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Thursday, June 02, 2011

EXPLORING NEW PLACES: POROS ISLAND & GYTHION, PELOPONNESE

 POROS

The only time I've been to Poros Island was on one of my early years in Greece when it happened the 3-Island day cruise boat I was on stopped at the port for a few hours.  It's one of those nearby islands that most tourists by-pass. There's so many islands in Greece that are more popular destinations.

Well, this year Anna Britt and I have decided we'd like to stop over there on our way to the Peloponnese and take a look around.  I've been looking over some things about Poros and there are a few attractions I would like to investigate.  Poros is a small island with just over 4,000 inhabitants.  It's just 58 km south of Pireaus and a very short distances off the Peloponnese coast. It's a hilly, mountainous island with a few sandy beaches on the southern shore. Recent studies show that the island has been occupied since the Bronze Age with graves located dating to the Mycenaean period.  The ancient polis of Kalaureia was a sanctuary to Poseidon, the sea god.  During the Byzantine period the island was often raided by pirates.  During the Ottoman occupation of Greece, it remained independent.  Russia once had a naval base there until the early 1900s.

One of the archaeological sites that interests me is the Sanctuary of Poseidon built around 520 BC (only a few columns remain).  It was here that the popular orator Demosthenes, poisoned himself with hemlock after he fled the Macedonians in 322 BC. (He had been responsible for slandering Alexander's name in the Lyceum).

From Poros we can take a ferry over to the Peloponnese (with a choice of several ports).  We plan to head south to the seacoast port of Gythion (Gythio) which at one time was the sea port of the Spartans.
GYTHION
Apparently Gythion is noted for its excellent fish restaurants and some great ouzeries.  It is almost the gateway to the Mani and much of the south eastern cost of the Peloponnese.  It's a nice little town to wander about in and enjoy the neo-classical houses.  It's basically a working lcass town, once an important port. There's a long waterfront, and off the shore a small island called Kranai (now connected by a causeway) where Paris and Helen stopped off after he abducted her from King Menalaous in Sparta. Back in those days, it was a busy port for Sparta.  During the Ottoman rule a tower was built which now houses the Ethnological Museum. There is also an archaeological museum in a house built in 1891.  Remember the film "The Tempest" with John Cassevettes?  It was filmed near Gythion.

Gythion has a population of about 5000 but lots of Athenians come here on weekends.  It's close to Nafplio and only a half hour drive from Sparta and the Byzantine site of Mystras.  There are lots of interesting places to visit in the area including the Diros Caves and I am planning to explore the Mani peninsula with its stone towers and history of feuds and freedom fighters.




5 comments:

marula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marula said...

We stayed a few days on a beach by Gythion, years ago, and truly enjoyed it. It's easy to explore the area including Mystra & the Mani... And there was a marked turtle's nest on "our" beach! Have fun!!!

marula said...

The cave at Pirgos Dirou was quite beautiful. Be sure to get there WELL before closing- we didn't and the boatmen were none too pleased to take us through... They didn't explain what we were seeing, although we spoke to them in Greek, and we left feeling a bit let down. In fact our sons, who were 9 & 11 at the time, said the tour should have been run by Disney so that there'd be a recorded narration and we wouldn't miss anything (they've changed their tune since growing up, thank goodness)!

Wynn Bexton said...

Marula, thanks for the input. This a new area for me to explore though I've been to Monamvassia, Sparta, Mystra so I'm really getting excited about seeing it. And the Caves!

Wynn Bexton said...

Hi Marula, I did get to the Caves. They were fabulous! And I loved Gythion too.