia and Doxa.
Stymphalia Lake with its extraordinary swamp is connected with Hercules’s 6th labour. According to the legend, the region of Stymphalos was first able to be inhabited, after Hercules killed with bow and arrow the crane-sized Stymphalian birds, because they pecked people till death with their hard beaks. The legend clearly has a connection to the past and present local reality of Stymphalia: the unpredictable lake makes people’s livelihood through tillage farming difficult. However, land and lake were till today a secure source of life for rare fish and bird species, as well as a weigh station for migrating birds.
Afterwards, we visit the quaint mountain village Kastania, as well as the mountain village Feneos with the charming artificial lake Doxa and the hidden in the mountain monastery of St. Georgios, which dates back to the 14th century.
A.) Visit a traditional cheese dairy with guided tour and taste different sorts of cheese.

6th day: World Cultural Heritage – Historical Site of Mistras

Drive to the spectacular Mount Taygetos and the valley of river Eurotas. Northwest of Sparta, the once biggest rival of Athens, is located the castle of Mistras. From the 13th till the 15th century, Mistras was an important centre of the Byzantine intellectual life. The city started to decay in 1770 and in 1834 the inhabitants finally abandoned it. As it was founded by Frank Wilhelm II Villehardouin, the castle surrendered to the late-Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII, after Wilhelm was arrested in 1260. Till about 1460, Mystras was under the control of the despots. From the end of the 14th till the beginning of the 15th century, it was perhaps the most important city after Constantinople. In the northern part of Mystras is situated the Brontochion monastery with both churches of Hagii Theodori and Aphentiko. Hagii Theodori, the basic church, dates back to the 13th century. The church of Aphentiko, built in around 1311, is a three-aisled basilica with colour-shining frescos originated from the 14th century and a cross-in-square cupola. To the typical building style of Mystras also belongs the gallery, which was created through the ceremonial of the despotate. The remarkable convent Pantanassa, which was build as the last big structure in 1428, is decorated with lively and rich in detail frescos. Hotel stay for 1 night in Sparta or Kalamata.
A.) Visit the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Spartawww.oliveoilmuseums.gr

7th day: Alpine World of Arcadia and the valley of river Loussios

Arcadia, the unknown land in the heart of Peloponnese is full of surprises and fascination for its visitors: peaks shrouded in clouds, deep canyons, gaping chasms; deeply raging waters, lavishly rich vegetation; ruins of the once prosperous cities of Ancient Arcadia, Byzantine churches, Frankish castles; cities, villages and hamlets; lumberjacks, shepherds and shepherdesses in love; wood carvers, craftsmen and builders, all masters in their subject. Free people of the mountains who know nothing about pressure and live in the idyllic landscape of the river Loussios (it derives from “louo” = swim), which took this name, because Zeus as a child once swam in that river.In the region we can also find a lot of monasteries, which are totally worth visiting: Moni Prodromou monastery (dedicated to St. John the Baptist) with wall paintings dating back to the 14th and 16th century. In 1,100m height you can see from far away the red tiled roofs of Stemnitsa emerging from the green colour of the trees; from the presence of the nice churches you can understand that the Byzantines had arrived here in the 14th century. How the Arcadian villages in the Frankish times were can also be seen in Dimitsana, a mountain village (1,000 m) with stone-flagged streets, wooden balconies, the Byzantine traditional houses with the red tiled roofs; next to the church we can see the powder mill, the library, where we can find rare editions, and a local museum. In the outskirts, at the canyon of Loussios, under a strong spring, is now located a Water Power Museum, an original open-air museum for water current.
We continue our route to Olympia. Hotel stay for 2 nights.
A.) Picnic and wandering around at the valley of Loussios.


8th day: Holy Olympia

Olympia: the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Olympia may not be the most spectacular archaeological excavation in Greece, but it is surely one of the most beautiful ones. Unfortunately, most of the visitors lose the chance to feel the highlight of the site, the atmosphere of the peace and quiet of the place. If you just let yourself free and comfortable in the place of the stadium while the sunset light is fading slowly, you can guess why the Ancient Greeks chose this place to honour the greatest of all their gods and to host the greatest Panhellenic games of ancient times.
Originally, Hera was honoured at that place and later she was replaced by her husband. After all, the Olympic Flame is lit in front of her temple and from there carried to the rest of the world. The greatest attraction of Olympia is the Temple of Zeus. The temple once hosted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
A.) Visit the vineyard Mercouri, a vineyard with a 140-year-history in wine production www.mercouri.gr

9th day: Delphi, “the Navel of the World”

We cross the hanging bridge, which connects Rion (Peloponnese) with Antirion (mainland), drive by Galaxidi and Itea and reach Delphi.
Delphi is the most famous oracle of ancient Greece and located at the foot of Mount Parnassus.
Worshippers from all over the world came to the temple blessed by Apollo and offered gifts and bounties, in order to hear the oracular pronouncements of Pythia. Among others, in Delphi you can also see a replica of the Omphalos (Holy Rock) dating back to the Hellenistic or Roman times, the Sphinx of Naxos, the Delphi Antinous, the statue of Hagias, the Acanthus column with the dancers from the sanctuary of Dionysus, the Metopes of the Sicyonian and Athenian Treasury, the Caryatid and the Zephyr from the Siphnian Treasury, the Charioteer of Delphi, the Head of Dionysus.
Dinner at the place or in the wider area and overnight stay in our hotel.

