Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With over sixty inhabited islands, historic sites that span four millennia, idyllic beaches and towering mountain ranges there is a wide variety of tourist attractions in Greece to explore.
Peloponnese Historical places, Greece
Acropolis – there are three temples dating from the fifth century BC, attracting three million visitors per year. The obvious starting point for a first-time visit is the largest and most impressive temple, the Parthenon, supported by 46 Doric columns and considered classical architecture’s most influential building. Be sure to walk below the Acropolis at night, too, when it is at its most magnificent, bathed in golden floodlighting.
New Acropolis Museum - Archaic and classical finds from the Acropolis site are displayed here – proud statues of the ancients and life-like stone carvings of animals. The top floor is devoted to the marble frieze that once ran around the top of the Parthenon. About half of the pieces are originals, while the remainder are white plaster copies. The missing pieces were removed by Lord Elgin in 1801 and are now in the British Museum in London.
Ancient Agora of Classical Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis.
Temple of Olympian Zeus is a colossal ruined temple in the center of Athens that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC.
Corinth Channel connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former peninsula an island. An abortive effort was made to build it in the 1st century AD but it was completed in 1893. Measurements: 8 m (26 ft.) deep, measuring 6,343 m (20,810 ft.) long by 24.6 m (81 ft.)
According to Hellenic myth, the city was founded by Corinth, a descendant of the god Helios (the Sun), while other myths suggest that it was founded by the goddess Ephyra, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus, thus the ancient name of the city (also Ephyra). There is evidence that the city was destroyed around 2000 BC. #3 Ancient Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities of Greece, with a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. After its total destruction in 146 BC, the Romans built a new city in its place in 44 BC and later made it the provincial capital of Greece. For Christians, Corinth is known from the two letters of Saint Paul in the New Testament, First Corinthians and Second Corinthians.
Acrocorinth, the acropolis of ancient Corinth, is a monolithic rock that was continuously occupied from archaic times to the early 19th century. The highest peak on the site was home to a temple to Aphrodite which was Christianized as a church, and then became a mosque. It is one of the most important medieval castle sites of Greece.
Mycenae, an acropolis site, was continuously inhabited from the Early Neolithic. In the second millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centers of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. At its peak in 1350 BC, the citadel and lower town had a population of 30,000 and an area of 32 hectares.
The largest stones of the citadel’s wall including the lintels and gate jambs weighed well over 20 tones; some may have been close to 100 tones. By 1200 BC, the power of Mycenae was declining; finally, during the 12th century BC, Mycenaean dominance collapsed entirely.
In legend, the two brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus became kings of Mycenae and Sparta. The old king Tyndareus of Sparta, had two ill-starred daughters, Helen and Clytemnestra, whom Menelaus and Agamemnon married, respectively. Agamemnon inherited Mycenae and Menelaus became king of Sparta. Soon, Helen eloped with Paris of Troy. Agamemnon conducted a 10-year war against Troy to get her back for his brother.
At a strategic location on the fertile plain of Argolis, Argos was a major stronghold during the Mycenaean era.
In classical times Argos was a powerful rival of Sparta for dominance over the Peloponnese, but was eventually shunned by other Greek city-states. The city of Argos was believed to be the birthplace of the mythological character Perseus, the son of the god Zeus and Danaya, who was the daughter of the king of Argos, Acrisius.
The town was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic and of the Kingdom of Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834.
The city has walls dating from pre-classical times. Subsequently, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and Turks added to the fortifications. Nafplio was taken in 1212 by the French crusaders of the Principality of Achaea. It became part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, which in 1388 was sold to the Republic of Venice. During the subsequent 150 years, the lower city was expanded and fortified, and new fortifications added to Acronauplia. The arrival of the Venetians and the Franks transformed it into part of the town fortifications. Other fortifications of the city include the Palamidi and Bourtzi, which is located in the middle of the harbor. The Venetians retook Nafplio from Ottomans in 1685 and made it the capital of their "Kingdom of the Morea". The castle of Palamidi was in fact the last major construction of the Venetian empire overseas. However, only 80 soldiers were assigned to defend the city and it was easily retaken by the Ottomans in 1715. During the Greek War of Independence, Nafplio played a major role.
Epidaurus is the birthplace of Apollo's son Asclepius the healer, Epidaurus was known for its sanctuary situated about five miles (8 km) from the town, as well as its theater, which is once again in use today. The cult of Asclepius at Epidaurus is attested in the 6th century BC, when the older hill-top sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas was no longer spacious enough. The asclepeion at Epidaurus was the most celebrated healing center of the Classical world, the place where ill people went in the hope of being cured. To find out the right cure for their ailments, they spent a night in the enkoimeteria, a big sleeping hall. In their dreams, the god himself would advise them what they had to do to regain their health. Found in the sanctuary, there was a guest house for 160 guestrooms. There are also mineral springs in the vicinity which may have been used in healing.
Asclepius, the most important healer god of antiquity, brought prosperity to the sanctuary, which in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC embarked on an ambitious building program for enlarging and reconstruction of monumental buildings. Fame and prosperity continued throughout the Hellenistic period.
The prosperity brought by the Asclepeion enabled Epidaurus to construct civic monuments, including the huge theatre that delighted for its symmetry and beauty, used again today for dramatic performances. It seats up to 14,000 people.
