Things to do in Greece - Suggested Destinations

Greece is ranked as the 7th most visited country in the European Union & 16th in the world by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, offering rich historical legacy, reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe & the world. Greece is a democratic & developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life & a very high standard of living. Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific & mathematical principles & Western drama.

"MUST SEE" :

DELPHI : UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Delphi  - Temple of Athena

Delphi occupies an impressive site on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus overlooking the coastal plain to the south & the valley of Phocis. It is now an extensive archaeological site & the modern town is nearby. It is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in having had a phenomenal influence in the Ancient world, as evidenced by the rich monuments built there by most of the important ancient Greek city-states, demonstrating their fundamental Hellenic unity.

You can enjoy the ancient period of Delphi glory, the Ancient sanctuary of Apollo. At Delphi you will visit the Archaeological site, with the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian treasury, the Theater & also the Stadium.

Delphi, the center of Ancient World, the Omphalos (Navel of Earth) whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic World. For the Ancients, Parnassus was home to the nine Muses while Delphi was literally the center of the world - a spot marked by the Omphalos stone in the Sanctuary of Apollo. It was to Delphi that figures both mythic & historic - the father of Oedipus & Alexander the Great of Macedon - came to consult Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, whose prophecies always took the form of enigmatic hexameters. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty & majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios. Visit the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo & the Museum containing such masterpieces of Ancient Greek sculpture as the bronze Charioteer & the famous athlete Aghias.

METEORA

Great Meteoron Monastery

Towering above the plain is the unique phenomenon of the Meteora. The amazingly imposing rocks of Meteora were formed about 60 million years ago & evidence dates human presence there as far as back as 50.000 years, Christian hermitage probably started around the 12th century, but it was not until the 14th century that these precariously perched monasteries began to emerge.These vast granite rocks soar up hundreds of feet & most of them are crowned with monasteries built 600 years ago. It is a fantastic & unforgettable sight. The Greek word meteora means ‘suspended in the air’. In fact, the monasteries are built on rock formations which rise steeply, up to 300 meters high. From here, there are spectacular views of the valley below. In the 11th century hermit monks moved to these monolithic sandstone pillars to live a life of solitude & refuge, assuring safety from plundering bandits. Originally the only access was via net baskets which would transport each monk up the straight rock by a rope pulley system. Now a road leads close to the base of the pinnacle & a rock staircase provides access to modern-day visitors. By the 16th century there were 24 monasteries in this tranquil & beautiful corner of the world. Today, from the six remaining ones, Great Meteoron & Varlaam are the two largest & most visited. The tour of the small monastery buildings with their Byzantine artifacts, icons & wall paintings, help to illustrate the life & times of medieval Greek monks. Meteora is the second largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in the world after Mount Athos: Amazing when you think about how difficult it must have been to build these wonders!

CORINTH CANAL

Corinth Canal

Enjoy a scenic walk along the Saronic Gulf coastal road to the Corinth Canal, a remarkable feat of engineering that dates back to the 1890s. On arrival at the waterway — considered one of Greece’s most important engineering feats — learn how it links the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf & look out for ships & bungee jumpers; the canal is steep-sided & narrow, providing ideal conditions for adrenaline junkies. The Corinth is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth & separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, arguably making the peninsula an island. The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level; no locks are employed. It is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.4 metres wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. The rock walls, which rise 90 metres above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle. The construction was completed in 1893 but, due to the canal's narrowness, navigational problems & periodic closures to repair landslides from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic expected by its operators. It is now used mainly for tourist traffic.

