Sparti:One of the two most powerful city-states in Classical Greece, Sparta is located in the Evrotas river valley, almost completely surrounded by mountain ranges. Unlike most of the other Greek city-states, Sparta was not a fortified city-state center with huge religious and civic buildings, but it was a loose collection of smaller villages spaced over a large rural area. Traditionally, Sparta’s founding is given at the middle of the 10th century B.C. by the Dorian Greeks. By the 7th century the warlike Spartans had conquered all of the surrounding Laconia and Messenia, and by the next century much of the remaining Peloponnese was under Spartan control. In the 5th century Sparta allied herself with Athens and other city-states in order to repulse the Persian aggressor, but soon after this the two city-states fell out, embarking on a century-long struggle for supremacy in the Peloponessian War, which ended with Spartan victory in 405 B.C. By the 4th century, however, Spartan power declined with its defeat by Thebes in 371 B.C., and, by 193 B.C., she had entirely lost her territorial possessions. Sparta thrived briefly under Roman Imperial rule, but was sacked by the Goths in 395 A.D and completely abandoned. We will visit the archeaological remains of ancient Sparta, including the 2nd century BC theatre, the sites most discernible ruin (virtually nothing remains of the ancient city). The monuments on the site have not been restored yet but there are plans in the works for this under the auspices of the European Union. Important monuments of the site include the temple of Athena Chalkoikos on the top of the acropolis ; the ancient theatre, dating from the early Imperial period, the orchestra and walls of which still stand; a circular building of unknown use, which some scholars think was some kind of assembly; remains of shops, constructed in the Roman Imperial period, which served visitors to the theater; and finally, the remains of a Basilica of the Middle Byzantine period, dated to the 10th century A.D.Mystras: Mystra enjoys one of the most beautiful situations in Greece, lying along a steep slope of Mt. Taygetos. At the top is the Kastro (fortified citadel), and on successive levels below are several Byzantine churches (most notably the Pantanassa), the Palace of the Despots, and everywhere spectacular views. Few kilometers west to the Byzantine town Mystra on the slopes of Mt. Taygetos, an impregnable fortress, built by Guillame de Villehardouin in 1249. When the Byzantines won back the Morea from the Franks, Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus made Mystra its capital and seat of government and Mystras became the leading city of the Peloponnese. It was governed by a Byzantine Despot, usually either a son or a brother of the Emperor in Constantinople.It soon became populated by people from the surrounding plains seeking refuge from invading Slavs. From this time, until the last despot, Demetrios, surrendered it to the Turks in 1460, a despot of Morea (usually a son or brother of the ruling Byzantine emperor) lived and reigned at Mystra. Mystra declined under Turkish rule. It was captured by the Venetians in 1687 and it thrived once again with a flourishing silk industry and a population of 40,000. It was recaptured by the Turks in 1715, and from then on it was downhill all the way. It was burned by the Russians in 1770, the Albanians in 1780 and Ibrahim Pasha in 1825. Not surprisingly, at the time of Independence it was in a very sorry state, virtually abandoned and in ruins. Since the 1950s much restoration work has taken place. Once inside Nafplion Gate, the tour will see the main sites of this ancient city such as the Palace of the Despots.
Kyparisia: about 40 miles southeast from Mystras, through some of the most striking and at times hair-raising scenery in Greece, to Kalamata, and from Kalamata it’s another 32 miles to Kyparissia. Kyparisia: In his “description of Greece” Pausanias describes Kyparissia in these words: “having come to Cyparissiae we see a spring below the city near the sea. They say that Dionysus made the water flow by smiting the earth with his wand; hence they name it the spring of Dionysus. There is also a sanctuary of Apollo at Kyparissae, and another of Athena surnamed Kyparissian…there is a temple of Aulonian Aesculapius and an image of him” (4.36) Today, the Spring of Dionysus can still be seen on the beach of Ai Lagoudia in Kyparissia, a town on the south-western Peloponnese, but of the temples little remains. In Byzantine times Kyparissia was called Arkadia because of the Arkadian people who came to live there. The Arkadians built a massive castle on the site of the old acropolis, which was later rebuilt by the Franks. The castle and the ancient harbor are the main monuments on Kyparissia today. However, the town is a popular summer getaway because of its attractive beaches and summer festivities.
