13Oct/18

Vergina – ancient city of Aigai – The Royal Macedonian tombs of Philip

The ancient city of Aigai was the capital of the kingdom of Macedonia. The first settlement on the site dates back to the Early Bronze Age in 3000 BC and was densely populated during the Early Iron Age (11th-8th c. BC). In the following centuries, during the Archaic and Classical periods (7th – 5th c. BC), Aigai was developed to a prosperous city, and became the capital of the Macedonian kingdom until the end of the 5th c. BC, when the seat of the Macedonian kings was transferred to Pella. Aigai remains the historic centre of the kingdom, where the kings are buried in the royal necropolis, the traditional cult is practised in the sanctuaries and the official and ritual ceremonies take place.
The first excavations on the site were carried out in the mid-19th c. by the French archaeologist L. Heuzey, bringing to light the first Macedonian tomb. In 1976 Prof. Manolis Andronikos revealed the royal tombs of the Great Mound and one year later came to light the tomb of king Philip II (359-336 BC). The excavation of the palace and the theatre followed, while excavations during the last decade, were conducted by the University of Thessaloniki and has focused on the the civic quarters of the ancient city and its extensive cemeteries.

Among the most important monuments of the site are:

– The royal tombs of the Great Mound (Toumba). This group includes:
– The tomb of Philip II, a monumental Macedonian type tomb, with two chambers and a temple-like facade which combines elements of both the Doric and Ionic order. A typical feature of the Ionic frieze of the tomb, is a wall painting that depicts a scene of royal hunting, a rare example of the ancient Greek painting. Among the central figures is recognized that of Alexander the Great. As this grave remained intact from destructions and plundering, it yielded a wealth of artifacts, among them the two gold larnakes, which contained the bones of the king and its wife.
– The tomb of Persephone. This is one of the largest cist graves found so far in Greece. It dates to 350 BC and it probably belonged to Nikesipolis, king Philip’s wife and Thessaloniki’s mother. The tomb was conventionally named after the theme of its wall painting, which depicts the abduction of Persephone by Plouto. The murals of the tombs of Philip and of Persephone comprise the most important specimens of ancient Greek wall painting preserved today. Unfortunately the tomb was looted probably during the invasion of the Gauls, who plundered the royal necropolis of Aigai in the 3rd century BC.
– The “tomb of the Prince” (tomb of Alexander IV) was built near that of Philip, about 30 years later. It contained the bones of a young adolescent, maybe the son of Alexander the Great and Roxane, Alexander IV, both murdered by Kassandros, usurper of the throne after the death of Alexander the Great.
– The tomb of the free-standing columns is the third tomb of the Macedonian type in the Great Tumulus. It dates to the 3rd c. BC and probably belonged to Antigonos Gonatas. The monument was heavily damaged due to repeated plundering of its building material and deprived from its most wealthy artefacts. The monument had an impressive entrance with four Doric columns, which are partly preserved today.

– The cemetery of the tumuli.
This is the necropolis of the Iron Age (11th-8th c. BC), which includes more than 300 small earthen tumuli, constructed over clusters of burials which contained rich offerings.

– The Palace and the Theatre
These two important monuments consist part of a wider building complex of the ancient city that dates to the late 4th c. BC. Built on a higher location, the palace overhung the ancient city. The two-storeyed building comprised luxurius halls, clustered around a central peristyle courtyard and a shrine dedicated to Herakles Patroos. Indicative of the rich decoration is the fine mosaic floor which was preserved in one of the palace rooms. The palace of Aigai is the only example preserved today of an ancient Greek palace dated as early as in the Late Classical period, being a forerunner of its Hellenistic successors.
The theatre was constructed very close to the palace, on a downhill slope. A distinctive architectural feature is the very large orchestra with a diameter of 28 m, while the cavea exploited the natural inclination of the slope, having only one series of stone seats. It was in this theatre that king Philip II was assassinated in the summer of 336 BC and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king.

– The City and its sanctuaries
The ancient city was fortified with a massive wall, which formed a circular enclosure around the city. The architectural remains – public buildings, private houses, workshops – uncovered so far provide a rough picture of the urban planning and the development of the city, a picture that the ongoing excavations keep filling in.
The public nucleus of the city, the agora, was located at a lower level beneath the palace and the theatre. The most important feature for the identification of this part of the city with the agora, was the sanctuary of Efkleia, the deity of glory and good repute, whose sanctuaries were erected in the agora, being the heart of the ancient Greek cities. In the case of the sanctuary of Aigai, the excavation revealed the foundations of two temples, a peristyle building and a series of offerings, including two bases of votive statues dedicated by the queen Eurydice, grandmother of Alexander the Great. The majority of the architectural remains are dated to the period of Philip II (359-336 BC) and Alexander (336-323).
Of major importance is also the sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods (Metroon), the panhellenic deity Rhea, which already in the 6th c. BC was associated with the Asian goddess Cybele. The sanctuary of Aigai consists of a complex of cult and auxiliary structures, which were erected over the ruins of an earlier sanctuary and date to the beginning of the 3rd c. BC. The Hellenistic sanctuary was destroyed in 150 BC.
In 167 BC the Macedonian kingdom submitted to the Romans and, as it was the case with the rest of Greece, became a province of the Roman Empire. The Roman era for Aigai is a period of gradual decline and shrinkage until the mid-1st c. AD, when the city is finally abandoned by its inhabitants.

