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Fresh Culinary Offer for 2024, Inspired by Greek Nature

Is there a culinary product that can combine a healthy diet with pure and high-quality nutritional ingredients, without sacrificing the need for excellent flavour? Is there a ready meal inspired by quality raw materials of the Greek soil that can achieve a balance between the need to save time with the ability to offer a satisfyingly tasty, ready-to-eat meal, and also providing high nutritional value?

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As we approach the New Year, I’m trying to centre on a diet that strikes a balance between good taste and health. Having decided to limit my exposure to a meat-based diet, I’ve stumbled upon an exciting and wonderfully tasty option that helps me honour these priorities – priorities that, when happily met, promise to significantly reduce any need to majorly restructure my usual regimen while significantly improving my eating habits and, consequently, the quality of my life itself.

Barba Stathis offered me this easy solution in my new dietary quest. With the highly reputed quality and reliability that the brand has been delivering for over 50 years, they grow and offer vegetables and legumes of select quality, as fresh and nutritious as the moment they were picked. With a seal of care that guarantees a blend of expertise and innovation, and with the vision, inspiration and experience of many years, Barba Stathis is proud to offer every family and individual the purest, freshest, most nutritious and delicious vegetables.

Always with a consistent dedication to quality and safety, Barba Stathis declares its commitment to the principles of sustainability and viability, as well as the fundamental philosophy of zero waste and zero litter, through its new range of “360° Plant-Based Meal” foods, a balanced and delicious range that meets the needs of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians alike. These are complete meals, simple and easy to prepare, high in protein and ready in just 10 minutes.

Specifically, the range includes four combinations of vegetable patties made from pea protein, three different types of potato and rice dishes with vegetables and two combinations of pasta with a tasty vegetable mince. The pea-based patties come with sweet potatoes, Naxos village potatoes, classic potatoes, rice and vegetables in a 420g pack. The pea protein mince comes in two dishes: hand-torn pasta and wholemeal fusilli, in a 630g pack.

With its sights firmly set on the year 2024, Barba Stathis has created, in part or in full, a daily range of options with a high nutritional value and a balanced proportion of proteins, carbohydrates and plant fibres. For example, the pasta with vegetable mince offers 23g of protein per 210g portion, with extra virgin olive oil as a further guarantee of a diet that aims to achieve the optimum combination of taste and nutritional value.

In addition, the packaging material not only fully protects the contents, but is also 100% recyclable, making it an environmentally friendly product.

Choosing Barba Stathis’s plant-based meals is more than just a personal investment in a healthier diet and lifestyle; it is a contribution to the collective effort dictated by principles that serve broader social goals and the needs of a truly multifaceted and dynamic well-being.

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An Authentic Pie Inspired by Greek Tradition

There is an art to using one’s hands in interaction with raw materials, to make something that rewards the palate and fills the table with mouthwatering scents and flavours that open hearts and lift moods. Some foods land on our palate and deliver entire worlds through ingredients that, with respect for our tradition, connect us to the Greek soil.

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As I travelled around Greece, trying to discover the delicious ingredients that make up the entire culinary universe of the country, I came across raw materials that continue to transmit the nutritional wisdom of the past. Invited to culinary “temples” of goodness, I discovered the crisp pastry and savoury fillings that enrich people’s lives, through delicious pies that are exquisite and robust in flavour and reflect an everlasting respect and love for those who first made them with their hands.

Some pies free you from the – let’s face it – often challenging process of preparation and effort, without any need to sacrifice the taste, with a satisfying richness in flavours and use of the best materials of the Greek land from all its regions, such as the smoked cheese of Metsovo to the graviera of Crete, from the kasseri of Elassona to the ladotyri of Mytilene. Chrysi Zymi offers you the most delicious creations that reach your hands and decorate your table, made with ‘secret’, age-old know-how for making the perfect dough, the art of pastry-making and the finest ingredients of our land. One of them is the Horefti (dancing) Pie!

The Horefti Pie is a delicious pie made with ingredients of exceptional quality from the traditional Greek diet, selected one by one from the different regions of our country. It contains all the secrets of a successful crispy pastry and a delicious filling, secrets that Chrysi Zymi passes on from generation to generation, preserving traditional local recipes and passing on nutritional wisdom.

You can join in the dance of deliciousness and the crispy enjoyment of an authentic homemade recipe by discovering the Horefti pie in four tasty options: With feta, smoked cheese from Metsovo and Gruyere from Crete, with spinach, mizithra, leek and feta, with chicken, Gruyere and peppers, and finally with Mytilene oil cheese, Gruyere from Crete and Kasseri from Elassona.

As well as being a pie with a solid base and a unique flavour, the Horefti, with its extra virgin olive oil, low fat and oil content, total absence of preservatives and colourings, hydrogenated oils and, in general, structural ingredients from places renowned for their quality, guarantees a high nutritional value.


The Horefti pie of Chrysi Zymi literally dances in all your taste buds, it is the ideal taste function that manages to combine flavours, aromas, quality and tradition through delicious bites.

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Hariton Springs, an Aquatic Wonder and Foodie Stop

Orchomenos is a small town situated on the Copais plain, which many travellers bypass on their way to Livadia or Arachova. However, it is home to two very important cultural attractions, which you can read about here. It also has a natural water monument and is one of the oldest foodie destinations in the country.

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The Hariton Springs are around 300 metres from the pedestrian street opposite Panagia Skripous. If you happen to visit after a rainy season, you will find yourself in a dreamlike environment full of vegetation, flowing water and the sounds of birds and frogs.

It’s no coincidence that, according to ancient Greek mythology, the three Graces – Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia, symbols of beauty, purity and joie de vivre – washed the hair of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, here. You can stop for photos and a picnic, weather permitting, or continue a little further to visit the aforementioned culinary highlight.

The trout farms of Orchomenos are the pride of the region and a national culinary attraction. Nestled in the vegetation by the river, trout have been bred, smoked and filleted here since the mid-1960s. The trout farms of Orchomenos follow Scandinavian methods learned in Denmark by the pioneer of this innovative activity in Greece.

Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the breeding and processing, from hatching, rearing, smoking, filleting and packaging.

According to breeders, trout are indicators of water quality because they cannot thrive in a polluted environment. We recommend that you buy smoked trout and enjoy it with as few additional sauces and herbs as possible to taste its real flavour. It’s one of those meze dishes that tastes better in its simplest rendition.

Even if you’re not a fan of fish, it’s worth sitting at the tables overlooking the water and enjoying a coffee or continuing to visit Panagia Skripous and the tomb of Tholos of Minyas, an important Byzantine monument that played its role in the more recent history of the Boeotian city, and a very significant Mycenaean monument, first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann.

Whether it’s a halfway stop on a trip to Parnassus or a short, under-the-radar excursion near the Attic Plain, Orchomenos is well worth your attention.

How to Get There

Orchomenos is 130 kilometres from Athens. Follow the Athens-Lamia national road until the 110th kilometre and then take the exit for Kastro towards Orchomenos-Livadia.

Read also:

Discovering the Pristine Beauty of Marathos Village

Discovering the ‘Tholos’ Tomb of Mynias

Panagia Skripous, a Valuable Monument in Viotia

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Best Ways to Welcome the New Year in Athens

As the world prepares to welcome 2024, Athens is putting on its festive best to mark the occasion with traditional merriment and infectious joie de vivre. Famous for its vibrant celebrations, Athens is ready to make the eve of the New Year one to remember. After the countdown, a breathtaking display of fireworks lights up the Athens skyline, with Syntagma Square, the revered Acropolis district and the striking Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre serving as the prime spots for revelers.

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Everyone is invited to join in the festivities at various venues around the city. For those seeking a dining experience that combines luxury with scenic beauty, Athens offers exclusive New Year’s Eve dinners at select venues with breathtaking views of the Acropolis. Distinguished hotels offer plush dinners in regal settings where one can dine and celebrate the city’s new dawn. With its unique blend of ancient history and contemporary vibrancy, Athens is the ideal place to be this season. Meanwhile, almost every bar in town is abuzz with live DJ sets and drinking till the early hours. Here, we present you with the top major celebrations organised for the general public on the big night.

