Tag: monastery

An aerial peek at Patmos

This video by Vassilis Kostoulas includes the song Celestial Liturgy— verses of Revelation set to music by Constantine Gousis

 

Pondering Patmos: Today I learned that friends are considering a trip to Patmos this spring, as part of an island hopping holiday in the Dodecanese. By coincidence, I also stumbled upon a video of Patmos that was posted to YouTube only five days ago. I’m sharing it here on the blog not just to show my friends some of the island’s main features, but also to assist any readers who might be pondering a visit to Patmos themselves.

Entitled Η γη σαν ζωγραφιά, which roughly translates as “The earth like a painting,” the video runs for nearly 5 and a half minutes and offers an aerial tour over much of Patmos. It starts and ends with views of the picturesque mountaintop village of Chora and the island’s most famous attraction, the Monastery of St. John the Theologian.  The film also shows several of the island’s beautiful bays, including my personal favourite, Grikos, along with the port town of Skala and some of the scenic beaches and coastlines.

 

If you want to see more of the island after watching this video, click over to my post Perspectives of Patmos, from March 2016.  It includes two more enticing aerial videos that were produced by the Municipality of Patmos to promote tourism to the island.

For on-the-ground views of various places around Patmos, flip through my Patmos photo collection on Flickr, which contains more than 600 pictures from our visit in May 2010. Some of those photos accompany my mini trip report Greece holiday 2010: Patmos.

And in my post Greece holiday 2010: Grikos Bay on Patmos,  you can watch several of my own videos of Grikos, which has been named one of the most beautiful bays in the world by the international World Bays organization.

Monastery of St John the Theologian on Patmos

The imposing Monastery of St John the Theologian towers above the elegant whitewashed mansions of Chora village on Patmos

 

For further information about Patmos, give the following travel website articles a read:

♦  Apocalypse Now, on Patmos, posted January 17 to the excellent travel, culture and gastronomy website Greece Is;

The Top10 things to do and see in Patmos, published January 5 by The Culture Trip; and 

Patmos, the spiritual Greek island, a profile from the September 2016 issue of Conde Nast Traveller magazine

Also be sure to check out the official website for the Municipality of Patmos.

 

Petra beach near Grikos Bay on Patmos

Back to back beaches: Petra beach, in the foreground, is just a quick stroll from Grikos beach (behind the road of trees) at lovely Grikos Bay (top)

 

Photo highlights from our trip to the Peloponnese and Hydra

Monemvasia

The fascinating fortress town of Monemvasia, where we spent three days and nights in early June

 

Amazing experience: I only need one word to describe our first-ever visit to Greece’s Peloponnese region and  Hydra island this month: Wow!

We weren’t even halfway through our holiday when we noted that the trip was shaping up as one of our best vacation experiences ever in Greece. Now that we’re back home, recalling all the places and sights we encountered and sorting through our photos,  we’ve agreed that it was our favourite trip of all. 

The Argolida and Laconia districts of the Peloponnese far exceeded our high expectations, while a spur-of-the-moment trip to Hydra impressed us immensely as well. The sights and scenery everywhere we went were simply amazing.

 

 

 

We enjoyed exhilarating views of sparkling turquoise seas and mountains extending as far as the eye could see. We roamed around charming villages and towns, visited historic archaeological sites, and walked dozens of kilometers along scenic coastal paths. We saw vast groves of olive trees, thousands of citrus trees laden with fruit, and dozens of picturesque churches, chapels and monasteries. We explored ancient castles, even spending three nights in a fortress town and swimming in the sea below its formidable stone walls. And we drank good wine and dined on delicious traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine. 

I will tell you more about our trip in detailed posts to come, but will launch my 2016 trip report with a series of photos showing some highlight sights and scenes from our travels.

Please click on the link below to view the pictures on page 2.

 

the monastery of Elona

The Monastery of Elona, which clings to the face of a cliff on Mount Parnon, was a breathtaking sight during our drive from Nafplio to Monemvasia

 

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An entrancing visit to Arcadia, the mythical land of Pan

The Arcadian is a captivating short film by PanoVerino

 

Domain of Pan: Just two days ago, I published Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives, a post packed with photos of beautiful winter scenes in Greece. The Arcadia region of the Peloponnese was one of the regions featured prominently in that post.

