Brief History of Greece

GREEK HISTORY

The term Ancient, or Archaic, Greece refers to the time three centuries before the classical age, between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C.—a relatively sophisticated period in world history. Archaic Greece saw advances in art, poetry and technology, but most of all it was the age in which the polis, or city-state, was invented. The polis became the defining feature of Greek political life for hundreds of years.

The Birth of the City-State

During the so-called “Greek Dark Ages” before the Archaic period, people lived scattered throughout Greece in small farming villages. As they grew larger, these villages began to evolve. Some built walls. Most built a marketplace (an agora) and a community meeting place. They developed governments and organized their citizens according to some sort of constitution or set of laws. They raised armies and collected taxes. And every one of these city-states (known as poleis) was said to be protected by a particular god or goddess, to whom the citizens of the polis owed a great deal of reverence, respect and sacrifice. (Athens’s deity was Athena, for example; so was Sparta’s.)

Unusual Things to Do in Greece

 

1. Navagio Beach:-
The island of Zakynthos is a jagged little piece of land off the southwest coast of Greece that features a number of rocky coves cut off from the mainland, and in one of these secluded bits of paradise is Navagio Beach, a sandy little strip that would be remarkable for its beauty, but is made more so by the crumbling remains of a smuggler’s shipwreck.
The crash site soon became a popular destination for vacationers looking not only for an untouched beach but called by the siren song of the decaying ship.

2. Tourlitis Lighthouse
The lighthouse was first built in 1897 just off shore from a castle in Andros. The stone column on which it was built had been shaped by millennia of natural erosion into the perfect pedestal for a coastal beacon. Unfortunately the original lighthouse was not long for this world, and was destroyed during World War II. The lighthouse was eventually rebuilt in the early 1990s by an oil tycoon who dedicated the structure to his daughter. The replica became Greece’s first automated lighthouse, eliminating the need for an onsite keeper to operate the light.
Since its renovation, it has become one of the area’s foremost tourist attractions, drawing lighthouse peepers and photographers who come to gawk at its singular beauty.

 

 

3. Areopolis
This town named for the ancient God of War is home to fewer than a thousand people, but it’s the birthplace of the Greek Revolution. It was here that Petrobey first declared Greek autonomy from the Ottoman Turks, igniting a decade-long fight for independence after four hundred years of occupation.
A sense of independence still characterizes the town, where there’s a church on the main square, stone streets, a central open air market — and at least one restaurant called “The Black Pirate.”
Areopolis is in the southwest of the Peloponnese Peninsula, in Laconia. You can get there from either Kalamata (about 50 miles to the northwest) or Sparti (about 40 miles to the northeast).

 

4. Arcadia Highlands
Majestic mountains, lush gorges, gurgling rivers, quaint villages, interesting museums and historic monasteries compose the fascinating mosaic of the Arcadia highlands. The mountains are wonderful for walking and hiking, there are several immensely pretty, historical villages to explore, you can visit the cliff-hanging centuries-old monasteries in the Lousios Gorge. Two villages that are definitely not to be missed are Stemnitsa and Dimitsana.
In Stemnitsa, which in the past was famous for its highly skilled metal workers, (church) bell-makers, silver- and goldsmiths, you can visit the superb Museum of Popular Art, as well as some quite impressive 16th- and 17th-century churches.
Dimitsana is known for the important role it played in the Greek war of resistance against the Ottoman rule – it was the base of the gunpowder production.

 

5. Alonissos
Mix pine trees with Aegean waters and you get Alonissos. Travelers who like being off the beaten path, rejoice: this is your eco-friendly heaven. Share it peacefully with hundreds of endangered species – such as Monachus monachus, the Mediterranean monk seal, which are born in the island’s sea caves. The island is home not only to the largest protected marine park in Europe but also to the largest Greek underwater archaeological site.
The National Marine Park of Alonissos is the first Nature Park of Greece, it was established in 1992.
The Marine park of Alonissos has an area of 1597 square km and includes other six smaller islands and 22 uninhabited islets. In the area of the Marine Park you can swim and take photographs and is not allowed fishing, hunting and camping. The main reason of the park is the protection of the monk seal as well as many other species of birds and fishes

6. Windmills of Lasithi Plateau
Located on the island of Crete, the Lasithi Plateau holds a small rural community that was once reliant on over ten thousand identical windmills. Then in the 20th century, the signature white windmills started to pop up all over the plateau to help with proper irrigation. Most of the windmills had stone bodies, and white cloth sails. Eventually, around 10,000 of the iconic windmills appeared across the area, using wind power to pump water to the various fields.
Today, only around 5,000 of the windmills are still standing. Many of them have been abandoned, as people living on the plateau have taken to more modern means of irrigation.

 

7. Crete with an exotic twist
Sand hills, palm trees and endless walks in dense ground give the southern part of Rethymno prefecture a sense of an African landscape. But then comes the sound of the waves. Swim by Triopetra (a triangular shaped cave), meditate on a yoga beach or roll on the sandhills of Aghios Pavlos. Despite being a tourist favorite, the exotic beauty of Preveli palm beach will leave you breathless.

GETTING AROUND

 

For some people, going to Greece is all about going to the islands. For others, it’s the 2,500 years of history in Athens, on the Peloponnese Peninsula and beyond. But for most travelers, it’s a combination — islands and inland, city and countryside, culture and playground.

Buses
The intercity bus system in Greece is very efficient. All are operated by a government organization, Ktel. In general, they are clean, comfortable and reasonably priced. Information on schedules and routes is available at local tourist information centers everywhere you go.
Most Greek towns are small enough to get around on foot. All the major towns have local buses, but the only places you’re likely to need them are Athens, Patra, Kalamata and Thessaloniki.