Festive Walk through Scenic Urban Spots

Gather at midday for the community-led Full Moon Hikes, a festive walk through Athens. The musical experience starts at the War Museum and winds through the lush National Garden, past the home of the famous poet Kostis Palamas and into the picturesque alleys of Anafiotika. To add to the New Year spirit, participants are encouraged to wear a festive hat and bring along any musical instruments, such as a traditional triangle. The walk culminates in a friendly picnic with live music. For more information, call +30 6974070997.

Syntagma Square Countdown

Syntagma Square will be the stage for a grand New Year’s Eve celebration organised by the City of Athens and hosted by ERT’s dynamic ‘Studio 4’ duo, Nancy Zampetoglou and Thanasis Anagnostopoulos. The square will come alive with a vibrant mix of live music performances, dance, DJ sets and dazzling fireworks, all to usher in 2024 with spectacle and joy. Crowds start gathering at around 10pm. Admission is free.

New Year’s celebrations at SNFCC

Count down to 2024 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre with festivities starting at 10:30 pm. The evening begins with Idra Kayne’s band playing an eclectic mix of disco and RnB hits. A magnificent fireworks display, followed by DJ Bill Brewster’s vibrant mix of acid house, hip-hop and disco will ring in the new year. The park’s ice rink will be open until 2am for the night’s festivities. Admission is free.

Varvakios Market NYE Extravaganza

Head down to the Varvakios Municipal Market on Athinas street for a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve extravaganza, hosted by Street Outdoors. It promises to be the ultimate dance destination in Athens on this particular night, with top DJs and music producers filling the air with electrifying beats as midnight approaches. The party promises to be an intense, unforgettable start to 2024, and is set to continue until dawn. Admission is free.

Fireworks Under the Acropolis

On New Year’s Eve, the area under the Acropolis becomes a bustling hub of celebration from 9pm. Families and friends will, as always, gather to enjoy the lively atmosphere, listening to live performances and DJ sets. The centrepiece of the night will be the stunning fireworks display at midnight, which offers a majestic view against the backdrop of the Acropolis.

Hilltop Celebrations

Why not see in the new year with fantastic panoramic views from the city’s many hills? Bring along your loved ones, snacks and some bubbly and prepare so say “wow” a lot as you see fireworks going off from various places around the capital. Find out all about Athens’ hills

Run 3k into 2024

The SNFCC invites you to “run into the New Year” with its First Run event, which starts four minutes after midnight. The three kilometre run is more about fun and community spirit than competition. A nominal entry fee of €5 will go towards charitable causes, making your first steps into the New Year as meaningful as they are joyful. The race will take place around the centre’s grounds, marking a festive and healthy start to 2024. After the run, at the SNFCC Agora, a big party will be set up with music by Italian DJ Beppe Loda. Note that the ice rink and the Stavros Niarchos Park will remain open until 2am.

Celebrate in Traditional Style

Step into Mousiko Kafeneio at 2 Feidiou in Athens for a New Year’s Eve filled with the vibrant and exotic sounds of the Middle East. Gerasimos Papadopoulos serenade you with the oud, Giorgos Christodoulou strum the guitar, Mirsini Pontikopoulou-Venieri play the violin, and Alexandra Papastergiopoulou keep the beat on percussion. The air will be thick with traditional rhythms and melodies, setting the perfect mood for dancing. Sip on raki and savour plates of meze as you celebrate. To reserve your spot, phone +30 210 3300060.

Celebrate New Beginnings with Great Tastes

Athens distinguishes itself with an array of hotel rooftops offering panoramic vistas, a stark contrast to the cramped city centre. These hotels have creatively maximised their space by offering luxurious bars, some accompanied by pools and gourmet restaurants, all perched above the city’s skyline. As New Year’s Eve approaches, these rooftop venues become particularly coveted for their unobstructed views of the fireworks at midnight.

If you’re looking to welcome the New Year with style and splendour, consider booking a room at one of Athens’s most renowned hotels with rooftop terraces. Notable mentions include the Athens Hilton, Grande Bretagne, King George, Grecotel Pallas Athena, NJV Athens Plaza, and Athenaeum InterContinental. Each provides a unique blend of comfort, elegance, and panoramic views, ensuring your celebration is as memorable as the city itself.

Read more

Christmas in Athens 2023 – a World of Festivities | travel.gr

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Dreamy Christmas Escape to the ‘Austria of Northern Greece’

The festive period is an opportunity to escape to a snowy winter resort. More people are choosing to go to Palaios Agios Athanasios in Macedonia. To such a degree that has been given the nickname “Austria of Northern Greece”. Even though it’s one of the most famous ski resorts in Greece, it’s somewhat misunderstood. There are many who think that the only reason to travel here is for the great skiing at Kaimaktsalan. But the village of Palaios Agios Athanasios has many more things that will keep you entertain ensuring you won’t go wanting during your visit in the holidays.
 
Located in Pella, very close to the borders with North Macedonia, at 123 kilometres from Thessaloniki and 28 kilometres from Edessa, it has a long history since it was founded in the 16th century. It sits at an altitude of 1200 metres on the mountain of Voras, the third highest in Greece. Its tallest peak is Kaimaktsalan, that means “Earth Soft as Cream”.

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During the 1980s, its residents moved to lower parts where they founded the town of Neos Agios Athanasios. Until the 1990s, the old village had been almost entirely abandoned, but it was destined to be revived, as it was declared a traditional settlement in 1992. Shortly after that the ski centre of Kaimaktsalan opened in 1995 and was essential in its transformation into a tourist hub, with the old building being lovingly restored and renovated.

Where to stay

If you’re looking for a more “homey” experience within Agios Athanasios, an up-and-coming choice of recent years is Rouga Mountain Boutique Suites & Spa, just 70 metres from the village’s main square. If you’re lucky you’ll get one of the 15 suites. You can also look to rent one of the independent residences that the guesthouse Nemesis has to offer, close to the main road. The Tarsouna Mansion made of stone and wood, and also the Chalet Sapin hotel with the unique lobby and the view of the mountain are both in the centre of the village.

If you’re looking for somewhere closer to the Kaimaktsalan Ski Centre, the go-to place is the stone-built Kaimak Inn Spa & Resort. Another first-class choice is Miramonte Chalet Hotel Spa with an indoor heated pool, also boasting a gym, a sauna and a hammam.

Where to eat

Ask any regular and they’ll tell you that you can’t go to Agios Athanasios without stopping at “Katafigio”. The taverna on the edge of the village, and you’ll dine in a big stone hall warmed by a large fireplace. Recommended is the Dutch oven pork with plums and the traditional hearty’fasolada bean soup. If you visit during the Christmas holidays, you’ll probably have the chance to taste dishes centred around game.

If you’re a fan of game, also try Kaliva, located on the main road, where most of the food is made up of local ingredients and traditional handmade pasta dishes. Petro taverna serves popular homemade pies with wild greens and a rich wild boar stew. Maria is Pppular for its classic meze dishes and traditional flavours, and the place where on a cold winter’s night you can relish a streaming bowl of homemade trachanas (traditional kind of pasta made with flour and milk or yogurt).

Hot Drinks and Cocktails

Hionodromos is the classic spot for drinks, day and night. A welcoming indoor space with a roaring fireplace, here you can enjoy coffee or a sumptuous cup of hot chocolate served in a number of interesting ways. As the day turns to night the hot drinks are replaced by colourful cocktails or warming, high-quality brandy or malt whiskey.

Cafe & Beer Pub Patriko is the perfect place for evening outings (it is open in the mornings too) that will impress you with its extensive wine and beer lists. Hovoli is also great for a coffee, a tsipouro (Greek grappa) and meze, or, for the faint hearted, a satisfying cup of mountain tea.

5 Tips for a Christmastime Visit to Agios Athanasios

Walk, walk, walk!

Delight in a stroll around the village up and down its mazey stone-paved alleyways. The restored houses with tiled roofs are typical examples of the local architecture of Macedonia, renowned for the chiseled stone and woodwork. In the little shops you’ll come across you can buy top quality local products. You’ll find bottles of the local tsipouro as well as the semi-hard ewe or goat milk batso cheese and the “tsouskes” peppers.