I just discovered a fascinating short video of Arcadia that filmmaker PanoVerino published the same day on the film and video sharing website Vimeo.com.

Entitled The Arcadian, the 3-minute film shows entrancing ground and aerial winter time views of impressive mountain and valley landscapes, breathtaking hillside villages and the extraordinary Monastery of Prodromos, which was constructed into the side of a sheer cliff face around the year 1167.

In notes on his Vimeo page, PanoVerino explains that “The Arcadian is a person who leads and prefers a simple rural life. According to Greek mythology, Arcadia of Peloponnesus was the domain of Pan, a virgin wilderness home to the god of the forest and his court of dryads, nymphs and other spirits of nature. It was one version of paradise, though only in the sense of being the abode of supernatural entities, not an afterlife for deceased mortals.”

The spellbinding scenery in Pan’s domain is beautifully filmed, and The Arcadian makes me eager to explore this scenic and mythical area of the Peloponnese, hopefully on our upcoming late spring trip to Greece. Give it a watch to see if the video has the same compelling effect on you.

[If the name PanoVerino sounds familiar, you may recall seeing his film Postcard from Mykonos Greece, which I shared in  my July 11 2015 blog post, A breathtaking video postcard from Mykonos. Take a look at the PanoVerino Vimeo page to see more of his marvellous films.]

Must-see sights in and around Rethymno on Crete

Guest post by the Cretico blog

Rethymno is the third largest city in Crete and one of the most beautiful in Greece. Byzantine churches and monasteries, renaissance monuments, caves, countless beaches and enchanting villages throughout the province, await the visitor to wander and admire them.

The Old City

Rethymno in Crete

The oriental influence of the Turkish occupation, combined with the Venetian architecture of the Renaissance, compose the beautiful picture of the old town of Rethymno. Taking a walk through the narrow streets of the historic center, you can see many Venetian and Turkish monuments. From the Venetian harbor and the famous lighthouse, you can reach the Venetian Fortezza castle. The arches of the Venetian Loggia will definitely impress you. After a while, you will have the chance to rest and drink fresh water from the Rimondi fountain with three spouts in the shape of a lion, built in 1626 by rector Rimondi.

A stop at the Historical – Folk Museum of Rethymnonn with its historical exhibits, is definitely not a waste of time. Continuing your tour in the old town, you will admire the church of San Francesco, you will pass through the Great Gate and will reach the main square where you will admire the various public buildings. The old city is the living history of Rethymno, it turns you back in time and invites you to visit it.

 

The Fortezza Castle

Fortezza Castle

Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent highlights of Rethymno is the unique Venetian castle Fortezza. This is the Venetian castle that dominates the hill of Paleokastro, in the heart of the city and is famous as the largest Venetian castle ever built.

In the same place, in ancient times, was built the citadel of ancient Rirthymna and the Temple of Artemis, which have not survived. After the city was looted by the Algerian pirate Ouloutz Ali in 1571, was created the need for a good fortification. That’s why in 1573 was built the majestic pentagonal fort, according to all the modern methods of fortification and was designed so that it could shelter the entire population of the city.

Its premises, many of which are preserved in good condition until today, included barracks, a church, hospital, warehouse, the residence of the Directors, the residence of the Rector and a luxurious and stately building in the central square of the fortress. In the fortress of Fortezza takes place, in the summer, the Renaissance Festival of Rethymno, which attracts many visitors to Rethymno.

 

The Archaeological Museum of Rethymno

Archaeological Museum of Rethymno

In front of the main gate of Fortezza is the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno, since 1887. It is housed in a pentagonal Ottoman building that was built for the protection of the entrance of the east gate of Fortezza.

Here are displayed findings of the Early Minoan, Middle Minoan and Late Minoan times, such as various pots, tools, weapons, pottery, jewelry, signets, and clay figurines, such as this of a female figure known as the “goddess with upraised hands”. The visitor can also admire various objects and artwork of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman period, such as gold jewelry, glass vases and collections of sculptures from various regions.

Among others, the Museum displays an interesting collection of coins from different historical periods of time.

 

The Monastery of Arkadi

Monastery of Arkadi

One of the highlights of Rethymno which deserves a visit is the Monastery of Arkadi, one of the most important monasteries in Crete, situated 23 km from Rethymno, in a strategic location on the northwest side of the mountain Idi.

