Tag: museum (page 1 of 2)

Quietly spectacular Skyros

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Enjoy aerial views of some of the wonderful coastal, mountain, valley and village scenery on Skyros in this 5-minute film by TreeZone

 

Real deal: Want to visit an authentic Greek island that isn’t a mainstream tourist magnet like Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, or even its nearby neighbour, Skiathos? Then have a look at Skyros, the southernmost and largest island in the Sporades archipelago. Skyros has everything you would want and expect from a great Greek island holiday destination — impressive landscapes and coastal scenery, inviting beaches, picturesque villages, historic sites, good food, and age-old local traditions — without the massive crowds and commerciality of other islands that have become household names around the world.

Though it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, and has an international airport that receives direct charter flights from several European cities during July and August, Skyros is a relatively low-profile destination that isn’t even on the radar for most tourists planning vacations in the Greek islands.

In fact, there were only 3 question-and-answer threads posted on TripAdvisor’s Skyros travel forum in all of 2015, and just 10 in total since 2010. The Skiathos forum, by comparison, had  more than 6,100 conversation threads as of mid-May 2016.

 

 

 

With so much going for the island, It’s rather surprising that Skyros doesn’t get more attention from travellers — especially considering that it gets good press whenever it’s mentioned in social and regular media.

For instance, Skyros was cited as the best destination for alternative travel and holistic holidays in The Telegraph’s January 2016 feature The 19 best Greek islands, and was included in a piece the Independent published about Holidays for single travellers. Also in January, The Irish Examiner published A letter from paradise on the Greek island of Skyros, a journalist’s account of her writing holiday. And in 2015, Thomas Cook Airlines named Skyros as best destination for “healthy lifestyle holidays” in its profile of Greece’s top 10 islands.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Skyros hasn’t become hugely popular — that means it will remain a unique and special place to charm and delight those travellers who do venture off the main tourist paths to pay it a visit. (And that’s one of the chief reasons why Skyros is on my bucket list of islands to see.)

Skyros photo from sail-la-vie.com

Built on the steep slopes of a craggy peak topped by a Byzantine fortress and a  monastery, Chora village is a striking sight on Skyros (Photo from the Municipality of Skyros travel guide)

 

Please continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find more pictures and videos along with links to more than a dozen different websites with Skyros travel information and photos.

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Must-see sights in and around Rethymno on Crete

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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.

Acropolis Museum turns 5

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Acropolis Museum

Looking toward the Acropolis Museum from a vantage point on the Acropolis itself. Below is a zoom view of the museum, which turns 5 years old on June 20. I shot the photos on June 1 during a weekend visit to Athens.

Acropolis Museum

 

Birthday bargain: If you’re going to be in Athens on June 20, make plans to pay the Acropolis Museum a visit. The beautiful building will mark its fifth anniversary that day, and will be charging a reduced admission fee of only €3 to celebrate the occasion. (That’s two Euros cheaper than the already bargain-priced entrance charge.)

Exhibition areas will be open from 8 a.m. until midnight, so you’ll have plenty of time to drop by and enjoy the museum’s permanent collections as well as its current special exhibition, Archaic Colors.

The museum will be hosting two special events for the big day.  One involves the use of three-dimensional digital image technology to show how copper weapons and bridles would appear on the horsemen on the west frieze of the Parthenon. The second is a 9.30 p.m. concert by musical artist Leon of Athens in the museum’s courtyard entrance.

I described the museum in my March 3 2012 post, Acropolis Museum is a must-see Athens attraction, which includes photos the museum provided of some of the spectacular items in its collection. And in my post Another Acropolis Museum treasure: food earlier this year, I reported that VirtualTourist.com had ranked the Acropolis Museum Restaurant as one of the world’s top 5 museum restaurants.

Below are several more pictures I took of the museum exterior last weekend. (Although photography is permitted in most of its galleries, the Acropolis Museum does not permit media publication of such images, so I didn’t take any shots inside. The wonderful treasures are best viewed in person in any event, so be sure to schedule time to see the museum if you haven’t been there already.)

 Acropolis Museum

A street view of the museum’s eastern facade

  Acropolis Museum

Visitors gather on the museum’s entrance plaza, which overlooks archaeological ruins discovered during construction of the building

 Acropolis Museum

Architectural details on the building’s eastern facade

 Acropolis Museum

A walkway leading to the museum entrance

 Acropolis Museum

Window and facade details on the museum exterior

Acropolis Museum

The museum’s rooftop cafe terrace has views of the Acropolis

 Acropolis Museum

A view of the Acropolis from the museum’s entrance plaza. The large sign on the side of the building at left is a promotional poster for the museum’s Archaic Colors exhibition, running until July 31.

 

Extended opening hours lead to big spike in tourist visits to Greece’s top museums & historic sites

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the Propylaea at the Acropolis in Athens

Tourists climb steps to the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis of Athens, on the morning of Sunday June 1

 

 

Wise move: A decision to extend operating hours for 33 of Greece’s top museums and archaeological site this summer is proving to have been a wise move, sparking a significant surge in the number of visitors to each of the attractions.