VERGINA is included in both the guided tours that visit Northern Greece:
1) The 5 days guided tour of Northern Greece, visiting Delphi, Thermopylae, Meteora, Thessaloniki, Edessa, Naousa, Vergina, Berea (St. Paul), Pella, and the Archaeological park of Dion (feet of Mt. Olympus), and
2) The 7 days guided Grand tour of Greece, visiting Epidaurus, Nafplion, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, Thermopylae, Meteora, Thessaloniki, Edessa, Naousa, Vergina, Berea (St. Paul), Pella, and the Archaeological park of Dion (feet of Mt. Olympus).

13Oct/18

SOUNION tour for 33.00 € – What a sunset!!!

Words cannot describe a place that calms you down, and makes you enjoy the sunset like never before.

Sunset in cape Sounion

Between April and October this is a popular tour that departs daily from the heart of Athens at 15:00 – 19:00
Between November to March it is organized on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 00.30 min. earlier.

There is a pick up / drop off service from most central Athens hotels.

Short description

Enjoy a ride along the beautiful Saronic gulf coastline, in a guided tour to Cape Sounio and watch an amazing sunset at the Temple of Poseidon. Enjoy the drive over the sea and watch the reflections of the sun on the waters, and the beauty of the scenery!

A beautiful drive passing by beautiful sandy beaches, and countless coves. Crowning feature of the tour is Cape SOUNION, dominated by the spectacular Temple of POSSEIDON overlooking the Aegean Sea. A temple on the sea! with views that magnetize! The vastness of the sea enchants. Beautiful colours at sunset, and the imposing Temple of Poseidon at the top of the hill. A feeling of fullness and uniqueness springs from everywhere.

Upon arrival at Cape Sounio you enter the archaeological site with the Temple of Poseidon for a detailed tour with your licensed guide. Embrace and inhale the views and the history. Learn the Greek myths about the ship of King Menelaus who stopped briefly at Sounio on his way back from Troy; or about King Aegeus who drowned himself on that spot and the Aegean Sea got named after him; It’s the myth of the Cretan Minotaur, the Athenian hero Thesseus, and his father Aegeus, after whom the Aegean sea was named. Your tour guide will also talk about this area and about the source of wealth and power of Ancient Athens, the silver mines of the nearby Lavrio. People built the temple to honour the god of the sea and safeguard the profits from the Lavrio silver mines.

Before building a temple, the ancient Greeks had considered the energetic properties of the land. You admire the beautiful temple, the location, and the set up. Take pictures of the Temple of Poseidon and capture magnificent photos with the sky dyed in deep yellow, orange and red colors, creating the most beautiful canvas!

Words cannot describe a place that calms you down, feel nostalgic, and makes you enjoy the sunset like never before. Sounion Temple is literally a battery charger. It’s a place that makes you reminisce the splendour of Ancient Greece! Walk around the temple, find a spot on a rock and renew your energy flows.

Walk around the temple, find a spot on a rock and renew all your body’s energy flows. Look closer at the engravings on the rocks to find famous names such as Lord Byron and many others. Those engravings were made back then when travelling was a privilege of the very few and going places was a long journey so marking the spot was a must.

Leave from Sounion before the sunset and arrive in the centre of Athens at +/- 19:30

Price

PRICE: 33.00 € per adult + applicable entrance fees.

ENTRANCE FEES: Juniors <19 and E.U. students, JANUARY - DECEMBER, are free of charge.
Students from other countries and E.U. seniors over 65, JANUARY – DECEMBER, pay 4.00 €
Everybody else, NOVEMBER – MARCH, pay 4.00 €, while, from APRIL – OCTOBER everybody else pays 8.00 € extra.

The tour services include:
– transportation on modern air-conditioned buses
– Pick up/drop off from or near your hotel, and
– the services of the professional tour guide.

In the footer, find the “4 steps 2 make and secure a booking” and if our offer suits your budget, please, start the communication.

Private tour

The afternoon to Sounion can be a private tour. Return in Athens at +/- 21.30, after sunset:
Transportation of 1-4 passengers = 160.00 €. 5-8 passengers the extra cost is 5.00 € per person.
In this private arrangement entrance fees, snacks, and drinks are not included in the price.

