Monastery of Daphni – Archaeological Site of Eleusis
Half Day Tour
Monastery of Daphni
We will first visit the Daphni Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is an 11th-century Byzantine Monastery 11 km north-west of central Athens in the suburb of Chaidari, south of Athinon Avenue. It is situated near the homonymous forest, on the Sacred Way that led to Eleusis. The Daphni Monastery was founded about the turn of the 6th century, Christianizing the site of the Sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios that had been desecrated by the Goths in 395, and reusing the Ionic columns of the ancient temple of Apollo in its portico; only one remains, the others having been removed to London by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin. Then, we will visit the settlement of Eleusis, which was founded in 2000 BC, on the slopes of the hill and during the Mycenaean period it developed into a large fortified settlement, mostly due to its strategic position. During this period it was introduced the cult of Demeter, as the worship of a deity connected to nature and the growing of cereals. The continuity of Demeter’s cult is attested until Roman times, by the erection of successive temples on the east side of the hill. In the 8th century BC the sanctuary acquired a Panhellenic character, and in the time of Solon, the Eleusinian Mysteries were established as one of the most important Athenian festivals. During the tyranny of Peisistratus the sanctuary and the settlement were enclosed with a massive fortification wall reinforced with towers. Splendid buildings were erected during the Classical and Roman periods, but with the spread of Christianity and especially after the invasion of the Ostrogoths, the sanctuary was abandoned.