Our Blog Articles of Tours Greece

Our website reviewed and voted by HATTA, the official association of tourism operators in Greece, as one of the best websites in Greece. The organization of ΗΑΤΤΑ has been operating over 30 years having a great impact and offering many services to travel agents.

Our Company "Private Tours in Greece" founded by a highly experienced team, operated for many years at the section of private & special tour package all over Greece.

Our experienced team works round-the-clock throughout the course of the year in order to offer to our customer’s reliable & stress-free tours in mainland Greece & Greek islands as well in leave Greece with the best memories

It is with great pleasure to share our award with you. It is our fuel to continue serving you in the best way possible.

Athens is the historical capital of Europe, with a long history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the “Golden Age of Pericles”) – the culmination of Athens’ long, fascinating history – the city’s values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments - a rare historical palimpsest.

In 1834, it became the capital of the modern Greek state and in two centuries since it has become an attractive modern metropolis with unrivalled charm.

A large part of the town’s historic centre has been converted into a 3-kilometre pedestrian zone (the largest in Europe), leading to the major archaeological sites (“archaeological park”), reconstructing – to a large degree – the ancient landscape.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The tour starts at the temple of Olympian Zeus (6th c. B.C.), one of the largest in antiquity and close by Hadrian’s Arch (131 A.D.), which forms the symbolic entrance to the city.  From there, walking along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street (on the south side of the Acropolis) you pass the ancient Theatre of Dionysos (5th c. B.C.) where most of the works by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylos and Aristophanes were performed.

Continuing, you will reach the ruins of the Asklepieion (5th c. B.C.) and the Stoa of Eumenes (2th c. B.C.) and from there the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, which was built in 161 A.D. and is nowadays the venue of the performances of the Athens Festival.

From there you climb up to the sacred rock of the Acropolis, the site of some of the most important masterpieces of worldwide architecture and art, the most renowned of which is the Parthenon temple.  Apart from this, also impressive are the Propylaea, the temple of the Athene Nike and the Erechtheion, while you must not skip a visit to the Museum, located close to the Parthenon.  Moreover, from the rock you have an impressive view of the city.

Only 300m away from the sacred rock of Acropolis stands the impressive Acropolis Museum, one of the most important contemporary works of architecture in Athens. It is made of steel, glass and concrete and it houses 4,000 priceless finds from the Acropolis monuments that represent its history and function as the most important religious centre of ancient Athens.

Coming down from the Acropolis you arrive at the Areios Pagos, the most ancient law court of the world.  Opposite it is Philopappou Hill, with its beautiful cobbled little roads and the Roman monument by the same name on its top, while close by is the Pnyx, where the citizens of ancient Athens used to assemble and exert their democratic rights.

Walking farther along the pedestrian road you arrive at the Ancient Agora, which was the commercial, political and religious centre of ancient Athens.  A visit to the archaeological site will give you the opportunity to become acquainted with the workings of Classical Athenian democracy.

From there, via Ermou Street, you arrive at the Kerameikos, the largest cemetery of the ancient city, with impressive tomb sculptures and stelae.  The Iridanos River, sacred in antiquity, runs through the archaeological site.

However, our tour of enchanting Athens does not restrict itself only to these unique archaeological sites.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The “core” of the historic centre is the Plaka neighborhood (at the eastern side of the Acropolis), which has been inhabited without interruption since antiquity.  When you walk through the narrow labyrinthine streets lined with houses and mansions from the time of the Turkish occupation and the Neoclassical period (19th c.), you will have the impression of travelling with a “time machine”.

You will encounter ancient monuments, such as the Lysikrates Monument, erected by a wealthy donor of theatrical performances, the Roman Agora with the famed “Tower of the Winds” (1st c. B.C.) and Hadrian’s Library (132 A.D.), scores of bigger and smaller churches, true masterpieces of Byzantine art and architecture, as well as remnants of the Ottoman period (Fetihie Mosque, Tzistaraki Mosque, the Turkish Bath near the Tower of the Winds, the Muslim Seminary, et al.).  There are also some interesting museums (Folk Art, Greek Children’s Art, Popular Musical Instruments, Frysira Art Gallery, etc.), lots of picturesque tavernas, cafés, bars, as well as shops selling souvenirs and traditional Greek products.

Continuing from Plaka you arrive at Monastiraki, a characteristic area of “old” Athens, with narrow streets and small buildings where the city’s traditional bazaar (Yousouroum) is held.  Close to it is the Psyrri area, a traditional neighborhood which during the past few years has evolved into one of the most important “centres” of the town’s nightlife, with scores of bars, tavernas, ouzeris, clubs, etc.

However, the “heart” of the historical centre is the traditional commercial neighborhood, with more than 2,500 shops of all kinds, which spreads out over the streets surrounding Ermou Street (the city’s best-known commercial street).  The western “border” of the area is Athinas Street, where the foodstuff commerce is concentrated, reminding one strongly of the Middle East.  Here are situated, among others, the neoclassical mansions of the Town Hall, the Municipal Market (where meat, fish and vegetables are sold) and spacious Kotzias Square.

Continuing from Plaka you arrive at Monastiraki, a characteristic area of “old” Athens, with narrow streets and small buildings where the city’s traditional bazaar (Yousouroum) is held.  Close to it is the Psyrri area, a traditional neighborhood which during the past few years has evolved into one of the most important “centres” of the town’s nightlife, with scores of bars, tavernas, ouzeris, clubs, etc.

However, the “heart” of the historical centre is the traditional commercial neighborhood, with more than 2,500 shops of all kinds, which spreads out over the streets surrounding Ermou Street (the city’s best-known commercial street).  The western “border” of the area is Athinas Street, where the foodstuff commerce is concentrated, reminding one strongly of the Middle East.  Here are situated, among others, the neoclassical mansions of the Town Hall, the Municipal Market (where meat, fish and vegetables are sold) and spacious Kotzias Square.

Within the boundary of Athens’ historical centre also are the picturesque neighborhoods of Makriyianni (close to the Acropolis, where the Acropolis Museum stands), Ano Petralona, Theseion (where you will find small interesting museums and scores of cafés, bars and restaurants), Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio, as well as the Gazi area, with the former Gas works, which now have been turned into a cultural centre of the Athens municipality (“Technopolis”).

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Syntagma and Omonia are the main central squares of the town;  they are linked by Stadiou Street and Panepistimiou Avenue, along which some of the town’s most beautiful Neoclassical buildings have been erected.  Dominating Syntagma Squareis the Greek Parliament building and in front of it the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzones in traditional costume.

From this square starts the beautiful National Garden (40 acres), south of which stands the impressive Zappeion Mansion (1874-1888). From there you can continue towards the Presidential Mansion (1897) and thence to the Panathenaikon (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, where the first Olympic Games in modern history were held (1896).  From there, crossing the Mets neighborhood, the road leads you to the First Cemetery, the oldest one in Athens, basically an outdoor sculpture display with a wealth of wonderful monumental tombstones by some of the most important sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries.

From Omonia Square starts Patission street, a busy street with interesting buildings, amongst which are the Neoclassical mansions of the Polytechnic School and the National Archaeological Museum, which ranks among the leading museums in the world and hosts rare art treasures from the Neolithic era up to the Roman period.

Close to the museum is the Exarheia area, a charming and very lively neighborhood, traditional a meeting point and home to many students and artists.  From Exarcheia, crossing the Neapoli neighborhood, you can climb the verdant Lycavittos Hill. From its top you have a view of the entire city, all the way to the sea. On the other side of the hill is the Kolonaki neighborhood, whose boundary is Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, one of the most grandiose streets of Athens with beautiful buildings, many museums (Cycladic Art, Benaki, Byzantine and Christian Museum, War Museum, National Gallery) and green areas.  In Kolonaki, which is considered to be the most “aristocratic” area of the centre of Athens, you will find many shops selling expensive brands and high couture, modern restaurants, bars and cafés, while it is worthwhile to take a stroll through the central streets with their art déco, art nouveau and interbellum buildings.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The southern suburbs, located on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, a recreational and cultural park is being planned, comprising the existing sports facilities.  They offer many opportunities to take a walk along the seaside, while you will also find many beautiful organized and free beaches, large shopping centers and nightclubs (especially during the summer).

In the Maroussi suburb (north of the centre) are the facilities of the Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens, where the majority of the athletic events were held during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.  Kifissia (north of Maroussi) is also worth a visit, with its beautiful villas and impressive mansions.

Moreover, if you wish to leave the centre behind you, you may visit, amongst others, the neighboring town of Piraeus, Greece’s main port (which nowadays forms one big conglomerate with Athens), the Daphni Monastery (11 km. west), one of the most significant Byzantine monuments of the country (12th c.) with unique mosaics, the Kaisariani Monastery (5 km. east), which was founded in the 2nd century, the Temple of Poseidon (5th c. B.C.) on Cape Sounion (58 km. south), following a wonderful route along the coast, the area of the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) with the Tomb of Marathon, the archaeological sites of Eleusina (23 km. west), of Amphiareion (48 km. northeast), of Vravron (38 km. east) and Ramnous (close to Marathon), as well as the wonderful surrounding mountain massifs of Parnitha, Penteli and Hymettos, all suitable for hiking.

In Athens and the wider Attica area, you will find hotel accommodation of high standard, modern means of transportation, a wide choice of opportunities for shopping, dining and nightlife, good service but above all the hospitality and warmth of its inhabitants.  In a nutshell, Athens is a city that fascinates every visitor, during all seasons.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, and become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture. Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The region of Chania, on the western side of the island, is dominated by the impressive White Mountains (in Greek: Lefka Ori) and its famous National Park, which occupy the largest part of the region.The Prefecture of Chania provides tourist services and activities of all kinds, satisfying all the choices. The city of Chania maintains unaltered all of its characteristics, from the time of the Venetian Rule up until today. 

Wandering around the Old Town’s maze-like alleys with the beautiful Venetian mansions, the fountains and the elaborate churches will help you discover well-preserved historical monuments. Get familiar with the city of Chania by wandering around in its streets, visiting its museums and admiring the different architectural styles presenting the historical route of the city. Chania is a paradise for food and wine lovers. Here you can taste the famous Cretan cuisine with a glass of excellent Cretan wine. Don't miss the opportunity to visit many wineries, where you will get to know the varieties of the Cretan terrain, the special local gastronomy and – let’s not forget – the outstanding Cretan hospitality!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Rethymno (Rethymno) region: Crete's smallest prefecture located between White Mountains and Mt Psiloritis (also called “Idi”), is synonymous with gorgeous mountainscapes, marvellous beaches, Cretan lyre melodies, tsikoudia spirit served with “ofto”, legendary caves, historic monasteries and monuments, traditional mountain villages and luxurious holiday resorts. Feel the essence of Incredible Crete in this mountainous, remote and self-sufficient region of the island of Crete.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The largest and most densely populate region on the island of Crete is Heraklion (pronounced Iraklion). Nestling picturesquely among two imposing mountain ranges – Idi (Mt Psiloritis) to the west and Dikti (Lasithiotika mountains) to the east– Heraklion boasts exceptional archaeological treasures, significant coastal settlements, a series of picturesque villages, vast valleys with olive groves and vineyards as well as the best organised tourist infrastructure in Crete. A unique combination of urban scenery and natural wealth makes the region of Heraklion an appealing all-year-round destination.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Lasithi (Lassíthi) region. Welcome to the easternmost and least mountainous region of Crete, where the population resides in four semi-urban centers: Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Sitia and Neapoli. The mythical palm tree forest of Vaï, the Gulf of Mirabello, the windmills on the Plateau of Lassithi (the largest in Crete), beaches lapped by crystalline water, beautiful cities and luxurious hotel resorts all make up a rather fascinating world.

Due to its geographical position between Africa, Europe, and Asia Minor and due to its mild climate, Crete became a center of culture as early as Neolithic times. The first prehistoric settlements appeared in Crete around 6000 BC while in 2600 BC settlers who knew how to craft bronze arrived in Crete. It was then that the illustrious course of the Minoan Civilization began, reaching its peak around 1950 BC with the erection of the imposing palaces in Knossos, Faistos, and Malia.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Mythology has it that it was in a cave of Crete where the goddess Rhea hid the newborn Zeus.  In that cave, Zeus was brought up by the nymphs while the demonical Kouretes would strike their shields loudly so that Cronus may not hear the crying of the baby Zeus and eat it.  It was also to Crete that Zeus, disguised as a bull, took Europa so that they may enjoy their love together.  Their union produced a son, Minos, who ruled Crete and turned it into a mighty island empire of the seas.  In Minoan times, even Attica would pay a tribute tax to Crete, until Theseus, the Athenian prince, killed the Minotaur.  The truth behind the myth is the existence of a mighty and wealthy kingdom and of a civilisation that is considered the most ancient one on the European continent.

In 1450 BC and again in 1400 BC the Minoan Civilization was successively devastated possibly due to the eruption of the volcano of Thera and was eventually led to its decline.  In the wake of the devastation the Dorians arrived to settle on the island.  They were later followed by the Romans.  After the Roman rule, Crete becomes a province of Byzantium until the arrival of the Arabs who occupied the island for an entire century (824-961 BC).  During the Arab domination, Crete became the lair of pirates who were based out of Chandakas, present day Heraklion.

Next, Crete fell under Byzantine rule again until the arrival of the Venetians who occupied the island for approximately 5 centuries leaving their stamp on the island’s culture.  After the fall of Chandakas in 1669, the Turkish Occupation began marked by ferocious and bloody uprisings.  At the end of the 19th century Turkish rule came to an end.  The Cretan State was created with the King of Greece as the island’s High Commissioner. In 1913, Crete was finally joined officially with Greece.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

At the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world.

According to mythology, it is here that the two eagles sent out by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world met. The sanctuary of Delphi, set within a most spectacular landscape, was for many centuries the cultural and religious centre and symbol of unity for the Hellenic world. 

The history of Delphi begins in prehistory and in the myths of the ancient Greeks. In the beginning the site was sacred to Mother Earth and was guarded by the terrible serpent Python, who was later killed by Apollo. Apollo's sanctuary was built here by Cretans who arrived at Kirrha, the port of Delphi, accompanied by the god in the form of a dolphin. This myth survived in plays presented during the various Delphic festivals, such as the Septerion, the Delphinia, the Thargelia, the Theophania and, of course. the famous Pythia, which celebrated the death of Python and comprised musical and athletic competitions.

The earliest finds in the area of Delphi, which date to the Neolithic period (4000 BC), come from the Korykeion Andron, a cave on Parnassos, where the first rituals took place. The remains of a Mycenaean settlement and cemetery were discovered within the sanctuary, but traces of occupation are rare and very fragmentary until the eighth century BC, when the cult of Apollo was established and the development of the sanctuary and the oracle began. The first stone temples of Apollo and Athena, who was also officially venerated under the name of “Pronaia” or “Pronoia” and had her own sanctuary, were built towards the end of the seventh century BC. According to literary and archaeological evidence other gods were associated with the sanctuary; these included Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Hermes, Zeus Polieus, Hygeia and Eileithyia.

The sanctuary was the centre of the Amphictyonic League, an association of twelve tribes of Thessaly and the Sterea (south-central Greece), with religious and later political significance. The Amphictyonic League controlled the operation and finances of the sanctuary, as it designated its priests and other officials chosen from among the inhabitants of Delphi. In the sixth century BC, under the League's protection and administration, the sanctuary was made autonomous (First Sacred War), it increased its territory and political and religious influence throughout Greece, and reorganised the Pythian Games, the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics, which were held every four years.

Between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the Delphic oracle, which was regarded as the most trustworthy, was at its peak. It was delivered by the Pythia, the priestess, and interpreted by the priests of Apollo. Cities, rulers and ordinary individuals alike consulted the oracle, expressing their gratitude with great gifts and spreading its fame around the world. 