The name of the monastery comes from the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius and its foundation dates back to the 5th century. The Monastery of Arkadi became known worldwide as it was strongly involved in the liberation struggles against the Turkish conquest. On November 8, 1866, the defenders of Crete who were sheltered in the monastery, blew alive in order not to surrender to the Turks. This event is known in history as the “Holocaust of Arkadi Monastery” and for this reason, this place has been characterized by UNESCO as a European Freedom Monument.

After the destruction, the monastery was completely rebuilt and restored to its original form, although the burned-out temple, and a cannon ball, wedged in a cypress, witness its history. Visitors can admire the two-aisled church in the center of the monastery dedicated to Saint Constantine and the Transfiguration of the Savior, which was built in the 16th century, the chapel of St. Arkadius, the monastery’s museum hosting exhibits dating from its inception and the powder magazine where the tragedy of 1866 took place.

 

The Monastery of Preveli

The-Monastery-of-Preveli

The Monastery of Preveli is located about 40 km south of Rethymno and is one of the most famous and respected monasteries of Crete. We don’t know exactly when it was built, but the evidence shows that the first part of the monastery was built in the late 10th to early 11th century, at a time when there was a great development of monastic life in the southern region of Crete.

It consists of two building complexes, the Monastery of Prodromos, in which you will see paintings of the painter Mercurius, and the Monastery of Theologos. It is worth visiting the museum located inside the monastery, which hosts about 100 pictures of priceless religious and historical value. Important exhibits such as a Gospel of 1807, a gilt chalice of 1847, a collection of embroidered vestments, a collection of various ecclesiastical vessels etc., complete the rich collection of the museum. The library of the monastery contains about a thousand volumes of books and other church documents. The Monastery of Preveli is located in a unique natural environment which is almost tropical.

 

Anogia Village

Anogia-Village Crete

The village of Anogia, in Mylopotamos, is approximately 50 km away from Rethymno at an altitude of nearly 800 m. Built on the slope of the hill Armi, with about 2500 inhabitants, Anogia have achieved a tremendous contribution to the national liberation struggle against the Turkish conquest, particularly in the Battle of Crete.

Anogia is also an epicenter of contemporary Cretan civilization. If you visit Anogia, you will be surprised by the traditional textile industry of the place, the reputed embroidery of the village and the use of the loom, which continues even until today.

The Anogians love their heritage and respect the customs and traditions of the place, keep the traditional clothing and language idioms. What remains intense in memory of every visitor of Anogia is the characteristic hospitality of the locals and the excellent care to foreigners.

 

The Caves of Rethymno

Ideon-Antron-Cave

Another highlight of Rethymno is the 800 caves that exist in the mountains of  the region, which present archaeological and folklore interest. At an altitude of 1538 meters in Nida Plateau in Psiloritis, is the Ideon Andron, a large cave, where, according to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised by Amalthea. Ideon Andron was a cult center during the Minoan years. The excavations have brought to light various findings such as gold jewelry, ceramics and various metal objects.

In the Cave of Melidoni, which was Mercury’s place of worship, the visitors can see the bones of the inhabitants of Melidoni, who died there from suffocation, as they were besieged by the Turks. Also, the cave Sfentoni in Zoniana village, with 14 halls, impresses the visitor with its stalactites and stalagmites. Accessible is also the cave of St. Anthony in Patso, with the beautiful church – dedicated to St. Anthony – located in the cave.

 

The Renaissance Festival of Rethymno

Rethymno Renaissance Festival

Every summer, in Rethymno, is organized the Renaissance Festival, an institution that has been established since 1987, on the occasion of the great development that the city experienced experienced during the Venetian conquest, in arts, literature and architecture.

The aim of the Renaissance Festival is the preservation and dissemination of the cultural heritage of the city, and the promotion of important Venetian monuments, like the old town of Rethymnon and Fortezza. So far, the Renaissance Festival has presented a variety of important plays of Cretan theater, and other important artists of the Renaissance, such as Shakespeare, Goldoni, Moliere, etc.

The music concerts, involving orchestras and musicians from all over Europe, the opening and closing ceremonies with artistic events, and events organized in various places of the city.

