Category Archive : Tours in Peloponnesus

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. After 60 years organizing tours throughout Greece we have secured the best deals in all aspects of travel.
Our discounted price, per adult, for this tour is: 51.00 € p.p. + applicable entrance fees.
APPLICABLE ENTRANCE FEES:
APRIL – OCTOBER, E.U. Juniors <26 and E.U. students, are allowed free of charge.
APR – OCT, students from other countries and E.U. seniors >65 pay 4.00 €
APRIL – OCTOBER everybody else pay 8.00 €

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

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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 07.30am 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 hourlater 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 bridgeatthetop 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 (market place) 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. 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 Ephessus 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 / Market place
-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 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 the 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. In 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


04 May - 16 Oct 2020
Monday or Friday

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

 

Ancient Olympia GreeceAncient Olympia Greece

There is 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 06.45am, we stop at Corinth canal for a short photo-stop, and arrive at Olympia at 10.45am.
– 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.
_________________________________________________________________________

Prices in euro, per person

3 persons
4 persons
5 persons
6 persons
7 persons
8 persons
1 day tour
90.00
75.00
65.00
60.00
55.00
50.00
2 days tour
150.00
125.00
115.00
105.00
95.00
85.00

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 the lunch mentioned, 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 an overnight 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 by you.

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

Video


In the video Prof. Hale speaks about the sanctuary and the history of Olympia. An excellent presentation.

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 in 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 UNESCO site that must be included in everybody’s itinerary.

 

The Greek people are friendly and welcome you to Greece.

Greek people in majority are well manored, smiling, helpful, and optimistic personalities. English language is widely spoken.
Athens, is still one of the safest European capitals although there are areas that you do not need to walk through. Ask the hotel employees.
It’s very likely you’ll be as charmed by the Greek people as you will be, by Greece’s beautiful landscape.

If your time is limited, a guided tour is the best way to see places.

We offer the tours without the entrance fees, caring for clients that are allowed to enter to sites & museums f.o.c. or by paying discounted entrances.
Our final prices are not matched by any other company. After 60 years organizing tours throughout Greece we have secured the best deals.
CLICK on the links of every tour and see all the information. To help you choose what tour to take detailed information is included on each tour with descriptions, itineraries, prices and what is included, location details, operating days, admission rates, maps and facilities. We do hope that you find the time to explore the rich heritage of Greece and that your visit will be a rewarding and enjoyable one.

We would welcome your feedback, good or bad, in the trip advisor link.    
Trip advisor review

* Morning city sightseeing tour including Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, 38.00 €
* Afternoon sightseeing tour with a visit to the Acropolis, 35.00 €
* Morning walking tour of Athens historic centre, 35.00 €
* Afternoon tour to Sounion, the eastern cape with the temple of Poseidon, 33.00 €
* Full day tour of Athens. Morning city tour, lunch in Plaka, and afternoon tour to Sounion. April-October, 80.00 €
* Night Out in Athens with traditional Greek dinner and Greek dancing show, 58.00 €
* Morning half-day tour to Ancient Corinth. St Paul lived here for almost 18 months. April-October 51.00 €
* One day guided tour to Delphi. Visit the museum & the sanctuary of Apollo…Students 49.00 €, adults 59.00 €
* One day tour to Argolis. Mycenae, Nafplion & Epidaurus…Students 49.00 €, adults 59.00 €
* One day tour to Ancient Olympia Price shared by passengers
* One day tour to Meteora by train…from 69.00 €
* One day cruise to Hydra-Poros & Aegina. Price on request
* One day cruise and 1 day tour to Delphi 129.00 €
* One day cruise and 1 day tour to Argolis 129.00 €
* One day tour to Mycenae & the island of Poros 66.00 € without lunch, or 73.00 € with lunch
* Two day tour to Delphi at “slow pace”. April-October
* Two day tour to Nafplion at “slow pace”. April-October
* Two days to Delphi (site only) & Meteora. A popular tour from 120.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* Two day “special” tour to Meteora by train…115.00 €
* 3 day tour, 1 night in Delphi & 1 in Kalampaka
* 3 days tour to Delphi with 2 nights in Kalampaka– Explore Meteora during your free day in Kalambaka… 148.00 €, April-October
* 3 days Classical tour – Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia & Delphi from 225.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Classical with Meteora monasteries tour from 320.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Monday’s special Classical tour. First night in Nafplio. April – October from 372.00 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Classical tour with Nafplio. April – October on Sun – Mon-Fri and selected Wed.
* 5 days Monday’s Classical & Meteora. First night in Nafplio. April – October from 422.00 € and arrival transfer offer.
* 5 days Classical tour with a day free in Kalambaka. April – October 380.00 €
* 5 days tour of Northern Greece. April – October 660.00 €
* 7 days Grand tour of Greece. April – October 890.00 €

