The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Tours Greece & Turkey I have been interested in traveling to both Greece and Turkey. This was a fabulous course to introduce bothe countries, key places to visit, in cities museums and other important archeological places. I really enjoyed the speaker and his stories and tips for visiting the many wonderful places. I plan to go for a visit.
Date published: 2020-10-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great course, distracting presenter I have always wanted to visit Greece and after watching this course a trip to Greece and Turkey has moved to the top of the places I want to see. The video tours of sites, together with great graphics and historical insights, made this a most informative course. There are some negatives with the presenter. I do appreciate the enthusiasm of Dr Hale but his wildly expressive hand movements and tiptoe presentation is distracting. His universal use of superlatives is not objective and the dramatic background music while touring a site is unnecessary. To be fair, Professor Hale did forewarn us that his first love is being a tour guide rather than an objective historian. A recommended course.
Date published: 2020-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must see before you go. I found this to be very interesting and well presented. I have several other travel DVDs and found this to be my favorite. Although I have never been to either Greece or Turkey, I have done extensive reading on both, especially Greece. The presentation is very well done, is very accurate with everything I have read and definitely makes me want to shell our the money and go. I especially like the suggested routes of travel and the views of a frequent traveler to the areas. We done!
Date published: 2020-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Armchair traveler I really like that not only are the normal tourist sites and explainations are on this but also little out of the way sites are included. It's the next best thing to actually being there
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a great story-teller ! I watched this on the my subscription to The Great Courses Plus. I watch while on my treadmill and this was so interesting that sometimes I forgot how far I was walking. It was exciting to see places I've already visited and interesting to hear about new ones, but the speaker is what makes the lectures so extraordinary. That, and great photos.
Date published: 2020-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Hale is a marvelous educator. I wish we had viewed this before my wife and I traveled to Greece and Turkey. The persona of Professor Hale is one of kind, almost avuncular affability. May God speed his research. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2020-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Armchair Trip Loved this course! Had traveled to Greece and Turkey many years ago and wish we could have taken this course before we went - so much wonderful information and great travel trips. Seeing this made us want to return. It is so helpful to have the information from an expert about these archeological sites - it is difficult otherwise to know what the remains meant. The presenter is great - interesting and so well informed. He brought history to life.....
Date published: 2020-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Excellent lecture and great multimedia brought you right to the location and scenery.
Date published: 2020-06-07
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The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul
Course Trailer
Touring the Cradle of Western Civilization
1: Touring the Cradle of Western Civilization

In setting sail for the ancient world, contemplate the dynamic civilizations that emerged in the Aegean and the scope of the human drama that was played out there. Preview some of the towering figures and remarkable sites you'll encounter, and hear Professor Hale's recommendations for traveling this world as the ancients did.

34 min
Athens-Around the Acropolis and Parthenon
2: Athens-Around the Acropolis and Parthenon

Enter the Acropolis, symbol of Athens, following the path of the ancient annual procession honoring Athena. Investigate the history and meanings of the site's iconic buildings, including the grand Propylaea (gatehouse) and the Erechtheum (Temple of Athena). Learn about the superlative architectural features of the Parthenon and its surprising original uses.

33 min
In the Footsteps of Socrates-Historic Athens
3: In the Footsteps of Socrates-Historic Athens

Among treasures surrounding the Acropolis, discover the Theater of Dionysos, where you ponder the rituals of early dramatic festivals, and the grand Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a venue of music and recitations. Enjoy dramatic viewing places, including the Pnyx, an ancient hilltop assembly point, and finally the vibrant agora market, where Socrates walked.

33 min
Around Attica-Temples and Mysteries
4: Around Attica-Temples and Mysteries

This lecture takes you to sacred monuments of Greece's beautiful Attica region. At the picturesque Amphiareion, shrine of a prophet deity, learn about ancient oracle and healing practices. Visit imposing shrines to Artemis and Poseidon, finishing at Eleusis, sanctuary to the goddess Demeter and the site of mystical religious rituals.

33 min
Seeking the Good Life-Corinth to Epidauros
5: Seeking the Good Life-Corinth to Epidauros

Your journey continues to the Peloponnese, Greece's southern half. From the impressive Corinth Canal, travel to Greece's most important sanctuary to Poseidon, where ancient athletes competed to honor the god. Visit Corinth's massive acropolis and agora (civic center) and the great healing center of Epidauros, highlighting the best-preserved theater of the ancient world.

