Monastery of Simonopetra, Mount Athos
Rotunda of Galerius
Cathedral Church of Agia Sophia of Thessalonica
Stag hunt mosaic
Explore the untamed landscape, classical history and fascinating architecture of northern Greece in the company of classical specialist Rita Roussos
Learn about the region and its history through visits to Byzantine churches, sanctuaries and monasteries, taking in mosaics and early Christian art
Uncover the ancient treasures of Vergina, Macedonia’s first capital, and journey to Alexander the Great’s birthplace of Pella
Between the Ionian and Aegean Seas lie the untamed mountains of northern Greece, where Zeus once roamed. It was here, too, that Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great, held indomitable sway.
Byzantine monasticism once thrived in centres such as Mount Athos – still a semi-autocratic republic inhabited by monks – and Thessaloniki, erstwhile rival to Constantinople. Our varied itinerary will touch both coastlines as we taste the gorges, waterfalls and layered histories of Macedonia and Epirus.
Our circuit begins and ends in Thessaloniki, home to an unforgettable array of Byzantine churches, featuring important early Christian mosaics. We will also chart the rise and fall of Roman Thessaloniki with a visit to the ruins of the emperor’s palace.
Antiquities galore await discovery in Vergina, the first capital of the kingdom of Macedonia. We will also visit Pella, capital of Philip’s empire and the birthplace of Alexander the Great, and Nikopolis, founded by Augustus to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Actium. At Nekromanteion, we will track down the legendary gates of Hades.
The frescoed monasteries of Meteora, or ‘columns in the sky’, perched on towering pillars of natural sandstone, were first settled by hermits in the 11th century and were later endowed with 24 seemingly inaccessible monastic communities.
We stay in comfortable hotels of three to four-star quality, chosen for their convenient and peaceful locations, with some dinners taken in local tavernas or restaurants.
This tour will be led by Rita Roussos. Dr Roussos was born in Athens, grew up in California, and now lives in London. She taught archaeology and art history at the American University of Athens. She has worked on archaeological projects in the Peloponnese. Her research interests range from the place of women in ancient Greece and Rome to 4th century B.C. sculpture from Greece. She read ancient Greek and Latin at the University of California, Berkley and earned her PhD in History of Art at London's prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.
Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, twelve breakfasts, twelve dinners with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.
Not Included: travel insurance, single room supplement £570.