Published in Travel Guides , Articles & Reviews  | January 17, 2015

Updated January 4, 2015

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BEST OLD TOWNS AND VILLAGES IN GREECE

 

Travelling back in time...

 

 

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ART

 

 

CULTURE

 

DESIGN

Rhodes Town | Dodecanese

In the Aegean sea, between Karpathos and the shores of Asia Minor, Rhodes shows strong evidence of the influence of western Europe from the days of the Knights and more recent Italian domination.

 

 

 

There is mention in Homer of three ancient cities, Lindos, Ialyssos and Kamiros, which, according to myth, took their names from three princes, grandsons of Helios and were probably founded during the Mycenaean period, surviving to the time of the Dorians. The first inhabitants, back in the days of mythology, were the Telchines, then came the Achaeans and, after 1200 BC, the Dorians. In the 5th and 4th c. the island had 5 major harbours and its statutes constituted the international law of the day. In 70 AD it was subjected to the Romans and later passed to Byzantium. In 515 AD it was destroyed by a violent earthquake, in 1097 it fell to the Crusaders and from 1309 was ruled by the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, who remained on the island for two centuries. There followed the Ottoman domination and then the Italian, until 1947 when Rhodes was liberated and incorporated into Greece. Read More

 

Corfu Town | Ionian Islands

Cor­fu is the part of Greece clos­est to west­ern Eu­rope, both geo­graph­i­cal­ly and cul­tu­ral­ly.

 

 

It was the first ar­ea of the coun­try to be con­quered by the Ro­mans, who treat­ed their ac­qui­si­tion with be­nev­o­lence. In the course of its his­to­ry the is­land passed through the hands of the Ve­ne­tians, the French and the Brit­ish, who al­so in turn left the stamp of their cul­tures. The Cor­fi­ots have a long tra­di­tion in mu­sic, thea­tre and in­tel­lec­tu­al pur­suits. The Cor­fu Phil­har­mon­ic So­ci­ety was found­ed in 1840 and there are to­day doz­ens of bands on the is­land. In 1808 Greece’s first uni­ver­sity was in­sti­tut­ed, the Io­ni­an Acad­e­my and in 1815 the first School of Fine Arts, while the Read­ing So­ci­ety which con­tin­ues to flour­ish to this day, was al­so the first in­sti­tu­tion of its kind.  Read More

 

 

Hydra | Argosaronic Gulf

Dur­ing the Na­pol­e­on­ic Wars, the Hydriots’ ships monop­o­lized food sup­plies in the Med­i­ter­ra­ne­an ar­ea and broke through the Brit­ish block­ade of French ports.

 

 Hydra’s first in­hab­i­tants called it Hy­drea, be­cause of the island’s abun­dant springs.In 1500 AD, in­hab­i­tants of the Pel­o­pon­nese set­tled in Hy­dra, in or­der to avoid the Turks, who, however, seized the is­land in 1715. Hy­dra had al­ready be­gun to de­vel­op into a mer­chant ma­rine pow­er and gained the good will of the Turks, who grant­ed them au­ton­o­mous stat­us. Dur­ing the Na­pol­e­on­ic Wars, the Hydriots’ ships monop­o­lized food sup­plies in the Med­i­ter­ra­ne­an ar­ea and broke through the Brit­ish block­ade of French ports. Grain smug­gling brought enor­mous wealth to the is­land and un­prec­e­dent­ed de­vel­op­ment. Most of the man­sions and a great num­ber of large ships were built at that time. A Mer­chant Ma­rine Train­ing School was es­tab­lished, while Greece’s fin­est teach­ers taught at the island’s schools. In those days, Hy­dra had a pop­u­la­tion of 35,000 and ap­prox­i­mate­ly 200 ships, armed with can­non. Fol­low­ing Greece’s lib­er­a­tion and the ad­vent of steam­ships, Hydra’s mar­i­time su­pre­ma­cy fell into de­cline and the ma­jor­ity of Hydra’s in­hab­i­tants were forced to em­i­grate.  Read More

 

 

 

Monemvasia | Peloponnese

The Gibraltar of the Peloponnese, as it is called, was fortified during the Middle Ages to protect the inhabitants from raids by the Avars, Slavs and pirates.

 

 

Monemvasia took its name from the Greek words meaning single approach, the point (now a causeway) at which the rock is connected with the mainland. This medieval fortress-state is built on a rock 300 m above the sea. In ancient times, it was a harbour town called Akra Minoa. The Gibraltar of the Peloponnese, as it is called, was fortified during the Middle Ages to protect the inhabitants from raids by the Avars, Slavs and pirates. The High City (Ano Polis) was erected first (6th c.), followed by the Lower City (10th c.). The town’s development and wealth made it very alluring to pirates, but the castle’s position, stout fortifications and its people’s determination to resist, forced the raiders to withdraw empty-handed. Read More

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zagorohoria | Epirus

The villages, as far as we know, seem to have been founded around 912. But the area really developed during the Ottoman occupation, because of the privileges awarded to its inhabitants by the conquerors.

