The museums of Irakleion are veritable treasure chests of knowledge about the history, culture and traditions of Crete. What’s more, they have adopted new technologies to provide unique interactive experiences.
5,500 years of history brought to life
Treasures of world cultural heritage, including the Phaistos Disk, the Snake Goddess figurines, the bull-leaping frescoes from the Palace of Knossos, the gold bee pendant from Malia, and the colorful Kamares pottery, are all beautifully presented in the newly renovated Archaeological Museum of Irakleion. The tour begins on the ground floor dedicated to Neolithic Crete and the Minoan civilization, and continues onto the first floor in the room that features the Knossos frescos. Here, The Prince of the Lilies competes in the beauty stakes with La Parisienne, also known as The Minoan Lady. Returning downstairs, you can conclude your tour at the display of archaic sculptures, which includes some of the oldest in existence in Greece.
Meet El Greco
Irakleion was the birthplace of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco, and here at the Historical Museum of Crete you can see two of the artist’s most important works – the View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery (1570) and the Baptism of Christ (1569). The museum is housed in 1903 mansion and covers the history of Crete from the early Byzantine period up to the World War II. Of particular interest is an impressive 15m2 scale model of the city of Irakleion, then called Chandakas. The hall devoted to Christian religious art is also a must-see. Browse through one of the applications designed especially for the museum and when you’re done, finish off your visit in the garden, sipping homemade lemonade while enjoying the sea views.
The life and times of an eminent Greek
The village of Myrtia, lies 15 kilometers outside Irakleion; it is “the soil where they (the ancestors of Nikos Kazantzakis) were caught and buried,” as the famous writer, poet and philosopher put it in his novel Report to El Greco. During renovations in 2009, the museum took the opportunity to modernize its tour methods, leveraging digital media to create a “living, breathing” space where you can open the drawers of the furniture, browse through the author’s work via touch screens and take an up-close look at the table where he sat and wrote most of his novels. You can also see his pipe, his glasses and his handwritten manuscripts. The room dedicated to Katzantzakis’ epic poem The Odyssey stands out, as does the space with the suspended suitcases that symbolize all his voyages.
Homage to Byzantine Iconography
With the low lighting, an atmosphere of solemnity and prayer chants, it’s easy to think that you’ve come to church instead of a museum dedicated to Christian art. Housed in the largest monastery of the city – St Catherine of Sinai, a 13th century Venetian building – this recently renovated space serves as a small museum while still operating as a church. Among the treasures housed here are 15th century icons attributed to the great icon painter Angelos, as well as six icons by Michael Damaskinos and the 1721 icon of the Virgin Kardiotissa. After the occupation of Irakleion by the Ottomans, the monastery was converted into a mosque known as the Zoulfikiar Ali Pasha. At the coin exhibit, press the button and look left: a section of the minaret which remains visible becomes illuminated.
A look back at everyday living in Crete
More than 3,000 objects, most of which were part of the lives of Cretans up until the middle of the last century, are on display at this museum, in operation since 1973 and located in Voroi, just a few kilometers from the archaeological site of Phaistos. A tour of the two-story 500m2 building is an initiation into popular Cretan culture and into the history of the island. The objects date from 1000 AD until the middle of the 20th century. Another space is dedicated to those crafts that have been lost as professions, such as basket-making.
Meet a Deinotherium!
The most striking exhibit at the museum is the model of the third largest mammal to have ever walked the Earth, Deinotherium giganteum. This creature, which lived in Crete 9 million years ago, has been modeled by the scientists at the Natural History Museum of Crete. Set in an industrial building on the coastal road, the Natural History Museum of Crete delivers a full sensory experience, with impressive representations of nature presented in actual scale, as well as a simulated earthquake. Children love the animated dinosaurs and the Discovery Center, where they can play in caves, look for fossils in the sand and watch a video projection.
*Originally published on Greeceis0 Read More
Kasos is located to the east of Crete and is the southernmost of the Dodecanese island cluster. At first glance, its rugged landscape makes it appear somewhat savage and hostile. But this is an island of pleasant and welcoming people that is very rewarding for those who make the effort to visit.