Organize the tour to Sounion as a private tour, make the most of your trip by indulging in a refreshing swim in the small beach by the foot of the temple of Poseidon or in any one of the beaches in Legrena or Lavrio! Treat yourselves to some fresh fish and seafood in the local tavernas. Drink in the lovely sunset view with your company – in one of Attica’s best locations – having the ancient temple as a backdrop and facing the deep blue sea!

Testimonials

mwen92 Singapore
Great & Reliable Tour Agency in Greece
My email messages had been promptly handled in a professional and efficient manner.
The pickups from all points were prompt.
Kosta took care of our 4 days trip to Olympia, Delphi, Meteora and Cape Sounion. His knowledge and giving us pre- tour instructions was extremely helpful in our understanding the sites, the local culture and Greek way of life.
We would definitely recommend anyone planning a Greek holiday to do it through Astoria Travel in Athens.

Booking request

[booking startmonth=’2019-3′]

The Sounion Temple is literally a battery charger. You will feel brand new for weeks after.

13Oct/18

(1) One day Mycenae-Nafplio-Epidaurus…49.00

April – October, the tour is organized on Mondays-Tuesdays-Wednesdays-Thursdays & Saturdays
November-March, the tour is organized on Tue-Thu & Sat. NB: In low season the Sites & Museums close at 15:00

Argolis is one of the longest occupied regions in Greece, with evidence of Neolithic settlements. Attractions such as Agamemnon’s fortress at Mycenae, the amazing theatre of Epidaurus, and the elegant city of Nafplion, draw huge crowds of people.

Highlights

Highlights of this tour: Corinth canal(photo stop), visit the mythical fortified city of Mycenae, walk in through the Lions’ Gate, see the palace of Agamemnon and the tomb of Atreus. In Epidaurus, visit the sanctuary of Asclepius(the god of medicine) and his daughter Hygeia, and experience the amazing acoustics of the 2500 years old theatre of Epidaurus. Continue for a short photo stop in the romantic and beautiful “Venetian” old town of Nafplion.

Legendary MYCENAE – the city – founder of Mycenaean civilization
Mycenae was the kingdom of mythic Agamemnon, leader of the Greek troops in the Trojan War.
Myths related to legends and history have inspired poets and writers over the centuries from Homer and the Greek tragedians of the classical period.
The site was uncovered in 1874 by Heinrich Schlieman, who also found and excavated the site of Troy.
You enter the citadel through the famous Lions’ Gatestanding on lintleof 10 tons.

Beautiful NAFPLION – the “Venice of Greece”
Modern architecture hasn’t spoiled the old town of Nafplion, which is a feast for the eye. It was the capital of the Greek state in the early 1830s. Here, is the first residential place for the young Bavarian Prince, Otto, the first king of the new country after the revolution against the Turks. The old town is beautiful, with old mansions and paved roads. The town’s fortresses, the Palamidi and the Acronafplia, played a key role during the war of independence. The Venetian influence is everywhere justifying the town’s name as the “Greek Venice”.

The Amazing open theatre of EPIDAURUS
The priests of the sanctuary of god Asclepius were excellent surgeons. The administration of the sanctuary decided to build a theatre on the ground of the sanctuary, to entertain the patients.
Today, next to the sanctuary of Asclepius, there is a small museum, displaying the instruments and tools used by the priests to perform brain operations.

Itinerary, map and prices

TIME TOUR PLAN SERVICES
07:30 Start the pick up from the hotels. Departure from the terminal at 08.30
10:00 Arrival at Corinth canal. Short photo stop
11:15 Arrival in ancient Mycenae. Visit ancient site & museum
13:00 Lunch in a local restaurant. Lunch is optional. See the price paid.
14:15 Drive on to “Venetian” Nafplion. Short photo stop at Nafplion
15:15 Arrival at the site of Epidaurus. Visit the museum & the theatre
18:30 Arrival in the centre of Athens. Drop off at your hotel by 19:30

All the travel agents sell the same tours at different prices. Our discounted price,
1) per adult, for the tour without lunch = 59.00 € + applicable entrance fees
2) The Student Enabler price, (ISI card holders), without lunch and without entrance fees = 49.00 €.
ONLY holders of International Student Identity Cards are eligible to this price. CLICK here and see what we call “Students Enabler” price.

The prices quoted are per person, and include:
– transportation on modern air-conditioned buses
– Pick up / drop off from your hotel or near your hotel (See the list of hotels at the footer of the website)
– Services of the professional tour guide.

