Exploring the Peloponnese - Greece Archaeology Tour
|Adventure Travel > Peter Sommer Travels > Exploring the Peloponnese - Greece Archaeology Tour|
The Peloponnese conjures up images of ancient glories, epic struggles, valiant heroes and majestic vistas. The mere mention of names like Arcadia or Corinth, Sparta or Olympia, Nemea or Mycenae awakens our imagination, reminding us of fascinating legends and dramatic historical scenes reaching far across the ages.
The fame of this large peninsula that forms the southern part of the Greek Mainland rests on its long and often spectacular history, making it a veritable heartland of European and Western culture. From the first farmers of the Neolithic to the Bronze Age Mycenaeans, via the glories of Classical Greece and Rome and the splendours of the Byzantine Empire, all the way up to the Ottoman Empire and the Greek War of Independence, the Peloponnese has often been centre-stage to key historical events. The region is also central in Greek myth - home to the heroes of Homer’s Iliad like King Agamemnon and Nestor, the deeds of Herakles (Hercules) and a place often frequented by the Gods themselves, be it in love or wrath.
Join us in bringing these fascinating places and their history to life. You’ll journey through stunningly beautiful scenery, from small fertile plains to rough and rugged mountains and rocky peninsulas jutting out into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. You’ll discover many of the area’s most famous highlights, including no less than six UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the gargantuan Bronze Age fortifications of Tiryns and Mycenae, the Classical splendours of Olympia, famous for the games that still bear its name, Epidaurus with its beautiful theatre and beautiful Byzantine Mystras.
You’ll also discover wonders off the beaten track, like mountainous Arcadia with its perched villages and gorge-side monasteries and the majestic Mani Peninsula, where a romantically wild landscape is perfectly matched by its traditional architecture. Naturally you’ll savour some of the region’s best traditional cuisine, sample many of the fine wines that have been cultivated here for millennia and stay in delightful accommodations and locations.
Led by a team of archaeologist guides with many years’ knowledge and experience of the region, this tour will introduce you to the splendours of one of the ancient Mediterranean’s most significant regions. As you explore its historical and cultural majesty as well as its natural beauty and living traditions you’ll gain a true and unforgettable sense and understanding of what the Peloponnese was and is.
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Rate is per person, based on double occupancy. Single Supplement £820.
Day 1:Athens, Attica, Greece
Arrival in Athens. Transfer from airport, about 40 minutes away, to our hotel in the centre of the city. Welcome dinner.
Day 2:Nafplio, Peloponnese, Greece
We set out, passing Corinth, the gateway to the Peloponnese (see Day 14). We ascend the mighty rock of Acrocorinth, the ancient city’s citadel, now crowned by a huge medieval castle, to view the Isthmus, the narrow strip of land that connects the Peloponnese to the mainland and separates the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs. In the afternoon, we enter the Argolid to visit the vast Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, King Agamemnon’s capital in Greek myth, with its Cyclopean walls and the Lion Gate. We spend our first Peloponnesian night in Nafplio, one of Greece’s most attractive towns.
Day 3:Monemvasia, Peloponnese, Greece
A morning visit to Nafplio’s superb Archaeological Museum to admire its important prehistoric collections, including the Dendra Panoply, one of the world’s oldest surviving suits of full body armour. We then travel southwards along the coast, crossing beautiful mountain landscapes into Laconia, the ancient land of the Spartans. We stop at the beautiful village of Geraki, with its Mycenaean and Byzantine remains, before reaching our destination, the extraordinarily beautiful medieval walled town of Monemvasia, set on a rocky island that juts into the Aegean Sea.
Day 4:Monemvasia, Peloponnese, Greece
We explore the history and architecture of Monemvasia in detail, starting with the picturesque Venetian Lower Town before ascending the heavily fortified plateau above, crowned by the 12th century Byzantine church of Agia Sophia, perched precipitously on a cliff top. As Monemvasia gave its name to Malmsey Wine, exported all over Europe in Venetian times, we visit an excellent local winery after lunch to taste the region’s produce, followed by an easy-going afternoon to enjoy the serenity of the place or go for a swim.
Day 5:Mystras, Peloponnese, Greece
Westwards into the heart of Laconia: legendary Sparta, to visit the ancient acropolis, well-preserved Roman theatre and archaeological museum. In the afternoon we explore Mystras, the capital of the medieval Despotate of the Morea, among the most important of all Byzantine sites, comprising a castle, city walls, churches and monasteries. We finish the day in the Mani peninsula.