ANCIENT CORINTH

Temple of Apollo

Corinth was a city-state on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnese to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens & Sparta. Ancient Corinth was one of the largest & most important cities of Greece, with a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. The Romans demolished Corinth in 146 BC, built a new city in its place in 44 BC & later made it the provincial capital of Greece. Corinth was also the host of the Isthmian Games. During this era, Corinthians developed the Corinthian order, the third main style of classical architecture after the Doric & the Ionic. The Corinthian order was the most complicated of the three, showing the city's wealth & the luxurious lifestyle, while the Doric order evoked the rigorous simplicity of the Spartans & the Ionic was a harmonious balance between these two following the cosmopolitan philosophy of Ionians like the Athenians. The city had two main ports : to the west on the Corinthian Gulf lay Lechaion, which connected the city to its western colonies & Magna Graecia, while to the east on the Saronic Gulf the port of Kenchreai served the ships coming from Athens, Ionia, Cyprus & the Levant. Both ports had docks for the city's large navy. In 1858, the village surrounding the ruins of Ancient Corinth was destroyed by an earthquake, leading to the establishment of New Corinth 3 km NE of the ancient city. Visiting its ruins showcases such monuments as the Apollo Temple & the Fountain of Glauke. Corinth was also known as the ancient town where St. Paul lived & preached for two years.

ANCIENT NEMEA

Temple of God Zeus

In Greek mythology, Nemea was ruled by King Lycurgus & Queen Eurydice. Nemea was famous in Greek myth as the home of the Nemean Lion, which was killed by the hero Heracles & as the place where the infant Opheltes, lying on a bed of parsley, was killed by a serpent while his nurse fetched water for the Seven on their way from Argos to Thebes. The Seven founded the Nemean Games in his memory, according to its aition, or founding myth, accounting for the crown of victory being made of parsley or the wild form of celery & for the black robes of the judges, interpreted as a sign of mourning. The Nemean Games were documented from 573 BC, or earlier, at the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea. Nemean Games tooked place every two years, while the Olympic Games every four. The Nemean games included gymnastics, horse riding, music & drama – some of the most known tragedies were presented during the Games in Nemea. The Games took place in the premises of the Temple of God Zeus, whose ruins have been discovered during the excavations & are available to see today. There are traces of the gymnasium, the palaestra & the Roman baths, as well as the original stadium of the Games.

OLYMPIA : UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Temple of Hera

Olympia, one of the most unspoiled sites in Greece, a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times. The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The Olympic ideal -- striking the perfect balance of the physical strength with a keen mind -- came to be known as the 'golden mean'. It set the standard for excellence at the athletic competition among nations held every four years in the ancient Sanctuary of Zeus. Evocatively situated at the foot of the Kronion Mountain, named after the Greek deity Kronos, the sanctuary, known as the Altis, was an immensely important sanctuary from the 10th century BCE until the 4th century AD. The ruins of the Temples of Hera and Zeus recall what was one of the largest concentrations of masterpieces in the ancient Mediterranean, and the site of the Pan-Hellenic Games for centuries. Enclosed within the sacred enclosure are the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Zeus, the Pelopion, and the area of the altar, where the sacrifices were made. To the north of the sanctuary can be found the Prytaneion and the Philippeion, as well as the array of treasuries representing the various city-states. The Metroon lies to the south of these treasuries, with the Echo Stoa to the east. The hippodrome and later stadium were located east of the Echo Stoa. To the south of the sanctuary is the South Stoa and the Bouleuterion, whereas the Palaestra, the workshop of Pheidias, the Gymnasion, and the Leonidaion lie to the west. Olympia was also known for the gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus that used to stand there, sculpted by Pheidias, which was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon. Very close to the Temple of Zeus which housed this statue, the studio of Pheidias was excavated in the 1950s. The Kladeos, a tributary of the Alpheios, flows around the area.

At the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Olympia, marvel at the remains of the pediments of the Temple of Zeus located in the museum's central hall. Other worthy exhibits include the Hermes, an original work by Praxiteles, and a helmet inscribed with the name of Miltiades, the commander of the Greek Army that defeated the Persians in the battle of Marathon. Olympia was inscribed as an UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SIT in 1989.