You should also visit the church of Analipsi at the edge of the village. It has a three-aisled basilica with a wooden roof and a narthex, it was built in the 17th century. The icons there are excellent examples of the Byzantine iconographic style.

Experience Local Christmas Traditions

The ‘Christmas Fires‘ fires tradition takes place in the main square on December 23rd and participants in the festivities shout “Kolinta Babo” before they start celebrating. It’s an age-old tradition that perhaps is a reference to the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod. With the passing of time, inevitably, the original symbolism become more vague, and has now become a symbolic warning to the community to guard against all evil.

The fires are put out on the morning of Christmas Eve, at daybreak, symbolising the birth of Jesus. That’s when people gather once more and sing the ‘Kolinta‘ local Christmas carols. These often starts with the phrase “Kolinta, kolinta dos’ mou babo kloura”.

If you stay for New Year’s, then you’re likely to hear the “sourva” on New Year’s Eve. These are the traditional carols sung to celebrate the coming of the New Year. New Year’s Eve is celebrated in the main square with a wonderful firework display at midnight.

See the View from the Church of Agios Athanasios

The church that gave the village its current name is on the homonymous hill and offers a magnificent view of Lake Vegoritida and the villages on its banks.

Before you leave, make sure you visit the chapel of Agios Georgios. There you’ll see five trees intertwined in an unusual way, that look uncannily like a human body.

Kaimaktsalan: Not Just For Skiing

With state-of-the-art facilities, Kaimaktsalan is considered as one of the best mid-sized ski destinations outside the “classic” zone of France, Switzerland, and Austria. Starting at an altitude of 2050 metres, where the ticket offices, the refuge and the ski schools are located, go to the station of Kremasi, on the highest skilift in Greece which is 2480 metres above sea level.

The ski centre has pistes for beginners, if you want to try out skiing for the first time or brush up on your skiing talents. If snow sports aren’t your thing, why not enjoy a coffee or a drink at the chalet looking out of the large windows and the thrill seekers hurtling down the slopes? Meanwhile, experienced skiers will be happy to find pistes that suit their skills, and there’s also an airboard trail. The snow season in Kaimaktsalan is pretty long; the season starts in November and ends as late as the beginning of May.

Go up high, on Vora, at the chapel of Profitis Ilias

Another thing to do when visiting the ski centre is to hike even up to Vora. At an altitude of 2524 metres you’ll have reached the third-highest summit in Greece. However, you should only attempt this with a guide in winter. At the top you’ll reach the chapel of Profitis Ilias one of the most famous attractions in the area. In front of the chapel is a monument dedicated to Serbian and Bulgarian soldiers who died on the mountaintop during the First World War.

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Best Deli Stores in Athens

We love Greek delicatessens. We loved them before they became a city-wide trend and we love them now that they are everywhere, with a cornucopia of incredible Greek and international foodstuffs by small and specialised producers inspiring us to try new tastes and ‘travel’ through our tastebuds.

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Through these delis we can discover the result of recipes and procedures that are centuries-old and second to none. In a party of flavours, sour trachana and mature Cretan graviera are sold alongside bleu de Queyras and Iberico de Bellota, camel pastirma and Armenian soujouk, giant ‘gigantes’ beans from Prespes and katsouni (fava) from Schinoussa, avgotaraho (bottarga) from Messolonghi and foie gras.

Here we present you with a broad array of high quality, well-reputed stores across the city that sell an exciting range of excellent food products for festive feasts or everyday luxury for the palate, parties, dinners and special gifts to foodie friends.

Ergon House

Not just a deli but also a beautiful boutique hotel, Ergon House is a contemporary foodie hub with an inviting ambience, plenty of natural light and clean, modern lines. Its centrepiece is the Agora, a lively market selling a vast range – more than 600 unique products. Visitors can buy fresh farm-to table foods like premium meats, artisanal cheeses, and specialty organic produce made in Greece by Ergon (which also has its own orchard) and its collaborators. The market also features a selection of fine olive oils, Greek wines, and traditional pastries and a dining hall.

Address: 23 Mitropoleos, Syntagma, Phone: +30 210 0109090, Website

Ipirotissa

What was initially a bakery and pastry shop, and is one of the oldest shops in the area, has evolved into a multi-space that has a modernised delicatessen with mainly foreign, exceptional cheeses and deli meats, fresh pasta and more delights as well as a wine cellar (including a good selection of champagnes), a small greengrocer’s section, ready meals (from sushi to classic Greek dishes), coffee, a pastry shop with very nice sweets, and a bakery with bread made from emmer wheat flour, stone-ground sourdough bread, multigrain bread and more. It also produces bakery products (bread sticks, biscuits, bagels) that change with the seasons. For example, it offers spooky sweets during Halloween and wonderful vasilopita, melomakarona and kourabiedes at Christmas.

Address: 32 Evelpidon Avenue, Voula, Phone: +30 210 895392, Website

Diatrofi Koutroumanos

At this grocery store you’ll find excellent traditional products from all over Greece, mainly dairy products from the famous Koutroumanos Dairy in Karpenisi, like feta, goat’s cheese, barrel-aged cheese, Vlach cheese, fresh goat’s butter, graviera and kefalotyri, tsalafouti (PDO), all made from local milk, as well as yoghurt from the Tzifris Dairy in Karpenisi. They also sell ‘tsatsou’ pasta from Lamia (sour and sweet sheep’s milk trachanas, a rarity), and vegetable trachanas, hilopites, Keramaris spoon sweets, pine honey from Evrytania and honey from all over Greece, both conventional and organic, and a unique liqueur made from Evrytania berries. For delicatessen, there are Karpenisi sausages from Vrekos (and Synglino, a very good pork tenderloin and salami) and Strammenos sausages.

Address: 130 Papadiamantopoulou, Goudi, Phone: +30 210 7754805

Nora’s Deli

A remarkable place to shop at for both Greek and international cuisine lovers, selling a wide range of everyday staples such as olive oil, honey, pasta, rice, dairy products, spices, teas, sauces, chocolates and vegan food products, as well as organic and natural cosmetics and household products. From abroad come Iberico de Bellota, foie gras, caviar, smoked salmon, fresh Normandy butter, goose fat and more. From Greece, there are goat trachanas from Andros, Mytilene oil cheese, pickled quail eggs from Grevena and avgotaraho from Messolonghi. You’ll also find smoked and pickled fish, buffalo milk ariani, top quality wines and much more.

Address: 11 Anagnostopoulou, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 210 3389349, Website

Ellinika Kaloudia

A charming shop behind the Acropolis Museum selling a curated selection of goods from small Greek producers, with an emphasis on organic sourcing. You’ll find unique foods and delicacies that you won’t easily find elsewhere, like cheeses from Maltezou Farm and San Michali from Syros, riki honey from Andros, frozen handmade pies from Pie Lab in Ayia Larissa and frozen Batis Bougatsa from Thessaloniki – both ready to bake. Also a broad range of sauces from Goumenisses, nut butters from The Nutlers, wonderful herbal tea blends and much more.

Address: 8 Hatzichristou, Koukaki, Phone: +30 210 9224060, Website

Troufa Local Deli

Cheeses, deli meats, pasta and an impressive collection of whole truffles and truffle products, which inspired its name. World Cheese Award winning cheeses and wonderful Greek cheeses (many from Arcadia) share shelf space: Arcadian Sheep and Goat’s Gruyere with Four Peppers, Gruyere with Bukovo, Arcadia Smoked Gruyere, Sfakian Numbered Gruyere, aged Kasseri from Xanthi, Castelviel Roquefort, 18-month aged Comte, 18-month raw milk Cheddar, Pecorino with Truffle, Queso Curado with Truffle, 36-month aged Gouda, 12-month aged Manchego D.O.P., 12-month aged Cretan Gruyere and more. The same variety extends to charcuterie, where camel pastirma sits alongside Renzini truffle salami. As for truffle products, you’ll find vinegar, oil, butter, mayonnaise, risotto rice (carnaroli), basil pesto, all with truffles, and whole truffles.

