Category Archive : Peloponesse

Watch the video made by the Great courses and listen to the lecture of Prof. John Hale

Operating days and prices

Corinth, famous for its canal (built-in 1893), is the city that inspired Paul’s most familiar letters in the bible addressed to the Corinthians.

To stand in the midst of the ruins of the church of Corinth and see the pillars, steps, and public worship place where Paul preached will enhance your understanding and love of I & II Corinthians. The ruins of this cultural centre are fascinating as you walk along the stone path that the Apostle walked.

See the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, the Bema, and the Temples. The engineering skill and intellect of these people are evident in the water systems that still flow from ancient to modern-day. Though most of ancient Corinth has either disappeared over the years or been destroyed by Earthquakes there is still a temple to Apollo built in the 5th c. BC. The Peirene Spring is said to have been a woman transformed by the tears she shed for her son who was killed by the Goddess Artemis. It still supplies old Corinth with water. The archeologists you may see working are from the Athens’ American School of Classical studies.

This tour operates only between APRIL – OCTOBER on Mondays and Fridays.
PRICES: All travel agents, in Greece and worldwide, offer the same tour at different prices. We are sure that our price for this tour is not matched by any other company. The reason is that organizing tours throughout Greece since 1958 we have secured the best deals in all aspects of travel.
Our price, per adult is: 51.00 € p.p. + applicable entrance fees.
APPLICABLE ENTRANCE FEES:
APRIL – OCTOBER, E.U. Juniors <25 and E.U. students, are allowed free of charge.
APR – OCT, Juniors under 25 from other countries and E.U. seniors >65 pay 4.00 €
APRIL – OCTOBER everybody else pays 8.00 €

INCLUDED:
– Transportation by modern air-conditioned buses,
– the services of the professional tour guide, and
– the pickup/drop off (from the hotels in the list published in the footer)

HIGHLIGHTS
Small group tour
6-hours guided tour to Ancient Corinth
A religious tour led by an expert guide
Stop at the famous Corinth canal & enjoy breathtaking views
Visit Ancient Corinth with the temple of Apollo & its age-old streets
Pick-up/drop-off service is included from Athens central hotels

Itinerary

For the Christians, Corinth is well-known from the First and Second letters of Saint Paul to the Corinthians in the New Testament. Corinth is also mentioned in the Book of Acts as part of the Apostle Paul’s missionary travels. Ancient Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities of Greece. The Romans demolished Ancient Corinth in 146 BC, built a new city in its place in 44 BC, and later made it the capital of Roman Greece.
Starting at 07.30 am the bus picks up clients from the central hotels in Athens (see the list in the footer), brings them to the terminal in the centre of Athens, and departs at +/- 08.30

The drive to Corinth offers a variety of landscape viewing the Saronic Gulf and its islands. You pass from the industrial city of Elefsis, home of the ancient Elefsinian Mysteries, the most important cult religion of antiquity before Christianity. An hour later we reach the Corinth Canal.(short stop). The 6,346 m long isthmus, is one of the 4 pre-20th century, man-made waterways on earth. The canal connects the Aegean Sea (East) with the Ionian Sea (West), today very popular for extreme sports (bungy jumping). The view from the bridge at the top of the canal is breathtaking.
The opening of the canal was a very old idea. At the western entrance a paved way on which the ancient Corinthians pulled the ships on greased tree trunks from the one side to the other can be seen. The canal started in 1881 and was finished and opened, only in 1893.
The town of ancient Corinth where St. Paul lived, worked, and preached for two years is 7km. from the canal, at the base of the hill of Acrocorinth. Acrocorinth was the Acropolis of Corinth and it rises about 600 m. (1800 ft). Ruins of a temple of Aphrodite, dominating the site, can be seen here.

Back in the ancient times Corinth was the capital of Roman Greece and one of the richest cities and this is quite evident by its remains. A huge agora (marketplace) and Apollo’s Temple (6th C.B.C). 7 of the 38 columns still stand. The ancient city of Corinth has been destroyed 3 times in its past and was rebuilt from scratch. The Romans seized, destroyed, and burned the city (146 BC) to the ground.