VOIDOKILIA BEACH

Voidokilia Beach


Voidokilia Beach is one of the “must see” beach in Messinia in the Mediterranean area. In the shape of the Greek letter omega, its sand forms a semicircular strip of dunes. On the land-facing side of the strip of dunes is Gialova Lagoon, an important bird habitat. The beach has been named "A Place of Particular Natural Beauty". It is part of a Natura 2000 protected area. The beach is presumed to be Homer's "sandy Pylos" where Telemachus was welcomed by King Nestor when searching for his father, Odysseus.

PYLOS

Niokastro Castle

Pylos occupies a superb & dominant position on one of the best natural harbors in Greece. Pylos, historically also known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town & a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. It is the main harbour on the Bay of Navarino. Pylos has a long history, having been inhabited since Neolithic times, an unusually stylish town with a pair of medieval castles. It was a significant kingdom in Mycenaean Greece, with remains of the so-called "Palace of Nestor" excavated nearby, named after Nestor, the king of Pylos in Homer's Iliad. The Battle of Navarino, which took place here one night in 1827, effectively sealed Greek independence. Opposite the harbor, in the Square of the Three Admirals, a three-sided column rises between two canons - one Turkish & the other Venetian. The figures of the admirals of the three fleets, English, French & Russian that defeated the Turko-Egyptian navy in the Battle of Navarino are represented. A visit to Niokastro, one of the two castles guarding the harbor, affords wonderful views out over the bay.

METHONI CASTLE

Methoni Castle

The Castle of Methoni is the most important fortification in Greece, a complete walled city with a natural harbor. The castle of Methoni lies at the southernmost point of the west coast of the Peloponnese, in a place which had been fortified since the 7th century BC. Until 1204 AD it was used as a fort by the Byzantines, while in 1209 AD the Venetians, became the rulers of the area. During the first era of Venetian occupation, Methoni was established as a financial centre & commercial port & the town reached its peak. In 1500 the ottomans seized the castle of Methoni, initiating a period of turbulent history & prolonged decline in the region. By 1685 the Venetian force reconquered Peloponnese, but the Ottomans came back in 1715; this time their dominance was complete & would remain unchallenged until the early 19th century Greek War of Independence. Today, the castle is in excellent state of preservation, while considerable remains of the medieval town still survive within its area : the Byzantine church of St. Sofia, the 1833 church of the Transformation, erected by the French liberating force (1828-1833), the Turkish baths, along with ruins of urban buildings. Between 1500 & 1573, on the rocky islet to the south of the castle, the Ottomans built Bourtzi (meaning tower); this was an octagonal fort aimed to reinforce the defensive system of the area, but it also served as a prison & torture chamber.

KORONI CASTLE

Koroni Castle

Known as Corone by the Venetians & Ottomans, the town of Koroni sits on the southwest peninsula of the Peloponnese on the Gulf of Messinia in southern Greece 45 minutes southwest of Kalamata. The town is nestled on a hill below an impressive Venetian castle & reaches to the edge of the gulf. The town was founded in ancient times. The 2nd century Greek geographer Pausanias in his book Messeniaka reports the original location of Koroni at modern Petalidi, a town a few kilometers north of Koroni. He also reports many temples of Greek gods & a copper statue of Zeus. In the centuries that followed the town of Koroni moved to its current location, where the ancient town of Asini had once stood. In the 6th & 7th centuries AD, the Byzantines built a fortress there. The castle is one of the most impressive of the Peloponnese, as you will have the opportunity to walk into a real prison. Walking between walls & battlements, it will whisper its own secrets, starting from 700 AD, when Venetian soldiers started to build it. The twisted history of the town continues in 1205, when it was conquered by the Franks but only until 1206, when Venetians occupied it & kept it until 1500, developing an important trading center in the shipping lanes to the eastern Mediterranean. From 1500 was occupied by the Ottomans, 1532-1534 conquered by the Spaniards, recaptured in 1686 by the Venetians, Koroni remained under the ottoman rules until 1828, when it was delivered to the Greek state.

