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Probably the most characteristic manifestation of the ancient Dionysian cult is the custom of the Bourani carnival in Tyrnavos, Thessaly, where celebrations involve drinking the local wine and tsipouro (a local distilled spirit) and then dancing, holding phallic simulacra. BOREAS travel is the only travel agency that can take you directly to the heart of the ancient spirit and allow you to live it instead of just admiring it behind locked glass showcases in museum rooms. This is your chance to live and taste an ancient celebration, a journey back in time that will bring you all the emotions and images of a culture you perhaps thought extinguished!
Along the ‘Bourani’ tour is a cultural tour, aiming to explore not only the ancient past of Crete, but also to introduce characteristics of the modern culture of the island. We are visiting the main sites of development of the Minoan civilisation and we are also detecting the various influences – byzantine, venetian, ottoman, jewish, modern greek – that led to the formation of this unique culture in the heart of the Mediterranean. The tour includes visits to archaeological sites, museums, monasteries and cities:
Upon arrival at Thessaloniki, depending on flights schedule, we take a short tour through the second biggest city of Greece. Thessaloniki was founded in 315 b.C. by king Cassander of Macedonia, brother-in-law of Alexander the Great and reached the peak of its glory in the ancient times under the Romans. Under emperor Diocletian it became one of the four capitals of the Roman empire. Thessaloniki has been second capital of both the byzantine and the ottoman empires and a very important city for the Sefardi Jews, who arrived here from Spain in 1492.
Along the tour, we are visiting the complex of Caesar Galerius’ imperial palace with the Rotonda and Galerius’ Arch. Among the byzantine churches of Thessaloniki, all of them recognised as heritage of mankind by the UNESCO, we are visiting Hagios Demetrios, the church of the patron saint of Thessaloniki. We also visit the Folklife and Ethnological museum of Thessaloniki, where we can experience the wealth of the local popular culture. At the end of the visits, transfer to the hotel, accommodation, dinner and overnight stay in Thessaloniki.
Departure from Thessaloniki after breakfast. First visit of our day is Pella, the great capital of the Macedonian kingdom by the times of Philipp II and Alexander the Great, with an impressive archaeological site and a new, well-arranged museum. We will discover interesting and unexpected aspects of public and private everyday life by the 4th century b.C. and leave after the visit towards Vergina.
Aigai (nowadays called Vergina), was the first capital and later sacred city of the Macedonian kingdom and royal necropolis. King Philip II was killed here in 336 b.C. An impressive tumulus has been excavated here and an impressive tomb, full of astonishing offerings was found. The Great Tumulus, tomb of king Philip II is now one of the most impressive museums to visit in Greece and it gives the idea of the wealth and the power of the local kings.
From Vergina we reach Naoussa, ancient Mieza, where we visit Aristotle’s school, the place where the philosopher educated the young Alexander, later to become the Great. Accommodation in the hotel, dinner and overnight stay in Naoussa.
After breakfast, we leave Naoussa headed south. We pass by the foothills of Mount Olympus, Greece’s highest mountain and mythical residence of the twelve gods. We stop to visit the archaeological site of Dion. Dion has been not just an important centre of worship, but also an important political centre. Based on religious faith, the Macedonians could prove their superiority to the rest of the Greeks. In fact, Dion was a city of pilgrimage, celebrations and games, where everyone would recognise the majesty of the local dynasty. From Dion, we reach the picturesque village of Ambelakia, that offers a beautiful square with a stunning view over Mount Olympus in front.
After crossing the valley of Tempe, we reach the region of Thessaly. Tyrnavos is a village of peasants, famous for its wine and for the distillates produced here. Accommodation in the hotel, dinner and overnight stay in Tyrnavos.
Loud music, drunk people, roasted meat and rivers of wine are not enough to understand the Bourani, the local carnival at Tyrnavos, of Dionysian origins. People first visit the church outside the town and then they start drinking while preparing the Bourani, a soup of herbs. Phallic symbols are all around, sexual jokes are being made between men and women and explicit song sound in the air. The dances imitate sexual acts and everything alludes to the generational power of spring that is arriving. These events have their roots in the ancient Dionysian cult and are apotropaic to keep bad spirits away and enforce the nature to rebirth. Time at leisure to attend the Bourani. Dinner and overnight stay in Tyrnavos.
Leaving Tyrnavos after breakfast, we reach Larissa in the middle of the Thessalian plain. Since the ancient times, Larissa was an important city. Only recently documents of this importance come to light with the excavations that take place in the historical centre of the city. An impressive theatre was found in the heart of the city, that we are going to visit, as we are going to visit the new historical museum of Lasrissa before we make our way back to Thessaloniki. Upon arrival, accommodation in the hotel and time at leisure. Dinner and overnight stay in Thessaloniki.
An important centre of spirituality and art was forming from the 9th century onwards on the Athos peninsula, called the Sacred Mountain. Imperial benefits and financing encouraged the development of this state reserved just for the monks. Today access is forbidden to women, while for pilgrims to visit the state, a special authorization is required.
From Thessaloniki, we reach Ouranoupolis, a small port in the Chalkidiki region. Here, we embark on a cruise along the western coast of the Athos peninsula, to enjoy the stunning views of the impressive monasteries from the sea. The monasteries of Athos conserve their medieval architectural forms that makes them appear like castles. Return to Ouranoupolis, lunch and time at leisure. Departure for Thessaloniki along the coast of the Chalkidiki. Arrival at Thessaloniki, time at leisure and overnight stay.
Breakfast and departure from the hotel. Depending on the schedule of the flights, we are visiting the museum of byzantine culture of Thessaloniki. Departure towards the international airport of Thessaloniki, in good advance for check-in. Arrival to the airport and end of services.