Pylos: The home of Nestor, the “elder statesman” of the Greek warriors at Troy, Pylos is located on the hill of Epano Englianos, near Navarino Bay, the southwest coast of the Peloponneseus. Occupied as early as the Middle Bronze Age, the site is dominated by a monumental structure, known as Nestor’s palace, which is the best preserved of the existing Mycenean palaces. Built in the Late Bronze Age (ca.1300 B.C.), the palace consists of 105 ground floor apartments. The most important compartments of the palace are the the big “throne room”, with its circular heath, a room with a clay bath tube, and stores with numerous storage jars. The walls of the palace were decorated with beautiful frescos. Thousands of clay tablets in Linear B script were found in the palace. (The Linear B script has been found to be based on the Greek language and was deciphered by a British archaeologist, Michael Ventris, in the 1950s).The palace was destroyed by fire in the 12th century B.C., and by a happy accident of chance, the linear B tablets were preserved by baking in the fire. Spending the day in and around Pylos, visiting the Venetian castle at Methoni, the Mycenean palace at Pylos (called the Palace of Nestor, the garrulous old advisor in the Iliad), and the Pylos Museum. The Palace of Nestor was first excavated by Carl Blegen of Cincinnati in 1952 and was destroyed by fire at the end of the Mycenean period (around 1200 BC). It is quite a bit smaller than Mycenae, and it is here that the first Linear B tablets found on the Greek mainland were discovered in 1939.
Aegina is a beautiful island for swimming, shopping, and recreation. The locals are extremely friendly and helpful, and almost every merchant speaks excellent English. Aegina is worth at least a day of your itinerary, and you may find yourself staying overnight.
Tradition derives its name from Aegina, the mother of the hero Aeacus. Aeacus was born on the island and became its king. During ancient times Aegina was a rival of Athens, the great sea power of the era.
Spend a day on Aegina
There is nothing like a day trip to one of the nearby Saronic islands.
Visit Aegina, capital of Greece (1827-1829), on a day trip from Piraeus. Take the morning ferry from Piraeus and in 1h 20m. arrive in Aegina. The church of Agios Nikolaos, at the port of the island, welcomes you. The beautiful neoclassical buildings remind you of the glory of the island.
There are regular bus services from Aegina town to destinations throughout the island. Agia Marina and Perdika are easily reached by public bus.
Proved by findings in the Column area, dating from 3000 BC. Aegina was inhabited since the Neolithic time. Later Minoans came to the island, then – Achaeans and Dorians. From the middle of the 1st c. BC Aegina developed rush trade and at the same time declares itself as a powerful maritime state. The peak of blossom comes in 6th c. BC, when Aegina, being independent, became the first city-state, and began to mint coins. Despite the concurrence with Athens and Piraeus, Aegina became confederate of Athens in the Salamis battle. However Athenians (who never really trusted Aegina) took over the island in the 5th c. BC. The latest history of the island does not stand out from the history of the rest of Greece. The participation of the island in the liberation war against the Turks in 1821 was of major importance, because Aegina was the first seat of the first government of independent Greece led by Kapodistrias. Sightseeings in the town: the Archeological museum, the Column (close to the port area) which is actually the only remnant of the Temple of Apollo, the cathedral, in which the first Greek government swore. You can take a tour to the famous temple of Goddess Aphaea, the patroness of the island, located 11 km from the town. A doric temple, built after the battle of Salamis, in 480 BC. Another tour is to the monastery of St.Nektarios. The new built temple of the monastery is one of the best samples of the neo-byzantine architecture in Greece. The monastery of St.Nektarios is located on a hill not far from the port of island. Here, in a little church, is preserved the st. Chapter of Prelate. You visit the cell, where he was praying during the last years of his life and drink healing water from the holy fountain.
For bookings and information on Aegina hotels, car rentals and ferry tickets contact Astoria Travel in Athens. Boats go back and forth all day long to Aegina Town. The first boat leaves Pireaus at 7:00 am and the last at 18:30. The last boat leaves from Aegina at 19:00 or 20:00. The Flying Dolphin takes 40 minutes and is a lot less comfortable so go with for the ferry. The trip takes 1h 15 min. An hour ferry trip is just about perfect and the waters are usually calm.
What can you do in Aegina
Visit the Archaeological Site of Kolona.
Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina
The Hill of kolona was inhabited in prehistoric times through the classical period. Extensive walls and foundations have been discovered and excavations are still in progress. One single column is still standing, the only remaining from the Temple of Apollo built in the 6th c. BC.,
The small Museum (Tue-Sun 08:30-15:00), containing a small but rich collection of pottery and sculpture from all periods of Aegina’s history. One of the most significant exhibits is the statue of the Sphinx (460 BC), which was dedicated to the Temple of Apollo. It is an extraordinary sculpture, with a head of a woman and a body that is half eagle and half lion,
The Doric temple of Aphaea
The Doric temple of Aphaea that we see today in a very good condition, was built about 490 BC of local porous sandstone. It stands on top of a pine-clad hill above Agia Marina. The first temple on the site (700 BC) was dedicated to Aphaea, a deity from Crete. Aphaea was worshiped at this sanctuary but the myth can be traced back to the 14th c. BC. and according to Greek mythology she was a beautiful young lady, another illegitimate child of Zeus. King Minos of Crete had fallen in love with her. Trying to escape from him she jumped into the sea but was caught in the net of fishermen. They took her on their boat. A fisherman, captivated by her beauty, fell in love and wanted to keep her for himself. Aphaea escaped, got out in Aegina, and asked for help from her half sister, goddess Artemis. She vanished in the woods of the island. When the fishermen arrived on the spot, they found only a statue. “Aphaea” in Greek means ‘invisible.’ On a clear day, you can see the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio, as well as the Acropolis of Athens. These three temples form the sacred triangle of antiquity, an isosceles triangle, between North, East and South. (Open daily 08:00-17:00, Museum: Tues-Sun 08:30-14:15).\
The Church of Agios Nektarios (named after its patron).
The Church of Agios Nektarios aegina
St Nektarius, died in 1920 and was canonized in 1961. His memory is celebrated on 9 November.
You may have lunch in a taverna at the port, swim in a nice sandy beach and in the afternoon board the ferry back to Piraeus.
Aegina Ferry Boat Get the ferry from Piraeus to the main town in Aegina. You can sit in the lounge or choose to sit at the top deck watching the ferry pass by the cruise ships in the harbor and then the tankers and freighters anchored outside the harbor. In 30 minutes we were close enough to see the houses on Aegina and the scenery became more interesting. Aegina is only about an hour and fifteen minutes from Pireaus on a regular ferry and half that on a flying dolphin hydrofoil so there is hardly enough time to get bored on the boat.
Aegina, Greece The island of Aegina is really surprising. The town is quite traditional and while tourism is in evidence it is still largely Greeks who come here for the day or even for their summer holidays. Most of the restaurants in the back streets cater for Greek clientele and serve food that Greek people love, and the adventurous tourists would be likely to try. There is a great covered fish market in town, and there are several small traditional restaurants that are in and around it.
The port of Aegina is a busy one with ferries, flying dolphins, cruise ships, catamarans and fishing boats sailing in and out, depositing people, cars and fish. Aegina is known for the small ouzeries and fish mezedes and there are a number of these places on the waterfront and on the back streets, easily recognizable by the small grills and the octopus cooking on them. Athenians come here to escape the city, drink ouzo, eat seafood and watch the fishing boats. When you arrive, the first thing that you see is the line of horse-drawn carriages. I can’t think of a good enough reason to not take a little spin around the port and get a feel for the place. It is great fun to sit in front with the driver.
Ancient ruins of Aegina and temple of Apollo with Aegina town in the background As you face the village and walk to your left there is a row of seafood restaurants along the waterfront, all with signs saying the special of the day is sea-urchin salad and each with a grill loaded with octopus. We continue to walk past the first beach and the small boatyard towards the area known as Koloni, named for the lone column that remains from the ancient temple of Apollo that stood on this site on a small hill overlooking the port. Aegina was a major power in the classical Greek times and for a period Athens main competitor. There is a small museum on the site that we went through in about 4 minutes, though someone with a deeper interest in antiquities than my daughter and I might be able to spend a longer time examining the ancient pottery that has been found in the area. The archaeological site itself is fairly impressive and the view from the temple of the ferries coming and going from the port makes it a good spot to visit even if you have no interest in ancient Aegina.
Aegina town beach But it was from here that Amarandi spotted the beautiful beach on the far side and could not help but notice that there were indeed people swimming, and once she had made up her mind there was no way I could deter her. I tried telling her that these people were a local chapter of the Polar Bear Club and this early spring swim was a painful rite of passage and that they were most likely suffering severely. But this did not convince her and so we trudged back into town to find a shop that sold bathing suits and towels since we were completely unprepared. After walking all the way through the back streets of the town and stopping in several shops with no success, we ended up on the opposite side near the cathedral. I took the opportunity of calling Andrea on my Greece-Travel Phone with the hopes that she could convince Amarandi that swimming was a foolhardy idea or even just putting her foot down and not permitting me to let her go swimming, enabling me to remain the ‘good guy’ for awhile. But when we told her our plan she thought that was a great idea, since she was in Athens and it was a couple degrees hotter there and she probably wished she could jump in the sea too.