Independent trips by train:

* One day tour to Meteora by train & local taxi from 69.00 €
* Two days train & hotel trip to Kalampaka 73.00€
* 2 days “special” Meteora, with “morning” and “sunset” tours 115.00 €
* By train, Meteora and Delphi, 3 days/2 nights 138.00 €
* By train, Meteora and Thessaloniki, 5 days/4 nights. Price on r/q

Independent trips on Intercity buses:

* One day trip to Delphi on the intercity bus
* Two days to Olympia on the intercity bus

Private tours to:

* Half day tour to Marathon, Arch. museum, tomb and museum of Olympic Games.
* 1 day private tour to Olympia, museums & archaeological site.
* One day private tour to Delphi, monastery of Ossios Lucas and visit to the new museum of Thebes.
* One day private tour to ancient Corinth, Mycenae, lunch in Nafplion & Epidaurus.
* 2 day tour to Olympia, Ancient Messene & Nafplion(o/night).
* Two days tour to Delphi, Olympia(o/night) & ancient Messene.

Cruises to the Aegean islands

* One day cruise to Hydra, poros & Egina. Combine it with 1 day tours and pay a discounted price.
* 3 days to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Kusadasi
* 4 days to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Kusadasi
* 7 days cruise to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Kusadasi

All options to visit

* Meteora from Athens
* Olympia from Athens
* Nafplion from Athens
* Delphi from Athens

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

Sunset in Ancient Olympia Greece

Nowhere in the world there is an ancient site that has more relevance on today’s world than Olympia.

History of Olympia

In the beautiful valley of the river Alpheios, in the Peloponnese, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, it sprawls over the southwest foot of Mount Kronion, at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers, in a lush, green landscape.

Olympia became the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece. Its fame rests upon the Olympic Games, which was held every four years to honour Zeus. The origin of the cult and of the festival went back many centuries. Local myths concerning King Pelops, and the river Alpheios, betray the close ties between the sanctuary and the rivers East and West.

The earliest finds at Olympia are on the foot of Mt Kronio, where the first sanctuaries and prehistoric cults were established. A large number of pottery sherds of the Final Neolithic period (4000 BC) were found on the north bank of the stadium. Traces of occupation of the three periods of the Bronze Age were identified in the greater area of the Altis. A great tumulus of the Early Helladic II period (2800-2300 BC) was discovered near the Pelopion, while several apsidal structures belong to the Early Helladic III period (2150-2000 BC).

It is believed that in 1200 BC the region of Olympia was settled by Aetolians under the leadership of Oxylos, who founded the state of Elis. The first sanctuary dedicated to local and Pan-Hellenic deities was established towards the end of the Mycenaean period. The Altis, the sacred enclosure with its shady oaks, planes, pines, poplars and olive-trees, was first formed during the 10th and 9th c.BC, when the cult of Zeus was probably established. Olympia was subsequently devoted exclusively to worship and for many centuries had no other structures except for the Altis, a walled precinct containing sacrificial altars and the tumulus of the Pelopion. The numerous votive offerings, mostly figurines, bronze cauldrons and tripods were placed outdoors, on trees and altars. The first figurines representing Zeus, the master of the sanctuary, date to the Geometric period.

