“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
In the footsteps of Gustave Flaubert: Peloponnese Tour
Gustave Flaubert visits Greece in December 1850 at the age of 29. Fascinated by the Orient and the exoticism of the East he starts a long journey through Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, before reaching Greece. This trip finds him in a decisive moment in his life, a moment of aesthetic quest and transformation that will eventually lead to the creation of Madame Bovary, his famous novel. Wandering through Greece with the writings of Pausanias on his mind he explores historic archaelogical sites, cities and villages and writes his memoirs in small leather notebooks, the «Carnets de Voyages». Reading these notes and getting acquainted with his rather “photographic” way of writing , we see the country through Flaubert’s eyes. Following his footsteps in Athens, enjoy this Peloponnese tour and visit the peninsulas main landmarks Corinth, Mycenae, Sparta, Messene, Olympia and Delphi, and see what he saw and experience his enthusiasm for ancient Greek culture.
- Ancient Corinth and Mycenae
- Ancient Sparta and byzantine Mystras
- Ancient Messene and Temple of Apollo Epicurius of Bassae
Day 1 From Athens to Ancient Corinth, Mycenae and Tripoli
Our first stop today is the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth, which is at the crossroads between Central Greece and the Peloponnese, and between the Corinthian and the Saronic gulfs. Corinth used to be one of the places that almost every traveller would cross on his way to Istanbul or to the Holy Land. The continuation of our quest brings us to the archaeological site of Mycenae, the kingdom of mythical Agamemnon and the richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Palatial complexes, Cyclopean walls, the famous “Tomb of Agamemnon” (also known as the “Treasury of Atreus”), huge arches, fountains and ramparts comprise one of the greatest architectural complexes known to the ancient world. Mycenae have been rediscovered in the 17th and 18th century by European travellers who explored Greece, its monuments and its treasures. In 1876 Heinrich Schliemann brought to light the royal vaulted tombs, the Treasury of Atreus. Leaving behind the cyclopean fortifications and the vaulted tombs of Mycenae, we set off to visit Arcadia, the homeland of the ancient Greek god, Pan. In the city of Tripolis we have some free time for lunch, before we continue to the Kaltezes Monastery, one of the most impressive orthodox Christian monasteries where we learn about Greek herbs and their traditional uses. Leaving Kaltezes monastery in its calm isolation, we move south towards the city of Kalamata, where we overnight.
Day 2 In Sparta, Mystras and Kalamata
Today we visit the city of Sparta and get to know about ancient Spartans and their laconic philosophy through a tour to the archaeological site of Ancient Sparta. We continue the day with a short walk through the byzantine ruins of the medieval fortified city of Mystras, that used to be the capital of the byzantine Despotate of Morea and the Paleologos dynasty. Built in a beautiful landscape on the slopes of mount Taygetos, this tower city is full of old medieval buildings and byzantine churches with impressive frescoes. Wandering through its cobbled pathways we explore it’s unique architecture and natural beauty. The view to the Laconian plain and mount Parnon from the castle of Mystras is unique. We have a short break for lunch in a traditional taverna and after lunch we return to Kalamata for a stroll in the old part of the city.
Day 3 In Ancient Messene and the Temple of Apollo Epicurius and return to Athens
We leave Kalamata in the morning and visit the archaeological site of Ancient Messene, a city built in 370 BC by the Theban Epameinontas. This city developed into an important cultural center of Messinia until 395 AD, when it was destroyed by the Goths. The Ancient Theatre, the Ekklesiasterion, the Asclepieio, the Temple of Artemis, the fountain of Arsinoe, the imposing Stadium and the Gymnasium, the Odeon and many other monuments testify to the wealth and size of Ancient Messene. Our next stop is up in the mountains to visit the impressive Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae. In the beautiful traditional village of Andritsaina we have some free time to enjoy our lunch with traditional local recipes. In the afternoon we return to Athens.