Aegina Port We walked back along the dock, all the while Amarandi keeping her eyes open for a shop that might sell bathing suits and me trying to distract her by showing her things of interest. We stopped at the boats that sell vegetables and Amarandi wanted to go on board but was reluctant to walk up the gangplank. So was I but not because I was afraid, but because I suddenly realized that the sun had been shining on my head for a couple hours and I needed a hat badly. Chances are that the same place that sold the bathing suits would also sell hats, so I joined Amarandi in the search. Finally on one of the pedestrian market streets we found the store with postcards, t-shirts and they said bathing suits. Amarandi went with the girl to try some on while I tried on the only pair in the store that would possibly fit me since it really was too early for people to be buying bathing suits and their supplies were low. I also bought a baseball cap that said ‘Hellas’ on it that Andrea made me give away as soon as she saw it because it made me look like a tourist. (She said I could wear it in the states if I wanted to.) I also had to buy a large towel to dry off with after we came out of the freezing Aegean and of course a gym bag to carry the wet bathing suits and towels back to Athens. Amarandi found a bathing suit she liked and we paid the bill. This little swim was costing us $75.
Port of Aegina We made our way back along the quay and through the trees to the beach only to find that the Polar Bear Club had gone home to take hot showers and restore their circulation. Amarandi took off her pants to reveal that she had put her bathing suit on over her underwear. I had to explain that this was not the clear-thinking I had been trying to impart to her when I took the vow of parenthood. Why didn’t she remove the underwear when she was in the dressing room? She did not know the answer to this question but it gave me the opportunity to teach her the technique of changing clothes while wrapped in a towel, which all Greek women are adept at. She mastered it quickly and ran into the sea up to her ankles before stopping and standing there waiting for me to make the next move. I stepped in and it felt OK, as water two inches deep that has been warmed by the sun all day would. But when I dived into the deeper water I had a near heart attack and it was all I could do to stay in the sea until I felt I had gotten my seventy-five dollars worth that I had spent on the equipment that had enabled me to take this swim.
Aegina restaurants After a refreshing swim you are ready for the next adventure of the day which was lunch. Find a seaside taverna that had more Greeks than empty seats and foreigners and sit down. Try the Sea-urchin salad, grilled Octopus, fried squid, a Greek horiatiki salata even though the tomatoes were not really in season and a plate of marides or anchovies, the small fried fish that you can eat the whole fish and try the ouzo with them since they go so well together.
Agia Marina, Aegina After lunch check the boat schedules. It’s not a problem getting back to Piraeus. There are ferries or flying dolphins at least every hour. You have the time to visit by a local taxi the beach village of Agia Marina. There are boats leaving to Piraeus from Agia Marina, too. The interior of the island is largely agricultural and mountainous with a couple villages along the way and the temple of Hephaestus crowning a hill near Aegina town. Agia Marina would actually be a great place to stay if you wanted to see Athens and not stay in the city. The high-speed takes less than a half hour to Pireaus and even the slower boat only takes an hour. There are a number of tavernas, a decent beach and what looked like great swimming off the rocks too.
Perdika, Aegina The fishing village of Perdika is another popular day visit place for Athenians and is full of nice fish tavernas with prices more geared to Athenians than to tourists since most Greeks have a pretty good idea about what fresh fish looks like and how much it should cost. Perdika is also a popular stop for people on sailing boats and yachts and has a small but nice beach nearby.
Aegina Town Beach The beaches around the island are not great, but pretty good. In my opinion the best swimming is off the rocks beneath the pines on the outskirts of both Agia Marina and Aegina town. A local resident could tell you a dozen other places to swim. If you stay awhile and you are tired of the beaches of Aegina you are just a 15 minute boat ride from the island of Agkistri. 1 km from Aegina Town, there is a Water Park, a kid’s paradise. The water slides range from the “Kamikaze”, for the more daring riders, to the gentler “Twister” for the not so daring ones. There are a couple bars by the pools for parents who need to overcome the stress of watching their child go down a 50 foot water slide a hundred and fifty times in a row. Your kids will be happy at one of the beaches, and if you go to the more popular ones, like the sandy beach at Agia Marina, the Aegina town beach, or anywhere with sun beds and umbrellas, your kids will be able to find plenty of other kids to play with provided you are there in the summer.
