Approximately 30 km away from Tripoli next to the village Levidi there are remnants of Orchomenus, a city in ancient Arcadia. The most significant of the monuments that have been discovered is the ancient theatre, one of the largest in ancient times. The greatest part of the theatre was discovered in 1973 and the excavations continued till 1999 bringing to light smaller sections of the theatre. The theatre was built in the 4th century B.C. and it operated till late Roman times. Next to the theatre there is the byzantine church of Panagia Scripou. Even though the theatre has been preserved quite well, some maintenance is needed for its cultural exploitation so as to protect both the theatre and the spectators.
Three kilometers away from the city harbor among rich vegetation one can admire the archaeological site of ancient Troezen, the birthplace of the legendary Theseus. Those who visit the area shall see the ruins of the temple of Hippolytus which was founded by Diomedes and they can walk around the court and the buildings that were constructed in the late 4th century or in the early 3rd century B.C. Among the ruins there are ancient temples, walls, the monument of Phaedra, the market, the stadium and many other buildings. The excavations that took place brought to light tombstones, capitals, pottery, figurines, two statuettes and amphorae. All the findings are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Poros and at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
The ancient Pyramid of Hellinikon (Argos)
The impressive pyramid of Hellinikon can be found nine kilometers to the southwest of the city of Argos, where there are the springs of Erasinos river and the roads that in ancient times led from Argos to Tegea. There are a lot of theories about how this pyramid was used but it is definitely living proof that there was a close relationship between Argos and the Egyptian civilization. It is the only pyramid that has been found in Greece and its presence shows the historical significance of this area.
Ancient Asine (Asini)
The ruins of the acropolis of ancient Asine can be found to the east of Nafplio next to the small picturesque cove of Tolos. Nowadays one can see only the walls and the towers of this Hellenistic acropolis. The excavations brought to light the well-known Mycenaean cemetery of Barbouna, which was named after the hill, as well as various jars, grave goods and the terracotta mask of the king of Asine. The excavations that took place during the period 1922-1930 started again and continued in the 1970s confirming that people always lived in this area.
Tel.: (+30) 27520 58101
Archaeological Site of Asclepieion (Epidaurus)
The ruins of the sanctuary of Asclepius, whose water is famous for its medicinal properties, can be found between the hills Titthio and Kynortio. The Asclepieion of Epidaurus was known worldwide in ancient times as a therapeutic centre. It continued flourishing and became a significant religious, cultural and political centre of this era. The sanctuary of Asclepius was the place from which medicine started and then on spread to the 300 asclepieia that were founded in honour of god Asclepius in Greek and Roman territory. The excavations at the Asclepieion of Epidaurus started in 1879 by P. Kavadia and continued after his death in 1928. The excavations led to the discovery of the sanctuary of Asclepius and the widely known ancient theatre of Epidaurus, which is the most significant of its buildings.
Tel.: (+30) 27530 23009
The Palamidi Castle (Nafplio)
The Palamidi Castle can be found on a hill to the east of the city of Nafplio at an altitude of 216 metres. It was named after the local hero Palamidis, the son of Nafplios. It is a baroque fort that was constructed and fortified during the period 1686-115 by the Venetians. It has 7 ramparts and inside it there is the historic chapel of Saint Andreas, while nearby one can see the dungeon where Kolokotronis was imprisoned. The castle is accessible today from the eastern side of the city, while one could also choose to go up the 999 steps that are situated on the northwest side of the city leading towards Acronaflpia.
In close proximity to Kranidi, an exceptionally beautiful town in the prefecture of Argolis, at the peak of a green hill there are three recently renovated windmills that are part of an amazing landscape and they make visitors think about the past. Nowadays municipal cultural events take place here during the summer.
Acronafplia Castle (Nafplio)
Opposite the picturesque and mysterious Bourtzi and next to Palamidi there is the majestic rock of Acronafplia along with the Acronafplia Castle. The castle was built along the rocky peninsula, which spreads impressively over the city of Nafplio. This castle according to experts is the oldest in the city and it consists of 4 different forts, very few buildings of which have been preserved. People lived here in prehistoric times and it was being constructed for many centuries as the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, the Venetians and the Turks helped to build it.
