Athens at New Year

The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus
The Archaeological Site of Kerameikos
The Archaeological Site of Kerameikos
Roman Agora at sunset
Roman Agora at sunset
The Agora
The Agora
The Agora
The Agora
The Acropolis
The Acropolis
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum

Athens, home of quintessential Classical ruins and the key to an understanding of the ancient and modern western world. The city has changed considerably over the last two decades with extensive renovation and refurbishment and it is now possible to discern the layout of the ancient Greek city, and even the Roman one, while the Plaka district at the foot of the Acropolis preserves traces of the Byzantine and Ottoman centuries. Many of the sites are illuminated at night, with magical views and at New Year the city celebrates with an impressive fireworks display over the Parthenon.

  • Explore the sites and monuments – the great and the less well known – that made
  • Athens the centre of the classical Greek world
  • Two world class museums – the Acropolis and the National Museum
  • Based in the centre of Athens, within easy walking distance of many of the major sites

Themes

  • Christmas - New Year
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Just One Hotel

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

Fly London to Athens and settle into our hotel in the Plaka. The pedestrian rules and we shall be within walking distance of most of the sites.

Hotel: Hotel Herodion
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

This morning we will walk through ancient Athens, past the Theatre of Dionysus where the original masterpieces of Aeschylus, Sophocles Euripides and Aristophanes were performed and on to the towering remains of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, one of the landmarks of Athens. From here we climb to the incomparable Acropolis which still dominates the city with a complex of religious sanctuaries, most famous of which is the Parthenon – ‘Chamber of the Maiden’ built in the 5th century to house a colossal statue of Athena, patron goddess of the city. The views from here are stunning.

After lunch in the Plaka, we visit the fabulous Acropolis Museum, consistently rated as one of the best museums in the world. Now 10 years old, the museum was designed by Bernard Tschumi, with local Greek architect Michael Photiadis, and houses the ancient artefacts found in and around the Acropolis including the superb Parthenon frieze – some parts original, some copies (we all know where much of it resides!). The top floor of the museum is designed on the same axis as the Parthenon so that it has the identical cardinal orientation and you can walk along the entire frieze of the temple, exactly as it would have been in ancient times. The museum has recently made available to the visitor the ancient underground neighbourhood.

Hotel: Hotel Herodion
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

We continue our exploration of Athens, visiting its ancient economic centre, the Agora where a wide range of goods were shipped in from the nearby port of Piraeus and members of the elected democracy assembled to discuss affairs of state. Buildings of note include the city’s arsenal, the Tholos and several stoas (the museum is housed in the reconstructed stoa of Attalos). Here we will also find the temple of Hephaestus, one of the best preserved of its type in Greece. Constructed around the same time as the Parthenon, the temple was built to honour the patron of metal workers, potters and craftsmen.

Next we visit Kerameikos, named in ancient times after the hero Keramos, son of Dionysus and Ariadne, where an extensive cemetery was excavated during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A usually peaceful site infrequently visited by tourists, this was a major crossroads in antiquity, and you can see remains of the massive Dipylon Gate, where most roads converged, and the Sacred Gate, where participants in the Panathenaic Festival gathered before heading through the Ancient Agora and ascending to the Parthenon. It is also the spot where Pericles gave what was probably his most famous speech honouring those who had fallen in the first year of the Peloponnesian War.

After lunch we visit the National Museum of Athens. Now somewhat overlooked by visitors flocking to the Acropolis Museum, it is worth remembering that this older museum is still home to one of the greatest collections of antiquities in the world. The museum was established in 1829 to protect antiquities from all over Greece and there are over 11,000 exhibits dating as far back as the Neolithic period through to late Antiquity. From the huge bronze statue of Poseidon (or is it Zeus?) to the golden mask of Agamemnon, the antiquities on display here provide the staple images of ancient Greece.

Hotel: Hotel Herodion
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

This New Year’s morning we have a leisurely start, making our way to the Pynx, outside the ancient city proper but now well within the landscaped, pedestrianised area that surrounds the Acropolis. It is at this site that famous orators such as Pericles, Aristides and Alcibiades spoke, within sight of the Parthenon, standing on the vema or bema, the "stepping stone" or speakers' platform, about 10 feet above the ground, surrounded by a balustrade as it is attested by holes in the bedding.

In the afternoon, we travel to Piraeus which once consisted of three separate harbours - Kantharos, Zea, and Munichia. The first was the largest and used for commercial activity, whilst part of Kantharos and the other two smaller harbours were reserved for military use to house the massive Athenian fleet. All three harbours are still used today but since the sea level has risen two metres since antiquity many of the ancient installations of Piraeus are now underwater. Excavations still continue, however, and notable finds have included several bronze statues, perhaps the most famous being of Apollo now in the Piraeus Archaeological Museum.

Later, we also see the changing of the guard outside the Hellenic Parliament. The Greek guards or “Evzones” have become synonymous with the city of Athens and were originally founded in 1868 as a regiment of the Greek army. It is a high honour for a soldier to be selected to join the Evzones. The changing of the Greek guards occurs every day, every hour, on the hour.

Hotel: Hotel Herodion
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium was constructed in the 4th century BCE and during its long history has seen major changes, having been abandoned and reconstructed more than once. In the late 19th century, the Stadium underwent major reconstructions and took its final form, entirely re-created from marble (the only one of its kind) quarried from nearby Mount Pendeli. Spectators gather at the stadium for the handover of the Olympic torch every four years and for the finish of the Athens Marathon held every year in November.

After out visit here, we catch our flights home. 

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Hotels
  7. Flights
  8. Field Notes

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2019 Tour Details

Sun 29th Dec - Thu 2nd Jan

Available

£1,950

inc.

sgl supp: £215

ATH19A

Led By: Dr Rita Roussos

Guide Lecturer

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