Ferries and Boats
Considering that Greece has nearly 3,000 islands (227 inhabited) and more than 8,500 miles of coastline, it should come as no surprise that boats are one of the most common ways to get around. For islands close to mainland hopping on a ferry is your best option. Keep in mind that most of the ferries may make several stops on different islands en route to their final destination.
Within easy reach of the Athens International Airport is Piraeus, which is the main port for ferries plying the Aegean Sea. From there, there are regular routes to the major islands in the Cyclades, Crete, the Saronic Gulf Islands, the Dodecanese chain and the Northeast Aegean Islands. A smaller port in Athens is Rafina, which has ferry service to Evia, some of the northernmost Cycladic Islands and many of the Northeast Aegean Islands.

CULTURE & TRADITIONS IN GREECE

To visit Greece is to enjoy an epic tale that goes back at least 5,000 years, where the dividing line between myth and history become beautifully blurred. You might start with the home of ancient civilization: the Acropolis of Athens and the surrounding archaeological sites and then move on to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. Afterwards you might head for ancient Olympia, home of the Olympic Games in antiquity, or Delphi, the site of the famous oracle and thought by the ancients to be the navel of the world, or to the ancient theatre at Epidaurus with its pitch-perfect acoustics.

Every ancient site in Greece is blessed with wonderful natural settings that enhance the energy of temples, stadiums, theatres and their compelling statues and  timeless works of art. The Greeks have learned to honour their heritage and today the imprint of these past times lives on in time-honoured traditions.

Birth, baptism, engagement, wedding, funerals: the milestones that give shape and definition to life and a person’s place in society. Traditional weddings that start with dressing the bride and bouncing a baby boy on the nuptial bed; the bride escorted to the church by musicians; the especially complex wedding rituals of Lefkas; the heart- wrenching Maniot dirges, the musical accompaniment on the journey to the other world.

And you’ll find festivities everywhere, but Patras boasts the most organized and famous celebrations where disguises, fertility symbols, wild music, endless dancing, pranks and general frivolity – with roots in pagan fertility rites – precede the austerity of Lent.

In autumn, the slaughtering of the family pig in Crete and the Aegean islands is a time-honored ritual, while on Zakynthos, on September 14, the Day of the True Cross, the blessing of the flour and basil for leavening bread takes place.

Each part of Greece has its own characteristic customs, traditions, manners, holidays, cuisine and local products, art, costumes, architecture, dances, songs, idioms and dialects.

A uniquely diverse population for such a small country; a gathering of seafarers, with limitless horizons; small circles of subculture, overlapping and intersecting to form one great nation.

GEOGRAPHICAL CHARACTERISTICS


ATHENS- THE CAPITAL
Athens is the capital of Greece. It belongs to the Prefecture of Attica, located at the centre of the Greek territory. Attica is actually a peninsula surrounded by four high mountains that form a basin. In this basin, the city and suburbs of Athens have been constructed. The southernmost point of Attica is Cape Sounion, on top of which an ancient temple dedicated to god Poseidon is found. According to the myth, king Aegeus fell from Cape Sounion and got drowned, when he thought that his only son Theseus was killed by the Minotaur in Crete. On the western side, the Attica peninsula is divided by Peloponnese with the Corinth Canal, an artificial work that was completed in 1893.

THE REGIONS:
Greece regions The Greece mainland consists of the following regions: Sterea (Central Greece), Peloponnese, Thessaly (east central), Epirus (North West), Macedonia (north) and Thrace (North West). Also Greece consists of many islands and island complexes: Crete, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian, Sporades, Saronic and Eastern Aegean islands. Peloponnese is the most popular region of mainland Greece. It is located in the southern part of Greece and actually looks like an island connected to the mainland with two bridges: the bridge at the Corinth Canal and the cable bridge of Rio-Antirrio. The inland is dissected by high mountains that extend southwards towards a landscape of fertile plains, pine forested uplands and craggy foothills.


GREEK ISLANDS:
There are more than 2,000 large and smaller Greek islands scattered both in the Aegean and the Ionian Sea. Most of them are located in the Aegean between the mainland and Turkey. The largest Greek island is Crete and the second largest is Evia. Lesvos and Rhodes come next. Some of the most famous islands are Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Crete, Zakynthos and Corfu.

Source: www.greeka.com

GREECE – Beautiful Sunsets & Majestic Landscapes

Greece is a country in Southern Europe, located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece also features a large number of islands, of various sizes, both large ones including Crete, Euboea, Rhodes and Corfu.

Standing in the shadow of the Acropolis feels other-worldly. Greece is full of such moments. Step into the ring where Olympians first competed. Contemplate the oracle’s insights from the grandeur of Delphi, take in a starlit drama at an ancient outdoor theatre and be stunned by massive marble sculptures dredged up from the Aegean.

You’ll encounter bold modern art, the melancholic throb of rembetika (blues songs) and artisans creating new work from traditional techniques. Greece has endless cultural pursuits and a calendar bursting with festivals, holidays and exhibits.
Thrill seekers will discover world-class kitesurfing, wreck diving, and rock-climbing locations with dizzying views. Or simply hop on a boat and set sail into the glittering blue beyond.

Squares are the focal point, where life unfolds collectively. Immerse yourself, whether it’s a coffee, a shot of ouzo, a chorus on the bouzouki or a local celebration. Greeks are passionate and live life to the fullest, even at the most difficult times.

The result is a country seemingly riddled with challenges, yet full of people loving life.