The Cultural Tourist: Take your seat, thanks to the philhellenic senator

Greece came up with the idea of cultural tourism more than 2,000 years ago.

Greece came up with the idea of cultural tourism more than 2,000 years ago. (Pausanias compiled a guide to its temples and monuments for well-heeled Roman travellers in the second century AD - still in print and still worth consulting.) Recently, however, although the country hasn't lacked eager tourists, most are in search of the physical pleasures of its beaches and this year the excitements of the Olympic stadiums rather than the cerebral ones of its culture.

Which is a pity, since, in addition to the spectacular ancient remains, there is a rich cultural programme throughout the summer. Under the title of the Hellenic Festival, operas, plays, ballets and concerts of orchestral and popular music runs from May to September. Easily the most impressive are the theatrical performances at the ancient theatre at Epidauros, about an hour and a half's drive from Athens. Set in a natural dip in a hillside among groves of pine trees, it was built in the middle of the fourth century BC. This year's season starts on 18 June with a production of Euripides' The Trojan Woman - in modern Greek, but it's easy to follow with a Penguin Classic paperback. Other Euripides' plays to be performed include The Bacchae, Andromache and Lysistrata, as well as works by Sophocles and Aeschylus.

The other magnificent theatre used by the Hellenic Festival is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the slopes of the Acropolis in Athens. This was the gift to the city by a philhellenic Roman senator in the second century AD: smaller than 14,000-capacity Epidauros (it seats 5,000), but with a similar atmosphere. The Hellenic Festival starts here on 1 May with a concert by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. The programme includes Brahms's First Piano Concerto with Daniel Barenboim. Other visiting orchestras include the Vienna Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the London Symphony. A particular highlight of the extensive programme of theatre, opera and musical productions will be the world premiere of Orion, a concert work by Philip Glass. The Philip Glass Ensemble will be joined by esteemed world artists including Foday Musa Suso (kora) from Gambia, Africa, Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Qawwali vocalist) from Pakistan, Ravi Shankar (sitar) from India, Ashley MacIsaac (violin) from Nova Scotia, Canada, and Eleftheria Arvanitaki (vocalist) from Greece.

To book, phone 00 30 210 928 2900. The box office is at Panepistimiou 39. Booking begins three weeks prior to each performance. To book earlier than that, email Nikolaidis@greekfestival.gr or fax 0030 210 9282 927.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable