Greece Vacations

The country of Greece has a coastline that extends along the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Sea and is dotted with over 2000 islands. There are over 40 mountain ranges in Greece that exceed 2000 meters. The most famous mountain being Mount Olympus which was known in Greek mythology as home to the gods. Greece has played an instrumental part in the formation of western culture with societies based on Greek democracies. Ancient Greek architecture, such as the Parthenon which dates back to 447 BC. is an example of Classical Greece society. Alexander the Great, who was tutored by the famous philosopher Aristotle, was king of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia and brought under his control Asia and India. Greece culture has been a major influence on Western Civilization.

Greece Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Greece Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Greece

Greece Geography

Greece is mountainous and peninsular country in Southeast Europe, in the Balkan countries peninsula. The country has the largest coastline in Europe with 13.676 km. because it has many islands. The total number of Greek islands are 2.000 and just 168 have inhabitants. On the east, Greece borders with Aegean Sea, to the west side with the Ionian Sea and on the south, there is the Mediterranean Sea. Almost two thirds of Greece territory are in mountains. The highest peak is the Mount Olympus with 2917 meters altitude. This gorgeous country has plenty of natural resources that provide the petroleum, lignite, bauxite, magnetite, marble and hydropower too. Basically, the Greece geography has affected and marked immensely the civilization development throughout the ages. All the geographic features here are unique and special and have created a one of a kind nature environment. The flora and fauna diversity is rich with numerous species that are native to Greece, so they are found only here. The species include rivers, lakes, forests, canyons and even underground caves. The volcanoes and limestone are most of the Greek territory and have made formations of canyons and caves.

The capital city is Athens and this belongs to the Attica prefecture that is in the center of this country. Attica is a peninsula that has 4 mountains around it and they create a basin, and in that basin the suburbs and the city of Athens are constructed. On the south point of Attica there is the Cape Sounion and on top of that there is an ancient temple that was dedicated to the great God Poseidon. The says that King Aegeus had fallen from the Cape Sounion and drowned. He had done this when he thought his son Theseus was dead, killed by a Cretan minotaur. On the west, the peninsula Attica is divided by the Corinth Canal and Peloponnese, the first one being artificial work from 1893.

The mainland of Greece consists of certain regions; Sterea – central Greece, Thessaly, Peloponnese – east-central, on northwest the Epirus, on north – Macedonia, and northwest – Thrace. The islands and island complexes also are part of Greece: Cyclades, Crete, Dodecanese, Sporades, Ionian, Saronic and East Aegean islands. The most known and popular mainland region of Greece is the Peloponnese. It is on the south of Greece and it resembles an island linked with the mainland by 2 bridges – the Corinth Canal bridge and the Rio-Antirrio cable bridge. The inland is further divided with incredibly high mountains which extend to a landscape of plains that are fertile, pine tree forests and craggy foothill areas.

There are over 2.000 large and small islands that are scattered in the Ionian and Aegean Sea. Most of them are in the Aegean Sea, right between Turkey and the mainland. The largest of all Greek islands is Crete and this is followed by Evia. As third and fourth are Rhodes and Lesvos. The most famous ones are Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Zakynthos, Crete and Corfu.

Greece History / Culture

The Greek history covers all the history parts of the Greek territory of modern state Greece and its people, the Greeks, also the areas where they live and where historically they made an impact. The Greek rule and habitation has modified throughout the years and thus the Greek history is rich with many components.

*During the Neolithic period, there were agricultural societies and this lasted from 7000BC to 3200/3100BC.
*The Bronze Age or Helladic was the time when Greece had a transition to economy that is metal-based, from 3200/3100BC to the start of the Mycenaean Greek Palaces period, circa 5 centuries (1600 to 1100BC).
*During Ancient Greece period, the Mycenaean civilization fell in the period 1100BC to 146BC, spanning over a few periods like the Greek Dark Ages, also known as Homeric Age and Iron Age. *Other such sub-periods were Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic.
*The Roman Greece period was the time when the Roman Conquest of Greece took place, from 146BC-324AD.
*The Byzantine Greece period witnessed the capital city establishment of Byzantium, the Constantinople (324AD) until this capital fell, 1453AD.
*The Ottoman Greece period started in 1453 and lasted until 1821 when the Greek Revolution happened.
*From 1821 onwards, the Modern Greece period started.

The Greek state had its geographical and cultural peak when it was spreading to Egypt and even the mountains Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. Ever since, all Greek minorities still were in the home territories, like Albania, Turkey, Libya, Italy, Armenia, Levant, Georgia and more. The Greek emigrants were assimilated to various societies all over the world, like Australia, North America, South Africa and Northern Europe. These days, majority of Greeks are living in the modern state of Greece (that got its independence in 1821) and in Cyprus as well.

Greece Landmarks

Greece has some wonderful landmarks that correspond to each historic period.

For example, the Minoan period (27th to 15th century BC) left behind the impressive Palace of Knossos. This palace is located on a hill and it has pine trees all around. It is divided with 2 courts – West wing, for visiting official staterooms and religious premises, and East wing for workshops and domestic purposes. Knossos Palace also has some preserved frescoes underneath layers of ash and dust, and this lead archaeologists to think that the Minoans were destroyed from the volcano eruption of 1450BC, in Santorini. The frescoes are colorful, the colors are lively and vivid and the scenes depicted are mostly everyday life, happy things and festivities.