 

Beaches in Rethymno

Bali beach Crete

Both in the north coast, and the south, there are many sandy beaches in Rethymno which attract visitors to walk along them, enjoy the sun and swim in the beautiful waters of the Cretan and the Libyan Sea. The beach of Rethymno is a huge, 12 km long sandy beach, which starts from the city of Rethymno and ends in the region of Scarleta.

Near the Monastery of Preveli, there is the homonymous beach, an exotic place with palm trees, crossed by the river Koutalioti and considered by many as the most beautiful beach of Crete. For those who are looking for peace and mental calm, there is the secluded beach of Triopetra in approximately 50 km. south of Rethymno. Within walking distance, you will find the quiet beach of St. Paul, offered for nudism.

Plakias-Beach on Crete

The water sports enthusiasts can visit the beach in the village of Plakias, situated 40 kilometers from Rethymno, and also Bali, on the national road Rethymno – Heraklion, which is very popular. The beach in Platanes village is appropriate for a quick dip, and it is 4 km east of Rethymno. The beach of Panormo village, 16 km away, is very organized and offer many facilities to the tourists.

Of course, these are the main highlights of Rethymno, however, when you visit it, you will realize that this place offers numerable places with such beauty and long history, that will make you love this city forever.

 

This article originally appeared on the Cretico Blog published by the Cretico Crete holiday villa website, and is republished with their kind permission.

Majestic Meteora

Although Vimeo member TKYSSTD produced Meteora: Six Monasteries on the Rocks just for editing “practice,”  I was blown away by the video’s breathtaking bird’s eye views of Meteora’s remarkable scenery

 

Since we’re big fans of island vacations, we haven’t travelled much on mainland Greece yet. Besides several stays in Athens and its beach suburbs of Glyfada and Voula, our exposure to the mainland has been limited mainly to the city and to places along or near the Athenian Riviera as far as Cape Sounion. We do plan to venture farther afield, though, and are considering some mainland destinations for our upcoming Greek holiday in May.

One of the places I’d love to see is Meteora, famous for its soaring rock “towers” crowned with monasteries originally constructed in the 16th Century. 

Although photos of the stunning Meteora landscape have fascinated me for years, I didn’t make an effort to get there because I was under the impression it was an area to see only for a couple of hours on an organized bus tour — and I personally can’t stand travelling on a tour coach. I suppose that hearing about Meteora only from travellers who had seen it on a quick coach tour or a during a brief stop on a driving holiday didn’t make me more motivated to go.

 

Meteora Greece

A Visit Greece Flickr photo of a monastery at Meteora

 

But when I stumbled upon the Visit Meteora website and discovered the variety of excursions available in the area (including sunset tours), as well as activities like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and rafting, I realized it was time to keep Meteora in mind for one of our future holidays.

Seeing the Meteora: Six Monasteries on the Rocks video that I posted above got me even more interested. I started Googling for more information about Meteora, and thought I’d share links to some of the websites I found in case any of my readers might be interested in visiting Meteora sometime, too.

 

 Websites with Meteora photos and travel info

Some of the links are for commercial tour or travel sites, while others are for personal blogs or travel journals. All contain lots of interesting and helpful information as well as photos.

Meteora-Greece.com offers a quick overview of the area, travel directions, general information and a few photos.

Visit Meteora is the destination marketing travel portal I mentioned earlier. It’s is packed with information about daytrips, tours, transfers, accommodations, activities, restaurants, and more.

Sacred Destinations offers an illustrated ecumenical guide to the six remaining Meteora monasteries.

AirPano features a 360-degree virtual tour along with a gallery of superb photos posted in June 2014 by Stas  Sedov, Dmitry Moiseenko and Mike Reyfman.

Communicating with the Gods in Meteora, Greece is a lively photo-illustrated account of a July visit by New Zealand-based travel enthusiast Liz, who writes the widely-followed Young Adventuress blog.

The Wonder that is Meteora is an illustrated and highly-detailed personal travel journal describing a 4-day trip to Meteora from Athens back in 2003.

Last but not least, the Greek language version of Trivago’s Checkin blog features a number of insightful articles about Meteora. It’s part of a project in which Trivago and the Visit Meteora website are promoting Meteora as a top destination for religious tourism.

