It is nearly impossible to
comprehend the magnificently eclectic and robust concoction that has become
today's Grecian society without exploring the region first-hand.
The first traces of a city-state
on Crete date back to the Neolithic Period, beginning in 6000 B.C. Minoan
and Mycenaean Kingdoms were followed by the Dorian invasions and the Dark
Ages. From 500 to 146 B.C., Greece enjoyed its most prosperous and well-known
Classical and Hellenistic Periods during which Plato, Socrates and Democracy
thrived and the Parthenon and Acropolis were built in Athens. Roman annexation
followed and can be seen in the transitional art and architecture, along
with the blending of mythologies. Greece was overrun by Byzantines and
Turks throughout the modern era and a cultural revival and War of Independence
in 1821 sparked the reunification and appreciation of Greek culture that
is still miraculously thriving today.
Greece by Land...
Aside from major attractions like the Parthenon, Greece provides a plethora
of other sites and activities unique to the nation's cultural heritage.
For a spiritual experience, visit the town of Meteora in the northern Thessaly
region. These spectacular cliff-top monasteries were originally reached
by curiously placed ladders and ropes. Today people can reach the sky-high
pinnacles by climbing the etched stone stairs or by the growing popular
sport of rock climbing. You can also get close to the gods, as the Greeks
put it, by visiting the archeological wonder at Delphi, considered to be
the center of the known world by Ancient Greeks. Nafplio, the former capital
of Greece, is also a wondrous and enlightening adventure. Centuries of
history decorate and surround the city. Close by is the ancient Mycenae
civilization and the famous theater at Epidaurus.
Or by Sea... There
are nearly 1400 Greek islands to explore. Much of Grecian history is based
upon the maritime and merchant centers of the seven island clusters. Homer's
Iliad and Odyssey venture through beaches and ports you can visit today.
Crete and Santorini, with its volcanic caldera, are by far the most popular
destinations. Make a stop on the notorious party island of Mykonos, part
of the Cyclades Greek Islands, to party, dance and drink in a fashion that
would make Dionysus proud. Relax in the lush greenery and white sand of
the Ionian Islands, which emanate a more European feel. Every island region
has something unique and intriguing to offer, so don't be afraid to leave
this part of your itinerary open for exploration!
Greece is bursting at the
seams with history, culture, food and wine. Every corner of this ancient
nation is abundant with once-in-a-lifetime escapades. This is a trip you
do not need to structure too much to feel completely immersed in Greek
life. Although, it is wise to remember that the summer months of July and
August attract hoards of people making accommodations hard to come by and
can also be uncomfortably hot. Enjoy a more pleasant and relaxed journey
in May and June or at the end of the summer peak season.