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Peloponnese Peninsula


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Welcome to Peloponnese Peninsula

Peloponnese Peninsula

The southern part of mainland Greece, known as Morea, consists of the large Peloponnese Peninsula, now divided from the mainland by the Corinth Canal. The Poloponnese was the ancient stomping grounds of mythological heroes such as Hercules, Sisyphus, Callisto, Electra and Perseus. Nowadays, the peninsula plays host to virtually every tourist that comes to Greece, because most of the country's important and imposing ancient sites are found on its landmass, dominated by two mountain ranges, the Taygetos and Parnon. The Olympic torch is ritually lit at Olympia by a high priestess, just as it was in ancient times, and carried across the continents of the world to the host country to mark the start of the Games.

Besides the ancient ruins at towns like Sparta, Monemvassia, Corinth, Mycenae, and Epidaurus, the fertile coastal strip of the Peloponnese also serves as Greece's market garden and centre for wine production. Many tourists enter Greece by sea from Italy and other Mediterranean ports through the Peloponnese port of Patras, the third largest town in Greece.

The peninsula is a playground too, for the Greeks themselves. Summer sees thousands of Athenians heading south at weekends to enjoy the many seaside resorts and beaches of the Peninsula.

Information & Facts


The Peloponnese Peninsula has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Rain falls mostly between October and March.

Getting Around

Buses and trains link Athens with the Peloponnese and all main towns on the peninsula. There is regular public bus transport between towns and major sites of interest, but a newly improved road system means that to travel by car is the fastest and most efficient way of getting around. Taxis are easy to hire in the towns or between sites and run on a share basis, so other passengers may be picked up for the journey.

Greek is the national language, but English is widely spoken.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change are widely available and travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining euros.

The ruins of ancient Corinth, a short drive from the modern city, are spread around the base of the rock of Acrocorinth, which forms a natural acropolis for the city. Most of the surviving buildings are Roman rather than Greek, dating from the city's prosperous age after Caesar rebuilt much of the original Greek city, Roman armies having sacked it. The ruin that stands out particularly is the beautiful 6th century BC Temple of Apollo, built on a hill overlooking the remains of the Roman marketplace (agora). Much of the city has been toppled by recurring earthquakes over the centuries. In the southwest corner of the site is an archaeological museum containing some worthwhile collections of mosaic floors, pottery and works of art. The top of Acrocorinth can be reached via a road up the mountainside where the remains of the ancient fortifications can be seen.

A definite must on a tour of the Peloponnese is the famed ancient theatre of Epidaurus, built in the 3rd century BC and so well preserved that with little or no restoration it is still in use today for regular summer dramatic performances, which are lent a mystical aura by the beautiful setting. The theatre has perfect acoustics, allowing even a whisper on stage to be heard in the back row of the limestone amphitheatre, which can seat 14,000. North of the theatre are the ruins of the healing Sanctuary of Asklepios, which has a museum explaining how the original temple complex would have looked and functioned. Where the ancient town of Epidaurus once stood there is now the modern day village of Palia Epidaurus. This is a popular seaside resort with scenic beaches, a small harbour and several tavernas.

This ancient site, 31 miles (50km) south of Corinth, bears the remains of the ancient palace and citadel of Mycenae, a place of archaeological controversy but fascinating for the lay visitor. Homer's fabulous story has it that the kingdom of Mycenae was dripping in gold and revelling in riches before King Agamemnon decided to lead an assault on Troy, back in about 1,250 BC. The king started a war that lasted a decade, battling to win the impossibly beautiful Helen of Troy back from Prince Paris. German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered Mycenae, which he believed gave credence to Homer's tale, in 1874 after he had excavated the remains of Troy itself. There is no doubt that Mycenae was a city of power and prosperity and the ruins, from the Lion Gate (oldest example of monumental sculpture in Europe) to the palace complex, houses and beehive tomb of Agamemnon, are well worth exploring. Most of the more exceptional finds from the site are on exhibit in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. These include frescoes, gold jewellery, and the gold mask said to have belonged to Agamemnon, among other priceless pieces.

Amongst shady pine, olive and oak trees, in a valley between Mount Kronos and the Alfios River on the Peloponnese Peninsula, lie the remains of two temples and the stadium where the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. Since the modern Olympics were inaugurated in 1896 torchbearers have set out from Olympia to carry the Olympic flame in relays across the world to wherever the games are held every four years. The site also boasts one of the finest archaeological museums in Greece. The ruins themselves are fascinating, being the remnants of an ancient Olympic village including a gymnasium, baths, the Prytaneion where winners were honoured, and a Doric Temple dedicated to Hera. In the nearby modern village of Olympia there is another museum that is often overlooked - the Museum of the Olympic Games, which contains some interesting memorabilia from games past.

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