When Paul arrived in Corinth (51 AD) he arrived in a newly built city. The Corinthians collected a lot of money, by controlling the Corinth canal, and as a result of the wealth that they had, they were living a very immoral life.
You can see the remains of the theatre and the Roman Odeon, while among the ruins of the Roman Agora you can see the row of shops where Paul worked as a tent maker, together with Aquila and Priscilla, as well as the Bema, where Paul was judged by the Roman Governor when the Jews of Corinth accused him.
Here in Corinth Paul created one of the biggest Christian communities in Europe. Read about Paul’s life in Corinth on the left-hand side column of this page.

Corinth played a major role in the missionary work of Paul. Leaving Athens Paul visited Corinth, one of his beloved cities. He lived in Corinth for 18 months working as a tent maker and converting as many Jews and pagans as he could.
We will walk on the same paths that the Apostle of Nations walked and preached hundreds of years earlier. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that the Corinthian Jews turned against Paul. They dragged him to the court accusing him that he was illegally trying to persuade people to follow his preaching. A few weeks later he decided to leave Corinth. He sailed to Ephesus. He said goodbye to his friends and he left Corinth accompanied by Silas, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla.
After exploring the museum and the site we proceed to the ancient port of Cechreae from where St. Paul sailed to return to Ephesus in 52 AD.
Apostle Paul is the patron saint of Corinth and the Corinthians built an impressive church in his honour. We will have the time to visit the Cathedral of St. Paul with the beautiful mosaic/mural depicting his vision.

Return to Athens +/- 14.00.

HIGHLIGHTS
-Archaeological Museum of ancient Corinth
-Temple of Apollo
-Agora / Marketplace
-Roman buildings
-The Roman Bema
-The Theatre and Odeon / Asklepieion
-Lechaion road

History of Corinth

The tour guide will begin with the history of Corinth and its excavations and takes the visitors through the archaeological site from the Temple of Apollo to the Forum, the Fountain of Peirene, and more. Her lecture will cover the ancient monuments outside the fenced area of the site, including the Odeion, the Theatre, and the Asklepieion, and the various remains of ancient Corinth located within and outside the ancient Greek walls, including the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore and the Lechaion Basilica.

The site of ancient Corinth was first inhabited in the Neolithic period (5000-3000 BC), and flourished as a major Greek city-state from the 8th c. BC until its destruction by the Romans in 146 BC.

Its commanding position on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow strip of land that separates the Peloponnese from northern Greece, was the primary basis of its importance. Corinth controlled the “diolkos”, the 6th-c. BC stone-paved roadway that connected the Saronic Gulf with the Gulf of Corinth. This overland route allowed ships, passengers and cargo to avoid the difficult and time-consuming trip around the southern end of the Peloponnese.

Being a leading naval power as well as a rich commercial city enabled ancient Corinth to establish colonies in Syracuse (on the island of Sicily) and on Corcyra (today Corfu). These colonies served as trading posts for the bronze works, textiles, and pottery that Corinth produced.

Beginning in 582 BC, in the spring of every second year the Isthmian Games were celebrated in honor of god Poseidon. The Doric Temple of Apollo, one of Corinth’s major landmarks, was constructed in 550 BC at the height of the city’s wealth.

Corinth was conquered by Philip II of Macedonia in 338 BC, but it was named the meeting place of Philip’s new Hellenic confederacy. Immediately after Philip was assassinated, Alexander the Great came to Corinth to meet with the confederacy, to confirm his leadership, and forestall any thoughts of rebellion. At the Isthmian Games of 336 BC, the Greeks chose Alexander the Great to lead them in the war against the Persians.

In 146 BC Corinth was literally destroyed by the Romans, but in 44 BC it was rebuilt by Julius Caesar and became the capital of “Roman Greece”. The city prospered more than ever before and may have had as many as 800,000 inhabitants by the time of Paul. The city, mostly populated by freedmen and Jews, was devoted to business and pleasure.

Paul visited Corinth in the 50s AD and later wrote two letters to the Christian community at Corinth (the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians in the New Testament). When Paul first visited the city (51 or 52 AD), Gallio, the brother of Seneca, was proconsul of Corinth.

