Students see the sights of ancient Greece
From 28 March to 1 April, forty-two pupils drawn from Years 8, 9, 10, 11 and the Upper Sixth toured the major sites of ancient Greece with the Classics Department.
The group’s base for the first three nights of the trip was the seaside town of Tolon in the Peloponnese, where the excellent cuisine at the hotel could be supplemented by visits to the local ice cream parlour in the evening. The first ancient site of the trip was Olympia, where the Olympic Games began in 776 BC and where they continued for the next thousand years. Pupils enjoyed seeing the remains of the temples and other features of the site, as well as recreating the “one-stade race” (roughly 200m) in the ancient Olympic Stadium, before turning their attention to the impressive finds from the site that are displayed in the Olympia Archaeological Museum.
On the next day the first visit was to Epidauros. After exploring the sanctuary in which the god Asklepios was believed to cure the sick in their dreams, students ventured into the enormous theatre on the site and marvelled at its still brilliant acoustics. They then drove on to Mycenae, the most important Bronze Age citadel in Greece, and investigated the remains of the site, including the famous Lion Gate, the grave circles, and an underground cistern, and tried to locate the site where the legendary king Agamemnon was murdered on his return from the Trojan War. They also went inside the so-called “Treasury of Atreus”, an amazing beehive-shaped tomb. Before returning to Tolon the group also visited nearby Nauplion, the first capital of modern Greece, where delicious ice cream and a chance to explore this interesting city were enjoyed by all members of the group.
An early start was necessary for the third full day of the tour, which saw the group drive from Tolon to Athens to experience the main sites of Greece’s capital. The first stop was the Areopagus hill, from which all the major features of the city can be seen. The group then visited the Acropolis Museum and wondered at the brilliant sculptures recovered from the site – as well as a fascinating Lego model that reduced the Acropolis to a manageable size! After a delicious lunch in the Plaka district, they walked through the Theatre of Dionysus on our way up to the Acropolis itself, where pupils were dazzled by the marble temples and the extensive views. One pupil described the Parthenon as “the most amazing thing I have ever seen” and all members of the party returned to the coach full of wonder for what they had seen in Athens.
The group drove on to Delphi where, after a night in a hotel with breath-taking mountain views, the final morning of the trip saw students visit the Sanctuary of Apollo, home in antiquity to the famous oracle, and also the Sanctuary of Athene Pronaia, where stand the three remaining columns of the tholos, one of the most emblematic sights of Delphi. A superb farewell lunch capped an excellent trip which left all members of the party with a much better sense of the ancient Greek world.
The Classics Department is now looking forward to trips to Hadrian’s Wall in October 2015 and to the Bay of Naples at Easter 2016.