Jan 18, 2013

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Greece – The Mediterranean Heaven

Think Greece and think of a junoesque woman, long curling hair tied high and off her neck, sweeping down the steps of the Acropolis in a Hellenic gown! Or a young bare bodied greek god, muscles rippling, like one of Michael Angelo’s statues coming to life. No trip to Greece can be complete without a visit to its supreme symbol, the outcropping of rock called the Acropolis, crowned with Athena’s sacred temple, the Parthenon. As a suggestion, make your visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds of tourists and the hours spent wasted in line.

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Acropolis is an ancient citadel, which defines and dominates Athens. The magnificent rock on which the ancient Greek temples were built, rises spectacularly above the centre of the city. The main entrance is from Dionysiou Areopagitou near the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Large bags must be left at the main entrance cloakroom and it’s preferable to just go with a light back pack with essentials.

If you are a lover of artefacts and historical treasure, the imposing 1884 Kanellopoulos museum on the northern slope of the Acropolis houses the Kanellopoulos family’s extensive collection, donated to the state in 1976. The collection includes jewellery, clay-and-stone vases and figurines, weapons, Byzantine icons, bronzes and objets d’art dating from every period of Greek history, giving you an insider’s view of Greek art and culture.

And how can you not go see the colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus, which took more than 700 years to build? An amazing 15 of the original 104 massive Corinthian columns survive today.History has it that Peisistratos began building the temple in the 6th century BC, a succession of leaders tried to finish the job, making adjustments along the way, which explains the varied styles in the temple. Emperor Hadrian finally finished the task in AD 131 and the temple housed a giant gold and ivory statue of Zeus and one of Hadrian.

Enough of culture? Your trip to Mykonos Cyclades which is considered the most cosmopolitan spot in Greece, is famous for its amazing beaches, picturesque villages, vivid nightlife and its gay friendly attitude. This is the second most popular Greek destination and it is often described as the “Ibiza of Greece”. Take a trip to see Little Venice, which is the most picturesque quarter of Chora, the capital of Mykonos island. With colourful houses that are contructed right by the sea, Little Venice is a popular spot with pulsing nightlife and great bistros to get the feel of the culture. Renowned poets have sung its praises, and it boasts of a 4,000 year history.

Santorini island, essentially a poets delight, is what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion dating back 3,600 years and which created the present caldera. This is a giant central lagoon, more or less rectangular, and measuring about 12 km, surrounded by 980 ft high steep cliffs on three sides. The present-day crescent shape of the island, lends credence to the myth of the lost city of Atlantis, which sank under the sea.

The mild activity of the volcano after the major eruption has built up two small islands within the caldera, Palea and Nea Kameni which are visited by hundreds of people everyday, during the tourist season.

Imagine reaching the interior of the volcano by boat, where the volcanic layers are visible in the multi-colored layers, of the impressive steep inner walls of the caldera? With its extraordinary beauty, Santorini is considered one of the major tourist attractions of Europe. With its marvelous climate and perfect observation conditions, it is also an eldorado for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

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