Paul lived in Corinth for 18 months (Acts 18:1-18), working as a tent maker and converting as many Jews and pagans as he could. Here he first became acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla, who became his fellow-workers.

Although Paul intended to pass through Corinth a second time before he visited Macedonia, circumstances were such that he first went from Troe to Macedonia before stopping at Corinth for a “second benefit” (2 Corinthians 1:15). This time he stayed in Corinth for three months (Acts 20:3).

It was probably during this second visit in the spring of 58 that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus, reflects the difficulties of maintaining a Christian community in such a cosmopolitan city.

A canal through the isthmus of Corinth was begun under the emperor Nero in 67 AD. Wielding a gold shovel, Nero himself was first to break ground, but the canal was not completed. Up to the 12th century, ships were dragged on rollers across the isthmus.

In 267 AD, the invasion of the Herulians initiated the decline of the city. During Alaric’s invasion of Greece in 395–396, he destroyed Corinth and sold many of its citizens into slavery. Nevertheless, Corinth remained inhabited for many centuries through successive invasions, destructions and plagues.

After 1204, when Constantinople fell to the Fourth Crusade, Corinth was a prize sought by all. Corinth was captured by the Turks in 1458; the Knights of Malta won it in 1612; the Venetians took a turn from 1687 until 1715, when the Turks returned; and the city finally came into Greek hands in 1822.

In 1893 a 4-mile (6-km) Corinth canal was finally completed, providing an essential shipping route between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Like its ancient predecessor, modern Corinth is the center of commerce between northern and southern Greece. Today, it has a population of about 30,000.

Systematic archaeological excavations of the area, initiated by the American School of Classical Studies in 1896, are still continuing today and have brought to light the agora, temples, fountains, shops, porticoes, baths and various other monuments. The finds are exhibited in the on-site Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth.

What to See at Corinth

The ruins of ancient Corinth, a short drive from the modern city of Corinth, are spread around the base of the rock of Acrocorinth, which forms a natural acropolis for the city. Most of the surviving buildings are Roman rather than Greek, dating from the city’s prosperous age after Caesar sacked and rebuilt much of the original Greek city. Much of the city has been toppled by recurring earthquakes over the centuries.

On the Acrocorinth itself are ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite, of which little remains. The Temple of Aphrodite had more than 1,000 sacred prostitutes at one time, exemplifying the ancient city’s reputation for luxury and vice. Also on Acrocorinth are the ruins of a stone minaret and ancient defensive walls.

The most notable ruin of ancient Corinth is the 6th-century BC Temple of Apollo, built on a hill overlooking the remains of the Roman marketplace (agora). Seven of the original 38 Doric columns still stand, and it is one of the oldest stone temples in Greece. The temple was still functioning in the time of Paul (50s AD) but was eventually destroyed by earthquakes.

Part of the foundation and a few pillars remain of the Temple of Octavia (known to scholars as ” Temple E”), dedicated to the sister of Emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). The temple represents the imperial cult of Rome, which was spread throughout the empire.

A sacred spring is located along the northern edge of the forum—near Lechaion Road. The spring was above ground in the 5th century BC but later building activities covered it. Near the spring is a secret passage leading to a small shrine. The passage was probably used by the priests but it is unknown in exactly what capacity.

Within the Roman Forum is the Bema, the public platform where St. Paul had to plead his case when the Corinthians hauled him up in front of the Roman governor Gallio in 52 AD.

Significant ruins of the Peirene Fountain, the major source of water for Corinth, can still be seen today in the Roman Forum. It was an elaborate structure that served as a meeting place for Corinthians. Frescoes of swimming fish from a 2nd-century refurbishment can still be seen, and niche in the wall probably contained a statue. The fountain is named for Peirene, a woman who wept so hard when she lost her son that she finally dissolved into the spring that still flows here.

North of the Theater, inside the city wall, is the Asklepieion, the sanctuary of the god of healing with a small temple (4th century BC). It is set in a colonnaded courtyard with a series of dining rooms in a second courtyard. Terra-cotta votive offerings representing afflicted body parts (hands, legs, breasts, genitals, and so on) were found in the excavation of the Asklepieion, many of which are displayed at the museum.

