The Peloponnese

A 10-day program of the Peloponnese - starting and ending in Athens

Discover the Peloponnese, home of the Spartans and the Mycenaean and later a Byzantine stronghold.  Visit the small mountain villages and the stalactite and stalagmite caves.  Explore one of the many wineries to get a taste of the fine wines of the region. 

 

Day 1          Athens – Corinth – Nafplion

Upon arrival at Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens, we board our coach and travel west crossing the Corinth Canal to the Peloponnese.  We visit Ancient Corinth before heading to Nafplion.

The Corinth Canal separates Peloponnese from the Greek mainland.  Our journey takes us to Ancient Corinth, one of the most important trading cities of ancient Greece dating back to the 6th century BC.  Visiting the archaeological site we will come across the Temple of Apollo, the agora and the Peirene fountain. 

Nafplion was an important major port dating back to the Bronze Age. As a result of this significance three forts protected it;Palamidi being the most domineering citadel. The city played a huge role in the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire and up until 1834 was the first capital of Greece. Today it is a large modern city as well as a seaside resort.  Its old town is filled with neoclassical and Venetian buildings offering the visitor a most pleasant stroll through its narrow streets.

 

Day 2          Epidaurus – Mycenea – Nafplion
Today we visit Epidaurus and Mycenea.
 
Epidaurus was known in antiquity as a healing center, the place where the god of medicine Asclepius was born and was worshiped. The ruins of the sanctuary include among other things the Temple of Asclepius, the hospice and a stadium.  We will visit the Theater of Epidaurus famous for its astonishing acoustics and one of the best preserved classical Greek structures.  
 
Thereafter we visit the Homeric city of Mycenae. Dating from 1600 BC, the Royal House of Atreus established a major military stronghold and kingdom ruled most notably by king Agamemnon who fought in the Trojan War mentioned in Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey.  At the archaeological site of Mycenae we see the remains of the prehistoric Acropolis, the Palace, the Grave Circles, the Lion’s gate, the Cyclopean walls and the famous beehive (tholos) tombs.  The museum in Mycenea houses a beautiful collection of artifacts mainly from the excavation of the tombs.

 

Day 3          Mystras – Gythion

We will visit Mystras, once an important Byzantine city.  The day will wind down in Gythion, the pretty harbor city on the Mediterranean. 

The drive to Mystras will take us through the land of the Spartans, a society famed for its military power and culture. The Spartans were known for their bravery and brilliant strategy in battle.

During the 14th and 15th century the fortified town of Mystras was the second most powerful city of the Byzantine Empire and the capital of the Despotate of the Morea. It surrendered to the Venetians and Ottomans and was abandoned after the Greek War of Independence. The ruins at Mystras include the castle, palaces, Byzantine houses and monasteries adorned with wonderful frescoes.

 

Day 4          Monemvasia – Gythion

Today we will drive to the beautiful and unusual fortress of Monemvasia.

Dubbed the Gibraltar of Greece, Monemvasia is a fortress built on a rock rising dramatically from the sea.  The town was founded in the 6th century by inhabitants seeking refuge.  It became a major commercial centre during the Byzantine period and was liberated from the Ottomans in the War of Independence in 1821.  We shall walk through this medieval fortress town with its narrow cobbled streets and visit the Church of Christ in Chains.

 

Day 5          Mani – Areopoli – Limeni – Kardamili – Kalamata

Take a tour of the fascinating area of Mani, the Caves of Diros, the picturesque Limeni, Kardamili, Kalamata.

A drive through picturesque Mani will take us to the Caves of Diros. The unique caves house stalagmites and stalactites and are accessible by boat as the passageways are part of an underground river.  We walk around the village of Areopolis with its narrow cobble stoned streets to see the traditional ornate houses and towers of that region.  Next stop is Limeni, the very picturesque fishing village built on the bay.  Our drive will take us to the pretty coastal village of Kardamili nestled between the waters of the Messinian gulf and the Taygetos with its stone towers, cypress trees and beautiful beaches, on our way to the busy seaside town of Kalamata for the overnight.

 

Day 6    Fortress of ancient Messene - Methoni - Pylos

Spend the day exploring two of the most visited fortresses in the Peloponnese; the Fortress of Messene and Methoni

The large classical city state of ancient Messene was founded by Epaminondas in 369 BC over the ancient Bronze Age city of Ithome.  It became the new capital of independent Messenia after the victory of the Thebans over the Spartans.  We will walk through the theater, the stadium, the Asclepieion and its place of sacrifice and the small temple.

Built in the 4th century on a cape in the southern most end of the west coast of the Peloponnese is the Fortress of Methoni.  The rich history of this fortress successively occupied by the Spartans, the King of Macedonia, the Romans, Venetians and the Ottomans emphasizes its importance.   We will walk through the fortress and visit castle on the islet across with its surviving octagonal fortified walls.

After our visit we will drive to Pylos, one of the most picturesque towns in the Peloponnese.

 

Day 7   Pylos – Temple of Vasses – Olympia

Visit of the castle in Pylos. Drive to the Temple of Vasses hidden in the Arcadean mountains for a visit. Then on to the cradle of the Olympic Games, Olympia.

Built on the bay where the famous Battle of Navarino took place that sparked the beginning of the War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, Pylos is a picturesque town on a beautiful bay.   Neo Kastro is the citadel dominating the landscape.  The castle was built by the Franks in the 13th century and was occupied by the Turks and Venetians until it was taken over by the Greeks in 1821 during the War of Independence.  

Hidden in the Arcadian mountains at an altitude of 1.131m is the Temple of Vasses dedicated to Apollo Epicurus (the Helper) and built by the people of Figalia. Known as ‘the second Parthenon’, it is one of the best preserved monuments in Greece.

 

Day 8          Olympia

We will spend the morning visiting the ancient site of Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.  

Today we spend the time exploring the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The first games were held in Olympia in 776 BC and thereafter every 4 years until their decline in 394 AD. They were revived in 1896 and continue since then to be a primary quadrennial international event. The Olympic flame is lit on this ancient site and relayed by runners to the cities where the Games will be held. We shall visit the archaeological site with the Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient stadium, the Hippodrome and the Temple of Hera.  We then visit the Archaeological Museum which houses amongst other antiquities, the statue of Hermes of Praxiteles, the Head of Hera and the beautifully carved metopes and pediments.

 

Day 9  Dimitsana – Stemnitsa – Athens

Today we will drive across the Peloponnese, passing through very picturesque villages on to Athens.

Driving through dramatic and breathtaking scenery, winding roads and valleys of dense forests and ravines we will come across the quaint villages of this area.  Noteworthy are Dimitsana and Stemnitsa  which are built amphitheatrically in the mountains maintaining their traditional stone houses and restored mansions. After a stop at some of those villages we will be heading to Athens for the remainder of the day.

 

Day 10   Departure

You will be transferred to Athens airport in time to catch your return flight for home.