ATHENS, BYZANTINE CHURCHES & MT. ATHOS
Day 1: ATHENS ARRIVAL
Arrive Athens International Airport, meet with our representative and transfer to the hotel for check in. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: ACROPOLIS & BYZANTINE CHURCHES
After breakfast, meet with your guide and climb up to the marble-capped Acropolis to visit the famous Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Athena Nike and Propylaea. We then walk down to the Ancient Agora to see the late 10th century Byzantine church Agioi Apostoli (Solaki), the first significant church in Athens and it was dedicated to Holy Apostles in remembrance of the teaching of Apostle Paul to the Athenians in 51 A.D. We continue to the nearby Roman Market to see the remains of the 12th century Agios Asomatos sta Skalia (on the steps) which was built up against the north section of the facade and northern part of the propylene. We then continue to see the Byzantine church of Panagia Kapnikarea, built in the 11th century. We stop for lunch on our own at a local restaurant before returning to the hotel. Evening at leisure. Dinner at hotel or Optional Greek traditional dinner show with folk dancers & Greek music. Overnight in Athens.
Day 3: DELPHI – OSSIOS LOUKAS – KALAMBAKA
In the morning depart to central Greece. Halfway to Delphi from Levadia, we stop to visit the 11th century Byzantine Monastery of Ossios Loukas. The cathedral is decorated with splendid mosaics, and architecturally, it is one of the finest Byzantine monuments in Greece. We enjoy the superb view from the monastery terrace, taking in the whole of the green valley below.
Continue to Delphi, the center of the Ancient world, the "omphalos" (navel) of the earth - whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic world. On the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, in a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty and majesty, lies the archaeological site of Delphi. We visit the Sanctuary of Apollo, and the Treasury of the Athenians. Depart to Kalambaka. Overnight at the hotel in Kalambaka.
Day 4: METEORA – THESSALONICA
In the morning we enjoy a spectacular drive up to visit Meteora. Visit two of the spectacular Byzantine monasteries, perched precariously on huge finger-like rocks. View the superb icons, old manuscripts and unique mosaics and frescoes. Arrive in the evening and transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Thessalonica.
Day 5: MT. ATHOS
Today men will visit one of the Monasteries on Mt. Athos, the garden of the Virgin Mary or Mother of God (Perivoli tis Panagias) and out of bounds to all other women. Monks live there since the 4th century. From Byzantium the Orthodox faith spread to the Balkans and monks from these lands arrived on Mount Athos to establish monasteries. Today more than 1650 monks live in these monasteries.
Women will depart from Thessalonica to Chalkidiki region and arrive to Ouranoupolis, from where they will depart for a 3hour cruise around Mt. Athos. The ship heads to the southwestern part of the peninsula and reaches the sea-borders of the monastic state and its territory. From there, passes the area of the first Russian cloisters and some unique beaches, it passes the first monastery, Iera Moni Dochiariou and another 7 monasteries follow as well as the Holy Mount's central port, Daphni, and finally the cloisters, small villages, where groups of monks live in every house.
Return to Thessaloniki and continue with a 3 hour tour of the city with a drive to the upper part of the Old City Walls. Here we have excellent views of the City and the opportunity to take pictures. We continue with a sightseeing drive of the city viewing the White Tower, the Triumphal Arch of Galerius standing on the Egnatian Way and we see the Rotunda. We see St. Demetrius' Church with its early Byzantine mosaics and also St. Sophia the first Christian church in Thessaloniki.
Day 6: THESSALONIKI DEPARTURE
Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out & transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
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