Voyage through History: The Dodecanese Islands of Greece
Greece is a land of rugged beauty that includes over 2,000 islands stretching from the Ionian Sea in the west to the Aegean Sea in the east. Clinging to the coast of Asia Minor, the Dodecanese islands have been a geographic intersection and turbulent battleground for millennia.
With Professor John France
Why travel on Far Horizons’ Dodecanese Islands of Greece Tour ?
- Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pythagoreion, the Chorá on Pátmos, the Acropolis, and Rhodes Old Town
- Explore eight islands in the Dodecanese chain
- Three full days on the island of Rhodes
- Nine days onboard a private yacht
- Two days in Athens, with the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Acropolis and the new Acropolis Museum
- Led by medieval specialist, Professor John France
- Limited to a maximum of 9 participants
Travel & Tour the Dodecanese Islands of Greece – Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Athens. Acropolis and its museum.
Day 3: Fly to Samos. Board yacht.
Day 4: Patmos. Monastery of St. John.
Day 5: Kalymnos. Potia.
Day 6: Asclepion. Kos. Nisyros.
Day 7: Tilos.
Day 8: Symi.
Day 9: Rhodes.
Day 10: Rhodes.
Day 11: Kameros. Lindos.
Day 12: Fly to Athens. Museum of Cycladic Art.
Day 13: Fly back to the USA.
Picture yourself sitting on the teak deck of a 90-foot yacht surrounded by breathless vistas, azure seas with an indigo sky above, one of only eight others onboard. Imagine watching a glorious crimson sunset and then the canopy of stars as it slowly appears overhead. Dream of a smiling crewman handing you a frosty drink and then serving you delectable cuisine created by your personal chef. See yourself standing next to the captain as he steers the craft into a silent bay, once an ancient port. Our craft, a Turkish gulet, is an all wooden handcrafted motor-sailer (YES! It sails!) that has been carefully chosen for its comfort and service.
Far Horizons has been chartering exceptional yachts since 1985. Only the best for our discerning travelers!
As we voyage through the southeastern Aegean we will explore Samos, Pátmos, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros, Tilos, Symi, and Rhodes, and along the way learn that even the smallest island boasts stunning ancient temples, striking Byzantine churches, and medieval castles built when the islands were controlled by the Knights of Rhodes. This little-explored and remote part of Greece has a long history quite separate from that of mainland Greece. Highlights will be the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The 12th century village of Chorá; the medieval city of Rhodes still surrounded by formidable fortification walls; Pythagoreion and the Heraion Temple; and Athens’ Acropolis.
“When I want to picture paradise, I just think of the days we spent onboard our gulet and I know it cannot be better than that.” – Barbara Matula
Dodecanese Islands of Greece Tour Leader
John France is Professor Emeritus from Swansea University in Wales and is a renowned specialist on the Medieval Period, including the Knights of Rhodes/St. John and the Byzantines. He has published numerous articles, and is the author of The Crusades and the Expansion of Catholic Christendom, Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, and Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade. Additionally, he has edited several important books including Medieval Warfare, Warfare in the Dark Ages, and War and Peace in Ancient and Medieval History. As a result of his research covering this period, he has compiled an electronic database of lives of saints prior to the year 1000. He is also an editor of the Journal of Medieval History. Dr. France was a featured scholar on the History Channel’s impressive two-part documentary, The Crusades: Crescent & the Cross.
‘John France was a delightful companion. His knowledge and enthusiasm provided perspectives that we would never have thought of. We learned a great deal from his conversational presentation of details. Both his scholarship and his wit were a pleasure.’ – Mark & Cynthia Coleman
‘John France was excellent – knowledgeable, approachable. He did not overload us with too lengthy explanations, but was always willing to go into detail. He was entertaining too. I learned a lot. He was a big “plus”.- Moira Robertson
‘Professor France was one of the things that really made this trip a success. He is very knowledgeable, and, more importantly, can get his knowledge across. He is also an enjoyable lunch and dinner companion, mixing well with everybody – if it wouldn’t sound condescending I would say he was “entertaining.”’ – Henry Shapiro
‘John France was the highlight of this trip. His command of the topic knew no end, and he was very able to explain some complicated issues in an understandable way. In addition, he is a warm and most friendly person. We really enjoyed seeing how excited he got over some of the sites! ‘ – Graham & Jacque Loynd
‘PRICELESS! Now I am spoiled! I want someone like John – always!’ – Ruxanda Manuila
‘Superlative. I cannot say enough great things about John, his knowledge, his sociability, his willingness to answer questions and interact; he is amazing.’ – Cathy Scofield
Dodecanese Islands of Greece Tour Itinerary
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA for Athens, Greece.
