Hosios Loukas, Livadeia and Piraeus July 1968 :)

Hosios Loukas, Livadeia and Piraeus July 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Hosios Loukas

This is the monastery of St Luke, built in the country, in a lived and rugged region, reached by a winding dusty road, miles away from anywhere. It contains the most beautiful mosaics in the whole of Greece, all are found in its church. The Church is Byzantine and its whole structure is supported by three underground catacombs, there is only one exceptionally narrow entrance down to the interior. Practically every conceivable space round the walls are covered by mosaics. Only a handful of monks, 19 in all, now live at the monastery, no now novices come, and in time the monastery will be left without its monks to care for it. St Luke was a holy man, who had the gift of prophecy, and he for-told the outcome of the Battle of Marathon: a century later he was commiserated and the church and the monastery were built and named after him in his memory. 

Livadeia 

This is the, supposedly, place of Lethe, water of forgetfulness; around the town and cotton fields and wheat plantations; the landscape is dotted with a low-growing shrub, in great numbers which give the appearance of stones scattered over the land. Nearby is Mount Parnassus, its lone heights reaching up 8000 ft, it reveals tints of colour in the rocks and is clumped with dwarf myrthe; the valley below is a great floor of shining olive trees. 

Piraeus 

This is the port of Athena, full of fishing kayaks; the harbour contains the large vessels; ferrying between the various and numerous islands. The port is linked to Athens by river after mile of great sprawling buildings; this area holds 2000000 Greeks, a quarter of the entire population of the country.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to either of these places and or if you have been to Greece what your favourite place was you visited 🙂

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Delphi in Greece in 1968 :)