The oracle was thought to have existed since the dawn of time. Indeed, it was believed to have successfully predicted events related to the cataclysm of Deukalion, the Argonaut's expedition and the Trojan War; more certain are the consultations over the founding of the Greek colonies. It was the oracle's fame and prestige that caused two Sacred Wars in the middle of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. In the third century BC, the sanctuary was conquered by the Aetolians, who were driven out by the Romans in 191 BC. In Roman times, the sanctuary was favoured by some emperors and plundered by others, including Sulla in 86 BC.

The rise of the Rationalist movement in philosophy in the third century BC, damaged the oracle's authority, yet its rituals continued unchanged into the second century AD, when it was consulted by Hadrian and visited by Pausanias. The latter's detailed description of the buildings and more than three hundred statues has greatly contributed to our reconstruction of the area. The Byzantine emperor Theodosius finally abolished the oracle and the Slavs destroyed the precinct in 394 BC. With the advent of Christianity, Delphi became an episcopal see, but was abandoned in the sixth-seventh centuries AD. Soon after, in the seventh century AD, a new village, Kastri, grew over the ruins of the ancient sanctuary, attracting in modern times several travellers interested in antiquities.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Archaeological research in Delphi began in 1860 by Germans. In 1891, the Greek government granted the French School at Athens permission for long-term excavations on the site. It is then that the village of Kastri was removed to allow for the so-called “Great Excavation' to take place. The Great Excavation uncovered spectacular remains, including about three thousand inscriptions of great importance for our knowledge of public life in ancient Greece.

Today, the Greek Archaeological Service and the French School at Athens continue to research, excavate and conserve the two Delphic sanctuaries. Of all the monuments, only the Treasury of the Athenians had enough of its original building material preserved to allow for its almost complete reconstruction. The project was financed by the City of Athens and carried through by the French School in 1903-1906. The Chiot altar, the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos were also partially restored. In 1927 and 1930, the poet Angelos Sikelianos and his wife, Eva, attempted to revive the Delphic idea and make of Delphi a new cultural centre of the earth, through a series of events that included performances of ancient theatre.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The archaeological site of Delphi includes two sanctuaries, dedicated to Apollo and Athena, and other buildings, mostly intended for sports. Visitors arriving from Athens first encountered the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia - that is, Athena who is before the temple of Apollo. Outside its walls spread the settlement of Delphi. Within the walls were the famous Tholos, the symbol of Delphi today, and the remains of three temples dedicated to the goddess. The two earlier temples were built of tufa on the same location. These date to the middle of the seventh century and to c. 500 BC. The third temple, made of limestone, was built at the west end of the sanctuary after the earthquake of 373 BC. This sanctuary also includes the altars of Zeus Polieus, Athena Ergane, Athena Zosteria, Eileithyia and Hygeia, the remains of two buildings dedicated to the cult of the local heroes Phylakos and Autonos, who routed the Persians from Delphi, and two treasuries with marble roofs, one Doric and the other Aeolian. The Aeolian Treasury of Massalia preserves a characteristic palm-leaf capital. Finally, the sanctuary included a memorial to the routing of the Persians, a statue of Emperor Hadrian, and a building known as the "house of the priests".

To the northwest of the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia lay the gymnasium, a place for exercise and learning, the palaestra and the baths. Further up the slope was the Castalian spring, the sacred spring of Delphi, were travellers quenched their thirst after a long voyage and purified themselves before consulting the oracle.

The central, most important part of the site was the sanctuary of Apollo, which was surrounded by the usual peribolos, or enclosure wall, with a main gate at its southeast corner. From here visitors entered the Sacred Way, the street that led to the temple of Apollo with its famous adyton, where Pythia delivered her oracles. With the temple and the Sacred Way as its centre, the sanctuary grew larger, spreading over artificial terraces supported by monumental walls, bordered by porticoes (of Attalus, of the Aetolians, of the Athenians) and accessed through corresponding gates in the enclosure wall. 

Scattered among these buildings and along the Sacred Way were numerous votive monuments dedicated by Greek cities or wealthy individuals on the occasion of socio-political events, or simply to express gratitude to the god and his oracle. These monuments are representative of artistic achievement from the East to the coasts of the Mediterranean and indicate the wealth of their patrons. They vary from bronze and silver tripods (one of the oracle's symbols) to complex groups of sculptures in bronze or marble. 

The luxurious and impressive, however small, votive buildings known as treasuries were used for storing smaller votive offerings, but above all for displaying the art and splendour of the city which commissioned them. The imposing temple of Apollo dominated the sanctuary from atop a large terrace supported by a remarkable polygonal wall. In front of its entrance visitors could admire a series of impressive votive monuments dedicated mostly by wealthy individuals. Above the temple is the theatre where the theatrical and musical contests of the Pythian Games took place, while even higher up the slope, beyond the sacred enclosure, lies the stadium where the athletic contests were held.

Outside and around the two sanctuaries are the remains of the settlement and cemeteries of Delphi, which developed mainly in the Classical and Roman period.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

With the passage of time the island may have changed, but we can still feel the spirit of a distant glorious past. Its rich multi-cultural heritage, its historic monuments, its stunning natural landscape, its crystal clear seas, and its excellent weather all year round explain why Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations weaving a powerful spell on its visitors.

Corfu (Kerkyra), unlike the rest of Greece, never fell under the Ottoman oppression. Due to the successive dominations of the Venetians, the French and the British over the centuries, the island has primarily become part of the Western rather the Levantine world. Their culture wielded strong influence in the city: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded.

In the beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical “repertoire” came to be successfully applied to local artistic traditions. Palaces, fortresses, austere public buildings of the Venetian rule uniquely blend with lines of drying washing in tiny alleyways and small secluded squares. Strolling through a complex of narrow cobbled streets with stairways and vaulted passages, the so-called “kantounia”, will make you feel as if you’ve travelled to Genoa or Naples.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Spianada, the largest square in the Balkans, is the centre of the city, adorned with 19th-century remarkable works of French architecture. Here you can watch cricket games, or attend in musical concerts organised throughout the year.
Liston, the city’s trademark, where the aristocrats used to enjoy their evening promenades. The characteristic arcades form the most romantic background setting for a welcome cup of coffee at one of the town’s cosy cafés.
• The smart suburbs: Mandouki, Garitsa and Sarokos.

The Most Important City’s Attractions Bear Eloquent Witness to its Rich History

• The impressive 15th century Old Fortress, as well as the New Fortress.
• The Saint Michael and George Palace at the northern part of Spianada, built during the British occupation.
• A considerable number of churches. The most imposing one is the city’s Cathedral, the Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron Saint, whose relics are kept here. The church’s immensely tall bell tower certainly reminds us of that of San Giorgio dei Greci in Venice. Four processions are held every year during which the body of Saint Spyridon is carried around the streets of the city (on Palm and Easter Sunday, on April 11th and the first Sunday in November). All the philharmonic bands of the city accompany the processions creating a remarkable awe-inspiring spectacle.

Call in at the city’s fascinating museums

The Museum of Asian Art: Being the only one of its kind, it was founded in 1927 after the donation of 10.500 items by Gregorios Manos. Until 1974 it was a Chinese and Japanese Art museum, but it was then enriched with other private collections.It is housed in Saint Michael and George Palace.
Archaeological Museum: Here you can admire important finds from the temple of Artemis and excavation finds from the ancient city of Corfu.
Byzantine Museum: It is housed in the Church of the Virgin Mary Antivouniotissa and houses an interesting collection of icons and ecclesiastic items from the 15th to the 19th century.
The Banknote Museum showcases a collection of Greek coinage from 1822 to the present day.
Dionysios Solomos Museum: The national Poet of Greece left Zakynthos and moved to Corfu, important intellectual centre of the Ionian islands in those years. Solomos lived in a state of self-imposed isolation, and Corfu offered him the ideal environment to work on his studies in poetry. Today his house hosts a museum dedicated to his honour.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Mon Repos Palace was built by the British Commissioner Adams as a gift to his Corfiot wife. It is a small but beautiful palace with colonial elements, which today operates as a museum. In this luxurious dwelling, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Elisabeth the Second, was born in 1921. The park around the palace is ideal for long romantic walks.

Kanoni (meaning canon) offers from its circular terrace an amazing view across the island of Pontikonissi (meaning Mouse Island), one of the most photographed spots of Corfu! According to the legend, this rocky islet was a Phaeacian ship that was turned into stone.

Paleopolis (at Mono Repos estate) stands where the Agora of the ancient city of Corfu was located. Admire the remains of several public buildings erected there along with sanctuaries, workshops and residencies.

Achilleion is a fairy palace built among cypresses and myrtles by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who wished to escape from the Austrian court. Elisabeth truly fell in love with the island, and she dedicated this palace to Achilles as she cherished the belief that he represented the very soul and fairness of Greece.

The island where Ulysses met Princess Nausicaa in one of Homer’s Odyssey most celebrated scenes is a magical destination all year long: colourful music events, culinary feasts, religious festivals, carnival celebrations –known for their deep Venetian influences–, and the most joyful Easter in Greece form an exquisite mosaic of experiences.

Edward Lear vividly describes the magic of Corfu: “Anything like the splendour of olive-groves and orange-gardens, the blue of the sky, the violet of the mountain, rising from peacock-wing-hued sea and tipped with lines of silver snow, can hardly be imagined […]”.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Epidaurus is one of the most important archaeological findings reflecting the splendour of Greek culture through its imposing beauty. Its ancient town stands on Argolian land, overlooking the Saronic Gulf. The mountain heights of Arachnaio, Koryfaio and Tithio form a natural perimeter which embraces the town, protecting from the winds and giving it an exceptionally mild climate. Clear running waters, beautiful natural landscapes and beneficial climatic conditions served to create the ideal place for healing of man with the power of the gods. The Asklepieion at Epidaurus gained fame throughout the world for its unique healing practices as it was undoubtedly the greatest of the theurgical sites in antiquity.

It is said that more than 200 healing centres worked under Asklepieion’s authorization throughout the Eastern Mediterranean area. Today its monuments apart from being recognised as masterpieces of ancient Greek art they are also standing proof of the practice of medicine in antiquity. They illustrate the medical evolution from the time where it was believed that healing depended on God to the time where it developed into science based on a systematic knowledge through accumulative experience.

Change Through the Course of Time

Asklepios’ worshiping, son of Apollo and Koronis, granddaughter of King Malos of Epidaurus, was established in the sixth century BC. Asklepios, protector of human health and personal happiness, was a very popular deity with an ever-increasing number of worshippers. The Sanctuary at Kynortion was quickly overwhelmed by a great number of visitors, so a new sanctuary was founded in the plain, approximately 1 km northwest of Kynortion Hill, on the site where, according to the myth, Asklepios was born. The two sanctuaries, one dedicated to Apollo Maleatas and the other to Asklepios, were subsequently known under the common name of Sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas and Asklepios.

During the fourth and third centuries BC buildings were erected in both the mountain and plain sanctuaries; the Classical temple, the altar of Apollo, the Great Stoa, the priests' residence and the Temenos of the Muses in the former; the Temple of Asklepios, the Abaton, the Tholos, the Theatre, the Stadium, the Banqueting Hall and the hostel in the latter.

The Asklepion flourished again in Imperial times and particularly in the second half of the second century AD, when the Roman consul Antonine financed the refurbishment of old buildings and the construction of new ones. During this period, Pausanias visited, admired and described in detail the sanctuary and its monuments.

Excavations began in 1881 under the guidance of Panagiotis Kavvadias, who devoted his entire life to his beloved Epidaurus. The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1988.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Archaeological evidence give us proof that Asklepieia offered in antiquity what we nowadays call holistic health care. The therapies and treatments practiced by the mystic-physicians were extremely sophisticated. Centuries of observation of nature, the human body and the interdependence of mental harmony and physical health created a complex medical context for healing, which proved extremely effective.

On the site of ​​the imposing Asklepieion the existence of an even older sanctuary and healing centre has been confirmed, which was dedicated to a female fertility goddess. Later Apollo was worshipped on the same site, also as a god of healing, until Asklepios, who was thought to have been born in Epidaurus, took over divine responsibility for medical care. Over the years the accumulated experience of the priests, together with the effective synergy of the incomparable climate and natural surroundings of the land of Argolis, led to highly successful medical treatments. This resulted in a veritable swarm of visitors seeking treatment, not only from within Greece, but also from countries far away.

Therapeutic Treatment of the Spirit, Body and Soul

Each activity which took place at Epidaurus was designed to harmonize the mind, body and soul. The theatre of Epidaurus, this miraculous shell-like structure with its amazing acoustics and harmonious architecture, was a place where visitors could attend performances and "escape" from their small, debilitating everyday problems. Music, theatre, and the reading of philosophical texts prepared the soul to achieve the ultimate healing of the body.

The patient, after the necessary cleansings and having reached a calm and mentally relaxed state, was led to the main therapeutic area, the Abaton. This was a mysterious dome shaped structure, with mystagogical corridors and complex circular mazes. The architecture of Asklepieion is still remarkable today. The building was circular, referencing the safety and security of the maternal embrace. The layout of the sanctuary served to focus the concentration of the patient and draw strength from his inner world.

This preparatory stage was followed by the main healing phase, known as enkoimesis a gentle non-invasive method, which nevertheless proved very effective. During sleep, the person allowed himself to dream of the god, who would visit him in the inner sanctuary, offering the healing treatment that was needed. The mystic followers of Asklepios guided the dream experience with appropriate interventions in order to create the best outcome for the patient. In 1883, 70 inscriptions, providing epigraphic evidence, were found - the so-called iamata or remedies, which indicate many successful treatments for a wide range of ailments.

The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, its peaceful natural surroundings influenced by its primitive and mysterious place in history, invites us to explore the forces of nature and those within ourselves.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Scattered off the western coastline of Central Greece and to the south of Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands are an island group comprising large and small islands.

Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Paxi (or Paxos) and Kythira are the seven largest and most popular islands of the group, while Antikythira, Antipaxi, Ereikousa, Mathraki, Othonoi, Meganisi and Strofades are lesser-known smaller islands, which have a lot going for themselves.
They are destinations attracting many visitors every year for a variety of reasons:
Their temperate climate, lush vegetation, beautiful mountains and breathtaking beaches will provide the perfect surroundings for your next holidays.

Nature

Over the millennia, geological transformations have helped shape stretches of awe-inspiring steep coastline, beautiful sandy shores and high mountains. Tectonic changes also account for the great depth of the waters in the region; the Calypso Deep reaches a staggering 5,267 m. depth, making it the deepest point in the Mediterranean Sea.
So, it’s no wonder that some of the wildest and most famous shores in Greece are located on this side of the country. Egremnoi and Porto Katsiki beaches on Lefkada Island, Navagio Beach on Zante Island and Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia Island are but a few of the award-winning must-visit destinations in a long list of spots with cool emerald waters.

Activities

Set sail to discover unexplored gems on the Ionian Islands; the sheltered coves and amazing sea caves, such as the Blue Caves on Zante Island and the Caves (called Grahves) on Paxi Island are impressive locations to add on your list of things to see.
If you’re lucky enough, you might spot two local protected species, the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta Caretta) and the Monachus Monachus monk seal in Zante’s marine park area.
Try water sports such as scuba diving, windsurfing and kitesurfing οn Vasiliki and Agios Giannis, Lefkada Island, hike οn Ithaca's green hinterland, visit the amazing Melissani and Drogarati Caves οn Kefalonia Island, and see the Neraida (Fairy) waterfalls on Kythira Island.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

During the period of Ottoman rule in the rest of Greece, the Ionian Islands were European dominions; this exposure to the western way of life has led to a cultural and artistic development that is evident today in their architectural heritage, their charming dialect, customs and traditions.

