B.C. Archaeology

Study Tours of the Ancient World


The theatre of Dodona

It was as if the dawn broke forth in song
as Alexander lay concealed in Olympias' womb.
The forests of Macedonia rustled in accord,
surrounding Pella's grove at Phillip's castle.
The young prince saddled his horse and rode
toward the East,
transforming the world.
Bucephalus strained,
Bucephalus stamped,
Bucephalus struggled
against the youth's strength.
The Iliad ran through his dreams,
engrossed ... soon he stood upon the hill of Troy ...
Achilles was near.
We remember Issus Battle, Darius' death,
the battlefield at Gaugamela,
Persepolis reduced to ruins...
Still Susa's fountains add their melodious melody
to the joyous sound of strings and wedding dance,
as Orient's splendor with the legion was entwined.
The young man's path led on to the heights of Hindu Kush
where battle he did win, but lost Bucephalus.
Babylon, Babylon, Babylon cries silently
for a young son of Greece,
the friend of his youth, Hephaestion,
Iskander even...
A king's golden throne is shattered,
scattering stardust through the night for light.
For centuries the desert sands remain aglow,
borne within a mind as old as time.
Twilight falls, spreading its glow over the Euphrates,
from whose depths Hellas' legacy emerges,
harbored in the dawn as it breaks forth in song...

Christa Radeburg, Alexander the Great

Macedonian funerary crown in the Thessaloniki Museum


This 3-week B.C. Archaeology tour of Northern Greece explores the world of Alexander the Great and his heirs. This remarkable individual, at the young age of 30, conquered the once mighty Persian Empire and went on to create a Greek speaking Empire which would later morph into the Byzantine Empire. This tour looks at the history and archaeology of northern Greece with a special emphasis on the region of Macedonia.

We begin in Athens where we explore the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine heritage of the city. We then fly to Corfu where we explore the ruins of the Temple of Artemis and explore the medieval walled city. We take a ferry to the mainland and drive to the site of the Battle of Actium where Augustus defeated Antony and Cleopatra (31 BC) and explore the nearby ruins of the Roman city of Nicopolis.

Our tour then takes us to the ancient ruins of Dodona. This was the centre of a famous oracle of Zeus and it is today the site of a beautiful ancient theatre. Continuing our journey eastward, we stop for two days to explore the stunning landscapes and medieval Byzantine monasteries of Meteora. Built on the summit of natural rock pinnacles for protection from invaders, the monasteries preserve ancient manuscripts and beautiful fresco paintings.

We then head to the Mt Olympus National Park where we take a walk in a beautiful scenic landscape and hope to glimpse the snows of the sacred mountain. North of Mt Olympus we enter the ancient region of Macedonia which will be out focus for the next week. We explore the ruins of the major Macedonian religious centre at Dion and continue on to Thessaloniki which will be our base for exploring the region.

We visit the Archaeological and Byzantine Museums in Thessaloniki. These excellent collections preserve a record of the rich heritage of Macedonia including the stunning golden treasures from royal and private tombs. There is a free day to rest and enjoy the seaside near Thessaloniki. We then visit the Macedonian royal tombs at Vergina where the treasures of King Philip II are displayed. We next see the ruins of the Macedonian capital at Aigai, and then explore Pella, the city where Alexander the Great was born. We also visit the site of Mieza where Alexander was educated by the famous philosopher Aristotle.

Our final day in Thessaloniki looks at the remarkable remains from the Roman period. This includes the rotunda tomb and palace of the 3rd Century AD Emperor Galerius. We leave Thessaloniki and cross the rugged Chalkidiki Peninsula to explore the ruins of the Classical city of Olynthos. Many house mosaics are preserved in situ at the site. We then explore ancient Amphipolis and view the accessible parts of the recently discovered royal Macedonian tomb.

We then head to the seaside town of Kavala which will be out base for the next few days to explore the area. A ferry ride takes us to the Aegean island of Thassos. We explore the beautiful ruins of the ancient port of Limenos. The following day we visit the extensive Roman ruins at Philippi, site of a famous battle between Augustus and the murderers of Julius Caesar.

