For Classics students, going abroad on inspirational school visits brings the ancient world to life. The cities, temples and objects in the texts studied in the classroom can be visited and seen in Athens, Rome and Istanbul. This new vantage on the ancient world is vital to understanding the importance of certain sites and the use of objects in everyday, religious and military life – and it’s great fun as well.
Athens is one of the foremost destinations for Classics students going abroad on inspirational school visits. From the Akropolis to the old port of Piraeus, Athens is full of monuments from its ancient past. Students can stand at the Pnyx where the Athenians practiced their early form of democracy, or climb the Akropolis to the awe-inspiring Parthenon. The nearby Akropolis Museum offers a wealth of sculpture and smaller items of material culture, broadening students’ understanding of the lives of Athenians beyond the plays of Aristophanes or the philosophies of Socrates and Plato.
Athens is also an excellent base for trips to other key sites in southern Greece, including the Oracle at Delphi and, peering further back into Greek history, the ruins of Mycenae. The citadel reached its height in 1350 BC. There, the infamous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann found a gold death mask in a tomb, among many other artefacts including tablets inscribed in the language Linear B. Walking through the gate of Mycenae will be a highlight for students on inspirational school visits to Greece.
The other iconic city of ancient world, Rome has stood since its foundation in 753 BC. It is a vibrant, ever-changing city, a palimpsest of new on old with the modern city surrounding relics of its past – making it a fascinating destination for Classics students. Heading abroad to study is rarely more impressive than with a tour through the formidable Colosseum or a stroll along the Appian Way. Students can study the military narrative in the reliefs on Trajan’s column, visit the Pantheon to understand Rome’s changing religious history and stand in the Forum, for 500 years the heart of the city. Outside the city, the port of Ostia rewards an excursion with streets, shops, warehouses, baths, temples and more – a fantastic insight into the daily lives of Roman people.
Perhaps more than any other city, Istanbul is one of change – from a polytheistic Greek colony, to the Christian capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, to the Ottomans’ Muslim capital of their new empire. The ancient history of Istanbul – first Byzantion, then Constantinople – is buried within the modern city. For Classics students on inspirational school visits to Istanbul, it is a fascinating case study in change and preservation. Walk through the Hippodrome by day, and then return at night in Ramadan to break the fast in a festive market. Descend under the city to the Cistern, with its forest of columns – including two with the heads of Medusa. See, alongside the magnificent Hagia Sofia, small remnants of the first church constructed on that site.