30 min
Mycenae-Where Kings Planned the Trojan War
6: Mycenae-Where Kings Planned the Trojan War

Next, visit the great citadel of Mycenae, made famous in Homer's Iliad. Entering through the imposing Lion Gate, learn about the rulers of Mycenae and ancient life in the citadel as you explore key monuments: the extraordinary "shaft" graves of an early dynasty, the Megaron palace, and the tomb of King Atreus.

31 min
Around Nafplio-Greek History at a Glance
7: Around Nafplio-Greek History at a Glance

In Greece's Argolid region, walk the mighty fortress of Tiryns, and learn about Mycenaean and classical-age warrior culture. Visit the Heraion, picturesque sanctuary to the goddess Hera, the imposing Roman villa of Herodes Atticus, and the port of Nafplio, with its remnants of Venetian, Byzantine, and Ottoman culture.

32 min
Ancient Olympia-Gods, Games, and Temples
8: Ancient Olympia-Gods, Games, and Temples

Investigate the practices and culture of the original Olympic games at sites including the palaestra, where important athletes trained; the stadium; and the unusual Temple of Hera. Sense the heat and drama of the contests, as you contemplate the mind-set of the competitors and the significance of athletic competition as worship.

32 min
Quest for Wisdom at Apollo's Oracle-Delphi
9: Quest for Wisdom at Apollo's Oracle-Delphi

At this legendary site, reconstruct the sequence and rituals of a visit to the oracle in ancient times. Enter the lower sanctuary, making offerings en route to the temple, with its dual warnings to the pilgrim, where the Pythia (priestess) speaks for the god in answer to each seeker's question.

30 min
Byzantine Outposts-Monemvasia and Mistra
10: Byzantine Outposts-Monemvasia and Mistra

The port town of Monemvasia, once a coveted trading center, offers a rich slice of Byzantine history. Discover its mazelike streets, Byzantine buildings, and its mystical, cliffside Hagia Sophia church. Then explore Mistra's majestic Frankish castle and Byzantine palace, and contemplate the soul of Byzantium in religious architecture here and at Meteora and Mount Athos.

32 min
Cruising the Islands-Mykonos and Delos
11: Cruising the Islands-Mykonos and Delos

This lecture introduces Greece's glorious Aegean Islands in an overview of their scenic and cultural riches. Taste the pleasures of the popular Mykonos before crossing to Delos, birthplace of Apollo and a later trading mecca. Enjoy remnants of important sacred sites and spectacular island views from Mount Kynthos.

32 min
Aegean Ring of Fire-Milos and Santorini
12: Aegean Ring of Fire-Milos and Santorini

On the lesser-known Milos, learn about the striking volcanic and geological features of the island before visiting its richly endowed archaeological museum, ancient classical theater, and extraordinary early Christian catacombs. Contemplate the breathtaking scenery of Santorini, as well as the intriguing remains of its principal historical site, the buried Minoan town of Akrotiri.

29 min
Exploring Crete-Realm of Ancient Minoans
13: Exploring Crete-Realm of Ancient Minoans

On this greatest of Aegean islands, you encounter the very origins of European civilization. Here, take three memorable excursions: first, to the elaborate Minoan palace of Malia, then to Gortyn, Roman capital of Crete-which boasts Europe's first written law code-and finally, to Crete's Venetian capital and the massive Samaria Gorge.

31 min
Lure of the Labyrinth-Palace at Knossos
14: Lure of the Labyrinth-Palace at Knossos

The great palace at Knossos offers dramatic glimpses of the Minoan civilization. Investigate the palace's structure of labyrinthine rooms and its grand courtyards, site of the death-defying bull dance. Ponder the flamboyant ceremonies, court rituals, and sumptuous luxury of the Minoan rulers, recorded in masterful frescoes and tablets memorializing the palace accounts.

30 min
The Dodecanese-Kos, Patmos, and Rhodes
15: The Dodecanese-Kos, Patmos, and Rhodes

On the beautiful island of Kos, reflect on the life and contribution of the physician Hippocrates at the ancient medical sanctuary honoring him. Discover Patmos, where Saint John famously wrote the book of Revelation, and finally Rhodes, renowned for the legendary Colossus and the majestic fortifications of the Knights of Saint John.

