Greece offers a traveller a 4,000-year journey exploring the foundations of Western culture. The journey begins with the citadels and palaces of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations, Mountain-spined Crete’s Eleutherna and Knossos, volcanic Santorini’s Akrotiri and Mycenaean Kefalonia and Mycenae itself. The old Venetian port of Hania on Crete has a working replica of a Minoan ship. Homer stands at the crossroads between Mycenaean and burgeoning Classical civilisation. Heir to a bardic tradition preserving detailed knowledge of the Bronze Age past, he is also of his own time. The 7th century BC was a period of cultural ferment, exploration, trade and fabulous stories about new lands. At the apogee of Greek classical civilisation are Athens’ Acropolis, the Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion and the Isthmian city of Corinth. Also of great importance are Epidaurus’ majestic theatre and shrine to Asclepius, God of Healing, the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, cradle of sporting events, and Delphi. Here oracles uttered mysterious messages from the chthonic underworld.
Athens’ Acropolis has some of the most exquisite architecture ever constructed. The Parthenon, with its optical refinements, has inspired myriad later buildings. Below the Acropolis, the Agora has the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaistos. The Acropolis Museum and Athens’ Archaeological Museum display masterpieces from the pre-classical and classical worlds. Olympia and Delphi also have fine temples; the severe-style pediment sculptures of the Temple of Zeus, Olympia, predate Phidias’ masterpieces, the Parthenon’s pediments, metopes and frieze.
Greece also has many less well-known equally important sites. Dodona had the oldest oracle in Hellas. At the Necromanteion at Ephyra inquirers called upon the souls of the dead. The Acheron was the River of Hades. South across the jagged Peloponnesian Taygetus Mountains are the great hall of legendary King Nestor, ruler of Pylos, and the haunting ruins of Messene. Post-classical Greece produced many famous churches and monasteries. In the Peloponnese, Mistra was among the last Byzantine cities to fall to the Turks. Among Greece’s other wonders are the mythical islands of Ithaca, Kefalonia, and Corfu, deep in the blue Ionian Sea.
Travel to the fabled palace kingdoms of Minoan Crete, the fortress citadel of Mycenaean Greece, Olympia, the ancient oracle at Dodona and finally to the Ionian islands of Kefalonia, Ithaca & Corfu. Read more