FINIKOUNDA

Finikounda

Finikounda is a small port, in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese. The name “Finikounda” is considered to be possibly due to the Phoenicians, who as naval people landed on the coast of Peloponnese & founded Finikounda at the present place Anemomylos (Windmill). During the EH period was mainly shipping hub & sometimes formed the base of pirates. The original name of the village was “Taverna“, a name taken from the fishermen who arrived there to rest & enjoy good wine in the village taverns. Pausanias in his project, report it as a port, named “Finikous Limin’’. The official name of the village was established in 1930. Finikounda is now one of the major tourist resorts of Messinia, combining harmonically mountain & sea. The attention of the visitors mainly attract the stunning sandy beaches with crystal clear waters. Also, the picturesque landscape & the excellent tourist infrastructure have made Finikounda a popular summer destination.

ANCIENT MESSENE (OR ITHOME)

Ancient Messene Stadium

Ancient Messene is a spectacular archaeological site, a UNESCO monument which combines diverse beauties as it is built on the slopes of mountain Ithome but also at the one side at the Messenian valley. The city was founded on the 4th century B.C. by Epaminondas, the general from Thebes & became the capital of the Messenian state, obtaining walls that had a length of 9 km & 3 meters thickness enforced by powerful storey towers & battlements. These walls have survived mainly on the left & right on both sides of the Arcadian gate. The fort played an important role during the First Messenian War between Messenia & Sparta, in the late 7th century BC. The Arcadian gate is double with two entrances, which are separated by circular courtyard where they must be placed statues of gods, patrons of the city, within niches. Within this wide square area, enclosed by the walls, were revealed important monuments, architectural specimens of the 4th century B.C., in good condition. The main sites & monuments that have been revealed are : The Theatre, built during the Hellenistic period, was reconstructed during the years of the emperors Augustus & Tiberius in the middle of the second century AD, The Sanctuary of Isis & Sarapis, mentioned by historian Pausanias, The Early Byzantine Bassilica, The Fountain of Arsinoe, The West Side Market, The Sanctuary of Zeus the Saviour, A Sanctuary of a Heroe (probably of Aristomenis), The Stadium & Gymnasium. It is a site that is not yet very well known of existing to the majority of the people that travel around Greece exploring great archaeological monuments, absolutely worth it to drive to.

MYSTRAS : UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Ancient City of Mystras

Driving northward from Monemvasia towards the village of Sparta, you will come upon the ruins of the ancient city of Mystras -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built as an amphitheater around the fortress erected in 1249 by William of Villehardouin, it was reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks & the Venetians. The city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape. Its strategic location on the steep slopes of Taygetos Mountain made it difficult for enemies to invade the city walls & inspired William II to erect a citadel there in 1249. The last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, was despot at Mystras before he came to the throne. The two entrances, the Monovasia Gate & the Anaplon Gate, are connected by a road that bisected the city. The northern part of the town was home to the nobility; the southern part was home to the ordinary people. The Archaeological Site of Mystras, the 'Wonder of the Morea', was inscribed in 1989 into UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. It is still considered Greece's best-preserved Byzantine city. Take time to admire the magnificent fresco-adorned churches, such as Aghios Dimitrios, the Evangelistria & the Pantanassa, the restored palaces, vaulted alleys & city walls.

MANI AREA

Maniot Tower

Mani, a land of tower houses, castles, ancient sites, Byzantine chapels, beautiful beaches & spectacular caves in the Peloponnese. The isolated aspect of this beautiful area, combined with the independent nature of its inhabitants meant that some traditions developed separately from the rest of the Peloponnese & Greece so that a distinct society made its mark on the landscape. To this day the unique architecture of the area is famed for the tower houses & fortified family dwellings from the period of the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The beautifully built Maniot towers, war machines, are the emblems of the Mani, vigilant lookouts. You won’t find such a spectacular sight in all of Greece. Their height was directly related to their defensive powers, but also to the rank & social position of the family to which they belonged. Their construction was dictated by military strategy : no windows, minimal openings, battlements & multiple stories, to give their defenders the advantage.