Our journey continues with a visit to the ancient site of Abdera which preserves remains of Hellenistic and Roman houses. We take a ferry ride out to the rugged island of Samothrace to explore the beautiful site of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods.

We return to Athens where we spend a day in the National Archaeological Museum, concentrating on the remains from the time of Alexander the Great and his heirs. There is time for last minute shopping in the Plaka District before our return to Australia.

The stunning monasteries of Meteora

Day 1: Arrive Athens
We arrive in Athens and check into our hotel. There is some free time to walk around the historic quarter of the Plaka. Overnight Athens.

Day 2: Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Athens - Byzantine Museum
Today we take a walk around the heart of old Athens, concentrating on the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine heritage of the city. We see the Hellenistic and Roman monuments of the agora and visit early Byzantine churches. After lunch we visit the Byzantine and Christian Museum which has an excellent display of artefacts from the late antique and early Christian periods. Overnight Athens.

Day 3: Corfu
In the morning we fly to the island of Corfu and check into our hotel. In the afternoon we explore the historic old town of Corfu (Kerkira) including the impressive medieval Venetian fortifications. We also see the remains of the Temple of Artemis and the ancient sculpture from the temple in the local Archaeological Museum (if open). Overnight Corfu.

Exploring Corfu
The Roman aqueduct at Nicopolis

Day 4: Gerald Durrell's Corfu
This morning we take a scenic drive around the island of Corfu to enjoy the unspoilt landscapes away from the main tourist centres. This is the world of Gerald Durrell's book 'My Family and Other Animals'. We visit the 18th Century Paleokastritsa Monastery, have lunch by the seaside, and explore the Achillion Palace built for the Empress of Austria. Overnight Corfu.

Day 5: Nicopolis (Actium)
In the morning we take a short ferry ride to Igoumenitsa. We then drive south to the town of Preveza at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf, the site of the famous Battle of Actium in 31 BC between the future Emperor Augustus on the Roman side against Antony and Cleopatra. Not far away is the ancient city of Nicopolis which was founded by Augustus to commemorate the Roman victory. We see the ruins of a theatre, stadium and commemorative monument. Overnight Ioaninna.

Day 6: Dodona - Ioaninna
Today we explore the impressive ruins of the ancient city of Dodona. Located in the region of Epirus, Dodona was famous for its oracles of Apollo and Zeus. The ancient theatre is remarkably well preserved. In the afternoon we head through the mountains to Kalambaka. Overnight Kalambaka.

Day 7: Meteora Monasteries
This morning we explore the spectacular natural landscapes north of Kalambaka. The region of Meteora was a refuge for 14th Century monks who created a number of monastic retreats of which six are now functioning. We visit three of the monasteries and explore their ancient relics. Overnight Kalambaka.

Day 8: Meteora Monasteries
We spend a second day exploring the stunning landscapes and impressive monastic buildings of Meteora. We enter three more of these stunning buildings which are located on isolated outcrops of rock. We also have a walk in the valley to experience the scenic beauty of the region. In the afternoon we drive to Larissa. Overnight Larissa.

Monastery at Meteora
Walking in Mt Olympus National Park

Day 9: Dion - Mt Olympus National Park
We leave Larissa and drive though the scenic Vale of Tempe to the nearby Mt Olympus National Park. We take a walk in the beautiful landscape to catch a glimpse of the sacred mountain, home of the Olympian Gods. In the afternoon we head to the magnificent archaeological site of Dion, once the chief sanctuary of ancient Macedonia. We see houses with mosaics, a Roman bath complex and the Sanctuary of Zeus. The archaeological museum contains key finds from the site. We head to the city of Thessaloniki, named after a sister of Alexander the Great. Overnight Thessaloniki.

Day 10: Thessaloniki - Archaeological Museum - Byzantine Museum
The day is set aside to explore the superb Museums of Thessaloniki. In the morning we visit the Archaeological Museum with its magnificent collection of ancient Macedonian artefacts including golden treasures, statues and ceramics. In the afternoon, we see the finds in the award winning Byzantine Museum with some of the best exhibits of this fascinating culture. Overnight Thessaloniki.

