The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions Athens, is the Acropolis with the enormous temple of Parthenon, one of the most recognisable emblems of human achievement. The second thought is the establishment of a new revolutionary form of government: democracy.
After the defeat of the Persians, the city entered a golden age, the Classical era of the 5th century BC, during which Athens produced some of the most influential and enduring cultural artefacts of the Western tradition. The playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides all lived and worked in 5th century BC Athens, as did the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the physician Hippocrates, and some of the most renowned Western philosophers of all time: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
However, Athenian history is not limited to those few generations: the city’s origins go back to the Bronze Age and its legacy continues to the present day. This tour has come to pay justice to the long history of the city and, at last, shed a favorable light not only to the much tormented capital but also to some less advertised hidden treasures of the wider Attica area like the fortified ancient country town of Ramnous and the mystical Eleusis.
The program is enriched with delightful meals and wine tasting, a tribute to the Greek symposium.
The tour is led by two expert archaeologists, both Athenian residents and connoisseurs of the city, Heinrich Hall & Robert Pitt. Heinrich, one of the masterminds of Peter Sommer Travels, has worked in excavations around Greece and has guided several groups, thus accumulating vast knowledge of the area. His experience, coupled with his great passion for his work, unique social skills and a sincere love for his foster country, make him an exceptional tour leader. Robert has extensive studies in History, specializing in ancient Greek inscriptions. He was Assistant Director of the British School of Archaeology at Athens for several years and has on-the-field experience also in Turkey and Albania. He has led tours in Greece and Turkey. A keen walker and sailor, he has a passion for travel and exploring the ancient sites and cultures of the Mediterranean.
- 2nd day: Morning visit to the Lycabettus hill; the views from its summit are stunning and will give you a feeling for the whole city. Next, we visit the Agora, the political heart of democratic Athens with its wealth of remains from Classical, Hellenistic and Roman times. In the afternoon, we explore the peaceful Kerameikos, the ancient city’s most important cemetery for over a thousand years, and set just outside the city walls.
- 3rd day: First, to famous Marathon and then on to the beautiful fortified country town of Rhamnous, and finally to the great shrine of Demeter at Eleusis, the centre of antiquity’s most famous mystery cult.
- 4th day: A day in the city, that begins with the Theatre of Dionysus, on the site where Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes gave their plays to the city. We then follow the peripatos, the ancient track around the Acropolis, before climbing the sacred rock to view the city’s most renowned artistic and architectural achievements. In the afternoon, a visit to the Acropolis Museum, where you can see some of the finest ancient treasures a mere stone's throw from where they were found.
- 5th day: The history of Athens is tied to the sea so we head out on the glittering Saronic Gulf to the island of Aegina. Aegina town is a pretty 19th century harbour town, its history stretching as far back as the Bronze Age, which we explore at nearby Cape Kolonna. Further east, we visit the exceptionally well-preserved and beautifully set temple of Aphaia.
- 6th day: The morning is devoted to the superlative National Archaeological Museum. Free afternoon to relax or explore by yourself.
- 7th day: In the morning, we walk through Plaka, the old town of Athens, to view its Roman, Hellenistic and Byzantine remains rubbing shoulders with Ottoman mansions and Neoclassical houses. Passing by the political centre of the city, the Syntagma Square, we spend the afternoon enjoying the superb Byzantine Museum with its fascinating collection of Greek art, artefacts and icons, illustrating the city's important and fascinating history during an era neglected by most tours of Athens.
- 8th day: Transfers to the Athens airport.