Delphi in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Situated at the foot of Mount Parnassus, the population is the same as in ancient times, 1000. On June 10th  yearly, blue and white flags hang across streets and on houses, to commemorate the deaths of 210 Greeks shot by the Germans on that day in 1944, church services are also held. The Temple of Athena was the starting point of a pilgrim age in Grecian times; from here to the temple of Apollo and then on to the fountain of Castalia. The original temple was destroyed, but another was built by the ancient Greeks. The Tholos or Notundra, like the temple of the Sanctuary of Athena is at a much lower level than the rest of the ruins; it has 3 columns bonded by an architrace, on a circular base and is framed by olive trees. It was reported to have been the scene of a miracle, hence the pilgrimage. During the war between the Greeks and Persians, the enemy had needed sanctuary, when suddenly, thunder bolts and stones came raining down on them from the skies; the Persians panicked and fled, pursued by 2 giants and were killed by then; these giants were dead heroes, come back to earth to help. The Temple of Apollo stands on a spot, where in pre-Apollo days, was the centre of the worship of Gaea, mother earth, and her son Pylos, a serpent; it was claimed that the miracles were performed here and that the Oracle was already here.  Later Apollo came as a dolphin and gave the peace the name Delphi, from the Greek word for dolphin. He slew Peplos; some historians say the slew Gaea as well, took over and told the people to Crete where he originally came from, to leave their homes on the island of Crete, leaving their lives with them and come to where he was; he said the spot would attract pilgrims and would become rich. At first the people were told to leave their homes, food and means of existence, but eventually they came and Apollos promise came true. The spot which Apollo chose, under the everchanging Mount Parnassus was prone to earth tremors and thunder peals, added to these were eagles and warm springs, which made the people believe it was the abode of the gods; here also grow plenty of flowers and young trees for  garland  making. In the base of the temple is an opening which is said to be the entrance to an underground chamber, where the Sybil sat one her Tripod, next to the stone called Omphalos or mound, as Delphi is called the “marvel of the earth” and uttered the words of the Oracle. The Oracle was female, usually a person of humble birth, and was called Pythia or Pythones; she chewed bay laurel  leaves, drank water and inhaled intoxicating vapours which arose from a crack in the earth, and in a trance-like state answered questions, the answers were ambiguous and often gibberish, the priests would translate them but still in ambiguous terms. Personal questions on health, business, wealth and marriage were asked and answered. The Oracle told the men to travel and spread the cut, ruins of the Oracle have been found in Italy, Russia, Tibet and Sicily, also Malta, when Croesus, king of Lydia, came to enquire “should he make war and invade Persia”, the reply was “if you march into Persia, you will destroy our empire”. He assumed this meant victory but he was defeated and his own empire was destroyed. He was taken prisoner and was about to be burnt when he appealed to Apollo, who remembering how generous Croesus had been in the past when the Oracle answered his question, sent a deluge of rain that put out the fire. The Persians released the king but kept him in their hands, in gratitude to Apollo, he sent the  chains that had bound him to Delphi. The Temple of Apollo, in the past, had 38 columns, now only 5 remain at one corner, 4 of them are but half height stumps and since they are not marble but of regional stone, they are much eroded. Nevertheless this is the most impressive piece in Delphi, owing to the proximity of the mountain wall of Parnassus; there is such rugged grandeur in the towering rock face and so much column with slashes of a fiery apricot hue coming through the grey. The 2 great cliff-sided sections of the cleft mountains are called the Phaedriades, the shining ones, because of the way the sun strikes them, making their colours glow in the crevices, purpling the shadows, and drawing every crag on the mountains head, sharp on the vivid blue sky. Above the temple, in olden times, were many buildings, including a fort and a large cemetery of tombs. The Fountain of Castalia was where the Greeks cleansed themselves before approaching the Temple of Apollo; the romans later claimed it as the fountain of inspiration, for, after drinking the water verse flowed from the lips in a silent stream. Today people drink it to assume eternal youth and beauty. The spring flows out of a cleft in Parnassus, past a wall of apricot-coloured stone with riches for offering and today is chambered under the main road to a great plane tree, so old that Agamemnon is said to have planted it. The Acropolis is surrounded by an outer wall; on it are 6000 inscriptions, every stone is inscribed and the writing is quite discernible today. The wall cuts the site in half, the market was outside it (6 B.C. at Delphi) were the beginning of Christian ideas, so slavery and the maxim an “eye for an eye” were abolished, and there was absolution for crime. A Bronze bull was given to the Temple of Apollo by Corfu fishermen after a miraculous haul of fish, the fisherman had seen a bull by the seashore, and at that place had netted a large catch of tuna fish. They claimed that the bull had shown them the place; there is a stone at the temple ruin inscribed with a bronze bull. There were many treasuries of foreign powers built at Delphi, so important was it in those ages. The Treasury of the Athenians is very grand, it was re-erected by a Frenchman, it is a classically simple building, a lovely box of mellowed stone with 2 Doric columns and a predominant  remains of sculpture on it depicting the feats of Hercules and Theseus. Built in 490 B.C. just after the Battle of Marathon, the sparks of war were dedicated to the gods. Many inscriptions are out on its lined walls, including 2 hymns to Apollo, with musical notations. Near the treasury stands an Ionic capitol, its chiselling has weathered 2000 years; it is on a section of a fluted column, standing by a large cube of fallen stone. The area surrounding it was once crowded with buildings and great monuments, now all that remains are a couple of stone columns and the wall at the base of the temples alter. The Stadium, where the Pythian games were held, seated 4000, to watch chariot racing, foot running and other athletics; all round is a bank on which the spectators sat. Nearby a Theatre has been excavated, the only major relic among the rest of the ruins. A semi-circular amphitheatre has its seats turned around a perfectly circled orchestra, the seats are of Parnassian stone and seated 5000. Today the amphitheatre is used occasionally, during the production of Prometheans unbound, an eagle swooped low over the actor playing the part of Prometheans. There are royal eagles and common  eagles resting in the mountains. In the old days, plays were produced in honour of the gods but later emperors stopped all pagan rites and Delphi died and was forgotten till modern times. The Sacred way, leading to the temples, leads through the pine trees; it is lined with monuments among them a great pedestal with 3 intertwined pythons, also a golden tripod; both these items were removed by later conquerors. Delphi has a giant museum attached to the site, containing the statues, damaged and hole, found at the site, and all other excavation finds: most important of its exhibits is the Bronze charioteer of Delphi.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to either of these places and or if you have been to Greece what your favourite place was you visited 🙂