Address: 54 Achilleos, Paleo Faliro, Phone: +30 210 9885445, Website

Mirán

Since 1922, this famous delicatessen has been known for its variety of pastourmas (beef, sheep, buffalo, camel) and a range of other items such as spicy and plain soutzoukia and kavourmas. In addition to its own meats, produced with a century of in-depth knowledge, it deals in air-dried salamis – spicy Hungarian, paprika, truffle, cheese, and beef tongue, pastrami and more, indeed there’s a wide variety of exquisite cheeses from every corner of Greece crowding the shelves: Cretan graviera, Xanthi kasseri, sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses and dry cheeses from Samothrace, smoked cheese from Veria, Ios gruygraviera, semi-hard sochino, Astakos kefalotyri, Kefalonia kefalotyri, Mykonos goats’ cheeses and so on. The cornucopia of mezes is rounded off with fantastic picked and preserved ‘alipasta’ seafood and fish.

Address: 45 Evripidou, Psyri, Phone: +30 210 4121766, Website

Degustation

Founded in 2007 by the cosmopolitan Ilias Apostolou, a veteran of the hospitality industry, the company exclusively imports high quality foods, delicacies and drinks from selected Greek and international producers. The range of products is vast, with over 1,700 items mainly from Greece, France, Italy, Germany and the rest of the world. Legendary cheeses such as Stilton, Comté, Farmhouse Cheddar, Roquefort, deli meats – Jamon Serrano & Jamon Iberico, Bresaola di Punta, Truffle Mortadella from Bologna, Finocchiona, Spianata Calabria or Romana, etc. The foie gras, caviar, avgotaraho, pies, crackers and chutneys have a special gastronomic presence in the shop.

Address: 5 Koumpari, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 210 3627744, Website

From Paris

Founded by Parisians Cyril and Sylvie Rouquette, who fell in love with Greece and cheese, they’ve created a quaint cheese shop offering fine French cheeses of all kinds. In their fridges you’ll find everything from Reblochon, a goat’s cheese with ash and a delicate flavour, to pungent cheeses such as Le Georges and truffle-flavoured Camembert, soft Saint Marcelin and Langres, Saint Nectaire, classic Roquefort and Bleu de Queyras, Brie and Mimolette. In addition to cheeses, there are ready-made vegetable soups in jars and traditional French dishes such as duck with orange, beef blanquette, pickles, jams, a few wines and many other delicacies with the French gastronomic stamp.

Address: 35 Kleisthenous, Aghia Paraskevi, Phone: +30 698172612, Website

Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani

A stroll around the huge circular refrigerator at the centre of Fanis Theodoropoulos’ shop is like a complete gastronomic tour of the tastiest parts of Greece. There are incredible cheeses that only a few insiders knew about before they hit the shelves, such as Armirotiri from Kasos, Kariki from Tinos, a blue cheese from the Tinos Dairy Cooperative made from cow’s milk and matured in a pumpkin, Kimolos Manoura matured in grape must, semi-soft oil cheese from Milos, Caskavali, a PDO semi-sweet cheese from Limnos, and more. There’s an abundance of deli meats on offer, including Karamanlidika-style pastourmas and soutzoukia, pork knuckles, salamis and sausages. Products range from pasta, sauces and spreads to ready-made pies, halva, wines, spoon sweets and jams. Wines – of course, wines – as well as spirits and beers complete the range.

Address: 1 Sokratous & Evripidou, Psyri, Phone: +30 210 3254184, Website

Gratsanis – Mornos Dairy Products

The shop of this family-run dairy and traditional pasta company brings the variety of its unique products to the city. PDO Feta, sheep’s and goat’s cheese, Gruyere, Kefalotyri and Kefalision (made from pasteurised Greek sheep’s and goat’s milk, a cross between Greek Gruyere and Kefalotyri), Anthotyro, dry Mizithra and Manouromizithra, as well as sheep’s and goat’s yoghurt and fresh sheep’s and goat’s milk and sour milk. There are also spreads such as tzatziki and spicy cheese dip, and spreadable cheeses such as galotyri and sour mizithra. Their traditional pasta is represented by trahanas (sweet, sour, whole wheat), lasagne, hilopites, screw pasta, macaronaki, etc.

Address: 33 Oulof Palme, Zografou, Phone: +30 213 0255665, Website

Amfilohia

A modern store with a variety of products from small Greek producers making modern, classic and traditional foods. They sell dairy products, deli meats, honey, bakery products, wine and frozen ready meals. The feta from Trihonida and the manoura from Sifnos are delicious, as are the blue cheese “Cyan” from the Arvanitis dairy and the chevre from the Maltezos farm. Of particular interest are the products of Parnonas Poema, an association of Parnonas producers (graviera that’s aged for 8 months, graviera with chilli seeds, graviera with black pepper, pine, blossom and conifer honey), as well as fantastic rusks made from legume flour (fava, lentil, chickpea) and whole-wheat flour in three flavours: oil, tomato and garlic-oregano, all kinds of deli meats, salamis, pork knuckles and prosciuttos, and spaghetti, linguine and vegetable linguine from “Agrozimi” made with semolina in special bronze molds (a special order from Italy).

Address: 30 Sarantaporou, Holargos, Phone: +30 210 6532051, Website

Provence

The only shop in the country that sells selected and rare foreign cheeses (and very few Greek ones), run by Giorgos Kyriakopoulos, the owner and connoisseur of the subject. If you follow his advice, you’ll find a 14-month aged Gouda that’s not just a rubbery slice for pizza or toast, but a superb cheese. Among the myriad codes, his fridges hold rare cheeses such as the unpasteurised Swiss Holzhofer, the rare blue cheese from Savoie Bleu De Termignon, Occelli with chestnut leaves from Piedmont, 11-year-old Reggiano Modenese cow’s milk Parmesan, raw 12-month-old English cheddar, soft, buttery Munster Montagne Claudepierre with its pungent smell and delicate taste from Alsace, handmade Camembert, perhaps even a Tinos Gruyere, and more. The shop also stocks excellent charcuterie and foie gras, caviar, salmon and seafood, as well as more everyday quality foods such as Carnaroli rice and Italian pasta, Modena balsamic vinegar, spreads, chutneys and bakery products. A range of international wines, including champagnes, sparkling wines and sweet dessert wines, as well as spirits and liqueurs, complete the picture of indulgence.

Address: 12 Theofanous, Ambelokipi, Phone: +30 210 8981435, Website

Yoleni’s

Yoleni’s presents a delightful array of specific Greek culinary products, ensuring a genuine taste of Greece, with both food halls and a large grocery store. Their collection includes a variety of olive oils, from extra virgin to infused varieties, and a wide selection of Greek olives like Kalamata and green from Halkidiki. The cheese offerings range from feta and halloumi to more exotic types like kefalotyri and manouri. They also offer a diverse range of honeys, such as thyme, pine, and flower honey. The store features classic Greek pastries like baklava and kourabiedes, along with unique Greek chocolates. Additionally, Yoleni’s stocks an assortment of traditional Greek pasta, like orzo and hilopites, and a curated selection of Greek wines and ouzo, reflecting the country’s rich winemaking heritage.

Address: 9 Solonos, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 210 9402007, Website

Kolios Grocery

A grocery store that loves Ikarian products and artisan breads, selling wood-fired sourdough bread from Halkida or Kato Souli in Marathon, Agioreitiko and Zeas breads, Eptazymo with chickpea yeast, Monastiriako with wine yeast, Four-flour bread with turmeric, Octasporo with walnuts, Carob bread, and so on. On the shelves you’ll find a huge variety of honeys and royal jellies, halvas, tahini, spoon sweets, Ikarian wines and special loukoumia (Turkish delight). An important category is the wide range of frozen doughs from the Kolios family, from fantastic handmade phyllo to puff pastry and many pies, walnut and honey kaltsounia and Skopelitian twisted pie.

