Day 91 of 111. Nafplion, Greece
This port has a shallow bay, so the ship had to anchor offshore and we traveled to the shore via “tenders,” the lifeboats on the ship. The sea was very calm, so the ride was very pleasant. From the top of the hill above the city, we could see our ship in the bay.
After our tour, we stopped at a restaurant and had some local food. The dessert was especially good, thick creamy Greek yogurt with fruit, honey, and cinnamon. This was simple and delicious. Next to my seat was a poster for the local cinema advertising Beauty and the Beast, written in Greek. Pretty interesting.
Day 90 of 111. The Treasury of Atreus, Greece
This is one of the best-preserved examples of a “beehive tomb” and dates back from 1300 to 1200 BC. The tomb is reputed to be “Agememnom’s Tomb” but there is no evidence to support that claim. The tomb consists of two rooms: the “beehive” shaped room and a much smaller burial room. Our guide told us that during a burial the larger room is where the family has the farewell dinner for the deceased. The small room is where the body is buried. The tomb is used for a family, so more than one body ends up in the burial room. Generally the entire tomb is buried and appears from the outside as a simple hillock on the landscape.
Day 90 of 111. Mycenae, Greece
Here we are at another Acropolis, this time in Mycenae. This site is especially significant because of the scholar/historian, Schliemann , a German, who studied Ancient Greece and self-funded an archeological exploration that found this ancient city of Mycenae that dates back to 1300 B.C. The most exciting early find was a lot of gold artifacts from the royal burial chambers (the round structure in the ground). There were masks and cups and round coin-like objects used as decorations on clothing. These are on display in the National Archeological Museum in Athens. A mask similar to the mask shown was thought, at first, to be the Mask of Agamemnon, but it was found to be the wrong age by several hundred years.
The oldest figurative symbol of anyone is the triangular carving of two lions over what is called, Lions Gate. The lions have no heads because the heads were probably made of a different material that did not survive. Again, there were quite a few steps to climb, but the views were spectacular. Below these 1300 B.C. ruins, there are prehistoric structures that date back several more thousand years!
Day 90 of 111. Ancient Corinth, Greece
Ancient Corinth is an example of an ancient Roman city built during the Roman occupation of Greece. The Temple of Apollo was a fortunate survivor (many Greek buildings and temples were destroyed by the Romans) because the Romans admired/honored Apollo as one of their own gods. Corinth was one of the places where the Apostle Paul visited in Greece. The Bema is the platform where Paul was judged as to whether his teachings were subversive. He was found innocent, but did leave Corinth. His two letters to the Corinthians are an important part of the New Testament. There were two fountains on this ancient site (which is also an active archeological site). Each has an interesting story. This one, the Peirene Fountain has two mythological stories. One origin of the fountain is by the hoof marks of Pegasus, the flying horse. The other myth involves the accidental death of the son of Peirene by the goddess Diana when she was out hunting. The mother was so distraught that she could not stop crying, so Diana turned her into a fountain.
I found it fascinating to think that these roads were built thousands of years ago. I took a picture of my “modern” feet on this ancient road. The museum on the site had a nice collection of figural art as well as columns to see.
Day 90 of 111. Corinth Canal, Greece
Several rulers of Greece (including the Roman emperor Nero) dreamed of digging a canal through the Corinth Isthmus (red pin on map). When completed it would save ships 431 miles from having to sail around the Peloponnese peninsula to get to Greece’s western port cities. It would also generate a sizable amount of income for the city of Corinth. Construction was formally inaugurated on April 23, 1882, and was completed on July 25, 1893. Today it generates about five million dollars in income.
Day 89 of 111. National Archeological Museum, Athens, Greece
This museum has examples of pottery, artifacts, and art from all over Greece. We were especially taken by the pottery shard showing donkeys pulling a rope and the statue of the Minotaur. The gold Mask of Agamemnon (not really him, since the gold was dated before he was born) was one of many pieces of gold found in various tombs.
Our guide was very good at explaining the evolution of the figures. The earliest figures (bottom left) were very stylized with lines representing muscles such as on the abdomen and thighs. The figure on the right has a more natural depiction of abdominal muscles, etc. Eventually, the figures became very natural, but idealized such as the figure in the center. The bronze statue is called the Poseidon of Artemision. This statue was very interesting because it was found in a ship wreck. There is still some uncertainty whether it is Poseidon or Zeus. Whatever the statue was throwing would clearly determine its identity. Poseidon would have a trident and Zeus would be throwing a thunderbolt. The other interesting idea is that the body is idealized and therefore athletic and young. The beard and mustache show that this is supposed to be an older male.
The boy on the horse is an even later development of the human figure where anguish and emotion are shown rather than placid ideal figures.
