The shimmering turquoise waters and lost worlds of the Aegean await you. Grab your travel hat and join us for a unique cultural journey to the dramatic landscapes of Greece and Turkey—to dazzling ancient cities, majestic empires, and magical treasures of history.
This is a land of gods and heroes. Here great myths came to life and epic battles were fought, and the wondrous remains of ancient civilizations still call to you from across the centuries.
In these rich lands you discover such legendary sites as these:
- The Acropolis of Athens, beloved symbol of Greece and the ancient world
- Mycenae, the mighty mountain kingdom where the Trojan War was planned
- The Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, fabled site of pilgrimage and prophecy
- Ephesus, among the greatest classical cities of the ancient world
- Pergamon and Sardis, royal citadels and home of architectural and engineering marvels
- Hagia Sophia of Istanbul, one of humanity's most glorious monuments to faith
To know these places is to know your own beginnings. Anyone who wants a full-bodied comprehension of Western culture must know these extraordinary sites and grasp their history.
In The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul, award-winning Professor John R. Hale of the University of Louisville is your guide to the fabulous civilizations of the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, and to the natural wonders and idyllic landscapes that surround them. These 24 richly enjoyable lectures are a journey unlike any other, giving you the chance to experience these important sites and cultures through the eyes of an expert archaeologist and scholar, whose knowledge and depth of insight go far beyond any ordinary travel narrative.
Through Professor Hale's vibrant commentary and extensive field footage, you discover monumental ancient cities, classical ruins, temples, shrines, fortresses, stadiums, theaters, churches, and palaces. In each site, you explore the critical history and culture that defined them and the ways in which they influenced our modern world. In their compelling historical and visual detail, the lectures offer both a rich resource for travelers preparing to visit these distant lands and a multilevel cultural journey that can be enjoyed just as well from the comfort of home.
Classical Glories, Great Empires
In a wide-ranging exploration, you'll visit the pivotal historical sites of this epic region and the civilizations that built them, including these landmarks of human culture:
- Olympia, home of the ancient Olympic games: At the site's massive stadium and training areas, explore the rituals of the games, the dramatic mind-set of the competitors, and the significance of athletic competition as worship.
- The Healing Sanctuary of Kos: In this grand complex of terraces, staircases, and ruins, study ancient healing in the work of the pioneer physician Hippocrates, including the clinical principles that gave birth to Western medicine.
- The Minoan Palace at Knossos: At one of the world's premiere archaeological sites, investigate its labyrinthine rooms, grand courtyards, and culture of royal display and the death-defying bull dance.
- Sunken Cities of Cappadocia: As you travel through some of the most astounding and mysterious discoveries of the ancient world, track the vast and complex underground cities where a nameless people sought refuge.
- The Citadel of Troy: In sorting history from legend, penetrate the archaeological layers of the site of the Trojan War, finding striking connections to Homer, the real King Priam, and Alexander the Great.
- Topkapi, Palace Complex of the Ottoman Sultans: In this jeweled seat of the Ottoman Empire, explore its sumptuous court life and culture and its glittering interiors of royal halls, kitchens, and harem.
A Vivid Encounter with Ancient Life
Professor Hale has walked these superlative sites in depth, in the course of decades of archaeological work and study in the region. As a core element of his teaching, he invites you to touch these vanished worlds and ways of life.
On the Acropolis, you travel the site, following the path of the ancient annual procession honoring Athena. At Delphi, your visit reconstructs a pilgrimage to the oracle in classical times, taking you through the rituals of offerings and religious observances on the way to consult the Pythia (priestess), who answers each pilgrim's question. At Hagia Sophia, you envision the experience of a 6th-century visitor, amid the pomp and embroidered finery of the Byzantine royals.
Scenic Islands, Otherworldly Landscapes
Parallel with your historical journey, you learn about the extraordinary natural wonders of the Aegean, an unforgettable feature of travel in these lands.
On the Greek islands, you discover Crete's dramatic Samaria Gorge and the breathtaking volcanic archipelago of Milos and Santorini, as well as scenic riches, including the transcendent vista of the Cycladic islands from Mount Kynthos.
In the course's second half, you explore Turkey's richly beautiful Turquoise Coast—its crusader castles, submerged cities, and unique wildlife. In the central highlands, you linger in the mysterious topography of Cappadocia, with its geologic "fairy chimneys" and ancient cave dwellings.
A Rich and Diverse Educational Journey
Throughout Professor Hale's multitextured narrative, you enjoy
- detailed location footage in each lecture;
- illuminating maps in both the lectures and course guidebook; and
- vivid 3-D re-creations of ancient monuments and sites.
Professor Hale enriches these lectures with engrossing stories of ancient life, his own extraordinary experiences, and his insightful reflections on how these civilizations unfolded. Among learning about many history makers, you meet Herodotus, Galen, Paul the Apostle, and the emperor Justinian of Byzantium. You contemplate the original Hippocratic oath and the moving words of the Sufi poet Rumi on human seeking and the journey of life. And you track Professor Hale's fascinating work with colleagues at Delphi, vindicating Plutarch's claim that the trance state of the oracle's priestess was linked to intoxicating vapors present at the site.
Professor Hale reveals not only the cultural and archaeological history, but also the local lore, legends, foods, pleasure spots, and out-of-the-way gems that make this part of the world such a seductive draw. You learn about the wines of Monemvasia and Santorini; places to enjoy ancient spas and baths; a sublime Aegean town where you can savor Greek life to the full; and where to drink Turkish tea in Ottoman splendor.
With Professor Hale as your guide, you will touch the ancient world, retracing the steps of great ancient oracles, athletes, playwrights, and warriors and reliving their experiences:
- Lie on the same benches at Amphiareon where oracles read dreams.
- Crouch at the starting line for an Olympic race.
- Stand on the stage at Epidauros, whisper, and be heard in the highest row.
- March along the walls of Troy like the heroes of Homer's epics.
The glory of past civilizations still lives in these magical sites and monuments, and in the same beautiful Aegean Sea and landscapes that the ancients traveled. In The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul, these extraordinary lands are yours to discover and rediscover. Come with us as we touch lost worlds—as we find humanity's majestic past and the great cultures that gave us the world we know.