Address: 35 Athinas & 54 Athinas, Psyri, Phone: +30 210 3241477, Website

Alexandris

A delicatessen with a large selection of excellent cheeses, mainly Greek (and some foreign), as well as a wide range of other quality Greek products from all over the country. Standouts include Epirot cheeses from Tositsa Foundation, Tsoutsoplidi Dairy and Pappas Dairy, exceptional feta and anthotyro from Arta, Ziros cheese. Also, Rumeli cheese from dairies such as Inachos and Tsitsiridis and famous cheeses such as Naxos Graviera (5 year matured by Koufopoulos) and Naxos Arseniko, Petrino from Chalkidiki and Myrovolos from Chios (such as Mastelo with mastic). The shop sells selected delicacies (such as Manousos’ smoked pork shoulder and Aliartos’ country chicken sausage), Adamantina pasta, organic Greek trahanas, legumes from Evros, Geodi jams and Italian pasta with cuttlefish ink and mushrooms.

Address: 30 Heroon Polytechneiou, Ilioupoli, Phone: +30 210 9918730, Website

Paradosiako Bakaliko

A grocery delicatessen with a wide range of selected products from all over Greece. Many graviera cheeses from Crete and many other cheeses (Kalavrita Feta from Militsopoulos, Petrino from Chalkidiki from Stathoris, Sitià’s Xigalo from Kouvarakis), deli meats (Corfiot Nouboulo and Salado) and buffalo meat from Kerkini Farm, honey, Kytherian rusks and wood-fired bread from Epidaurus, pasta with buffalo milk from Ano Poroia, spreads, organic and free-range eggs. A well-stocked wine cellar.

Address: 8, 28 Oktovriou Square, Ilioupoli, Phone: +30 210 9954500, Website

Manitarion Gefseis

Stathis Giannatos, an ardent mushroom forager, has turned his passion into a profession and created a shop where even the most demanding mushroom lovers can find everything they desire, in the non-psychedelic sense. A whole range of fresh Greek mushrooms depending on the season (wild fresh porcini, chanterelles, Caesar’s mushrooms, black and golden trumpets) including fresh truffles. Also, fresh cultivated mushrooms, Greek and imported – enoki, shiitake, king oyster, white and brown shimeji, and so on. On the shelves of the shop, you can find spreads, sauces and purees with mushrooms, pasta, rice, barley and quinoa with mushrooms, cheese with mushrooms, mushroom candies and all the classics (truffle oil, salt, butter, balsamic vinegar and more), all with truffles.

Address: 122 Tatoiou, Nea Erythraia, Phone: +30 210 620 3354, Website

Batanian

The story began in 1922, when the Batanian family from Kayseri set up a small workshop on the terrace of their house in Kokkinia, Piraeus, and began making what they knew best: pastirma and the famous Armenian soujouk. Now in the hands of the fourth generation, the workshop has grown into a factory. Their pastirma and Armenian soujouk are second to none, as are their kavourmas, head cheese, smoked tongue and Greek prosciutto. They bring in many distinctive Greek and foreign cheeses, lots of starters like cheese stuffed peppers, ready-made dolmades and cabbage rolls, excellent Mount Athos eggplant salad and pickled cabbage (armia). They also deal in frozen prawns, pastourma pies with pastirma and Mytilene kasseri. Now, for the holidays, they import pheasant and wild boar pate from Belgium and make handmade parmesan or feta mousse.

Address: 5 Platonos, Kallithea, Phone: +30 210 9562265, Website

Il Salumaio d’Atene

Now in its 25th year, this restaurant/delicatessen offers a curated selection of the finest and most authentic tastes. Here you’ll find Italy’s finest – fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella di Bufala, Prosciutto di Parma, Bresaola and the coveted Alba truffles. In addition to cheeses, the deli sells a wide range of other products: a variety of cheeses and charcuterie, exclusive Martelli spaghetti, homemade pesto sauce and a selection of truffle products. Seafood lovers can indulge in fish roe, oysters and scallops.

Address: 3 Panagitsas, Kifissia, Phone: +30 210 6233934, Website

Pandaisia

Few shops live up to their name like Pandaisia in Agia Paraskevi. It’s a place where gourmets from Athens and the suburbs know they’ll find flavours committed to the ethos of the highest quality and a wide variety of raw materials. The traditional Pandaisia grocery store offers raw materials directly from small producers throughout Greece and equally carefully selected foods from around the world, capable of enhancing even the simplest recipe.

Meet the experts of the gastronomic scene who will present the delicacies of Pandaisia, inspired by new recipes and trends, and you will be convinced.

Address: 41 Ag. Ioannou 41, Agia Paraskevi, Phone: +30 210 6017731

Barolo

This Italian restaurant and international delicatessen’s offerings include a variety of cheeses and charcuteries, which can be enjoyed at tables indoors and outdoors, enhanced by the cosy ambience of awnings and heaters. The curated wine list complements the flavours of aged 36-month parmesan, pecorino, Comté, Cretan goat graviera, Arseniko from Naxos, and an assortment of prosciutto, salamis, and chorizo. Guests have the luxury of taking home any unfinished delights. This culinary haven welcomes patrons until late into the night, ensuring a memorable and tasteful experience.

Address: 1 Davaki, Psychiko, Phone: +30 210 6717600, Website

Read more about Greece’s regional food products

Discover the Best Traditional Cretan Foods of Chania | travel.gr

Home Grown and Traditional Island Foods on Paros | travel.gr

Unravelling Aegean Gastronomy on Milos’ Traditional Table | travel.gr

Flavors and Aromas from the Local Cuisine of Zakynthos | travel.gr

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Discovering the Pristine Beauty of Marathos Village

The Agrafa region is one of the most isolated and inaccessible areas of Greece. Indeed, the most popular but probably untrue story about the origin of its name, which means ‘unwritten’ in Greek, is that the Ottoman authorities’ inability to collect taxes from its inhabitants resulted in the area being erased from tax records. Therefore, the name Agrafa means that it remained ‘unrecorded’.

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Marathos is certainly a prime example of an unspoilt area like Agrafa. It has been described by the BBC as “the inaccessible Switzerland of Greece“. Standing in the village’s stone square, we gaze at the mountain ridges unfolding before us. It’s not just the snow-covered landscapes that are so impressive and have been imprinted on our minds. Before coming here, we had read that, according to UNESCO, Agrafa has some of the cleanest water and air in Europe, and we saw it for ourselves. Our Athenian lungs hadn’t felt this good in a long time.

The village was the home of Katsantonis, the legendary ‘klepht’ of Roumeli who was killed by Ali Pasha’s forces and is considered a proto-martyr of the Greek Revolution. A bust in the village square honours Katsantonis. The village had about 30 families at the beginning of the 19th century. In the census of 1907, the population figure was 403. Today, there are very few permanent residents, but during the weekend of the Holy Spirit, it fills up again with people when the festival of Katsantonia is held in honour of Katsantonis. People from Marathos return to the village to celebrate.

While we were there in wintertime the village was essentially deserted, but this allowed us to admire the arched bridges, water mills, stone houses and alleyways of Marathos. They were in better condition than one would expect in such a small place, as even those who no longer live here love and look after it. At the watermill, we meet one of the few permanent residents who explains how difficult daily life is in such a place, especially in winter. For him, moving is not an option; his life is completely identified with the mountains and waters of the area.

Before continuing our journey, we stop at the Church of the Archangels, which has stood on its site for hundreds of years and has stunning frescoes inside. Before getting back in the car to continue our exploration, we enjoy the freshness and clean air of the mountain once again. We feel fortunate to have come to this truly unspoilt place, perhaps the only one in Greece where everyday life is so reminiscent of times gone by.

Tips for Your Visit

It’s best to come here in a vehicle you trust, and even better if it has four-wheel drive, as you’ll inevitably be driving on dirt roads.

Hikers will find themselves in a real paradise. After all, the area’s trails are still a hub of communication for the locals.

Agrafa is truly ‘untouched’ by mass tourism. If you visit, make sure you show respect for nature. And a few figures to illustrate just how inaccessible this beautiful area is. Marathos is about 5 hours by car from Athens, about an hour and a half from Karpenisi, just under 2 hours from the touristically developed Megalo Chorio and 50 minutes from the main village of Agrafa, where there are accommodation and catering facilities. This infrastructure is also available in Kerasochori, about an hour’s drive away.