Day 89 of 111. The Acropolis, Athens, Greece
The Propylaia is the monumental entrance to the sanctuary of the Acropolis. It was built between 437-432 BC. It also faces several significant Greek sites. Salamis Bay, in the distance, is where the Greeks defeated the Persians in a great naval battle. More importantly it faces the Pnyx (hill in the lower left-hand picture with a large flat platform) where the world’s earliest known democratic legislature was held.
The rock (lower right-hand picture) is call the Areopagus (Ares Rock) which functioned as the location for a court trying deliberate homicide. More importantly it is the site where the Apostle Paul made his great “Altar To An Unknown God” speech (Acts 17:24). You can see an engraved plaque at the base of the rock containing the sermon.
I was confused about the relationship between the Acropolis and the Parthenon. The Acropolis is the highest part of the city and on the Acropolis there are various monuments. The most striking is the Parthenon, an ancient temple to Athena.
Extensive restoration efforts are ongoing. You can see the cranes and scaffolding in the pictures and workers were busy inside the Parthenon even as we walked around the outside of the monument. Portions of the pillars and cross beams are being replaced with new white marble. The original temple would have been the same white color. The marble contains the mineral, iron. Iron compounds that form over time give the ancient building its distinctive reddish tint. At the top of the the front and rear entrances to the Parthenon, huge friezes depicting the Gods and Greek Warriors adorned the structure. The horse heads and human body are just a sample of what they might have looked like. The real friezes are located in the British Museum in England.
Another structure on the Acropolis is the Ionic Temple which features the Porch of the Maidens (Caryatide). It you look closely you’ll notice that the Maidens to the left have their left leg bent while the Maidens to the right have their right leg bent thus preserving the symmetry of the porch.
Day 88 of 111. Rhodes Town, Greece.
Rhodes is an island in Greece, but it is also a city in Rhodes. There is also an ancient city of Rhodes inside the modern city of Rhodes. We visited this ancient city and a large building called the Palace of the Grand Masters. The original building was a fortress for the city with three moats and some of the walls were several meters thick. Most of the original fortress was destroyed and a building was rebuilt by the Italians when they occupied the city. The plan was to make this the summer palace of Mussolini, but while the building was finished and furnished, the start of World War II put an end to plans of a summer palace and the building was never lived in. It is currently a museum. Many of the mosaics in the floor are still intact, but much of the furniture and statues that were in the palace have been removed by various countries.
The building and the medieval street (see the bottom picture) show the influences of France, Greece, and the Ottoman Empire. This street (called the Street of the Knights) is the most authentically medieval street and now houses several foreign consulates. One interesting idea that I learned was that many of the statues that were carved were done without faces. As one emperor replaced another, it took too long to make an entirely new statue, they simply replaced the face in the statue. This was apparently also done with Greek statues which is why so many of them are found without heads… the heads were replaced from time to time.
Day 88 of 111. Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Acropolis means “high city”. The building at the highest point of a city is the Acropolis. Lindos has an Acropolis that we visited today and later in the trip (tomorrow) we will visit the Acropolis in Athens. Visiting this site involved quite a few steps… thus the donkey ride industry. The ruins in Lindos are in much better shape than those in Athens (so said on of the other visitors) because the air pollution is much lower and thus the acid rain damage on the limestone is much reduced. Much of the Lindos Acropolis dates back before Christ. At the top of their Acropolis was a temple to Athena. This has been partially recreated. Because of this temple, there was an ancient tourist trade in Lindos.
Looking down from the Acropolis you get a great view of the white houses of the city of Lindos. On the other side you can look down into the water. The Apostle Paul landed in the bay to spread Christianity. Also, there is a cliff that stretches out into the water that was part of the movie, The Guns of Navarone.
This was an interesting place to visit because of ancient portions of the building. A close up look at the tops of columns and ancient staircases boggles the mind since they date back so far.
Day 88 of 111. Lindos, Island of Rhodes, Greece
The city of Lindos is located about 30 miles from the city of Rhodes and is located on the base of a hill. On top of the hill is the Lindos Acropolis/fortress. The trip up the hill is fairly strenuous, so a good business was established in donkey rides to the entrance of the Acropolis. One striking feature of Lindos is the collection of pebble mosaics in the streets and sidewalks. Many of these are very decorative, but our guide also said that some of these act as air conditioning… water can be poured on the pebbles and the evaporation cools the areas above.
There was a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church in the city of Lindos. The steeple and the cross in the wall marked the church. We were not allowed to take photos inside the church, but the wall to ceiling frescos and icons were breathtaking to see. I sat and stared at them trying to memorize the images and feelings that they invoked. We visited Lindos on a Sunday and the priest was still in his vestments since he had just finished a Sunday service. We could hear the chanting as we approached the church. This small building made a big impact.