Greece by Land and Sea, 2015 Day 4 Tour Nafplio and Argolis
Today, we venture out from Nafplio into the fertile plains of Argolis to visit some of the most significant historical monuments of Greek Civilization.
The Argolis Peninsula, which separates the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs, is a veritable treasure trove for archaeology buffs and history lovers. Argolis was the seat of power of the Mycenaean empire that ruled Greece from 1600 to 1100 BC. One of its citadels , Mycenae is one of the region’s major attractions, along with the famous Theatre of Epidavros. Mycenae was the kingdom of the mighty Agamemnon, leader of the Greek army during the Trojan war, and brother-in-law to the famous (infamous?) Helen of Troy.
Ancient Corinth where St. Paul lived and preached, was one of the most important cities of ancient Greece. You will visit the Agora and one of the most outstanding monuments of the pre Roman period, the temple of Apollo. Ancient Korinth was an affluent and powerful city during its first golden age, when Greek merchants made a mint from their control of trade on both sides of the isthmus and, centuries later, when the Romans rebuilt it anew. Earthquakes and centuries of pillage left little standing of Ancient Corinth, except remnants of once-grand buildings. Thanks to paths, on-site descriptions and a lovely site museum (which is divided into Classical and Roman periods), this wondrous ancient city should not be missed.
Our last visit of the day is the intriguing sanctuary of Asklepios, the most brilliant centre of healing in the ancient world and the theatre (4th century BCE), one of the most perfect and the best preserved of the ancient Greek theatres.
In its day Epidavros, was famed and revered as far away as Rome as a place of miraculous healing. Visitors came great distances to this sanctuary of Asclepius (god of medicine) to seek a cure for their ailments.
In Greek mythology, Asclepius, the son of Apollo, was born in Epidavros. Apollo gave Asclepius to be raised by Chiron, a wise centaur, a creature, part man, part horse, living on the mountain Pelion, above the city of Volos. The centaur had immense knowledge of medicine and healing herbs, and Asclepius grew up to become a highly skilled physician. His daughter, Hygea, the goddess of health, worked with him.
Today however, it’s the 3rd-century theatre, not the sanctuary, that pulls the crowds to Epidavros. It is one of the best-preserved Classical Greek structures, renowned for its amazing acoustics; a coin dropped in the centre can be heard from the highest seat. Built of limestone, the theatre seats up to 14,000 people.
The museum, one of my personal favorites, is between the sanctuary and the theatre. It houses statues, stone inscriptions recording miraculous cures, surgical instruments, votive offerings and partial reconstructions of the sanctuary’s once-elaborate tholos . After the theatre, the tholos is considered to have been the site’s most impressive building and fragments of beautiful, intricately carved reliefs from its ceiling are also displayed. Most of the statues are copies (the real ones are in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens).
A stop in a local taverna for lunch will be a special treat, then return to Nafplio, hors d’oeuvres and dinner onboard.
Evening free to explore Nafplio if you wish. TravelSmart Partners.