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Less than an hour’s drive from Athens in the country’s southernmost region, Peloponnese is a wide peninsula linked to the mainland by bridge. It’s renowned for its unspoiled landscapes that once helped it keep invaders at bay, including soaring snowcapped mountains and vast rugged gorges, part of what draws visitors of another kind from around the world today. It also hosts frequent cultural events, including many festivals along with fascinating ruins, like Olympia the site of the very first Olympic Games in honor of Zeus.
Peloponnese At A Glance
Population of Peloponnese 1.155 million
What to See in Peloponnese Great Theatre of Epidaurus, Mycenae, Mystras, Ancient Corinth and Corinth Canal
Towns or islands in Peloponnese Olympia, Mystras, Argolis, Monemvasia, Naflio, Monemvasia and Epidaurus
Things to do in Peloponnese
Step into Ancient Olympia
The top site in all of the Peloponnese is Olympia, the very place where the Olympic Games where held every four years for at least 1,000 years and the Olympic flame is still lit for the modern games. While not much remains of the facilities and temples thanks to its destruction by Theodosius II and a number of earthquakes that followed, there is plenty enough to provide a glimpse of its former glory. The site includes remnants of the stadium that hosted the contests and the Temple of Zeus, which was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: a huge gold and ivory statue of the king of the gods.
Listen to the Acoustics in the Great Theatre of Epidaurus
The Theatre of Epidaurus in the ancient city of Epidaurus was constructed in the 4th century BC, considered one of the finest ancient theaters on Earth, holding as many as 16,000 spectators back in its day, lauded for both its beauty and symmetry. Other than the skene, it still looks much as it did so many centuries ago, thanks to careful restoration and preservation work. The acoustics are so good that you can hear someone talking at normal volume in the orchestra from the very top row. The theater continues to host performances today through summer’s Epidaurus Festival.
Stroll Through the Ancient City of Corinth
Established in the 8th-century BC, just a few hundred years later Corinth was home to a population of 90,000, wielding vast power and wealth through the Classical and Hellenistic periods. It was destroyed by Romans and later rebuilt as a provincial capital. Excavation work has been ongoing since the late 19th-century, with the impressive Fountain of Peirene, the Temple of Apollo, agora, foundations of the theater and ancient streets all unearthed and can be viewed today
Visit the Ruins of Ancient Mycenae
Located in the barren foothills of Mt Zara and Mt Agios Ilias, the Mycenae Kingdom was once the most powerful in Greece. For 400 years, 1600 through 1200 BC it controlled the Argolid and influenced other Mycenaean kingdoms as one of the main centers of civilization for all of Greece. Using a description of the Lion Gate written in the 2nd century AD by Pausanius, Mycenae was located by Venetian General Francesco in the early 18th century. The image of a pair of lionesses flanking a column is the only piece of monumental sculpture from Bronze Age Greece that’s managed to survive. The site also includes the Tholos tombs, including the Treasury of Atreus which includes what was known as the ancient world’s largest dome, weighing 120 tons alone.
Be Mesmerized by the Polylimnio Waterfalls
The peninsula is home to many breathtaking natural sights although these waterfalls at the Polylimnio Gorge in Messenia may be the most impressive of all as a true nature lovers’ paradise. There are cascading falls and tranquil emerald pools surrounded by lush greenery for swimming or cliff diving, right outside the city of Kalamata.
Trips to Peloponnese
When to go: May to SeptemberNew Ship
Athens - Hydra - Monemvasia - Pavlopetri - Olympia - Zakynthos - Navagio - Ithaca - Gidaki - Itea - Delphi - Galaxidi - Meteora11 NightsFrom $5,565 ppExplore some well-known locations as well as some hidden gems on an intimate cruise with private tours in Athens and Meteora.
Athens - Poros - Poliegos - Folegandros - Santorini - Antiparos - Paros - Delos - Mykonos - Syros - Kythnos8 NightsFrom $3,580 ppA luxury Greek islands small ship cruise visiting the key highlights of Greece including Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos, along with lesser known destinations including Folegandros and Syros. Enjoy an overnight stay in a 4 star hotel in Athens prior to boarding the cruise.
Athens - Kea - Delos - Mykonos - Santorini - Rethymnon/Crete - Kythira - Monemvassia - Nafplion - Hydra - Athens7 NightsFrom $3,190 ppAn 8 day luxury Greek islands small ship cruise visiting the best of Greece including Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete with lesser known destinations including Hydra, Monemvassia and Kythira. Enjoy an overnight stay in a 4 star hotel in Athens prior to boarding the cruise.
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