This ONE DAY TOUR TO ARGOLIS can be organized also as a private tour (cost shared between the passengers):
Transportation of 1-4 passengers = 260.00 euro. 5-8 passengers the extra cost is extra 10.00 euro per person.
In this private tour a) entrance fees, lunch, and drinks are not included in the price, and
b) a local professional tour guide, can be arranged to meet you at the extra cost.

In this private tour, entrance fees, lunch, and drinks are not included in the price.

In the footer of the website, find the “4 steps 2 book” and if you find our offer within your budget, please, start the communication.

 

 

History of Mycenae

Mycenae, the home of the Atreides royal family, is situated on a hill-top on the road leading to Corinth and Athens. The site was inhabited since Neolithic times (about 4000 BC) but reached its peak during the Late Bronze Age (1350-1200 BC), giving its name to a civilization which spread throughout the Greek world. During that period, the acropolis (= highest point of a city) was surrounded by massive “cyclopean” walls which were built in three stages (1350, 1250 and 1225 BC). The outer fortifying walls, are large stones and must still look similar to 3500 years ago when they were built.

We enter the citadel of Mycenae through the famous Lions’ Gate, because of the two lions above the entrance way, the first monumental sculpture in Europe (13th century BC). Immediately on to our right we come to Grave Circle A, a royal cemetery in which Schliemann found six shaft graves, 19 skeletons, and the incredibly rich burial furnishings which made his discovery one of the great archaeological finds of all time. This is where Schlieman found the ancient mask, which he called “the Mask of Agamemnon” but turned out to be the face of an unknown king from a period 300 years earlier. That mask is probably one of the most recognized ancient artifacts in the world and is still unofficially known as “the mask of Agamemnon”.

The rest of the site is interesting if you know what you are looking at, so take the time to read the material available in guidebooks. A ramp and stairs lead up from the grave circle to the palace on the top of the hill; unfortunately little remains of the palace except for a Great Court and a megaron (a room with central hearth and inner columns). The view when you get to the top of the hill is spectacular. You are really commanding the valley all the way down to Argos and Nafplion. From here you can follow a path down the back of the site to the Postern Gate and the Secret Cistern, a pitch-dark tunnel leading down some 80 steps through the solid rock. We can then return to the Lion Gate around the north side of the hill.

Outside the city walls, and across the road from Mycenae is the Royal grave or treasury of Atreus, which is one of the most impressive parts of ancient Mycenae. You walk through a passageway into an enormous bee-hive tomb dug into the ground. This is known as “a Tholos tomb” and this was the way the ancient Mycenaean’s began to bury their dead after the 15th century BC. The size of this tomb is incredible, and the stones are so massive that it’s believed that engineers who built Egyptian pyramids must have served as consultants when the Mycenaeans began constructing these “treasuries.”

A second tholos near the grave of Atreus was excavated by Mrs. Schliemann and is called the Tomb of Klytemnestra; it is one of the latest and most finely constructed of the tholoi. The third one called the Tomb of Aegisthus. is much earlier and its roof has collapsed. Returning down the modern road about a km we come to the most famous tholos, the Tomb of Agamemnon; the half-columns, which decorated its doorway, are in the Mycenaean Room of the National Museum.

Do not leave from the site without a visit to the museum of Mycenae. From the jewellery found in the graves some are displayed at the site’s museum and some in the Athens Archaeological Museum.

The myth of AGAMEMNON

In myth Mycenae was the home of Agamemnon, commander of the Greek army, which fought against Troy, and historically it was the most powerful Greek state during the last third of the Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC), which is why this period is called Mycenaean. Heinrich Schliemann excavated here in 1874-76 and found in Royal Grave Circle A the rich treasures which proves that Agamemnon really lived and that Homer’s story of the Trojan War was history, not myth.

The myth of Mycenae is the story of the Pelopid dynasty. Pelops, who gave his name to the Peloponnese (=Island of Pelops), had two sons, Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus, being the older son, became king of Mycenae but later he punished his brother, who had an adulterous affair with Atreus’ wife Europe, by forcing him to eat his two sons for dinner.

Atreus had two sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon, who married 2 sisters; Menelaus married Helen(the beautiful Helen of Troy) and Agamemnon married Klytemnestra. When Helen ran off with the Trojan prince Paris, Agamemnon and Menelaus became commanders-in-chief of the great expedition, which fought and won the Trojan War. When Agamemnon returned from the war, Klytemnestra was not overjoyed to see him; she had taken a lover (Thyestes’ son Aegisthus) and Agamemnon, who had earlier, at the beginning of Trojan war, sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia so that favourable winds would blow his fleet to Troy, now drove up to the palace with his new concubine, the Trojan princess Kassandra. Klytemnestra therefore invited Agamemnon to come in and take a bath; she gave him a garment to put on (with no holes for his head and arms) and while he stood there with this bag on his head she killed him with three blows of an axe. Later Orestes, the exiled son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra, returned to Mycenae and killed his mother to avenge his father; for his crime of matricide he was driven mad by the Furies (mythic emblems of guilt) until finally, in the Attic version, he was acquitted at the first Areopagus trial, under the Acropolis.