The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth contains a number of artifacts of religious interest, including inscriptions of Gallio and Erastus, both mentioned in the Book of Acts; a synagogue inscription, menorah reliefs, and votive offerings of terracotta body parts to Asklepios.

Private tour

TOURS TO ACROCORINTH
On the summit, above the Ancient Corinth, you will see the Acropolis of Corinth, the Acrocorinth. It was successively used and fortified by many conquerors including Romans, Byzantines and Turks. On this tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the castle. Through its imposing entrance gates, you will enter the castle and you will explore it. You will also experience the spectacular panoramic views which will amaze you.

ACROCORINTH TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
-First, Second, Third Gates
-Peirene Spring
-Temple of Aphrodite – Views of Geraneia Mountain with the Blue lake and Temple of Hera.
-Acrocorinth Snack bar/ Restaurant with fabulous views.

Midday, enjoy a delicious traditional authentic lunch on a fabulous balcony overlooking the archaeological site… Gemelos’taverna!

booking form


CLICK here and see ALL THE GUIDED TOURS that start from Athens. Detailed information on each tour is included.

 

Ancient Olympia GreeceAncient Olympia Greece

No other ancient site that has more relevance on today’s world than Olympia.

Itinerary & Prices

Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games.
Hand-colored halftone reproduction of a 19th-century illustration

The only way to visit Olympia in a day trip is by hiring a self-driven car or hiring a taxi, or, taking our private day trip, preferably with the extra expense of a local guide.

– Starting from your hotel at 06.45 am, we stop at Corinth canal for a short photo-stop, and arrive at Olympia at 10.45 am.
– Meet the tour guide (recommended) and spend 3 hours with her, visiting the archaeological museum, and the ancient site. (The suggested guided tour is longer than any other guided tour, but it’s the size and the history of Olympia that makes it long).
– When you finish with the sightseeing, relax having lunch in the peaceful setting of the modern Olympia town, and
– At +/- 16.00 start the return trip and arrive in Athens before 20.00. An enjoyable and memorable full-day tour.

Comprising of the ancient site, the stadium, and the Olympia museum, there is so much to see, that visitors should give themselves at least half a day to explore and experience ancient Olympia.
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Follow the link and see the prices for the 1-day trip to Olympia

There is no price for 2 passengers. Persuade one or more friends to join you and share the cost of this day trip.
The price includes transportation and tolls. The entrance fees and lunch are not included.
A local professional tour guide can be arranged at the extra cost for her lecture.

Plan a 2-day trip and combine the tour to ancient Olympia with the overnight stay in the beautiful Venetian town of Nafplion, Homer’s Mycenae and the sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus, or, with the lakes of Polylimnio, the historical Navarino, and the rival city of Sparta, Ancient Messene, an archaeological site, generally accepted as the most beautiful site in Greece. Following our suggestions, the hotel is chosen and paid for by you.

OLYMPIA minibus
The ir-conditioned minibus seats up to 8 passengers, and the driver, in 3 rows of seats.

Video


An excellent presentation. Prof. Hale speaks about the history of Olympia.

As a day trip, Olympia cannot be visited on a tour bus. It is outside the mileage and working hours of a bus driver. The only way to visit it in a day trip is by hiring a self-driven car or a taxi, or by taking our private day trip.
Ancient Olympia, the Acropolis of Athens, and the Oracle of Delphi are 3 sites that the services of a professional tour guide are appreciated. There are a lot of amusing myths and interesting stories about ancient Olympia and the Olympic Games that the tour guide will talk about.

History of Olympia

Olympia was the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece, and as such, it must be included in everybody’s itinerary. There are amusing myths and stories about ancient Olympia and the Olympic Games that your tour guide will talk about.