In 776 BC, Iphitos, king of Elis, Kleosthenes of Pisa and Lykourgos of Sparta reorganized the Olympic Games in honour of Zeus and instituted the sacred ekecheiria, or truce. Soon the quadrennial festival acquired a national character. The great development of the sanctuary began in the Archaic period as shown by the thousands of votive offerings – weapons, figurines, cauldrons etc – dating from this period. This is when the first monumental buildings were constructed – the temple of Hera, the Prytaneion, the Bouleuterion, the treasuries and the first stadium.

The sanctuary continued to flourish into the Classical period, when the enormous temple of Zeus (470-456 BC) and several other buildings (baths, stoas, treasuries, ancillary buildings) were erected, and the stadium moved to the east of its Archaic predecessors, outside the Altis. The countless statues and precious offerings of this period were unfortunately lost, as the sanctuary was pillaged several times in antiquity and especially under Roman rule. In the Hellenistic period the construction of lay buildings, such as the gymnasium and palaestra, continued, while in Roman times several existing buildings were refurbished and new ones built, including hot baths, luxurious mansions and an aqueduct. Many of the sanctuary’s treasures were removed and used for the decoration of Roman villas.

The sanctuary continued to function during the first years of Christian rule under Constantine the Great. The last Olympic Games were held in 393 AD, before an edict of Theodosius I prohibited all pagan festivals. In 426 BC Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the sanctuary. In the mid-fifth century AD a small settlement developed over the ancient ruins and the Workshop of Pheidias was transformed into a Christian church. In 522 and 551 the ruins were devastated anew by earthquakes, the Temple of Zeus being partially buried. In subsequent centuries the Alpheios and the Kladeos overflowed and together with landslips from Mount Kronios buried the site deep in mud and sand. Olympia remained forgotten under a layer of debris 5-7 metres deep. The area was dubbed Antilalos and it is not until 1766 that the ancient sanctuary was re-discovered.

In 1829 the French Scientific Expedition of the Peloponnese partially excavated the Temple of Zeus, taking several fragments of the pediments to the Museum du Louvre. Systematic excavation began by the German Archaeological Institute in 1875 and continues to the present. During this last decade U. Sinn, Prof. of Classical Archaeology at the University of Wurzburg and member of the German Archaeological Institute, and his team researched the southwest building, while Dr. H. Kyrieleis, former director of the German Archaeological Institute, and his team excavated the Prehistoric buildings of the sanctuary. Several monuments of the site are currently under conservation and restoration.

The ancient site

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

The archaeological site of Olympia includes the sanctuary of Zeus and the many buildings erected around it, such as athletic premises used for the preparation and celebration of the Olympic Games, administrative buildings and other lay buildings and monuments. The Altis, the sacred enclosure and core of the sanctuary, with its temples, cult buildings and treasuries, occupies the centre of the site. It is surrounded by a peribolos, or enclosure wall, which in the late fourth century BC had three gates on its west side and two on the south, and is bordered on the east by the Echo Stoa, which separates the sacred precinct from the stadium. The enclosure wall was extended in Roman times and two monumental entrances were created on its west side.

The Classical Temple of Zeus and the earlier Temple of Hera dominate the Altis. East of the Heraion is the Metro?n, a temple dedicated to Cybele, the mother of the gods, and behind this, on the foot of Mount Kronios, a row of treasuries dedicated by Greek cities and colonies. To their west lies the Nymphaion, a splendid fountain dedicated by Herodes Atticus. South of the Heraion and over the remains of the prehistoric settlement of Olympia is the Pelopion, a funerary monument commemorating the hero Pelops. Also within the Altis are the Prytaneion, the see of the sanctuary officials, and the Philippeion, an elegant circular building dedicated by Philip II, king of Macedon. Southeast of the Heraion was the great altar of Zeus, a most important monument entirely made of ashes and therefore now completely lost. The remaining space inside the Altis was filled with numerous altars and statues of gods, heroes and Olympic winners dedicated by Greek cities or wealthy individuals, such as the Nike of Paionios.