 

 

A chain of 46 traditional villages in the mountains north of Ioannina, whose natural boundaries are Mts Mitsikelli and Gamila and the Aoos river. Thick pine and fir forests, crystalline streams and stunning scenery — this district never fails to awe the visitor with its majestic virgin natural beauty, impregnable to modern encroachments. The human element, in complete harmony with the environment, is expressed through superb arched stone bridges, imposing mansions built in the austere local style, and lovely old churches. The villages, as far as we know, seem to have been founded around 912. But the area really developed during the Ottoman occupation, because of the privileges awarded to its inhabitants by the conquerors. In 1430, after an agreement with a representative of the Sultan, it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire, but retained certain self-governing powers. Influential merchants and craftsmen, the men of Zagori became even more prosperous and well educated when they emigrated around 1600 to Romania and Russia. Some of those who stayed behind, the so-called Vikos physicians, also made their mark by utilizing the herbs and therapeutic plants of the Vikos Gorge to cure illnesses. The region has given birth to a good number of Greek philanthropists. Read More

 

 

Mani | Peloponnese

The idiosyncracies of Mani’s past history and the severity of its bizarre customs forced almost every family to have

its own defensive tower to live in, its own chapel and cemetery.

 

 

 

Mani is the name of the middle prong of the southern Peloponnese, extending to the slopes of Mt Taygetos and forming a notional triangle from Kalamata to Cape Tainaron and Gytheion. There are 250 villages and hamlets in Mani, 800 towers and six castles. The predominant impression is of a landscape extraordinarily grim, stony, waterless and barren, consisting of stark jagged mountains plunging precipitously to the sea and countless stone tower dwellings and Byzantine churches.

Maniots have always been fired by a strong sense of independence and profound patriarchal family ties. If any member of a family were to suffer an insult, it resulted in a feud, a “vendetta” – frequently bloody – involving the entire family of the offended (and offending) party. The idiosyncracies of Mani’s past history and the severity of its bizarre customs forced almost every family to have its own defensive tower to live in, its own chapel and cemetery. Poverty and the consequences of such rifts among the great and powerful families forced  many to emigrate to other parts of Greece and abroad — some to Corsica, whose descendants constituted Napoleon’s bodyguard – and quite a few became pirates. Read More

 

 

Mykonos Town | Cyclades

Even the not­ed architect-town plan­ner Le Cor­busi­er

ad­mired its har­mo­ny and the ar­tist­ry of the self-taught

mas­ter build­ers who con­struct­ed it over time.

 

This is a gem of a town, a prime ex­am­ple of Cy­clad­ic ar­chi­tec­ture. Even the

not­ed architect-town plan­ner Le Cor­busi­er ad­mired its har­mo­ny and the ar­tist­ry of the self-taught mas­ter build­ers who con­struct­ed it over time.

To­day a list­ed set­tle­ment, it con­sists of nar­row, white-washed al­ley­ways, ti­ny church­es, white hous­es with bright­ly paint­ed wood­work and mar­vel­lous

wind­mills. Read More

 

 

 

Vamos | Crete

Today, with sensitivity and effort, the inhabitants have managed to retain the village's traditional atmosphere while bringing it back to life.

 

 

Vamos the Apokoronas provincial capital was first settled in the mid -8th c. Today, with sensitivity and effort, the inhabitants have managed to retain the village's traditional atmosphere while bringing it back to life. Its narrow paved streets, plane trees, park, squares, picturesque cafes and stone houses are exceptionally charming and nostalgically evocative.

 

 

 

 

Chania Old Town | Crete

The labyrinthine streets, the arches, the arcades, the houses and the pa­laces will take you on a journey through time.

An extensive self-contained area, with outstanding Venetian build­ings, which also incorporate ele­ments of sub­se­quent Turkish inter­ventions.

The labyrinthine streets, the arches, the arcades, the houses and the pa­laces will take you on a journey through time. Read More

 

 

Patmos | Dodecanese

The Town of Patmos (Hora)  grew up around the fortress-monastery of St. John in the late 16th c.

 

 

 

The Town of Patmos (Hora)  grew up around the fortress-monastery of St. John in the late 16th c. It lies due south and above the port of Skala, and is connected with it by a narrow avenue of eucalyptus trees. With its three small squares and dense construction, the village is divided into connecting quarters such as Kritika, Apithia, Allotina and Pezoula. There are many interesting churches of the 15th, 16th and 17th c. to see. Read More

 

 

 

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