Video

13Oct/18

Tours

* TOURS from Athens
* TOURS by place
* Tours in Attica (Sounion, Marathon, Vravrona)
* Morning tours (Ancient Corinth)
* Afternoon tours (City tour visiting Acropolis, Sounion)
* Full day tour (Athens city tour -lunch – Sounion, Full day in Aegina)
* One day tours (1 day Delphi, 1 day Argolis, 1 day Olympia, 1 day Meteora, 1 day Mycenae & Poros)
* One day to an island ( 1 day cruise to Hydra, Poros & Aegina, One day to a nearby island Visit the Aegina island, 1 day Mycenae & Poros island)
* Two day tours (2 days Delphi & Meteora, 2 day Delphi, 2 day Argolis, 2 day Argolis & Olympia)
* Three day tours (3 day classical tour, 3 day Explore Meteora, 3 day Delphi & Meteora
* Four day tours (4 day classical & Meteora, 4 day Monday special)
* Five day tours (5 day Monday special, 5 day tour to Northern Greece, 5 day classical & explore Meteora.)
* Seven day tours (7 day Grand tour of Greece)

12Oct/18

Nekromanteio – The oracle of the dead

Nekromanteio is a little known archaeological site in Greece, located in the province of Epirus. The location and mythology of the place stuck with me for life. It was the place where you could make a long distance call to your ancestors and more…

The Nekromanteio at the river Acheron is another oracle like the oracles of Delphi and Dodona and it has its own unique character and story to tell. It was built at the gates of Hades thus providing easy access to anyone who dared to venture at the edge that keeps the living and the departed, apart. Nekromanteio means the “Oracle of the Dead” and in ancient times it acted as the point of those who wished to communicate with a dead ancestor or family member–usually for consultation and advice on living matters.

Pilgrims arrived here from all corners of the earth seeking advice and answers from the dead. They resided on the grounds of the Nekromanteio for an extended period of time and were fostered by sorcerers that prepared them for the awe inspiring experience of glimpsing at the afterlife. The ruins on the ground outline an elaborate complex that included the living quarters of the priests and the guests, storage facilities, rooms for ritual activities, and the main sanctuary where the meeting of the living with the dead took place.

Those who made a commitment to undergo a meeting with the spirits of the non living were putting themselves in great danger and thus they had to undergo elaborate rituals in order to be prepared physically and spiritually for such encounters. For the duration of their visit their diet and actions were strictly controlled by the priests in a way that their perception of reality slowly was altered with each passing day. The pilgrims diet consisted of foods which along with isolation and meditation induced a state of hallucination for the person who was about to encounter the dead. Once the purification of the soul and body was complete, the pilgrim in a state of altered reality offered sacrifice to the gods, and walked down a long corridor and through the three doors of the dark labyrinth that leads to the central room where the spirits of the dead spoke to the living.

Modern scholars that have examined the archaeological evidence and accounts of ancient writers have suggested that the whole operation was something of a scam. The priests would spend enough time with the pilgrims to learn about their lives and secrets, and the encounter with the dead souls was nothing else than an encounter with the image of the dead (probably a priest) that was suspended from the ceiling with the aid of an elaborate machine. Many parts of the existence of such machine have been found on the site. The visitor of course in his/her religious ecstasy had all the incentive to believe the illusion and to leave the Nekromanteio convinced that an encounter with the dead had taken place.

Nekromanteio is a small archaeological site, easily navigated in one or two hours. I wandered through the rooms and storage areas before entering the long corridor where in ancient times so many must have walked trembling in anticipation of an encounter with the dead. Of the three arched gates in the labyrinth two survive in good condition and the labyrinth with its massive walls is still an imposing structure. I walked through the third door into the main hall where the hallucinating pilgrims believed in the encounter with the underworld inhabitants.

Through a small hole on the floor of the main hall I descended a steep metal staircase down into the dark crypt that was the palace of Persephone and Hades. The passage even today appears ominous and the room is stunning in the contradiction of its irregular rocky floor and the perfectly masoned stone arches that soar overhead. The crypt was probably carved out of the rock in the same place where an ancient cave may have started the cult.

Above this passage to the underworld of a pagan cult, in later times a Christian church was built that crowns the ancient stones. It stands as a silent witness to the long history of the land that manifests itself on strata of symbolic monuments to conflicting ideologies.

Nekromanteio is not as well known as the other oracles of Greece, but well worth a visit for its charm and the fascinating cult that made it all possible. I enjoyed my walk through the ruins as I tried to imagine the gamut of feelings that an ancient believer must have experienced on his/her way to meet the dead with shaking knees and a spinning head.