Located near the main port of Fri, locals in the pre-Ottoman era poured all of their considerable skills into the construction of this 2,000-year-old port. At the Church of Aghios Spyridonas, with its ornate bell tower, the owner has an important collection of family photographs that illustrate life on the island in the past century.
Take a walk from Pounta to Emboreio to enjoy the sunset or a swim at its beach, which is particularly pleasant when there is no northerly wind. Next, head for Panaghia, a pretty village with a number of well-maintained stately homes that stand out for the imposing archaic-style columns at their entrance and their beautifully carved wooden doors. The same village is home to the Church of Pera Panaghia, which hosts one of the biggest fetes on the island on August 15, a national holiday marking the Dormition of the Virgin. The six small churches located in the village also constitute a fine example of Byzantine architecture.
This landmark is best visited off-season so that you can truly appreciate the synergy between the Byzantine architecture and the stunning Aegean seascape. September 2 is an important date for this church; locals gather for a major religious festival and stay at the monastery’s dormitories overnight.
Passing Fri and Bouka as you head west, you will come across a small church dedicated to Saint Constantine (Aghios Constantinos) that marks the turnoff to Ammouas beach. If you keep going for about 5k further along the road, you will reach Antiperatos beach, which consists of three small coves with excellent blue-green waters that can get a bit choppy in northerly winds. The beach at Helathros is also worth a visit, made up of massive rocks embracing a pretty bay with clear waters.
Set sail from the port and in 35-40 minutes heading west you will reach the islet of Armathia, where you can swim at one of the loveliest sandy beaches in the Mediterranean, known as Marmara (Marbles). Another amazing tour – though you will need a local guide – is along the eastern coast of the island, allowing you access to beautiful beaches that cannot be reached in any other way, such as Agali and Gialoui.
Kasos is renowned for its excellent cheeses and other dairy products. Near the entrance to the village of Aghia Marina when traveling from Antiperato, is the dairy of the Vonaparti family, the only large business on the island producing fine local cheeses and exporting all over Greece. Aghios Georgios in Hadia is about 15k further along the central road and along with Mytata, is where the people of Kasos have been producing cheeses for decades.
Nothing will make your visit to Kasos more worthwhile than attending one of the many traditional feasts that islanders are so fond of hosting, mostly to celebrate a marriage or baptism, or to mark some religious holiday or other. Local bands perform traditional tunes mainly on lyres and lutes, while songs have the narrative lilt of Cretan mandinades. There is also no shortage of theatrical flair, as the meaning of the lyrics is often illustrated with dramatic hand and facial gestures. As you sip your raki, you may find that you’ve lost track of time and the sun has already started to come up, but don’t worry, these are experiences you’re sure to remember for many years to come.
It was the first time I was attending Travel Expo 2016 and the first exhibition for G&I custom luxury travel. This 3 day exhibition was based in Athens and it was an international Greek Tourism meeting -3rd Exhibition taking place. This was a huge opportunity to be able to meet with over 2000 people from over the world and build relationships with them. Excitement was an understatement!
We had the opportunity in having B2B appointments with agencies / tour operators from Europe, Balkans, Asia, Middle East, USA and Canada. The appointments were approximately 15 minutes in duration and that was enough time at first hand. If not no worries, as we had the privilege of inviting the agents to our amazing bar at our booth for after work drinks 🙂
Let me tell you more about the booth we had in the exhibition hall. The number was C54-56 (how can I forget) of which we shared with our colleagues, Luxury Concierge and Life Line, and what a booth it was! We had a great Seating area for our outside meetings to take place, a bar for coffee and drinks or even snacks. It was an amazing opportunity for G&I and we couldn’t have done it without our affiliates.
by Mairina Chrysopoulo
General Manager & Owner
The 5 best reasons to spend a day – or week – on Antiparos, Paros’ little sister.
