Sunday, June 21

We started another day in paradise by attending morning liturgy together, an experience of a lifetime. I knew the church would appear different compared to our respective churches back home but I didn’t expect the outstanding architecture. I had never witnessed anything similar. The upstairs level provided an overview of the entire first floor, while still allowing us to sit comfortably. At certain points of the liturgy, it became very humid but with the doors open while it down poured rain, we cooled down. The gift shop was filled with meaningful souvenirs to bring home to family members. Towards the end of the liturgy, receiving communion was organized neatly due to the large amount of people in attendance. Once church ended, we quickly hopped on the bus and proceeded towards the Museum of Vergina. To this point of our trip, in my opinion, this proved to be the most interesting. The Museum of Vergina exhibited the tombs from the dynasty of Alexander the Great. We saw King Philip’s, Alexander’s father, tomb and Alexander’s son who was buried next to his grandfather. The most attention grabbing element was that the tombs hadn’t been moved. When the excavations happened, they kept the tombs in their place and built the museum around them. They were beautiful. The lights were dim and everyone was quiet which only contributed to the feeling of awe we all felt.

– John Teehan

Today, we started out by going to liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios. It was a very interesting experience to take part in a liturgy at such a historical church! After receiving communion, we went downstairs and looked at the catacombs. Next, we had a tour of Thessaloniki and went to Vergina and got the chance to see the tombs of people including Phillip II and the son of Alexander the Great. After going through the tombs, we got to have lunch in Thessaloniki and spend some time shopping at souvenir stores. It was a great way to spend our last full day in Thessaloniki!

– Alexandra Pallad

We started our last day in Thessaloniki by attending liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios church, the largest sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of Thessaloniki – Saint Dimitrios. The church is among the most beautiful that I have ever been in. While I enjoyed attending the service, I was surprised at how much of a tourist destination Aghios Deimitrios is. Throughout the two hours we were there, people were coming and going from the church, which distracted from the service. It is not surprising, however, that Aghios Dimitrious attracts many people being that it is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites and it has a rich history.

After liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios we traveled to a small town called Vergina, where we visited the Museum of Royal Tombs, in which we saw the tombs of Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II. The museum itself is hidden beneath an earthen mound, where an underground building encloses and protects the tombs. It was amazing to look at the belongings of Alexander and Philip, including armor and gold relics, and to gain an insight into the past.

– Nicole Wolfe

Following liturgy at the Aghios Dimitros, the group took a bus ride to Vergina to visit the tombs and treasures of Philip the 2nd and family. We learned a lot about Macedonian history from our amazing tour guide, who also answered many of our questions about Thessaloniki during the bus rides. Many students took the opportunity to explore the city during free time, before dinner at a local restaurant.

– Christina La Fleur

We started another perfect day by attending the liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios. The church and the service were both beautiful. I was very surprised to see that the words and order of the liturgy were nearly identical to the liturgy in the U.S. I was also surprised at how differently the communion service is in Greece as compared to in the U.S. At my church, everyone forms a single file line and the usher moves through the church and tells people when it is their turn to step in line. At Aghios Dimitrios, yiayiades were pushing  and shoving to make their way to the front of the mob, and everyone was in a rush to get their communion. The archbishop was there and there were cameramen everywhere recording his speech regarding the Greek economic crisis. After the service, we toured the catacombs under the church and were able to take pictures. Following the liturgy, we went to the Museum of Vergina where we saw the tombs and other artifacts from the time of Philip II and Alexander the Great. We learned a lot about Macedonia and the rule at the time. It amazed me that the tombs had not been moved from their original locations. We also had lunch and dinner, which were both flawless as usual.

– Alex Pavlakis

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