After you are greeted with your English Speaking driver, you depart for your first visit of the day at the Byzantine Museum of Athens.With some 25,000 artifacts on display, the museum is vast and knowing where to start can be bewildering! If you decide to book a guide, let your guide introduce you to its best bits while learning about Greece during the Byzantine Empire. Highlights of the museum include a beautiful gallery of Coptic Christian paintings, mosaic icons inside the re-constructed Christian church, and a collection of medieval books. The building itself is both beautiful and historic too, having once been the palace of a Greek duchess.
After a short drive through the city centre, you will visit the Monastery of Kesariani. The Kesariani Monastery was built in the 11th century on top of the foundations of an ancient secular building of an unknown period. Apart from the main church and bathhouse, which are original 11th century structures, the bell tower and St. Anthonychapel were added later, during the Turkish occupation.
The buildings are set around a courtyard and enclosed by a high wall. On the east side is the church, the west side the refectory and kitchen and on the south the bathhouse, converted into an olive press in Turkish times.The Kesariani bathhouse is one of the few examples known from the period (another is at Dafni, on the other side of the city, which would be or next stop) and bears witness to the monastic rule which specified the frequent practice of ablutions, the ritual cleansing of the hands and body. It is constructed much like a Roman bath.
The Refectory and kitchen are housed together in a single building by the western wall opposite the front of the church. The arched wall outside of the monk’s cells from the cloister and the green surroundings, trees, shrubs, plants and undergrowth, add to the beauty of the warm colored brick. Cypresses stand tall behind the church as if to add their own stately protection.
After this visit , your driver will take you for lunch in a nice traditional Greek restaurant, before you move to your next stop, The Monastery of Daphni.
The monastery lies to the west of Athens, almost half-way along the ancient Sacred Way to Eleusis. The Daphni Monastery is built on the site of the ancient sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios which was destroyed during the invasion of the Goths in 395 A.D. Of the old temple only one Ionic column still remains in the colonnade of the narthex, while the rest were removed by Lord Elgin in the 19th century. The monastery, dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, was founded in the 6th century A.D. and in spite of its great wealth and fame, it was abandoned. It was reconstructed at the end of the 11th century by an unknown benefactor.
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!
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.
Did you Know?
- Many historians have agreed that without Byzantium to protect it, Europe would have been overrun by the tide of Islamic invaders.
- The Byzantine Navy was the first to employ a terrifying liquid in naval battles. The liquid was pumped onto enemy ships and troops through large siphons mounted on the Byzantine ships’ prows. It would ignite upon contact with seawater, and could only be extinguished with great difficulty. The ingredients of “Greek fire” were closely guarded, but historians think it was a mixture of naphtha, pitch, sulfur, lithium, potassium, metallic sodium, calcium phosphide and a petroleum base.
- Today, the aromas and ingredients of Greek and other Mediterranean food gives us a little taste of what Byzantine food must have been like.