Antiparos, a small, anti-mainstream island, has stood its ground as an alternative offshoot to neighboring Paros, tourism-oriented and cosmopolitan with a vibrant, fancy and high-decibel nightlife. By contrast, the mild tourism development on Antiparos has not taken away the purity of the island, a focal point for the rock-punk community since the pre-digital 80s. Those unconventional camping-ground types our parents advised us to keep away from have since grown old, lives were influenced by the considerable time spent at La Luna, the little island’s legendary outdoor club, as well as at the rock-oriented Doors club, dedicated to the late rocker Jim Morrison, while the “official nudist beach” – as defined by its frequenters – behind the camping ground, was a carefree spot. The Cycladic island’s hippy spirit has not really changed over the years. Five reasons to visit the island follow:
The island’s devotees widely believe that Antiparos is its camping facility, launched in 1978. It has carved out its own history on the island as an alternative-scene focal point and, even today, stands as the reason why many visitors choose to holiday on Antiparos. The restaurant operating at this 300-tent capacity camping facility is its pivotal spot. Groups of friends gather here to play cards and backgammon in the afternoons and enjoy their first warm-up drinks for the night. Most campsite dwellers usually don’t take off for the main town, a ten minute walk away, until well after midnight. Shots and cocktails are had at Camping Antiparos before they head to La Luna for late-night partying.
The bars at the town’s square close at around 3 to 3.30am to avoid disturbing neighbors. As a result, revelers relocate to either the late-night La Luna disco or Mylos, a dance club.
The former, an open-air, down-to-earth nightlife oasis that enjoys cult status, is said to have once been the location of a poultry enclosure. Since opening in 1979, its owner has hardly touched a thing. Any signs of wear or tear have been left unattended, which has added to the spot’s accumulating vintage charm. La Luna is located deep amid fields. The moonlight serves as a useful guiding light to locate the spot, it is said. Everybody dances a lot here. The music is dominated by old classic tunes from the 70s and 80s. Revelers know when it is time to leave when Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, the club’s signature closing-time song, comes on. Strictly order beer here.
Extremely different, Mylos plays mainstream dance music. It is housed at an old mill with a view of the sky. At daybreak, the sunrays enter from the glass roof and revelers party on donning their sunglasses. Should you lose track of your friends in the crowd, you may climb the mill’s outdoor staircase to the top and try and spot them from there. Otherwise, the climb is ideal for the breeze and sunrise experience. Without a doubt, the two clubs represent two entirely different camps. You either belong to Mylos or La Luna. There is no between.
Sifneiko beach, named as such because it looks towards Sifnos, also known as Iliovasilema, meaning sunset, is a lovely beach offering an uninterrupted sunset view. As the “golden hour” draws nearer, scores of people, especially couples, rush through the alleys to make it to the beach on time for the experience. Two laid back café-bars also operate here if you feel like treating yourself to a drink. The route to Sifneiko runs by a mid-15th century Venetian castle located within the town. It was built by Giovanni Loredano, a Venetian nobleman, to protect the island from pirate invasions. Twenty-four houses were later built in the surrounding area. Many of these are still inhabited today.
Soros beach is one of the most renowned and essential places to visit. Its Megalos beach is more cosmopolitan and offers a good beach bar. The Mikros beach, which is not organized and covered with fine pebble, offers greater privacy. From this point on, the shoreline features numerous delightful coves with turquoise waters and clean water.
Besides the beach by the island’s camping facility, part of which has been defined as “nudist” by frequenters, Faneromeni and Aghios Sostis, are the island’s other leading swimming spots. Located on the west side of the island, they are challenging to reach but well worth the effort. On the east side, Monastiria and Livadia are great spots for windsurfing and kite surfing.
One of the world’s most significant caves, located in the centre of the island, may be reached by descending 411 steps or 85 metres. Its entrance is located at the top of the Ai-Giannis Mountain, also the name of the charming small church perched on the rock. Fragments of ancient vases, as well as carvings and inscriptions on stalactites and stalagmites by a number of historic figures, have been discovered inside the cave. The descent to the cave’s bottom is safe and reached by a concrete staircase. The heart of the cave is divided into three sections. The first features stalagmites and stalactites, resembling waterfalls. The second is renowned for having hosted a Christmas Day mass in 1673, during Ottoman rule. The third section is known as Vassilikos (Royal) as a result of a visit to the cave by King Otto, the first monarch of modern Greece, and his wife, Queen Amalia. Their inscriptions still exist.