On cosmopolitan Corfu Island, our suggestions on must-see places include a tour of the Old Town of Corfu (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Old Citadel and the New Fort, a stroll in Spianada Square and the nearby Liston area, a visit to Agios Spyridonas Church, as well as to famous Pontikonisi. Other must-see places beyond the town limits are Achilleion Palace, and Panagia Palaiokastritsa Monastery.

On picturesque Paxi Island, visit the impressive Venetian Agios Nikolaos Fortress and enjoy the Paxos Music Festival in September.

On Lefkada Island, take a trip to the Santa Maura Venetian Castle, the Archaeological Museum and the Public Library.

On Kefalonia, the biggest island in the group, enjoy your tour of Saint George’s Castle, Assos Fortress, katavothres (a seaside place with an underwater intriguing geological formation) and Agioi Theodoroi Lighthouse.

On Zante Island, visit Agios Dionysios Church, the remains of the Venetian Fort on picturesque Bochali area, the Exhibition Centre for the protection of the local sea turtle in Zante’s marine park, and Milaneio Maritime Museum.

On Kythira, the southernmost island in the group, the most interesting historical sights are the 13th c. Venetian Castle (Fortezza) in town, the Archaeological Museum and Myrtidiotissa Monastery.

Cuisine

Local products include virgin olive oil, thyme honey, fragrant herbs and rare citrus fruit; these are some of the basic ingredients to delicious traditional savoury and sweet dishes you can try in this part of the country.

On Kythira Island, you must try the renowned and scrumptious olive oil rusks. Taste cheeses and charcuterie such as salami made in Lefkada Island, ladotyri (a flavourful cheese which matures in olive oil) made in Zante Island and nouboulo (smoke-cured pork meat) made in Corfu Island.

Savour pastitsada (rooster meat cooked with spices and tomato, served on long thick tubular pasta with a hole in the centre) and bourdeto (a fish dish cooked with tomato and spices) on Corfu Island; sofigado, a particular beef dish cooked with quince, tomato & grape molasses & bean soup cooked with salami, on Lefkada Island; tasty meat pies on Kefalonia Island, aliada (a side dish for fish made with potato, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice) & stifado (a type of rabbit stew) on Zante Island.

Locally produced wine is the best way to accompany your meals. Enjoy a glass of white PDO robola from Kefalonia Island. Taste also red vertzami, a flavourful wine produced on Lefkada Island. Kumquat liqueur is an absolute must-try on Corfu Island as well as the local tsitsibira, a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage made with ginger root and lemon.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Kavala, the capital and main port of the Kavala prefecture is amphitheatrically built on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo forming one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. The city’s breeze sweeps through its historic buildings, which perfectly reflect the city’s modern character.

Neapoli, Chrysoupoli, Kavala: according to archaeological finds, the city’s history dates back to the Prehistoric times. Initially the city’s core was restricted to the district of Panayia, which has been uninterruptedly inhabited since the 7th century BC. After 2500 years though, at the beginning of the 16th century, Kavala expanded maintaining these new borders until 1870; it was only after 1928 that it began to shape its today structure. Its strategic and economic importance over the centuries is attributed to its strategic position in Via Egnatia, which traversed the city connecting East and West, to its port and to the natural fortification of the peninsula, on which the old city was built.

A tour around the Old City (Panayia)

The most important sights in Panayia district are the Castle, the Acropolis, the Imaret and the old Lighthouse at the end of Theodorou Pavlidou str, beneath which the rocks of Panayia are situated. The landmark of the Old City is the Mohamed Ali square, dominated by its statue, situated between the “konaki” (his house built at the end of the 18th century) and the church of Panayia, built in 1965 on the ruins of an older post-Byzantine three-aisled basilica. A tour around the Mohamed Ali Street will lead you to the oldest district of the city, where you will have the chance to visit Hussein Bey Mosque (or Music Mosque).

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Kavala boasts a unique character reflecting its recent past: neoclassical mansions and big tobacco warehouses evoke the memory of a distant past when a wealthy bourgeoisie was dominating the city. In the “Mecca of tobacco” as Kavala was named in the past, thousands of tobacco workers, male and female, earned their living. Their faces will remain alive for all eternity thanks to the black and white photos adorning the walls of the city’s Tobacco Museum. At the cobblestoned, lined with palm trees port, stand one next to another modern buildings and fish tavernas, while fish boats cast their reflection on azure waters.

The city’s most popular meeting point is Eleftherias Square while the most buzzing point is Megalou Alexandrou Pedestrian Street featuring chic shops, cafes, bars as well as a tobacco warehouse that has been transformed into a shopping center. Close to Eleftherias square lies the old scenic neighborhood of Agios Nikolaos, where also the homonymous church – a former mosque- is situated. On the relics of an ancient pillar one can see what, according to tradition, is supposed to be Apostle Paul’s footprint, left there from the time that he first visited Macedonia.

Seven important buildings

  • Tokos Hall (1879). The residence of tobacco farmer D. Tokos which had hosted the consulate of Italy for two years (1879-80) and features Ottoman, Neoclassical and Baroque elements. Today it is the seat of the 12th Department of Byzantine Antiquities.
  • The old Girls’ School, a neoclassical building, which today houses the 10th Primary School.
  • Megali Lesxi (Big Club), (1910). A neoclassical mansion that now houses the Municipal Library.
  • The City Hall (1890), the former residence of the Hungarian tobacco trader Pierre Herzog.
  • Wix Hall (1898-1900), which used to be the residence of the German Baron Adolf Wix von Zsolna until 1925. From 1989 on it houses the municipal authorities.
  • The Catholic Mission (1888-92), a building that housed the French consulate as well as a school of French language.

The Municipal Tobacco Warehouse (built around 1900) featuring Ottoman, Neoclassical and Baroque elements.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Kamares, meaning arches, are the trademark of Kavala and a listed monument. It is actually an aqueduct built in 1550 by the Sultan Suleiman II, the Magnificent and repaired in the 19th century by Mehmet Ali to serve the water supply needs of the City. It is a monumental construction, 52meters high, consisting of 60 arches. On Kamares are perched some beautifully repaired refugees’ houses as well as 20th century stores.

The Castle and the Acropolis

The Acropolis was built by the Ottomans between 1425 and 1530 on the ruins of a byzantine castle. It consisted of the inner and the outer walls, which connected the acropolis to the peninsula’s walls fortifying the lower part of the hill on the side of the port.

The castle was built at a time when the war was conducted with early weapons such as bows, arrows and swords. This is why it could not defend the region sufficiently and ceased to operate as a defensive fortress in the following years. Around 1700AD it became a place of imprisonment and exile. The walls surrounding the peninsula of Panayia were reconstructed from the Ottomans at the beginning of the 16th century in order to protect the 130 hectares’ city.

Imaret

Imaret is an impressive building erected by Mehmet Ali (1769-1849) as a donation to its native town. Ali was born in Kavala and later became Ruler of Egypt. It is situated on the western side of the Old City, in Panayia, occupying an area of 3500 m2. It was beautifully renovated by the Misirians, a family of tobacco traders. The building complex was a “kulliye”- a religious school- maybe the last of the Ottoman Empire offering social and educational services. On its premises it hosted two Madrasahs (religious educational foundations), two mestzit (pray-spaces), an imaret (a kitchen for soup), a mekteb (elementary school), offices and dormitories. 

The initial educational and charity purpose of the foundation eventually changed and after 1858 it was even considered to be harmful for the city. It continued however to operate as a religious school until 1902 and as a charity foundation until 1923. After the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey at the beginning of the ‘70s, Imaret was inhabited by refugees. After 1967 Imaret entered into an era of decadence. Its renovation lasted 22 months and today it operates as a luxury hotel.

The Mecca of tobacco

The tobacco cultivation started in Kavala at the beginning of the 19th century forming an indispensible part of the city’s history for over 150 years, as well as the reason for the city to be wealthy and prosperous. From 1918 onwards operated in Kavala around 50 tobacco companies while the 160 tobacco warehouses engaged half of the country’s tobacco workers (around 14.000). 

However, the world economic crisis that broke out in 1929, the fact that the profession became less “protected” and the withdrawal of many men from tobacco industry led the biggest tobacco centre of the Balkans to a great decline.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

This green island with its breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters of greenish-blue colours will take your breath away. Kefalonia a gem in the Ionian Sea. It carries a rich history in cultural tradition. It’s the biggest Ionian Island and the green of its mountains blend with the blue of the water making it truly unique and a beloved destination. Pine, cypress and olive trees cover Mt. Ainos' peak, while at its foot you’ll come across vineyards where the popular Kefalonian Robola wine variety is produced.

If you happen to love snorkeling or diving then the seabed around the island will definitely satisfy you. You might even get the chance to encounter the rare, caretta caretta, sea turtle that take refuge here, as well as the monk seals monachus monachus. Kefalonia’s culinary tradition, history, traditional villages, upbeat nightlife and pristine beaches will make you fall in love with the island.

Argostoli

The biggest town and capital of the island is Argostoli. It is a town built around a hill, with a city-like life, filled with various types of entertainment: shops for you shopping lovers, cafes to sit back and relax, bars and beaches nearby. Although Argostoli was totally ruined by the earthquake in 1953, there are still sites that depict the old venetian architecture. You can see the old town Krani with the Cyclopean Walls; walk along the pedestrian street, where if you have the opportunity you may encounter the local philharmonic orchestra playing traditional Ionian Island songs; you can complete your promenade by the port. Visit the Korgialeneios Library with its rare collection of books and manuscripts that operates as a folk art museum. If you enjoy night life, you can find clubs where you can stay up till dawn.

Lixouri

The westernmost of the two peninsulas of Kefalonia is the one of Paliki. The houses here were gravely damaged in the earthquake of 1953 but were rebuilt from scratch, taking into account traditional architecture. It is the second biggest town of the island, however it is a peaceful town that is ideal for those who love peace and quiet.You can enjoy your coffee, your pastry sweets and the local cuisine at the port and at the square with the famous ficus plant. Pass by the manor of the Typaldon-Iakovaton brothers built in 1866, which use to house the Iakovateio Library (a listed building), but due to the 2014 eathquake the building suffered damage and is temporarily closed to the public and under reconstruction. It is home to 25,000 books and a small museum, where three Christian parchments of the 10th, 14th and 15th century, old furniture, sacred vessels and vestments are kept. Visit the Kipouria Monastery where you can enjoy one of the most breathtaking sunsets on the island.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Fiscardo survived the destructive earthquake of 1953. Most of the buildings preserve their traditional local colour that travels you back in time: the grand mansions with their elegant balconies, the old two-storey houses, the dark red tiled rooftops, the green mountainsides, the blue of the sea and the overall scenery is enchanting. This picturesque village is the home town of the Greek poet Nikos Kavvadias who usually wrote about the sea.

The Cave Lake of Melissani

The cave lake of Melissani is a wonder of nature and one of the most impressive sights on Kefalonia which is located in Karavomylos, an area close to Sami town. Melissani was discovered in 1951 and following construction works in order to make it accessible it has become one of the most famous tourist attractions. The magic of the landscape is  partly because of the roof that has collapsed and you have a view of the sky while being in a cave. If you visit during the day when the sun is high and the sunshine drops on the lake it makes the light blue waters shine giving off a magical soothing feeling.

Assos

At the north part of the island, picturesque Assos village is built alongside of cliffs, among pine trees and cypresses. Sparsely built with traditional color, in an impressive landscape, Assos fascinates with the peace and simplicity it depicts. Apart from the wonderful waters of Assos, at a nearby distance don't miss Myrtos beach as well as many other picturesque small bays that wait to be discovered.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The most passionate mention it as the most wonderful village of the Balkan area. The village is called Kourkoumelata and lies at the southwest part of the island. The earthquake of 1953 ruined Kourkoumelata, as it ruined most areas of the island, however, the way that this area was rebuilt is the feature that makes it stand out. This resettlement has occurred abiding by both to modern rules of city planning and to the preservation of neo-classic features. You can't miss this!

Ainos

The mountain that prevails in Kefalonia is Ainos, whose peak reaches 1.628 meters, and is the only national park that can be found on a Greek Island. The fir tree grows natively on this mountain on Kefalonia. The black needles of the Kefalonian fir tree gives an impressive dark colour to the mountain. In the cliffs of the mountain you might also be lucky enough to see small wild horses. The mountain is ideal for excursions and hiking in its verdant nature around the paths that vary in difficulty.

Gastronomy

Kefalonian cuisine is renowned. The island produces yellow cheese, feta cheese, olive oil, honey and local meats. It also home to a large number of delicious recipes; native recettes cookbooks that were given from one generation to the next. You must try the famous meat pie, the lagoto dish that is cooked with rabbit and sofigado dish with goat. You should not miss the cod pie filled with salted cod fish and skordalia (a garlic sauce) made with boiled potatoes in cod's broth with lemon or vinegar. You must also taste strapatsada (scrambled cooked eggs with tomatoes) and tsigaridia (fresh greens cooked with tomato sauce). If you have a sweet tooth savour the island's traditional sweets, such as mandoles (almonds assorted with sugar) and pastokydono (a sweet made of quince puree). Don't miss a sip of the local wine; drink Robola, the famous wine of Kefalonia, a dry white wine you can enjoy with a good traditional dish. Bon Appétit!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Lefkada is surrounded by a total of 24 islets - Aristotle Onassis’ Skorpios being one of them. It connects to the opposite coast of Central Greece via a floating swing bridge (length: 50 m). The bridge offers easy access to Lefkada to visitors from all over Greece. On Lefkada you will find noteworthy sights, churches and monasteries, picturesque villages, lush vegetation, idyllic coves of transparent, turquoise waters, busy and secluded beaches of stunning beauty, a significant cultural heritage and hospitable locals.

Lefkada town

Lefkada is the island’s capital and port town. The town planning is a very particular one and resembles a “fish backbone”. There are picturesque alleys, small squares, traditional houses, elaborate belfries and paved pedestrian zones that give this town its character. The city is surrounded by a canal and a lagoon, while, farther north, lies Gyra, a thin stretch of a sandy beach forming a circle, dotted with windmills and scant vegetation.

  • Town promenade
    To the lagoon, one of the Ionian Sea’s most significant wetlands, protected by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. There is also an ivari, a fish farm where fish grow in their natural environment.
  • To Agia Mavra fort, at the town’s entrance, constructed by a Sicilian named Giovanni Orsini in 1300.
  • To Bosketo Park, where busts of the island’s eminent scholars are to be found.
  • To the pedestrian zone along the coast lined with the younger generation’s hangouts.
  • To the central square with many restaurants and cafés where Agios Spyridonas church is located (late 17th c.) with an interesting iconostasis and icons. The main town mall (along Melas Street) starts from this point.
  • To Kouzounteli (or Kouzoumpei) area, where age-long plane trees stand next to traditional coffee shops that serve freshly ground coffee and soumada drink made from fragrant almonds.
  • To the Archeological Museum. Finds (mid-Paleolithic times - 4th c. AD) come from tombs excavated at Nydri, burial grounds of the ancient town of Lefkada, etc.
  • To the Public Library. There is a wide collection of printed documents and post-Byzantine icons painted in the style of the Eptanesian iconography school by eminent religious iconographers such as Doxaras, Roussos, etc.
  • To Charamogleios Eidiki Lefkadiaki Library (a library treating exclusively local themes) exhibiting rare books, gravures and maps. The art gallery is often the venue for painting and photography exhibitions. The library’s collection has been included in the Guiness Book of Records.
  • To the “Pantazis Kontomichis” Folk Art Museum. Exhibits include a wide and rare collection of items related to local everyday life and work.
  • To the Phonograph-Memorabilia Museum whose exhibits include old phonographs, vinyl records, decorative antique items, old banknotes etc.
  • To the agelong Elaionas (Olive Grove).
  • To Megalos Avlaimonas and Mikros Avlaimonas wetlands, two natural-habitat fish farms near the city.
  • To the windmills at Gyra.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

  • International Folklore Festival. As of 1962, bands and artists from all over the world meet in Lefkada every August and exchange the product of their cultural and artistic folklore in the fields of dancing, music, and traditional heritage.
  • The Discourse & Art Festival. It has been organised by the Cultural Centre of Lefkada and involves theatrical and musical events, exhibitions, conferences, and poetry nights. It is one of Greece’s oldest cultural institutions along with the Athens Festival.
  • Wine festival that takes place in Sfakiotes Municipality on Frya Square, around the historic Frya Well.
  • Representation of a traditional wedding in Karya (August 11th).