Driving away you can say that you descended and escaped from the dwelling of Hades; a feat reserved for the bravest of men: Orpheus who went for love, Hercules who went for the three-headed dog, and Odysseus who went for the future to be told.

12Oct/18

Ancient Mycenae

Mycenae, the home of the Atreides royal family, is situated on a hill-top on the road leading to Corinth and Athens. The site was inhabited since Neolithic times (about 4000 BC) but reached its peak during the Late Bronze Age (1350-1200 BC), giving its name to a civilization which spread throughout the Greek world. During that period, the acropolis (= highest point of a city) was surrounded by massive “cyclopean” walls which were built in three stages (1350, 1250 and 1225 BC). The outer fortifying walls, are large stones and must still look similar to 3500 years ago when they were built.

We enter the citadel of Mycenae through the famous Lions’ Gate, because of the two lions above the entrance way, the first monumental sculpture in Europe (13th century BC). Immediately on to our right we come to Grave Circle A, a royal cemetery in which Schliemann found six shaft graves, 19 skeletons, and the incredibly rich burial furnishings which made his discovery one of the great archaeological finds of all time. This is where Schlieman found the ancient mask, which he called “the Mask of Agamemnon” but turned out to be the face of an unknown king from a period 300 years earlier. That mask is probably one of the most recognized ancient artifacts in the world and is still unofficially known as “the mask of Agamemnon”.

The rest of the site is interesting if you know what you are looking at, so take the time to read the material available in guidebooks. A ramp and stairs lead up from the grave circle to the palace on the top of the hill; unfortunately little remains of the palace except for a Great Court and a megaron (a room with central hearth and inner columns). The view when you get to the top of the hill is spectacular. You are really commanding the valley all the way down to Argos and Nafplion. From here you can follow a path down the back of the site to the Postern Gate and the Secret Cistern, a pitch-dark tunnel leading down some 80 steps through the solid rock. We can then return to the Lion Gate around the north side of the hill.

Outside the city walls, and across the road from Mycenae is the Royal grave or treasury of Atreus, which is one of the most impressive parts of ancient Mycenae. You walk through a passageway into an enormous bee-hive tomb dug into the ground. This is known as “a Tholos tomb” and this was the way the ancient Mycenaean’s began to bury their dead after the 15th century BC. The size of this tomb is incredible, and the stones are so massive that it’s believed that engineers who built Egyptian pyramids must have served as consultants when the Mycenaeans began constructing these “treasuries.”

A second tholos near the grave of Atreus was excavated by Mrs. Schliemann and is called the Tomb of Klytemnestra; it is one of the latest and most finely constructed of the tholoi. The third one called the Tomb of Aegisthus. is much earlier and its roof has collapsed. Returning down the modern road about a km we come to the most famous tholos, the Tomb of Agamemnon; the half-columns, which decorated its doorway, are in the Mycenaean Room of the National Museum.

Do not leave from the site without a visit to the museum of Mycenae. From the jewellery found in the graves some are displayed at the site’s museum and some in the Athens Archaeological Museum.

The myth of AGAMEMNON

In myth Mycenae was the home of Agamemnon, commander of the Greek army, which fought against Troy, and historically it was the most powerful Greek state during the last third of the Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC), which is why this period is called Mycenaean. Heinrich Schliemann excavated here in 1874-76 and found in Royal Grave Circle A the rich treasures which proves that Agamemnon really lived and that Homer’s story of the Trojan War was history, not myth.

The myth of Mycenae is the story of the Pelopid dynasty. Pelops, who gave his name to the Peloponnese (=Island of Pelops), had two sons, Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus, being the older son, became king of Mycenae but later he punished his brother, who had an adulterous affair with Atreus’ wife Europe, by forcing him to eat his two sons for dinner.

Atreus had two sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon, who married 2 sisters; Menelaus married Helen(the beautiful Helen of Troy) and Agamemnon married Klytemnestra. When Helen ran off with the Trojan prince Paris, Agamemnon and Menelaus became commanders-in-chief of the great expedition, which fought and won the Trojan War. When Agamemnon returned from the war, Klytemnestra was not overjoyed to see him; she had taken a lover (Thyestes’ son Aegisthus) and Agamemnon, who had earlier, at the beginning of Trojan war, sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia so that favourable winds would blow his fleet to Troy, now drove up to the palace with his new concubine, the Trojan princess Kassandra. Klytemnestra therefore invited Agamemnon to come in and take a bath; she gave him a garment to put on (with no holes for his head and arms) and while he stood there with this bag on his head she killed him with three blows of an axe. Later Orestes, the exiled son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra, returned to Mycenae and killed his mother to avenge his father; for his crime of matricide he was driven mad by the Furies (mythic emblems of guilt) until finally, in the Attic version, he was acquitted at the first Areopagus trial, under the Acropolis.

