The Minoans are best known for their huge labyrinthine palaces, the most famous at Knossos, where Theseus slew the Minotaur. Knossos and all of the Minoan sites we visit have their own unique and characteristic charm and elegance, demonstrated in a lively and free artistic expression, and an obvious delight in realistic decoration. We start the tour on the beautiful, tiny island of Santorini, ‘Pompeii of the Aegean’, buried suddenly during the cataclysmic eruption of Thera – which signalled the ‘beginning of the end’ of Minoan civilization. In Crete we continue to trace the story of the Minoans, whose writing, organization and ambition had a profound influence on the development of ancient Greece, and thus the western world.
This mountainous peninsula of mainland Greece, with its rugged and dramatic landscapes, was once home to two of the greatest rulers of the ancient world; Philip II and Alexander the Great. This groundbreaking tour is mainly based in historic Thessaloniki, capital of Northern Greece; a World Heritage centre full of beautiful churches and Roman palaces. Nearby we discover Alexander the Great’s birthplace and capital, the ancient Greek city of Pella and explore the ancient sacred city of Dion, the religious centre of the Kingdom of Macedonia. We also visit the spectacular Royal Tombs at Vergina, resting place of the murdered Phillip II of Macedon
Greece is regarded as the cradle of European civilisation and this cultural journey visits the wonderful sites of the Classical period. Delphi was the centre of the world for the ancient Greeks, where mortals, via the ‘oracle’, communicated with Apollo. Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, set in an idyllic pine-forested valley and Epidaurus, the greatest healing centre and finest theatre in the ancient world. Then there’s Mycenae, and a very different experience, a place of myths and legends and of a fierce, untamed people so vividly depicted in Homer’s epics. The tour also includes the amazing Christian monasteries at Meteora; 700-year old frescoed Byzantine structures perched precariously atop sheer pinnacles of rock. The six monasteries are still very much in operation, with their black-robed monks living a traditional, simple and ascetic way of life. Finally in Athens we visit the iconic Parthenon and the hugely acclaimed new Acropolis Museum. Along the way we enjoy the nation’s world renowned cuisine, the beautiful scenery of the Peloponnese region and the warmth of its peoples and climate!