(Athina) is named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who, according
to legend, won the city after defeating Poseidon in a duel. The goddess'
victory was celebrated by the construction of a temple on the Acropolis, the
site of the city's earliest settlement in Attica.
Visitors with visions of gleaming marble and philosophers in white robes
are understandably perturbed that the architectural achievements of Athens'
classical past are surrounded by the unforgiving concrete of indiscriminate
20th-century urbanisation. Over 3 million visitors come to the city
each year but the majority see the sights as quickly as possible (as if
fulfilling some cultural duty) before heading off for the easy hedonism of
the Greek islands.
Olympia, lying in the angle between the rivers Alpheios
and Kladeos, was a great Panhellenic sanctuary, the venue of the Olympic
Games. German excavations from 1875 onwards, which led to the establishment
of the present village of Olympia, brought to light the sacred precinct
which was known in antiquity as the Altis (the sacred grove) and is now
again planted with trees. Situated at the foot of the wooded Mt Kronos in an
area of gentle hills, the site of ancient Olympia - one of the great
achievements of archeological excavation - makes an impact on the
present-day visitor which is fully commensurate with its importance in
ancient times. A direct consequence of the excavation was the revival of the
Olympic Games by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the first Games of modern times
being held in Athens in 1896.
Delphi is the most famous pilgrimage destination of the
ancient world and one of Greece's best archeological sites!
Delphi is located 110 miles northwest of Athens. There's no airport or rail
station particularly close, so really the only way to visit is via bus or
car. The major Athens tour companies run one and two day tours to Delphi,
and also include Delphi on their longer tours of Greece. The two main things
to see in Delphi are the archeological site and the museum.
Kalambáka is a small country town situated at the
point where the river Piniós emerges from the Pindos range into the
Thessalian plain. It is a convenient base for a visit to the Metéora
monasteries, or a starting-point for a trip through the Pindos mountains to