12Oct/18

Delphi and Meteora in a 3 day tour

SEE ALL THE TOURS that visit Meteora in guided tours or train trips.

Description

Day 1: Arrive in Delphi at +/- 11:30.
Visit the famous “Temple Bank” of the ancient times, dedicated to the God Apollo, and see the Temple of Apollo, the Treasury of Athenians and in the archaeological Museum you will see fantastic Greek sculptures like the Sphinx, the famous athlete Aghias, the handsome Antinoos and the bronze Charioteer.

Day 2: The morning is free to explore the ancient site of Delphi. After lunch leave for Kalambaka through the town of Lamia. On the way, a short stop in Thermopylae, the place where the 300 Spartans (fought against the Persians) is in the plan, to see Leonidas Monument. Arrive in Kalambaka at +/- 19:00. Overnight.

Day 3: Visit Meteora, meaning “hanging from the sky”. It seems to be “suspended in the air”. You will visit two ageless Byzantine Monasteries and you will see unique specimens of Byzantine art. After lunch, return to Athens via Trikala, Lamia, and arrive in Athens at +/- 19:30

Days of departure & prices

The Delphi and Meteora tour operates April – October: Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & selected Fridays. CLICK and see the dates.

PRICES: All travel agents, in Greece and worldwide, offer the same tour at different prices. We are sure that our prices for this tour is not matched by any other company. After 60 years organizing tours throughout Greece we have secured the best deals in all aspects of travel. So, why pay more? Our discounted prices, per adult, for this tour are:

Per person in 3 star hotel
– in double room with breakfast 225.00 €, or
– in double room with dinner and breakfast 270.00 €

The tour includes:

-1 night in Delphi & 1 in Kalambaka in double room.
-2 breakfasts & 2 dinners
-The services of the professional Guide
-The entrance fees to Delphi site and the archaelogical museum are not included.
-Pick-up service from your hotel (see the list of hotels in the footer)
-Transportation with modern air-conditioned coach
-Taxes, except the hotel overnight tax.

Places visited

* The traditional village of Arachova.
* The modern Village of Delphi.
* The sanctuary with the temple of Apollo and the Oracle of Delphi.
* The monument of Leonidas, the Spartan King, in Thermopylae.
* 2 monasteries are visited. One of them is the nunnery of St. Stephen.

* NB.The archaeological museum in Delphi is not visited in this tour. The museum is included in the 3 days Delphi – Meteora tour.

ORACLE OF APOLLO in DELPHI-the centre of the universe

According to the myth, Zeus released two eagles. One flew east and the other one west. They met over Delphi, determining that the centre of the world was there. A temple dedicated to god Apollo was built there in the 7th c BC. The oracle of Apollo became a religious centre where common people and kings alike, came to consult the priestess of the sanctuary. Delphi was the most sacred place in the ancient world and thousands of pilgrims visited here, from kings and philosophers to common people to hear the prophesies of the Oracle and to watch and compete in the ancient games held here, the Pythian Games, similar to the Olympics.

The ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE consists of the temple of Apollo, the treasury houses, the theatre, and the stadium. DELPHI is one of the best archaeological sites in Greece with ancient temples and shrines placed along the sacred way, making Delphi one of the best places to visit all year round. The site consists of the temple of Apollo, the treasury houses of the City States, the ancient theatre, the stadium at the top of the hill, the gymnasium, and hippodrome. The sanctuary was built in an imposing location, on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus. The Temple of Apollo, the treasury house of the Athenians, the Polygonal wall, the treasury houses of the different city States — where treasures from all over Greece were kept, and the Theatre are some of the most important building.

The remaining part of the ancient site, bellow the road, with the temple of Athena Pronaia, the Tholos (a circular structure with 3 of its original 20 doric columns restored), the gymnasium and the sports facilities, used for training for the athletes that took part in the “Pythian or Delphian Games”, is not visited in the guided tours. Choose the tour without lunch and when the group is having lunch you can visit them on your own, without the tour guide.

Today, next to the archaeological site, there is an impressive museum, displaying findings from the local excavations, that started 1892, masterpieces of Ancient Greek sculpture. The highlights are offerings by the oracle visitors, such as the famous bronze statue of the Charioteer, the statue of Antinoos, the famous athlete Aghias, the two “kouros” statues, the Roman “omphalos”, being the sculptured stone that represented the navel of the world, and many others.