Aegina Restaurants Aegina has several great restaurants and some live music clubs and a number of good bars. Kappos Etsi is located right behind the cafes in the port. Dimitris is from Aegina and when he graduated from Le Monde Culinary Arts School of Athens he returned to the island to open his restaurant. Combining traditional Greek dishes with his own culinary innovation and using only fresh natural ingredients, this is the type of restaurant you might find in the most cosmopolitan Greek island or European city. The Plaza serves seafood and meat dishes right on the sea between the port and the town beach. My suggestion is to try any of the restaurants close to the market on P. Irioti Street which is the next street up from the port. You can take your pick of seafood restaurants in Perdika though Remezzo’s seems to get high reviews from everyone. I had a meal at Saronis which was just fine. In Agia Marina try the popular Thymari, which has been open for almost 30 years and has attraction a legion of followers who come to the resort town every summer and eat there regularly. As for bars and cafes there are too many to even bother writing about. Just wander around until you fond one that has comfortable chairs and music you can bare. Panta Pei has live rembetika music on weekends as do several other places in Aegina town and unlike most islands there is some nightlife even in the off-season. In the summer there are discos and plenty of action at the beach bars.
Things to See in Aegina Temple of Apheae Be sure to visit the Temple of Aphaia located on top of a mountain on the way to Agia Marina. Besides having a spectacular view and one of the most interesting little cafes below it, the temple is a very well preserved example of the Doric style and is the most important archaeological site in the Saronic islands and one of the most important in Greece. It was built in 480 BC when Aegina was at the height of its power and from it you can see the mainland from Athens all the way to Cape Sounion. You can get there by bus or taxi from Aegina town. The site is open every day except Monday. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:00 – 18.30. Be sure to check out the furniture in the cafe too, made from ancient columns and stones from the temple.
Paleohora Aegina is another place of interest are the ruins of Paleohora east of Aegina town. This was the capital of the island from the 9th til the 18th century when villages were located inland to be safe from pirates. Aegina was one of the unlucky towns because it was destroyed once by the pirate Barbarossa in 1537 and all the inhabitants were taken away as slaves. All that remains are a number of small churches in various states of restoration but it is an amazing place and well worth the visit. You can also stop at the Monastery of Agiou Nektarou with the enormous new church built recently. The monastery has the remains of Anastasios Kefalas, a hermit monk who died in 1920 and was the first orthodox saint of the 20th Century, canonized in 1961.
Aegina Pistachios The island of Aegina is famous for its pistachios which some people believe are the best in the world. You can decide for yourself. They are sold in small shops and booths in town including at the Aegina Pistachio Cooperative stand right on the dock next to where you buy your tickets for the ferry boat. In fact I would suggest buying yourself a couple bags at least because you will eat one on the boat and then you will wish you had more to bring back home with you so you can show your friends how good pistachios can be. Or you can pick up the family-size bag.
Aegina is also known as the place where Nikos Kazantzakis wrote Zorba the Greek and any Zorba-file should make a journey to the island for that reason alone. Taxis and buses can take you all over the island.
Before you go be sure to drop a donation into the box for FAZA: The Friends of the Strays of Aegina and Angistri. This organization feeds all the stray dogs and cats and they have a little stand on the dock where not only can you donate your stray Euros but the stray dogs of the island can feed themselves.
Aegina TownIn Aegina town the most highly regarded hotels by travelers are the Hotel Rastoni, the Electra Pension and the Fistikies Holiday Apartments, all within walking distance of beaches, shops and the waterfront. If you want to be able to walk out the door and jump right into the sea then stay at the Hotel Klonos or the Danae Hotel right next door. The resort village of Agia Marina is less than half an hour from Pireaus by Flying Dolphin but the boat only goes in the summer. That means you can stay there and be on the Acropolis in an hour. Check out the Hotel Karyatides and the Rachel Hotel which are both highly rated by travelers or Hotel Panorama, which is right on the sea as is the Argo Hotel. For more hotels in Aegina also check Booking.com’s Aegina Pages. One of the best ways to see Aegina is to stay in Agistri at the popular Agistri Club Hotel.
Aegina is also included in the one-day Cruise from Athens that goes almost every day of the year. You can combine Aegina with the islands of Angistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses as well as Nafplion and The Argolis.
Video and photos
The ferries to Aegina depart from Gate 8, 300 m from the subway station at Piraeus port.