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Kyparissia, Pylos and Patras in Greece in 1968 :)

Kyparissia, Pylos and Patras in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Kyparissia  

This name means Cypress tree, as there are so many of these in and around the town. Kyparissia was destroyed by the Turks and again by the Germans in the east war. A ruined Frankist castle dominates the hill behind the town. There are 4000 inhabitants who tend to the olive groves. The olive oil produced is far farmed. 

Pylos 

This town contains the Palace of Nestor, the talkative king of Pylos, the ruins of the palace are on an eminence looking out to sea, across vineyards and olive groves, although ruined, many of its interesting parts are still visible; it is roofed over to protect it from the elements; it is quite large 100 yards wide and 200 yards long. Nearby were found the remains of 2 beehive towers, which although they had been pewtered, still contained pottery. The wall bases of the palace have been excavated, also many rooms and quarters. The Archives room had nearly 1000 clay tablets written in an early form of Greek, and consisted of inventories, pages from account books, lists of artisans and military dispenseries, taxes paid and one tablet refers to “watches on the cliffs”. These tablets were baked hard by the fire which destroyed much of the palace. The Waiting room had a stone seat round the walls, for taxpayers to sit and wait, while they were served wine; the Pantry still holds heaps of glasses, vitrified in the great fire; in all there were 3000 cups and 6000 vases. The throne room had the kings throne facing a large circular hearth, decorated with frescoes, traces of which still remain. The bathroom contains a delightfully curved bath, the inside of which is covered with painted frescoes, in this the person sat or stood, while water from a nearby amphora was poured over the body. The Oil magazines still hold the amphora in which oil was stored, but they are broken. The workshops were next to the kings room, where the armour and weapons were made; golden ornaments were also manufactured.  The palace itself was 2 storied; 2 stairways lead to the upper part; walls and floors were decorated with frescoes and in the construction of the palace, wooden beams were used in conjunction with stone, so when the fire raged; the wood burned and left holes in the stone which still remains to show where the wooden beams were originally. The Sentry posts for the palace guard are gone, but holes in the ground show where they stood of old. Outside the palace are ruins of outdoor buildings, as only 10 weeks in the year having bad weather, the rest of the year can be spent in the open. 

Patras 

Outside Patras are huge fields of tomatoes, bought for their tomato ketchup. The town has 100,000 inhabitants, employed in the great Pinelli industry, or in the commiseries for fruit juice and puree, all of which is for export. Its Turkish delight is famous and the jasmine blooms all the year round. An earthquake caused the land to sink at this point and the ionian sea covered it to further the gulf for Corinth; now a ferry goes from Patras to Itea, across the gulf, calling at aegina. There are 2 churches of St Andrew in the port, old and new; the new church has a large cupola and is very ornate; it is built behind the old church, which is on the site of the martyrdom of St Andrew. Round Partas grow special pines, which produce nuts, good for eating and excellent for pastry making, when ground. Oranges and lemons are cultivated all round and are exported in large quantities. Aegina, the port opposite Patras, across the gulf of Corinth, exports currants and tomatoes mainly, but also has large paper mills producing most of the paper needed in Greece. The ferry from Patras to Aegina goes on to Itea, famous for its very large, juicy olives which are so good they are all exported, leaving more for the local folk, Itea also exports oxide, for alummia, which in turn produces aluminium.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to either of these places and or if you have been to Greece what your favourite place was you visited 🙂

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Monemvasia and Olympia in Greece in 1968 :)