As I reported in a March 4 2014 post, the Greek Ministry of Culture recently implemented longer opening hours for nearly three dozen major museums and historic sites, including the Acropolis in Athens and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion in Crete.  From April 1 to October 31, each of the sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week. (Many had previously been closed to the public on Mondays, and were not open for nearly as many hours on other days of the week.)

A May 30 news report on the Greek Travel Pages website says government data for the month of April has shown significant double- and triple-digit increases in visitor numbers and revenue at each of the venues offering extended hours.

 

Ticket sale increases ranged from 14% to 116%

The smallest increase was the 14.12% rise in ticket revenue reported for the Archaeological site of Sounion, while sales of combined entrance passes to a group of central Athens historic sites, including the Acropolis, also hit double digits, climbing by 17%.

The biggest increase in revenue was achieved at the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri, on Santorini, which reported a nearly 116% rise in sales compared to April 2013. The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion posted a 109% increase, while revenues rose slightly more than 100% at the White Tower in the city of Thessaloniki.

I was in Athens from May 30 to June 2 and saw substantially more tourists in the central area of the city than I recall seeing at the same time last year and in 2011 and 2010. In fact, in many parts of the city I heard more people speaking English, Italian and French than I heard speaking Greek. And during my June 1 visit to the Acropolis, visitors from China and Japan almost outnumbered tourists from other countries.

Greece had been anticipating a record 18.5 million visitors for 2014, but the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) last week predicted that the number will surpass 19 million.

Click here to read a June 3 Globe and Mail newspaper report on Greece’s tourism rebound…it includes comments by the Greek minister of tourism, Olga Kefalogianni.

 

Parthenon and Acropolis

Throngs of tourists explore the area around the Parthenon on June 1.

 

Greece’s top museums & archaeological sites to open 12 hours daily from April through October

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Palace of the Grand Masters

The Knights of St John established the magnificent Palace of the Grand Master of Rhodes during the 14th Century. Situated in the medieval city of Rhodes, the palace occupies a site where a Byzantine fortress originally had been built in the 7th Century. The Grand Master’s palace is one of more than 30 major museum and archaeological attractions in Greece that will operate under new extended hours from April 1 to October 31 in 2014.

 

 

Don’t rush: The Greek Ministry of Culture has some good news for travellers who like to take their time while visiting museums and exploring archaeological sites — hours of operation are being extended for more than 30 of the country’s top attractions.

From April 1 until October 31, archaeological sites including Olympia, Delphi, Epidaurus, Mycenae and Mystras, plus the Acropolis in Athens, will be open to the public from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day.

The longer opening hours for the historic sites, and for a number of important museums in Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Rhodes and other locations, were announced this week. They are among a series of initiatives that the Culture Ministry is undertaking to enhance and update the visitor experience in Greece. The other improvements, which will be rolled out later this year, include installation of Wi-Fi networks, the design of mobile virtual tour applications, and the launch of an e-ticketing system for entrance to museums and archaeological sites.

 

Greece anticipates record tourist traffic in 2014

The extended hours couldn’t come at a better time: Greece is expecting a record number of tourist visits in 2014 — over 18.5 million, to be precise.

The longer hours will be particularly appreciated by cruise ship visitors, whose tight time schedules in the past have forced them to rush through major sites, or miss seeing them altogether.

The extended hours apply to a total of 33 sites and museums which account for more than 95 per cent of visits to Greek historical attractions. One of the monuments, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, will remain open until sunset each day.

 

Here is the complete list of attractions that will offer longer hours of operation:

 

◊  the archaeological site of the Acropolis, the Theatre of Dionysus and the Ancient Agora in Athens;

◊  the archaeological site of the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion;

◊  the Olympieion — Arch of Hadrian;

◊  the archaeological site of Epidaurus;

◊  the archaeological site of Mycenae;

◊  the archaeological site of Olympia and the archaeological museum at Olympia;

◊  the archaeological site of Delphi and the archaeological museum of Delphi;

◊  the archaeological site of the Royal Tombs of Vergina and the archaeological museum of Vergina;

◊  the archaeological site and museum at Delos island near Mykonos;

◊  the archaeological site of Akrotiri Thera on Santorini;

◊  the archaeological site of Lindos on Rhodes;

◊  the archaeological site of Asklepieio on Kos;

◊  Ancient Kamiros on Rhodes;

◊  the archaeological museum of Rhodes;

◊  the archaeological site of  Knossos on Crete;

◊  the archaeological site of  Phaistos on Crete;

◊  Cave of Psychro on Crete;

◊  the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth;

◊  the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes; 

◊  the Ancient Castle of Kos;

◊  the archaeological site of Mystras;

◊  Spinalonga on Crete;

◊  Corfu Castle;

◊  the archaeological site of Palamidi;

◊  the archaeological museum of Heraklion on Crete;

◊  the archaeological museum of Thessaloniki;

◊  the Byzantine & Christian Museum in Athens;

◊  the National Archaeological Museum in Athens;

◊  the White Tower Museum in Thessaloniki; and

◊  the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki.

 

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion will remain open until sunset each day from April 1 to October 21.

 

 

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