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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A DAY AT CORINTH (OLD AND NEW)

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Corinth with Acrocorinth in background

I hadn't visited Corinth (Korinthos) since 1996 and only once before that, during my early days in Greece, so I looked forward to going there again this week with my friends Andreas and Dina.  We headed off early Tuesday morning along with their friend, Lydia, and drove through some dense traffic where the oil trucks (striking) had parked all along the highway, blocking the lanes.  Eventually got there, across that famous old Corinth Canal that was dug centuries ago to make a shipping lane from the Aegean Sea to the Gulf of Corinth.  It's one of those engineering wonders but is rarely used these days.

The ancient city lies below the slopes of a mountain, Acrocorinth, a precipitous mountain that was the acropolis of the ancient city.  The city was in existence since the 5th millennium.  It was at one time known for its naval strength and ship building, and during the Persian Wars, served as a Greek headquarters. 

Temple of Hera

In 338 BC, Corinth shared the Greek's defeat of Chaironea and the Macedonians built a garrison there.  Following that, it was under the leadership of King Philip and later Alexander the Great, and flourished under a century of Macedonian rule.  The Cynic philosopher Diogenes (414 -323) ended his days in Corinth.

In future years, the city was besieged by the Romans and lay desolate until Julius Caesar Planted a colony of veterans on its site.  The Apostle Paul came here during that time and was said to have addressed the Corinthians from the Bema, which still stands among the ruins of the agora.  There are several notable, interesting remains in the ancient (Roman) city and a few of the old Greek city including a theatre and the Asklepeion, the Fountain of Lerna, the Roman baths and most notable, the Temple of Apollo (mid 6th C. BC) with its Doric columns.  There is also an interesting museum at the site.

Roman Baths

After touring the archaeological part of Corinth, we drove down the the Bay of Corinth, picked up Andreas' cousin (another Andreas) and went to a lovely seaside taverna where we had a refreshing swim and later enjoyed one of the best arrays of seafood I've tasted: oktopodi (marinated octopus), kalamarakia (tender, succulent calamaria), filleted sardines and two other types of small fishes cooked whole (maridakias and garides) plus a big plate of fresh horta (greens) and deep fried zucchini balls, all washed down by several jugs of white wine.

Later, Andreas' cousin took us to see where a spring of fresh water gushes and flows into the sea at a place where he said once the women of his village used to wash clothes.

In all, it was a remarkable day, one that will forever stick in my memory.

I've spent the week with my friends in their beautiful roof-top flat overlooking the city clear out to Pireaus where you can see the ships at sea.  We went one day to Flisvos Marina for icecream, the other days just sat around on the balcony enjoying the view and the sunsets and discussing my novel and other literature.  It was indeed a very special time spent with these special friends.

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