The Ancient Stones of Athens May 29 - June 6, 2020

Founded during the Neolithic period (c. 5000 BCE), Athens is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe. But her place in history is much more significant than mere age. More than any other city, Athens had a profound and lasting effect on the Western world. Many of the ideas and principles fundamental to our Western heritage were formulated here. Democracy was born in Athens, as was philosophy, historiography, and the theater, among others. Her Golden Age (fifth to mid-fourth centuries BCE) witnessed a remarkable flowering of creativity, when the city became a magnet to artists, poets and thinkers from all over the Greek world. Athens thrived especially during the leadership of Pericles (495 - 429 BCE), when most of the temples on the Acropolis were built. It was here, overlooking the sprawling city below, that Phidias' towering statue of Athena stood, enshrined by the Parthenon.

The ancient monuments that have survived through the centuries attest to Athens' glorious past. Our program will provide an unparalleled opportunity to study Athens' history and her lasting contributions to Western civilization. Our itinerary includes nearly all of its ancient sites and monuments, those that are well known, such as the temples on the Acropolis, and those that are relatively secluded, such as Plato's Academy. We'll also venture into Attica outside of Athens to explore sites that played a crucial role in the city's history, including Marathon, site of the great battle between the Athenians and Persians, and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. Another highlight will be a short sail across the Saronic Gulf to visit the island of Aegina with its impressive Temple of Aphaia.

Athens today is a dynamic city with a vibrant culture, one that we'll come to understand more deeply through meetings with civic leaders to discuss the city's contemporary life. For those eager to begin preparing for this marvelous tour, our tour faculty will lead an alumni college on Athens' Classical period summer 2020.