Nine nights from £1,195 per person. Departing 26 April and 15 September 2012
You'll love this tour if you like:
- Natural beauty
- Spectacular scenery
- Mediterranean sunshine
The Peloponnese, the southernmost region of mainland Greece, is a vast area, joined to the mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and by the Rio-Antirio Bridge, the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge, which connects the region to northern Greece at Patra. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the regions modern name derives from ancient Greek mythology and the hero Pelops, who was said to have conquered the entire region.
It is a fascinating ancient area steeped in myths! Fascinating, not only in its colourful myths, its ancient history and its classical remains but also in its diverse and spectacular landscape of towering mountains; verdant rolling hills; beautiful coastlines and atmospheric timeless villages that are diverse in themselves varying from modern day farming communities to stone-built mountain retreats and picturesque seaside resorts.
It’s long and complex history begins in the Bronze Age with the Mycenaean’s who built the first great civilization of Greece. During classical antiquity, the region possessed some of the countries most powerful city-states; Sparta, Corinth, Argos; and saw some of its darkest battles. The Persians and the Romans equally had a strong hand in its long history, as did the Byzantines, the Venetians and the Franks. Its more recent history saw the Turks dominate the region from 1460 until 1821 when The Greek War of Independence (1821 – 1829) finally turned the historic tables. The decisive naval Battle of Navarino was fought and won on the west coast of the Peloponnese and the beautiful city of Nafplio, on its east coast, became the first capital of the modern state.
During our tour we will gain an insight into this long history and visit some of the grand remnants of these colourful eras whilst, at the same time, enjoy some of the regions natural beauty. Our visits include Ancient Olympia, Sacred Delphi, the citadel of Mycenae, the spectacularly preserved theatre of Epidaurus, Napflio, one of the regions loveliest towns, and Kalavryta, which we shall reach by train on the old ‘rack and pinion’ railway that snakes scenically and dramatically from the sea to the mountains.
DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
Day 1: Fly to Athens from London. Transfer to Psathopyrgos, on the north coast, for 4 night stay at the Florida Blue Bay Hotel on bed and breakfast basis.
Day 2: We start our tour with a visit to the famous site of ancient Olympia situated in a fertile, peaceful river valley, where the Olympic Games originated and were held for over 1000 years. Visiting the archaeological site, you will walk in one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Greece. Our visit here includes the archaeological museum, a relatively small museum that houses one of the finest collections in Greece, including the famous ‘Hermes of Praxiteles’ found at Olympia and dated from 343 BC.
Day 3: Today is a scenic day as we head to the seaside village of Diakoftos where we join the rack and pinion railway, built by Italian engineers between 1885 and 1895, for the spectacularly scenic ride to the attractive hill village of Kalavryta. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 4: Full day tour to Delphi, the ancient sanctuary of Apollo, situated in a magnificent mountain setting. Our trip today gives us the opportunity to cross the remarkable Rio-Antirio Bridge, a stunning masterpiece of modern day engineering!
Day 5: We head south by coach to our 2nd hotel, the King Minos, in Tolo, stopping en-route at the picturesque town of Nafplio, where there will be time for exploring and lunch before continuing to our hotel.
Day 6: Full day tour to Mycenae and Nemea. A dramatic and imposing site Mycenae is perched on a plateau between two mountains and entered via the magnificent 'lion gates' that lead into the interior of the Acropolis and the palace of Agamemnon. There is an eerie silence about the place that fails to speak of the tragedy that unfolded in the heart of the palace when Agamemnon - the mighty leader of the Greeks against the Trojans - was murdered by his wife and her lover. These ancient ruins will take you 'back in time' as you wander amongst these historic remains. In the afternoon we visit the site of Nemea where mythology records Hercules' first labor with the ferocious Nemean Lion.
Day 7: Day of leisure
Day 8: Full day ‘Island Tour’. Scenery is the emphasis again today as we head by boat to visit the picturesque island of Hydra situated at the foot of the eastern Peloponnese.
Day 9: Visit to the fantastic site of Epidaurus. Built round the 3rd Century BC Epidaurus is adorned with a multitude of buildings, most famous of which is the ancient Theatre, the acoustics of which are legendary! The theatre is one of the best preserved monuments of the ancient world!
Day 10: Transfer back to Athens Airport for return flight home.
NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour managers discretion
- Return scheduled flights from London to Athens including all payable taxes.