Day 11: Free day Thessaloniki
This day is set aside for rest and relaxation. One can go for a walk around the city fortifications including the White Tower, explore more of the city's extensive Byzantine heritage, or arrange a visit to the birth place of Kemal Ataturk. Overnight Thessaloniki.

Day 12: Vergina - Aigai
Today we head to Vergina where we see the Macedonian royal tombs including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. There is an excellent display of objects from the tombs including crowns and weapons. We also see the ruins of the ancient Macedonian city of Aigai which include a theatre and two royal tombs. Overnight Thessaloniki.

Day 13: Pella - Mieza
In the morning we visit the ruins of Pella, one of the ancient capitals of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great. There are many houses with intact mosaics and an impressive agora. We also see the recently revamped Pella Museum which contains a wonderful collection of artefacts from the site. In the afternoon we visit the grove of Mieza where Aristotle educated Alexander and his companions and explore some of the Macedonian tombs in the area. Overnight Thessaloniki.

The golden casket of Philip II at Vergina
Pebble mosaic from ancient Pella

Day 14: Thessaloniki - Roman remains - Byzantine churches
This morning we explore the Roman antiquities of Thessaloniki. We see the remains of the Late Roman Commemorative Arch, Rotunda Tomb and Palace of the Emperor Galerius. After lunch we explore some of Thessaloniki's Byzantine heritage including the 5th Century Church of Aghios Dimitrios and the Church of Aghia Sofia. Overnight Thessaloniki.

Day 15: Olynthos - Amphipolis
In the morning we leave Thessaloniki and drive through the rugged Chalkidiki Peninsula to the ancient site of Olynthos. This classical Greek city was laid out on a Hippodamian grid pattern and preserves many floor mosaics. In the afternoon we visit the site of Amphipolis where Alexander set out on his conquest of Persia. We explore the town ruins and see the exterior of the newly discovered royal Macedonian tomb at Amphipolis with sphinxes and mosaics (the interior is not yet open to tourists). Overnight Kavala.

The tomb of Galerius at Thessaloniki
The theatre on the island of Thasos

Day 16: Thasos
Today we take a short ferry ride from Kavala to the nearby island of Thasos, which lies in the northern Aegean. We explore the ruins of the city of Thasos (ancient Limenas), which include an agora, Roman odeion, the Sanctuaries of Artemis and Herakles and a theatre. In the afternoon we return to Kavala by ferry. Overnight Kavala.

Day 17: Philippi
Today we head to the extensive site of Philippi, named after Philip II the father of Alexander. It is the location of the famous Battle of Philippi in 42 BC which saw the defeat of Caesar's murderers. We explore the ruins of the Roman forum, theatre and acropolis of Philippi. Overnight Kavala.

Day 18: Abdera
We travel through Greek Macedonia to the ruins of Abdera which are located on a beautiful promontory overlooking the Aegean. We see the city walls, and ruined houses of the Hellenistic and Roman period. After lunch we journey east through the region of Thrace, following the route of the ancient Via Egnatia, the Roman military road from Byzantium to the Adriatic. Overnight Alexandroupolis.

The sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace

Day 19: Samothrace
Today we take a day excursion by ferry to the beautiful Aegean island of Samothrace. This is where King Philip II is said to have first met Alexander's mother Olympias. We explore the Sanctuary of the Great Gods which was dedicated to Anatolian mystery cults and visit the on-site museum. Overnight Alexandroupolis.

Day 20: National Archaeological Museum
In the morning we fly to Athens and check into our hotel. We visit the National Archaeological Museum in Athens where we explore the galleries dealing with the period of Alexander and the Hellenistic Age. There is some free time to also explore the other galleries. Overnight Athens.

Day 21: Depart Athens
In the morning there is some free time to take a walk in the Plaka District to do some last minute shopping. We board our plane at Athens international airport for our flight back to Australia, stopping at Dubai on the way.

Day 22: Arrive in Australia
Arrive back in Australia.

* Please note that the Company reserves the right to make alterations to the itinerary in the period up to 60 days prior to a tour departure. The itinerary may also be subject to minor re-arrangement due to the scheduling of the operators and availability of access. If this occurs, the Company will endeavour to provide a comparable alternative.


Back to top