Due to the magic of the Internet, a whole week in the Peloponnese has already passed. You see, this week has been my one chance to get caught up in my journals once-and-for-all, so I have been cramming over two weeks of entries into one. This entry will have to cover all of the Peloponnese, which means I have a lot to cover. I will do so by location and archaeological site…
Korinthos (Corinth): We saw the famous Corinth Canal, which was finished in 1893. Corinth is also the city that was sacked by the Romans in 146 B.C., giving Rome control over Greece. Julius Caesar rebuilt the city 100 years later.
Napfoli: This quaint little city lies at the base of a Venetian fortress, which sits atop a hill and can be accessed by hiking up a mere 857 steps. We used this city as our base of operations for a few days as we explored nearby Mycenae and the ancient cities of Tiryns, Sparta, and Argos.
Mycenae: This is easily one of the most important archeological sites in Greece as Mycenae was once the center of Greek culture. The city dates back 4000 years, but current ruins can be traced back to the 14th century B.C., when Mycenae was at its peak. Evidence found in the current ruins indicates that it was the burial place of King Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra, providing factual groundwork for their legend, which was made famous by Aeschylus and Homer in The Iliad. For those not familiar with their story, King Agamemnon fought in the battle at Troy (which is believed to be in Turkey…I will be visiting Troy in just a week!) and when he and his fleet of warriors set sail for the doomed city, they were met with a fierce wind that prevented them from their voyage. To placate the gods, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia, unbeknownst to his wife. This did the trick and he was able to sail for Troy. During the 10 long years that he was at war, Clytemnestra took a lover and seethed in bitterness over her daughter’s death. When the King finally returned and sat down to a welcome-home feast, Clytemnestra and her lover slaughtered him along with his men.
Wow, those books I brought on Greek mythology and the legends of Pre-Hellenic Greece have really come in handy. I can’t remember my cell phone number, but at least I can remember the tale of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.
Olympia: The city of Olympia is where the very first ancient Olympics were held back in 776 B.C. (this is the date when it was first recorded, but archeologists date the ruins all the way back to the 13th century B.C.). We went to see the ruins and with what remains you can easily envision hordes of fans and athletes congregating there for the events. The entrance to the main stadium is lined with pedestals upon which once stood a statue, name, and offence of a competitor who attempted to cheat—it’s sort of an ancient ‘hall of shame’ that is strategically placed at the entrance to serve as a warning to other competitors. What a fabulous deterrent—public humiliation, that is.
Theater of Epidaurus: Built around the 4th century B.C., this theater is incredibly well preserved and is known for its incredible acoustics. From the center of the stage, you can hear the sound of a pebble drop regardless of where you are sitting in the stands.
Kardamilli: A tiny village near Kalamata that doesn’t even have so much as an Internet cafe. We stayed here for a few nights to decompress and enjoy the beach before heading back to Athens. This is the place that time—and the electric company—forgot. Power outages are so common here that the local business are always prepared with candles for you in the likely event that one occurs while you are staying at their establishment or enjoying a meal.
Well, that’s my trip in the Peloponnese in as small a nutshell as I could make it. Whew! For the first time all summer, I am caught up to the present day—just in time for my trip to Turkey.
My time here in Greece has been incredibly full. Bad luck notwithstanding, I’ve had the good fortune to experience a wide breadth of Greek life while I’ve been here. If I had my druthers, I would have liked another week in Crete and a few more days in Santorini, but I can save that for another time. I am content.