Athens | City and Museums

We spent a full morning in Athens on a walking tour of the city, and  explored a variety of museums in small groups–the Archeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum, and the Benaki Museum.   ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM The National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in Greece […]

Athens | Byzantine Music

We spent an evening at the University of Athens, visiting with members of the Department of Music.  Achilleus Chaldiakis, professor of Byzantine Musicology, delivered a lecture entitled, “Old Wine, New Bottles: Traditional Chant Melodies and New Compositions,” which included a performance of Greek and Byzantine […]

Athens | Kordis Icon Studio

We spent our last afternoon in Athens visiting the studio of artist George Kordis, where he gave a fascinating demonstration of his icon painting process.   We all sat, mesmerized, as he brought figures to life with the expert sweep of a charcoal pencil.  You […]

Essay | New Wines into Old Bottles

by OLIVIA HILLMER, MAR ’12   Leaving behind the suburbs of Athens, we filed slowly into a large open studio flooded with light, nestling into chairs, finding seats on the floor or standing in the back of the room, eventually filling every available space with […]

Hosios Loukas

After three glorious days in Athens, we set our sights north for a day of travel– first to Hosios Loukas, and the ruins of Delphi.  After a scenic mountain drive, we spent the morning visiting with the monks who tend the centuries-old monastery, learning the […]


After our morning visit to Hosios Loukas, we hopped back on our bus and wound our way through steep and narrow mountain roads, to the famed “center of the world”: Mount Parnassus, and the ancient ruins of Delphi.  Once home to the great oracle of […]


We had the opportunity to spend a day visiting a unique collection of monasteries that are literally built atop mountain peaks.  Located in central Greece, the Meteora monasteries are not only suspended in the air, they feel suspended in time.  We climbed many, many stairs […]


 After two long, full days of bus travel, our group was grateful to have a bit of down time in the seaside city of Thessaloniki.  A bustling ancient port, and the second-largest city in modern Greece, it was the perfect place to relax at the […]

Istanbul | Chora Church | Grand Bazaar

  Our first day in Istanbul started with a visit to the famed Chora monastery, one of the most important buildings in Byzantine Constantinople.  We stopped for lunch at the Grand Bazaar, home to a vast array of spices, textiles, and of course, Turkish Delight! […]

Essay | It’s Really About Hospitality

by CALEB BENNETCH, MM ’13   Throughout the course of Schola Cantorum’s mini-tour and the ISM’s study trip, I was constantly amazed by the breathtaking buildings surrounding us. From the soaring columns of the Acropolis, to the unfathomable ancient beauty of Aya Irini, from the […]

Istanbul | Whirling Dervish

During our second evening in Istanbul, we were treated to a private concert of Turkish music and a traditional  Sema “whirling ceremony”  by Hakan Talu and his Sufi musicians.  Seated in the round at the Galata Mevlivihane in Istanbul, we were mesmerized by the music, ritual, […]

Istanbul | Ecumenical Patriarch

One of our most humbling and reverent mornings in Istantul happened because  Father Stefanos was kind enough to arrange an audience with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the highest see of the worldwide Orthodox Church.  We arrived at the Patriarchate, and were escorted to the […]

Istanbul | Hagia Sophia | Blue Mosque | Old City

  Our visit to Istanbul wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to some of its most legendary sites: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Old City.  Located on the eastern ‘horn’ (on the European side of the city) of Istanbul, these buildings were […]

Essay | Reaching Heavenward

By Benjamin Straley, MM ’10, MDiv ’12.  I remember the opening banquet of my first year at the ISM, in the fall of 2008.  Martin Jean read the following passage from Augustine’s Confessions: But when I love you, what do I love?  It is not physical beauty […]