Larissa in Argos (Argos)
On the foot of the southwestern part of the hill of Larissa at an altitude of 289 metres and to the northwest of the city of Argos there is the Larissa Castle. The castle was fortified in prehistoric times. On its wall one can see the long history that starts from the Middle Helladic period and reaches the periods of the rule of the Turks and the Venetians. The castle is accessible through the highway that starts at Vassileos Konstantinou Street. It has a fantastic view of the plain of Argos, which is divided into parts and looks like a mosaic.
Bourtzi Castles (Nafplio)
If you enter the harbor of Nafplio, about 450 metres away from the pier you shall see Bourtzi which is a well-known landmark of the city. It is a castle complex of Venetian style which dominates in the area. The Italian architect Gambello is the one who designed the castles. Thousands of tourists visit the area and make it one of the most significant tourist attractions in the city. It is accessible by boat every day throughout the day. Visitors can sail in the crystal clear water of the gulf of Argolikos and travel back to the history of the city that starts many centuries ago.
Monasteries and Churches in Argolis
Monastery of the Holy Unmercenaries (Ermioni)
One kilometer away from the gulf of Porto Kapari we run into the Monastery of the Holy Unmercenaries in Ermioni, a true ornament to the area. The monastery was founded between the 11th and the 14th century. Originally it was a male monastery and it flourished so much that it acquired a huge fortune. The main church was built in the middle of the court. It is surrounded by two-storey buildings and it is divided into three sections. The monastery has a rich library with about 1,500 volumes of rare theological, philological, historical books and many more.
Information.: (+30) 27540 31280
Monastery "Taxiarhon" (Epidaurus)
If we follow the old national road that leads to Ligourio, between south Epidaurus and Dimena, we find the monastery Taxiarhon. The monastery was built in the 15th century by the monks of the monastery of Kalami. Since 1945 it has been a female monastery and it is housed in a recently built church of byzantine order which replaced the old one that had been destroyed.
The byzantine Avgo Monastery is located on the abrupt and unwelcoming cliffs of Pelei, the mountain range of Didymi, and it is in absolute harmony with the rest of the natural landscape. It was founded by the monks’ hermitages in the 11th century and it is a classical example of a monastery on top of rocks. Inside the main church that was built in honour of two saints you can admire the hagiography of the 17th century, while on top of the church which is inside the Metamorphosis cave there icons from the 11th century. The monastery is considered to be one of the most significant byzantine monasteries with the form of a fortress, which is evident as there are embrasures incorporated in the natural cavities of the rocks. We do not know when the monastery was built but judging from its characteristics and the wall paintings in the Metamorphosis cave, experts concluded that it was built in the 11th century.
The ancient "Kazarma Bridge"
Walking down the road that joins Nafplio with Epidaurus we run into the village Arcadiko, where the Mycenaean Kazarma bridge, the oldest in Europe, attracts our attention. This majestic bridge was built in 1300 B.C. and it is a Mycenaean construction. Its construction style is characteristic of the Mycenaean architecture as it is built of massive unprocessed limestone boulders without any binding matter. It is 22 metres long, 5.6 metres wide and 4 metres high. What makes it unique is the oblique wedge that holds the sides of the triangular passage in place. This one-arch bridge continues to be used by the residents of the area and four other areas nearby.
