By George Downing
On Wednesday the 3rd of May, the annual Classics Trip to Greece departed on the early morning flight from Dublin. As we approached Athens by air we noticed the city’s sprawling nature with not a cloud in sight. Our first two days were spent in Athens itself viewing all that the city had to offer.
From King Agamemnon’s golden death mask in the National Archaeological Museum to the breathtaking stands of The Panathenic Stadium – home to the first modern day Olympic Games – and the impressive Agora (first indoor market), it was a long but fruitful day of walking around Athens.
Athens has a myriad of beautiful sites to see, however the stand out attraction has to be the Acropolis. The entire city of Athens lives in its shadow.
The hill itself is dotted with spectacular ancient buildings the most notable of which is the Parthenon. This iconic structure is a marvel of human engineering and is the first image that comes to mind when one visualizes the city. Its large columns once enclosed the Greek Senate – home to the greatest brains of all time – but now lying in ruins. It is a poignant reminder of how powerful Greece once was.
After two days in Athens, we boarded our bus and travelled west through acres of vineyards and olive groves..
Our first stop was the battlefield of Chaeronea where Alexander the Great (The Lion of Charonea) and his father Philip II defeated the Thebans before going on to conquer Persia.
Then we travelled to the Oracle of Delphi, which was once considered to be the centre of the entire universe. It functioned as a place where important figures of the ancient world used to come to communicate with the gods. They communicated with a priestess who was said to be in a trance and had a sacred ability to speak with the gods. Modern scientists have now discovered that there is a natural fissure in the ground where the temple once stood so it is now understood that hallucinogenic gases would have caused these oracles.
We also travelled through the Pelopenesse region visiting the ancient city of Corinth and stood on the same spot that St. Paul once stood preaching to the Greeks.
We saw the impressive Corinth Canal built at the end of the 19th Century, and the famous Amphitheatre of Epidaurus. We also spent a night in Nafplio, the ancient capital of Greece, visiting the surrounding sites including Agamemnon’s palace and tomb in the area of Mycenae and other impressive sites of historical importance.
We stayed our final night in Athens, on the rooftop of the Dorian Inn Hotel reflecting on the mesmerizing and insightful previous days. Overall it was an amazing adventure to learn and experience how the people who shaped the modern world lived. From the beautiful ornate jewelry of Agamemnon’s tomb to the vast open battlefield of Platea, I can firmly say that it was a memorable trip.
Special thanks to our Classics Teacher Mr Ian Murphy for organising the trip and being an excellent tour guide.