Significant findings from ancient times have been made on Despotiko, an uninhabited island west of Antiparos, as well as at two other neighboring virgin islands, Tsimintiri and Stroggylo. The oldest Cycladic settlement was discovered on Saliagos, an islet off Antiparos. However, the archaeological interest is focused on Despotiko, identified as the location of Ancient Prepesinthos, where proto-Cycladic tombs and cemeteries were discovered a century ago. Two constructions were also discovered a few decades later. One of these, a superb sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo, is estimated to have been used from the 7th century BC until the Roman era. The people of Paros built this place of worship as they were determined to consolidate their dominance in the Aegean. Numerous parts of sculptures, six kouros heads and over 500 architectural pieces are some of the discoveries that have been made over the years, shedding intensifying light on ancient Greek history. Despotiko may be easily reached by boat from the small Ai-Giorgis port at Antiparos. Once there, do not miss out on the opportunity to swim in this little island’s superb turquoise waters, whose beaches are covered with fine golden sand.
Orphic Hymn 58 to Eros (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.):
“To Eros (Love), Fumigation from Aromatics. I call, great Eros, the source of sweet delight, holy and pure, and charming to the sight; darting, and winged, impetuous fierce desire, with Gods and mortals playing, wandering fire : agile and twofold, keeper of the keys of heaven and earth, the air, and spreading seas; of all that earth’s fertile realms contains, by which the all parent Goddess life sustains, or dismal Tartaros is doomed to keep, widely extended, or the sounding deep; for thee all nature’s various realms obey, who rulest alone, with universal sway. Come, blessed power, regard these mystic fires, and far avert unlawful mad desires”.
Beauty in Greece is exquisite; timeless; unspoiled. It was in this sacred landscape that love was born. Greece is the birthplace of the winged God Eros, the son of Aphrodite; the God that with his quiver and arrows inspired artists and writers over the centuries to praise the virtues of love. Whether you are looking for an ideal honeymoon destination or just a romantic escape, the beauty and diversity of the Greek landscape forms the most romantic backdrop to celebrate your love.
Search for your fairy-tale romance in the Greek islands, a perfect honeymoon destination bathed in sunlight all year long. Explore with your other half the islands on a cruise and enjoy sun-kissed beaches, superb natural landscapes, cosmopolitan resorts and traditional settlements alike or taste exquisite local dishes. Santorini, Mykonos and Corfu rank among the most popular romantic getaways in Greece but don’t forget to pay a visit to the rest of the Aegean and Ionian islands as well!
Set out on a journey through time and experience the sheer medieval beauty of wonderfully preserved stone-built settlements and fortified towns spread all over Greece. Be the knight or princess of your childhood fairytales in the Byzantine town of Mystras; unveil a medieval mystery in Monemvasia or rediscover romance as you enter one of the largest medieval towns in Europe, the old town of Rhodes.
If you fancy the bustle of big cities however, relish blissful unforgettable moments while walking hand in hand along monumental avenues or narrow pedestrian streets under the city’s lights… How about adding an extra touch of romance?! Catch a bird’s eye view of the city from hilltop viewpoints; sip a glass of wine in a nice atmospheric bar; enjoy a dinner of fine Greek cuisine under the candle lights or search for a beautiful secluded cinema to watch a romantic film!
*originally published on Greece is0 Read More
A low-key Cycladic island experience, conveniently close to Athens.
One of the country’s more low-profile islands, Kythnos is located in the western Cyclades, just a three-hour ferry trip from Piraeus port. It features five main villages, Merihas, serving as the island’s port, Hora, the main town, also known as Messaria, Dryopida, Loutra and Kanala, as well as some smaller villages. The autumn season suits this island well as it derives its beauty more from the interior than the coastline. The greenery between Messaria and Merihas, the scene of ceramic roof-topped houses at Dryopida and the medieval castle at Oria are examples of the island’s inland charm.
