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Photograph is panoramic so be sure to click for quite a view!
The name "Meteora" means "suspended in air". Today it encompasses the entire rock community of 24 monasteries.
Once there were no steps; the main access to the monasteries was by a net that was hitched over a hook and hoisted up by rope and a hand crank!
Monks actually descended in the nets or on retractable wooden ladders to the valleys below where they grew grapes, potatoes, and corn.
The five occupied monasteries today contain only a few monks and nuns. However, to see it is to get a glimpse of Orthodox monastic life.
Because of weather and/or crowds, the best time to visit is either May or June. Appropriate clothing is required to visit the monasteries. No shorts, no sleeveless tops, no tanktops.
Plan to spend a full day at Meteora. Explore the paths between the rock towers, but be careful. If you acquaint yourself with Greek Orthodoxy, you will appreciate it more.
Enjoy the Byzantine art, especially the Byzantine iconography.
We visited the St. Stephanos Nunnery, and we were helped by volunteers who explained the art and the religion.
The picture is of the nunnery. It is the most attainable because of fewer steps.
There is a small single-nave church of St. Stephen from the 16th century. The old refectory of the convent is used as a museum today.
Updated May 10, 2013
Main door of Greece, its capital makes a mandatory part of any trip to this country. There are a lot of "must see" in Athens, but also many small details and curiosities that advice the return, for a new look, a deeper look.
I don't know when, but I'll be back, maybe out of peak season.
Updated Feb 19, 2013
The second largest Dodecanese (meaning twelve in Greek) Islands in population, Kos Island is also the third largest in size and sits in the Aegean Sea. Kos is also well known for its hot summer sun, sandy beaches and rich history, in summer the northern beaches of Kos is known for its cooling breeze and warm waters.. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, the founder of the first school of medicine, was born in Kos.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Updated Oct 8, 2012
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, it has plenty of resorts, miles of golden beaches, a summer which lasts longer than anywhere else in Europe and is also the most authentic of the Greek islands, with its ancient ruins dating back to the Greeks, Romans and Venetians.
Some 160 miles long and around 35 miles wide, Crete boasts everything from buzzing nightlife to sweeping mountains and beautiful ancient ruins
Crete was the birthplace of European civilisation, the home of the Minoans who were trading centuries before classical Greece. The Minoans only existed in myths until excavations revealed the truth about this cultured society. From the Romans to the Nazis, many invaders have fought for control of Crete and access to this strategic region. Cretans are fiercely proud of their history and have a warm welcome for their latest invaders – the tourists.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Updated Sep 20, 2012
The traditional, quintessential public eating house of Greece is the taverna. This is Zorba the Greek, Henry Miller, and Lawrence Durrell-type dining. This is what amounts to an extension of the Greek home table, offered to the community. It is believed that this is the origin of the taverna. There had always been inns in Greece. Since ancient times private homes along the road opened their doors to the passing public. There the traveler could get a simple meal, a bed, and a bed companion. It was not until the late Byzantine era that the inn began to lose its association with the brothel and slowly acquire a reputation as a place where quality cooking was the chief attraction.
When I lived on Crete, I actually lived in a very small village named Kokkini Hani (trans., Red Hut). Though commerce began to move in while I lived there, when I first moved into my palatial estate, there were only a couple small general merchandise shops and two tavernas. QUITE frequently, I would go home from work, (Sometimes, I would take a short nap.) clean up, and spend the remainder of my evening at one of those tavernas. Crete (like most of Europe) had not yet discovered sweet iced tea, so your choice of beverages was "gyuh-zo-zuh" (any of a small variety of carbonated beverages), krah-SEE (wine), beer-uh (beer), or sometimes a limited variety of juices. To eat, you could choose from just about anything that you would expect to find in a more formal restaurant, except it would generally be less expensive and often of better quality. My favorite was fried zucchini, cross-wise slices of zucchini lightly breaded and fried until crisp. Eaten with a tzadziki sauce dip, it was often my entire dinner, though I was likely to eat two or even three orders. Fried zucchini, not the sloppy sauteed squash which is often foisted upon us in so many American restaurants, is a true culinary delight available very broadly throughout Greece, but much to my chagrin, I have not been able to find even a reasonable facsimile anywhere in the United States.
Written Sep 4, 2012
Address: Throughout Greece
The tall columns in the center (best seen by enlarging the picture) are all that remain of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple ever built in Greece. It was constructed on the site of an earlier sanctuary dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. The new temple was dedicated to Zeus as well, and was planned to be the greatest temple in the world. However, it would take 638 years for the new temple to be completed.