Monemvasia and Olympia in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Monemvasia 

Often called the Greek Gibraltar , it is a rock mountain, nearly 1000ft high, that was manouvered by the earthquake of AD 345 and juts out of the sea; it has been united with the mainland by a causeway and bridge; its name means “one way” and beyond the single cast iron gate, the way is by foot. The town used to be called Malmsey. Malmasia or Malmvisie, after the famous wine made there. No vines could grow on the hills, but the mountains owned vast vineyards near Mount Parnon and in the aegean islands. During the war it was the headquarters of the resistance army and English and American ships and submarines called during the night to pick up and land resistance men. The old metropolis housed 4000 people, but all is now in ruins, a jumble of small ruins overgrown by big thistles, succulents and small rock plants dripping out of the broken walls. Along the skyline is the jagged shape of the ruined guardhouse with its skeletal chimney. Monemvasia is a walled town, out of sight, round the southern part of the monument. A cobbled way leads through the village, at the end of it are several Byzatine churches. The Cathedral of the Crucified Christ lies in a square below the level of the cobbled path, down a flight of steps: the square has low walls, looks out to sea and is filled with coloured plants. Inside the cathedral are fine paintings and Ikons. The village consists of pink tiled roofed houses jumbled along the edge of the sea, white steps, winding and rocky paths. The church of the summit, Hagia Sophia is very old, a good marble carving is round the doorways, and paintings and Ikons within. The old Turkish powder magazine is still there, roofed and with sweid granite and cut into the granite rock; the floor is at level to allow the powder to be loaded to the mules and in past times, when Monemvasia was under siege, the people were reduced to eating cats and rats. 

Olympia 

Here there is no town to break the pastoral spell, the ruins are set in pine tree surroundings and meadows; the ruins are not bare and dusty, but grassy and peaceful. The largest structure is the Temple of Zeus, which together with the whole complex was constructed (4 B.C.) it is very ruined although some parts have been slightly restored; the few remains intact and the alter of which were burnt, as sacrifices, the thighs of white oxen. The Temple of Hera is so old that the original pillars were wooden, it was to this temple, between 2 pillars still standing, that the Olympian torch, lit by rays from the sun, was taken by 4 greek dancers and handed to runners of the Olympian games. The base of the temple remains and many of the wooden columns are still in place; the stone, of which all of the buildings of Olympia were made, is not marble, consequently the columns are well weatherworn and the fluting nearly flat. This stone material was a conglomerate embedded with sea shells and river pebbles, the stone was then intertwined with a stucco made from marble dust; even the ground by these fallen columns is gritty with crushed shell patches. In this Temple to Heram all the columns were of a different shape. The stadium was reached by a walled passage over a vaulted tunnel; there were no seats for spectators, they sat on the turf, which formed an embankment, sweeping up from the track. The track was 230 yards long and 33 yards wide, the toe grip grooves can still be seen, cut into the stone pavement at the starting line. The Temple of Priests is a block of dwellings for the priests, it is very large, rectangular in shape; its pillars nearly all broken, but standing upright for several feet. The Workshop of Phideas is here at Olympia, a fairly small place, but where he made his 40ft high statue of Zeus to be placed in the Temple of Zeus. To reach the workshop, a flight of steps descends, and adjoining the workshop, is a Byzatine church using one of the old buildings as its area; in this now ruined church is a pair of beautifully sculptured marble gates and a sculptured pillar; the gates are partly ruined. The Palaestra (gymnasium) has a sand covered counrtyard, 70ft square; it is surrounded by a building with a Doric colonnade- ; here the boxers and wrestlers practised, with other athletes. The columns are now in ruins, just a few whole ones remain standing, the rest are scattered all around. The Great Gymnasium is practically an open space for the contestants to exercise and practice. Near this are the quarters where they lived and trained, it was compulsory for them to train for 10 months, with free board. There were also baths, hot and cold, and an elaborate residence for distinguished visitors. The Great Council Hall was near the gymnasium; here the Senate used to meet. The Sacred Grove is walled and contains the remains of many statues, of both visitors and gods; at one time there were nearly 1000 here. Near the entrance to the stadium and the remains of the old treasury, reached by climbing up a slope and in good state of preservation especially the arches near the entrances. There is a line of treasuries belonging to distant places, as Syracuse, Bzyantinium or Sybaris, the Greek city in Italy. Opposite the old east treasury is one end of the long Stoa, the Painted Colonnade, and between these 2 is the tunnel entrance to the stadium.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to either of these places and or if you have been to Greece what your favourite place was you visited 🙂

