Greece Travel Guide

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local woman leads her donkey

local woman leads her donkey

Greece is a paradise for different  tourists. It is far out for the beach bum, it is great for the lover of the classics and it is a must see for anyone interested in knowing where western civilization as we know it stems from.

Located in southeastern Europe, Greece is bordered by Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Balkan Peninsula, which constitutes Greece, is surrounded by over a thousand of tiny islands, of which less than 200 are inhabited. It is primarily a mountainous country with a major chunk of its landmass perched at over 1,500 m above sea level.

Perhaps no nation in Europe can boast of a more ancient history than Greece. Greece's antiquity dates back to 3000 BC when the powerful Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations flourished here. The evolution of powerful city-states, especially Athens and Sparta, between 800 and 500BC produced the classical age of Athens which was the high point of the Grecian civilization.

Under the leadership of Pericles, Athens ushered in an era of prosperity in all spheres: an era when Pericles himself commissioned the Parthenon, Democritus taught the concept of democracy, Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex, and Socrates taught the intricacies of logic. Later, Alexander's conquest of the city-states was followed by the Roman invasions that began in 205 BC. Greece became a part of the Byzantine Empire in the 4th century AD. This was followed by the Crusades, and by AD 1500, Greece came under Turkish control.

The glorious history of Greece is reflected in the ruins and monuments that lie scattered all over the country. Although the capital Athens may seem a smog-filled city of high-rise flats, it has a special charm and grandeur. Besides the oft-visited Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Theatre of Dionysus, the National Archaeological Museum is a treasure trove of antiquities.  The Cycladic Museum in Kolonaki District  (up the hill from  Vassilissis Sofias Street)  has a very nice collection worth seeing.   The Plaka and Monastiraki districts, are very nice areas to stroll around, many souvenir shops here... you have the Parthenon right behind you, up the hill... pretty close is also the Agora, this archeological area  with old potteries and things. 

The temple of Poseidon, also called Sounion, is an nice place to check out.  It is a good 45 min- 1 hr drive from downtown Athens

The southern peninsula, the Peloponnesos, is known both for its picturesque scenery and rich history, and is made up of numerious distinct regions (such as Lakonia and Mani) that each have their own distict histories and appearances. While in the Peloponnesos, be sure to check the cities of Corinth and Mycenae, there are some nice historical places to walk around.

The islands of Greece such as Crete , Rhodes, and the Cyclades are also noted for their picturesque scenery and rich histories.   Santorini is quite impressive, its capital Thira is a the edge of this  large cliff, as half of the island sunk in some volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.  The sunsets are breathtaking.  It also has nice black sand beaches, such as Perissa beach. Mykonos is also great fun, with over 20 sandy beaches and countless great bars to enjoy till the early hours, always feeling in the presence of the island culture which the white house architecture portrays. And there is the sacred island of Delos, birthplace of the god Apollo, which is a short boat ride from Mykonos.

Not to be missed are the Ionian Islands.  These small picturesque islands provide a wonderful experience for the traveler, especially if you can see them by sea via boat or kayak. 

In mainland Greece, you have the magnificent Meteora monasteries. The mountainous terrain of Greece is ideal for trekking, while Mt. Parnassus near Delphi offers opportunities for skiing.

In the north lies the region of Macedonia with Greece's second biggest city Thessaloniki,  which is absolutely worth a visit. The city has more than 2300 years of history, it was founded by the king Cassander of Macedonia and was named after the sister of Alexander the Great. There are numerous monuments from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. The archaeological museum displays various treasures from the anciend kingdom of Macedonia.

When you plan a trip to Greece try to visit at least the capital Athens, a bit of the Peloponessos and one or two islands. You will then get a general idea of what this fascinating country has to offer. Athens is a great city with many interesting street fairs. 


October 15, 2006 change by jackrock (1 point)

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