Religious Athens

Ancient & New Religion Tour

9 hours

Greece was always a crossroad of religions & civilizations. Christianity had α fertile ground to grow in Greece because of the ancient Greek religion, which was open to new influences and ideas and was supported by the spirit of the great philosophers of Greek antiquity. Our program aims at highlighting how this transition happened and what were the reasons behind the successful adoption.

By visiting three very important religious cradles, you will be introduced to the old mystic practices at the sacred place of Eleusis, the implantation of Christianity, the unique and fine examples of Classical idealism of Middle Byzantine -Daphni monastery & Osios Potapios Monastery – and the junction between the ancient and the new religions.




The tour starts with our visit to the monastery of  Daphni (or Daphne or Dafni) which  lies to the west of Athens, almost half-way along the Sacred Way to Eleusis. This site has been considered sacred since ancient times when there was a temple dedicated to Apollo there. The temple is long since gone (except for one column near the entrance), but the name Daphni (Greek for “laurel,” Apollo’s sacred plant) still honours Apollo’s memory.  The first monastery was erected on the site in the 6th century A.D. and was enclosed by strong defensive walls, almost square in plan.


The second phase, dated to the end of the 11th century (around 1080), is the one preserved. The “Catholicon” is a crossing-square church of the octagonal type, surmounted by a broad and high dome.  It has a narthex, formed as an open portico in which the Ionic columns of the ancient temple of Apollo were built.


After our visit to Daphni monastery we continue driving on the Sacred Way all the way to Eleusis. Eleusis is the location where the cult of the goddess Demeter (Ceres) existed many centuries and where the most famous religious festival, called the Eleusinian Mysteries, were performed every year in the honour of this deity. The name of the town, Eleusís, is a variant of the noun “έλευσις, éleusis” that means arrival. The Mysteries seem to be related to a Homeric myth (650 B.C.), according to which Demeter’s daughter Persephone (also referred to as Kore, “girl”) was seized by her uncle, Hades, the god of death and the underworld who took her to his underworld kingdom to be his queen. Zeus allowed Persephone to return to her mother but only for six months every year.
The Eleusinian Mysteries probably included a celebration of Persephone’s return, for it was also the rebirth of plants and the return of life to the earth.  Persephone had gone into the underworld (underground, like seeds in the winter), then returned to the land of the living: her return to her mother is symbolic of the rebirth of all flora during Spring and, by extension, of all life on earth.


Following the coastal highway after Eleusis, we’ll arrive at the picturesque seaside town of Loutraki for lunch or coffee. At a distance of 14 km from Loutraki, on an imposing site and at an altitude of some 700 m., on a spur of the Geraneia mountains and above the calm waters of the Gulf of Corinth, stands the nunnery of Ossios Patapios.  The interior of the nunnery is reached by a spiral flight of 144 steps.
Ossios Patapios was born in the fourth or fifth century at Thebes in Egypt and spent much of his life as an ascetic in the desert.  Later, he visited Vlachernae in Constantinople, where he dedicated himself utterly to God, He made many miracles and helped his fellow men. He died at a great age and was buried in the church of St. John the Baptist in Constantinople. From there, his relic was brought to the “Geraneia” mountains by other ascetics and was sealed in a cave.
In 1904, the relic came to light when the cave was opened. The saint’s body had been placed beneath tiles, to protect it from the dampness, and it exuded a sweet odour. On the relic was a scroll giving Patapios’s name, with a wooden cross and some Byzantine coins. The cave of Ossios Patapios, measuring 8 χ 4.5 meters, is to the northwest of the catholicon of the nunnery, and it has a sanctuary and sacristy hewn out of the rock. The holy relic itself is in a special wooden structure at the back of the cave, on the left.

Alternative Tour Options:
There are so many other things to see in this area. Keep in mind that your driver is at your disposal, so if you would like to adjust the proposed itinerary at all, just let him know!


Yellow Taxi Mercedes E Class Sedan
  • 4
    or 3 + guide
  • 2
  • 2
Colors yellow
€ 550
Mini Van Mercedes van VITO
  • 6
    or 5 + guide
  • 6
  • 6
Colors black/white
€ 650
Van Mercedes Sprinter 315
  • 9
    or 8 + guide
  • 8
  • 8
Colors black, white, blue, silver
€ 700
Van Mercedes Sprinter 315 (m12)
  • 12
    or 11 + guide
  • 10
  • 10
Colors black, white, blue, silver
€ 750
MINI BUS Mercedes Sprinter 518CDI
  • 18
    or 17 + guide
  • 13
  • 13
Colors Various
€ 800
Total additional fee for local licensed tour guide
For this tour we also provide a licenced tour guide with no extra charge.
€ 0

More Info

More Info

Special Instructions

Proper attire must be worn inside monasteries- shoulders and knees must be covered.


This tour is not available on Mondays and Tuesdays.


It is entirely up to your discreet decision to leave some money in the candle box of the churches that we visit.