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Archive for greece

Greece’s Mountain Mystery

By Linda Tancs

From the looks of it, Penteli Mountain is just a lush, green overlook offering great views of Athens and Evoikos Gulf. And it just so happens to be the site where marble for the Parthenon was quarried. So far, so good. But there’s another side to its reputation as the locus for Davelis Cave, so-named for a 19th-century brigand, Davelis. Allegedly used by his gang as a hideout, the cave also has a history as a shrine, particularly for monks fleeing religious persecution during the Middle Ages. Two adjacent Byzantine chapels built directly into the cave’s entrance serve as a memorial to their plight. Perhaps it’s the grotto’s juxtaposition as a hideout and a holy place that causes mysterious events to occur as reported by tourists, phenomena like ghostly voices, glowing orbs and electromagnetic anomalies. Go if you dare, but you’ll need to rent a car to get there.

The Fountains of Heraklion

By Linda Tancs

The capital of Crete, Heraklion demonstrates the diversity resulting from Venetian and Ottoman rule. In particular, its Venetian and Turkish fountains are a focal point in this popular cruise port. Morosini Fountain (“the Lions”) is the most popular Venetian-style fountain, located in Lions Square, the nerve center of the city. When the Ottomans conquered Crete, they built several charitable fountains (sebil) for their subjects. Perhaps the best known is the sebil at Kornarou Square, a polygonal building with arched windows once containing a tap and a stone trough. It now houses a coffee shop.

The Flower of the Cyclades

By Linda Tancs

Situated between Mykonos and Santorini, the Greek island of Íos (or Niós, as the locals call it) is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, named for a Greek word alluding to flowers. It might be best known for its vibrant nightlife, but the hilly isle’s quieter reputation lies in its charming Cycladic architecture of whitewashed sugar houses and windmills, historic sites and, of course, beautiful beaches. Known as the resting place of the epic poet Homer, Homer’s Tomb is arguably the most well known historic site, located on the north side of the island. Other areas of note are Skárkos (a Bronze Age settlement) and Palaiókastro, an old fort from the Byzantine period. Be sure to check out the amazing view from Panayia Gremiótissa, a church built on the edge of a cliff. A ferry from Santorini takes under an hour.

An Oasis of Coolness

By Linda Tancs

Mingling with monks is one of several things you can do while hiking Lousios Gorge in the Peloponnese, a peninsula in southern Greece. In fact, mountaintop monasteries like the Philosophou Monastery hinge precariously along rock faces throughout the gorge. You can visit many of them on an easy, one-day hike. A private day tour from Athens will set you back around 400 euros.

A Distinguished Cretan

By Linda Tancs

Born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete (the largest and most populous of the Greek islands), the painter popularly known as El Greco was in a class by himself, marrying Byzantine and Western traditions in a way that exposed his personal faith and vision. One of his early works, “Mount Sinai,” is exhibited in a specially designed hall of Heraklion’s Historical Museum. Elsewhere, Crete’s distinguished son is memorialized in a bust at El Greco Park. Although his fame was firmly established in Toledo, Spain, he never ceased to mention his Cretan roots by signing all his works “Made by Domenikos Theotokopoulos the Cretan.”

Ouzo and Olive Oil

By Linda Tancs

Ouzo and olive oil.  Those are the two famous exports of the Greek island Lesvos.  Third largest in size behind Crete and Evia, the arguably lesser-known enclave near Turkey also boasts a petrified forest, one of the rarest natural monuments in the world.  Created 20 million years ago when volcanic materials covered and petrified the coniferous forests dominating the area at that time, the 37-acre preserve spans the Sigri-Eressos-Antissa area.  Take a break from the beach and enjoy a walk through the forest of silence.

Free Ride for Women

By Linda Tancs

It’s International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s strides in equality, peace and development.  In Greece, it’s an opportunity to ride public transport for free, particularly in Athens.  Check with your local transport authority for benefits.  Happy travels!



 The author has not received any compensation for writing this content and has no material connection to the brands, topics, products and/or services that are mentioned herein.

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