Culture and recreation make a great vacation

Greece is well-known for its very long history, impressive culture, sights, and monuments, many of which have been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. Exploring them is definitely worth your while.

The Old Town of Thessaloniki, in Macedonia, is home to 15 Early Christian and Byzantine monuments, including the city walls, which feature on the World Heritage List. These properties are masterpieces of art and architecture that are preserved almost intact despite their 1,000 – 2,000-year-old existence. Take a walk in the town, founded in the late 4th c. BC and named in honor of the sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki, and discover its special atmosphere. The monuments were constructed over a long period, from Roman times until the 15th century, and they have contributed to the creation of a multicultural seaport, a great trading hub of its time. Among the must-visit places are the Rotunda, St. Demetrius Church, and Latomou Monastery; their mosaics are truly remarkable examples of Early Byzantine Art.

In Western Greece, the Old Town of Corfu on the like-named island is the latest entry on UNESCO’s cultural list. It is a beautiful neo-classical urban ensemble, which was under Venetian rule from the 15th to the 19th century. The French and the British then conquered it and finally passed to the Greek government. Visit the Old Citadel and the New Fort and stroll along kantounia, the town’s narrow, winding, stone-paved alleys. Admire the Venetian architecture of the buildings and small squares and notice the lines that connect opposite buildings, where laundry is hung to dry! A stroll along the Liston pedestrian street and Spianada Square is a must!

Among the lesser-known entries on UNESCO’s Greek list is Mystras, a mediaeval settlement built in 1249 on a hill, in SE Peloponnese. This Late-Byzantine fortified town was inhabited from the 13th to the 19th century. Include this unique site on your next visit to Greece and enjoy the amazing panoramic view from the hilltop. This is the only remaining example of a once-thriving Byzantine city in Greece. It was an administrative and intellectual provincial center of the Byzantine Empire, which was renowned for its land use planning, culture, and architecture, and the impressive mosaics and murals in its state buildings, churches, and houses.

The very well-preserved Mediaeval City of Rhodes is reason enough to visit Rhodes Island, in the SE Aegean Sea. Explore the Palace of the Grand Masters, the stronghold of the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who dominated Rhodes and the remaining Dodecanese Islands from 1309 to 1523. The property is an impressive urban ensemble of the Gothic period – the only one of its kind in Greece. The Islamic monuments constructed during the Ottoman occupation in the 16th century have added to the city’s architectural diversity. Also, visit the Archaeological Museum, which contains finds from the island’s 3,000-year-old history.

Have a marvelous time wandering through the Liston in Corfu
Have a marvelous time wandering through the Liston in Corfu, © GNTO / Shutterstock.

Things to consider before traveling

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