 

Activities

  • Swimming. If you stay in Lefkada town, you can swim at Kastro, Gyra, Myloi, and Agios Ioannis Antzousis. You will discover there are amazing beaches almost everywhere and to the island’s east you will find numerous beautiful, wooded isles.
  • Visiting the sea caves. Kalamos and Kastos isles are within a short distance and can boast beaches and sea caves of great beauty.
  • Bicycling; the town of Lefkada as well as the nearby coastline are ideal for a bicycle ride. Go round the lagoon, following the exceptional scenic route: Agia Mavra – Gyra – Myloi – Ai Giannis – Lefkada.
  • Marina: it is located at the town’s east side, and is considered to be the best equipped marina in Greece.

 

Sports

  • Kite surfing in Myloi beach.
  • Mountain biking: the island’s tall, green mountains are criss-crossed by routes and trails that are ideal for this sport. Rent your mountain bike in Lefkada town.
  • Paragliding (parapente) over Kathisma beach.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

  • Kariotes, a seaside village with modern tourist facilities, lying on the island’s east shores. At “Spasmeni Vrysi” location there is a well equipped camping site.
  • Nikiana, a picturesque fishing village, built at the foot of Mount Skaros near a forest of age-long oak trees.

 

  • Nydri. The island’s biggest tourist resort can boast an intense nightlife and an ultra-modern marina. Nydri faces Prigkiponisia (i.e. Madouri, Cheloni, Skorpios, Skorpidi and Sparti islands). There is a ferryboat service running to Meganisi, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Central Greece. You can go scuba diving; try one of the local scuba diving centres that organise underwater explorations. You can also opt for other water sports such as sailing or choose mountain biking, hiking, even swimming at the waterfalls cascading in Dimosari ravine.
  • Poros, the southeastern Lefkada’s “balcony” offering a fine view of Arkoudi, Oxies, Ithaca, and Kefalonia islands. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Mikros Gialos, where you can also find a well-equipped camping site.
  • Vasiliki is a place with abundantly flowing waters and a vibrating nightlife. Take the ferry for a visit to the captivating Porto Katsiki beach, Agiofylli beach, Kefalonia and Ithaca. Vasiliki bay is a destination widely known for the particular climate conditions and favourable winds that make it very popular among windsurfing fans. You will also find horse riding farms that organise outings on horseback in the country.
  • The lighthouse (within a short distance from Athani village) and the ruins of Apollo’s sanctuary in cape Doukato (Lefkata or Cape Kyra). That breathtaking location of rugged cliffs and magnificent sea view is also known as “Sappho’s Jump”; legend has it that this was the spot where Sappho, the lyric poetess of antiquity jumped off from, taking her own life.
  • Agios Nikitas, a beautiful seaside village.
  • Karya, a well known mountain village with a picturesque plane tree shaded square. The exquisitely crafted traditional “karsanika” embroideries have won the place a fine reputation.
  • Egklouvi, another beautiful traditional mountain village. It is famous for producing delicious lentils that are one of the top varieties in Greece. Other cultivations include chickpeas, broad fava beans, and a rare grape variety called “vertzami” possibly introduced to the area by the Venetians in 1684.

 

Nearby islands

  1. Meganisi
    Ferry runs connect this green island to Nydri. There are three traditional villages, namely Katomeri, Vathy and Spartochori. Visit Giovani’s Cave and Papanikolis Cave, (accessible only by sea).
  2. Kalamos
    Kalamos Island is covered with pine trees, especially the north part. There is a ferry connection with Mytikas, Central Greece. Visit Episkopi, Kastromonastiro and Porto Leone, a small scenic bay.
  3. Kastos
    Kastos is an elongated isle covered in olive trees. It provides safe anchorage for boats sailing the Ionian Sea. There are very few roads on the island, so there are no cars. Sarakiniko, the island’s west natural bay has a small jetty that allows mooring even during bad weather. There is a small shuttle boat service running to Central Greece. Visit Kastos village, Fokotrypa and Agios Aimilianos country chapel.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Welcome to Peloponnese and Lakoniki Mani where you can see and enjoy stone built houses and impressive towers next to prickly pear cacti, dashing old tower villages, impressive caves, byzantine churches, beautiful beaches and unique local gastronomy. Let yourself be taken by the wild beauty of the rocks next to the sea. Discover Lakoniki Mani and its most revealing spots with our special tour packages that cover the hidden beauty of Peloponnese.

Areopoli

In the charming town of Areopoli you will travel back to the past, walk on cobblestone streets and see impressive towers! Take a tour around the town’s unique narrow alleys. Visit the Taxiarchon Church, the 17th Martiou square, as well as the towers of chieftains Kapetanakou, Mparelakou and Pikoulaki. Enjoy your stay in traditional guesthouses and make a stop to enjoy your meal and beverage in tavernas, cafés and bars. Areopoli is the ideal base for your trips around Lakoniki Mani.

Limeni

On your way from Areopoli down the mountain side, in a little bay with deep blue coloured sea and the stone built houses, literally hanging from the rocky slopes, you will encounter a magical place called Limeni. This little village was once a settlement and port belonging to the Mavromichali family. Today Areopoli is one of the most picturesque settlements in Greece, renowned for its fish tavernas next to the sea shore and the charming background of the Mavromichalis tower.

Oitylo

Built on a hill overlooking the bay, Oitylo is a history-laden village. According to Homer during the Mycenaean Age this town used to belong to the Kingdom of Menelaos and took part in the Trojan War with its ships. Today the area is a perfect destination to relax in one of its accommodations, built with a traditional architecture style, and offer you unique views to the sea. Travel back in time by walking on the towns cobblestoned streets while passing by its picturesque square, stone built houses and traditional cafés.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Visit a secret underground world, divided into three caves, 4km away from the town of Pyrgos Dirou. The caves Spilaia Glyfada or Vlychada, Alepotrypa (meaning foxhole) and Katafygi are all in their own way beautiful and of rare archaeological value. At the Vlychada cave you will enjoy a 3,100m. tour of which only 300m are on dry land, for the rest of the excursion you will embark on a boat. The boat trip will drive you through several beautiful chambers with fanciful Greek names such as the Crossroads of Nymphs, the sea of shipwrecks etc. You can also visit the Neolithic Museum where you will see findings from the Paleolithic Age.

Gerolimenas

Further down south you will encounter Gerolimena, an alluring little coastal village of wild natural beauty protected by cape Cavo Grosso. Gerolimena derives from the Greek words ‘Ieros Limin’ which means ‘sacred port’. This village was once a port of great interest. Numerous traditional restaurants, cafés and accommodations are open all year round waiting for you to pay a visit. Taste fresh fish by the seashore and enjoy the quiet and fascinating sea view.

Vatheia

On your way towards Tainaro you will encounter a little village called Vatheia where little towers emerge from the palms of a hillside. These forts were initially built in the 18th and 19th century with a traditional architectural style and used as defensive battlements. In the 1980’s several of these constructions were restored thanks to the ambitious project of the G.N.T.O. Travel back to the past by wandering about the settlements’ alleys.
At the edge of cape Tainaro, enjoy Marmari and Porto Kagio where superb sandy beaches with clear waters can offer you an excellent place to play with sand and enjoy a swim during the warmest months of the year!

Tainaro Cape

Explore the southernmost point of mainland Greece and Balkan Peninsula, where Ancient Greeks marked the area as a passage to the underworld. Begin your walk from Agion Asomaton Church, built with stones from the ancient temple Tainaro of Poseidon. Take an eastern direction to see a temple carved on a rock and a sea cave where Hercules faced Cerberus. You can also go west where you can admire traces from an ancient roman settlement such as the renowned 1st century B.C. mosaic. From here take 45 minute hike and reach the Akrotainaro lighthouse where the Ionian meets the Aegean sea. Close your eyes and let the myth-laden scenery exert its power on you!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Messinia will take your breath away. This land filled with contrasts and welcoming inhabitants is only two hours drive away from Athens. See its vast olive groves, green valleys, mountains, gorges and coves. Numerous small or long sandy beaches, with calm waters or huge waves that will satisfy families or aspiring surfers. Small mountainous cliff-hanging villages with breathtaking views will blow your mind away. Make a point in tasting the large variety of traditional dishes in the nearby tavernas. Messinia invites you to discover all she has to offer and explore her beauties.

On your way to Kalamata

Kalamata, the capital of Messinian land, is a lively city holding a strong cultural and historic past. Urban reconstruction has improved the city centre, where cultural events take place and are considered of great importance, such as the Kalamata International Dance Festival which is particularly popular. The town is filled with plenty of different entertainment options; mezedopolia (small tavernas serving traditional tid-bits (meze)), cafés and clubs will assure your amusement. Wander through the old town’s narrow alleys, take a stroll to the main square leading to a park, the harbour and the beach.

The revival of the Ancient Theatre

Towards the south part of Messinia visit Ancient Messene and the Ancient Theatre, which has been largely restored. The area is expected to host major events and become a pole of attraction.

Pylos’ Castles

While you tour Messinia don’t miss Pylos, Nestor's Palace, Methoni and Koroni. Choose your base and discover the surrounding region. The main square of Pylos town will make it hard for you to leave your seat as it is filled with cafés under a nice shadow created by the old plane trees. Stone built houses, unique architectural tradition, picturesque little shops and mesmerising castles will fill your travel itinerary with dreamlike stops. Each impressive big castle has its own story to tell. They all used to protect against pirate invasions. Methoni’s castle is built on rocks that extend from land into the sea and is especially nice during sunset.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Encounter a wild charm exuded by the easternmost border of Messinian Mani by Lakoniki Mani, where the foot of Mt. Taygetos drops into the sea. Enjoy the rich nature, the olive groves, the lush vegetation; a perfect scenery to lay back and relax. Visit Byzantine, Frankish and Mani’s Castles, walk through the traditional settlements, on their cobblestone streets in ravines and canyons. Stoupa and Kardamyli are an ideal base for excursions.

Excursions in Nature

Mt. Taygetos, the natural borderline between Lakonia and Messinia, will make your excursions in nature memorable. Hikers and climbers, experienced or not, love the mountain as they are helped out by the signal posts clearly marking the trails. As for nature goes, a stop by Neda River. Neda is the only river in Greece that holds a womans name and is located between Messinia and Ileia. The scenery is so magical you’d believe nymphs still live here. Bring along your appropriate equipment, plan your hiking trip independently or with an association, climb up to the springs where you can enjoy the waterfalls and then head down the river’s flow, go through caves and ravines, dive in its fresh water and get an adrenaline rush!

Savour Messinia’s Dishes

The fertile land of Messinia is home to some gourmet people. Their dishes are delicious, cooked with natural products like the messinian olive oil and their renowned Kalamon table olives. The local flavours of Messinia will remain unforgotten; try pasto (cured pork), sausage with orange zest, kagianas ( a kind of scrambled eggs with tomato, also known as strapatsada), as well as their mouthwatering sweets like tsapeles (dried figs), pasteli (sesame bar) and diples (thin dough rolled into long, thin strips, fried and sprinkled with warm honey, crushed nuts and cinnamon). Do not leave without tasting the savoury pig roast (gournopoula in Greek), prepared with their special Messinian way.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Meteora is the biggest and most important group of monasteries in Greece after those in Mount Athos. We can locate the first traces of their history from 11th c. when the first hermits settled there. The rock monasteries have been characterized by UNESCO as a unique phenomenon of cultural heritage and they form one of the most important stations of cultural map of Greece.

The most important monasteries of Meteora are:

- The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron. It is the biggest of the Meteorite monasteries. The church 'Katholikon', honoured to the 'Transfiguration' was erected in the middle of 14th c. and 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552. The old monastery is used as a museum, nowadays.

- The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second, after the Great Meteoro, big in size monastery. The church, honoured to the three Bishops, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious esonarthex (lite) surrounted by dome as well. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the esonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while North of the Church we can see the parekklesion of the Three (Bishops) built in 1627 and decorated in 1637.

- The Holy Monastery of Rousanou. It is dedicated to 'The Transfiguration' but honoured to Saint Barbara. The 'Katholikon', in the Athonite type, was founded in the middle of 16th c. and decorated in 1560. Both, the Katholikon and the reception halls are in the ground floor while the 'archontariki', cells and subsidiary rooms are scattered in the basement and the first floor.

- The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas. It is the first to meet on our way from Kastraki to Meteora. The 'Katholikon' dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a single - nave church with small dome, built in the beginning of 16th c. It was decorated by the Cretan painter Theophanis Strelitzas or Bathas, in 1527.

- The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen. It is one of the most attainable as we don't have to cope with innumerable stairs to reach it. The small single-nave church of St. Stephen was built in the middle of 16th and decorated in 1545 or a little later. The 'Katholikon', honoured to St. Charalambos, was built in the Athonite type, in 1798. The old refectory of the convent is used as a museum nowadays.

- The Monastery of Holy Trinity is very difficult to reach. The visitor has to cross the valley and continue high up through the rock before we arrive outside the entrance. The church is in the cross-in-square type with the dome based in two columns, built in 1475-76 and decorated in 1741. The spacious barrel - vaulted esonarthex was founded in 1689 and decorated in 1692. A small skeuophylakeion was added next to the church in 1684.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Unveil a medieval mystery! Monemvasiá, founded by the Byzantines in the sixth century, is a breathtaking medieval tower town located on the south-eastern coast of the Peloponnese. Take the opportunity to explore this mystical stone-built settlement, nestled at the edge of a big rock by the sea, and immerse yourself in a unique medieval atmosphere!

Upon entering the castle, your journey through time begins. 

Peer into the history of the fortress –the so-called “Gibraltar of the East”–, which was occupied by the Byzantines, the Crusaders, the Venetians, and the Turks in the past. 

Wander around its narrow cobbled streets, and admire the beautifully restored stone buildings. Taste culinary delights at a fine restaurant on the roof of a tower house, and spend a romantic night at a stone-built tower. The “Kástro” (castle) is divided into two parts, the lower and upper town. 

In the lower part of the town, explore the ruins of the historic buildings situated there – among which the Muslim Mosque, a preserved 16th century building housing the Archaeological Museum–, as well as the magnificent Byzantine churches. 

In the (uninhabited) upper part of the town, you will come across the remains of old Byzantine buildings. A rocky twisty path leads you to the Fortress of Youlás offering an outstanding view of the city!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Monuments from every period of the eventful Peloponnesian history, great archeological sites such as ancient Olympia, Epidaurus, Mycenae and Tirynth, Byzantine churches, unique settlements and amazing castles, natural beauties such as mountains, forests, rivers and caves surrounded by the sea, beautiful beaches, sandy and smooth coasts on the west – rocky and dentelated on the east, make this part of Greek land ideal for holidays, touring, sports and connecting to the history and culture. It is not accidental that especially during the summer season many tourists arrive in Peloponnese from all over the world to travel around it. Such trip is very popular and well known.

Peloponnese with its gulfs in Korinthos, Patras, Saronic, Messinia, Argolida and Laconia looks like a plane tree leaf and that is why it was formerly called "Morias". It has dry climate on the east, cold, snow and rich vegetation in its central and mountainous parts and rain and heat on the west.

People settled in Peloponnese from the middle Paleolithic era (circa 100.000 years B.C.). The Greek civilization began during the Copper era and after 2000 B.C. came in the area the First Greeks. Few centuries later, Mycenaeans are the center of Greek world. Excavations verify the legend of Homeric Mycenaean, while the ruins in Pylos match the references for the well known King Nestor's palace in west Peloponnese.