MONEMVASIA FORTRESS

Monemvasia Old Town

The powerful medieval fortress of Monemvasia, one of the best-kept secrets of Greece, is linked to the mainland by a bridge, fact that named the town, as it derives from two Greek words, moni & emvasi, which means "single entrance". Founded in 583 by the ancient Greeks seeking refuge from the invasions, as the town has a continuous history with conquerors, being ruled by Byzantines, Venetians & Ottomans. It remained part of the Byzantine Empire until 1460, becoming the seat of an imperial governor, a landing place for Byzantine operations against the Franks, one of the most dangerous lairs of corsairs in the Levant & the main port of shipment & production of Malvasia wine, also known by the name of Malmsey wine. The famous Malvasia wine was alleged that when Edward IV of England convicted his brother, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence of high treason, his private execution consisted of being "drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine," which is dramatized in Shakespeare's Richard III. Monemvasia's nickname is the Gibraltar of the East, The Rock. The Stone Ship, as it was called by the famous poet Giannis Ritsos, called as "the greatest poet of our age", which was born & lived in Monemvasia. As you walk through the narrow castle gate, you'll be transported back to a rich cultural heyday. On the large plateau, some 100 meters above sea level, up to 300m wide & 1 km long, you will discover the well-worn cobblestone main street which will lead you to the very heart of the citadel. A ship's canon sits in the Main Square -- a foreboding welcome to all visitors. Explore Monemvasia's 13th-century Christ Elkomenos Cathedral, which boasts an impressive barrel-vaulted nave & aisles & houses an ancient icon masterpiece from the 14th century. Across the square, housed in the 16th-century Turkish mosque, is the Archaeological Museum. It exhibits artifacts found within the fortress walls, including architectural sculptures & ceramic objects from the Early Christian period up to Byzantine times. The Aghia Sofia church with an octagonal dome, built in the 12th century (1149-1150), with carvings date from the 12th century & frescoes from the end of the 12th & the early 13th century stands on the large plateau from the upper town of the Castle. Castles, walls, old mansions, narrow cobbled lanes, churches, low arches & vaults, coats of arms, imperial marble thrones, Byzantine icons all give the impression of a town untouched by time keeping alive history.

LIOTRIVI HISTORIC MANSION – EXPERIENCE CENTER

Liotrivi Historical Mansion

Liotrivi is a fully restored historic mansion, whose history starts in the Byzantine period as a winery for the production of popular Malvasia wines, following the Greek Revolution, was the home of Ritsos family, where the famous poet lived his childhood, converted in 1930, into a traditional olive mill which served the region until 1962. Today, apart from olive & olive oil museum, it is a unique cultural monument that preserves intact its historical identity. Also, it successfully functions as an agri-tourism facility that still produce exquisite wines & local specialties, offering the visitors the privilege to experience the Greek rural culture as the ancestors lived it.

The fabulous “must see” Experience Center offers : visit in the olive museum, wine-tasting, olive oil & local products tasting, cooking classes, full guided tours, meals based only on traditional recipes (“0km” restaurant - all the ingredients used are local products, produced only in our estate or by farmers around it, therefore their production is less than 1 km from the place where served) & other delighting activities. You can see & download all the things to do in Liotrivi Historic Mansion - Experience Center from here →  DOWNLOAD