29 min
Welcome to Turkey-The Turquoise Coast
16: Welcome to Turkey-The Turquoise Coast

Turkey's Turquoise Coast reveals a fabulous array of destinations, highlighting treasures of history, nature, and the pleasures of travel. Begin at Bodrum, site of the vibrant civilization of Helicarnassus. Learn about Lykian culture and representative government; visit submerged cities, cliff tombs, wildlife habitats, and the fire-spouting mountain at Olympos.

31 min
Central Turkey-Ankara, Konya, Cappadocia
17: Central Turkey-Ankara, Konya, Cappadocia

In Ankara, learn about ancient capitals of the great Anatolian civilizations, including the complex culture of Çatalhöyük. Continue to Konya, home of the Sufi poet Rumi and of the mystic whirling dervishes. Linger in the magical geologic landscapes of Cappadocia, with its "fairy chimneys," ancient cave dwellings, and astounding underground cities.

31 min
Up the Meander River-Priene to Pamukkale
18: Up the Meander River-Priene to Pamukkale

Travel to three extraordinary ancient cities: In Priene, explore one of the ancient world's most spectacular classical ruins, with its remarkable council hall, sacred sites, and superb theater. Then study the sumptuous sarcophagi, bathhouses, and amazingly preserved stadium at Aphrodisias. Finish at Pamukkale, site of imposing mausoleums, healing waters, and cliffside "hanging pools."

32 min
A Wonder of the World-Ephesus
19: A Wonder of the World-Ephesus

The metropolis of Ephesus stands as one of the greatest cities of the classical world. Here, focus on highly unusual features that distinguish the site: the magnificent "terrace houses" of the wealthy, the Library of Celsus with its stunning facade, the enormous theater, and the Cemetery of the Gladiators.

32 min
Royal Cities of Asia-Pergamon and Sardis
20: Royal Cities of Asia-Pergamon and Sardis

At the citadel of Sardis, learn about the luxurious culture of the Lydian people, credited with inventing monetary currency. Investigate the site's standout monuments, including the extensive gymnasium and monumental synagogue. At Pergamon, bequeathed by its last ruler to Rome, contemplate its great healing sanctuary, astonishing hydraulic system, and legendary library.

32 min
Troy-Beyond Homer and the Trojan Horse
21: Troy-Beyond Homer and the Trojan Horse

The archaeological site of ancient Troy reveals numerous distinct historical phases. Explore the majestic remains of the different epochs of the citadel, from its beginnings in 2900 B.C. to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Trace interconnections between the site's monuments and the lives of the historical King Priam and Alexander the Great.

31 min
Istanbul-Capital of the Byzantine Emperors
22: Istanbul-Capital of the Byzantine Emperors

In this first lecture on the wonders of Istanbul, study the history of the Byzantine Empire and the establishment of Byzantium as a new Rome. Encounter imposing elements of this culture in the cathedral-like Basilica Cistern, the Theodosian Walls, and the impassioned rituals of the Hippodrome, nerve center of Byzantine life.

31 min
The Pearl of Constantinople-Hagia Sophia
23: The Pearl of Constantinople-Hagia Sophia

Imagine the sights and sounds of a visit to this magical edifice in Byzantine times, and learn the history of the emperor Justinian's plans for a church that would surpass all others. Contemplate the stunning columns, stonework, mosaics, and the architecture of the massive dome in this "place where God dwells."

28 min
Ottoman Istanbul-Mosques, Palaces, Bazaars
24: Ottoman Istanbul-Mosques, Palaces, Bazaars

Finally, ponder the origins and planning of the Topkapi Palace, jeweled seat of the Ottoman sultans. Penetrate the layers of the palace, from the grand courts to the royal kitchens and harem. Conclude with visits to the Blue Mosque, hammams (baths), Grand Bazaar, and vistas of the mystic city from the Bosphorus.

31 min
John R. Hale

The most important record of religious history resides not in books and sacred texts but buried in the earth.


University of Cambridge


University of Louisville

About John R. Hale

Dr. John R. Hale is the Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialized courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, the Vikings, and nautical and underwater archaeology. An accomplished instructor, Professor Hale is also an archaeologist with more than 30 years of fieldwork experience. He has excavated at a Romano-British town in Lincolnshire, England, and at the Roman Villa of Torre de Palma in Portugal. Among other places, he has carried out interdisciplinary studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, including the famous Delphic oracle, and participated in an undersea search in Greek waters for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars. Professor Hale has received many awards for distinguished teaching, including the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Center Award. His writing has been published in the journals Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, the Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American.

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