Category Archive : Tours in Peloponnesus

According to mythology, the town was founded by Nafplios, the son of Poseidon and Anymone. The town’s history traces back to the prehistoric era when soldiers from Nafplion participated in the Argonautic expedition and the Trojan War. The town declined during Roman times and flourished again during Byzantine times. Frankish, Venetian, and Turkish conquerors left their signature in the town and strongly influenced its culture, architecture, and traditions during the centuries. Ancient walls, medieval castles, monuments and statues, Ottoman fountains, and Venetian or neoclassical buildings mesmerize the visitor with their unique architecture and beauty.

Spend an afternoon and a morning in Nafplion town. Modern architecture hasn’t spoiled the old town of Nafplion, which is a feast for the eye. Nafplion was the capital of the liberated Greek state, after the island of Aegina but before Athens, in the early 1830s. Here, is the first residential palace 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 two fortresses, the Palamidi and the Akronafplia played a key role during the war of independence. Many restaurants, traditional Greek tavernas, cafeterias, souvenirs, and other fashion shops make your stay an enjoyable one.
The city itself is a pleasure to walk around with nice views of the waterfront and some lovely neoclassical buildings which manage to maintain the grand feel of this city.

1st day: Corinth Canal – Mycenae (visit) – lunch – Nafplion, afternoon free to explore the oldtown. Overnight.

2nd day: Nafplion – Epidaurus (visit) – return to Athens.

PRICES: All travel agents, in Greece and worldwide, offer the same tour at different prices. We are sure that our prices for this tour is not matched by any other company. After 60 years of organizing tours throughout Greece, we have secured the best deals in all aspects of travel. So, why pay more? Our discounted price, per adult, for this tour, is:

Half board 4* hotel 150 € p.p. | Single supplement 4* hotel 36,00 €
Half board 3* hotel 120 € p.p. | Single supplement 3* hotel 30,00 €
Entrance fees to be added: (adult) = 24 €

The rates do not include the “City TAX” for hotels payable by the guests upon check-out: 4* hotel: 3,00 € and 3* hotel: 1,50 € per night, per room.

In the footer of this website you find the “4 steps to make a booking”. If our offer sounds interesting, send us the booking form.

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

 

Tour the sites and museums at your own pace and then spent some time walking around the beautiful town of Nafplion before returning to Athens. Such a private tour is advisable for people that do not like to be confined to a preset schedule or travel with a large group of people.

ITINERARY
We start from your lodging in Athens, arrive after one hour at Corinth Canal and cross to the island of King Pelops. the peninsula of Peloponissos.
Arriving in the ancient city of Corinth, we explore an ancient city that several empires fought over throughout the centuries.
Continue to Mycenae, a mighty kingdom of ancient Greece, leader of the Greek city states during the Trojan war, according to Homer “a city of gold”. You will walk in through the  Lions’ Gate, see the Cyclopean walls, the remains of Agamemnon’s Royal Palace, the Beehive Tombs, and the Treasury of Atreus before arriving in the romantic Venetian town of Nafplion, one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, Have lunch in a traditional taverna in the charming old town and after lunch we proceed to Epidaurus to visit the ancient theatre and view the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the God of Medicine, whose snake-entwined staff (caduces) remains the symbol of medicine to this day.
Return to Athens at +/- 19:00

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.

CLICK and see the One day guided tour to Argolis and the promotional price of 59.00 euro per person

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.
_________________________________________________________________________

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 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.
It’s very likely you’ll be as charmed by the Greek people as you will be, by Greece’s beautiful landscape.
Athens is still one of the safest European capitals.

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 of 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 €
* Afternoon sightseeing tour with a visit to the Acropolis, 35 €
* Morning walking tour of Athens historic centre, 35 €
* Afternoon tour to Sounion, the eastern cape with the temple of Poseidon, 33 €
* Full day Athens. Morning city tour, lunch + afternoon Sounion. Apr-Oct 80 €
* Night Out in Athens with traditional Greek dinner and Greek dancing show, 58 €
* Morning tour to Corinth. St Paul lived here for 18 months. Apr-Oct 51 €
* One day Delphi. Visit museum + sanctuary…Students 49 €, adults 59 €
* One day Argolis. Mycenae, Nafplion & Epidaurus…Students 49.00 €, adults 59 €
* One day tour to Ancient Olympia Price shared by passengers
* One day tour to Meteora by train…from 69 €
* One day cruise to Hydra-Poros & Aegina. Price on request
* One day cruise and 1 day tour to Delphi 129 €
* One day cruise and 1 day tour to Argolis 129 €
* One day tour to Mycenae & the island of Poros 66 € without lunch, or 73 € with lunch
* Two day tour to Nafplion at “slow pace”. Apr-Oct
* Two days to Delphi + Meteora. from 120 €.
* Two day “special” tour to Meteora by train…115 €
* 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 €, 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 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Monday’s special Classical tour. First night in Nafplio. Apr – Oct from 372 € and arrival transfer offer for 4 star bookings.
* 4 days Classical tour with Nafplio. Apr – Oct 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 €
* 5 days tour of Northern Greece. April – October 660 €
* 7 days Grand tour of Greece. April – October 890 €

Independent trips by train:

* One day tour to Meteora by train & local taxi from 69 €
* Two days train & hotel trip to Kalampaka 73€
* 2 days “special” Meteora, with “morning” and “sunset” tours 115 €
* By train, Meteora and Delphi, 3 days/2 nights 138 €
* 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, the 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.

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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.