ELAFONISOS ISLAND

Simos Beach

The small Greek island between Peloponnese & Kythira, it lies off the coast of Cape Malea & Vatika & it has only 19 square kilometers. Elafonisos Island is attractive for its white, sandy beaches & the crystal-clear waters with a characteristic emerald hue. The most well-known beaches of Elafonisos Island are Simos, Panagitsa & Lefki. The most famous one, Simos beach has been many times awarded as one of the best five beaches worldwide & it winning of a blue flag. On the island tourists can also find the church of Agios Spyridon, built on a tiny piece of land connected to the settlement with a bridge over shallow waters, is the main church of the Elafonisos Island community & a landmark of Elafonisos. The settlement of Elafonisos features one of the highest numbers of fishermen as a percent of the total local population. About 60% of the locals are fishermen & every one of the older generation owns at least one fishing boat. The population of Elafonisos Island is approximately 750, but it increases significantly in the summer months as the island is a popular tourist destination during the summer.

NAFPLIO

Nafplio

Probably the most beautiful & romantic Greek town, Nafplio was first the capital of Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. The town was an important seaport held under a succession of royal houses in the Middle Ages as part of the lordship of Argos & Nauplia, held initially by the de la Roche following the Fourth Crusade before coming under the Republic of Venice & lastly, the Ottoman Empire. The area surrounding Nafplio has been inhabited since ancient times, but few signs of this, aside from the walls of the Acronafplia, remain visible. The Acronafplia has walls dating from pre-classical times. Subsequently, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians & Turks added to the fortifications. Palamidi Venetian fortress, nestled on the crest of a 216-metre high hill, was built by the Venetians. The fortress commands an impressive view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Nafplio & the surrounding country. Those looking for fortresses to conquor can climb 999 steps to Palamidi castle or float out to Bourtzi fort in the harbour. The water castle of Bourtzi is located in the middle of the harbour of Nafplio.
The Venetians completed its fortification in 1473 to protect the city from pirates & invaders from the sea. Until 1865 it served as a fortress. It was then transformed into residence of the executioners of convicts from the castle of Palamidi. From 1930 to 1970, it served as a hotel. Since then, it is mainly a tourist attraction hosting occasionally parts of the Summer Music Festival.

MYCENAE : WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Lions Gate

The archaeological site of Mycenae is the imposing ruins of one of the greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. & played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. This city is indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad & the Odyssey, which had influenced European art & literature for more than three millennia. The fortified citadel is nested over the fertile plain of Argolis near the seashore in the northeast Peloponnese. Mycenae is the largest & most important center of the civilization that was named "Mycenaean" after this very citadel. At its peak in 1350 BC, the citadel & lower town had a population of 30.000 & an area of 32 hectares. Mycenaean is the culture that dominated mainland Greece, the Aegean islands & the shores of Asia Minor during the late Bronze Age era (1600-1100 BCE). The Mycenaean Era occupies the tail end of the Helladic Civilization, which flourished in mainland Greece since 3000 BCE. The archaeological excavations have shown that the city has a much older history than the Greek literary tradition described. Inhabited since Neolithic times, it is not until 2100 BCE that the first walls, pottery & pit and shaft graves with higher quality grave goods appear. From 1600 BCE there is evidence of an elite presence on the acropolis : high-quality pottery, wall paintings, shaft graves & an increase in the surrounding settlement with the construction of large tholos tombs. From the 14th century BCE the first large-scale palace complex is built, as is the celebrated tholos tomb, the Treasury of Atreus, a monumental circular building with corbelled roof reaching a height of 13.5m & 14.6m in diameter & approached by a long walled & unroofed corridor 36m long & 6m wide. Fortification walls, of large roughly worked stone blocks, surrounding the acropolis, flood management structures such as dams, roads, Linear B tablets & an increase in pottery imports illustrate the culture was at its zenith. The Mycenaeans used a syllabic script that is the earliest form of Greek, attesting to the continuity of the Greek civilization from the early Bronze Age era. Many archaeological sites, cemeteries & Tholos Tombs of the era have been unearthed throughout Greece & the discovered artifacts speak of a people with strong cultural presence, a centralized political system with a King at the top, with strong commercial ties to the rest of the Bronze Age Mediterranean centers & a militaristic attitude. The end of the Mycenaean civilization came in 1200 BCE & lingered until the middle of the 11th c. BCE. The causes of this end have been debated for the last two centuries & while several theories have emerged as dominant, no definitive answer has emerged to date. Among the most credible theories is the emigration of Dorians & Heraclids which destroyed all the Mycenaean centers - except Athens & the hypothesis that social upheaval from within forced the civilization into decline. The Sea People that decimated the shores of the eastern Mediterranean at that time are also credited with direct or indirect involvement in the demise of Mycenaean civilization, with some scolars indicating that the Sea People might have been Mycenaeans forced to flee their invaded homeland. Naturally, a combination of the above theories has also been suggested as the cause for the disappearance of the Mycenaeans. No matter what the cause, the effects of this rapid decline were devastating & resulted in what we consider to be the Greek Dark Ages when population declined dramatically, major cities ceased to exist & literacy disappeared for the next three hundred years.