10th day: The monastery of Hosios Loukas

With a drive along a scenically beautiful village street, the bus brings us to the monastery of Hosios Loukas, which belongs to the list of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 1990. For a lot of people, this monastery is the most beautiful one of the Byzantine times. Its history dates back to the 10th century.
The hermit Loukas, known as “Stiriotes”, lived here until his death in 946 A.D. He was thought to be a prophet and in 941 A.D. he predicted the reacquisition of Crete. When that happened 20 years later, the monastery gained importance and became a pilgrimage site. That is why Stiriotes was very much honoured by the inhabitants of Crete. In 942 A.D. he built here a small chapel, which became more and more extended by Lukas’s students as the time came by. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Barbara, but it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1659. Later, the mosaic of the Christ Pantocrator in the chapel was replaced with a fresco. The churches preserved till nowadays were probably constructed in around 1030. The one church, Catholicon, is the main church dedicated to Hosios Loukas. There, in a wooden sarcophagus, there is the relic of Hosios Loukas. The smaller and probably oldest church is the Church of the Theotokos (Panagia). The two churches are connected with an arcade.
In the evening, we reach Athens through the national highway, where we stay for the night. Dinner and overnight stay in our hotel.

11th day: National Archaeological Museum and Temple of Poseidon

In the morning, we visit the National Archaeological Museum. The museum has one of the richest ancient collections in the world. Especially its collections of the Mycenaean jewellery, the Greek sepulchral art, the archaic sculptures and the big bronze sculptures, as well as the geometrical vases are of unique beauty. Due to the wealth of art treasures, it is necessary to see only a few of them.
We continue with the Panathenaic Stadium (also known as Kallimarmaron Stadium). The horseshoe-shaped stadium dating back to the 4th century was rebuilt with much white marble in 1896, because of the first modern Olympic Games. The stadium was used for the first time during the celebration of the Great Panathenaia in 330/29 B.C., the games held every four years to honour goddess Athena. Later, the stadium was used for gladiator fights in the Roman times. During the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens, the stadium hosted the archery competition and the finish of the Marathon.
After this classic opening, the bus takes us to the modern Olympic facilities: the Saronic Gulf venues which hosted the sailing and canoe-kayak competitions; the SEF (Peace and Friendship Stadium) in Faliron, which hosted the volleyball and handball games; the stadium next to the SEF, which hosted the taekwondo competitions; the Olympic complex in Faliro also includes the beach-volley venues. The Karaiskaki Stadium, which hosted the football games, is opposite the SEF.
And we continue to the southern point of Attica: there, 60 m over the sea, stands the famous and mighty Temple of Poseidon. The holy structure dedicated to the god of the sea is used as a milestone for the seamen for about 2,500 years. Ancient Athenians used the Temple of Poseidon as a control point for the incoming ships.From Athens, we drive along the coastal street. The bus stops at a shining-green body of water in Vouliagmeni. Since the ancient times, this place was famous for its thermal spring with 25°C warm water. It supplies the lake through high rocks and thick clumps of trees and provides this body of water with pleasant temperatures even in winter. As we arrive at the rock of Cape Sounion, the pure Greek temple romance and the magnificent, famous panorama view over the dark blue sea is waiting for us… magic moments! From the once 34 Doric columns of the marble sanctuary, only half of them have resisted the ravages of time.
Marginal note: Experts believe that the column structure at Cape Sounion was dedicated to god Apollo, although an inscription dedicates the temple undoubtedly to Poseidon.

12th day: Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens – Departure “Geia sas”

From the demise of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. till the conquest of Constantinople (later Istanbul) by the Ottomans in 1453, the Byzantine Empire had the control of the Mediterranean region for almost 1,000 years. The numerous churches, monasteries and palaces are the stony witnesses of a whole era. The Orthodox Church had great influence on the politics and culture of the Byzantine times and managed to leave an important legacy to posterity. In a wider sense, Byzantine art is sacred art. By visiting the Byzantine and Christian Museum, you get the feeling of the art era which is known as the Greek medieval times. Around 15,000 exhibits are waiting for you: precious icons, sculptures and similitudes, liturgical objects, mosaics, wall paintings, the mysterious Mytilene Treasure etc.
Afterwards, transfer to the Athens International Airport. Departure.

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