In 1200 B.C. Dorian and Aetoli arrive in Peloponnese and construct Korinthos, Argos and Sparta. The Olympic Games where athletes from all over Greece participate take place in Olympia every four years. After centuries Fillip the Macedonian arrives in Peloponnese and then the Romans. In 393 B.C. the Byzantines abolish the Olympic Games, in 1294 arrive the Franks and later the Turks. In 1827 after the sea battle in Navarino ends the Ottoman/Egyptian occupation and Peloponnese becomes the first part of new independent Greece.

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

 

Why: enjoy 80 amazing beaches with your better half; among them stands out Kléftiko with its turquoise waters and Sarakíniko with white sharp rocks cutting deep into a sheer cliff; add the unique lunar landscapes, the rocky secluded caves, the mysterious catacombs, the “sleeping” volcanoes and a picturesque Cycladic Chóra and experience a unique version of romance!

Must visit: As many beaches as you can! The white rocky landscape that embraces Sarakíniko forms an once-in-a-lifetime encountered lunar landscape while on Kléftiko, which can be reached only by boat, you can dive in secluded rocky caves with crystal clear waters. Add the wild beauty of Alogomántra, the open cave of Papáfragkas, the sheltered Ahivadolímni- the biggest beach on the island where also the island’s camping site is situated- and the beaches of Fyripláka, Yérakas and Tsigrádos adorned with grayish-red rocks.

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

 

This is the first prefecture that is encountered by the visitor arriving from Attiki (Attica) and it offers a huge variety of choices for tourist sightseeing: fascinating massifs, beautiful sea-side locations and significant archaeological sites. The beaches in Korinthos and the Saronic Gulf have tourist facilities, and in most places the shimmering sea coexists with the pine and olive trees and the grape vines. The arable land in Korinthos is fertile and its residents are occupied with agriculture, stock-raising, poultry farming, light industry and tourism. The Corinthian raisin is renowned throughout the world.

Ilia

It combines the mountain with the sea and boasts beautiful vacation towns, sandy beaches, blue waters and pine trees which stretch down to the sea. These are elements which compose a unique landscape for vacations, sun and swimming, while the most significant archaeological sites (Olympia, Ilis, Temple of Epicurios Apollo) entice tourists from all over the world.

The ancient city of Ilis superintended the Olympic Games and was the region’s centre in antiquity. Following the occupation by the Franks (1210) Ilia became the centre of the Morea Principate and reached its peak.

Messinia

The natural beauty of Messinia with the indented shores, sandy beaches, forested mountains and fertile valleys, coexists with significant archaeological monuments. People have lived in Messinia since the Neolithic age; however the Mycenaean age was indisputably the golden in Messenia’s history and Pylos was the second largest city after Mycenae. On 20th October 1827, the allied fleet fought at Navarino bay, against the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet, which event essentially signalled the independence of the Peloponnese from the Turkish domination.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Milos is known for its many hidden beauties for travelers. For many people traveling solo, may sounds wired but, times are changing and trips for solo travelers are becoming a trend and are high in our tours’ list.

Below, you will find advises and ideas for individual travelers.

  • First of all, if you decide to travel abroad, you should find a local agent for the organization of your trip who will provide you 24 hours service so that to feel safe each and every moment of your staying and have someone taking care of any issue that may arise all day long.
  • If you are visiting the Greek islands, it would be nice to choose the local tours and cruises with which, not only you will have the chance to view exquisite places, but also find other travelers to hang around and make new acquaintances.
  • When travelling alone, you may choose to change your plans according to your desire, spend as many hours as you wish in each location that you visit and decide where to eat and most important, how much you want to spend.

We suggest you to visit Milos, since it is a unique destination for everyone who likes nice beaches, good food and the traditional architecture of the islands. Milos does not offer the “wild” nightlife as Mykonos, but we assure you that you will feel deep in your hearts, the famous Cycladic hospitality. When in Milos, you will feel as you are transferred in a completely different reality, the lunar beach of Sarakiniko will make you wonder if you are still in planet earth, or even whether you have discovered paradise!

Do not miss out the chance to visit Sykia beach, It is a very special place that you want to see in your trip to Milos. It is only approached by sea; thus, you may choose one of the many daily cruises that go around the many beaches and stops in Sykia. There you will find a cave with no roof and  with the classic clear turquoise waters that are available in Milos. As far as the accommodation is concerned, Milos has maintained its unique Cycladic culture and you may find many beautiful establishments by the sea that you will enjoy very much.

This is a significant tourist destination, which combines famous sites, such as medieval Mystra, the fortress city at Monemvasia, and the tower houses in Mani, with locations of exceptional natural beauty, such as the Diros caves, Mt. Taygetos and cape Tainaros.

It has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic and Neolithic years, while it was later settled by the Leleges, Achaeans and Ionians. The Dorians arrived in 1100 B.C. and made Sparta their capital, which for centuries together with Athens, was one of the most powerful city-states in Ancient Greece, until its occupation by the Romans and later by the Franks and Turks.

Arcadia

It is geographically situated in the centre of the Peloponnese, and has huge mountains (Mainalo, Parnonas etc) and is washed by the Argolis gulf and Myrto Sea. It has an exceptional multifarious natural relief, exceptionally beautiful landscapes, regions of an intense archaeological interest and historic locations. It was first settled by the Arcadians, one of the oldest peoples in the Peloponnese, who founded significant cities.

Achaia

Boasting Patras, the biggest of the cities of the Peloponnese, Achaia is filled with exceptional mountain and seaside landscapes. It boasts the Panachaiko, Helmos and Erymanthos mountains and the most beautiful sandy beaches in the Korinthian Gulf. Achaia is one of the most historic sites in the Peloponnese and Greece’s seaside gate to Western Europe.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The Peloponnese is the homeland of one of the most important civilisations known in the ancient Hellenic world: the Mycenaean civilisation.

The so called ‘Golden Mycenae’ reached the height of their rule during the Late Bronze Age (1350 – 1200 BC). The surviving records and remaining monuments show their architecture was impressive as were their artefacts and other cultural aspects of their communities. The oldest ruling clans were formed as early as 1700 BC and the first monumental tombs were built at that time. In the following years, the Palaces, the Cyclopean Walls [huge fortifications], the "Tomb (Treasure) of King Atreus”, the large arched doorways, fountains and ramparts have earned Mycenae a place among the greatest towns in antiquity.

Tiryns was a town located 8km off Argos town on the road towards Nafplio town, East Peloponnese. It was built on a hill and the fortifications around the palace were so imposing that ancient Greeks refused to believe they were built by humans; instead they considered Tiryns to have been constructed by the Cyclops (mythical huge man-like beings). Great heroes with supernatural powers, namely Bellerophon, Perseus, and Hercules have been associated with Tiryns.

The circular building [diam. 27m.] on the hilltop overlooks the area below, a reminder of Tiryns’ once great power. The town’s fortifications were raised in stages, for the protection of the palace, the worship areas, and burial sites. Warehouses, workshops and residences fill in the picture of a town that flourished for almost 2000 years, until the 5th century BC.

The "golden" city of Mycenae, the city of the legendary king Atreus and Agamemnon, the one that was cited by Hommer and excavated by Eric Sleeman, is one of the most important and most famous archaeological sites of Greece. The Dorian migration was the outset of the decay of Mycenae, which was destroyed by the people of Argos in the 5th cent. B.C. and was abandoned in the 10th cent. The Mycenaean citadel is still a fascinating place.

The rich finds from the area (crowns, wall paintings, the golden mask of “Agamemnon”, and others) are hosted in the Archaeological Museum of Athens. The modern village of Mycenae is 2 km away from the archaeological site. It is located 24 km North from Nafplion.

Sightseeing

  • The impressive, majestic, Lions Gate, at the entrance of the Mycenaean citadel.
  • The royal complex.
  • The six royal tombs, in the 1st tomb ring (16th cent. B.C.), the grenary, temples and houses, in the citadel.
  • The 2nd tomb ring, with the vaulted tombs (14 royal and 12 private), outside the citadel.
  • The treasure of Atreus or the tomb of Agamemnon (13th cent. B.C.), a grandiose tomb, near the citadel.
  • The Heraion of Argos, a pan-Hellenic worship centre of the goddess Hera.
  • The church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, in the village Chonikas (8 km. to the south).

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Welcome to Greece's most famous cosmopolitan island, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades. According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. And did you know that the island took its name from the grandson of Apollo, “Mykonos”?

Set out on a journey to discover a fascinating world where glamour meets simplicity. On Mykonos celebrities, college students and families mingle together to celebrate the Greek summer. Whether you are an entertainment junkie out for a real good time, or a visitor who wishes to explore the island’s history and tradition, Mykonos will certainly meet your expectations.

Exploring the Island’s Capital Town

In contrast to other Cycladic capitals, the capital town (Hóra) of the island is not built in the shape of an amphitheatre but instead spreads out over a wide area. It is one of the best examples of Cycladic architecture and a spellbinding attraction for visitors. Stroll around its narrow marble streets and admire whitewashed houses with colourful doors and window frames, bougainvillea trees in purple bloom and hidden churches. Pay a visit to the church of Panayia Paraportiani, the Town hall and the castle situated above the harbour. Don’t forget to visit the Archaeological, Folklore and Maritime Museums to take in a little history. Wander around the pedestrian shopping streets of the Hóra, always colourful and busy. The most glamorous of all is Matoyánni Street, lined with brand name stores, charming cafés and stylish restaurants.

Soak up the atmosphere along the lively waterfront and admire a fleet of fishing boats casting colourful reflections in the azure waters. This is where you will find the Kazárma building, which served as accommodation for the soldiers of Manto Mavrogenous, a heroine of the Greek Revolution. The first floor served as her personal residence. While you’re out strolling, don’t be surprised if you come across the official mascot of Mykonos, which is nothing other than a... pelican! Pétros the Pelican was found by a fisherman after a storm in 1954, and eventually became the locals’ companion. When he died, the grief for his loss was so deep that a replacement was soon found. In honour of Pétros, the locals have established a long tradition of pelicans wandering around the waterfront as an essential part of everyday life. So, whatever you do, don’t forget to take a picture with the successor of the famous pelican Pétros!

One of the most scenic corners of the island is Alefkántra or “Little Venice”, an 18th century district, dominated by grand captains’ mansions with colourful balconies and stylish windows. With balconies perched over the sea, pictures of the famous Italian city spring to mind. Relax at a waterfront café and admire the view of the quaint windmills standing imposingly on the hillside above, set against a luminous blue backdrop.

The second traditional settlement of Mykonos is Áno Merá, situated around the historic monastery of Panayia Tourliani (a 16th century church with a brilliant carved wooden iconostasis). To the north, in Fteliá, lies an important Neolithic settlement, and a 14th-13th century BC Mycenaean tomb.

Using the Hóra as your base, set out on a trip to discover the beauties of the island, in particularly its sun-kissed beaches. Along the southern coast you will find a great selection of the most cosmopolitan ones. Here, wild parties keep the crowds rocking day and night. Paradise and Super Paradise may already be familiar to you. Órnos and Psaroú are favorite spots for families. Try a visit too to Platis Yalós, with a well-organized beach where you can soak up the sun lazing on a sun lounge. However, if you are looking for a serene beach to unwind with a book, pick a less organized one on the northern coast of the island, like Ayia Ánna, Houlákia, Kápari, Agrári and Ayios Stéfanos.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The island is a paradise for water sport enthusiasts! It is only natural that the “Island of the Winds” should attract surfers and sailors from all over the world! There is a great choice of beaches for windsurfing; however, the most secluded ones are considered to be the best. Choose from Kórfos, Fteliá, Meyáli Ámmos and Kalafátis, where surfing lessons are also available. Play tennis or mini golf at Ayios Stéfanos, beach volleyball at Ayia Anna or try sea parachuting or jet skiing at Eliá or Kalafátis. Diving fans can do a little exciting exploration of the underwater magic of Mykonos. September is thought to be the best month for diving, as the water is warm and visibility is good down at the seabed.

On the island you can find many well-organized diving centers (some of them also offer snorkeling lessons) and stores specializing in diving equipment. Explore the island on a caicque or a boat and discover secluded beaches, or take a boat tour around the nearby islets, which are also ideal fishing spots!

What about food?

Don’t miss the opportunity to treat yourself to some local Aegean specialties! Pepper flavoured kopanistí, a soft cheese seasoned with pepper, is the island’s gastronomic trademark. Try it as a topping on a round rusk spread with grated tomato, a favourite local mezés (appetiser). Meat eaters can sample “loúzes” (cooked pork filet with spices) and tasty local sausages sprinkled with pepper, and local oregano that has been caressed by the sun and dried in the north wind. To finish off your meal you can sample two exceptionally good local pastries, “amigdalotá” (small round cakes with ground almond, rosewater and caster sugar) and honey pie.

If you find yourself in Mykonos take the opportunity to explore the tiny archaeological gem of Delos, just a short boat trip away. Delos was a sacred island in ancient times, and according to mythology was the birthplace of the twin gods Apollo and Artemis.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Naxos is the biggest and the greenest island in the Cyclades. It has high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountain tops, where the inhabitants still wear their traditional dress and live off the fruits of the land. Naxos is also home to beautiful old churches, monasteries and Venetian castles coexisting harmoniously with the Cycladic architecture.

Upon entering the port of the whitewashed Chora of Naxos you'll encounter the islet of Palatia at its entrance. On Palatia islet the impressive marble gate,  temple of Apollo, “Portara” stands still since the 6th century BC. According to mythology, the god Dionysus met Ariadni there, who had been abandoned by Thesseus. 

Chora, the capital of Naxos, whose landmark is an imposing Venetian castle, is an old castle town with stone paved alleys (known as kalderimia in Greek) where you can admire a unique blend of Cycladic and Medieval architecture: mansions with Venetian blazons still decorating their entrances, narrow arched alleys (known as stegadia in Greek), catholic churches and fortifications.

Visit the Archaeological Museum, housed in a historic building of the Venetian Period, that showcases artifacts from the Early Neolithic Age up to the Early Christian (Paleochristian) Period and an interesting collection of Cycladic figurines.

Discover the varied landscape of the island by following numerous breathtaking routes (Chora–Melane-Halki, Halki–Danakos-Apeiranthos, Skado-Apollonas, etc.); follow the hiking trail from Apiranthos (or Aperathos), along the emery mines (12 km), where you'll have a breathtaking view to the Archipelago up to Moutsouna Beach! Climb to the top of Zas Mountain, Cyclades’ highest mountain (1,004 m) and Fanari Mountain (908 m) or follow beautiful biking routes around the mountains! On your way to Zas’ top, don’t forget to visit the beautiful cave of Zas and observe its impressive stalactite formations. Note that the cave used to be dedicated to Zeus in ancient times.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Explore traditional villages around the island: Aperathos is a colourful mountainous village home to five museums, stone-built houses, beautiful squares and narrow alleys paved with marble, and Panagia Drosiani, a beautiful church of the Early Christian Period. Filoti is a picturesque mountainous village, built on the top of a rock,  surrounded by lush vegetation with cube-shaped houses and narrow stone-paved alleys. At a short distance you can visit the biggest Byzantine church of Naxos with murals of great value, Panagia Protothroni (9th-10th c.). Sagri consists of five small neighbourhoods (Ano Sagri, Kato Sagri, Kanakari, Kastraki and Mikri Vigla). You will stand in awe before the Venetian towers, the traditional windmills and a number of major Byzantine churches, like Agios Mamas, all of which make Sagri the most significant destination of Naxos! Close to Sagri lies the 6th century BC Demeter and Apollo sanctuary, made exclusively with white marble.