EPIDAURUS : UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Ancient Theater of Epidaurus

Founded by or named for the Argolid Epidaurus & to be the birthplace of Apollo's son Asclepius the healer, Epidaurus was known for its sanctuary situated about five miles (8 km) from the town, as well as its theater, which is once again in use today. The cult of Asclepius at Epidaurus is attested in the 6th century BC, when the older hill-top sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas was no longer spacious enough. The Asklepieion of Epidaurus as an important healing center, considered the cradle of medicinal arts & the mother sanctuary of the plethora of other Asklepieia that were built throughout the Hellenic world. The sanctuary of Epidaurus was named after the god of medicine, Asklepios & pilgrims came from all over the Mediterranean seeking healing for their ailments through physical & spiritual means. The god was present at the sanctuary where the faithful underwent treatments ranging from purification with water to feasting with the divine after offering sacrifice. Additional activities such as baths & incubation were central in the healing process & allowed Asklepios to heal the patients. There is evidence of habitation as far back as the 3d Millennium BCE & chamber tombs indicate robust activity during the later Mycenaean Era (2nd c. BCE), but it was in the early 1st millennium BCE that the cult of Apollo Maleatas developed as the first therapeutic center that flourished in the 7th c. BCE. Shortly thereafter Asklepios appeared as the son of healing Apollo & was worshiped alongside Apollo Maleatas. The sanctuary reached its zenith in the 4th & 3d centuries BCE with monumental buildings like the Enkoimeterion (dormitory), the Hestiatorion (the dining hall), the famous Theatre, the hospice, the temple & the stadium. Today, the magnificent theatre, renowned for its acoustics, is still in active use for performances in an annual traditional theatre festival.

ACROPOLIS : UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis rock is part of a Late Cretaceous limestone ridge that cuts through the Attica plateau in the northeast to the southwest axis & includes the Likavitos hill, the Philopappos hill, the hill of the Nymphs & the Pnyx. The rock rises from the basin about 70 meters & levels to a flat top 300 meters long by 150 meters wide. Its flat top is due to the numerous landfills that have accommodated construction of fortifications & temples since the Mycenaean era. With its many shallow caves, the abundant percolating water springs & steep slopes, the Acropolis was a prime location for habitation & worship location for Neolithic man. While the area around Attica was inhabited during the Upper Paleolithic period (30000 – 10000 BCE), archaeological evidence suggests that the small caves around the Acropolis rock & the Klepsythra spring were in use during the Neolithic Period (3000-2800 BCE). The Acropolis of Athens was planned & construction begun, under the guidance of the great general & statesman Pericles of Athens. Over two years of detailed planning went into the specifications & contracting the labour for the Parthenon alone & the first stone was laid on 28 July 447 BCE, during the Panathenaic festival. Wishing to create a lasting monument which would both honour the goddess Athena & proclaim the glory of the city to the world, Pericles spared no expense in the construction of the Acropolis & especially, the Parthenon, hiring the skilled architects to work on the project. Hundreds of artisans, metal workers, craftspeople, painters, woodcarvers & literally thousands of unskilled labourers worked on the Acropolis. Phidias created a gold & ivory statue of Athena which stood either in the Parthenon, known as the Temple of Athena Parthenos, or in the centre of the Acropolis near the smaller temple of Athena. The entrance to the Acropolis was a monumental gateway called the Propylaea. To the south of the entrance is the tiny Temple of Athena Nike. At the centre of the Acropolis is the Parthenon or Temple of Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin). East of the entrance & north of the Parthenon is the temple known as the Erechtheum. South of the platform that forms the top of the Acropolis there are also the remains of an outdoor theatre called Theatre of Dionysus. A few hundred metres away, there is the now partially reconstructed Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

