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Kalamata Kafeneio - Copyright 2008 Rona Nicholls
The Peloponnese was a peninsula connected by a narrow strait but now it is technically an island since the Corinth Canal was dug. When you enter the Peloponnese from the direction of Athens you will be able to look down over the impressive, steep walled canal and, you are lucky, see a large ship inching its way through. The area is very mountainous having two ski resorts as Kalavrita and Mainalos. Many ancient archaeological sites are dotted all over the area including Mycenaean sites. The home of the ancient Olympics is here as is the first modern Greek capital.
The area is divided into the prefectures of Corinth, Arkadia, Ilias, Argolis, Achaia, Messinia and Lakonia.
The largest town in the area, Patra is also the port of the region. Since 2006 when it was the European Capital of Culture, it has become recognised fo being more than just a port to put behind you as soon as possible. Monuments such as the Roman Odeon which is used for performances in the summera ans the Achaia Clauss Winery a little outside are just a couple of places to visit.Check out the site for more info. http://www.greekwinemakers.com/czone/winemakers/Ahaia.shtml
Olympia, the home of the Ancient Olympics in the western Peloponnese was threatened by fire in the summer of 2007 to the consternation of many, but has remained. Each time the Olympics are held, the flame is let here during a reenactment of the rites that were carried out by priestesses of the time.
Olympia also has a museum which is open to visitors.
Nafplio, the first capital of the parts of Greece which were newly liberated from the Ottomans in the 19th century, is rich is history and culture. Its castle's foundations go back to ancient times while the visible ruins are a mishmash of everything that came after the ancient Greeks. Popular with Athenians who come down at weekends, Nafplio also welcomes visitors from all parts of the globe due to its history and ambience.
You will also enjoy the many ancient sites, some of which are Mycenean such as Pylos and Mycenae. This period also produced the tholos tombs which are said to have originated in Messinia. Rugged Mani was a law unto itself until recently, you will understand if you refer to the author, Patrick Leigh Fermor who resided part of the year in the Mani until his recent death. This area has many Byzantine churches as well as the Maniot towers.
Argolida in winter above and on the right, Patras Harbour at sunset. Photographs Rona Nicholls Copyright 2008