Of the Mycenean period (1600-1200BC) there are tall, massive and strong walls. The Mycenae and Tiryntha have these specific and unique Cyclopean walls that are made with huge, massive stones. Like this, there are also tombs where priests and kings are buried and these tombs are vaulted.

From the Classical architecture period, there is abundance of marble temples in 3 main orders and classes: austere Dorian type, elegance of Ionian, and Corinthian (a mix of the previous ones). There are many temples in dedication to Greek gods, like Apollo temple in Delphi, Hephaestus temple in Athens, Athena Aphaia temple in Aegina and more. The greatest monument of all is the Parthenon temple that is located on the sacred grounds of Acropolis Athens. It was built from 447-438BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena, the protector of the town. In the very center of the city, there is also the equally impressive Temple of Olympian Zeus.

From the Roman architecture, there are mostly arches and stone carvings. For example, the Arch of Hadrian made in 132AD marked the Athens borders with the Roman part of town – it is made of marble and is 18 meters high, 12,5 meters wide and 2,3 meters deep. The Library of Hadrian is in Athens, and is a massive and impressive monument with some remains left. Inside there are many rooms that served as reading rooms and lecture premises.

Ancient theaters are other examples of this period and its buildings. People used to gather in theaters to celebrate festivities and celebrate their gods. The most famous ones are the Theater of Epidaurus (made in 4th century BC) with amazing symmetry and perfect acoustics. Others are the first ever theater in the world – Theater of Dionysus in Athens with its massive open space, stone seats and magnificent view, and the other famous theater is Theater of Herodes Atticus, at the Acropolis location, almost identical to the previous one.

Of the Byzantine architecture, there are religious symbols and more churches. The size is oblong and every church had a central isle, and later a dome was introduced to this. A typical Byzantine church building has a few circular domes, square plan and nicely colored frescoes. They were mainly made of brick and the most famous church is Agia Sofia (in Constantinople), and chapels can be seen in Thessaloniki, Mystras, Meteora and Mount Athos too.
Of the Medieval architecture, the influence of Venetians is seen mostly in houses, streets, public buildings and such. A famous Venetian town is the Old Town of Rhodes, Corfu, Chania and Rethymno -located in Crete. This city has strong walls and is the biggest preserved settlement location in all of Europe. Here you can see Gothic churches, lovely inns, stone paved paths and more.

Of the Ottoman architecture, the influence is seen through the baths, mosques, castles and fortifications. For example, the Kos mosques, also Rhodes and Crete, as well as many baths (Ottoman style) in the Chania Old Town.

The Neoclassical architecture has left the famous trilogy: Academy, Library and University in Athens. These buildings are glorious, aristocratic, massive, classy and precise. Furthermore, there are town halls, train stations, a theater, churches, the Presidential Mansion in Athens, the Numismatic Museum (with collections of over 60.000 coins), the Syros Town Hall with its Romanticism charm and Western style – all made of marble.

Lastly, of the Cycladic architecture, the remains are the looks of the Greek islands themselves. The houses are gorgeous, churches are made of stone, streets are paved down. The colors blue and white predominate everywhere in Greece, and even houses were painted like this due to government acts. The colors white and blue correspond to the clear sky and nice waters of Greece. The houses are rectangular and rather small, all close to each other, made of stones and bricks with lovely gardens and yards with flowers.

The Main Regions of Greece
Starting in the west and then moving east.

Ionic Islands
The Ionic Sea is located along the west coast of Mainland Greece. It begins just south of the Adriatic Sea and extends south between Italy and Greece where it merges with the Mediterranean Sea. The Ionian Islands stretch from Corfu in the north to Zakynthos in the south within the boundary of the Ionian Sea. The islands are a popular tourist destination and are known for their white sandy coves and the turquoise ocean.

Greek Mainland
The Greek Mainland include the areas of Attica, Epirus, Central Greece, Macedonia, Thessaly and Thraki. The Pindus Mountain range extends through the mainland part of Greece and the most famous summit is Mount Olympus which was the home of the Greek Gods. And the numerous National Parks in the area provide ample opportunity for winter sports.

Peloponnesse
Peloponnese is a major peninsula that extends from the southwestern part of mainland Greece. It is an area that oozes with history and culture. From the Byzantine Empire and their beautiful churches and castles that were built during the 15th century. The peninsula is also the location of the city of Elis which was the site of the 1st Olympic Games and the ancient Greek Temple Olympia.

Crete
Crete is located in the far south where the Sea of Crete, the Southern Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea merge. Crete is famous for its history and culture where it was once the center of the ancient Minoan Culture.

Evia
Evia is a long island that lies between the eastern coast of Mainland Greece and the Sporades Islands. The island is believed to have been part of the mainland of Greece but was separated from the mainland by an earthquake.

Sporades
The Sporades Islands lie north of Evia in the Aegean Sea. Not all of the islands are inhabited but if you are planning a vacation then you will probably visit Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

East Aegean Islands
This is a group of islands located in the Eastern Aegean Sea and their location is in close proximity to Turkey. The area is steeped in history and is known for their Byzantine Churches and Medieval Castles.

Cyclades Islands is an archipelago located in the Southern Aegean Sea that contains some 2,200 islands. The most famous islands are Mykonos and Santorini.

Dodecanese Islands