Sparta was recognized as the overall leader of the combined Greek forces during the Greco-Persian Wars. Between 431 and 404 BC, Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War from which it emerged victorious, though at great cost of lives lost. Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which completely focused on military training and excellence. Sparta looks like deserted, and nothing left but the temples and the ground-plan, distant ages would be very unwilling to believe that the power of the Lacedaemonians was at all equal to their fame. Their city is not built continuously, and has no splendid temples or other edifices.
Mystras is a fortified town near ancient Sparta, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea in the 14th and 15th centuries, experiencing a period of prosperity and cultural flowering. The site remained inhabited throughout the Ottoman period, when it was mistaken by Western travelers for ancient Sparta. In the 1830s, it was abandoned and the new town of Sparta was built, approximately eight km to the east.
Dyros Caves form part of an underground river. About 5,000 meters have been exposed and are accessible by small boats and through narrow passageways. One is surrounded by formations of stalagmites and stalactites. Archaeological research has shown that the caves served as places of worship in Paleolithic and Neolithic times and their inhabitant believed that the caves were the entrance to the underworld. The cave of Vlychada covers an area of 16,700 m2. The main route for sightseeing is a 2.5-km-long winding passageway. During a 40-min boat trip, the visitor will comes across a complex and maze like network of passages and galleries, decorated with stalagmites and stalactites, whose reflection in the water enhances their natural beauty.
Methoni has been identified as the city Pedasus, that Homer mentions under the name "ampeloessa" (of vine leaves), as the last of the seven gifts, that Agamemnon offers Achilles in order to subdue his rage. The Venetians had their eye on Methoni since the 12th century, due to its location on the route from Venice to the Eastern markets. The Venetians fortified Methoni, which developed into an important trade center with great prosperity. Methoni became the important middle station between Venice and the Holy Lands, where every traveler stopped on their way to the East. A pilgrim who went by in 1484 admired its strong walls, the deep moats and the fortified towers.
Pylos is historically also known under its Italian name Navarino and having been inhabited since Neolithic times. It was a significant kingdom in Mycenaean Greece, with remains of the so-called "Palace of Nestor" excavated nearby, named after Nestor, the king of Pylos in Homer's Iliad. In the 1280s the Franks built the Old Navarino castle on the site. Pylos came under the control of the Republic of Venice from 1417 until 1500, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans used Pylos and its bay as a naval base, and built the New Navarino fortress there.
Old Navarino Castle is a 13th-century fortress near Pylos. The castle sits atop an imposing 200-metre (660 ft) rock formation on the northern edge of the bay, flanked by sheer cliffs; the naturally defensible site has probably been occupied since classical times. The Venetians attempted to purchase the castle several times, worried about the threat it posed to their trading interests; they occupied it in 1417 to prevent the Genoese from doing so, and finally secured its sale from the Prince of Achaea, Centurione II Zaccaria, in 1423.
Voidokilia beach is a popular beach. In the shape of the Greek letter omega (Ω), its sand forms a semicircular strip of dunes. On the land-facing side of the strip of dunes is Gialova Lagoon, an important bird habitat. Above the beach is Nestor's Cave and above this are the ruins of Old Navarino Castle. The beach is presumed to be Homer's "sandy Pylos" where Telemachus was welcomed by King Nestor when searching for his father, Odysseus. According to myth, Nestor's Cave is where Hermes hid the cattle stolen from Apollo.
The Gialova lagoon, together with Voidokilia Bay, belongs to a unique ecosystem which constitutes a protected zone, in terms of both natural and cultural heritage. It is giving shelter to no fewer than 225 bird species and plays host to a very rare species, nearing extinction throughout Europe, the African chameleon.
Ancient Messini contains the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messene founded by Epaminondas in 369 BC, after the battle of Leuctra and the first Theban invasion of the Peloponnese. Messene was surrounded by a circuit wall 9 km (5.6 mi) long, 7 meters (23 feet) — 9 meters (30 feet) high. The Arcadian Gate stands in this site and guarded the ancient route to Megalopoli.
Most of the ruins are spread out across a small valley that is right under the village of Mavromati. Excavations of these ruins have shown that a theater, Asklepion which was a temple of the god of health, a stadium, and gymnasium. There is also a number of Roman ruins.
Ancient Olympia was inhabited as early as 4000BC, but only achieved esteem as a religious and athletics center in 776BC when the first Olympic Games were held. Over 2,500 years later, the Olympic flame for the 2004 Games in Athens will be kindled here. Legends are also firmly ensconced in the origins of Olympia. One story describes Zeus and Cronus wrestling for the fertile prefecture of Elia in which Olympia stands. Of course, super god Zeus wins and decides to celebrate by founding the first Games. Another legend has Heracles marking out the Sanctuary of Olympia and introducing the wild olive – a wreath of which became the Games’ traditional crown of victory.
The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was an ancient Greek temple in Olympia, Greece, dedicated to the god Zeus. The temple, built between 472 and 456 BCE. The temple housed the renowned statue of Zeus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue was approximately 13 m (43 ft) high. On the head was a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In the right hand, Zeus held a figure of Nike (the goddess of victory), also made from ivory and gold - and held in the left hand a scepter with an eagle perched on the top. Zeus' robe and sandals were made of gold. The throne was decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory. The statue was Greece's most revered artistic work.