 

Meteora Greece

A photo from the Visit Meteora travel site, which offers a variety of daytrips and organized tours to the historic area in Central Greece

 

Recognize these places?

Ikaria beach scene

Rugged cliffs and dramatic rock formations rise beside a beach on Ikaria, one of Greece’s East Aegean islands

 

It’s all in Greece!: From time to time one of my blog’s Facebook friends or contacts shares a link to a fun Where is this place? photo “quiz” that a Greek-language news and information website, e-fungus.gr, first published in November 2013.

Someone posted the link on Faceback again today and I thought I’d pass it along since the photos in it are so impressive and inspiring.

Entitled “Where is this place? Gia sou Hellas!”, the article shows a series of spectacular Greek destinations that people could easily confuse for places elsewhere in the world, like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Tibet, the Ukraine, the Alps, Jordan, and Bora Bora.

There are nearly 50 images of exceptional sights and remarkable scenery, including islands, mountains, beaches, castles, churches, fields, forests, coastlines and rock formations. I like viewing the photos every now and then to get ideas for places to visit on future holidays — though to date I have managed to see just 10 of the places on this particular list. Obviously, I need to get to Greece more often!

Click here to view the article and see how many places you’ve been to yourself, or that you might recognize as destinations in Greece. As the article introduction observes, “Heaven on Earth truly exists, and it is in Hellas, which is the correct name of Greece.”

I can’t wait to get back to heaven in May!

 Metereo Greece

A Greek Orthodox monastery crowns a tall crag of sandstone in the Meteora region of central Greece , near the town of Kalambaka

2012 Greek holiday trip report: Mykonos Part 3

Remezzo area of Mykonos Town

All quiet on the northern front: Even though it was a gorgeous morning, very few people were out and about when I walked past the Remezzo area of Mykonos Town at 10 a.m.

 

 

[Editor’s Note: This is the latest instalment in a series of reports on my 2012 vacation. Those of you who have already read Part 1 and Part 2 may want to go back and take another look through those posts — I have added several videoclips to each part.]

 

 

Thursday May 17

 

Sounds of silence: My fourth day on Mykonos started off with brilliant sunshine and plenty of peace and quiet.

The breakfast room at Hotel Tagoo was almost empty, with just a handful of guests showing up during the time I was there. It seemed like most people were sleeping in to recover from either a late night on the town or too much fun at the beaches the day before.  Two guests who did make it down for breakfast told me that a friend of theirs from Mykonos would be taking them on an early afternoon driving tour around part of the island. They had room for a fourth person, and invited me to tag along. They planned to visit some beaches I had not seen in a few years, plus at least one I had never been to before, so I jumped at the opportunity to join them.

Since I had a few hours to fill before the island drive about, but didn’t feel like laying in the sun by the pool, I took a walk into town. The streets were surprisingly quiet and empty with practically no vehicular traffic and pedestrians. It was incredibly serene — and almost surreal  — hearing only birdsong and sound of my shoes on the pavement. I didn’t expect that, at 10 a.m., I would have most of the Tagoo area and much of Mykonos Town all to myself. A cruise ship was docked at Tourlos, so I fully expected to run into groups of tourists wandering around, but the parking area next to the Old Port (where the cruise ship shuttle buses drop passengers off) was eerily quiet. I passed fewer than a dozen people during my 10-minute walk between the port and Taxi Square.

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Island landmark: The Holy Monastery of Patmos

Holy Monastery of Patmos

The biggest building on Patmos just happens to be the island’s biggest tourist attraction — The Holy Monastery of Patmos, seen towering above the houses and mansions of Chora. Also known as the Monastery of St. John, it was built around 1088.

 

 

Holy Monastery of Patmos

Another view of the imposing fortress-like monastery, the number 1 sightseeing destination for tourists whose cruise ships make brief calls into Skala port at Patmos

 

 

Holy Monastery of Patmos

The monastery dominates the Patmos landscape even when viewed from sea

 

 

 Holy Monastery of Patmos

A zoom view of Chora and the monastery, shot from a ferry departing Skala port

 

 

Greece holiday pic of the day

Chozoviotissa monastery on Amorgos

The Panagia Chozoviotissa monastery on Amorgos is a narrow, fortress-like building constructed against the face of a jagged cliff high above the Aegean Sea