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Blogmas Day 17: Mistras in Greese in 1968 :)

Blogmas Day 17: Mistras in Greese in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Mistras (Mystras) 

Built on the slopes of the Taygetos range, after a series of long occupations by various conquerors, when beauty and paintings were hidden under limewash, Mistras was rediscovered and saved from utter ruin. The churches were restored and their beauty brought out again. In its heyday it was inhabited by 40,000 people who lived in the metropolis on the slope of the mountain, now stony tracks wind through rubble-filled hill sides, from one monastery church to another, to the ruined Palace of the Despot, to the Frankish fortress, on the top of the hill. The only people who live in Mistra are the nuns at their convent. They are all aged and no new ones come to join the olden, so in time it will die out. The church of the convent is filled with beautiful paintings; the nuns get money from the sale of lace and handmade garments; to visitors they offer a drink of chocolate and a cake. To reach the convent, there is a stiff climb up the rugged hillside, with rocks and strong tracks, as the building is high up; it is called the Pantanassa and is the best of the churches. It is of Italian influence, and this has garland decorations and a loggia on the exterior, with age old bright stone and fancy brickwork in strawberry red. The roof is a cluster of cupolas, each little dome is wearing a  rosy turret of curvaceous tiles, Cypresses, laurels even hydrangeas surround it, the loggia has a glorious view across the Eurotas valley many of the wall paintings were too far gone to be completely restored, but there still remains a population of painted saints looking down from the domes or walls, some owing to damp and decay, have whole areas missing. Among the ruins of Mistra is a group of churches, all tiled with the same rosy tiles, topped by domes. The frescoes are many, also the paintings, some of which are attenuated to El  Greco .The eyes of some of these paintings were destroyed by the Turks when they overran the town. They whitewashed the frescoes and turned the churches into mosques. The group of churches consist of the churches of St Demetrius, St Theodores, the church of the lord and, to the nearest translation, the church of the lady who sees Everything The Palace of the Despot was occupied by the Despot of Morea, when he made Mistra his Byzantine capitol in 1350, it soon became a great seat of learning, as art and literature found shelter in the Despots court and artists came to seek aid and asylum when darkness covered the rest of Greece. Mistra alone shone in the darkness, frescoes and paintings appeared in the churches, really beautiful and wonderful. The palace is of stone, and has a large piece of sculptural white marble in the court  and, which is small and compact, and leads to the garden and to the palace interior, it is of stone, with stone arches and seats. The entrance to the palace is through a low, stone gateway, bearing the emblem of the Despot above the lintel, carved in stone. 

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Greece or to Mistras 🙂

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Blogmas Day 6: Tripolis and Sparta in Greece in 1968 :)

Blogmas Day 6: Tripolis and Sparta in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Tripolis 