* The four Pan-Hellenic Games. The Games at Olympia was one of them. The other 3 were, the Isthmian, the Pythian, and the Nemean Games.
* Olympia was not a city as such. It was the sanctuary, the stadium, the sports facilities, the VIP hostel, and the administration buildings,
* The city responsible for the organization of the ancient Olympic Games that took place at Olympia was ILIS, +/- 30kms from Olympia,
* The huge temple of Zeus, that housed one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the statue of the god, made by the sculptor Pheidias.
* The structures in the “sacred” sanctuary were made and dedicated to the gods, except the Philippeion and the villa of Emperor Nero.
* The Zannes, being the statues of the cheaters. (Emperor Nero was the biggest cheater of the ancient Olympic Games).
* The amazing organization of the ancient Olympic Games, similar and even better than today’s organization.
* The females had their own Games, the Heraia Games that were organized in favour of goddess Hera.
* The story of Kallipateira, the mother that disguised as a man watched her son competing and winning in the Games.
* The story of Kyniska, the cheeky Spartan princess, a chariot owner, that became the first female Olympic winner.
* The lighting of the Olympic flame and the torch relay is celebrated every year (summer, winter, youth Olympics, etc).
* Following the Baron’s last wish, his heart was buried at Olympia. It is at the base of the monument on the I.O.A. grounds.
* The emblems (the five Olympic rings) of the modern Olympic Games, revived by Baron Pierre De Coubertin.
The ancient Olympic Games started about 3000 years ago when Hippodameia, daughter of the local King, Oinonaos, married Pelops, who decided to name the whole peninsula after his name and called it Peloponessus (= Pelop’s island). However only in 776 BC, the first Olympic Games’ win was recorded, and that year marks the first Olympiad. Since then, every four years the Olympic Games were held attracting athletes of Greek origin from all the Greek city-states. At Olympia, the victors’ prize was an olive branch wreath. A month before the opening ceremony, until a month after the closing day of the games, the Olympic truce was in effect and all hostilities were suspended, for the spectators to visit Olympia and return safely from Olympia to their city-states.

Map


Photos

Stadium ancient Olympia Greece

Stadium ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia Greece

Ancient Olympia is a site that must be included in everybody’s itinerary.

 

The castle rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The rock of Monemvasia or Gibraltar of Greece

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The island of Monemvasia, known as the “Gibraltar of Greece,” is a massive rock rising from the sea and connected to the mainland by a causeway. The medieval town of Monemvasia dominated by a protective fortress can be reached only through a tunnel; Its name, comes from the words moni, meaning “single,” and emvasi, meaning “entry.” It is truly an amazing sight.

As you approach from over the hills you are hit with the image of an enormous rock in the sea, connected to the land by a narrow bridge. From the land it looks like just a mountain and if you look more closely you may see a tiny church perched on the top.

However if you cross the bridge and walk around the side of the mountain you will suddenly come to a wall stretching from the sea to the mountain.

Behind the wall is an ancient town protected from all sides by sea, wall and mountain. Explore the narrow, cobbled streets of this charming town, which was the commercial center of Byzantine Morea in the 13th century.

History

2000 years ago people built up a town at the top of a 300 meter rock to be protected from the barbarians.

The Rock was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 337 AD and today the Monemvasia rock with its castle is actually an island accessible only through an entrance which many years ago used to be a portable, wooden bridge. This causeway links Peloponessus with the Rock of Monemvasia.

The settlement on the rock is divided into two sections, built at different levels, each with a separate fortification. The neighborhood on top of the cliff (300m) was named upper town, while the neighborhood close to the sea also protected from walls, was named lower town.

The castle fall to the Franks in 1249 after 3 years of surrounding but they gave it back to the Byzantines in 1262 after the battle in Pelagonia. The Byzantines kept it until 1460. Those two centuries where the golden ages for Monemvasia. The people of Monemvasia where very wealthy at that time due to the extensive trading, the privileges they had from the emperors of Costantinople (Istanbul), and due to the fleet they owned. The Monemvasians were trading a sweet red whine called Malvasia, produced from the surrounding area.

When Greece was occupied from the Ottomans (Turks) the Monemvasians preferred to pass their town to the Venetians and that was the first occupation by the Venetians, 1464-1550. During that period the Venetians transplanted the wine Malvasia in Crete, Italy and Malta where you may find this kind of wine with small variations.

Later, the castle passed to the hands of the Turks. A small period of Venetian occupation followed again 1690-1715 and finally Monemvasia was liberated in 1823 during the Greek revolution.

