Romantic and historic, Greece conjures up images of scenic islands, white washed buildings and sandy beaches, as well as ancient cities with mythic history. Since time immemorial, intrepid travelers have been journeying between Turkey and Greece. The two destinations share civilizations that date back thousands of years; so it makes good sense to be able to combine them on a single trip. Let Magister create your dream vacation to Turkey and Greece. Here are some of the highlights of Greece that you may wish to include.
The capital of Greece, located in the southern region of Attica, is often called the birthplace of Western civilization. Settlements appeared as early as 3000 BCE on the hill of the Acropolis. There are abundant sights to explore in this historic city. Remarkable archaeological sites, such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch, await you on the longest pedestrian street in Europe. See the Theatre of Dionysus, where plays were performed in the 5th century BCE. Observe the beautiful Odeon of Herodes Atticus that was built in 161 CE for musical concerts and is still used today during the annual Athens Festival. With a history spanning thousands of years, the Acropolis is the symbol of Athens and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. See the Propylaea – the magnificent entrance built between 437 and 432 BCE. Admire the temple of Athena Nike that was built to commemorate victory against Persians. Be mesmerized at the sight of the famous Parthenon, the architectural masterpiece dedicated to goddess Athena. Discover Filopappos Hill, a lush green area with remarkable monuments and a great view of the Acropolis and Parthenon. Wander through the Ancient Greek Agora or market, where you can see monuments from the 5th century BCE to the 11th century CE. Additional sights include the Roman Agora, Kerameikos, and Byzantine churches. Be sure to stroll the elegant Plaka – the oldest district in Athens also called “Gods’ District” – with narrow paved lanes lined with colorful houses and lovely gardens. Observe the Ottoman and Byzantine influence in the streets of “old” Athens or Monastiraki. If shopping is your interest, visit the traditional shopping center of Athens in the “heart” of the city.
Delphi & Meteora
Central Greece is home to the impressive archaeological site of Delphi, known for its Temple of Apollo and the most important oracle in classical Greece. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was also home to the Pythian Games in the 8th century BCE – a precursor to the modern Olympics – where athletes from all over Greece competed for the laurel crown. Take a day trip from Athens and visit the theatre, the Tholos, the Gymnasium and Delphi Archaeological Museum. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora and you will soon understand why it is so named. Meaning “suspended in the air” the area is the site of a unique collection of monasteries perched on rocky outcrops above the Peneas valley and the town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain.
Located on the coast in northern Greece, Thessaloniki is home to one of the most impressive squares in the country – Aristotelous Square. The city’s landmark is the White Tower, 33.9 meters high, built under Ottoman sultan Sulieman the Magnificent in the 15th century. Visit the Palace of Galerius and see its renowned mosaics. See the Ancient Agora dating from the 3rd century BCE, Byzantine Bath, Hamza Bey Mosque, and the harbor with its Customs house and warehouses that are used as venues for the International Film Festival and as the Cinema Museum. Those interested in religious sights will want to visit the Acheiropoietos Church with its fine mosaics and frescoes, and the church of Ayois Dimitrios, the city’s Patron Saint.
This region in southern Greece is known for its historic sites. Discover the ancient city of Corinth which dates from the 10th century BCE and is home to the inspiring Temple of Apollo. For Christians, the city has religious significance in that St. Paul lived and taught here and wrote two of his epistles to the Christian community at Corinth. Tour Olympia and see the site of the first Olympic Games in honor of Zeus. In Mycenae, you’ll find the acropolis from 2000 BCE and its Archaeological Museum. Nearby, visit the ancient theatre of Epidaurus and the beautiful seaport town of Nafplion, a popular cruise stop.
Mykonos & Santorini
The Cyclades in the Aegean Sea are comprised of some of the world’s most alluring islands – including famed Mykonos and Santorini. The Cyclades are bound together by stunning scenery and the famous Cycladic architecture – white-washed cube houses with rounded corners built next to and on top of each other. Typically built on steep cliffs with unobstructed views of the turquoise Aegean, it is these structures that draw attention to these islands. The style is derived from Cycladic art that flourished over 4,000 years ago!
The largest island in Greece is the site of remains of civilizations, stunning mountain scenery and glorious beaches. In the capital city of Heraklion, witness the influences of an unusual mixture of Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman civilizations. This region of the island, nestled between two mountain ranges, has exceptional archaeological treasures, picturesque villages, olive groves and vineyards. Visit Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum to see an excellent collection of antiquities from the Minoan civilization which flourished on Crete between 2700 and 1500 BCE. The picturesque town of Neapoli is located in the easternmost and least mountainous region of Crete. Here you find well-preserved neoclassical buildings and Byzantine monasteries. Also in this region is Vai, the only palm forest in Europe, consisting of more than 5,000 trees, reportedly dating back to medieval times when the Arabs conquered Crete and planted the trees. In Lerapetra – the sunniest city in Europe – visit the 13th-century fortress at the port entrance and the Archaeological Museum housed in the former Ottoman school.
Rhodes & Patmos
The largest of the Dodecanese island group, located southwest of the Turkish coast in the eastern Aegean Sea, Rhodes is famous for the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among the historical sights to visit on the island is the Acropolis, the ancient cities of Lalysos and Kamrios, Rhodes Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the ancient Rhodes Footbridge. Patmos is one of the smaller islands in the group and is an important stop for Christian pilgrims. Its historic center in Chora, along with the Monastery of St. John and the Cave of the Apocalypse – also called Holy Grotto of Revelation – were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999.