Continuation from the previous post on the Peloponnese (here)
Mystras - Medieval Citadel - UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
Dimitries, the sympatico English speaking Tour Guide we arranged for, the evening before, was waiting for us at the site's Upper Gate, exactly at 8:30am, when the site just opened.
A passionate most knowledgeable licensed Guide and an Archeologist who excavated in many sites around Greece, for the past 16 years, Dimitris, made our 2.5 hours of exploration, a worth while interesting experience.
Dimitris Vlackhakos - Archeologist Tour Guide
+30 6974712849 Dvlachakos@hotmail.com
It made sense to explore the citadel from the top downward, especially during this heat-wave curse.
The castle was built in 1249 by William de Villehardouin, the Frank, conqueror of the Peloponnese, but it was given to the Byzantines 10years later, who turned Mystras into the capital of the "Despotate of Moreas", the rulers of the citadel town.
The Rulers Palace
The powerful entity in the Byzantine times (13th-15thad) was prosperous and culturally flowering, especially during the last ruling decades, when it was the second most important town, after Constantinople, and famous for its several Byzantine churches, architecture and valuable frescoes.
The monumental ghost town is full of ruins and remains of its glorious past., including
remains of a fortress, some cisterns and towers, a small palace, (being renovated for years) some stone-built mansions, as well as wonderful Byzantine churches, monasteries
and remains of mosques and minerets, residuals of the Ottomans conquered period
Churches along Mosques and 2 synagogues (according to the guide) once coexisted next to each other benefiting their congregants in professional and the commercial exchanges
The lush greenery surrounding the area and its gorges, is composed mainly of pine trees cypresses, fig trees and grapevines.
At its hay-days, a population of about 40, 000 resided inside the castle town, and residents still inhabited the site until 1954. In 1999 Mystras became a world heritage site
As already mentioned in the previous post (here) below the Medieval Castle, a new small village -Neos Mystras, whose inhabitants are descends of the old castle's residents, now live and where many traditional accommodations are found.
Views from Mystras to the valley below
With touring this amazing site, we completed our exploration of the south of the Peloponnese , which we tremendously enjoyed, as per the map below.
The North-east of the Peloponnese
Driving up Northeast toward the next large Peloponnese town of Nafplion, we passed
several archeological sites, and when exploring the area, touched on other few, though didn't explored thoroughly. See map.
Ancient Mycenae - Famous fortified citadel nested over the fertile plain of Argolis .
Mycenaean civilization dominated mainland Greece, the Aegean islands, and the shores of Asia Minor during the late Bronze Age era 1600-1100 BC
Ancient Tiryns - a major Mycenaean citadel, located in Argolis region, controlled the trade routes between the mainland and the Aegean centers.
Ancient Argos - another Mycenaean settlement, important throughout the Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman period, known for its ancient architecture remains of the theatre, once the largest in Greece, and the remains of the 2nd-century CE Roman baths.
Ancient Asini, remains of the acropolis on top of a hill of prehistoric settlements and parts of ancient city walls also revealing Mycenaean tombs.
Ancient Corinth : was one of the most important ancient Greek city-states in the whole region of Greece, with a history stretching across the span of around 8000 years.
Archaic Temple of Apollo remains are the original temple dating from the early 7th. as are relics of the Gymnasium and the Asklepieion,
And off course Ancient Epidaurus.
East of the charming Nafplion, a town which we planned on visiting for 2 nights, there are 3 sites named Epidaurus , situated on the Epidaurus Gulf , on the north east side
2..Old - where the port is
3..New Epidarus - situated further up North
Ancient Epidaurus UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece.
A small city in the Argolis region of the northeastern side of Peloponnese, known as
The surrounding is blessed with plentiful water from healing springs .
The most brilliant and known sanctuary center of healing in the ancient world was founded In Epidaurus, and the place where the science of medicine was born. culminating in the 6th BC, and situated about five miles (8 km) from the town.
The sanctuary included monumental buildings to serve the worship of the god Asclepius and accommodate the healing needs of the many visitors from around the Greek and the Roman world. ******************* David adds “From Greek to modern medicine “ <<Ancient Greek medicine was based on understanding of human anatomy . The Greeks carried out autopsies extensively to understand relationships of disease , pathology and bodily changes . The huge body of work was archived in the great library of Alexandria , under Greek rule (Ptolomeus) .
When Julius Ceaser burnt the Alexandria library (inadvertently ), all this medical knowledge was lost . Monotheism believes the body belongs to the divine and forbids autopsies . Monotheism regressed medicine by hundreds of years . One thousand years later , Ibn Sina (Avicenna) a Persian scholar that lived mainly in Afghanistan studied cadavers, he had to steal from cemeteries with the help of his students , among them the RAMBAM , resulting in the most important medical book in one thousand years “ The Book of Healing “ which changed the course of the science of medicine . >>
As part of the extensive construction program of the 4th and the 3rdc BC, a large ampitheatre was built to host theatrical and musical performances.
The worship of gods of healing goes back to the prehistoric Mycenaen period.
The prosperity brought by the Asclepeion in the 4th and 3rd BC enabled Epidaurus to construct other civic monuments, including a huge theatre,
This popular archaeological site, is most famous for its perfect open-air Ancient Theatre, constructed in the late 4th BC (330-20 BC) and enlarged in the mid-2nd AD .
It is the finest and best-preserved, famous for its symmetry and the incredible acoustics.
The overall 55 rows of seats rest on a natural slope and face the stage area set against a backdrop of lush green landscape with a nice view to the valley below.
The theater was rediscovered during the first systematic excavation of the sanctuary in 1881 and its excellent preservation has allowed its re-use to host events that are consistent with its character and cultural significance. In summer, it hosts performances of ancient Greek drama.
Greece’s foremost cultural festival and one of the oldest performing arts festivals in Europe (since 1955), the Athens & Epidaurus Festival each year presents numerous theater, dance, and music artists, acclaimed in Greece and worldwide, attracting large audiences from around the world.
The theater is an example of a classical Greek theater which was built to host religious ceremonial events in honor of god Asclepius, whose healing center was located in the site next to it.
The cult of Asclepius at Epidaurus is attested in the 6th century BC, when the older hill-top sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas was no longer spacious enough.
The site reveals remains of temples (also of other deities) buildings servicing host pilgrimage, installations for the athletic and music concerts, bathes and sculptures.
Inside the small museum on site, are on display, large number of medical instruments used in practical medical operations carried in the sanctuary, which were discovered during excavations.
After 3 centuries of prosperity and world fame, the sanctuary’s decline is related to the roman general Sulla who plundered its treasures in 86 BC and shortly later it was ravaged by pirates from Kilikia.
A short revival occurred in 2nd Ad with erection of new buildings and repair of old ones , but in 395 it was plundered by Goths until finally the sanctuary ceased to function, when the ancient cult was banned in 426 Ad, by emperor Theodosius
Lionidas in Ligourio
Close to ancient Epidaurus about 5 km away, there is a known recommended restaurant
We decided to have dinner on the quaint beach of New Epidaurus a small less touristic and mainly frequented by locals
Ippokampos Seafood restaurant
To be continued....