Acropolis Museum

The museum is located by the southeastern slope of the Acropolis hill, on the ancient road that led up to the "sacred rock" in classical times. Set only 280 meters, away from the Parthenon & a mere 400 meters walking distance from it, the museum is the largest modern building erected so close to the ancient site, although many other buildings from the last 150 years are located closer to the Acropolis. The design by Bernard Tschumi was selected as the winning project in the fourth competition. Tschumi's design revolves around three concepts : light, movement & a tectonic & programmatic element. Together, these characteristics "turn the constraints of the site into an architectural opportunity, offering a simple & precise museum" with the mathematical & conceptual clarity of ancient Greek buildings. The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock & on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman & Byzantine Greece. It also lies over the ruins of a part of Roman & early Byzantine Athens. As the museum is built over an extensive archaeological site, the floor, outside & inside, is often transparent using glass & thus the visitor can see the excavations below.

CAPE SOUNION

Temple of Poseidon

Cape Sounion is noted as the site of ruins of an ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. The remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea. Built in 444 BC – at the same time as the Parthenon – it is constructed of local marble from Agrilesa; its slender columns, of which 16 remain, are Doric. It looks gleaming white when viewed from the sea, which gave great comfort to sailors in ancient times : they knew they were nearly home when they saw the first glimpse of white, far off in the distance. The views from the temple are equally impressive : on a clear day you can see Kea, Kythnos & Serifos to the southeast & Aegina & the Peloponnese to the west. The site also contains scant remains of a propylaeum, a fortified tower & to the northeast, a 6th-century temple to Athena.

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Alternative Tourism

The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaean Greece & continuing most notably into Classical Greece, through the influence of the Roman Empire & its Greek Eastern continuation, the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. Other cultures & nations, such as the Latin & Frankish states, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, the Genoese Republic & the British Empire have also left their influence on modern Greek culture, although historians credit the Greek War of Independence with revitalizing Greece & giving birth to a single, cohesive entity of its multi-faceted culture.

Beside the multiple purposes to visit Greece, like : visual arts, architecture, theatre, literature, philosophy, mythology, Greece is a one-of-a kind-experience offering culinary vacations, wine-tours, cooking classes, winery visits, olive oil & olive producers tours, local products manufacturers & having as goal to immerse you in the local culture & reveal a region’s true spirit. After all, great travel is about experiencing & meeting the hospitality of locals.

Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe & the Mediterranean climate of Greece, featuring mild, wet winters & hot summers makes Greece the perfect location for other unique experiences like : adventures, trekking, hiking, cycling, nature lovers & wild life viewing, bird watching & Yoga retreats.

Embrace the alternative tourism in Greece to see the country a little differently for its individuality & its character as an invited guest & not a tourist, exploring places & experiences you couldn’t find on your own or in a guidebook.

Our tour designer company creates authentic vacations & trip itineraries, led by local guides, to ensure a genuine personal experience immersing our guests in the local beauty & lifestyle.

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AFOI KLAPSI S.A.
Monemvasia 23070 Laconia,
Peloponnese, Greece.

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