In the Aegean sea, between Karpathos and the shores of Asia Minor, Rhodes island shows strong evidence of the influence of western Europe from the days of the Knights and more recent Italian domination.
Homer mentions three ancient cities, Lindos, Ialyssos and Kamiros, which, according to myth, they took their names from three princes, grandsons of Helios and were probably founded during the Mycenaean period, surviving to the time of the Dorians. The first inhabitants, back in the days of mythology, were the Telchines, then came the Achaeans and, after 1200 BC, the Dorians. In the 5th and 4th c. the island had 5 major harbours and its statutes constituted the international law of the day.
In 70 AD it was subjected to the Romans and later passed to Byzantium. In 515 AD it was destroyed by a violent earthquake, in 1097 it fell to the Crusaders and from 1309 was ruled by the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, who remained on the island for two centuries. There followed the Ottoman domination and then the Italian, until 1947 when Rhodes was liberated and incorporated into Greece.
Corfu island is the part of Greece closest to western Europe, both geographically and culturally.
Corfu island is one of the best old towns not only in Greece but in Europe also. It was the first area of the country to be conquered by the Romans, who treated their acquisition with benevolence. In the course of its history the island passed through the hands of the Venetians, the French and the British, who also in turn left the stamp of their cultures.
The Corfiots have a long tradition in music, theatre and intellectual pursuits. The Corfu Philharmonic Society was founded in 1840 and there are today dozens of bands on the island. In 1808 Greece’s first university was instituted, the Ionian Academy and in 1815 the first School of Fine Arts, while the Reading Society which continues to flourish to this day, was also the first institution of its kind.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Hydriots’ ships monopolized food supplies in the Mediterranean area and broke through the British blockade of French ports.
The town of Hydra is built in the shape of an amphitheatre on the rocky slopes of the steep hills enclosing its harbour. The stone mansions dominate the town, with their austere, imposing architecture. The narrow, winding, quiet streets frequently lead to steps ascending between the elegant homes with their yards and small gardens.
Most of the mansions and a great number of large ships were built at that time. A Merchant Marine Training School was established, while Greece’s finest teachers taught at the island’s schools. In those days, Hydra had a population of 35,000 and approximately 200 ships, armed with cannon. Following Greece’s liberation and the advent of steamships, Hydra’s maritime supremacy fell into decline and the majority of Hydra’s inhabitants were forced to emigrate.
The Gibraltar of the Peloponnese, as it is called, was fortified during the Middle Ages to protect the inhabitants from raids by the Avars, Slavs and pirates.
Monemvasia, one of the best medieval towns in Greece, took its name from the Greek words meaning single approach, the point (now a causeway) at which the rock is connected with the mainland. This medieval fortress-state is built on a rock 300 m above the sea. In ancient times, it was a harbour town called Akra Minoa.
The Gibraltar of the Peloponnese, as it is called, was fortified during the Middle Ages to protect the inhabitants from raids by the Avars, Slavs and pirates. The High City (Ano Polis) was erected first (6th c.), followed by the Lower City (10th c.). The town’s development and wealth made it very alluring to pirates, but the castle’s position, stout fortifications and its people’s determination to resist, forced the raiders to withdraw empty-handed.
The villages, as far as we know, seem to have been founded around 912. But the area really developed during the Ottoman occupation, because of the privileges awarded to its inhabitants by the conquerors.
A chain of 46 traditional villages in the mountains north of Ioannina, whose natural boundaries are Mts Mitsikelli and Gamila and the Aoos river. Thick pine and fir forests, crystalline streams and stunning scenery — this district never fails to awe the visitor with its majestic virgin natural beauty, impregnable to modern encroachments. The human element, in complete harmony with the environment, is expressed through superb arched stone bridges, imposing mansions built in the austere local style, and lovely old churches.
The villages, as far as we know, seem to have been founded around 912. But the area really developed during the Ottoman occupation, because of the privileges awarded to its inhabitants by the conquerors. In 1430, after an agreement with a representative of the Sultan, it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire, but retained certain self-governing powers. Influential merchants and craftsmen, the men of Zagori became even more prosperous and well educated when they emigrated around 1600 to Romania and Russia. Some of those who stayed behind, the so-called Vikos physicians, also made their mark by utilizing the herbs and therapeutic plants of the Vikos Gorge to cure illnesses. The region has given birth to a good number of Greek philanthropists.
The idiosyncracies of Mani’s past history and the severity of its bizarre customs forced almost every family to have its own defensive tower to live in, its own chapel and cemetery.
Mani is the name of the middle prong of the southern Peloponnese, extending to the slopes of Mt Taygetos and forming a notional triangle from Kalamata to Cape Tainaron and Gytheion. There are 250 villages and hamlets in Mani, 800 towers and six castles. The predominant impression is of a landscape extraordinarily grim, stony, waterless and barren, consisting of stark jagged mountains plunging precipitously to the sea and countless stone tower dwellings and Byzantine churches.
Maniots have always been fired by a strong sense of independence and profound patriarchal family ties. If any member of a family were to suffer an insult, it resulted in a feud, a “vendetta” – frequently bloody – involving the entire family of the offended (and offending) party. The idiosyncracies of Mani’s past history and the severity of its bizarre customs forced almost every family to have its own defensive tower to live in, its own chapel and cemetery. Poverty and the consequences of such rifts among the great and powerful families forced many to emigrate to other parts of Greece and abroad — some to Corsica, whose descendants constituted Napoleon’s bodyguard – and quite a few became pirates.
Even the noted architect-town planner Le Corbusier admired its harmony and the artistry of the self-taught master builders who constructed it over time.
This is a gem of a town, a prime example of Cycladic architecture. Even the noted architect-town planner Le Corbusier admired its harmony and the artistry of the self-taught master builders who constructed it over time. Today a listed settlement, it consists of narrow, white-washed alleyways, tiny churches, white houses with brightly painted woodwork and marvellous windmills.
The labyrinthine streets, the arches, the arcades, the houses and the palaces will take you on a journey through time.
The most beautiful city in Crete, an extensive self-contained area, with outstanding Venetian buildings, which also incorporate elements of subsequent Turkish interventions. The labyrinthine streets, the arches, the arcades, the houses and the palaces will take you on a journey through time.
The Town of Patmos island grew up around the fortress-monastery of St. John in the late 16th c.
The Town of Patmos (Hora) grew up around the fortress-monastery of St. John in the late 16th c. It lies due south and above the port of Skala, and is connected with it by a narrow avenue of eucalyptus trees. With its three small squares and dense construction, the village is divided into connecting quarters such as Kritika, Apithia, Allotina and Pezoula. There are many interesting churches of the 15th, 16th and 17th c. to see.
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