Emotional and impulsive, the people of Kythnos, once called Thermia, are lively and full of surprises. Don’t be caught off guard if asked to take command of a traditional wooden boat (trehadiri), as was the case during our first visit to the island, when we found ourselves steering a 12-meter vessel at Kavouroheri, Potamia and Aghios Sostis, three small bays close to Loutra. Also, don’t feel awkward if offered a sip of local wine from a hollowed-out bull horn. They were used as spoons in the old days here. Another of our unusual experiences on the island was when a wine-filled horn spoon was passed around one night during an outdoor celebration to the sound of lute (lauto) and tsabouna (traditional bagpipe) in Dryopida.
When the dancing begins, locals let visitors know that it is time to get up and move. Any claims by outsiders of not knowing the steps to traditional dances are immediately brushed off. Visitors really have no choice but to join the traditional syrtobalos dance. Locals can be insistent on such issues and may seem a touch harsh or mad but, deep down, they are hospitable people.
The island’s culinary offerings are exceptional. On our brief trip, we tried thesfoungata (cheese croquettes), tarahto (scrambled eggs with tomato),tyropitaria (cheese pies), dried olives and, of course, souma (distilled spirit). The sweet-toothed members of our group were drawn to theTratamento confectionary workshop and store in Messaria, whose products included beetroot sweet preserve, verbena (louiza) liqueur andamygdaloto (almond-based biscuits).
*Originally Published on GreeceIs0 Read More
Four sharks are heading your way, but all you can think about is getting a selfie with them. You’re at CretAquarium – Europe’s most modern aquarium and part of Thalassocosmos, the Mediterranean’s biggest center formarine research. Spread over an area of 5,000m², it is home to more than2,000 marine animals and 200 species, living in softly lit tanks big and small that are designed to emulate Crete’s marine environment.
The largest of these tanks, standing 20 meters high, contains the big fish of the open sea and dozens of dusky groupers, languidly swimming around among them. If you choose the audio tour, you will learn all sorts of interesting details such as the fact that all groupers are actually born female.
Another highlight – which, however, needs to be arranged beforehand – is the tour of the “backstage” area. Guides take you through the “nursery” where newborn octopuses are allowed to grow in peace; the fish “hotel” that takes in new arrivals and allows them to become acclimated before being introduced to tanks; and the “hospital” for injured Caretta caretta sea turtles.
They are pictures as reminiscent of Greek summer as glasses of ouzo and slices of watermelon. White sandy beaches, beach umbrellas which look like colorful buttons scattered across the frame and tranquil turquoise watersin which the figures of tiny people float.
These are the beautiful drone photographs captured by Marina Vernicos in tribute to the Greek summer, which form part of a series titled “Shades”.
The Athens-born photographer studied Communications and Photography at Emerson College, Boston, and Business Administration at Harvard Extension School. Since 2001, her work has been showcased around the world, including at the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Louvre and the Hangaram Art Museum in Korea, London, Monaco and New York.
She has also won the Sandro Botticelli award and the France La Grand Exposition Universalle.
Her foray into aerial photography began two and a half years ago, when a friend of a friend showed her husband a drone he had bought. “My husband got really excited and got one too. This is how it all started.” says Marina.
“We’ve seen aerial pictures from helicopters, but never like this, looking from above straight down. We’re not used to seeing this kind of view so it’s something new and interesting for us.”
Since buying the drone, she’s been working on her technique, and says that drone photography is the next big thing in her field. “I think it’s the best that photography has to show right now. It’s a whole different concept, a wholedifferent view. And it’s very tricky in order not to make the pictures seem as if you’re looking at Google maps. There’s a fine line between art and Google Earth. ” says Marina.
Why is it that we find aerial photography so fascinating, I ask her. “It’s a completely different point of view,” she says. “We’ve seen aerial pictures from helicopters, but never like this, looking from above straight down. We’re not used to seeing this kind of view so it’s something new and interesting for us.”
Her pictures showcase locations around Europe such as Ibiza, the Dominican Republic and Formentera, Spain, but are heavily focused on Greece. “The locations are places that I go and that I love. This is my suggestion to anyone who is involved in photography, to start from where you come from.” says Marina. “You have to photograph the places you know best, and the places you love and this is how you get inspired.”