The sheer magnificence and grandeur of the location strike you. Below the site, a valley ringed by mountains provides breathtaking views from any location within the site. Delphi was the most sacred place in the ancient world. A temple dedicated to the god Apollo was built there in the 7th c BC. and housed the Oracle of Delphi, the greatest source of income for a thousand years. Delphi became a religious center. Kings and common people came to consult the priestess called PYTHIA. In a secret room below the tripod of the Pythia, the priests of Apollo interpreted her vague and wild cries and put them into ordered language. The marketing idea was: to build a treasury house for your city-state. Bring your votives and valuable gifts and we shall keep them in it for you. It was a matter of convincing everybody that Apollo, Zeus, and the rest of the gods controlled their lives.
Today the archaeological site with the treasuries, the ancient temples, and the shrines, is one of the best in Greece, making Delphi one of Greece’s premier tourist attractions. It is a 2.30-hour drive from Athens making the visit to Delphi a comfortable 1-day trip.
The museum in Delphi houses impressive statues, jewelry, and other wares that have been unearthed from the site.
Unless you are a history guy you need a full hour to explore the ancient site. The Sacred Way starts at the ticket booth, winds up past a number of Treasuries and leads to the Temple of Apollo, where the Oracle was sitting.
The day Tour to Delphi, weather permitting, is organized daily. Cumbine the tour to Delphi with the day tour to Argolis + Nafplion. The old town of Nafplion is beautiful. This is your chance to see it.
PRICES: This is the best offer for a guided tour.
The One-day tour without lunch: 1) The adult price is 69 € + entrance fees – ENTRANCE FEES that must be added= NOV-MAR + 8 €, APR-OCT + 15 € – Lunch (3-course menu) is served in a restaurant near Delphi and costs 15 € per person. – Clients who take the tour without lunch may spend the lunch hour in modern Delphi village.
The tour includes: – transportation on modern air-conditioned buses. – the services of the professional tour guide all along. – Pick up/drop off from or near your hotel (See the list of hotels at the footer of this website). – Shortstop in the picturesque village of Arachova.
Copied from a client’s Blogspot: The tour which I joined was organized by G.O. TOURS. Information about the tour can be found on their website at http://www.gotours.com.gr/en/ However, I did not book through their website. I booked it through ASTORIA TRAVEL https://astoriatravel.gr/ After browsing through the web, I found that ASTORIA TRAVEL offers the cheapest tour packages in Athens. Initially, I was quite skeptical. How can this tour agent offer such a low price (20% cheaper) compared to the travel company’s price? Is this a scam? Well, believe it! It was not a scam. I even booked my first two nights in Athens at Hotel Arethusa (next to Syntagma Square) at a very cheap price through ASTORIA TRAVEL.
Start the free pick-up service, bring the people to the terminal, and put them in the different buses to the destinations.
Depart from the terminal at +/- 08.30
Arrival in modern Delphi village
On the way, 25 mins break near Levadia
Visit the ancient site & the museum
Entrance fees – See the price you paid
Drive to a restaurant 3 km outside modern Delphi
Lunch is optional – See the price you paid.
Start the return towards Athens
Stop at the village of Arachova
Arrival in the centre of Athens
Hotel drop off by 19.30
If there is a site to visit in Greece then Delphi is this place. The sheer magnificence and grandeur of the location strike you. God Apollo had chosen the best spot to build his temple. Below the site, a valley ringed by mountains provides breathtaking views from any location within the site.
Delphi was considered to be one of the most important cities of ancient Greece. It was believed to be home to the goddess Gaia, or Earth, and later to Apollo after slaying Gaia’s son, the snake Python. The Pythian games—similar to the Olympic Games—were held here every four years to honour Apollo’s slaying of the Python dragon.
According to the myth, Zeus released two eagles. One flew east and the other one flew west. They both met over Delphi, determining that the centre of the world was there. A temple dedicated to the god Apollo was built there in the 7th c BC. The Temple of Apollo housed the great Oracle of Delphi, the world’s greatest source of income for a thousand years. The Oracle was the most eminent feature of Delphi, and some of the most important people from all over Greece—including demigods, according to Greek mythology—visited her to seek advice. The oracle of Apollo became a religious center where common people and kings alike, came to consult “Pythia”, the priestess of the sanctuary. In a room, below the Pythia, the priests listened and interpreted her vague and wild cries, and put them into ordered language.
Above the entrance to the temple of Apollo, the visitor reads ‘Know Thyself’ and ‘Nothing in Excess’. These sayings were read and pondered upon by all of the great kings, warriors, and noblemen who came here for advice. The true wisdom of the Oracle lies not within the words of the Oracle’s priestess, but within the walls of the temple itself.