Read also:

Discovering the ‘Tholos’ Tomb of Mynias

Vaskina: Pastoral Bliss on Mt Parnon

In the Path of Aristotle in the Kalloni Wetlands

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Best Greek Luxury Fashion Brands

Greek fashion design has evolved dramatically over the last few decades, with more and more Greek designers’ names becoming known to fashionistas across the globe. If you are in Athens or even other locations in Greece that sell luxury Greek designs (most commonly Mykonos and Santorini but by now on several other islands and mainland spots too) you’ll have the good fortune of being able to see, feel and try on the designs. Otherwise, fear not, as most designs can be shopped online, and we provide you with the information here.

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We will start by taking a look at three excellent portals that sell the best variety of luxury Greek brands, from clothing and accessories to shoes, jewellery and even home décor items, before zooming in on Greece’s most loved and known designers. At the stores we list below you will find a vast range of products as well as styles and prices (sales feature regularly) and will be able to deep dive into the Greek design scene.

ID Concept Stores is a haven for fashion enthusiasts seeking a taste of Greece’s contemporary design brilliance. This boutique showcases a handpicked array of esteemed Greek designers, celebrating their unique and innovative creations. From Liana Camba’s understated elegance to Deux Hommes’ avant-garde sophistication, the store embodies the rich diversity of Greek fashion. Committed to quality and originality, ID Concept Stores is a testament to the flourishing Greek fashion landscape, offering discerning shoppers a glimpse into the country’s creative spirit.

Aesthet, a sophisticated online boutique, is a true homage to Greek fashion excellence. It proudly features a curated collection of illustrious Greek luxury brands, each with its distinctive allure. From the timeless elegance of Zeus+Dione, drawing inspiration from Greek heritage to the avant-garde creations by Angelos Bratis, Aesthet’s offerings encompass a wide spectrum of apparel, accessories, and more. With renowned names like Ancient Kallos and MI-RŌ in their carefully chosen lineup, Aesthet is a dedicated platform for celebrating the innovation and quality of contemporary Greek design.

Explore the vibrant world of Greek fashion at The Greek Designers Store. This online boutique showcases an array of exquisite creations by talented Greek designers. From elegant apparel to unique accessories, Greek Designers offers a diverse selection of high-quality, original fashion items. Discover the essence of Greek style and craftsmanship while supporting local talent. Whether you’re seeking contemporary designs or timeless classics, this platform connects you with the best in Greek fashion innovation, bringing a piece of Greece’s creative spirit to your wardrobe.

Must-Know Greek Fashion Designers

Mary Katranzou

Mary Katranzou

Known as the ‘Queen of Print’, Mary Katrantzou has revolutionised fashion with her striking designs. With trompe l’oeil dresses featuring digital patterns and opulent embellishments, she opened the graduation show at Central Saint Martins in February 2008, and the rest is history. Her collections, characterised by bold prints and innovative silhouettes, have been influential across high fashion and high street brands. In particular, her collection of lampshade skirts for Spring/Summer 2011 was a major success at London Fashion Week. Her work epitomises a bold, artistic femininity, fusing contrasting aesthetics and combining technology with craftsmanship. Her designs, which are available in more than 30 countries, continue to set trends and captivate a global audience. Click here to find stores selling the Mary Katranzou brand

Dimitris Dassios

With an initial focus was on costume jewellery, Dassios has since 2005 developed into an acclaimed designer of iconic accessories and garments. Known for his haute couture moulage technique, he shapes fabrics on mannequins; the result is striking, geometrically draped pieces. His designs are a blend of Greek tradition and global influences. They feature authentic embroidery, ethnic detailing and handmade fabrics. His denim and kaftan ranges in particular stand out for their must-have status, with each handcrafted piece exuding a unique identity. Dassios’ meticulous approach elevates his work beyond conventional pret-a-porter and makes each piece a work of art in itself. Click here to shop the Dimitris Dassios brand

Angelos Bratis

Celebrated for his fluid silhouettes and masterful draping, Bratis’ style denotes effortless elegance. His garments, crafted primarily from wool and silk with minimal seaming, showcase a natural flow, gracefully contouring the body. His designs have graced international runways from Milan to New York, gaining global acclaim and Bratis’ collaborations with brands like L`Oréal Paris and Johnnie Walker Black Label further highlight his innovative approach. His work, characterised by a unique blend of simplicity and sophistication, has redefined modern elegance in fashion. Click here to shop the Angelos Bratis brand

Zeus & Dione

Zeus+Dione, inspired by Greek mythological heritage, reimagines contemporary style and design. Named after the ancient Greek goddess’s divine parents, the brand blends tradition with a modern twist. Central to its ethos is the Greek Delta (Δ), symbolizing spirituality, harmony, and creativity. Inspired by classic Greek architecture, the collections feature minimalist structures, geometric precision, and elegant patterns. This brand is a tribute to Greek artisanal craftsmanship, offering innovative, timeless pieces that redefine tradition and material quality, appealing to those seeking unique yet classic lifestyles created in sustainable ways. Click here to shop the Zeus and Dione brand

Daphne Valente

Inspired by Mariano Fortuny and her Greek heritage, Valente has been innovating with pleats in fashion since 1985. Her unique approach begins with simple fabric rectangles, creating flowing, minimal-seam designs that allow freedom of movement, reminiscent of ancient Greek attire. Her timeless, seasonless collections cater to all body types, denoting understated elegance. A proponent of slow fashion, Valente uses high-quality, sustainable synthetic materials, aligning with her commitment to vegetarian principles and avoiding animal products in her designs. Click here to shop the Daphne Valente brand

Vasilis Zoulias

Zoulias embraces a style of old-school femininity, combining romantic prints and voluptuous, slim-fitting silhouettes with a noble, aristocratic charm. In 2002, Zoulias opened his boutique in Athens, introducing luxury accessories and limited collections. Following his passion for dressing women in timeless elegance, he launched his ready-to-wear collection in 2007, a tribute to vintage glamour with a contemporary, finely crafted touch. In 2008, he debuted his first haute couture and bridal collection. Celebrating the eclectic glamour of bygone eras, his modern yet nostalgic designs have a “bon chic” international flair, crafted with grace. His work flatters the modern woman, from the exotic to the austere – think ‘Emily in Paris’, for which the Greek designer created five epic looks. Click here to shop the Vasilis Zoulias brand

Chara Lebessi

A masterful balance between the ethereal grace of ancient Greece with edgy, sexy modern flair describes Lebessi’s style today. Initially drawing inspiration from Grecian elegance with flowing one-shoulder gowns and statue-like draping, the line has evolved to include more contemporary elements. Her use of light, classic materials like silk chiffon and organza in understated tones is now complemented by minimalist, geometric, and even urban influences. Lebessi’s work, always embracing a dreamy and timeless elegance, also extends to handmade jewelry and chic accessories, reflecting a seamless blend of classical beauty and modern sophistication. Click here to shop the Chara Lebessi brand

Ioanna Kourbela

Merging classical and modern art influences with Greek heritage, Kourbela creates fashion that is both ethereal and grounded. Her unique collections, informed by her background in fashion design as well as the arts, have established her as a pioneer of contemporary Greek creativity. Her brand features four lines, including the couture-inspired IOANNA KOURBELA and the natural-material-focused “EN OIKO” collection, reflecting a synergy between body, clothing, and environment. Click here to shop the Ioanna Kourbela brand

Yiorgos Eleftheriades

Yiorgos Eleftheriades excels in crafting unrestricted, dynamic silhouettes, merging structural innovation with fluid grace. His collections, showcased in Athens, Milan, Paris, Barcelona and beyond, are, distinguished by voluminous and geometric shapes, and present a meticulous balance of form and movement. Using eco-friendly fabrics, Eleftheriades emphasises functionality and versatility, creating timeless pieces that adapt to various occasions. His technique, rooted in expert tailoring and a commitment to sustainable fashion, results in clothing that not only looks striking but also engages the wearer in both thought and style, transcending conventional fashion boundaries. Click here to shop the Yiorgos Eleftheriades brand

