Location: Central Greece, on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus
Distance from Athens: 179 km
Highlight: The Sanctuary of Apollo and Delphi Museum
Delphi is situated on the slopes of Mt.Parnassus, overlooking the Plistos valley and the Gulf of Corinth. It is the site of the Temple of Apollo, god of Light and Purification, seat of the ancient Oracle.
Here, Pythia, Apollo’s priestess, would inhale vapors rising from a mystery crack in the earth and chew laurel leaves. She would then fall into a trance state and predict the future. The fame of the Oracle was widespread beyond Greece and was revered as one of the great, sacred places of the ancient world.
Today Delphi is one of the renowned archaeological sites in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the highlights of the site are the remains of the ancient sanctuary, the Sacred Way, the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo, the theatre and the stadium built higher on the slope. The remarkable Delphi Museum houses the famous statue of the “Bronze Charioteer,” among other great works of art.
At the east side of the Thessalian plain in Western Greece stand the
Towers of Rocks known as Meteora. Originally remains of geological changes in the deem past, Meteora sandstone and conglomerate rocks became the home of hermits that inhabited its caves as early as the 9th century AD. As monastic communities gradually developed, monasteries were built by the 15 and 16 centuries on the top of inaccessible cliffs. Meteora Monasteries amaze the visitor with their byzantine architecture, their fresco decoration, the precious icons and collection of objects of ecclestiastical life.
Access to the monasteries till the 20th century was only possible by the means of a basket or a net suspended on ropes that were pulled up and down from the Monastery platform and carried both visitors and supplies. Today a well constructed winding road leads to each of the six still inhabited surviving Monasteries which are open to public certain hours of the day.
These are : the two Nunneries of Roussanou and AgiosStefanos and the four Monasteries of the MegaloMeteoro, Varlaam, Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, and AgiaTriada.
The breathtaking natural envireronment of Meteora isa Unesco protected natural world heritage site.
- Scenes from James Bond’s film “For Your Eyes Only” were shot inMeteora, at the monastery of AgiaTriada (Holy Trinity).
Situated in southwest Peloponnese the plain of Olympia is irrigated by Alfios river and its confluent Kladeos. In this ever green fertile plain stood in antiquity the sanctuary of Zeus to whom the Olympic Games were dedicated. Every 4 years athletes from all over the ancient Greek world reached the sanctuary either as athletes or spectators. The Olympic Games were the most important religious and athletic event of the ancient Greek world. The award of the Olympic victor was a wreath made out of the branches of the olive tree that stood by the great temple of Zeus, home of one of the Seven Wonders of Antiquity : the gold and ivory statue of Zeus by Phidias.
Olympia is one of the most important archaeological heritage sites in the world protected by the Unesco. One can stroll in this amazing site and still see the remains of the ancient temples, the altars, the areas where the athletes were trained such as the Palestra and the Gymnasium as well as the original Olympic stadium with its starting point marks still visible.
The ancient Olympic Games lasted for over 1000 years . Once abolished they were lost till they revived in modern times by the French Baron Piere de Coubertin. The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896 and since then are taking place every four years in a different country.
The Olympia Archaeological Museum houses unique treasures excavated from the site among which the statue of Hermes of Praxiteles and the pediments of the temple of Zeus.
LOCATION : Peloponnese, Argolis Region, well- protected by Gulf.
DISTANCE : From Athens 138 km
HIGHLIGHT: Old town of Nafplio, first capital of Modern Greece
Situated in the Eastern Peloponnese on the Gulf of Argolis, Nafplio is one of the most charming towns of Greece and was inhabited since the Bronze Age.
The town’s strategic position attracted conquerors throughout the ages including the Ottomans and the Venetians. Historically, Nafplio was well protected by its 3 castles. The main fortress is Palamidi rising high above the town, (215 m), the Akronafplia is the lower fortification and the Bourtzi, which is a small castle in the water that, at one time, guarded the entrance to the port.
Nafplio served as the first capital of the Modern Greek State, in 1835, before State Government was moved to the city of Athens, which remains Greece’s capital city.
Today, Nafplio has more than 15,000 inhabitants and is characterized by its elegant streets, beautiful bougainvilleas, surviving Venetian houses and neoclassical buildings from the 19th century.
It is a delight to stroll through the town’s historical squares lined with colorful cafes and restaurants. You can swim in the nearby beaches of Karathoina and Arvanitia.
For hikers, a challenging 999 steps invite you to reach the top of Palamidi.
LOCATION: Peloponnese, in the plain of Argolis
DISTANCE : From Athens 120 km
HIGHLIGHTS: The prehistoric Acropolis of Mycenae, the Treasure of Atreus or Agamemnon’s Tomb. The local museum.
Mycenae, just a short drive from Nafplio, is one of Greece’s most spectacular prehistorical sites. Located in the Argolis Plain, the Acropolis of Mycenae is one of the greatest archaeological sites of the Bronze Age and associated with the Heroic Age of Greece and the Trojan War.
Mycenae is known from Homer as the Kingdom of Agamemnon, commander of the Achaeans against the Trojans. The Acropolis of Mycenae was protected by huge polygonal walls known as Cyclopean walls. On the top of the Acropolis, you can still see the remains of what is considered Agamemnon’s Palace. The famous Lions Gate was the main entrance to the fortress. Also within the wall is the Royal Cemetery where Schliemann, in the summer of 1876, uncovered royal graves with their gold treasures and precious artifacts.
The rediscovery of Mycenae by Henry Schliemann is considered one of the great archaeological discoveries of the 19th century.
The small local museum displays items mainly from the everyday life of Mycenae, while the excavations treasures are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
LOCATION : Peloponnese, Argolis Region
DISTANCE : 138 km from Athens
HIGHLIGHTS : The ancient theatre, the Sanctuary of Asklipios, the local Museum
The ancient theatre of Epidaurus is situated in the vicinity of Nafplio. Performances in the ancient theatre are staged today as they were in antiquity. Theatrical performances are held, mainly, in the summer months during the annual Epidaurus Drama Festival.
The theatre of Epidaurus was part of the sanctuary of Asklipios, god of Medicine, where pilgrims once crowded for treatment and worship at the same time. Both the theatre and the Asklipios sanctuary are open to the public all year round.
The theatre of Epidaurus is considered the best preserved ancient theatre in the world and is known for its unique acoustics. A sound from the orchestra (stage today) of the ancient theatre is carried to the most distant spectators. You can experience it for yourself.
LOCATION : Macedonia, Imathia Region.
DISTANCE : From Thessaloniki 70 km aprx.
HIGHLIGHTS : The Royal Tombs of the Macedonian Kings including
The Tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Vergina is the local name of a small town situated near ancient Aigai , the royal capital of the Macedons. In 1977, after long research, Professor Andronikos made the great discovery of the untouched Royal Tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great along with other Royal Macedonian Tombs. The tombs were intact and revealed extraordinary finds in gold, silver, ivory, as well as unique paintings, artifacts and works of art.
In addition to the amazing exhibition of the Royal Burial Cluster of Philipp II , the virtual Museum of Alexander the Great will soon be open to visitors in the area. Restoration works are ongoing in the nearby Royal Palace of Aigai. It was at the theatre of Aigai, in 336 BC, that Philipp II was assassinated and Alexander the Great was proclaimed King.
Aigai is a UNESCO Heritage Site of great historical importance.
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