Things to Do in Peloponnese
Squeezed between two hills on the arid plains of the northeastern Peloponnese, fortified Mycenae was the major settlement in the powerful Mycenaean civilization that held political and cultural sway over the Eastern Mediterranean from the 15th to the 12th century BC. The Bronze Age city is regarded as the home of the legendary Agamemnon and is UNESCO World Heritage-listed for its profound cultural influence upon later Greek civilizations.Covering around 32 hectares and at its peak with a population of around 30,000, the ruins at Mycenae were excavated in 1874 by Heinrich Schliemann, who also worked at Troy. Highlights include the Lion Gate, the main entrance into the citadel carved with figures of mythical lions; the Treasury of Atreus – also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon; the scant remains of the Royal Palace; and the Cyclopean Walls, whose massive stone blocks are all that remain of the original fortifications.
The Epidaurus Theater is a stunningly well-preserved ancient theater constructed in the 4th century BC. It was built by the architect Polykleitos on the side of a mountain and merges perfectly into the surrounding landscape of undulating hills, overlooking the Sanctuary of Asklepius. For centuries, Epidaurus Theater remained covered by trees, until excavations revealed the ancient monument towards the end of the 19th century. Despite repairs and restorations over the years, particularly to the seats, the stage itself has been retained as it was since ancient times. Today, the theater is a popular venue for the annual Athens Festival productions, which are held here every summer.
The site of the Ancient Olympic Games in Olympia in the Peloponnese was lost to time and earthquake until 1875 when excavation began to uncover the ancient stadium (which could seat 20,000), the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera (where the Olympic Flame is still lit from the sun), and many other important buildings.
Today they are only ruins, foundations and columns mainly but still of great interest and one of the most visited ancient sites in Greece.
Adjoining the site is the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, which contains some of Greece's most valuable historic artifacts found in the Altis or sanctuary to Zeus. The museum is famous for its sculpture collection including Nike who was said to come down from the sky to hand a palm leaf to the victors. The large terracotta collection is also renowned and this modern museum is a great way to get a feel for how it was to be at those ancient games.
Your gateway to ancient Olympia and coincidentally, the flame and founding place of the Olympic Games, the recently modernized port at Katakolon is a pleasant way to begin a quiet and majestic tour of this seaside town in western Pyrgos. It is a very small place with not very many inhabitants, but the increasing amount of visitors here will tell you that if a quiet holiday in one of ancient Greece's most important destinations is what you want, this is the place to find it.
Located at the western edge of Greece's Peloponnese Peninsula, there are a ton of cruise options from within Greece for getting into Katakolon. Because the port is actually one of the few physically able to house certain types of ships, don't be surprised that you will find it as a destination for large excursion trips as well. Once in, the port is located just five minutes walking from the main area in town.
In western Greece in the region known as the Peloponnese is a heavenly 10 mile stretch of sand called Kourouta Beach.
Only 30 minutes from the Katakolon port, this beach is a favorite with the locals and has yet to be widely discovered by the international tourism trade.
Swim in the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea, walk along the pedestrian pathway or enjoy food and drink at the many coffee-bars, clubs, restaurants and fresh fish taverns that adjoin the beach. If you're craving some of that famous Greek sunshine, there are sunbeds and sunshades available to rent for only around eight euro.
There are camping sites and hotels, shops, even an outdoor cinema during summer. Paradise indeed.
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