Outside the sacred precinct of the Altis, to its south, are the Voulefterion and the South Stoa, the southernmost building of the greater sanctuary and its main entrance from the south. West of the Altis and separated from it by the Sacred Road is a series of buildings for the sanctuary personnel, the athletes and the distinguished visitors: the gymnasium and palaestra, exercise grounds, the Workshop of Pheidias which in Late Antiquity was transformed into a Christian church, the Greek baths with their swimming pool, the Roman hot baths, the Theokoleion or priests’ residence, the Leonidaion or officials’ quarters, and the Roman hostels.

East of the Altis lies the stadium where the Olympic Games were held. The stadium of Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were held, and the massive temple of Zeus, are some of the attractions of the site. The best way to get the most out of your visit is to actually race in the stadium like the athletes used to do and feel the vibes!
South of the stadium was the hippodrome, of which no trace remains as it was swept away by the Alpheios river. South of the hippodrome is a group of mansions and baths, including the famous House of Nero, built by the emperor for his stay at Olympia during his participation in the games.

Map


Photos

Video

In the video Prof. Hale speaks about the sanctuary and the history of Olympia, a place that is still in our lives.

Olympia cannot be visited as a day trip organized on a tour bus. It is outside the mileage and working hours of a bus driver and 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, preferably with the extra expense of a local guide.
There are a lot of amusing myths and interesting stories about ancient Olympia and the Olympic Games that the tour guide will talk about.

 

Tours from Athens to ancient Olympia, a place that should be included in everybody’s itinerary.

The famous ancient theatre of Epidaurus

Let a local tour expert organize your tours and make your dream come true. Locals know better.

The tour to Argolis is a popular one day tour.

Argolis is one of the longest-occupied regions in Greece, with evidence of Neolithic settlements.
It’s no surprise that Mycenae, mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, today is an essential step in every trip to Greece. Attractions such as Agamemnon’s fortress with the hilltop acropolis and Agamemnon’s Palace, the famous Lions’ Gate, the royal cemetery, the Treasury of Atreus, the sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of medicine with the amazing theatre of Epidaurus, and the elegant city of Nafplion, draw huge crowds of people.

NOVEMBER – MARCH the 1 day tour to Argolis is organized on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. Sites/museums close at 15:00
APRIL – OCTOBER the 1 day tour to Argolis is organized on Mondays-Tuesdays-Wednesdays-Thursdays & Saturdays

Our prices


PRICES: We are sure that our discounted prices are not matched. After 60 years of organizing tours throughout Greece, we have secured the best deals in all aspects of travel.
Our discounted prices for tours between November – March is:
1) The tour without lunch = 59.00 + 12.00 entrance fees = 71.00 € per adult
ENTRANCE FEES: NOVEMBER – MARCH the entrance fees increase from 12.00 € to 24.00 €
2) The child’s price for the tour = 45.00 € (entrance fees on request)
3) The Student price, (only for ISI card holders), without lunch and without entrance fees = 49.00 €.
ONLY holders of International Student Identity Cards are eligible to this price. CLICK here and see what we call “Students Enabler” price.
We offer the 1 day tour to Argolis at the best price and assure you that you ‘ll have a memorable tour.

Fill the booking request and start the communication. We shall get back asap.
– Bookings within the last 48 hours can only be done on our premises in the centre of Athens.

DISCOUNTED entrance fees:
– Juniors under 19 and E.U. students, do not pay entrance fees.
– Students from other countries and E.U. seniors over 65 pay 12.00 €

– Lunch (3 course menu) is served in a restaurant in modern Mycenae village and costs 10.00 € extra for everybody.

MORE OFFERS and DISCOUNTS (only one discount allowed – the highest one):
a) GROUP DISCOUNT: Make a team of 5 full paying or more passengers and gain 5%
b) ARGOLIS & 1 day CRUISE Combine the tour to Argolis with the One day cruise to 3 islands and pay 135.00 € for both.

