Ultimate guide Crete things to do + Top beaches Crete Elafonisi beaches included – Post being updating…
Crete things to do
Top 7 what to see in Heraklion / Heraklion?
Heraklion is the largest city in Crete and is certainly interesting from a historical point of view. Most likely in your holiday in Crete, you will want to include a visit to this city being very close to one of the most important airports in Crete, therefore easy to reach and close to Knossos, an almost obligatory stop for those coming to Crete.
Here is the list of the best things to see in Heraklion also known as Heraklion
Historical Museum of Crete
Center with shops
Top 7 Beaches Crete
Crete is a fascinating and wonderful island in many respects, but certainly, a special place in the hearts of its visitors is occupied by its wonderful beaches.
Here in Crete, we find different and unique beaches. Let’s go and list some of them.
For many peoples the main reason to visit the Archaeological Site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is the Epidaurus Theater.
The Epidaurus Theater is in fact the best preserved monument in the Sanctuary of Asklepios.
Let’s see a few information about the Epidaurus Theater!
How old is the Epidaurus Theater?
The Epidaurus Theater was erected at the end of the 4th century B.C.
Who built the theater of Epidaurus?
According to the ancient traveler Pausanias (2nd century A.D.), it was the work of the architect Polykleitos, who built also the Tholos in the same Sanctuary.
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How many people could the original Theatre of Epidaurus seat?
The auditorium of the Theatre the koilon or cavea, consists of two unequal parts, which are divided by a horizontal walkway, known as the diazoma. The lower part is divided by 13 radiating staircases into 12 wedge-shaped segments, the kerkides or cunei, with 34 rows of seats each. At the upper part of the cavea 23 radiating passages divide it into 22 wedge-shaped segments with 20 rows of seats.
To each segment of the lower part correspond two segments of the upper part. The seats of the lowest row were provided with backrests and used as “prohedriae” (front seats of honour); similarly shaped were the seats of the upper part’s first row. Uphill pathways outside the Theatre led on both sides to the horizontal passage which divided the upper from the lower part of the cavea.
It is estimated that the Epidaurus Theater could accommodate 12,000 spectators.
What is remarkable about the theater at Epidaurus?
Epidaurus Theater is a characteristic example of Hellenic theatres’ tripartite structure (orchestra – cavea – stage building). Its original form remained intact in Roman times, during which most Greek theatres underwent major changes. The floor of the circular orchestra (diameter 20 m) is beaten earth. It is outlined in stone, while at its center, a circular base of an altar, the thymele, is preserved. A walkway surrounds the orchestra on the lower level, which served additionally as a drain for rainwater.
The scene (stage building) in front of the orchestra and the cavea served the needs of the actors and had a parallel use as storage room of theatrical equipment.
The scene building was composed of
a rectangular oblong hall with two smaller square rooms on each side,
a proscenium (stage), on whose facade was fixed panels representing the setting of each play,
two ramps, one on each side, which provided access to the roof of the proscenium for the actors, and
an upper storey of the scene building, of which no evidence has been preserved.
Scholars estimate that the total height of the stage building was 7.60 m. Spectators entered the Epidaurus Theater through two impressive gates situated on both sides of the stage building, between it and the lower part of the retaining wall of the cavea. The seats of the cavea were made out of local grey at reddish hard limestone, while for the stage building, a yellow soft limestone was used.
The cavea was constructed at the end of the 4th century B.C. while the stage building was modified during the 2nd century B.C. A characteristic feature of the Theatre was (and still is) its excellent acoustics. It had largely to do with its design. The creation of the circular shape of the cavea was based on three centres. The eight central cunei corresponded to a circumference which had as centre the centre of the orchestra.
The two lateral cunei were designed with different centers, which lay further away from the orchestra’s center, providing a larger radius and, consequently, a larger circle. Besides its contribution to acoustics, this “opening” on the edges of the cave allowed a better view of those sitting in the lateral cunei.
What was the Theatre of Epidaurus used for?
The Theatre of the Sanctuary was closely connected to the cult of Asklepios.
During the festivals held in honor of the god, athletic games, musical and dramatic contests also took place. The latter was surely housed in the Theatre, where most probably deep-rooted ceremonies were closely connected with the cult.
Why is the Theatre at Epidaurus still famous?
Today theatrical plays are again performed in the Epidaurus Theater during the summer (Epidauros festival). The Theatre was excavated in 1881 by P. Kavvadias, who then carried out partial restorations. Restoration works by An. Orlandos took place in the monument in the years 1954-1963.
