|Euboea, Nafplio, Mycenae, Corinth and Epidaurus
The island of Euboea is the second-largest in Greece.
A major bridge (road and rail) spans the narrow Evripos
Strait that separates the island from the mainland, to arrive
in the main town, Halkida, a well-built
tourist resort. Euboea is an island
of great natural beauty and scenic variety, with
sandy beaches and secluded coves, wooded mountainsides ideal for
climbing, and numerous peaceful and unspoilt villages. Regular
train and bus services run between Athens and Halkida, and there
is a ferry from Rafina.
Lying to the south of the country, the Peloponnese,
rich in history and varied landscapes, is joined
to Central Greece by a massive road and rail bridge spanning the
Canal of Corinth.
An ideal base for exploring the ancient sites of the
northeast Peloponnese, from 1824 to 1834, Nafplio was
the capital of the newly formed state of Greece, before this role
was passed to Athens. Many consider this place as one of the country’s
loveliest towns, the historic centre is made up of narrow
winding streets with Neo-classical and Ottoman-style buildings.
Seafood restaurants line the seafront. Far above the ground stands
Palamidi, a Venetian fortress.
Close by lies the stunning Karathona Bay, with
a wide sand beach, backed by eucalyptus trees. Just north of Nafplio
stands Tiryns (Tirintha), the ruins of
an ancient fortress made up of huge limestone blocks,
dating back to the 13th century BC.
The ancient fortified city of Mycenae lies north of Nafplio.
The fortress is entered through the Lion Gate,
named after the two magnificent lions (now unfortunately headless)
carved into the rock above the doorway. Within the walls, excavations
have uncovered the palace complex, whereas close by on the hill
of Panagitsa, the Treasury of Atreus
(an underground tomb, 36m (118ft) long and 6m (20ft)
wide) is considered the most impressive example
of Mycenaean architecture.
Corinth lies north of Mycenae. The modern city,
despite its beautiful location, is unremarkable, having been ruined
by an earthquake in 1858, rebuilt but destroyed again in 1928.
However, 8km (5 miles) away, on the northern slopes of Akrokorinthos
Hill, are the ruins of Ancient Corinth
(Arhea Korinthos), where the remains of the Temple of
Apollo are still visible. On the hilltop stands Acrocorinth
(Akrokorinthos), with a medieval fortress
built on an ancient site. From the highest point, on the Temple
of Afrodite, one can enjoy an outstanding panorama.
East of Nafplio stands the striking open-air Epidaurus
Theatre, dating back to the 4th century BC. The acoustics
are great, and there is seating for 14,000. From July to August,
each weekend, the Epidaurus Festival offers performances
of ancient Greek dramas in this perfect setting.
East of Epidaurus, jutting out from the Peloponnese peninsula,
lies Methana, a significant spa town
since ancient times, with sulphuric waters and modernised hydrotherapy