Visiting the Origin of Myths and Civilization
Greece is located at the southernmost tip of the Balkan Peninsula between two beautiful seas, the Aegean and the Ionian Sea. The country is ever fascinating, with its magnificent ruins that tell of the glory of the past, arts and culture that blossomed in the ancient cities such as philosophy, history and mathematics, and the numerous myths that stimulate the imagination. We take you to Athens, which flourished as the center of Greek civilization, and to the beautiful Aegean islands, where numerous ruins remain.
The Center of Ancient Greece
From Piraeus, where the ship docks, we head for the Acropolis of Athens. Taking the metro from the port to Athens we get off near the Acropolis, where we start to walk up the cobblestone streets leading to the top of the hill. Along the slope, we are welcomed by the famous Theatre of Dionysus, the oldest theater in Greece. In Greek mythology, Dionysus is the god of wine and theater. It is romantic to think of the many plays composed by artists of the time that were performed there day and night. Climbing further, when we reach the top of the hill the Parthenon stands majestically in front.
The Parthenon is an archaeological site symbolic of the ancient Greek civilization and is known as the symbol for UNESCO World Heritage. The most striking feature of this massive and beautiful temple is the columns supporting it. The 46 subtly curved pillars are carefully calculated to look evenly distributed when viewed from below, and each is built with a different thickness and spacing. The design is calculated down to the last detail. The technology used to realize it is breathtaking. No matter how much you look at it, you will never get tired of its beautiful form, which is huge but does not feel oppressive.
To the north of the Parthenon stands the Erechtheion, with the pillars of six beautiful goddesses known as the “Caryatids”. In sharp contrast to the heavyset Parthenon, the Erechtheion exudes elegance and grace. Other attractions on the Acropolis include the Propylaia (front gate) at the entrance to the Acropolis sanctuary, the Temple of Athena Nike to the south of the Propylaia, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which is a music hall still in use today. The observatory at the eastern end of the hill, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Athens, is also a must-visit spot.
Walking through the Old Streets of Athens
At the foot of the Acropolis of Athens is the Plaka district, a specially preserved area with old streets. The narrow alleys are crowded with houses, making it a lively and fun area to walk around. One of the pleasures of the city is its gourmet food, filled with the bounty of the Aegean Sea. To enjoy Greek food, casual popular restaurants called taverna are the places to go. Greek salad with fresh raw vegetables, olives, and feta cheese; yogurt and cucumber dip called “tzatziki”; and other Greek dishes made with plenty of vegetables and dairy products are very healthy and full of flavor.
Origin of the European Civilization
The islands in the Aegean Sea are also a major attraction of Greece. While Santorini and Mykonos are very popular as resort islands in recent years, Crete is also a highly popular island. The Palace of Knossos, located in the northern part of Crete, is a symbolic place of the oldest Minoan civilization in Europe. The palace has over 1,500 rooms and because of its extremely complex structure, it is said to be the model for the labyrinth where the Minotaur, a bull-headed monster, was imprisoned. The huge ruins will surely capture your imagination, feeling as if you have wandered into the world of Greek mythology.
Riding a Ferry to Aegina Island
Aegina Island is accessible by ferry from the port of Piraeus in about an hour. This is another island you should definitely visit. The Temple of Aphéa, built in the 5th century B.C., is a must-see tourist attraction on the island. 24 of the 32 pillars supporting the temple are still standing, giving a full sense of the glory of civilization. With its well-proportioned and beautiful appearance, it is no wonder that this is said to be the best-preserved temple in Greece. Aegina is famous for its octopus, and you can enjoy Greek cuisine made with octopus and other fresh seafood in taverna on the island.
Experiencing Organic Lifestyle on Evia Island
The charm of the island of Evia, connected to the mainland by two bridges, is its rustic character retaining the atmosphere of good old Greece. On Peace Boat voyages, when we call at Piraeus, we offer a program to visit Sunshine House, a community that practices organic lifestyle on the island. In a perfect location surrounded by the Aegean Sea and olive trees, the time spent enjoying yoga, organic cuisine, and handmade steam baths is a healing time that will refresh your body and soul. You will leave Greece having enjoyed the flourishing of civilization and the bounty of nature in the Aegean Sea.
PHOTO: PEACEBOAT, Isogai Miki, Kazashito Nakamura, Nakasuji Kota, Stacy Hughes, Yuruki Shiho