Archaeological Site of "Dendra"
In close proximity to the village Dendra, on the slope of a hill and to the west of the Mycenaean acropolis of Midea, there is the archaeological site of the cemetery of Dendra, the largest Mycenaean cemetery in the Peloponnese. It became widely known after the discovery of the bronze armour of Dendra, which brought to light the ancient burial habits and it is considered to be the oldest that remained intact. The excavations, which started in the spring of 1926 and continued for the next decades, brought to light the famous royal tombs, a beehive tomb (also known as tholos tomb) and sixteen chamber tombs, precious burial variables, weapons, tools, elaborate jewellery, figurines of worship and everyday life objects made of gold, silver, copper, ivory and other materials, all of which are a sign of the economic growth in this era. People lived in the area from 1500 to 1180 B.C. which is confirmed by the presence of the findings outlined above. All the objects that were discovered can be admired at the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio and at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
The ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
Three of the main characteristics that make us regard the ancient theatre of Epidaurus as the biggest and best preserved ancient Greek theatre are the wonderful acoustics, the harmonious symmetry of its parts and the amazing way in which it fits in the natural landscape. The theatre was built in the early 3rd century B.C. and therefore, it is unlikely that it was built by Polyklitos as it is traditionally believed. The theatre lies to the west of Mount Kynortio and in the 2nd century B.C. its seating capacity was increased. In the summer the lovers of ancient drama have the chance to enjoy the plays of great tragic and comic poets while sitting in one of the 12,000 seats in the theatre. According to tradition the theatre was originally used for music and singing contests and for ancient drama performances relating to the worship of Asclepius. The excavations that brought to light this large construction started in 1881 by Panagis Kavadias on behalf of the Archaeological Society. After the necessary restoration of the monument, in 1955 the Festival of Epidaurus was established. During the festival Greek and foreign actors perform ancient drama on stage keeping in mind the Aristotelian meaning of the word “tragedy” and they make the spectators go through an overwhelming experience and finally feel the catharsis as justice is administered in the end.
According to mythological tradition the city of Mycenae was founded by Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae. For many years this land existed only in the imagination of the lovers of poetry. However, the excavations carried out by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 with the help of the Homeric poems led to the discovery of the palaces of Atrides, as well as the amazing Mycenaean civilization that flourished in Greece during the period 1600-1100 B.C. Most of the monuments that were brought to light were built during the city’s period of growth, as well as in the Late Bronze Age (1350-1200 B.C.). The visitors can admire the Lion Gate that has a huge relief sculpture above the entrance depicting two lions in a heraldic position facing each other on a biconcave-shaped altar with a Minoan column in between. What is more, they can see the Cyclopean Walls that surround the Lion Gate. The main area consists of the royal court, the palace of Atrides which is the main palace and a series of buildings that are known as mansions. Archaeological findings discovered here include wall paintings and mosaic decorations that prove the close relationship between the Mycenaean and Minoan art since the characteristics of the Creto-Minoan artistic style are evident. Nearby there are remnants of the Grave Circle A, which consists of six royal tombs, while a few metres west to the Lion Gate there are remnants of the Grave Circle B that are though fewer and not as rich as those of the Grave Circle A.
The first residents of Tiryns date back to the Neolithic period, while the area continued flourishing till the Late Antiquity. This area was of great strategic importance as it had under its control a large part of the plain, as well as the passages towards Argos, Mycenae, Nafplio and Epidaurus. Among the archaeological findings dating to the Early Bronze Age there are mosaic buildings that surround a gigantic mysterious circular construction. However, most of the buildings, among which are also the Cyclopean Walls, date to the city’s period of growth. The revelation of the secrets of the archaeological site of Tiryns was made possible thanks to the efforts of a lot of archaeologists who carried out the excavations with great respect to this holy place. The archaeological site is officially one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nowadays there are few remnants of the Neolithic period and more particularly, of the Mycenaean times. At the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio and at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens one can admire the wonderful paintings that once adorned the walls of the palace, as well as many everyday life objects and decorations.
Heading from Mycenae towards the south slope of Mount Evia we run into Heraion, a temple dedicated to the worship of goddess Hera. This temple was built on three levels and it was the site were Heraia, an ancient celebration popular all over Greece, took place the second year after every Olympiad. Nowadays only ruins of this ancient temple have been preserved. The period of growth dates from the 5th century B.C. to the Roman times, a period during which the Heraion was the official religious centre of Argos. Along with the discovery of Heraion the archaeologists brought to light a temple of Apollo, the bouleuterion, the roman baths and a cemetery.
Mycenaean Acropolis of Midea
The Mycenaean acropolis of Midea, the third most significant acropolis in Argolis, was built between Mycenae and Tiryns on a conical hill at an altitude of 270 metres. According to mythological tradition this acropolis, which was founded by king Perseus, is the home town of Alcmene and her son, Hercules. The location where it was founded, according to Greek and foreign archaeologists, was of strategic importance since it was possible for Midea to control the whole plain of Argos as well as the ancient passage that led to Epidaurus. The city became a significant industrial, administrative, military and financial centre and this is evident through the wealth of findings that were discovered in excavations in 1939.