Naxos used to be the seat of the Ducat of the Aegean; a great number of well preserved towers can be seen on the island, bearing eloquent witness to the island’s glorious past. Explore among others the Bazeos Tower in Sagri, the Crispi-Glezos Tower (Chora), the Belonia Tower at Galanado and Della Rocca- Barozzi Tower (Chora).
Being the most fertile island of the Cyclades, Naxos has a major agricultural production. Taste quality local products, like olive oil, potatoes, spoon sweets, the island’s famous liqueur (called Kitron), mouth watering wine and above all the renowned cheeses of Naxos: graviera (hard cheese), xinomyzithra (sour myzithra, made of goat or sheep milk, yeast, and salt), xinotyro (sour cheese), arseniko (a tasty hard cheese made of goat and sheep milk); these culinary treats will tickle your palate!

Naxos is also famous for its wide variety of cultural events and traditional fairs that you can enjoy watching during your stay! Don’t miss the Naxos Festival, organised by the Municipality of Naxos at Bazeos Tower and Dionissia. It includes various fascinating events taking place all summer long. The celebrations culminate with the famous Wine Festival and the Fisherman’s Feast held in September.

“Big Sweet has this island, virtuous are the faces of people, piles are shaped by melons, peaches, figs and the sea is calm. I looked at the people - never this people have been frightened by earthquakes or by Turks, and their eyes did not burn out.
Here freedom had extinguished the need for freedom, and life spread out as happy sleeping water. And if sometimes was discomposed, never rose tempest. Safety was the first gift of island that I felt as walking around Nàxos." (
N. Kazantzakis, "Report to El.Greko").

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Unrivalled natural beauty, beaches with crystal clear waters, unrivalled Byzantine footpaths connecting traditional villages and breathtaking landscapes make Paros, located at the heart of the Cyclades, one of the best loved holiday destinations in Greece.

Parikia, the capital of Paros, is a beautiful Cycladic village with whitewashed cubic houses and impressive neoclassical mansions. A well preserved 13th century Venetian castle stands proudly on a hill at the centre of the village offering an amazing view of Parikia. In the capital you can also admire an important ecclesiastical monument, the 6th century church of Panayia Ekatontapyliani, also called Katapoliani. The name “Ekatontapylianí” means the church with 100 gates (“Ekato Pyles” in Greek), one of which is a secret one! Don’t miss the chance to visit the baptistery (4th century AD), one of the best preserved baptisteries in the Orthodox East, and the Byzantine Museum. The Parikia Byzantine Museum is housed on the ground floor of the church. Its exhibits include icons, wood-carved iconostases and other heirlooms from various monasteries and churches on the island.

The Archaeological Museum displays exhibits from the island’s monuments (such as the Sanctuary of Asklipios and Pythios Apollonas, Delion etc.), including part of the "Parian Chronicle”, a chronological table of the 3rd century BC with references to important events and personalities of antiquity.

The marble quarries at Marathi, where the famous Parian marble used to be extracted, were in operation from the 3rd millennium BC up to the 19th century. The mining galleries along with remains of 19th century industrial buildings are still preserved and can be visited!

Meet the villages!

Wander through beautiful traditional villages like Naoussa, a colourful village, where the ruins of a Venetian fortress stand at the entrance to its small harbour. Lefkes is located at the highest point of Paros and enjoys stunning views of the island. The village is set up in the mountains and is surrounded by a rich green landscape. It has very well preserved Cycladic and neoclassical buildings, beautiful squares and narrow marble alleys. The Museum of Aegean Folk Culture at Lefkes offers a tour of the culture of the Archipelago; discover the Aegean world through its exhibits, which include pieces related to the architecture, traditional trades and geology of the islands.

Marpissa, founded in the 15th century, is a traditional village with a distinctive medieval character. It is located on a hill, a few kilometres away from the famous beaches of Logaras and Pisso Livadi. You can also visit the impressive Monastery of Agios Antonios (17th century) on the hill of Kefalos, where the ruins of a 15th century Venetian castle stand, and enjoy a wonderful view of the sea. Petaloudes is an area of stunning beauty near the village of Psychopiana. The habitat is rich in vegetation and running water, with tall plane trees, laurels, wild olive trees, and carob trees covered in ivy that play host to the butterfly species Panaxia quadripunstaria.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Sun-drenched beaches, like Chrissí Aktí, Santa Maria and Poúnda, welcome sun-loving visitors who want to enjoy the crystal clear sea, the sun or even their favourite water sports! Every year Chrissí Aktí is the venue for the Windsurfing World Championship. On the sea bed at Alykí beach, to the southwest, you can explore the ruins of an ancient town!

Don’t miss the opportunity to live experience an exhilarating touring all around the coast of the island by canoe or kayak! Enjoy the unusual natural landscape with impressive white rock formations on Kolymbithres beach. The beach of Kalogeros, surrounded by red and green clay rocks offers a really effective spa for free! Cover your body with clay and let it dry in the sun; after a while rinse yourself in the sea and your body will feel softer than ever!

Discover the island’s stunning beauty by hiking! Walk along “strates”, the trails created by farmers to help them cross the island and transport their goods. It’s like stepping back into history. Here are two itineraries you might like to try:

The Byzantine Lefkes-Prodromos trail, paved with marble paving stones most of the way, takes an hour to walk. It starts from the verdant village of Lefkes and crosses slopes with cultivated terraces and a small Byzantine bridge. The final destination is to the beautiful village of Prodromos with its impressive maze-like alleys.
Starting from the village of Marpissa, with its Byzantine churches, 17th century houses and quaint windmills, walk towards Kefalos Hill and Agios Antonios Monastery. Going uphill along the cobblestone path, you will come across the ruins of the Venetian town of Kefalos and the Castle. At the top, enjoy the view over the eastern part of the island and visit the Monastery of Agios Antonios with its gold-leaf wood-carved iconostasis.

Alternatively, you can discover the island on horseback! There are two horse-riding centres, one by the sea, at Ambelas, and one at Ysterni. Ride around the coast, along the sandy beaches or take a detour inland – a great way to see for yourself some of the most beautiful spots on the island!

Religious festivals are the perfect occasion for many types of festivities! If you find yourself in such an event, don’t forget to taste the sweet smelling wines produced in the island’s vineyards. Paros is in fact one of the oldest Mediterranean wine-making areas, with its own protected designation of origin wines! Another perfect occasion to visit the island is during the celebrations on August 15th, when cultural events are organised around the church of Panayia Ekatontapyliani. Easter celebrations are quite impressive, especially in the villages of Marpissa, Marmara and Prodromos. In autumn the locals pay tribute to their “rakidia” a locally made spirit and celebrations culminate in the Feast of Agios Georgios Methistis, when the new wine made that year is uncorked for the very first time.

Extra tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the small islet of Antiparos, lying southwest of Paros, which can easily be reached from Pounda or Parikia by boat. The Hora (Main Town) of Antiparos is built around a 15th century Venetian castle. The stone paved streets, the whitewashed alleys, the houses decorated with thriving pink and purple bougainvilleas and the central square in the shade of eucalyptus trees create an enchanting atmosphere. On Agios Ioannis Hill lies the cave of Antiparos, distinctive for its marvellous stalagmite and stalactite formations whereas sun-kissed beaches will offer you unforgettable moments of serenity.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis here. On Santorini

Crescent-shaped Santorini (or Thíra), the precious gem of the Aegean, is actually a group of islands consisting of Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni in the southernmost part of Cyclades.

Did you know that the whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano (the same as Méthana, Mílos and Nísiros) and probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea? The islands that form Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity; twelve huge eruptions occurred, one every 20,000 years approximately, and each violent eruption caused the collapse of the volcano’s central part creating a large crater (caldera). The volcano, however, managed to recreate itself over and over again.

The last big eruption occurred 3,600 years ago (during the Minoan Age), when igneous material (mainly ash, pumice and lava stones) covered the three islands (Thíra, Thirassiá and Asproníssi). The eruption destroyed the thriving local prehistoric civilization, evidence of which was found during the excavations of a settlement at Akrotíri. The solid material and gases emerging from the volcano’s interior created a huge “vacuum” underneath, causing the collapse of the central part and the creation of an enormous “pot” –today’s Caldera– with a size of 8x4 km and a depth of up to 400m below sea level.

The eruption of the submarine volcano Kolúmbo, located 6.5 km. NE of Santorini, on 27th September 1650, was actually the largest recorded in Eastern Mediterranean during the past millennium! The most recent volcanic activity on the island occurred in 1950. The whole island is actually a huge natural geological/volcanological museum where you can observe a wide range of geological structures and forms!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Santorini is considered to be the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea! The island has a growing reputation as a “wedding destination” for couples not only from Greece but from all over the world. A trip to Santorini with the other half is a dream for anyone who has seen at least one photo of the island’s famous Caldera and exchanging kisses beneath Santorini’s famous sunset is the ultimate romantic experience!

Explore the Island’s Towns

Firá is the picturesque capital of the island; perched high up on the edge of the Caldera, it looks like a marvellous painting. Firá, together with Oia, Imerovígli and Firostefáni located high above on a cliff, make up the so-called “Caldera’s eyebrow”, the balcony of Santorini, which offers an amazing view of the volcano. Other famous smaller villages are Akrotíri and Méssa Vounó, with their famous archaeological sites, Pýrgos, Karterádes, Emporió, Ammoúdi, Finikiá, Períssa, Perívolos, Megalohóri, Kamári, Messariá and Monólithos: some of the villages are cosmopolitan some more peaceful; they are surrounded by vast vineyards; whitewashed cliff-top towns with castles affording amazing views out over the Aegean. Soaking up the villages’ distinctive traditional atmosphere is a very rewarding experience.

A visit to Santorini is the ultimate gastronomic experience, as the island is a true culinary paradise! Treat your taste buds to some famous traditional products like cherry tomatoes, white egg plants, fava, caper and “hloró tyrí”, a special kind of fresh goat cheese found on the island, or why not try some of the exceptional wines produced from grapes grown in the volcanic soil of the island! Assyrtiko, Athyri, Aidani, Mantilaria and Mavrotragano are just some of the distinctive varieties that you can taste at the island’s famous wineries (some of them operate as a museum as well) or at restaurants.

Head to Volcanic Beaches

Venture into Santorini’s seaside treasures and enjoy deep blue waters and beaches with white, red or black sand or volcanic pebbles, spectacular rock formations and impressive lunar landscapes.
Santorini, the youngest volcanic land in the Eastern Mediterranean, is waiting for you! You can reach it by plane or by ship from Piraeus. Don’t think twice! Experience for yourself the once-in-a-lifetime romance and charm of this pearl of the Aegean.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Zákynthos (Zante) is a verdant island endowed with fertile valleys and a temperate climate (area: 406 sq. km; coastline: 123 km). Its landscape diversity has resulted in different types of beaches: there are sandy beaches in secluded coves where the tranquil waters are deep blue on the island’s southeastern part; yet, if rugged cliffs and an interesting underwater world are to your liking, try the western part of the island.

The Venetians, who ruled Zákynthos from 1484 to 1797, called the island “Fioro di Levante” (flower of the East) as there are over 7,000 species of flowers on Zákynthos. The third largest island of the Ionian Sea, after Corfu and Kefaloniá, is internationally known as “Zante”. Zákynthos is said to have been the island’s first inhabitant and the ancient acropolis is attributed to him. He was the son of Dardanos who ruled the ancient kingdom of Frigia. A Venetian fort was built at later times on the site.

The Venetian architectural influence has left its stamp on Zante despite the damage sustained due to the seismic activity in the area. After the ravaging 1953 earthquake and the ensuing fire, a number of historical buildings and churches burned to the ground. Consequently, the significant treasures these buildings were housing perished. The town was rebuilt according to a plan where strict anti-seismic specifications applied and, to a large extent, respecting the town’s former architectural structure. 

On Zante, great care is taken to protect two endangered animal species, namely the caretta aretta sea turtle and the monachus monachus seal.

The city of Zakynthos is the capital of the island and at the same time the island's port.

Take a Tour Around the City and Visit

The Solomos Square surrounded by buildings with characteristic traditional architectural features of the island, arch-shaped windows and arcades. The bust of D. Solomos national poet of Greece dominates in the centre. Here you can also find the Public Library (with 55.000 volumes), the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zante exhibiting treasures such as statues trimmed with gold, icons and art woodcuts.

The Post- Byzantine Museum of Zante in Solomos square, exhibits treasures such as statues trimmed with gold, icons and art woodcuts.

The coastal road known as Strata Marina (K. Lomvardou street), which is one of the most frequented part of the city, with cafes, bars and restaurants, from the Solomos Square up to the church of the patron-saint Aghios Dionysios.

The Aghios Markos square. Here, in 1797, the revolutionaries (popolaroi) burnt the Libro d’ Oro and planted the tree of freedom. This paved square is the main meeting point for locals and visitors. Here, you will find the Museum of Solomos, Kalvos and Eminent Zakynthians which also hosts the bust of the Greek national poet, created by Georgios Broutos in 1902.

Rouga: Its name is Alexandros Romas street, starting at Aghios Markos Square crossing almost the whole town. This street with the impressive arcades has been the main commercial center of the city for centuries.

The Venetian Castle situated on a hill overhanging the town in the place of the old acropolis named Psofis.

The Stranis hill, 2 km away from the town, offering a great view. Here, the poet Dionysios Solomos inspired the ‘Hymn to Liberty’ (later the Greek national anthem) and the “Free Besieged” attending the siege of the city of Messolonghi.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Aghios Nikolaos tou Molou (Solomou Square): a church of Renaissance order (17th century) with a belfry dating back to the Byzantine period. Aghios Dionysios lived here in 1853.

Aghios Dionysios (at the new pier of the port): where the relic of the patron-saint of the island is kept in a silver larnax.

Aghios Markos (1516): The belfry of this catholic church situated at the Aghiou Markou Square is a copy of the one of Saint Mark’s basilica in Venice.

Aghios Georgios: The army commanders Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Fotomaras as well as other fighters of the 1821 Revolution took their vows on the icon which is kept in this church.

Panaghia  Pikardiotissa at the outskirts of the castle.

Zakynthos Is Famous For Its Cultural Life

Some of the famous cultural Events are:

Carnival: A traditional town crier goes around the island proclaiming the program of the Carnival festivities. On the last Sunday of the Carnival is the procession of the Carnival King. The festivities end with the “Mask Funeral”.

Litany and artistic events in the memory of Aghios Dionysios on August 24th and December 17th.

Easter: The Holy Week in Zakynthos has its own character with ancient customs and an exceptional rite as far as the religious ceremonies are concerned.

The celebration of Holy Week on Zakynthos Island is considered to be unique and unforgettable both for locals and visitors to the island. At noon, on Good Friday, crowds of worshippers take part in the procession of the Crucified through the town.

In the early hours of Holy Saturday morning and starting from the “Saint Nicolas” Cathedral Church the epitaph procession takes place in accordance with the local ancient custom, while the Bishop announces the Resurrection at sunrise.

At the first chime of the bell, the Bishop lets white doves free while from the bell tower clay vessels are thrown onto the road just as is done by all the inhabitants of the island out of their windows.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Be the knight or princess of your childhood fairytales in the Byzantine town of Mystras!

Visit the mystical tower town of Mystras - in the Peloponese - located six kilometres NW of the city of Sparta, and let yourself be captivated by this destination’s medieval splendour. 

Wander around the castle city and sense through the silence the city's sheer grandeur: the Palace of the Despots (Anaktora), the Houses of Laskaris and Frangopoulos, the beautiful Cathedral of Saint Dimitrios and the impressive Monasteries of Our Lady Pantánassa, and of Οur Lady Perivleptos.

Stroll leisurely through the Kástro (the Frankish Castle), the Upper Town and the Lower Town whose architecture creates a dreamy setting. With your mind’s eye visualise Frankish princes and princesses living in palatial mansions; foreign delegations arriving bearing gifts, and peasants, pilgrims or traders filling the bustling streets. 

