BYZANTINE & CHRISTIAN MONUMENTS. ANCIENT & MODERN TIMES
ATHENS - LOUTRAKI – KALAVRITA – NAFPAKTOS – DELPHI – KALAMBAKA (METEORA) – EDIPSOS (EVIA)
DAY 1: ATHENS
Arrival. Transfer to hotel in Athens.
DAY 2: LOUTRAKI
Drive to Loutraki to visit the nunnery of Osios ('the Blessed') Patapios located high in the Geraneia mountains. Potapios was born in the 4th or 5th century at Thebes in Egypt. He spent much of his life as an ascetic in the desert. Later, he visited Vlachernae in Constantinople, dedicating himself utterly to God. He is known for his many miracles helping people. Originally buried in the Church of St John the Baptist in Constantinople, his relic was brought later to the Geraneia mountains by other ascetics and sealed in a cave. On the relic was a scroll giving Patapios's name, with a wooden cross and some Byzantine coins. Inside the cave there are also 13th century Byzantine wall paintings. The monastery has a breathtaking view to both Corinthian & Saronic Gulfs. Overnight in Loutraki.
DAY 3: KALAVRITA
On the way to Kalavrita visit great Mega Spileo & Agia Lavra monasteries. Mega Spileo is one of the oldest monasteries of Greece. According to a legend, the monastery was founded in the 4th century by two monks from Thessalonica. It was built in a huge cave of Mt. Helmos at an altitude of 924 m., on the spot, where a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary was found. This icon made of wax and mastic by Luke the Evangelist is kept in a cave in the church Panagia Chrisospiliotisa. The visitor can admire rare manuscripts, vestments of the clergy, Byzantine gospels, excellent pieces of handicrafts in gold and silver, kept in a vestry, many holy relies and treasures. The monastery of Agia Lavra opens a view of the Vouraikos river valley. Constructed in 961 at an altitude of 961 m, it once also had 961 monks. It was here that the call for "freedom of death" first rang out in 1821. The monastery church has a fine carved icon screen, frescoes damaged by fire, the icon of Agia Lavra, a very old Gospel, a gift of Catherine the Great; gold crosses; reliquaries and a valuable collection of early Christian and ancient objects. Overnight at a seaside hotel.
DAY 4: NAFPAKTOS
In the morning we drive to Rio to take a ferry to Antirio on the way to St. Augustine and Seraphim Sarof monastery (Naupaktia). The monastery was built in 1980 but soon became world-known. Its unique bell tower counts 400 bells and is considered to be one of the biggest in the world. The monks also created a website of the monastery, a radio station, a newspaper, a zoo and a rock music band whose first CD of religious rock songs just in a few weeks became platinum with over 60,000 sales. In the afternoon drive to Delphi for overnight.
DAY 5: KALAMBAKA
Breakfast. Drive to the 11th century Byzantine Monastery of Ossios Loukas. The cathedral is decorated with splendid mosaics, and architecturally it is one of the finest Byzantine monuments in Greece. We enjoy the superb view from the monastery terrace, taking in the whole of the green valley below. Continue then to Kalambaka for overnight at hotel.
DAY 6: KALAMBAKA - EDIPSOS (EVIA)
Enjoy a spectacular drive up to visit Meteora. Breathtaking beautiful centuries old monasteries perched precariously high above the ground were first built in the 14th century by monks seeking isolation and salvation. They were accessible first only by ropes thrown from above. These veritable Byzantine museums exhibit superb icons, old manuscripts and unique mosaics and frescoes. After the visit, drive to Glyfa to take a ferry to Agiocambos (Northern Evia). Arrival in Edipsos for overnight.
DAY 7: PROKOPI (EVIA) - ATHENS
Drive to the village of Prokopi with its church of St. Ioannis Rossos which attracts numerous pilgrims. When St. Ioannis Rossos was a soldier he was captured by Turks during a war in Azov, Russia and tortured to death since he would not refuse his faith. Still even after his death his remains stayed intact even through a fire. Greeks leaving Asia Minor, brought them to Greece and they are now kept at the church. St. Ioannis Rossos is well-known in the Orthodox world for his miracles curing people from many diseases. Drive to Athens for overnight.
DAY 8: ATHENS
After breakfast transfer to the airport.