Day 2: Arrive in Athens in the morning and transfer to the Hotel Divani Palace Acropolis. After a light lunch, visit the Acropolis, the great hill dominating the city of Athens and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been occupied since the Neolithic period and in Mycenaean times there was already a palace and fortified citadel here. In the mid-5th century BC, the Athenians began an immense construction program that resulted in several extraordinary buildings that still stand today. Walk through the Propylaia, the enormous entrance to the Acropolis, and pass the Temple of Athena Nike, built to commemorate the Athenians’ victories over the Persians. View the Erechtheion with its Porch of the Caryatids, with carved statues of women used in place of columns. The immense and lovely Parthenon, originally built to house the 40-foot high sculpture of the goddess, Athena Parthenos, is one of the world’s most famous buildings. The splendor of its frieze and perfection of its architectural techniques makes it impressive even after 2,500 years. Spend time in the new and outstanding Acropolis Museum at the foot of the hill, highlighting the works of art found onsite. (L/D)
Day 3: Fly to Samos and board our Turkish wooden yacht, called a gulet. After settling in, we will explore this small island with its many layers of civilizations from as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, Pythagoreion was an ancient port that was originally encircled by fortification walls which can still be seen today. Renowned since ancient times, it was as a place of pilgrimage for the cult of the goddess Hera, queen of the gods and wife of Zeus. According to Greek mythology she was born and raised here, and was the motivation to make her temple the largest in antiquity. The Heraion was the first of the gigantic free-standing Ionic sanctuaries, but excavations have shown that it was built over earlier temples that dated back to at least the 8th century BC. The remains of the city are fascinating, with still visible monuments including the 4,000 foot long Tunnel of Eupalinos, one of the greatest engineering achievements. Excavated through a limestone mountain to supply the town with water, this 6th century BC masterpiece was the longest tunnel of its time. Nearby, the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani was built inside a large cave and hosts a marble icon of the Virgin Mary that is considered miraculous. Archaeologists believe that this was a sacred spot thousands of years ago as part of an ancient temple was found inside the cavern. The Castle of Lykourgos Logothetis was important to the War of Independence. We return to our yacht and gather on deck for our welcome cocktails and dinner under the stars. (B/L/D)
Day 4: We leave Samos and cruise to Pátmos, reputed to be where St. John wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. Our exploration of the island begins in the town of Chorá, one of the few settlements in Greece that has remained largely unchanged since the 12th century. It was designated UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. Crowning the top of the hill in Chorá and dedicated to the disciple, the 10th century Monastery of St. John has been a place of pilgrimage since in was constructed. The Cave of the Apocalypse is believed to mark the spot where St. John received the vision of the Revelation, which his devotee Prochoros recorded and is now the last book of the New Testament. There will be time to wander in Chorá village with lunch in a local taverna. Return to our vessel in the late afternoon with dinner onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 5: Our early morning crossing through the azure sea, takes us to scenic Kalymnos, known as the sponge fisher’s island. Shadowed by stunningly-beautiful and dramatic massifs, the lively town of Pothia is the capital and port of the island. Begin in the Archaeological Museum, where there are displays of objects from the prehistoric to the Byzantine era; the Folklore Museum highlights life within a traditional house; and the Nautical Museum presenting the history and traditional methods of sponge-fishing. several eras of history will be seen as we move into the countryside of the island. The many caves dotting Kalymnos’ mountains were inhabited during the Neolithic period. The Temple of Delios Apollo was an ionic-style temple entirely constructed of marble. Its columns are preserved, but are now part of the church of Panagia Haritomeni at Chora, the old capital. In 1310 the island came under the control of the Knights of Rhodes, and during this time the Castle of Chrisocheria was constructed and became the medieval capital of Kalymnos. This evening’s dinner is free to search out one of Porthia’s tavernas. (B/L)
Day 6: Cruise through the beautiful islands of Leposo and Leros to Kos. In antiquity Kos was renowned for its healing Temple of Asklepios, founded after the death of the famed physician Hippocrates. The Asklepion functioned as a hospital for about a thousand years, finally falling into disrepair. The Knights of St. John, who were established on Rhodes, took control of Kos in 1315 AD. A century later, they built the superb fortress that stands today at the entrance of Kos harbor. In the afternoon, we pull anchor and motor to Nisyros. According to Greek mythology, this island was formed during the battle between the Giants and the Gods. Journey along winding lanes to the Monastery of the Madonna of the Caves (Panagia Spiliani), the patroness of the island. Built in 1600, it is linked with many traditions and has a lovely 18th century iconostasis. Then it’s on to the island’s highlight, the still active volcanic crater in the center. Dinner is on our own to search for a local restaurant in the old part of Nisyros town. Overnight onboard in Nisyros. (B/L)