Her upcoming project focuses on the Greek islands. She currently traveling around them and, as she puts it, trying to capture the very best that they have to offer.
And when it comes to Greece, her enthusiasm for the country that so often occupies her lense is endless. “I think Greece is the most beautiful place on Earth. I really do believe that. I’ve traveled all around the world, I’ve been to107 countries. Nothing compares to our waters, to our energy, to our light. The beauty of Greece, you can’t find it anywhere in the world!”
“The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion at the Saronic Gulf is one of the most memorable sights of Greece thanks to its rich history and beauty”
On the peak of Cape Sounion, at the southernmost tip of Attica, stands thetemple of Poseidon, beside whose columns one has virtually a hang-glider’s view of the Saronic Gulf. The distinct promontory was also sacred to Athena, worshiped in a small sanctuary below the summit. A timeless navigational landmark, Sounion was vulnerable to the passing Persian fleet in 480 BC, which stopped long enough for the invaders to destroy the temples of both Poseidon (early 5th c. BC) and Athena (6th c. BC). The latter was rebuilt a decade later, while a new temple for Poseidon, designed by Athens’ “Theseion Architect”, arose ca. 444 BC. After Sounion was strengthened with a hilltop fortress in the late 5th c. BC, it became an important Attic borderpost and coast guard station, equipped with a rock-carved ship’s ramp for the drawing out and rapid launching of small naval craft.
As Philip II, Alexander and their successors rose to power in the 4th and 3rd c. BC, Sounion was occupied by Macedonian troops. Under the Roman empire, the stronghold lost much of its military significance, but still proved advantageous to a band of rebellious slaves (ca. 100 BC) temporarily on the lam from the silver/lead mines at nearby Lavrion. Sounion also became notorious as a pirate haven and later as a favorite stopover for early travelers and antiquarians—including Lord Byron, in the early 19th century, who left his name prominently carved into one of the Poseidon temple’s marble doorposts.
For today’s visitors, just as for Byron, ancient Sounion should not be missed. This is one of the most inspiring, memorable sights in Greece. From the moment one first spies the tall elegant columns, while approaching Sounion along the sinuous Attic coast, the ancient temple’s ruins elicit awe. On the sacred promontory’s summit, sea and sky stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see. Peace and quiet reign, the sound of the wind, even other visitors’ voices seem not to offend. This is the perfect place for streaky pink sunsets, evening calm, an ouzaki by the sea in a neighboring tavern.
The European Best Destinations platform asked travelers to vote for the best European beaches.
With the weather heating up, Brussels-based European Best Destinations(EBD) compiled its list of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe. Greece ‒ with its clear blue skies, crystal clear water and golden sand – could not be missing from the lineup. Beaches on the islands of Lefkada, Karpathos, Samos and Zakynthos were praised for their beauty, making the Top 12 which was topped by Stiniva Beach on Vis Island in Croatia.
The European beaches from a selection of 280 beaches shorlisted by the EBD jury were voted on by 10,218 travelers from 136 different countries. The beaches were assessed on a number of criteria, such as their suitability for relaxing, partying or simply walking.
•Stiniva Beach, Vis Island – Croatia
•Tossa de mar, Costa Brava – Spain
•The Concha, San Sebastian – Spain
•Berlanga Island – Portugal
•Cala Acciarino, Lavezzi Island – Corsica
•Kavalikefta Beach, Lefkada – Greece
•Armacao de Pera, Algarve – Portugal
•Apela Beach, Karpathos – Greece
•Santa Maria Dell’ Isola, Calabria – Italy
•Ksamil Beach, Ksamil Islands – Albania
•Kokkari Beach, Samos Island – Greece
•Zakynthos Islands – Greece
0 Read More
We are G&I. Greece and Italy Custom-made Services. And we know these two glorious countries like no-one else.
© Copyright 2016
Dousmani 20A, Glyfada 16675, Athens, Greece
+30 211 0128 448
+30 694 5300960