Mystras’ historical importance is tremendous. In the 14th century Mystrás became the seat of the Despotate of Moreas, whereas in 1448 the last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine XI Palaeologos, was crowned here. A visit to the Archaeological Museum will help you get a deep insight into the rich history of the area. Come and live the dream!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Ioannina, the capital of Epirus, spreads out around beautiful Lake Pamvotida. The natural environment, the climate and character of the town are defined by this stretch of water – the area’s trademark. The lake, with its still waters and its small island, is a natural monument, around which the entire area lives and breathes. The strong cultural traditions of the town, home to a number of great novelists and poets, and the artistic and intellectual events which are organized throughout the year, give visitors the opportunity to get to know the roots of the intellectual life of Epirus.

A walk through the city has the feel of a bygone era, full of secret places and legends still living. Wonderful buildings like the House Matei Hussein, the Ottoman mosque of Veli Pasha and the entire historic centre of the town are unique attractions.

Ioannina was always multicultural, dominated mainly by Christian, Islamic and Jewish influences. This coexistence of cultural influences is clearly evident in the historic city centre. The Stoa Louli arcade is one of the locations where the three communities worked together and prospered. The arcade was originally an inn and then became a mercantile exchange of great importance throughout the whole of Epirus.

The castle town of Ioannina

The imposing castle of Ioannina was built in 528 AD by the Emperor Justinian, and was an ambitious expression of the might of the Byzantine Empire. It is the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece with significant influence over the history of the town which grew around it. Over the years it evolved into a thriving centre with a highly developed intellectual life. Ali Pasha, that enigmatic symbol of Ottoman rule, lived here. His great love for the lady Kyra – Frosini resonates still as an integral part of the history of the town.

The castle is divided into four sections: the outer wall, the northwestern citadel, which is dominated by the Aslan Mosque, the southeast citadel of Itch-Kale and finally the actual castle town - the old, walled town of Ioannina.

With a view of Lake Pamvotida

The routes around the lake offer exquisite scenery and plenty to explore. A tour by car is an experience to suit all kinds of traveller - there is much to see, much to learn about, and there is the serene calming effect of the lake.

Towards the north exit from Ioannina, on the Metsovo arterial road, is the church of Agios Nikolaos ton Kopanon (‘St Nicholas of the Beaters’), named for the women who beat the clothes as they did their washing in the nearby traditional stone watermills by the lake. Tradition has it that Kyra-Frosini, the notorious mistress of Ali Pasha, was imprisoned here.

As the road continues on, it leads to one of the most beautiful caves in Europe, Perama. The cave, a product of karst formation, dates back about one and a half million years. The beauty of the chambers defies description. It seems impossible that the hall of the Cross, with its limestone worshippers, was formed without human intervention, and yet, it is a natural sculpture of truly stunning proportions. The Hall of Legendary Palaces looks like a fairy house.The stalactites projecting from the ceiling look like surprisingly complex yet harmoniously constructed chandeliers. The area around the cave is an ideal spot from which to look out over the lake and feel the magic of nature. The small train that runs from Ioannina to the picturesque village of Perama is a nostalgic choice of transport.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The expression to “live like the Pasha in Ioannina” means that a person is enjoying the absolute best that life has to offer. It is not enough to have the title of ruler; he also has to live in Ioannina. It is the distillation, in colloquial terms, of the idea that Ioannina was always a wealthy and aristocratic city.

The gastronomic pleasures of Ioannina will satisfy the most demanding. The mountains of Epirus provide a wide range of spices and herbs which are freely used to complement the finest basic ingredients. Fish, of course, from the lake, such as eels and trout, are cooked in sophisticated ways, and together with frog’s legs, a special delicacy, are the hallmark of the Ioannina cuisine.

The traditional Ioannina desserts are famous throughout Greece. The famous ‘sker bourek’, or ‘sugar pie’, the exceptionally delicious baklava and the other syrup pastries are but a few of the flavours that are certain to captivate visitors.

One item made only in Ioannina and nowhere else, is an alcohol free liqueur. This completely unique liqueur is based on a mixture of organic vinegar, nectar, fruit syrups, and herbs. It is usually drunk with crushed ice, and you will soon discover, if you try it, that a drink does not have to contain alcohol to be intoxicating. The traditional coffee shops in the town also serve what they call “sherbetia”, or sherbet, which is a kind of sweet wine flavoured with fruit and flowers.

Silver and gold

The silversmith’s art is one of the most important aspects of local culture in Ioannina. The wirework or cast jewellery of Epirus, the exquisite "tzovairia" were famous beyond the Greek territories. The expression "Arta and Ioannina" meant - and is still used to mean - "all the wealth of the earth".

The beautiful jewellery of Ioannina, of traditional or original modern designs is still synonymous with understated elegance. Delicate earrings, intricate chains, ornate buckles, and silver ornaments are only fragments of the variety of craftwork that visitors can admire in the town’s jewellers’ shops.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

In the western Peloponnese, in the beautiful valley of the Alpheios river, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, it lies on the southwest foot of Mount Kronios, at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers, in a lush green landscape. Although secluded near the west coast of the Peloponnese, Olympia became the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece. Its fame rests upon the Olympic Games, the greatest national festival and a highly prestigious one world-wide, which was held every four years to honour Zeus. The origin of the festival goes back centuries. Local myths concerning the famous Pelops, the first ruler of the region, and the river Alpheios, betray the close ties between the sanctuary and both the East and West.

According to UNESCO’s World Heritage website, there is probably no ancient archaeological site anywhere in the world more relevant in today’s world than Olympia. The stadium of Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were held, and the massive temple of Zeus, the largest temple in the Peloponnese, are the site’s most significant attractions.

Description

The archaeological site of Olympia includes the sanctuary of Zeus and the various buildings erected around it, such as athletic premises used for the preparation and celebration of the Olympic Games, administrative buildings as well as other 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 Metroon, a temple dedicated to the mother of the gods, Cybele, and behind it, on the foot of Mount Kronios, a row of treasures that were offered by Greek cities and colonies. To their west lies the Nymphaion, a 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. 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 Bouleutherion 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. 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.

 

Text & images copyright Ministry of Culture

Worldwide known as a sacred island for it is the place where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation, Patmos is an ideal destination for nature lovers thanks to its lace-like coastline, sheer cliffs and volcanic soil.

Designated as “Holy Island” by the Greek Parliament in 1981 as well as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, Patmos had been used as a place of exile by the Romans on account of its steep morphology. That’s how St. John found safe refuge here in the 1st century A.D., exiled by the Emperor Domitian.

According to the prevailing theory, the Book of Revelation was written in 95 A.D. in the Holy Cave of the Apolacypse, where St. John heard the voice of God talking to him. Turned into a place of worship by the monk Christodoulos Latrinós in the 11th century the cave –on whose walls we can trace the fingerprints of St. John’s himself–, is still open to the devout Christians.

The Holy Monastery of the Apocalypse was built as a castle in 1088 by the monk Christodoulos Latrinós. Cultural and religious centre since its first day of use, it took another five centuries for it to spread its activities all around the island – and not just the town of Hóra (Chora), where it is situated. Around this Monastery revolve Holy Week and Easter celebrations every year.
Buildings of different ages form the Monastery, comprising 10 chapels and 99 cells as well as a Library of 890 handwritten codes and 13,000 documents about the history of the site.

Settlements

In the area of Hóra, little glittering white houses under the Aegean sun stand next to proud two-storey mansions. Follow the historical narrow streets all the way from the monastery down to Skála (the island’s port), and discover restaurants, cafés, shops and traditional bakeries. Treat yourselves with cheese pies, local dairy products, and reticule-shaped dough with honey and nuts.

The largest settlement, as well as capital and port of the island, is Skála where you will find accommodation and fresh-fish tavernas among buildings used by the Italians during the Italian Rule of the Dodecanese (1912-1943).

At 5km fromSkála have a rest stop at the village of Grikos, and enjoy the freshness of a drink by the sea,or even a swim at the beach by the same name.

For Tan-seeking Sunbathers

The beach in Kámpos with sea sports facilities and marvelous fish tavernas is the most cosmopolitan one, whereas Psili Ammos (literally meaning “thin sand”) will offer you an off-the-beaten-track experience as it is accessible only by boat. For cool and not very salty waters the beach of Váya is definitely the choice, whereas Sapsilas with its warmer waters will be the refuge for the less courageous ones. The beach of Lámpi is very beautiful, covered with colourful pebbles. The very small and mainly uninhabited islets of Arkoi are absolutely worth a visit, so catch a boat from Skála, and make sure you call in at Maráthi for crystal clear waters and fresh delicious fish.

Getting to Patmos

By sea from Piraeus, Samos (flying dolphins), Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos and Leros as well as Syros in the Cyclades. The above mentioned Dodecanese islands have airports from where visitors can reach Patmos through regular ferry connections, especially during the summer season.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Welcome to Rhodes, the capital of the Dodecanese, an island which is ideal not only for those who want to relax but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination.

Thanks to its strategic position, Rhodes has been important since ancient times. The ancient city of Rhodes, the construction of which began in 407 BC, was designed according to the city planning system devised by the greatest city planner of antiquity, Hippodamus of Miletus. Rhodes soon developed into one of the most important seafaring and trading centres in the Eastern Mediterranean. When it became a province of the Roman, and later the Byzantine Empire, it initially lost its ancient glory. But in 1309 the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem conquered Rhodes. They built strong fortifications to protect the island, turning it into an important administrative centre and a thriving multinational medieval city. In 1523 Rhodes was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, and the Greeks had to settle outside the city walls. During the Ottoman occupation, new buildings were erected within the Old Town, mainly mosques and baths. In 1912 Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese, were seized by the Italians. The new rulers embellished the city with magnificent buildings, wide roads and squares. The Palace of the Grand Master was rebuilt and the Street of the Knights was reconstructed in order to regain its medieval purity. It was not until 1948 that Rhodes officially became part of Greece. In 1988 the Medieval City of Rhodes was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Old Town

As you enter one of the largest medieval towns in Europe through the Gate of Freedom, it soon becomes obvious that the Old Town of Rhodes is a mosaic of different cultures and civilizations; rarely does a visitor have the chance to stroll within medieval walls and explore twenty-four centuries of history. The fascinating medieval fortress-like buildings, the bastions, walls, gates, narrow alleys, minarets, old houses, fountains, tranquil and busy squares make it feel like you have stepped back into medieval times. The Palace of the Grand Master is certainly the highlight of the Old Town. The Palace, originally a Byzantine fortress built at the end of the 7th century A.D., was converted in the early 14th century by the Knights of the Order of Saint John into the residence of the Grand Master of the order and the administrative headquarters of their state; now it has been turned into a museum.

The cobblestoned Street of the Knights, one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe, is packed with medieval inns that used to play host to the soldiers of the Order of the Knights. At the end of the Street, in the Museum Square, stands the Hospital of the Knights, which houses the Archaeological Museum. Across the square is the Church of Our Lady of the Castle, the Orthodox Cathedral of Rhodes in Byzantine times that became the Catholic Cathedral when the Knights occupied the city. Now it hosts the Byzantine Museum. Polidorou Street leads to a square with outdoor cafés and restaurants. Moving on, you enter Sokratous Street – always buzzing with life thanks to its cluster of cafés and shops – which leads down from the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent towards the harbour. If you decide to take a detour and head off for Arionos Square, don’t forget to stroll around the “Turkish district”, where you will find the Mustafa Pasha Mosque and the 16th century “Yeni Hammam” (Turkish Baths).

Outside the walls…

Outside the walls of the Old Town lies the “new” city, with its magnificent Venetian, neoclassic and modern buildings. Among the most remarkable buildings that keep the memories of the island's Italian period alive are the Post Office, constructed by the Italian architect Florestano di Fausto, the Prefecture of the Dodecanese, formerly the Italian Governor's Palace that resembles the Doge's Palace in Venice, Evangelismos Church (Church of the Annunciation), the Town Hall and the National Theatre.

A stroll around Mandráki, the small marina with the Rhodian deer statues at its entrance and the surrounding windmills, is an experience not to be missed. The multicultural character of Rhodes is also evident in this part of the city, since next to the Prefecture stands the Murat Reis Mosque with its elegant minaret. Enjoy the sun and the sea at cosmopolitan Elli beach at the northern tip of Rhodes town, which is lined with modern hotels. Here you will also find the beautifully renovated historic Grande Albergo delle Rose, which today operates as a Casino. A visit to the Aquarium, one of the most important marine research centres in Greece, is a must! In the underground aquarium, reminiscent of an underwater cave, the visitor can see many of the species living in the Aegean.

On the other side of the city you can visit Rodíni Park, a true paradise with many peacocks, streams and paths amidst oleander bushes, cypress, maple and pine trees. Rodini is said to be the site of the famous School of Rhetoric, where prominent Greeks and Romans, including Julius Caesar, Cato the Younger, Cicero, Pompey, Brutus, Cassius and Marc Anthony, studied. Saint Stefanos Hill (known as Monte Smith) marks the site of the Acropolis, one of the most important centres of worship, education and recreation in ancient times on Rhodes. At the top of the hill you will find the remains of the Temple of Apollo, a Hellenistic stadium and a gymnasium.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

As you head down to the east coast, the first tempting stop is Kallithéa, a cosmopolitan holiday resort bustling with hotels lining Faliráki beach. In Kallithéa the main attraction is the Roman baths – a unique example of orientalised Art Deco from 1929 – and the long sandy beach of Faliráki. The picturesque small bay at Ladikó (where the film “The Guns of Navarone” was shot) and the scenic “Anthony Quinn” Bay are just some of the beautiful beaches where you can bask! If you are interested in learning more about the local traditions of Rhodes visit Koskinoú, a traditional village where the house facades are painted in bright colours, the lovely courtyards are paved with pebbles and the houses are decorated inside with ceramic plates and hand-woven textiles.

Ialissós (or Triánda) used to be one of the three powerful cities of ancient Rhodes which acquired great fame thanks to the Olympic Champion Diagoras. Today Ialissós is a popular cosmopolitan resort; its beach is a favourite destination for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing enthusiasts. Basking in the lush green of pine trees and cypresses, on the slopes of Filérimos (meaning “lover of solitude”) Hill stands the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and the ruins of an ancient acropolis. In Byzantine times, there was a fortress on the hill which, in the 13th century, became a monastery dedicated to Holy Mary. It was beautifully restored at a later stage by the Italians and the British. Directly in front of the church there are the ruins of 3rd century temples of Zeus and Athena. Visitors can walk up the “Via Crucis”, which leads to an enormous crucifix. The view from there out over Ialissós Bay is stunning. Illuminated at night, the crucifix is clearly visible even from the nearby island of Sými.

In the verdant area of Afándou you can either bask on beautiful sandy beaches or play golf on a modern 18-hole golf course (close to Afándou beach) that is open all year round and attracts golf enthusiasts from all over the world! The road from the beautiful seaside resort of Kolimbia leads through a forest and along the banks of the River Loutanis to Archipoli, a picturesque rural village. The route is ideal for walking or cycling.

The area of Petaloúdes (meaning Butterflies) includes the villages of Kremastí, Paradísi and Theológos. Kremastí, one of the biggest and liveliest settlements on the island, is famous for its major festival of the Virgin Mary on 15th August, while the beach of Kremastí is perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. However, the most fascinating and popular attraction of the region is the Valley of the Butterflies, a habitat of unique value for the reproduction of the Panaxia Quadripunctaria butterfly. Admire an atmosphere of incomparable beauty with lush vegetation and streams as you stroll along cleverly laid paths. Also well worth a visit in the Valley is the Museum of Natural History.