Day 6:Mani Peninsula, Greece
A day devoted to exploring the legendary Mani Peninsula, the wild and rugged southern tip of Mainland Greece, with its rugged villages of tower houses and its hidden-away medieval churches. Our tour includes a boat-ride in the breathtaking cave of Diros and a visit to the Oracle of the Dead at cape Tainaron.
Day 7:Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece
We travel along Mani's western shore into Messenia, the Peloponnese's lushly fertile southwestern region. At Kardamyli, we visit the picturesque Old Town and the Moutzinos Tower, offering insights into the area's chequered history. On reaching Kalamata, we stroll through the lovely old town and visit the wonderfully diverse archaeological museum.
Day 8:Pylos, Peloponnese, Greece
An excursion into western Messenia, the homeland of Homer’s King Nestor, stretching alongside the Ionian Sea. Here, we visit the important Mycenaean collection from the “Palace of Nestor” at Chora and the enormous and well-preserved Venetian castle of Methoni, built on the tip of a peninsula. We also stop at Pylos to take in the charming town and its grand views over the Bay of Navarino, where a Turkish fleet was destroyed by the Greek’s allies in 1827, a pivotal event in the Greek War of Independence, and the island of Sphakteria, where Sparta suffered its first major defeat to Athens during the Peloponnesian War in 425 BC.
Day 9:Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece
We leave Kalamata for ancient Messene, the stunning capital built for the Messenians in the 4th century BC, after centuries of submission to Sparta. Ongoing excavations are revealing the unusually well-preserved remains of the city, set on a plateau overlooking the sea far below, surrounded by an astonishing system of walls, towers and gates, and containing a theatre, agora, public fountains, sanctuaries and one of the finest ancient stadiums in Greece. Later, we traverse the lush countryside of Northern Messenia to enter ancient Elis, spending the night at Ancient Olympia.
Day 10:Olympia, Peloponnese, Greece
We tour the superlative site of Olympia in depth. The great sanctuary of Zeus, famous for the quadrennial festival and athletic contests in honour of the God, established in 776 BC. The vast site, set amongst olive trees and between two rivers, includes temples and sanctuaries, but also the training grounds and gymnasia used by athletes and the venerable stadium, according to legend founded by the hero Herakles (Hercules) himself. The excellent site museum contains a vast collection of ancient Greek weaponry and armour, the wonderful sculptures from the Temple of Zeus and the Hermes of Praxiteles, one of the very few surviving works by one of antiquity’s greatest sculptors. In the afternoon, we enter Arcadia to spend the night in the striking mountain village of Dimitsana.
Day 11:Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece
Today is given over to exploring the wild and mountainous beauty of Arcadia, famed for its out-of-this-world remoteness since antiquity. In the morning, we visit the mysterious Sanctuary of Apollo at Bassai, with one of the best-preserved Classical Temples in Greece. After lunch in one of the characteristic mountain villages, we make our way to the monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, hanging from a cliff face high above the Lousos Gorge.
Day 12:Nafplio, Peloponnese, Greece
Leaving the mountains behind, we continue eastwards to Tegea, where we visit the recently-reopened archaeological museum, its superb exhibits throwing light on the history of a medium-sized city-state in the Central Peloponnese. Another wine tasting, focusing on the famous produce of the Mantineia region, is followed by a drive to the vast Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, King Agamemnon’s capital in Greek myth, with its Cyclopean walls and the emblematic Lion Gate. We explore the site and its museum thoroughly before continuing to Nafplio.
Day 13:Epidaurus, Peloponnese, Greece
In the morning, we discover the unbelievably massive Bronze Age fortification of Tiryns, before setting out for the eastern Argolid, stopping to cross the world’s oldest standing bridge before reaching the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidauros. The site, set in peaceful scenery, features the best-preserved ancient theatre in Greece renowned for its perfect proportions. After lunch we return to Nafplio for a free afternoon.
Day 14:Corinth, Peloponnese, Greece
Before leaving the Peloponnese, we stop at Corinth. We ascend the mighty rock of Acrocorinth, the ancient city’s citadel, now crowned by a huge medieval castle, to view the Isthmus, and then wander through the remains of the fabulously wealthy ancient city, including the grand Archaic Temple of Apollo, and the marble-paved Roman high street, lined by colonnades. We return to Athens, where we visit the National Archaeological Museum to see the fabled gold treasures from Mycenae, including the so-called Mask of Agamemnon.
Day 15:Athens, Attica, Greece
Transfers for Athens airport, about 40 minutes away.
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Peloponnese Archaeological Tours
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Arcadia Educational Travel
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Corinth Educational Travel
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Messenia Educational Travel
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Peloponnese Educational Travel
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