Parthenis

Known for its timeless, unisex and elegant Greek aesthetic, Parthenis was first established in Athens and later Mykonos in 1970. Today, Orsalia Parthenis continues the legacy of her father Dimitris with ‘chic sportif’ designs that blend natural fibres such as wool, silk and cotton into relaxed, figure-flattering silhouettes. Parthenis recently collaborated with fashion illustrator David Downton on a limited-edition resort collection, reflecting the brand’s commitment to innovative yet classic design, all produced in Athens. Click here to shop the Parthenis brand

Ancient Kallos

Ancient Kallos skillfully and subtly infuses ancient Greek aesthetics into elegant modern designs with clean lines. Their collections encompass a wide variety of pieces, from flowing dresses inspired by classical Greek attire to bold gold linen cabanna trousers, and from accessories that evoke the splendour of ancient jewellery, to home decor items. You’ll find meticulously crafted garments featuring drapery, pleats, and delicate embroidery inspired by traditional weaving and Hellenic heritage. Accessories like sandals and jewelry showcase the brand’s dedication to timeless elegance. Explore their website to experience a harmonious blend of contemporary fashion and classical Greek beauty in every creation. Click here to shop the Ancient Kallos brand

Mi-RO Designers

Mi-RO Designers

MI-RŌ, created by Dimitris Mastrokalos and Giannis Raptis, stands out in Greek fashion for its innovative style of fresh, timeless classical lines and audacious glamour. Known for creating dynamic silhouettes and feminine lines, their designs are made with precious materials and detailed tailoring. The duo’s distinctive approach has led to presentations at major fashion events and collaborations with global brands. Their influence extends to other areas, including costume design, further highlighting their versatile and impactful design ethos. Click here to shop the Mi-Ro brand

Shoes

Ancient Greek Sandals

The Ancient Greek Sandals collection was launched in 2011, inspired by ancient Greek designs and made from the finest materials and quickly becoming a hit. The Ikaria, with Hermes-inspired wings, and the Antigone, a black suede lace-up, are standout sandal designs that took the world by storm with their uniqueness and style. Once a souvenir for tourists in Monastiraki, this style of sandals have become a global fashion trend, endorsed by celebrities and featured in major publications such as Italian Vogue and The New York Times. Click here to shop the Ancient Greek Sandals brand

Pandelis Melissinos

Founded in 1920, this renowned sandal atelier is renowned for creating handcrafted footwear that combines ancient Greek elegance with creative modern craftsmanship. Pantelis Melissinos took the reigns from his father Stavros, the legendary “poet sandal maker” in 2004, growing up around clients like the Beatles, Rudolph Nureyev, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor. His workshop exudes artistic charm, decorated with Pandelis’ artwork and a piano. His sandals are known for their simplicity and bespoke design and appeal to a wide range of customers, including international celebrities and style connoisseurs. Each unisex leather pair is made to measure and has timeless style and comfort. Click here to shop the Pandelis Melissinos brand

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Road Trip to the Heart of Drama’s Authentic Beauty

We had been planning this trip for a long time. We wanted to experience Drama and its surroundings, especially in winter when it takes on a different charm. However, for a trip to Eastern Macedonia, with its mountains and low temperatures, it was essential to have the right car.

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A friend suggested renting from Avis and after browsing avis.gr we found what we were looking for: a robust SUV, perfect for navigating the mountainous and semi-mountainous terrain around Drama, especially challenging in the winter months. It was equipped with modern lighting and navigation systems, was roomy enough for four people with luggage, and comfortable enough to drive for several hours, even under the most challenging conditions. Most importantly, it was fuel-efficient, which is crucial today when fuel comes at such a high cost.

We collected the car from the Avis station at Thessaloniki airport at the agreed time. The experienced and courteous staff explained everything we needed to know. Soon we were on the Egnatia Odos and after a comfortable two-hour journey we arrived at our accommodation in Drama.

The Christmas Capital

Drama is home to the oldest Christmas Park in the country, Oneiroupoli. This year’s event was particularly special as Oneiropoli celebrated its 20th anniversary. Although many visitors, especially children, were indifferent to this milestone, the festive spirit we encountered was warm and vibrant. The focus of this article, however, is more on the town of Drama and its surrounding area.

Untouched by tourism, Drama boasts some of the most beautiful parts of Greece. One of its most beautiful spots is the springs of Agia Varvara. Drama, a city built on water, has turned these springs into a central city park and landmark. Here is an excellent example of the architecture that represents the region’s past economic activities in Eastern Macedonia.

The Spierer Tobacco Warehouse

The Spierer Tobacco Warehouse, a simple but impressive four-storey building covering 7,500 square metres, has now been converted into a luxury hotel. It’s an example of how the past of a place can be harmoniously linked to its present and future through intelligent intervention.

On the plateau of Nevrokopi

Nevrokopi is best known for its very low temperatures and delicious potatoes. What we didn’t know until we explored the area by car was its unspoilt natural beauty and the understated but remarkable places to visit. From stunning man-made lakes to the historic Lisse Fort and endless forests and trails, the region offers a wealth of natural and historical wonders.

Leaving the town of Drama behind, with the imposing Falakro mountain to our right, Paggaio mountain to our left and Menoikio in the distance, we embarked on a journey that combined peaceful driving through plains. As we drove, the mountains seemed to pave our way. As we approached Kato Nevrokopi, the road became increasingly uphill with constant bends, and the surface is a little slippery in some sunless spots, but our SUV proved to be perfectly reliable.

Bend after bend, we finally arrived at Volakas, a village in a unique setting surrounded by forests and stone quarries. Until the 1980s this was a major bauxite mining area. The village has a traditional character, not for tourism but in terms of traditional authenticity. Stone houses, charming guesthouses, good food and locals going about their daily business of farming, trading and logging. We decide to spend the night here before continuing our adventure.

From Volakas, our journey took us towards Granitis, through a cinematic type of landscape. The temperature was noticeably lower than the day before, but our car served as a cocoon of warmth and comfort. Lisse Fort, one of the 21 fortifications of the Metaxas Line, built in the 1930s along the Greek-Bulgarian border, is only nine kilometres from Granitis. The fort, which was never captured but surrendered on 10 April 1941 after the Greek Armistice, is worth a visit not only for its historical significance but also for the stunning views of the Nevrokopi Basin and the historic landscapes accessible by car.

Potamoi was our next stop. As its name (which means lakes) suggests, this village is dominated by water: lakes, streams, rivers, free-roaming horses and cows, and semi-wild pigs that roam fearlessly. We crossed the beautiful artificial lake of Potamoi over a bridge that spans the Nestos River and its tributary, the Despatis. The landscape is lush with plane trees and the sound of water is ever present.

Continuing our exploration, we headed towards the Katafyto Dam and the artificial lake it forms. This is a magnificent spot with blue skies and dense forests. With hornbeams, wild cherries, oaks, hazelnut trees and a variety of wildlife hidden among the trees, a drive around the lake is both a gentle and interesting experience.

Another beautiful route is the half-hour drive from Volakas to the village of Livadaki, at an altitude of 720 metres. The drive has lovely bends, interesting scenery and a beautiful post-Byzantine church as the “cherry on top” of our drive. From Livadaki we returned to Thessaloniki airport. At some point the low temperatures brought snowflakes, but our car’s heater made enjoying the scenery comfortable and its integrated technologies made driving effortless. We enjoyed every moment of our stay in Drama and look forward to returning to this part of Macedonia at the first opportunity. With the many offers available on avis.gr, a road trip is an exceptionally easy and enjoyable affair.

Some tips for a road trip in the area

It is highly recommended that you visit Drama during the grape harvest. The region’s wines are renowned and a visit to the wineries will enhance your experience.

The archaeological site of Philippi, famous for its magnificent ancient theatre, is less than 20 kilometres away, although it belongs to the former prefecture of Kavala.