- 4 nights' accommodation in standard room on bed and buffet breakfast basis at 3-star Florida Blue Bay Hotel, Psathopyrgos and 5 nights' accommodation in standard room on bed and buffet breakfast basis at 3-star King Minos Hotel, Tolo.
- Transfers and excursions as detailed
- Entrance fees
- Tour manager and local guide throughout
- Single room supplement
- Holiday insurance
- Regional flight supplement (subject to availability)
- Meals other than those stated
- Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls etc
- Porterage and gratuities.
PLACES OF INTEREST VISITED ON THE TOUR
Ancient Delphi’s setting, built high on the slopes of Mt Parnosos, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, is, without doubt, one of its highlights but it is the Temple of Apollo and the legends that surround it that entices people from all over the world, just as it did in centuries past. Delphi is one of the most important ancient relics of Greece and the magnitude of its contributions to the entire ancient civilization cannot be overstated. Wars were fought, voyages embarked upon and business transactions undertaken on the strength of the prophecies of the Oracle and no colony was founded around the Mediterranean without the consent of the sanctuary at Delphi.
The site of Olympia, inhabited since prehistoric times, became a centre for the worship of Zeus in the 10th century BC. The temple, considered a national shrine for the Greeks, contained the highest concentration of masterpieces from the ancient Greek World. In 776 BC Olympia became the site of the most important festival of the ancient world, the Olympic Games. The site is large with numerous remains; temples, monuments, altars, theatres, statues and votive offerings; associated both with the games and the worship of the gods. Despite its ancient origins Olympia has a connection with the modern world! Every 4 years the flame for today’s Olympic Games begins its journey from here to the host city!
Nafplio is one of the prettiest towns in the Peloponnese. It has a beautiful setting and an understated elegance and charm that are stressed in the attractive narrow streets of the ‘old town’ that meander timelessly behind the picturesque waterfront. Neoclassic houses, picturesque streets, wooden balconies with cascading flowers, Turkish fountains, colourful Constitution (Syntagma) Square with its fascinating mosques and outdoor cafe tables, all contribute to the lovely ambience here. The views from the waterfront include the Bourtzi, a mini-castle built by the Venetians in 1471 and, overlooking the town, the impressive Palamidi Castle, built by the Venetians around 1714 AD surveys the whole area.
Greek mythology names Epidaurus as the birth place of Asklepios, one of the gods of healing and the son of Apollo. In its prime the cities main sanctuary, the temple to Asklepios and the centre of healing, were renowned throughout the ancient world. Pilgrims and the sick would stay at the temple waiting for direction, through their dreams, on how to heal themselves. Centuries later the centre was used again for healing, this time by the Christian faith. Epidaurus most famous attraction is its amphitheatre, seating 14,000, which is still used today. Well-known for its famous acoustics, which have not been harmed by the passage of time, it is said that a match dropped centre stage can be clearly heard by the audience in the back row (55 tiers up), because of the mathematical precision used in its design. The theatre is renowned for its incredible beauty and symmetry and is one of the best preserved of classical Greece.
The ancient city of Mycenae was once thought to exist only in ancient Greek legend and the epic poetry of Homer. It wasn't until 1870 that an amateur archaeologist found the fabled city using only landmarks from the text of Homers Iliad! Mycenae was one of the greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century BC. It played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture and, through the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia.
The site of Ancient Nemea is where mythology records Hercules’ first labor with the ferocious Nemean Lion. The Temple of Nemea Zeus, although mostly in ruins, still dominates the valley as it has for more than 2,300 years. The Stadium, a short distance from the site is in excellent repair, in ancient times it included a clay running track, a channel carrying fresh water to athletes and a starting line complete with a 'hysplex', a starting mechanism using the same concept as a catapult to ensure a fair start to races. For more info see http://nemeangames.org/en/nemea-stadium/hysplex.html Today Nemea hosts the Revival of the Nemean Games every four years. Founded in 1994, after more than 20 years of archaeological excavation at Nemea, the contemporary games are a form of popular education in history, as well as a counter to the commercialism of the modern Olympics. Races are organized according to age and gender and open to international participation. No medals are awarded, only crowns of palm branches and wild celery. In 2008, some 600 people, clad in tunics, raced barefoot in the ruins of the ancient stadium. Two races were staged for the runners aged from 10 to 80, one of 100 metres (110 yards) and the other of 7.5 kilometres.