The Top Five Destinations To Go For When Discovering Ancient Greece
Many claim Ancient Greece to be the most important time in our worlds history. They introduced humankind into a new way of thinking and rather accepting the way things were thought to be, they started to question everything their predecessors believed were true.
The top five spots I have chosen to describe are in my opinion, the most enlightening places to visit if your objective is to gain a deeper understanding of how these ancient legends used to live. Let us start with the capital:
Once considered the centre of the universe, this now bustling city is just like any other capital and that means busy. Four million people populate this area and by gum can you feel it. Nevertheless, the modernisation of Greece is not what most people come to see; it’s the history and Athens has one of the most famous landmarks in all of the land. The ‘Acropolis’ citadel is home to more than a few magnificent temples, notably the ‘Pantheon’ which was built for the Goddess Athena in 438BC! Due to its beauty and popularity, the Acropolis gets quite busy so many recommend to go in the late afternoon to avoid early morning crowds.
The city is also home to the spectacular ‘National Archaeological Museum’. Filled with prehistoric antiques and a new section devoted to ancient Egypt, this museum is well worth a visit.
Tourists in Athens tend stay in the ‘Plaka’ area of the city. You will find many hotels here suited for the big spenders and those on a budget.
Home to the first recorded Olympic Games. In 776BC, the event was organised to pay homage to the god Zeus. They were then held every four years up until the ruling of the emperor Theodosius I, who abolished them for reasons relating to conflicting religious beliefs.
Situated in the western city of Elis, Olympia was once home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The ‘golden statue of Zeus’ has since disappeared but the spot where it used to stand is still there. One of the original temple columns that housed the arena have since been destroyed due to a massive earthquake but the track and even starting line from which many of the games commenced is still intact.
Perhaps a little touristy nowadays for the hardcore historian backpacker, the towns legendary sights are still breath-taking. About three hours drive from Athens, many tend to not bring their bags with them and do it in a day trip rather than an overnight stay. On the drive there, you will become engulfed in a mountainous backdrop which helps set the scene for the step back in time you are about to take.
Much like the events held at Olympia, Delphi was also once home to sporting games of its own. The ‘Pythian Games’ were also held every fours but its main difference to other sites was that it incorporated a musical competition called ‘mousikos agon’. However interesting this may be, Delphi has something a lot more unique to offer.
The ‘Pythia’ from which the games originate their name is actually the most important oracle of Greek mythology. She was the priestess of Delphi and has been mentioned and revered by Greek scholars such as Aristotle, Euripides and Plato to name a few. The Pythia was renowned to have a ‘divine connection’ with the Gods that enabled her to perform many types of magic and predict the future. Her supposed powers have tried to be explained by scientists for years but no matter what conclusion they come to, nothing has been decisive.
Hotels in Gythio
If you fancy somewhere a bit quieter with not much tourism going on then try out Monemvasia. Shaped much like the rocks of Gibraltar, there are ancient ruins to be viewed all over the place and climbing it is one mission many visitors choose to accept. Although it is quiet and away from the crowds, many opt to crash in the small town of Gythio instead. With a pleasant harbour and delicious restaurants to try, it makes for a great place to kick back and reflect on your travels so far.
Luxury stays in Nafplio
The last on my list to visit is Nafplio. One of the most important cities in the country and perhaps the world, it was crowned the first capital of independent Greece. A busy fishing port nowadays it balances tourism and local life extremely well making it an ideal place to stay for a couple of night and absorb the old and modern culture of this outstanding country. One of the main sites to see is the newly refurbished constitution square or ‘Plateia Syntagmatos’. The church of Saint Nicholas is also very pretty but venturing the hill a bit will introduce the castle of Palamadi; used to imprison the naughty Theodoris Kolokotronis.
Nafplio is also very famous for offering cheap but amazing villas to stay in. If this is your last stop, then how about splashing out and living for a night much like one of the emperors from ancient times.
This article was written by Misty Angel on behalf of Travel Republic.