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Circle Tour satellite image mapApril 9, 2006 - Circle Tour - Today is a full day tour with Paul. I decided to do the circle tour starting with Corinth, since getting to these sites without a car is difficult.  Paul picked me up at 8am and we headed out of Athens.

First stop is the north end of the Corinth Canal between the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Corinth. It is obviously a very strategic waterway, since it eliminates sailing around the very large Peloponnisos isthmus. Nero started the canal in 66 A.D., and used slaves and prisoners to dig 3.3km of the 6.3km total distance before having to abandon the project when he was arrested in Rome. The canal project wasn't restarted again until 1882, and completed in 1893, paid for by the Greek government but built by private contractors. Sinking bridges at either end accommodate local traffic, however the expressway and other major roads go over top. More info on the Corinth Canal.

Corinth Canal

Corinth Canal

Satellite image map of Corinth canal

Corinth Canal submersible bridge

Next is Ancient Corinth (6). There are lots of ruins here and a decent museum. The Temple of Apollo's pillars dominate the site.  Acrocorinth is visible from this site, located 565m above the ancient city. Paul drives up the mountain to the first gate, and then I climb the steep and rocky roads through the three gates built by various occupiers of this strategic site. I can't face the 4 km climb to the top where the Acropolis is located.

Ancient Corinth

Temple of Apollo, Ancient Corinth

Main Agora of Ancient Corinth & Acrocorinth behind

Temple of Apollo & Acrocorinth, Ancient Corinth

Scupture of the Emperor Nero, ca 60 A.D

Sarcophagus representing the departure of the "Seven against Thebes"

Fountain of Peirene, Ancient Corinth

Lechaion Road & Basilica, Acrocorinth behind, Ancient Corinth



Acrocorinth fortifications

One of the Acrocorinth gates

Acrocorinth fortifications

Second Acrocorinth gate

Joe climbing the cobblestone road to the third Acrocorinth gate

Acrocorinth parking lot, gates and road

Next stop is Mycenae and the Treasure of Atreus (8). Perhaps this is the most interesting site I see today, although it is less dramatic visually. Mycenae (and other ancient sites in the area) were inhabited by advanced civilizations hundreds of years before Christ (BC), proving that the tales told by Homer were based on fact.  Mycenae is located on a low hill, and the Treasure of Atreus is located in a beehive shaped structure nearby.  Actually, the treasures are now located in Athens at the National Archaeological Museum.  The gold masks are a must see when you visit the Museum.

View of Mycenae from the Treasury of Atreus

Lion Gate, Mycenae

Grave Circle A, Mycenae

South House, Mycenae

Tunnel to the underground cistern, Mycenae

The North Gate, Mycenae

Gold funary mask & other gold artifacts, Mycenae

Lion Tholos Tomb, Mycenae

Lion Tholos Tomb, Mycenae

Entranceway to the Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae

Beehive dome of the Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae

Castle of Palamidhi - (6) - there are 900 steps to climb up to this fortress from the pretty coastal town of Nafplio, however I opted to drive up. Palamidhi Fortress overlooks the town below, and  the Bourtzi Fortress on Ayiou Theodhorou islet in Argos Bay. This is perhaps the most impressive fortress I've ever visited. It is perched on a steep hill, and the views are breathtaking. Like Acrocorinth, strenuous climbing is involved in exploring the site.

Bourtzi fort, Ayiou Theodhorou islet, Argos Bay

Palamidhi Castle on the hill behind Nafplio

Huge walls and gun enplacements, Palamidhi Castle, Bourtzi Fort, Ayiou Theodhorou, Argos Bay

Multiple walls and gun enplacements, Palamidhi Castle, Bourtzi Fort, Ayiou Theodhorou, Argos Bay

Huge steps leading to a gate and bell tower

Multiple layers of courtyards, Palamidhi Castle, Bourtzi Fort, Ayiou Theodhorou, Argos Bay

Inside the Palamidhi Castle walls

Inner courtyard, steps, chapel roof, Palamidhi Castle

Gun enplacement, spring flowers, looking out to Argos Bay, Palamidhi Castle

Ancient Epidaurus TheatreAncient Epidaurus, Theatre - (6) - This ancient outdoor theatre is still used today to stage performances. It is not as large or as well decorated as the theatres we saw in Libya at Leptis Magna and Sabrata, however it is an impressive theatre nonetheless. It dates to the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, and is part of a larger complex of buildings, including an ancient sanitarium.

It was a pretty drive back from Epidaurus to Athens along the coastline.

A little coastal town near Epidauros

The coast near Epidauros

The expressway from Corinth to Athens, twin tunnels


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