The capitol of arcadia, built on a hill, as the name implies it took the place of 3 old cities, on the hillside again appear the letters OXI meaning “no”, the sign of the underground resistance, in 1940 Greece refused Hitler and musseoini permission to march across their country to fight the allies in the middle east, a refusal which bought on the invasion of the country. Tripolis is an attractive town with its square lined with mulberry trees. Arcadia of which the town is the capitol, is a valley fertile in tobacco, cotton, olives, citrus fruits, peaches, cherries and apples. It also has many herds of goats and is the home of the god Pan (Greek god of shepards and flocks). In the valley is a spot where 100 resistance fighters were shot by the Germans. At the hilltop village of Vytina, the local craft is wood carving and the making of yogurt, for which it is justly famous. The houses are 2 storied with balconies and shutters on white stuccoed walls, and chimneys in odd shapes protruding from their red tiles roofs. Grapevines climb up to the balconies and the unpaved streets are shaded by mulberry trees; the men; cloth capped, plod quietly beside the donkeys at a slow pace. Beyond Vytina there are pinewoods, then the earth lightens to a yellowy colour as there is sulphur in it, so nothing grows. Further along the road is the village of Lagadia, where the houses hang right down the sides of the mountains, it is the nearest a village came to being vertical. The inhabitants are mostly shepards, the wives weave pretty woven bags. It was the centre of the resistance movement in the war, and during the war of Greek independence, it was one of the few not destroyed by the Turks.

Sparta

The town was a blot on the history of Greece and the people gradually moved away from it, until finally, it fell into ruins after being ravaged by the enemy and left to rot, it disappeared for 600 years, until 1834, it was re-founded by Ludwig of Bavaria and a town with wide and well planned streets was erected. The streets are tree lived and pleasant, the buildings were not allowed to obscure the view of the Taygetus mountains, so the architecture was low. Here is practised, as at other towns, on a certain day, The Feast Of The Dead. Special cake is made from a recipe of old, consisting mostly of fruit and nuts, very moist and sweet, to commemorate the dead, and people who have lost someone and wish to remember them carry the cake round the streets and give some to passerby. The cathedral of Sparta is very fine with its paintings and altar. The people who colonised Sparta after it was rebuilt in 1834 were those turned out of  Mistras acropolis. 

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Greece or either of these places 🙂

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Epidaurus and Nafplio in Greece in 1968 :)

Epidaurus and Nafplio in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one  here 🙂

Epidaurus 

Here is a famous healing resort, equivalent to Lourdes, it is the Sanctuary of Asclepius, god of healing, it is in ruins and ringed round by a grove of trees; these ruins are fragmentary and down to foundation level, but here in 4 B.C. stood temples, altars, hospitals, baths, sanatoria and gymnasia; there was also a games stadium, a beautiful fountain, a supposed library and a great statue of Asclepius, in ivory and gold, flanked by a dog and holding a snake, the latter was much used in therapy at that time, probably as shock treatment. There are accounts of many miracles having been performed here. The Greek theatre is the best preserved arena in Europe; there are 55 rows of crescent seats, out into ascending aisles that look from above, like the nibs of a gigantic fern. For 2000 years the theatre was buried and was not excavated till the end of the last century. The acoustics are fantastic. In the centre of the base was the circular orchestra or dancing area where the chorus performed; the stage was at the back of this but only a few stones of it remains. In the centre of the circle was a sacrificial stone where offerings were made to Dionysius before the festival began. The front stalls are of red limestone , and are seats of honour; they are lower than the others, which suggests they were cushioned. The theatre held 14,000 spectators; nowadays, summer festivals of Greek drama are held. The beautiful mountains form the backdrop of the stage. 

Nafplio 

A favourite seaside resort of the Greek people, Nafplio is on a wide blue bay in which lives The Isle of Boudigo, a favourite expensive holiday resort in olden times, criminals were taken here to be executed, to avoid the executions being carried out in the town. As many of the towns walls are natural, the stone lions of St Mark are on there, but the town is above all, Greek. Dominating Nafplio is the Castle Palamidi on the rocky heights of Palamidi. From the sea, the mount rises 400 ft,  lone and straight the fortress is Venetian Turkish. A staggering stairway ascends the mount, roofed over in a series of steepy, slanted, tunnels part of the way, then zigzags to the summit, there are 999 steps and a further 280ft climb to view the acropolis. The acropolis is large, with many walls and doors still standing; looking down from the top, it is obvious that many of the buildings at the foot of the mountain were part of the ancient acropolis. In one of the small rooms of the castle there are oxi mounted on the wall, showing it was the headquarters of the Greek resistance movement in the last war. There is a very delightful chapen with candles and holy pictures of the mount quite small but beautifully cared for.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Greece or either of these places 🙂

