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Special Interest Tours




With Helen Nicholson I 01 – 20 April 2019

 Dodecanese_Rhodes_photo Y GiannelosKos_Aegean Sea_photo Y Skoulassantoriniimage017  


The Greek islands evoke images of white washed houses and churches, blue skies and the sea, and the Aegean Sea is dotted with hundreds of islands. This tour crosses the Aegean from Aegina to Rhodes with stays on the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Naxos and Paros as well. It takes in some of the most attractive and interesting islands, and in the process explores several thousand years of history and different civilizations and cultures, as the islands fell under the sway of Greeks, Romans, Venetians and Ottomans before achieving independence as part of Greece.


On a day trip from Athens to the nearby island of Aegina we shall visit the ancient site of Kolonna and the Temple of Aphaia built in the early 5th century BCE. We then fly across the Aegean from Athens to the island of Rhodes.

Here we shall walk in the footsteps of the Knights of St John who were based in Rhodes from 1309 to 1523. Their UNESCO World Heritage listed medieval capital is an outstanding example of Frankish and subsequent Ottoman architecture. There is a visit to the ancient acropolis of Lindos and a day trip to the island of Kos, home to the ancient healing sanctuary where Asclepius once practiced medicine.


From Rhodes we fly to the island of Mykonos, famous for its whitewashed houses and churches, and visit Delos, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, an important religious sanctuary to the ancient Greeks and centre of the slave  trade under the Romans.

A local ferry takes us from Mykonos to the island of Paros, famed in antiquity for its fine marble. We visit the ancient quarries as well as exploring churches and villages on the island. It is just a short ferry ride to Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic islands, where we spend the next three nights, and visit picturesque villages and archaeological sites, including unfinished monumental archaic statues.


A hydrofoil takes us across the Aegean to Santorini where we consider the Bronze Age society destroyed in a volcanic eruption in the middle of the second millennium BCE. We visit Acrotiri where archaeologists have unearthed a settlement frozen in time and see many of the artefacts from the site displayed in the Prehistoric Museum. We also take a sunset cruise in the volcano’s caldera and visit the spectacularly located classical site of Thira.


Crete is the last island visited and we continue our exploration of the Aegean Bronze Age here with the Minoans. There are visits to the Palace of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum as well as exploring the legacy of the Venetians in the island’s capital, Heraklion. From Heraklion we drive to Chania with a visit to the museum and site of Eleutherna, purported birthplace of the sculptor Timochares and the Arkadi Monastery en route. In Chania, once the capital of Crete, we explore the historic centre and visit the Archaeological Museum. Upon our return to Athens, where the tour ends, there is a visit to the Museum of Cycladic Art.


YOUR TOUR LEADER: Helen Nicholson is an experienced, well-regarded study tour leader and had led more than thirty tours to Europe and Asia, including Alumni’s Egypt, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia tours, and the AAIA’s 2015 and 2016 tours to Greece. She holds archaeology degrees from the University of Sydney and has delivered numerous lectures, courses and study days for adult, museum and professional audiences. Helen spent several years working at the Powerhouse Museum and has been a casual lecturer and tutor at the University of Sydney since 1995. She has worked on archaeological sites in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Jordan, Cambodia and Uzbekistan, including three seasons at the AAIA’s excavations at Torone and Sydney University’s excavations at Paphos in Cyprus. Helen now works as an archaeological consultant in Sydney. 

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