METEORA-THE ART OF NATURE

Beautiful rocks from another world embrace Kalambaka. The monuments are under the protection of UNESCO and are recorded as the second largest Monastic community after the Holy Mountain.
It’s a region of inaccessible sandstone peaks where the monks found protection and settled on these “columns of the sky” from the 10th c. onwards. 24 monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties at the time of the great revival of the monastic ideal in the 15th c. Their 16th c. frescoes mark a key stage in the development of the post-Byzantine painting.
The monasteries at Meteora grew out of the need to avoid Turkish persecution during the occupation in the 14th c. Monks lived in caves in the rocks of Meteora since the 11th c. but the inaccessible peaks provided safety for Greek Orthodox monks. Over time a large number of hermitages and monasteries were built on these rocks, making Meteora the second largest monastic complex in Greece after Mount Athos.
Seeing the beautiful stone structure, surrounded by mist, is enough to make you understand why the monks and nuns selected this area for unceasing prayer. Today, from the many monasteries that existed, only six are open to the public: The monasteries of St. Nicholas Anapafsas, Grand Meteoron, Varlaam, Roussanou, Holy Trinity and St. Stephan. It is worth noting that the religious monuments mostly visited in Greece are the Holy Meteora.

“Here at these barren rocks thousands of orthodox monks learned wisdom, humility and morals“

Almost two million people visit the area of Meteora every year and admire this “unique” natural phenomenon.

contact us

Astoria Travel (est. 1958)
48 Stadiou street, Athens 10564, Greece.
Tel. +302103250380, +306932888585.
Click here and send us a message

In the footer of this website you find the “4 steps to make a booking”. If our offer looks interesting, please send us the booking form.

CLICK here and see ALL THE GUIDED TOURS that start from Athens. Detailed information on each tour is included.

 

12Oct/18

Combine tours and save

COMBINE THE ONE DAY CRUISE FROM ATHENS (brochure price 99.00 + 10.00 €) with any of the following tours and pay a discounted rate:

1. Morning sightseeing tour of Athens, including Parthenon and the Acropolis museum, and pay…
(Entrance fees to Actropolis & the museum are paid extra)
 
2. Full day tour of Athens = morning sightseeing, lunch and afternoon to Sounion, and pay …
(Entrance fees to Actropolis, the museum & Sounion are paid extra)
 
3. One day tour to Delphi with a stop at Arachova, without lunch and pay…
(Entrance fees to the site & museum in Delphi are paid extra)
 
4. One day tour to Mycenae, Epidaurus & short stop at Nafplion, without lunch and pay…
(Entrance fees to Mycenae & Epidaurus are paid extra)
 
5. Two day tour to Delphi & Meteora with breakfast, and pay…
(Entrance fees for the Delphi site are paid extra)
 

Combination with other guided tours is possible. The price is on request.

11Oct/18

Hydra island

HYDRA island

Prized for its unspoiled character, the island of Hydra offers day-trippers a delightful break from the hustle and bustle of life in Athens. Motor vehicles are off limits in Hydra, which makes the island the perfect spot to enjoy some rest and tranquility. Aside from the occasional donkey ride, walking is the island’s main mode of transportation. The handsome 18th-century mansions along the waterfront are the island’s primary attractions and exploring the beautiful architecture makes for a leisurely sightseeing activity. Known as an artist community since the 1960s, Hydra’s steep stone streets are lined with studios, galleries, craft shops and bars.

11Oct/18

(1) One day Argolis – private tour

Tour the sites and museums at your own pace and then spent some time walking around the beautiful town of Nafplion before returning to Athens. Such a private tour is advisable for people that do not like to be confined to a preset schedule or travel with a large group of people.

ITINERARY
We start from your lodging in Athens, arrive after one hour at Corinth Canal and cross to the island of King Pelops. the peninsula of Peloponissos.
Arriving in the ancient city of Corinth, we explore an ancient city that several empires fought over throughout the centuries.
Continue to Mycenae, a mighty kingdom of ancient Greece, leader of the Greek city states during the Trojan war, according to Homer “a city of gold”. You will walk in through the  Lions’ Gate, see the Cyclopean walls, the remains of Agamemnon’s Royal Palace, the Beehive Tombs, and the Treasury of Atreus before arriving in the romantic Venetian town of Nafplion, one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, Have lunch in a traditional taverna in the charming old town and after lunch we proceed to Epidaurus to visit the ancient theatre and view the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the God of Medicine, whose snake-entwined staff (caduces) remains the symbol of medicine to this day.
Return to Athens at +/- 19:00

Cost shared between the passengers:
Transportation of 1-4 passengers = 260.00 €. 5-8 passengers the extra cost is 10.00 € per person.
In this private tour a) entrance fees, lunch, and drinks are not included in the price, plus
b) a local professional tour guide, can be arranged to meet you in Mycenae at the extra cost.

CLICK and see the One day guided tour to Argolis and the promotional price of 59.00 euro per person