PELOPONNESE


Map of Peloponnese

Just before we arrive at the Isthmus we have our first view of the Peloponnese, coming to Loutraki with its famous spas and many hotels.

After we have crossed the Isthmus, we encounter Corinth, a commercial centre and transport hub. In the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth we find the ruins of the brilliant ancient city. Roads extend among the vast olive groves, grain fields, and vegetable plots, leading to modern villages and towns, ideal resorts. From Kiato to ancient Sikyona and from there to Stimfalia. Then, on to Xilokastro an interesting vacation spot. Diakofto is the starting point for unforgettable excursions to historic Kalavrita, Megalo Spilaio (big cave), and the monastery of Agia Lavra. Magical journeys through the Vouraikos gorge, between tall, verdant mountains with the railroad.

Epidaurus Truly ancient Egio has a special attraction; the monastery of Panagia Tripiti, which is built into the living rock. Pretty pebbled beaches can be found nearby.

Patras, on the west coast, is Greece's window to the lonian islands and Italy. Its attractive squares, neoclassical buildings, and the ruins of a castle on top of a hill, add charm to this working harbour-city, which is the fourth largest in Greece. Enchanting shores drowning in eucalyptus and acorn bushes, indigo waters and a vast sandy beach at Kilini, known since antiquity for its spas.

Further south, we encounter Pirgos, an attractive town with two jewels; the neoclassical buildings designed by Chiller. Peaceful, serene, verdant, is Ancient Olympia with the grandiose temple foundations, the colonnades, the altars, the numerous interesting archaeological finds crowned by that masterpiece of sculpture, the Hermes of Praxiteles.

Kaifas is the next spa, also known since antiquity, set amidst a thick pine forest. The soil here is fertile, ideal for vineyards, olive groves and citrus orchards. The roads that lead to Byzantine monasteries, Frankish towers, ancient temples, such as the temple of Apollo Epikourios at Vasses, and famous palaces, such as Nestor's palace in Pylos, begin here. Roads that lead to Kalamata, the capital of Messinia, with the castle of Geoffrey Villehardouin, the waterfront lined with tavernas and pastry shops, and Mt. Taygetos proudly rearing up, while between its foothills pretty beaches can be found.

Church of Agios Andreas, Patras From Kalamata, the road sweeps up to Tripoli in the heart of the Peloponnese, a perfect base for enchanting excursions to Vitina, Dimitsana, and Stemnitsa, picturesque villages clinging to the Arcadian mountains, and to Mantineia and Lykossoura with significant ancient ruins.

Entering into Lakonia, we reach its capital, Sparti. To the west is the Byzantine castle-state of Mystra with its incredible churches, monasteries, palaces, and mansions.

Crossing the plain of Lakonia, we come to Githio and from there to Areopoli, the Diros caves, the traditional settlement of Vathia, and passing through virgin landscapes, steep mountaintops and deep gorges which end up in the clear blue seal at pristine golden beaches or pebbled shores, we arrive at unique Monemvassia, From up high on its castle one can see the moon rising among the waves.

The northeastern Peloponnese welcomes us at Argos, the ancient strong-point, today a point of departure for Nauplia - the first capital of free Greece - with the Bourtzi, an islet topped by a miniature fort, and the Palamidi rock. Ancient Tiryns and Mycenae, the ruins of the two power centres of the ancient Mycenean world, can also be reached from Argos.

We get to Epidaurus (Epidavros) passing through pine forests. Here in the summer, during the Epidaurus Festival, one can appreciate the incredible acoustics of the ancient theatre, which is next to the sanctuary of Asclepius.

Apart from Epidaurus, the Eastern Peloponnese has much physical beauty on offer, at Ermionida, at Porto Heli, at Kosta and Galatas, from where one easily crosses to Poros or Methane with its famous spas.



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