Remains of Byzantine and post-Byzantine buildings are preserved in the area of the Upper Town, not inhabited today.
The first building as you enter Lower Monemvasia is the house of Greek poet and writer Yannis Ritsos (1909 – 1990). He was born in Monemvasia in a family of landowners. His grave is not far from this house.

What to see and do

What to see and do

After breakfast, walk up to the church on the edge of the cliff atop Monemvasia castle and try your hand at throwing a small iron or steel metal object to the sea (it will be drawn in towards the side of the hill, never reaching the sea, due to a magnetic field emanating from the rocks below).

Beaches: To the north and south of Monemvasia there are beaches 2-3 km from the causeway at Gefyra. Some well liked beaches slightly further away are at Plytra (20 km) and the stretch from Viglafia to Neapoli (35 km) both of which on the west side of the peninsula, across from Monemvasia. The island of Elafonisi has some of the more scenic beaches.

Archaeology: The Richia Museum of Folklore: Richia, about 25 km from Monemvasia in a building of 1875, which was the first school in the village. With farm tools, spinning wheels, clothing and woven items.

Monastery of the Annunciation of the Virgin and Agios Georgios of Gerakas near Gerakas village, founded in 19th century.

There are many caves within easy reach:  Kastania – at Kastania Voion (south of Monemvasia near Neapolis).

Vri Cave is north of Monemvasia with a precipice which you can climb down. You can find the entrance on the south west side and there is a lake below with crystal clear water.

21 km farther a very neat place to visit is Porto Geraka, a small village which landscape reminds small Fiord of the south.

Where to eat & drink – Monemvasia

If want to stay close, choose one of the four tavernas in Monemvasia. Inside the castle there is the Cafe Angelo which is at night a bar and in the morning breakfast is served, with the sound of classic music and a wonderful view. There are also two cafes to enjoy your coffee.

The tavernas on the seafront, over the causeway, at Gefyra, offer good food at good prices. A little further in the new town of Monemvasia you must taste the octopus fried with Ouzo. As there is just one “main” street – only about 200 metres long – you will find the shops, cafes and restaurants in one stroll through the castle.

Video


See the video on Monemvasia

Map


Most of Monemvasia’s residents today live by the port (Gefyra), which is a modern town with supermarkets, travel agency, bus connections and other services. The Rock is about 2 km from the modern port of Monemvasia, about a 20-minute walk or a few minutes by car. Cars aren’t allowed inside the walls of the old town and the parking is outside of the fortifications.

Most of the old town’s buildings are made from stone, and many have been renovated as summer homes for Greeks and foreigners. It’s a sunny town of tiled-roof houses, attractive shops and cafes, pleasant squares, and churches.

 

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

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.

Peloponnese map
Peloponnese map

Peloponnese map

The Peloponesse, Greece’s southern peninsula, is rich in history, and one of the most beautiful regions in the country. It hides amazing scenery, culture, historic sites and ancient ruins. The surounding sea waters are of the bluest blue. Its villages are pearl white jewels hidden in thick vegetation. Its landscapes are breathtaking. Many sites within easy reach of Athens you can visit on one-day excursions, such as: Ancient Corinth and the Corinth canal, Epidaurus, Nafplion & Mycenae, Ancient Sparta & Byzantine Mystras, Olympia, Kalavryta & the cave of the lakes. Some others, like Monemvasia, “the Diros” Caves, Mt. Taygetus and the Mani area, the Messinian castles, the Ilia region of Olympia are better visited in 2 & 3 day tours

Start with the ancient sites of Corinth, Epidaurus and Mycenae, all easily reached from Nafplion.

Further south, you can explore the medieval Byzantine city of Mystras near Sparta on the slopes of Mt Taygetos, with its winding paths and stairways leading to deserted palaces and fresco-adorned churches and the area of Mani, a region of bleak mountains and barren landscapes broken only by imposing stone towers, mostly abandoned but still standing sentinel over the region.

Other attractions in the Peloponesse include the beautiful medieval castle island of Monemvasia, the Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, and the thrilling Diakofto-Kalavryta, rack-and-pinion railway, which roller coasts its way through the deep Vouraikos river Gorge.