He proceeded then to a reconstruction of the proscenium, which was later removed. The Committee for the Conservation of the Epidauros Monuments restored the western parodos gate, the last upper western cuneus (1988-1999) and the ancient drains (1992-2007). A third program includes restoration works in the cavea and the stage building.
Ancient Corinth is a very good day trip from Athens. From Athens it takes about 1 hour and 15 minuted by car. Ancient Corinth is worthy of a visit for several reasons.
Firstly it’s very interesting in trying to understand the life in the this rich city. It was a very multicultural city because of the Corinth Canal. It’s true it wasn’t navigable till the end of the 1800 so ships had to be transported to the other side and they prefered this option rather than navigate all around the Peloponnese Region. You can see how the Corinth Canal is now, watching the video below:
Ancient Corinth is also linked with the Apostle Paul who lived and preached in the city for several time.
In order to enjoy more the visit we examine a few information about the Ancient Corinth.
What are the characteristics of the Ancient Corinth? What was life like there? You’ll discover it while reading this post.
Outside the walls of Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth covered a range of 900 km2 because there wasn’t only the main city but also many smaller settlements.
Already from the 8th c. B.C., it was a rich and a powerful city-state especially due to two ports:
At Lechaion in the Corinthian Gulf
At Kenchreai from the side of the Saronic Gulf
Ancient Corinth and its reign
The eastern region of Corinthia was relatively underpopulated. The most important settlement of the region must have been Solygeia, close to the modern village Galataki.
The most northern settlement of Corinthia was Krommyon, close to the modern village Ayoio Theodoroi. According to myth, this is where Theseus killed the dangerous sow, Phaia.
Corinth consisted of dozens of settlements, small and large. But what did their residents have in common?
These people drew their common descent from the Dorians. And of course, they shared a common language and alphabet.
Ancient Corinth was built at the foot of the Acrocorinth, a majestic hill, dominating the landscape.
The home’s life in Ancient Corinth
In ancient Greece private buildings were usually humble structures unlike many public magnificent constructions.
Households were run by women. They were responsible for raising their children and supervising the slaves, who were given the heaviest duties in the house.
Men were usually absent. mainly occupied with political and professional engagements.
Visiting the Ancient Corinth you easily understand how the women’s habits were very similar to ours. In the museum you can see face care sets, such as profumes and cosmetics, hair accessories and eyebrow tweezers.
Gods Venerating And Heroes
The Corinthians worshiped Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Demeter, Kore, Hera and Poseidon. Hero cult was a distinctive aspect of ancient Greek religious life.
Heroes, men who had showed remarkable activity during their lifetime, were honored after their death with rituals performed at their tombs or at an open-air sanctuary. Heroes’ sanctuaries were built along side roads or over older graves.
A temple dedicated to Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is the archaeological site biggest monument. The temple was built in the 6th c. B.C., when Corinth was at its zenith, on the site of an earlier temple. It was constructed from the local poros limestone.
The temple is in Doric order and originally had six columns at each end and fifteen along each side. Notable characteristics of its archaic date include the great length of the temple relative to its width, the large monolithic columns, and the squat, widely flaring capitals. Although most of this mid-6th century B.C. building has been destroyed, the bedrock preserves cut-tings made to receive the foundation blocks and thus allows a reconstruction of the temple’s plan.
The main part of the temple (sekos) was split into two non-communicating rooms. The roof was decorated with colorful architectural elements.
The interior of the temple consists of a porch at either end and a long central part (the cella) divided into two rooms by a cross wall. The traditional reconstruction of the plan makes this cross wall a solid wall and provides access to the western room of the cella through the western door.
The seven standing columns of the Archaic temple are one of the most prominent landmarks of Corinth.
The Acrocorinth: The sanctuary of Demeter and Kore
Demeter and her daughter, Kore or Persephone, were worshiped in a large sanctuary on the northern slope of the Acrocorinth.
In the 4th c. B.C., a small theater was carved into the rock. Three small temples were also built in the Roman Period.
Odeum & theater of Ancient Corinth
The theater was a place in which dramatic and musical events were staged. In the roman period staged fighting was added.
The theater has several phases. The original structure was built late in the 5th c. B.C. and had permanent seats but only a wooden stage building.
This was supplemented with a new orchestra and stage structure in the Hellenistic period.
In later antiquity theatrical tastes changed and the orchestra was converted into a gladiatorial arena.
Ancient Corinth and Cristianity
Ancient Corinth is also important because is linked with apostle Paul’s or Apostle of the Nations. Paul lived and preached in Corinth. When you visit the ancient Corinth you can also see the famous Bema.