The Pythian Games held in Delphi were one of four Panhellenic games held in ancient Greece, and they attracted competitors from all over the Greek world. Founded in the 6th c. BC and held in honour of Apollo the Games originally centered around the talents the god exemplified – music and poetry. However soon, athletic competitions were added as well. The best known was a great chariot race, held in the stadium of Delphi. The winners of the Pythian Games received a laurel wreath.
The 6th c. BC saw the political rise of Delphi ushering in a golden age that lasted until the arrival of the Romans in 191 BC. Numerous treasuries were built in the Sanctuary of Apollo to house votive offerings of grateful pilgrims. In the 4th century BC, a theater accommodating 5,000 spectators was constructed nearby. It was restored in 159 by king Eumenes II and later by the Romans.
The oracle of Delphi was abolished in 393 AD by Theodosius of Byzantium, the emperor who made Christianity the official religion of the Byzantine Empire. No longer used, the temples fell into disrepair and their materials were plundered for new buildings.
Site & Museum
Delphi was the most sacred place in the ancient world and thousands of pilgrims visited here, from kings and philosophers to common people to hear the prophecies of the Oracle and to watch and compete in the ancient games held here, the Pythian Games, similar to the Olympics. The archaeological site is one of the best in Greece with ancient temples and shrines placed along the sacred way, making Delphi one of the best places to visit all year round. The site consists of the temple of Apollo, the treasury houses of the City-States, the ancient theatre, the stadium at the top of the hill, the gymnasium, and the Hippodrome. The sanctuary was built in an imposing location, on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus. The Temple of Apollo, the treasury house of the Athenians, the Polygonal wall, the treasury houses of the different city States — where treasures from all over Greece were kept, and the Theatre are some of the most important buildings. It is a vigorous hike to the highest parts of the complex, to the theater and the stadium.
The remaining part of the ancient site, below the road, with the temple of Athena Pronaia, the Tholos (a circular structure with 3 of its original 20 Doric columns restored), the gymnasium, and the sports facilities, used for training for the athletes that took part in the “Pythian or Delphian Games”, is not included in the guided tours. Select the tour option without lunch and while the group is having lunch you can visit them on your own, without the tour guide. The bus will pick you up on the way back to Athens.
Today, next to the archaeological site, there is an impressive museum, displaying hundreds of votive offerings and findings from the local excavations, that started in 1892, masterpieces of Ancient Greek sculpture. The highlights are offerings by the oracle visitors, such as the famous bronze statue of the Charioteer, the statue of Antinoos, the famous athlete Aghias, the two “kouros” statues, the Roman “omphalos”, the sculptured stone that represented the navel of the world, and many others.
When you finish with the sightseeing, you proceed to a local restaurant for lunch (optional). Finding parking for the bus in Delphi village is not possible. The restaurant with ample parking space is +/- 3km from the village. After lunch returning to Athens, the driver stops for 40 minutes at the nearby(10 km) traditional village of Arachova. The bus finally arrives in the centre of Athens at +/- 18.30.
By Provoensis, United States, 11 posts, 38 reviews. Re: Astoria Travel, Jul 31
My experiences with Astoria Travel have been varied in scope, but ALLWAYS extraordinarily positive. I cannot praise Kosta and his team highly enough. From small-scale arrangements for my wife and me to multi-day academic tours for groups of 30+ university students, our experience has always been top-notch. I regularly travel with a university group to Greece, and other colleagues from my university (in the USA) have been booking arrangements through Astoria Travel since 2003, sometimes 2 – 3 groups per year. Kosta’s heartfelt inclination to provide a high-quality academic experience for our students really shows. Above all, his reliability and his determination to help us provide an affordable program for them are apparent from beginning to end. On each program, he has been constantly calculating how we can shave down costs to the student’s advantage. He really tends to the smallest details. Trustworthiness may be the most important aspect of a travel agent’s involvement with a group. In the many facets of our several tours arranged by Astoria, I have yet to be surprised by any bill or expenditure. Everything has been transparent and anticipated. I recommend to all my colleagues at my university to work on their Greek travel arrangements through Astoria Travel. For us Greece means Kosta. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Re: Astoria Travel Meteora trip Reviews. Hi SomeGirl111. All the bus tours in Greece are organized by three Tour operators. The travel agents do not organize, they sell these guided tours at discounted rates. So, whoever you decide to buy your tour from, you will end up sitting in one of the T.O. buses. All three T.Os. use modern, air-conditioned buses., and knowledgeable professional tour guides. You travel on the same bus as visitors that paid the full brochure price. Astoria Travel was established in 1958 and is still operating and prospering. So, your question should be: is the price that they sell the tours organized by G.O.Tours, CHAT, or KEY Tours, good? What differs between the travel agents, is how fast they reply to you, and the way they answer your request. Being in the travel trade for such a long time, I am sure that they know the way to satisfy their clients.