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Tiryns in Greece in 1968 :)

Tiryns in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background to read part one it can be found here 🙂

Tiryns

Known as the ‘city of great walls’, it was enclosed by the strongest of cyclopean walls; it was the centrepiece of Hercules and the Palace of Hercules, in ruins, still remains on the high ground above the walls and outer buildings, it was destroyed by fire and earthquake. Low steps at the entrance indicate wealth and these steps are very low, the court was white stucco with alabaster beige. The stone which supported the kings throne still remains; the throne room was supported by 4 pillars and contained bridges and frescoes of bull vaulting, reminiscent of Midases’ palace at crete; in the room, also, were circular holes in the floor, into which Hercules poured libations to the gods, milk, honey or oil. Outside the kings room was an area where visitors slept, sheepskins were placed on the floor for them to lay on, thus they were always near the king. A large peach seat of marble ,marks the bathroom floor , gutters carried the bath water to a large hole which was the drainage; the people of Tiryns were very clean and bathed often. The Steps of Death led down to the lower levels were zigzag, so invaders could be caught unawares and killed. The acropolis consisted of a fort with giant outside walls, behind which, in time of danger, the cattle were driven, these were the house walls. Water was plentiful and was stored in cisterns to allow the fort to hold out in times of siege; food also was lowered into the walls to keep it fresh; here was found the first refrigerator, now in the museum, it was a large pot. The food storage vaults were like corridors, with cells running out to the sheer drop of the mountain, to safeguard against sudden attack; there was a storage vault on either side of the fort. These vaults were triangular in shape, built of large, uneven shaped lumps of rock, so cleverly were they constructed it is not known how the point of the triangular arch was built without the walls collapsing; grain and wine were stored in them. Burial jars were used here as the people feared and revered the dead; the bodies were placed in graves, honey poured over them to crystalize them, and they were buried under the floor of the house, to be near and among the family forever. The bodies were placed in the jars in an upright position. At a very much later date when Tiryns was abandoned and deserted, sheep found shelter in the vaults and remained in possession till the site was taken over by the archeological society and cleaned up, the lower stones along the walls are polished and smooth, where the sheep rubbed on them.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Tiryns or anywhere in Greece 🙂

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July-ving and thriving Day 25: Mycenae in Greece in 1968 :)

July-ving and thriving Day 25: Mycenae in Greece in 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well 🙂 If you want a little bit more background to read part one it can be found here 🙂

