*Itinerary order and inclusions are subject to change.
(Breakfast = B, Lunch = L, Dinner = D)
DAY 1: ATHENS
Welcome to Athens! Transfer to your hotel. Dinner and overnight at hotel. (D)
DAY 2: ATHENS
After breakfast, you will begin your half day orientation tour of Athens. Admire the striking contrast between breathtaking monuments of a glorious past and modern elegant structures of Athens. Drive by the major sites of the city including the Roman Temple of Olympic Zeus, the Panathinaikon Stadium (site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament House on Constitution Square. See views of government buildings and elegant structures of the 19th century. Drive along the main boulevards of the city such as Panepistimiou Avenue and see the Catholic Cathedral, the Academy, the University and the National Library.
The major sites you will be visiting are the Acropolis and its’ Museum. The Acropolis was the most important religious center of Athens. It dates back to the 5th century B.C. The monuments of the Acropolis date back from the prehistoric period to the end of Antiquity. The Propylaea is the glorious entrance to the Acropolis and was erected between 437 and 432 B.C. It was the work of the famous Athenian architect Mnesikles. The Temple of Athena Nike (Apeteros Nike) was erected to the south of the Propylaea, about 420 B.C. to commemorate the victories of the Greeks over the Persians. The architect of this temple was Kallikrates. This site is so unique and the temple has existed on this very spot since prehistoric times. On the left is the Erechtheion and straight ahead, the Parthenon. The Parthenon is one of the masterpieces of the world. The beauty, harmony, and grace of this monument leaves a lasting impression on everyone. You will notice that the columns of the Parthenon have a slight curve in the middle that gives the impression that they are bending slightly under the weight. The secret of its harmonious look is that none of its columns are absolutely straight. This temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena and was built of white marble from Penteli. Under the Parthenon of the classical times, there are the remains of the monumental Ur-Parthenon and the archaic temple dated in the late 6th century B.C. The architects of the Classical temple, constructed and decorated between 447 and 432 B.C. (the Golden Age of Perikles), were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The Parthenon housed the golden ivory statue of Athena, work of the famous sculptor Pheidas. This statue had as a final destination the Great Panathenaea procession, depicted on the frieze of the temple. The statue of Athena with the interior made of wood and the naked parts of ivory stood inside the Parthenon. The dress and the helmet were made of removable hammered plates of gold. This statue of Athena armed and holding a two-meter high ivory statue of Nike (Victory) in her right hand was lost during the first years of the Byzantine period. Our knowledge of its existence comes mostly from ancient sources. The Erechtheion was built in 420 – 406 B.C. on the most sacred part of the Acropolis – the place where the goddess Athena caused her most sacred emblem, the olive tree, to sprout. In later years, the invading Persians destroyed this tree. Legend has it that the tree miraculously grew again when the Persians were finally driven away. The Caryatids, the figures of maidens that supported the roof of the south porch of the temple, are copies. The Areios Pagos is the most ancient court of law. Here was the seat of the first aristocratic parliament of ancient Athens. It as from this spot, as we learned from the bronze tablet at the base of the rock, that Saint Paul delivered his first sermon to the Athenians, in 51 AD. The Pnyx was the gathering place for the citizens of ancient Athens. They gathered here in order to hear the famous orators.
In the New Acropolis Museum antiquity meets contemporary architecture. The building houses approximately 4,000 treasures – archeological finds related to the Acropolis as well as many beautiful marbles of classical Athens. Among the important pieces to see is the Moschoforos (the Calf Bearer), the Kores, the sculptures from the decoration of the Parthenon and the Caryatids. The museum is situated at the foot of the Acropolis in the heart of the city, right next to one of the most picturesque pedestrian paths in the world. The building was designed by Bernard Tschumi, Dean of the School of Architecture at Columbia University, in such a way as to present the antiquities which were found on the site during the excavation of the foundation and to incorporate the famous natural light of Greece. There is a feeling and sense of being outdoors reflecting the fact that most of the exhibits were outdoors during their ancient lives. Visitors also have a clear view of the Parthenon while viewing many of the exhibitions in the museum emphasizing the connection between the Parthenon and the museum.
This afternoon, depart for Corinth where St Paul visited. Drive along the seaside highway past the Scaramanga ship-building yards viewing the isles of the Saronic Gulf, to the Corinth Canal. Enjoy the breathtaking views of your drive. The Corinth Canal is a manmade canal built to join the Aegean with the Ionian seas. Continue to the ancient town of Corinth where St. Paul lived and preached for two years making the New Testament come alive. Corinth inspired many of Paul’s most letters. Visit the Temple of Apollo, which stands on a low hill overlooking the extensive remains of the Roman Agora. You will visit the Bema, the public platform where St. Paul had to plead his case when the Corinthians hauled him in from of the Roman governor, Gallo in A.D. 52. Stop at Cenchrea, the port of Corinth, where St. Paul had his hair cut because of a vow and then set sail from the harbor concluding his 18-month stay in Corinth. Return to Athens. Overnight at hotel. (B)
DAY 3: ATHENS / AEGINA / ATHENS
After breakfast, transfer to Piraeus port for your hydrofoil to Aegina, the island of St Nektarios. Upon arrival, the tour of the island that will include the Holy Trinity Monastery to venerate the relics of St Nektarios, Aphaia Temple and Agios Minas Monastery. Enjoy lunch on your own at the quaint fishing village of Perdika at one of the many fish tavernas on this picturesque little harbor. Aegina is also known for the pistachio nuts grown there so don’t forget to pick some up. Transfer to the pier for your hydrofoil back to Piraeus. Transfer to you hotel in Athens. Overnight at hotel. (B)
DAY 4: ATHENS / ONWARDS
After breakfast transfer to the airport for you flight. (B)