PRICE: Adults 110 € | Children 85 € | Infants up to 4 y. o. are free. Lunch is included in the price Transfers from your hotel to the marina and back are optional and cost 14 € per person.
Enjoy a popular cruise, delicious food, live entertainment with Greek music, popular Greek songs, and Greek dancing in fully air-conditioned cruise ships.
The optional tour to the temple of Aphaea costs 28 € per person and is sold on board from the ship’s excursion desk. Aphaea was worshipped at this sanctuary but the myth can be traced back to the 14th c. BC. and according to Greek mythology, she was a beautiful young lady, another illegitimate child of Zeus. King Minos of Crete had fallen in love with her. Trying to escape from him she jumped into the sea but was caught in the net of fishermen. They took her on their boat. A fisherman, captivated by her beauty, fell in love and wanted to keep her for himself. Aphaea escaped, got out in Aegina, and asked for help from her half-sister, goddess Artemis. She vanished in the woods of the island. When the fishermen arrived on the spot, they found only a statue. “Aphaea” in Greek means ‘invisible.’ The temple of Aphaea is in very good condition. The location together with the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, form a “Sacred Triangle” between North, East, and South.
The boat sails from marina Flisvou or, marina Falirou.
06.50 am, the pick-up service starts from hotels in the centre of Athens. 07.45 am the orchestra welcomes you on board. The boat departs at 08.00 After departure, the hostesses will familiarize you with the islands that you will visit. The order in which you will visit the islands may change but this does not affect the time of stay on the islands. Explore the islands, at your own pace.
POROS Island is the smallest of the three islands. A green island, with a plentiful supply of freshwater, sandy beaches, and a famous lemon forest. Your time on Poros, almost 50 minutes, is just enough for a short walk to the highest point for a nice view from the clock tower. Sailing to Hydra, you may relax in the lounge or enjoy the sun on the ship’s decks.
HYDRA Island is your next stop in an hour and 20 minutes, later. It is the island favoured by artists worldwide, has narrow, whitewashed streets, and exquisite mansions. The architecture of the island is striking. The stone mansions have a long history, while the stone-paved streets are waiting to be explored on foot or on the saddled donkeys that are waiting to be hired. Hydra island is world-famous. You will have one hour and 45 min. to enjoy the charms of the island and upon your return on the boat, the tables will be ready for your lunch. After your meal, the orchestra, the singers, and the dancers will invite you to join them and dance to well known Greek songs.
AEGINA Island is the last, but largest of the 3 islands. Aegina is known for its neoclassical buildings, its busy harbour, and its pistachio nuts. The harbour with the old mansions invites you to explore the island further: An optional Tour is organized to visit the Aphaia Temple. The well-preserved temple in Greece is one of the 3 temples in the “Sacred Triangle” of the Greek antiquity. Your tour guide will tell you the story of the site and thereafter the tour proceeds to the Byzantine Church of St Nektarios. Tickets for the above recommended optional excursions can be purchased onboard the ship. – An alternative choice is to stay by the port of Aegina and enjoy a walk or horse-carriage ride around the town or relax in one of the harbour’s coffee shops.
Onboard again, a “Traditional Greek Folk Show” with dancers in traditional Greek costumes will entertain you until the ship docks, at 19:45 and back at your hotel 20.45
TIME PLAN 07:50 you get on board and depart at 08:00. The order that you will visit the islands may change but the time of stay on the islands will be the same.
The boat departs from the pier
Hotel pick up starts from 06.50
Arrive in Poros Island
50 minutes, short stay
Depart for the island of Hydra
Relax in the lounges or the sun decks
Arrival in Hydra
Lunch, on board. 1st sitting
Departure from Hydra
Lunch, on board. 2nd sitting
Arrival in Aegina
Optional guided tour to Aphaea Temple
Return to the port and sail to Piraeus
Live entertainment and floor show
Arrival at the pier
Transfer to your hotel
HIGHLIGHTS Islands of Hydra, Poros, Aegina, Temple of Aphaea and the St. Nektarios Monastery, delicious food, live entertainment and Greek folk dancing show.
Departure daily from the marina of TROKANTERO at 08:00 am. Duration: 12 hours. Return Time: 19.45, and transfer to the pick-up point in the centre of Athens.
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