It is a story as old as time itself. The abduction of Persephone by Hades, the god of the Underworld, devastated her mother, Demeter. The inconsolable goddess roamed the earth searching for her daughter, until she came to Eleusis, where she found comfort in the merry jokes of an old woman and the hospitality of the local king. Demeter was eventually reunited with her daughter (albeit for only part of the year) but her great joy persuaded her to teach humanity the art of cultivating cereals. She also rewarded the king and the people of Eleusis by establishing the Eleusinian Mysteries, one of the greatest religious festivals of the ancient world, a source of comfort and hope for mortals in the face of inexorable death.
This is a day-long journey that introduces participants to the history behind the Eleusinian Mysteries. Starting from Dipylon, the main gate of ancient Athens at Kerameikos, we will follow the old road to Eleusis, in the footsteps of countless generations of mystics who honored the goddess Demeter. Along the way we will have the opportunity to learn more about “the most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece”.
The route follows the Sacred Way, the ancient road that connected Athens with Eleusis, stopping at key locations along the way at important archaeological and religious sites. Visit the Monastery of Dafni, a recently restored monastery on the outskirts of Athens that was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the sanctuary of Aphrodite in Afea, where pilgrims would leave offerings to the goddess of love, on their way to Eleusis. After lunch, visitors will follow a presentation on Aeschylus, the naval battle of Salamis in 480 BCE, the industrial heritage of Eleusis, and how the city was selected as the 2021 European Capital of Culture.