Day 7: Our morning cruise takes us to Tilos, which according to legend was named after the youngest son of Alia and Apollo. It is an unspoiled Aegean island with nineteen beaches, twelve mountains, seven medieval castles, a Byzantine monastery and two hundred churches, a cave full of natural discoveries, a village that is declared a cultural monument, one hundred bird species, hundreds of wild flowers and herbs, and five hundred residents. We will have time to explore the island including St. Panteleimon Monastery, originally built in 1470. The monastery’s zenith was reached during the 18th and 19th centuries as it printed bank notes used on the island, owned vast tracts of land with animal herds and served as a key economic as well as spiritual center. We pass through a walled courtyard leading to the church whose inspiring, centuries-old frescoes have been restored after the removal of the plaster covering by the Turkish occupation. In Megalo Chorio, view the Fortress of Misaria, a medieval building founded by the Knights of Saint John. Elephants lived on the island from 45,000 years ago and disappeared in the second millennia BC. Learn about this curiosity in the Dwarf Elephant Museum. Dinner will be onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 8: Cruise to the rocky, mountainous island of Symi, northwest of Rhodes, and one of the most beautiful of the Dodecanese chain. It was part of the Roman Empire, and then the Byzantine Empire, until its conquest by the Knights of St. John in 1373. The deep harbor is like an amphitheater, with elegant, multi-colored two- and three-story 19th century neo-classical homes of the former sponge trading merchants, and churches with colored domes climbing up the steep hillsides. The high hill overlooking the harbor is Kastro, with the original settlement of Chorio and dominated by the Church of Megali Panagia containing beautiful frescoes and the ruins of the Byzantine castle that was expanded by the Knights of St. John. In the afternoon, we will move the yacht to Yialós, a natural harbor considered one of the most beautiful in Greece. The afternoon is free to explore the town with dinner on our own. (B/L)
Day 9: After breakfast, pull anchor and motor to Rhodes. The island has always been important strategically and its position on the vital trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean has greatly influenced the course of its history. Protected by impregnable 14th -century walls, the medieval city is renowned for its archaeological treasures and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Knights of the Order of St. John occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and set about transforming it into a stronghold. This afternoon, we will walk the almost four miles of still-standing, formidable city walls. Dinner is on our own this evening to enjoy a meal in one of the town’s many exceptional restaurants. (B/L)
Day 10: Our exploration today takes us to many impressive sites in the Old City. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital, and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is inspired by the conservative and monastic character of the holy order. The result is one of the most beautiful urban centers of the Gothic period. We will walk through several other areas of the town including the Mosque of Suleiman, the Jewish Quarter, the Hospice of St. Catherine and the Archaeological Museum, containing a large collection including the tombstones of many of the Crusader Knights of St. John who once made this island their own. Lunch will be in a local tavern and dinner will be onboard. (B/L/D)
Day 11: Standing guard over the southeastern coast, the citadel at Lindos is guarded by medieval walls which were constructed by the Knights in the 13th century. Within them stands the ancient Acropolis, on the brink of a precipice 400 feet above the sea. As we climb the winding, narrow paths between small traditional whitewashed buildings from the village to the castle, we will stop to view the Church of Phaneromeni and the Church of Panayia. Proceed on foot uphill, to the great staircase leading from the Hellenistic Portico to the Acropolis and the Temple of Athena. From the top, marvel at the breathtaking views covering the great expanse of the Aegean Sea and St. Paul’s Bay, where the apostle cast anchor during his historic voyage to Ephesus. Close to the promontory of Agios Minas, ancient Mylantio, lies Kamiros, one of the three large Doric cities of the island. Lunch is on our own. In the afternoon, drive to Filerimos Monastery, built in the 15th century by the Knights of St. John over an early 5th century Byzantine abbey. Inside, there was the holy icon of the Virgin Mary that the Knights had probably brought to Rhodes from Jerusalem. When the Ottomans conquered the island in 1523, the Knights left and took the icon with them; it is now housed in the National Museum of Montenegro. Dinner will be onboard. (B/ /D)
Day 12: After breakfast onboard, we sadly leave our yacht and go to the airport to fly back to Athens. After a light lunch, visit the Museum of Cycladic Art, one of Athens’ great museums housing a wonderful collection Cycladic artifacts. Then it’s on to Kerameikos, one of the most beautiful and least visited of the archaeological sites in downtown Athens. This was the ancient cemetery that was continuously in use from the 9th century BC until Roman times. The site’s small museum houses the finds from the Kerameikos excavations. (B/L/D)
Day 13: Our morning flight departs for the USA. (B)
LIFE ONBOARD THE YACHT: You will be spending nine nights/days aboard a traditional gulet, or wooden motorsailer, built in Turkey based on designs of vessels that have sailed these waters for millennia. Our yachts are carefully selected and larger than many, but they are still yachts, with all the limitations of sea travel. The eight double-occupancy cabins are finished in varnished pine and fitted with beds, a small closet and a private bathroom. These accommodations are simple but quite comfortable. We recommend that you pack with comfort and limited storage space in mind. Even though the gulets are quite large, about 90 feet in length, they draw only a few feet of water, thus enabling us to anchor each night in secluded coves close to the shore. You will be tempted to begin and end each day with a refreshing swim!
$10,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes two domestic flights within Greece; nine days and nights onboard a private chartered yacht; all hotels; most meals (as listed in the itinerary); all entry fees; gratuities to drivers, guides, and yacht crew; chartered yacht and ground transportation.
Single Supplement: $1,995.00. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged. NOTE: Only one single supplement is available on the yacht.
Cost does not include: International flights from New York to Athens; a separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project; passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; email, telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. We will be designating a donation project shortly.
A deposit of $500.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 90 days before departure will receive a refund less a $300.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 90 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.
International flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If you do not arrive or depart on the scheduled days, you are responsible for all transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
This Archaeological Tour to Greece is limited to 9 participants