Journey through Ancient Greece

Itinerary: Mainly Peloponnese 2011



The theatre and agora at Messene


Fly to Athens on Olympic Airways at 1220 from Heathrow.

Coach from Athens airport to Loutraki, a Spa town on the Gulf of Corinth. A journey of a bit over 1 hour. We are staying at the Olympic Palace Hotel, close to the beach. We will have supper in the hotel; they do an excellent moussaka.


We will visit Mycenae *^*, Homer's 'city of gold' built c.1500 BC, where legend has it Klytemnestra murdered Agamemnon on his return from the Trojan war. There is a fine new museum here with gold replicas of the treasures unearthed by Schliemann.

Next we will go to nearby Nemea * (where Herakles carried out his first labour of killing the lion!) to visit the Sanctuary of Zeus, the stadium (complete with tunnel) and lovely museum. We will have our picnic lunch at the stadium here.

Finally we will go to Ancient Corinth, site of one of the oldest temples on the Greek mainland, and of the important Roman city where Saint Paul preached.

Overnight in Loutraki







The Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea


We leave Loutraki and drive south and west to the Asklepion and city of Ancient Messene **, built at the foot of Mount Ithome in 369 BC to keep the Spartans out. The museum is now open after many years. This is a huge site, and a good place for a picnic lunch among the olive trees. When we were last there in 2006 the site was still being excavated and restoration work was under way in the stadium and agora.
We go on to Pýlos, a pretty Venetian port set in the Bay of Navarino for the night. The hotel is on the waterfront where there is good swimming.                                                             Overnight Pylos

The agora at Messene


First thing in the morning we can visit the kastro at Pylos before visiting King Nestor's palace * a short distance from Pylos, at Epano Englianos. Built c1300 BC it is a Mycenaean palace in a style very unlike others of the period. On the first day of excavation in 1939, Carl Blegen found hundreds of Linear B tablets, the first found on the Greek mainland. The finds from the palace, belonging to 'wise' Nestor who accompanied Agamemnon to Troy, are in the lovely museum at nearby Hora.

We then travel north to Olympia where we are staying at the Olympic Village Hotel. There is an outdoor swimming pool here.

A view of the bay of Navarino from the kastro, Pylos


We visit Olympia **, site of the 5th century BC Sanctuary of Zeus, the stadium where the first Olympic games were held c.776 BC, and the magnificent museum where you will see some of the superb sculptures from the temple of Zeus and the famous statue of Hermes by Praxitiles. The site is within walking distance of the hotel so you can go as early as you like!

1400 We then drive up to the Gulf of Corinth crossing on the splendid new suspension bridge to Antirio for a beautiful drive along the coast to Delphi, in the most dramatic setting beneath Mount Parnassos, arriving by 1830.

We are staying in the Akropole Hotel

The Palaistra at Olympia


We visit Delphi, the 4th century BC Sanctuary of Apollo ^, which was the most famous of the cult sites in Greece and the shrine of the Oracle. The site is a short walk from our hotel and should open at 0730, it is beautiful at sun rise! The museum here has many wonderful finds from the site including the glorious bronze charioteer, some stunning gold and beautiful archaic sculptures.

From here we will go to Athens where we will stay in the Hotel Arethusa, near Syntagma Square and within a short walk of the Akropolis.

The temple of Apollo at Delphi


Free day in Athens. At last the new Akropolis Museum is open; it is truly superb, I spent four hours there in September (true some of that was over coffee and lunch in the excellent restaurant!). The sculptures from the Parthenon (those which escaped the attention of Elgin and others) are most imaginatively displayed, in the positions in which they were placed on the Parthenon, with natural light from a huge glazed wall which looks onto the Akropolis and the Parthenon. It is worth coming to Greece for this museum alone!

The Akropolis Museum restaurant overlooking the Parthenon

First thing in the morning we will lead a party through the Ancient Agora * to the Temple of Hephaistos (the most complete temple on the Greek mainland) and then up to the Akropolis *^*, to the Parthenon and the Eríchtheum, built by Perikles in the 5th century BC, the jewels in the crown of Classical Greece.

In the new Akropolis Museum you can see some lovely archaic statues and the sculptures from the Parthenon that Elgin didn't take to London. (There are plaster casts of the marbles which Elgin took to London.)

After the culture you can go to the flea market, shopping, or linger over lunch in the Pláka. (all within walking distance of our hotel.)

The Parthenon sculptures in the Akropolis Museum


Athens: Another free day to visit the National Archaeological Museum, revisit the Ancient Agora, including the excellent museum in the Stoa of Attalos, and go to the Benáki museum or the Kerameikós cemetery.


Return to Heathrow on midday flight

* Level, not rough ground

** Level but rough ground

*^* Steep and rough

^ Steep but not rough

The Frescoes from Thira (Santorini) in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Please note: We will give you a time to be back on the coach at each site. Feel free to join in a group or to wander at your own pace. There is no pressure to do anything.

Although 'guiding' on the sites is forbidden Jane is always happy to answer questions and help you find your way around.

Mary will answer questions on practical matters.


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