Greek islands for Ancient Greece fans
The Terrace of the Lions, Delos Island

Greece is portrayed as the ultimate destination for the summer due to the sun and the lacy beaches of the numerous little and bigger islands, as well as the tradition and the local tastes that captivate each and every visitor. However, the Greek islands constitute history poles, so new archaeological excavations are being conducted constantly and unveil secrets of the past years that leave us speechless.

For those of you who are especially interested in the ancient years of Greece, add in your summer bucket list the islands below and you won’t be disappointed.

Aegina

It is one of the Saronic islands of Greece that during ancient years was a sailing and trading rival of Athens, due to its placement between Attica and Peloponnese. On the north part of the island the Temple of Aphaia is located. It is a Doric order temple built by local porolithos in 480 BC, with 24 well preserved columns out of 34 that there were initially. The Greek myth says that Minos, the King of Crete, fall in love with the daughter of Zeus, named Vritomartis. The girl tried to run away from him diving into the sea. Some watermen found her, but one of them fall in love with her, too, so Vritomartis put herself into escaping again, when the boat was near to the island of Aegina. After she managed to come out of the water, it is said that she was disappeared with a divine intervention into the forest of Aegina. That’s why she was named ‘Aphaia’, which in Greek means that she was lost in the ether. From the place where the Temple of Aphaia is located, when the atmosphere is clean, you can see the Parthenon of Acropolis at Athens and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio. It is said that these three temples create an isosceles triangle, the sacramental triangle of the antiquity!

Naxos

The largest island of Cyclades group of islands offers a diverse landscape that spans both mountains and extended beach areas, as well as archaeological ruins. The most popular is Portara (in Greek: Gate), the huge entrance of the Temple of Apollo that dates back to the 6th century BC, and together with the foundations, are the only remaining parts of the temple. It was of Ionic order and was built by the tyrant Lygdami. But, after the fall of the tyranny it remained unfinished with the marble pieces being used for the construction of the Castle of Chora by the Venetians. According to the Greek Mythology, Theseus, after escaping from the Labyrinth together with Ariadne, where he had killed Minautor, he abandoned her in the island of Naxos, after God Dionysus asked it from him into his night dream. Then, Dionysus married her, giving since then inspiration to many artists from around the world!

Portara, Naxos Island
Portara, Naxos Island – credits: Constantinos Iliopoulos / Shutterstock.com

Delos

Delos is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a unique archaeological importance for the world. Today, landmarks such as the doric Temple of the Delians, the Terrace of the Lions, the House of Dionysus, the Temple of Isis, the Theatre and many more are monuments of incomparable historical and mythological interest, and make Delos the ultimate archaeological experience.

It is the place where Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis, the twins of Zeus, but it had a position as a holy sanctuary many years before. However, why did Leto go to Delos for the childbirth? As the story goes, Hera, being jealous of Zeus and Leto had ordered all the islands to shun Leto, so it was difficult for her to find a safe place to give birth to her children. So, Poseidon helped his brother Zeus and found a secret place for Leto, the island of Delos. Since then, the island has been declared ‘the most sacred of all islands’ and is considered to be bathed in the unique light of Zeus’ son!

Kos

According to the Ancient Greek Mythology, Asklepius was the God of Medicine and Healing and son of Apollo. However, he was raised by the Chiron, who was considered to be a kind of centaur, and who taught him the art of healing. Asklepius became such a great healer that he even learned how to raising the dead, that is, he reached the immortality. Then, the Olympian Gods got angry with him and killed him, but he came back to life and became the God of Healing. According to another version of the myth, Asklepius moved to Kos island where he was teaching people the art of healing. Hippocrates of Kos, the most outstanding Greek physician and ‘the father of Medicine’ is considered to be a descendant of Asklepius! All over the world, there are more than 300 Asklepions -healing temples and institutions where healers were curing their patients, promoting healthy lifestyle and giving particular emphasis on a person’s spiritual needs. However, Asklepion in Kos island, which dates back to 400 BC, is the largest and the most well-known of all.

Asklepion, Kos Island – credits: Esin Deniz / Shutterstock.com

Crete

Knossos, referring either to the palace complex, or the wider area, the centre of the Minoan Civilization, is the largest archaeological site in Crete and has been called Europe’s oldest city. The Palace of Knossos was raised in 16th century BC and has a rich history of disasters and rebuilding periods. However, the latest version of it came into the light after the excavations that started in 1900 by the English archaeologist Arthur Evans and continued for 35 years. Although the palace is not exactly as it was, it is believed that it had 1,300 rooms and could host up to 12,000 people!

Among the halls and the special spaces, there was the Labyrinth, a confusing structure designed by Daedalus for the powerful King Minos of Knossos to hold the Minotaur, the mythical creature with the head and the tail of a bull and the body of a man. As the story goes, Minos asked help from Poseidon, the Sea God, in order to win his brothers to rule the city. He prayed to him to send him a white bull as a sign of support. Poseidon sent it to him, but in return Minos had to kill the bull. Instead, he decided to keep that one and sacrificed another one, thinking that Poseidon wouldn’t care. But Poseidon got angry and in order to punish him, he made Minos’ wife, Pasiphae, to fall in love with the bull. From the mating between Pasiphae and the bull, Minotaur was born. His destiny was to stay forever into the Labyrinth, killing every 7 years, 7 young Athenians and 7 maidens, as a penalty to them for the death of Minos’ son, Androgenus. His end came by Theseus who managed to kill him and escape from the Labyrinth with the help of Ariadne’s clew!

Knossos Palace

 

>Experience a unique family trip to Greece inspired by the Minotaur Greek Myth and Percy Jackson via a 7 Day Family Greek Mythology tour

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