Construction on the Temple of Olympian Zeus began in 520 B.C. by Hippias and Hipparchos, the sons of the Athenian tyrant Peisistratus, the builder of the sanctuary on whose site the new temple would be built. The architects charged with designing and building the project were Antimachides, Antistates, Callaeschrus, and Porinus. Their plans called for a limestone temple with Doric columns. Work on the temple ceased in 510 B.C. after Peisistratus was overthrown and Hippias was exiled. Only the platform and some of the columns had been completed.
Over the next 336 years no work was done on the temple. During the period of Athenian democracy, the city's rulers believed that the purpose of such massive projects was for the glorification of tyrants, and that the city's resources could be put to better use.
In 174 B.C., construction was resumed by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He placed Roman architect Decimus Cossutius in charge of the project. The new design called for a building of Pentelic marble in the Corinthian style. The temple would have three rows of eight columns on the front and back, and two rows of 20 columns on the flanks, for a total of 104 columns. The columns were to be 55 feet (17 meters) high. The project was again abandoned, this time in 164 B.C. upon the death of Antiochus.
It was not until Roman Emperor Hadrian resumed the project in the second century that the temple was finally completed. He dedicated the finished temple in 132 A.D.
During the Herulian sack of Athens in 267 A.D., the temple was pillaged and severely damaged. After the attack, the damage was never repaired. And over the next few centuries, its marble was quarried for building projects elsewhere in Athens. Nowadays, there is not much left of the original temple. Out of the original 104 columns, only 15 of the Corinthian columns remain. Nevertheless, the ruins are an impressive sight due to their massive size.
Updated Aug 6, 2012
Meteoras are smooth vertical rocks with six monasteries on their tops.
By 1500 there were 24 monasteries. The oldest was begun around 1382. Today only six monasteries are active there.
Kastraki is a village at the foot of Meteoras. This could be surely a good base to visit the monasteries. From there you can go to the monasteries by bus or by foot.
There should be some direct buses from Athens to Kastraki (or Kalambaka). The journey takes around 5 hours.
Updated Jul 16, 2012
It is worthwhile to visit and explore the Port of Piraeus whenever you visit the city of Athens. You may take a leisurely walk along the port or enjoy the sunset from the port or simply have some seafood dinner in one of the fine restaurants at the port. The Port of Piraeus is located approximately 10 kilometers southwest of the city center of Athens at Phaleron Bay. Piraeus is a small municipality within the city of Athens. It has a total population of just 180,000 inhabitants.
Port Piraeus has history that dates back to the Ancient Greece when the port was built in the 5th century BC. It has been the port of Athens for the past 2,500 years! Today it is the main port of Greece. It is the largest and busiest passenger port in Europe and the third largest in the world.
The port serves approximately 20 millions passengers per year and handles approximately one and half millions vehicles annually. Port of Piraeus handles not only ferry boats to and from the islands, hydrofoils and large cruise ships but also large bulk of cargo from outside the country.
Updated Jul 15, 2012
Address: Port Piraeus, Greece
Kerameikos Cemetery was the main cemetery of Ancient Athens dating as far back as the 10th century BC. It was discovered by German archaeologists only in the 20th century. The cemetery is situated just outside the ancient city walls, northwest of Acropolis. The ceramic gate Dipylon and the Holy Gate are both located in the premises. They were the two most important gates in Ancient Athens. Kermeikos is named after Keramos, the son of god Dionysus.
Admission fee to the cemetery is 2.00 euros for adults and 1.00 euro for children. You will be able to enter the cemetery free-of-charge if you are the holder of 12.00 euros Acropolis ticket. Visitors can also see the cemetery from outside the fence free-of-charge. Opening hours are between 8.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. daily during the summer months with shorter opening hours during the winter months.
Updated Jul 15, 2012
Address: Ermou 148, Gazi, Athens
Phone: +30 210 346 3552
Athens Central Market (named Varvakios Agora) is a great location to visit and explore if you happen to be around the area or stay in the area. The atmosphere is great. It is the place where Athenians do their daily shopping for fresh fish and meat while the butchers plying their trade. We place Athens Central Market under "Things to Do" travel tips instead of under "Shopping" as most foreign tourists stay in hotels and don't do their own cooking. We certainly do not buy fresh fish and meat or cook in the hotel while we are on vacation!
Athens Central Market is one of the largest fish and meat markets in Greece. The floor of the central market is usually wet and slippery. So please wear proper shoes whenever you visit Athens Central Market. Opening hours are between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
Updated Jul 15, 2012
Address: Athinas Street, Athens
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