The prices quoted are per person, and include:
– transportation on modern air-conditioned buses
– Pick up / drop off from or near your hotel (See the list of hotels in the footer of the website)
– Entrance fees to Mycenae and Epidaurus sites and museums.
– The services of the professional tour guide all along the tour.

The ONE DAY tour to ARGOLIS can also be organized as a private trip (cost-shared between the passengers):
Transportation of 1-4 passengers = 260.00 €. 5-8 passengers the extra cost is 10.00 € per person.
In this private tour a) entrance fees, lunch, and drinks are not included in the price, plus
b) a local professional tour guide, can be arranged to meet you in Mycenae at the extra cost.

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The tour which I joined was organized by G.O.TOURS. Information about the tour can be found at 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 sceptical. 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.

Highlights

The Corinth canal

The canal of Corinth – the mythical fortified city of Mycenae with the Lions’ Gate, the palace of Agamemnon and the tomb of Atreus – The Epidaurus, with the sanctuary of Asclepius(the god of medicine), and the famous for its amazing acoustics theatre of Epidaurus & a short photo stop at the romantic and beautiful “Venetian” old town of Nafplion.

Ancient Mycenae

Mycenae was the kingdom of mythic Agamemnon. Myths related to history have inspired poets and writers over the centuries from Homer and the Greek tragedies of the classical period. The site was uncovered in 1874 by Heinrich Schlieman, who also found and excavated the site of Troy. You enter the citadel through the famous Lions’ Gate.

Beautiful NAFPLION

Modern architecture hasn’t spoiled the old town of Nafplion, which is a feast for the eye. It was the capital of the Greek state in the early 1830s. Here, is the first residential place for the young Bavarian Prince, Otto, the first king of the new country after the revolution against the Turks. The old town is beautiful, with old mansions and paved roads. The town’s fortresses, the Palamidi and the Acronafplia played a key role during the war of independence. The Venetian influence is everywhere justifying the town’s name as the “Greek Venice”.

Amazing theatre of EPIDAURUS

The priests of the sanctuary of god Asclepius were excellent surgeons. Today, next to the sanctuary of Asclepius, there is a small museum, displaying the instruments and tools used by the priests to perform even brain operations.
The administration of the sanctuary decided to build a theatre on the ground of the sanctuary, to entertain the patients.

Itinerary


1-day tour to Argolis Corinth canal-Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidavros

Time plan of the day tour to Argolis

TIME TOUR PLAN SERVICES
07:30 Start the pick up from the hotels. Departure from the terminal at 08.30
10:00 Arrival at Corinth canal Short photo stop
11:15 Arrival in ancient Mycenae Visit ancient site & museum
13:00 Lunch in a local restaurant Lunch is optional. See the price paid.
14:15 Drive on to “Venetian” Nafplion Short photo stop at Nafplion
15:15 Arrival at the site of Epidaurus Visit the museum & the theatre
18:30 Arrival in the centre of Athens Drop off at your hotel by 19:30

After Nafplion, we continue to EPIDAURUS and visit the ancient theatre. The UNESCO’S world heritage listed monument is the birthplace of Apollo’s son Asclepius, the healer, and was the most popular healing centre of the classical world. Epidaurus is most famous for its theatre, one of the best-preserved classical Greek buildings and still used today due to its amazing acoustics.

Map


Map for one day tour to Argolis (Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidaurus)

One day tour to Argolis (Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidaurus)

One day tour to Argolis (Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidaurus)

Ancient Mycenae


Mycenae, the home of the Atreides royal family, is situated on a hill-top on the road leading to Corinth and Athens. The site was inhabited since Neolithic times (about 4000 BC) but reached its peak during the Late Bronze Age (1350-1200 BC),  giving its name to a civilization which spread throughout the Greek world.  During that period, the acropolis (= highest point of a city) was surrounded by massive “cyclopean” walls which were built in three stages (1350, 1250 and 1225 BC). The outer fortifying walls, are large stones and must still look similar to 3500 years ago when they were built.

