So you want to visit Greece in a week but don’t know where to go? Consider this suggested itinerary, visiting extraordinary places in the mainland first:
The birthplace of philosophy, democracy, medicine, law ... Athens is among the finest hotspots for archaeological research, renowned worldwide for classical buildings such as the Parthenon at the Acropolis (“acro” = high, “polis” = city). Even in antiquity, its architectural refinements were legendary, especially the subtle curvature of the columns. If extended, they would eventually meet at about three thousand feet; therefore they are not really straight as they seem, it turns out to be an optical illusion!
While Athens was dedicated to intellectual matters, the city-state of Sparta became the war machine par excellence. Men were sent to the army at the early age of seven, receiving a severe education and learning to fight. At twelve years old, they were abandoned on the cliffs all by themselves, naked and without any food. The man who could live until his thirties would become an army officer.
One fine day in the year 481 BC, a messenger came to Sparta to communicate the wish of the king of Persia, Xerxes, to dominate the region - through a seemingly innocent request for "just land and water." The king of the Spartans, Leonidas, responded by throwing the messenger into a well. Outraged, Xerxes ordered the destruction of Greece, saying that "my arrows are so numerous that they will obscure the sunlight." Leonidas replied: "So much the better, we will fight in the shade!"
Thus King Leonidas left with only his personal guard of 300 men to fight a huge Persian army of 300,000. In the beginning, he smartly used the narrow pass at Thermopylae to his advantage, managing to repulse the initial attacks. But a traitor – who sold himself for money and women – guided the invaders through a path that skirted the ravine, attacking the Spartans from behind. In the end, surrounded by enemies, Leonidas got a final order from Xerxes:
"Lay down your arms and surrender," to which Leonidas awesomely replied: "ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ " ("Come take them. ") He and the other 300 from Sparta fought until death.
The Persians waited until winter has passed to continue the war. But when they resumed, the remaining Spartans had already formed the main body of the Greek army. There were three Persians for every Greek, but still the Persians were defeated and ultimately expelled from Greece.
3. THE PELOPONNESE
There are so many nice places in the Peloponnese pensinsula that you will be spoiled for choice.
The oracle at Delphi was a great sanctuary to which the ancient Greeks came to consult with the gods. In this temple, the priestesses of Apollo (called “Pythia”) told prophecies under a state of trance, like the famous "Know thyself and you’ll know the universe." The answers obtained at Delphi were considered absolute truths (today it is alleged that the Pythia’s visions were caused by gases emitted by an underground crevice on the site). From the rocks surrounding Delphi several springs sprouted to form water fountains, in which muses and nymphs could be seen singing and seducing.
Also famous is the amphitheater of Epidaurus, one of the greatest of his time, which has perfect acoustics. In this theater the sound of a coin falling to the ground can be heard clearly even in the last of the upper benches.
The Lions' Gate is the main entrance of the citadel of Mycenae, built 3300 years ago, which guards the Tomb of Agamemnon, containing a mask of pure gold considered one of the greatest archeology treasures of all time.
Olimpia help the Ancient Olympic Games since 776 BC, and today it’s from its "stadium" that the Olympic torch is carried out every four years by several athletes to the host city of the modern Games. Olimpia also guarded the giant statue of Zeus, sculpted in ivory and gold, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Meteora (Greek: Μετ:Dωρα, for "suspended rocks" or "pillars of heaven") is a complex of monasteries built atop spectacular cliffs, where solitary monks of the Orthodox religion live. A eremite is a person who by penance, religion or simply love of nature lives in a desert place, sometimes alone.
5. CORINTH CANAL
The Corinth Canal makes boat transit in the region much easier, avoiding the huge way around the Peloponnese peninsula. More 11,000 ships pass through the waterway every year. The first attempt to construct the canal happened in 67 AD, held by Roman emperor Nero, who ordered 6,000 slaves to dig it with shovels. The following year Nero died, and his successor abandoned the project for being too expensive. The work was completed only in 1893!
6. ISLAND OF AEGINA
Paulus Aegineta was born in this beautiful Greek island, only one hour from Athens by ferry boat. He was a remarkable physician, known for having written the encyclopedic “Compendium of Seven Books” in the 7th century. For many years in the Byzantine Empire, this work contained the sum of all medical knowledge in the world and was unmatched in its accuracy and completeness. Just rent a quad and explore this paradisiacal location, seeking forgotten ruins and eating the typical local food, the Octopus’ tentacles...