Fun things to do in Greece

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Greece

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    Meteora.

    by cachaseiro Written Mar 6, 2014

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    Meteora is a collection of churches and monestaries sitting on the top of very steep cliffs in central Greece.
    They were build between the 9th and 14th century by hermit munks who were fleeing prosecution and decided that life was better up there even if it was very isolated.
    Some of the monestaries are still in use today and you have quite a few nuns living there.
    This is really one of the most spectacular sights of Greece and something that is really a must even if it is a bit out of the way.
    You can enter most monestaries but they all have days that they are open and days they are closed but they make sure that there is always some monestaries open on every day of the week so there should always be some place to enter no matter what day of the week you go.

    James Bond fans should notice that some of the more spectacular scenes from "For your eyes only" was flimed at Meteora.

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    Patmos

    by solopes Updated Dec 31, 2013

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    Patmos is one of the biggest islands, but, from my previous readings, I knew that some other are more interesting, and, since we had limited time, we had only a general view of the harbour in our way from Santorini to Mikonos.

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    Wine Festival

    by StefanosS Written Jul 27, 2013

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    In August, usually on the last week and for two or three consequent weeks, the “Wine Festival” starts, attracting visitors from all over Greece and even worldwide. You can enjoy many Cultural events organized along the Wine Festival, taste a great variety of wines prepared by local producers, and get informed about wine history and the relation of Greece with the vineyard and the wine!

    Annual Wine Festivals celebrate viticulture and usually occur after the harvest of the grapes, which mainly is at the end of September until well into October. In the Old Testament we trace a long tradition, according to which the farmers-producers of any kind of fruits had to offer the first harvested fruits to the Temple and get the priest’s blessing. We trace a similar tradition in Greece, where the first grapes are presented to the church for being blessed on the celebration of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6).

    Some archaeologists place the origin of wine in ancient Egypt, while Greek tradition testimonies that the vine-tree came from the east, possibly Caucasus area. It is believed that wine was introduced in Greece around 4000 BC and there is evidence found on artifacts, that wine was known to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Anyway, the knowledge passed on along the Mediterranean Sea. Greeks introduced grape viticulture to Sicily in south Italy, Etruria and Rome. Although already the Egyptian god Osiris was dedicated to wine, the oldest historically documented wine festivals can be traced back to the Greek celebrations for their wine god Dionysos. Ancient Greeks considered that wine was a gift from the gods, and a quite similar attitude is found in the Old Testament. Ancient Greek wine festivals were celebrated by performing arts and wine drinking.

    Wine was always in the center of Greek culture. Vineyards, grapes and wine drinking festivities were painted on hundreds of ancient Greek artifacts of clay, marble and metal. Until the very day, drinking wine in company is the base of all Wine Festivals. It usually goes along with regional foods and music. The grape and the extraction of mustus to produce wine, have become meaningful parts of mankind's history that is more than an ordinary food or drink. Wine is both rich in flavor and nutrients, and an icon symbolizing virtues, widely used in religion and culture. Although the alcohol content could lead to intoxication, such festivals embody the enlightened spirit of mankind.

    Greeks stored and transported wines in airtight, ceramic vessels called amphorae. They also used a labeling system close to the one we have today. The amphorae had various shapes with two handles, and they were used to signify the city that produced and traded the particular wine. The amphorae, similar in shape and size to designate their origin, had an inscription with the year of production and both handles were used to place the wine-makers stamp on the one and the local ruler's stamp on the other. Also, the storage in amphorae had its benefits because it allowed them to store wine for long periods thus creating brilliant aged vintage wines.

    As time went by and the tradition was handed down from father to son, the methods of wine cultivation and vinification improved. They used herbs and spices to preserve and flavor their wines and made them well known to the ancient world. It is not an exaggeration to say that Greece was back then, what France is today, in wines.

    The decline of wine cultivation started during the end of the Byzantine Empire and grapevines were virtually vanished during the Ottoman Empire, since Muslims do not drink wine. Greeks, being under the Ottoman rule for five centuries, lost their continuity in tradition of wine cultivation. At that time only a few areas in Greece continued producing wine and it was mostly in regions around monasteries. This fact led to a long period of wine culture with minimal standards of taste and quality. Although, “wine festivals” survived as family and friendly gatherings rather than as community celebrations.

    Since Greeks never miss any opportunity for eating and drinking together, along with music and dancing, it is obvious that a “new wine festival” should not be out. “Wine Festivals” were revived and now take place in every corner of Greece, organized locally by local authorities, wine producers cooperatives and cultural organizations. Wine from wooden barrels flows out and is served into decorated jars and glasses in abundance, while the entry ticket is quite low to attract people of low income. These new forms of local festivals soon became very popular and spread all over Greece.

    European Legislation helped to create a system of controlled production, called “Quality Wines Produced in Registered Areas” (V.Q.P.R.D.). Today approximately 20% of Greek production is exported and 90% of it is absorbed by EU member countries, while Greeks all over the world proudly are looking for wine from their own country.

    Greek wine production is quite low, that's why it is not known in the international market. Although, today quality is high to top, and Greek wines have achieved many international awards.

    Please note: Local wine festivals are not always on the same dates. Festivals often change their dates, due to many factors. If you are planning a trip around a particular festival, locally confirm that it is actually happening on the date you know, before you go to join this event.

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    Meteora Monasteries Part II

    by deecat Updated May 10, 2013

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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.

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    Athens

    by solopes Updated Feb 19, 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.

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    Kos Island

    by grayfo Updated Oct 8, 2012

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    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.

    June 1999

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Crete

    by grayfo Updated Sep 20, 2012

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    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.

    June 1998

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Try a taverna

    by etfromnc Written Sep 4, 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.

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    The Temple of Olympian Zeus

    by traveldave Updated Aug 6, 2012

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    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.

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    Meteoras.

    by Maurizioago Updated Jul 16, 2012

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    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.

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    Port Piraeus

    by hopang Updated Jul 15, 2012

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    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.

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    Kerameikos Cemetery, Athens

    by hopang Updated Jul 15, 2012

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    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.

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    Athens Central Market

    by hopang Updated Jul 15, 2012

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    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.

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    National Library of Greece, Athens

    by hopang Updated Jul 15, 2012

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    The National Library of Greece is the third of the so-called Neoclassical Trilogy. The other two are the Academy of Athens and the University of Athens. The library was founded in 1830. It was designed by the Danish architect Theophil Hansen who also designed the nearby Academy of Athens and Zappeion at the National Gardens of Athens.

    It is certainly a wonderful building constructed in Neoclassical style of architecture made of Pentelic marble from the nearby mountain. It has six columns based on design of a Doric temple on its facade. The National Library was constructed in the middle of the 19th century. It is the most complete public library in Greece. A statue of Panaghis Vallianos is erected in front of the National Library (depicted on our third photograph).

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    University of Athens

    by hopang Updated Jul 15, 2012

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    The University of Athens is the second largest university in Greece. It was founded in 1837. It is the middle building of the so-called Neoclassical Trilogy. The other two are the Academy of Athens and the National Library of Greece. The university serves as an administrative headquarter for the University of Athens. It was designed by Danish architect Christian Hansen, a brother of Theophil Hansen who also designed the Academy of Athens. The University was constructed in the middle of the 19th century.

    The University of Athens is not opened to the public. Nevertheless there is nothing to stop visitors and tourists from taking souvenir snapshots in the compound like we did.

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