Mycenae

The entrance to the town is through the lion gate; above its massive lintel is a  triangle of limestone, carved into the “oldest piece of monumental sculpture in Europe”. 2 lions headless now, rear up, flanking a pillar , said to have had religious significance and what their forefeet rest on, is described as an altar, the great lintel of stone is 15 ft long and 6 ft thick. Just inside the gate is the cave in which the guard dog was housed. There are the marks where the chariot wheels wore groves in the stone streets and in the stone door posts are the holes made for the hinges. Before the gate are the stone lined shapes of a grave circle of a circular burial ground of kings and queens, copied from the Egyptians, who brought the custom with them when they came to help Mycenae repel invaders. In 6 graves of this royal cemetery, in 16 B.C, were found the skeletons of 12 men and 5 women and 2 children, all wrapped in gold leaf; also found in the graves were about 400 thin gold discs, with raised designs, and pierced for sewing on the garments, beautifully inlaid daggers and short swords, gold cups, alabaster vases, gold face masks, 3 of which were still covering the faces. The famous gold mask of Agamemnon was found here. Further away is The Tower of Agamemnon, a great beehive chamber, now called the treasury of Athens. No trace of the king or his treasure was found in it, it had been rifled in the past. A high walled passage leads to a slightly tapered doorway of which the weight of the lintel is 120 tonnes, above the door is an open triangle, placed to take the weight of the lintel. In old times, 2 green pillars were at the entrance, they have been removed but the holes are there to show where they were fixed; in the door posts are the holes for the hinges too. Inside the tomb, the round walls of smooth stone curve up to a peach dome, 40 ft high, reminiscent of a beehive. A door hole in the wall leads to a rock-hewn room, the main burial chamber; other graves were under the rock floor outside, all had been rifled. The acoustics of this beehive tomb are remarkable, also the echo. Agamemnon went to war; while he was away, his wife, clytemnstra , fell in love with another, so when Agamemnon returned from the war, he was murdered on a hill, is the ruined Palace of Perseus, built in this spot as there was water; at the foot of the hill are underground reservoirs, still with water, and cisterns; to reach them, 111 steps go downwards into the base of the hill. In front of the palace is a shallow circular grave site, hardly discernible now, but the shape is quite distinct.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Mycenae or anywhere in Greece 🙂

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July-ving and thriving Day 12: Cape Sounion, Daphni and Corinthia in Greece July 1968 :)

July-ving and thriving Day 12: Cape Sounion, Daphni and Corinthia in Greece July 1968 :)

My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well 🙂 If you want a little bit more background to read part one it can be found here 🙂

Cape Sounion
This cape is the lands end of Attica and the most famous of the greek headlands. A great Temple to Poseidon was erected here in the time of Pericles, of the original 34 marble columns, 9 have remained standing and 6 have been re-erected. On one of which is the poet Byrons name, carved by him. The cape commands a view of the aegean islands and the inlands, it is a two hour drive from Athens, and along the vast line, near the cape are salt pans and large stretches of salt in white heaps, protected from the weather by being covered by red tiles, as if roofed over.

Daphni

The church at Daphni is dedicated to the death of the virgin mary; it is a celebrated monastery Church, famous for the mosaics, especially one depicting the death scene, other famous mosaics are those of the transfiguration and new testament stories. The dome of the church is filled with a huge head of Christ, also in mosaics, but the face is that of  a merciless stern judge, with accusing eyes and strangely ugly hands; figures of the prophets surround the head.

Corinthia

This town is in 2 sections, old and new corinthia and owes its prosperity to the corinthia canal which is an out through the bridge of land, 10 miles long and 4 miles wide, which joins the Peloponnese to the rest of Greece. The canal sides are steep, the water is 200 feet below and the waterway stretches straight as a ruler for 4 miles; it takes vessels up to 4500 tonnage. Old Corinth was rebuilt by Julius Caesar to become great and prosperous again, after having been layed to the ground in 146 BC, for resisting the roman invasion, he built the Temple of Venus, 144BC. All is ruined now, eyeing at the foot of the mountain, only one is greek, the Temple of Apollo, and fortunately, a part of it survived in the Y Doric columns, still upright. The town was destroyed in an earthquake in 1858, for the last time. Above is an acropolis with Frankist and Turkish fortifications , erect high up for safety from attack. The old city was wall enclosed, in which were Y gates to allow stream water to enter, to was diverted into chambers, hence into a large, square hatch; the water is still flowing under the Y gates as of old. In its heyday old Corinth was a great trading centre and earned the name “Paris of the east” as its goods were so expensive. Special cloth material was made here; the peach figures or pottery had their origins here, those 2 factors made for much work and trade. Modern Corinth is a relatively new town, lying some miles from the old town, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1928, so now the buildings are low, to withstand the quakes better. Seedless grapes are cultivated here for currants and the word “currant’ is derived from “Corinth”. Also produced are wines, apricots, oranges, tobacco, lettuce and tomatoes.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite place to travel is 🙂

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