Considered by many to be home of Ancient Greek literature, theatre and history for thousands of years, the peninsula of the Peloponnese lies to the west of Athens and is separated from the mainland by the Gulf of Corinth.
The peninsular is an essential part of any Greek island tour. It offers the opportunity for travellers to immerse themselves in the ancient culture of this beautiful land with trips to some of the region’s most famous temples, theatres and sites of important battles.
There is so much to see in this land of historical sites that it can be difficult to know where to start. So here are two highlights to whet your appetite before you set off on your Greek island tour of the Peloponnese.
Theatre of Epidaurus
The stunning stone amphitheatre at Epidaurus is a stunning example of ancient architecture. Today you can sit on the same stone seats that people would have sat on back then and listen to the same words spoken as those audiences would have done.
My advice for anyone visiting the site would be to come first in the daylight to take in the archaeological splendour of the site set on the mountain side of Mount Kynortio, with its views over the plain of Argolida. Built in the fourth century as part of a leisure complex, which would have included baths, temples and the theatre itself, the amphitheatre would once have attracted crowds of up to 13,000 people.
Having seen the site during the day, it is well worth returning in the evening to experience the magic of watching a production. You will feel yourself connected to the history of the place in the most mystical way as you sit and enjoy the entertainment just as they did thousands of years before you.
The Sanctuary of Delphi
One of the most significant holy sites in the whole of the Greek Empire was the Pleistos Valley. Throughout their history the Ancient Greeks considered this an important place and built a series of temples at which religious rituals were carried out. Part of the final temple, the Temple of Apollo, still survives today.
Looking out from its position on the south-west slope of Mount Parnassus, across the stunning views of the Pleistos Valley, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo include majestic Doric columns built in around 330 BC. Amazingly you can still see some of the original sculptures that once decorated the temple. Visitors can marvel at a marble Apollo – as well as the vast stone horses, a giant and a statue of Athena – which once made up a dramatic depiction of the great battle between the gods and the giants.
Of course these two sites are only a beginning, a place to start your Greek island tour of the Peloponnese. In fact, there is so much history here that discovering it alone could present somewhat of a challenge. In order to make the most of your time, I would certainly suggest getting a guide for at least part of your time here so that you can discover more of the fascinating stories this land has to offer
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years he has been providing luxury holiday experiences around the globe. Whether you’re interested in a Greek island tour, a luxury all-inclusive break to Croatia or a multi-centre holiday in Sicily, John can provide you with expert advice about the destinations, hotels and experiences you should pick.