This was likely the tribunal were Paul was brought for judgment before the proconsul Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus. He was accused of illegal proselitism and they brought him in the tribunal or bèma.
Because of its position the bema was used to speak to the crowd. Not only the Ancient Corinth has a bema. In the ancient greek cities it was in fact common to meet in front to a Bema.
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Greece Mycenae. Treasury of Atreus: the Legendary Tomb of Agamemnon. The Tholos or ‘Beehive’ tomb dubbed the ‘Treasury of Atreus’ or the Tomb of Agamemnon is one of the most splendid monuments of Mycenaen architecture.
Let’s see something about it so you can appreciate more your visit.
This tomb is incredibly large and what makes it amazing is how it was made. It has been preserved down to our days, in fact it is just as it was originally made. Some details could go unnoticed but with a more detailed examination we understand the purpose.
This applies for example to the empty triangle above the entrance door. This triangle was used in case of earthquakes to keep the structure intact.
Another extraordinary detail that strikes our imagination is the stone block always placed above the entrance. This is in fact a single huge and very heavy block placed at a considerable height. One wonders how they got it. Maybe with rollers? In any case, it must not have been easy.
We understand the size of the Treasury of Atreus by comparing the size of the door with a person placed at the entrance. In this comparison, the person is tiny. Just think that when you go outside on top of the monument it seems to go up a hill. This becomes an observation point for the surrounding landscape.
Treasury of Atreus
The Treasury of Atreus was built between 1350 and 1250 BC, it consists of a domos or passage, stomion or entrance, tholos or vaulted chamber and a smaller side chamber.
Distinctive features of its construction are the use of megalithic elements in the entrance such as jambs and lintel and its carefully coated masonry.
The monumental facade was decorated with a variety of materials. Parts of the sculpted decorations are today in the British Museum in London and in the National Archeological Museum in Athens.
The tomb was found robbed, like all the tholos tombs, and there is no information on either the grave goods or the burials it once housed. It was never buried by earth and remained always visible, attracting the attention of ancient and later travellers.
Watch the following video! Then see what I described above about the Treasury of Atreus
The Treasury of Atreus is located very close to the archaeological site of the ruins of Mycenae. The visit to the Treasury of Atreus does not take long. Therefore it is easy to visit on the same day both the Treasury of Atreus and the ruins of ancient Mycenae with its attached museum.
In addition, the ticket you buy at the Treasury of Atreus is also valid for Mycenae. So don’t make the mistake of buying the same ticket twice!
Yes, it is. You can visit the Parthenon when you visit the Acropolis.
How much does it cost to visit the Parthenon in Greece?
When you by the ticket you pay not only for the Parthenon but for all the Acropolis. The entrance ticket is 20 euros but during the winter season between the 1st November and 31th March the ticket is reduced to 10 euros.
You can also buy a combined ticket for 30 Euros that includes:
the Acropolis and its Slopes
the Ancient Agora
The Roman Agora
The combined ticket is valid for 5 days.
Can you go inside the Parthenon?
No, you can’t go inside the Parthenon. The Parthenon area is surrounded by a division that doesn’t let you enter inside. Anyway you can walk all around the temple.
The Parthenon is a temple of the Doric order and was dedicated to Athena Parthenos.
Who built it and why?
The ancient fortifications, buildings and statues on the Acropolis were destroyed during the Persian occupation of 480 BC. After that period the acropolis ceases to be a fortress.
After the Victory of Marathon in 490 BC, Pericles wanted to celebrate the victory over the Persians and the political, economic and cultural primacy of Athens. For this reason the reconstruction of the Acropolis began and the city began to build on the Acropolis a temple for Athena: the Parthenon itself.
The Parthenon is the most important building of the programme of Perikles for the re-establisment of the Acropolis sanctuary.
The architects of the temple were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The renowned sculptor Pheidas collaborated with other sculptors to design and execute the big sculptural work of the decoration of the temple. He created also the 13 metres tall statue of Athena made by gold and ivory which stood inside the temple. The Parthenon was built in 447-438 B.C. and its sculptural compositions were completed in 432 B.C.
The Parthenon is the temple that Perikles wanted to erect on the Acropolis as a symbol of the victory of the greek union. It was the symbol of the passage from the old religious traditions of the individual communities to what we could call the religious ideology of united Greece.
The construction of a monument of unprecedented splendor was a way to affirm the ideological and political supremacy of Athens.
The Parthenon is a lasting symbol of ancient Greece and Athenian democracy, and certainly represents one of the largest cultural monuments in the world.
Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? The Parthenon is so special for 3 main reasons:
what it symbolized
how it was built
the many fine works of Art
What the Partheon symbolized
Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? The Parthenon is so special because first of all is the symbol of Athens democracy. It was built after the victory on the Persians who occupied Athens in 480 BC. It was built to celebrate the victory and Athens political, economic and cultural superiority.
How it was built
The Parthenon is unique for its proportion and for the way it was built.
The Parthenon is the final result of a long course of development of the Doric order, which had begun at least 250 years earlier. It is built from Pentelic marble. The precision with which the marble was worked is astonishing.
It comprises around 16500 pieces that are joined together perfectly. Yet most impressive of all is the indiscernible deviation from a strict geometric form to create the famous optical refinements. This was made to have the desired effect.
The lines of the crepisis of the entablature curve slightly upwards rather than being straight. The shaft of the columns also has a slight convex curve which becomes narrower at 2/5 of their height.
The corner columns of each side are a little wider than all the others. All the columns have a small inclination toward the cella. These and other alterations from strict symmetry and uniformity serve to instil an additional pulse into the building.
As you can well understand it wasn’t easy to get the exact best result and effect desired. This is a demonstration of the skill the Athenians had in maths and geometry.
Parthenon works of art
Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? The Parthenon is unique for the richness and quality of its sculptures.
The Statue of Athena
The most precious statue in the Parthenon was the statue of Athena. The central part of the temple was divided into 2 sections: the eastern and the western.
The great gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena was guarded in the eastern section. This magnificent work of art was made by the sculptor Pheidias and it was very big because it was about 13 metres tall. For all these reasons the statue of Athena was considered a masterpiece in antiquity. Unfortunately, this statue is now lost.
The frieze encircled the cella externally 12 metres above its base. It has a total length of 160 metres and is around a metre high. It was made by 115 bas-relief blocks with sculpture depictions of people and animals in motion represented, in a continuous way, all along the frieze.
The faces of the figures resemble each other but they have a great variety in their poses, movements and clothing. They are serious and calm, showing character, spirituality and pride. The horses of the procession are all shown in profile. Some walk quietly, others gallop, and others fight with each other. The head mane and tail give each horse distinct individuality.
The frieze was not only well graven but also well painted with rich colours that embellished the figures.
The statues in the pediments
Really noteworthy were the statues in the pediments. The pediments are the triangular areas formed by the sloping and horizontal cornices of the roof over the two narrow ends of the temple. The colossal sculptures of the Parthenon followed a specific theme. The east pediment depicts the birth of the goddess Athena and the west part depicts the conflict between Athena and Poseidon for the possession of Attica.
These statues were carved with the same care on the front side and on the back even if nobody would see the back of the statue. This was important because they were made as offerings to the gods and they had to be perfect.
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Why is the Parthenon important: Related Posts
Why is the Parthenon important, special and famous? Related Posts:
Monastiraki is one of the most characteristics areas in Athens. Athens is an European city but for more than one aspect it doesn’t look as all the other european cities. The first time you visit Monastiraki you may wonder if you are in the right country or maybe you are in north africa or in a medioriental city.
Ermou road is the main road in Monastiraki where you can also go by car. It gets you very confused: you can find very old and abandoned houses next to trendy and crowded restaurants.
Monastiraki square Athens
But this is only one side of Monastiraki. Going straight you arrive in Monastiraki square where you have a suggestive view of the acropolis. Furthermore the square demostrates that Athens is an european city but with a strong turky influence.
From this square you have a lot of opportunities: you can easily reach the best historical attractions on foot, you can get one of the touristic buses in order to go to the best Athens destinations and last but not least there is the station where you can get the train for the airport.
Exploring the area
If you decide to explore better the area from the square, you can go in the parallel streets of Erou road: Ifestou street and Adrianou street. These 2 streets are like 2 different worlds. Ifestou street is like a Turkish souk market, instead Adrianou street is very different. It’s full of very cute greek restaurants on one side and on the other side, after the train tracks, you have the old Athens Agorà ruins and a beautiful view of the acropolis.
To be more accurate we should say that Adrianou street was built on one part of the ancient agora of Athens. Infact the big part of the ancient Athens Agora is fenced and visitable as an historical site but an undiscovered area is still under the modern city.
This is evident by the new archeological site you see by the road, by the ruins you can see in the station and by the ruins you can see in the basements af some restaurants.
Monastiraki: food and relax
After a full day visiting museums and archeological sites Monastiraki is a restouring base point. Here you can feel the greek atmosfere, listen to typical music and maybe more importantly, to taste very good food.
Good news: greek food portions are very abundant for all the hungry ones!