There are so many locales in the world, choosing one above others, becomes a very daunting task. Greece is one of those places that offers everything: beaches, sunshine, history and culture. The hardest part, is what area to write about, as every square kilometre is truly enjoyable. In this article, I will stick to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, the lower mainland of Greece, which is abundant in history and has some fantastic places to visit.
My odyssey began in Athens, a city that pulsates with life and echoes with the footsteps of ancient civilizations. The Acropolis, standing proudly atop its rocky perch, was my first encounter with the grandeur of classical Greece. The Parthenon, an iconic symbol of human achievement, left me in awe of the ancient architects who crafted such timeless beauty. As I wandered through the ancient Agora, now a bustling part of modern Athens, I felt the connection between past and present.
Venturing beyond the capital, I set out to explore Corinth, a city that unfolded like pages from an historical novel. The Corinth Canal, a modern engineering marvel, marked the gateway to a region rich in archaeological wonders. Ancient Corinth, with its well-preserved ruins, revealed stories of commerce, mythology, and the influence of various civilizations that once called this place home.
Nafplion, a charming coastal town with its cobblestone streets and historical landmarks, captivated my heart. The echoes of history resonated through the Lion's Gate and the vaulted tombs of Mycenae, providing a glimpse into the lives of ancient Greeks. Each step felt like a passage through time, a tangible connection to the stories etched in the stones of this captivating city.
The ancient theater of Epidaurus, renowned for its impeccable acoustics, transported me to a bygone era. Sitting in the well-preserved seats, I could almost hear the cheers of an ancient audience, immersing myself in the cultural heritage that thrived in this corner of Greece.
My next stop was Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. It stretched before me like a sacred ground for athletes and spectators alike. The ancient stadium, the Temple of Hera, and the Philippeion created a vivid display of the Olympic spirit that has endured for centuries. Standing in the midst of these ancient structures, I was amazed by the timeless legacy of the games.
I decided to visit Delphi and see what the oracle had in store for me. Delphi, rested majestically on Mount Parnassus, felt like a pilgrimage to the center of the ancient world. The sanctuaries, the Temple of Apollo, and the theater echoed with the whispers of prophecy and the footsteps of pilgrims who sought guidance from the Oracle. As I stood at the Tholos of Delphi, I could sense the mystical aura that has drawn people to this sacred site for centuries.
In ancient times a resident of this area, who had married a beautiful woman was told he was about to become a father. He was so excited he decided to contact the Oracle at Delphi to establish the future of his son. The Oracle explained that the child would grow up and kill its father. The man was so upset that upon returning home he gave his child to the shepherds to be killed. The shepherds, feeling sorry for the baby did not kill it, but instead abandoned it on the hill slopes. This child grew up and wandered to Corinth where he was adopted by the king and queen.
At age twenty the boy decided to find out about his past. He returned to Delphi and met a man along the road. The man would not let him pass and a struggle resulted, leaving the man dead, at the hands of the boy. As it turned out, the man killed was the boy’s father.
A sphinx in the area had left the people with a strange riddle. When the boy reached the village it turned out, he was the only person who was able to solve it. Everyone in town was overjoyed and the boy married the wife of the man he had killed. They had five children, but then the boy learned his wife was also his mother. He was so shocked, he left to live in Athens as a beggar in disgrace. His name… Oedipus.
I ventured on to Patras, a bustling port city and the gateway to the picturesque coastal towns of the Peloponnese Peninsula. The serene landscapes, captured through my camera lens, framed the beauty of this region. Each coastal town felt like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, with its own unique charm and stories to tell.
My last stop before returning to Athens, was the Monastery of Hosios Loukas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in the 10th century. It offered a serene retreat amid lush surroundings. The intricate mosaics and stunning frescoes adorning the monastery, provided a glimpse into the religious and artistic heritage of the region.
The warmth and friendliness of the people is second to none. Being a tourist in Greece, was like becoming an honourary member of the ‘Ancient Ruins Fan Club’. I nearly fell several times as I tried to manoeuvre the cobblestones in Nafplion.
Savouring the flavours of Greek hospitality involved deciphering the secret language of souvlaki and perfecting the art of saying ‘Opa!’ at the right moment.
Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit photosNtravel.com