Archángelos was rebuilt in medieval times away from its initial site by the sea (to guard it from pirate raids) and the Knights of Saint John later protected it by building a castle. The tradition of ancient arts and crafts – such as pottery and hand-made tapestries – is more evident in Archángelos than anywhere else. The locals live a more simple life style, almost untouched by the rapid growth in tourism elsewhere on the island and still reverentially maintain their age-old traditions, customs, their local dialect and even the distinctive decoration of their houses. The area is famous for its golden beaches, such as Tsambíka Beach at the foot of a steep cliff, where there is also the famous monastery of the Virgin Mary. Stegna is a picturesque resort close to Archángelos, while at Haraki (with its idyllic small bay) visitors can see the ruins of a medieval castle: Faraklos. At the northern edge of the region lies “Eptá Piyés” (Seven Springs), a green valley with clear flowing waters and covered with enormous plane and pine trees.

Kámiros was one of the three most powerful cities of ancient Rhodes and flourished during the 6th and 5th century BC. The ruins of the city and the neighbouring necropolis were discovered in 1859; magnificent public buildings, a market, temples, houses and an acropolis on the hill top bear eloquent witness to the splendour and wealth of ancient Kámiros. It is also worth exploring the surrounding villages, such as Soroni on the north coast and Fanes to the south, a nice spot for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The road from Kalavarda leads you to Salakos, a traditional village with lush vegetation and flowing springs. From there you can climb up Profitis Ilias Mountain, with its classic Italian hotels in the forest and a chapel on the summit. On the mountain slopes, there are several smaller villages with springs and age-old plane trees: Eleousa, Platania (“plane trees”), Apolonas and Dimilia, famous for its Byzantine chapel of Áyios Nikólaos (also called Fountoukli).

The highest mountain on Rhodes, the imposing Mt. Atáviros, with its rocky summit and green slopes, is an eternal symbol of the island. The amazing view will compensate those who will make the effort to reach its summit! The biggest settlement in the region is Embonas. Built on a mountainside covered with vineyards, the village is famous for its excellent wines. If you want to escape the crowds, explore the rocky coast and bask in small, well-hidden bays, such as Fournoi, Glyfada or on the beaches of Kritinia. Watching the sunset from the medieval castles of Atáviros, Kritinia and the 14th century Monólithos, both built on the summit of an imposing rock, is a richly rewarding experience.

The ancient city-state of Líndos was one of the three major towns of ancient Rhodes thanks to its great naval power. The remains of the acropolis of Líndos, a natural watchtower facing the open sea built on a steep rock 116 metres above sea level, bear eloquent witness to its long standing power and wealth. At the foot of the acropolis lies the traditional village of Líndos with its cubic whitewashed houses, mansions, Byzantine churches and narrow cobbled streets. By following a path through the village or by hiring a donkey from the main square you can climb to the ancient acropolis, which is surrounded by well-preserved walls. Here you can see the remains of buildings from ancient times, the Byzantine era and the era of the Knights, such as the 4th century BC temple of Athena Lindia, the Propylea, the large Hellenistic arcade, the Byzantine chapel of Ayios Ioannis and the castle of the Knights of Saint John. You can also enjoy astonishing views of the town and the sea –an experience not to be missed during your visit on the island. At Saint Paul’s Bay you can either relax in the azure sea or have a go at your favourite water sport!

In southern Rhodes nature is unveiled in all its splendour: sun-drenched bays stretch from Kiotari and Genadi to Lahania, Plimiri and Prassonisi, the southernmost tip of the island and a popular location for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The villages of the area were built in medieval times, or even earlier, and still maintain their traditional colour, just as their inhabitants still maintain their local dialect, traditional customs and even the traditional decoration of their houses. Follow old paths and discover the beauty of golden fields and shady woods, gentle hills and valleys –magical landscapes that will rejuvenate your body and soul.

Don’t forget that while you are on the island you can take the opportunity to go on a daytrip to the following nearby islands:

  • Kastellórizo (or Megisti) is the easternmost island in Greece, with a long and stormy history. Only 300 people live on the island today but the town and its magnificent neo-classical houses reveal the former prosperity of the island.
  • A former sponge-diving centre, Hálki, is famous for its Theological School, which unfortunately does not operate anymore. Emborio, with its grand houses and a picturesque waterfront offering fresh fish, is the only inhabited hamlet on the island. Horio and the Knights’ Castle are both well worth visiting.
  • Beautiful Sými is an hour away by boat from Mandráki, the port of Rhodes. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved neo-classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
  • To the north west of Rhodes you will find Tílos, with its imposing mountains, rocky and steep coasts, beaches with crystal clear water and caves and medieval castles. The island’s harbour is at Livadia, and from there you can visit the village of Micró Horió (“Small Village”), deserted since 1950. At Meyálo Horió (“Big Village) visit the Palaeontology Museum, where you can see petrified skeletons of dwarf elephants.

Extra tip for trekking enthusiasts: Following breathtaking routes on foot is the ideal way to discover the unique natural beauty of the island: try the two-hour route from Filérimos to the coast through a magical pine-tree forest, tour the Valley of the Butterflies (3 hours), go from the village of Salakos to the summit of Profitis Elias following a breathtaking route that takes 4 hours to complete, walk from Kritinia Castle to Kritinia village through a lush green valley (4 hours) or, if you are an experienced hiker, take the opportunity to conquer the summit of Ataviros, a beautiful six-hour walk!

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The Archaeological Site of Philippi, the most important one in the Eastern Macedonian area of Greece, is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Monuments since mid-July 2016, satisfying all the institution’s significant and strict criteria. At the 40th Session of the Committee, which took place in Istanbul, from July 10th to 17th, Philippi was unanimously listed as a World Heritage Site.

The ancient city of Philippi was built by Thassian settlers, called Crenides (Krinides) in 360-359 BC and led by the exiled Athenian politician Kallistratus. In 356 BC King Philip II of Macedonia renamed the city after himself and used it to control the neighbouring gold mines of Mt. Paggaio, where he installed the Royal Mint. Following the Roman battle of Philippi in 42 BC, in which Octavian and Mark Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius, the city held a leading role of the Roman Empire on Via Egnatia. When Apostle Paul visited in 49-50 BC, in his second and third missionary journeys, he founded the first European Christian Church and the settlement went on being the metropolis of Christianism. The prevalence of the new religion and the transfer of the Roman Empire’s capital to Constantinople lent glory to the City of Philippi. By the 7th century AD people left the city due to big earthquakes and the Slavic raids. During the Byzantine Period the town was a fortress. Its evacuation took place later on during the 14th century with the Turkish evasion.

In the Archaeological Site of Philippi you should pay a visit to its fortified walls and the Acropolis, within which you will encounter a tower dating back to the Byzantine Period; its theatre built in the 4th century BC (probably by Philippe II); the agora, part of a complex of public buildings built by Marcus Aurelius (161-180 BC) was the administrative centre of the Roman Empire and includes a mesmerising 40 m2 mosaic floοr; a palaestra with a little amphitheatre, rooms and a colonnaded courtyard; a Roman Cistern where Romans imprisoned Apostle Paul; the Octagon, a large temple complex, dedicated to Apostle Paul and three aisled basilicas dating back to 5th - 6th century.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area. Built near the sea (at the back of the Thermaïkos Gulf), it is a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm.

Take a tour in the centre of Thessaloniki and plan to visit its nearby destinations. Also, while being in Thessaloniki it is worth going up to Halkidiki.

Visit Thessaloniki's Archaeological sites

  • The ancient forum (dated to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD) with squares, porticoes, additional buildings and odeum (293-395 AD), the palace complex of Galerius Maximianus (4th c. AD), the thermae, the hippodrome, the temples and other monuments and moveable finds (among them mosaics of exquisite art) brought to light in excavations and surveys. In the south square, is the famous Stoa of the Idols, which was two-storeyed and lavishly decorated.
  • The Triumphal Arch of Galerius (Kamara), built in AD 305 to commemorate his military successes in general in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. 

The Rotunda is an early 4th century building which later was converted into a Christian church.

Visit Thessaloniki's Byzantine monuments

Thessaloniki, with its host of Byzantine monuments (due to it’s significance during the Byzantine period), justifiably is considered an open-air museum of Byzantine art. Wandering through the city, it is worthwhile to see:    

  • The churches of Acheiropoietos (5th century) a three-aisled, timber-roofed basilica, the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia) (7th century), the Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios  Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the katholikon and two cisterns within the precinct survive, Ayios Demetrios a splendid basilica dedicated to the patron saint and protector of the city, etc. 
  • The byzantine walls of the city.
  • The archaeological site in 3 Septemvriou St., with remnants of a cemetery basilica, a martyrion and Early Christian graves.
  • The byzantine bathhouse (late thirteenth century).
  • The Heptapyrgion castle was raised in stages, from the early years of the Byzantine Age into the Ottoman period.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Thessaloniki, with its host of Byzantine monuments (due to it’s significance during the Byzantine period), justifiably is considered an open-air museum of Byzantine art. Wandering through the city, it is worthwhile to see:    

  • The churches of Acheiropoietos (5th century) a three-aisled, timber-roofed basilica, the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia) (7th century), the Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios  Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the katholikon and two cisterns within the precinct survive, Ayios Demetrios a splendid basilica dedicated to the patron saint and protector of the city, etc. 
  • The byzantine walls of the city.
  • The archaeological site in 3 Septemvriou St., with remnants of a cemetery basilica, a martyrion and Early Christian graves.
  • The byzantine bathhouse (late thirteenth century).

The Heptapyrgion castle was raised in stages, from the early years of the Byzantine Age into the Ottoman period.

Amazing Ottoman Monuments

  • The White Tower (15th century), the hallmark of the city.
  • The Mosques of the Hamza Bey Cami (15th century), the Aladja Imaret Cami (1484) and the Yeni Cami  (1902).
  • Hamams (turkish bathhouses): The Pazar Hamam (15th century), the Pasha Hamam (15th century), Bey Hamam (16th century), Yeni Hamam and the Yahudi Hamam.
  • Bezesteni, a rectangular building with lead-covered domes and four entraces was built in the late fifteenth century and operated as a cloth market. 

Discover Neighbourhoods And Focal Points In The City

  • The Old City (Ano Polis), in which many notable examples of Ottoman and traditional Macedonian architecture still stand, alongside humble dwellings put up by the refugees who reached Thessaloniki in droves, after the Greek defeat in Asia Minor, in 1922.
  • The historical quarter of the Ladadika. In recent years, a series of interventions to rehabilitate the urban fabric have helped to enhance the Ladadika as a quarter for leisure pursuits.
  • The traditional markets: the Modiano, which is housed in a rectangular building of 1922, with pedimented facade and glass roof; the Kapani or Vlalis market; Athonos Square and the ‘Louloudadika’ (literally flower market).
  • Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, lined with many representative Neoclassical buildings and examples of late 19th century eclectic architecture.
  • The central Aristotelous Square, surrounded by monumental buildings and open to the waterfront for a width of 100 metres.

Other Monuments And Buildings In The City

  • Mylos (literally mill). An old industrial complex, built in 1924, today have been remodelled to house cultural events and leisure activities, as well as the industrial buildings of the old FIX Brewery and the VILKA plant.
  • Lazarist monastery (1886) by the monastic order of the Brothers of Mercy, and now used for cultural events.
  • Royal Theatre  
  • Thessaloniki Concert Hall. A newly-built, magnificent yet austere, multipurpose venue for cultural and other events.
  • YMCA Building, a building of 1924, with a mixture of Neocolonial and Byzantesque architectural elements.

Museums

It’s worth seeing the Archaelogical Museum, the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Folk and Ethnographic Museum, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, the Teloglion Foundation of Art, the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum, the Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum, etc.

Festivities

During each year, Thessaloniki hosts significant cultural and commercial festivities, such as the Thessaloniki International Fair (every September), the International Thessaloniki Film Festival (every November) and the International Book Fair (every May).

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

Veria was the second most significant town, after Aigai, during the blooming ancient Macedonian years. The city is built on the foothills of Mt. Vermion and crossed by the River Tripotamo. From the 11th to the 14th century it was the third most important city of the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople (Istanbul) and Thessaloniki. The impressively large number of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches gave the city the nickname “Little Jerusalem”. Today, 48 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches are preserved in the city centre.

Follow our footsteps and discover this magnificent historic, yet modern city.

Aigai - Vergina

Aigai, today’s Vergina, was the first capital of the ancient Macedonian Kingdom. The excavations in 1977, by professor Manolis Andronikos, revealed the 20th century greatest discovery on Greek land. The treasures found were of great archaeological and historic significance and the territory of the ancient Macedonian Kings was proclaimed as a World Heritage Site in 1996 by UNESCO.

At the Royal Tombs Museum, you can admire portable findings and wall paintings in an impressive underground construction. Philip II's tomb and the magnificent golden urn are the items that stand out.

Traditional Quarters

In the midst of the 19th century, the town of Veria had 16 small neighbourhoods (quarters=”machalades”). Throughout the period of the Ottoman rule, the shops were concentrated in the Byzantine market, the bazaar. The most famous neighbourhoods which have survived are the Jewish and Christian Quarters.

Traditional Quarter of Kyriotissa
Kyriotissa is a picturesque quarter with a maze of narrow alleys, tall buildings, mansions and gardens. Kyriotissa follows the Barbouta architectural style. The buildings have floors with heavy overhangs, successive windows and skylights, cob walls and heavy doors. Today, numerous houses have been restored and converted into venues.

Traditional Quarter of Panagia Dexia
This well preserved neighbourhood is developed alongside the Tripotamos River by the commercial market of Veria City. Make sure to pay a visit to the church of Panagia Dexia, built in the 19th century, in place of a former church of the 14th century. Take a look at the easternmost surviving sector of the former church where you can gaze upon the sanctuary’s niche and wall paintings.

Traditional Jewish Quarter of Barbouta
Make a stop by the Jewish Quarter next to the Tripotamos River with its cobblestone streets and imposing mansions. The quarter is located next to Barbouta area, whose name comes from a old fountain. The Jewish Synagogue, with its rich interior decoration, was built in 1850; it’s the oldest in northern Greece and one of the oldest in Europe. Today the synagogue is used as a worship place for Jews who travel to Veria, as well as a monument of their spiritual, artistic and architectural tradition.

 

Text & images copyright "Visit Greece".

The Archaeological Museum houses findings from Veria’s archaeological sites dating back to the Late Stone Age up to the Hellenistic Period. The findings originating from the excavations of Nea Nikomedia, which were identified as the oldest settlement in Europe (Neolithic Age) are of special interest.

The Byzantine Museum is housed in a majestic industrial building dating back to 1911. Each floor has a separate exhibition theme of the permanent collections of the museum. Get acquainted with the most representative samples of the city’s glorious past (wall paintings from churches and mansions, mosaics, sculptures etc), as well as how Veria was considered the regional Metropolis of the Byzantine Empire in the heart of Macedonia.

Other remarkable museums are the Polycentric Museum of Aigai, the Vlachogianneio Museum (also known as Macedonian Struggle Museum), the Folklore Museum of Vlachs and the Museum of Education “Christos Tsolakis”. Make sure to go by the Public Library, which has won several international awards.

Also Worth A Visit Are

  • The Tribune of St. Paul, who visited Veria twice (50-51AD and 57AD). It is located near the Raktivan public square and is decorated with mosaic art.
  • The Old Court of Justice and the impressive Tower of princess Vergina, the second saved section of ruins of the tower, located near Orologiou square.
  • The Ancient Roman Road - Via Egnatia, which demonstrates Veria’s past administrative, spiritual and financial power.
  • The Ottoman period monuments such as the Twin Baths, the Karachmet Bridge, the Medresse Mosque, Chounkiar Mosque and the Orta Mosque.
  • The Old Cathedral, built between 1070-1080; one of the greatest temples of the middle Byzantine period, which houses wall paintings that date back to the 12th, 13th and 14th century.

© Copyright 2019 Tours-Greece Travel Services