We enter the citadel of Mycenae through the famous Lions’ Gate, because of the two lions above the entranceway, the first monumental sculpture in Europe (13th century BC). Immediately on to our right, we come to Grave Circle A, a royal cemetery in which Schliemann found six shaft graves, 19 skeletons, and the incredibly rich burial furnishings which made his discovery one of the great archaeological finds of all time. This is where Schlieman found the ancient mask, which he called “the Mask of Agamemnon” but turned out to be the face of an unknown king from a period 300 years earlier. That mask is probably one of the most recognized ancient artefacts in the world and is still unofficially known as “the mask of Agamemnon”.

The rest of the site is interesting if you know what you are looking at, so take the time to read the material available in guidebooks. A ramp and stairs lead up from the grave circle to the palace on the top of the hill; unfortunately little remains of the palace except for a Great Court and a megaron (a room with a central hearth and inner columns). The view when you get to the top of the hill is spectacular. You are really commanding the valley all the way down to Argos and Nafplion. From here you can follow a path down the back of the site to the Postern Gate and the Secret Cistern, a pitch-dark tunnel leading down some 80 steps through the solid rock. We can then return to the Lion Gate around the north side of the hill.

Outside the city walls, and across the road from Mycenae is the Royal grave or a treasury of Atreus,  which is one of the most impressive parts of ancient Mycenae. You walk through a passageway into an enormous bee-hive tomb dug into the ground. This is known as “a Tholos tomb” and this was the way the ancient Mycenaean’s began to bury their dead after the 15th century BC. The size of this tomb is incredible, and the stones are so massive that it’s believed that engineers who built Egyptian pyramids must have served as consultants when the Mycenaeans began constructing these “treasuries.”

A second tholos near the grave of Atreus was excavated by Schliemann and is called the Tomb of Klytemnestra; it is one of the latest and most finely constructed of the tholoi. The third one called the Tomb of Aegisthus. is much earlier and its roof has collapsed. Returning down the modern road about a km we come to the most famous tholos, the Tomb of Agamemnon; the half-columns, which decorated its doorway, are in the Mycenaean Room of the National Museum.

Do not leave from the site without a visit to the museum of Mycenae. From the jewellery found in the graves, some are displayed at the site’s museum and some in the Athens Archaeological Museum.

Agamemnon


In myth, Mycenae was the home of Agamemnon, commander of the Greek army, which fought against Troy, and historically it was the most powerful Greek state during the last third of the Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC), which is why this period is called Mycenaean. Heinrich Schliemann excavated here in 1874-76 and found in Royal Grave Circle A the rich treasures which prove that Agamemnon really lived and that Homer’s story of the Trojan War was history, not myth.

The myth of Mycenae is the story of the Pelopid dynasty. Pelops, who gave his name to the Peloponnese (=Island of Pelops), had two sons, Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus, being the older son, became king of Mycenae but later he punished his brother, who had an adulterous affair with Atreus’ wife Europe, by forcing him to eat his two sons for dinner.

Atreus had two sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon, who married 2 sisters; Menelaus married Helen(the beautiful Helen of Troy) and Agamemnon married Klytemnestra. When Helen ran off with the Trojan prince Paris, Agamemnon and Menelaus became commanders-in-chief of the great expedition, which fought and won the Trojan War. When Agamemnon returned from the war, Klytemnestra was not overjoyed to see him; she had taken a lover (Thyestes’ son Aegisthus) and Agamemnon, who had earlier, at the beginning of Trojan war, sacrificed his daughter Iphigeneia so that favourable winds would blow his fleet to Troy, now drove up to the palace with his new concubine, the Trojan princess Kassandra. Klytemnestra, therefore, invited Agamemnon to come in and take a bath; she gave him a garment to put on (with no holes for his head and arms) and while he stood there with this bag on his head she killed him with three blows of an axe. Later Orestes, the exiled son of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra, returned to Mycenae and killed his mother to avenge his father; for his crime of matricide, he was driven mad by the Furies (mythic emblems of guilt) until finally, in the Attic version, he was acquitted at the first Areopagus trial, under the Acropolis.

Video


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