The area is particularly sensitive to cold, as already mentioned. So even for a summer excursion, a few jackets are needed, while anti-skid chains are essential in winter.

The Aggitis cave, 23 kilometres north-west of Drama, is another must-see.

If you have the time, a trip to the unique Frakto forest is well worth the effort. The two-and-a-half-hour drive through extraordinary nature is a marvel. The term ‘virgin’ for this forest is no exaggeration. Be prepared for your visit to Frakto Forest. The last settlement you’ll come to is Paranesti, after which you’ll face a challenging 53 kilometres.

Another beautiful but steep and challenging route starts in Drama and goes through Kokkinogeia, Granitis, Volakas and ends at the Falakro Ski Centre. The route features difficult bends and breathtaking scenery.

It’s advisable to come to the area with a reliable car. It’s even better if it’s a four-wheel drive, so you can explore the beauty of the area in comfort. At avis.gr you’ll find a wide range of vehicles to suit every need.

Read also:

Hitting the Road: Halkidiki and its Many Facets

Delphi: A Road Trip Through Wonderful Greek countryside

Road Trip to South Fokida: Mythical Delphi and Beyond

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Best Monuments and Landmarks in Athens

Everywhere you look in Athens, you will see a part of the city’s – and even the country’s history. The Greek capital is full of paradoxes between the old and the new, from the classical to the progressively modern. Although it is a city that keeps changing, surprising even its permanent residents with its neverending upgrades and transformations. With new hotels, restaurants, stores, galleries, cafes and bars constantly opening to accommodate an increasing, global demand, Athens’ innumerable landmarks and monuments remain like anchors of the city’s fascinating past identities.

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Here we have selected the most unmissable places or things to visit, offering you a more profound and meaningful understanding of Athens’ many features and attributes. Visit historic personalities who stand in squares as reminders of their great achievements and impact on the lives of millions, or ancient temples that still invite us to connect with the sacred just as Greeks did millennia ago. Walk through parks where legendary philosophers once traipsed or take a close look at commemorative works that tell of pain and loss as much as about glory and triumphing overcome the greatest of challenges.

Hellenic Parliament Building

The Hellenic Parliament in Athens, a neoclassical marvel designed in 1836 by German architect Friedrich von Gartner, stands in Syntagma Square drawing tourists to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one of Athens’ most important monuments. Originally King Otto’s and Queen Amalia’s royal palace, it became the Parliament in 1935.

Highlights: Watch the Changing of the Guard by the elite Evzones guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, admire the building’s impressive neoclassical architecture, and wander through the nearby National Garden (which also has a playground) for a tranquil escape.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena Parthenos, stands as a symbol of Athenian democracy and breathtaking architectural brilliance. Constructed between 447 and 438 BC on the Acropolis, it replaced earlier temples. Designed by Iktinos and Kallikrates, with sculptures by Pheidias, it showcases a unique blend of Doric architecture and innovative design. Read more about the Parthenon and the Acropolis.

Highlights: The classical Doric pillars, the detailed sculptures, and the spectacular panorama of Athens from the Acropolis.

The Erechtheion

Famed for its Caryatid Porch, the Erechtheion on the Acropolis is a gem of ancient Greek construction, imbued with mythological and spiritual importance. It was built between 421 and 406 BC, replacing an earlier temple dedicated to Athena. Notable for its multi-cult purpose, it features an Ionic portico and once housed Athena’s olive wood statue. Created by Alkamemes or Kallimachos, the Caryatid statues paid homage to the young women from Karyes of Lakonia, known for their dances in honor of the goddess Artemis

Highlights: Take a close look at the six Caryatids, sculpted female figures that serve as architectural supports, replacing traditional columns. These are replicas and five of the original statues are in the Acropolis Museum, whilst the sixth, one of the Parthenon marbles stolen by Briton Lord Elgin in the 1800s, is still housed at the British Museum.

Athena Nike Sanctuary

Built by Kallikrates from 426-421 BC, the Temple of Athena Nike, with its Ionic amphiprostyle design and battle scene friezes, represents triumph. Despite being repurposed into a Byzantine church and an Ottoman munitions store, the temple underwent careful reconstruction in the late 19th century. 

Highlights: The Ionic-style columns, the friezes illustrating historical and mythical events, and the sweeping vistas of Athens.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Initiated in the 6th century BC, the colossal Olympian, Zeus’ tribute, took over seven centuries to complete due to political shifts. Once featuring 104 columns, this largest Greek mainland temple now has 16 (15 standing, one fallen). Emperor Hadrian finalised it, adding his statues.

Highlights: The lofty Corinthian columns’ ‘Stone Chronicle’ marks historical events, offering a glimpse into past epidemics and disasters, the temple’s storied background, and the views near Hadrian’s Arch nearby.

Temple of Hephaestus

On a low promontory called Kolonos Agoraios stands Grrece’s best-preserved Doric temple, the Hephaestion, sometimes known as the Thission because of friezes showing the exploits of Theseus, which later gave name to the greater area. Built just before the Parthenon, it has 34 columns and retains its roof structure substantially intact, while inside, there are the bronze cult statues of Hephaestus and Athena.

Highlights: The intact Doric columns, the internal friezes, and the perspectives of the Ancient Agora.

Hadrian’s Athenian Library

Built by Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD, this former library was a center of learning in Athens. Its remnants offer a glimpse into the grandeur of ancient Greek architecture and intellectual life.

Highlights: The formidable front, the archaeological displays, and the remains of reading and lecture areas.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Theater of Dionysus, where ancient Athenians first experienced masterpieces like Electra and Medea, has a history shrouded in mystery. Originally part of a sanctuary dedicated to Dionysus, it was built during the Peisistratids’ reign in 161 AD. Over time, it served as a meeting place for the Ecclesia of the Demos and, in Roman times, a venue for bloody sacrifices. It fell into obscurity during the Byzantine era. Today, despite its condition after extensive restorations, it’s open to the public and hosts theatrical and musical performances.

Highlights: The venue’s remarkable sound quality, the stone seating, and the experience of watching a show in this historical setting, the area od Makryianni around it.

Panathenaic Stadium

Constructed entirely of marble, this stadium was the site of the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896. Its long history offers a rare insight into ancient sports traditions.

Highlights: The feeling of sitting on the marble tiers, the Olympic heritage exhibition, and the encompassing view of Athens, visit the running track and the ancient hills behind it.

Kerameikos Ancient Cemetery

This historic cemetery, used from the Early Bronze Age to the 6th century CE, showcases graves adorned with statues of mythical beings, animals and humans. Notably, the site encompasses segments of Themistocles‘ ancient walls and the Pompeion, crucial for the Panathenian Games. The area, originally home to many pottery workshops, derives its name from ‘keramos,’ (the Greek word for pottery).

Highlights: Explore the age-old burial plots and statues, visit the Kerameikos Museum, and view the historical City Wall remnants.

Academy of Athens

This architectural masterpiece on Panepistimiou street embodies neoclassical elegance and is condidered among the most beautiful buildings of its style in the world. Built in 1885 and founded in 1926, it is the highest research establishment in the country and forms part of the Athenian Trilogy. Its façade is adorned with statues and intricate details, reflecting the pursuit of knowledge and arts.

Highlights: Look up and marvel at the iconic statues of Plato, Athena and Apollo. Admire the richly decorated columns and sculptural detail in the marble designs. Christian Griepenkerl’s grand mural of Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound”, which adorns the western side of the Academy’s Main Hall. Take in the historic beauty of the entire Trilogy, made up of the Academy, University and Library.

Ancient Agora

Located at the Acropolis’s northwest base, the Ancient Agora, distinct from the Roman Agora, was Athens’ classical marketplace. Surrounded by key administrative buildings, it became a bustling hub for traders. Here, philosophers like Socrates and Plato shared their ideas, and Zeno introduced Stoicism, named after the Agora’s stoas. The significant Panathenaic Way, leading to the Acropolis and featured in the Parthenon frieze, now ends at the Stoa of Attalos. Presently, it’s an impressive archaeological site, home to notable remains like the Hephaestus Temple. Read more about the ancient agora.

Highlights: See the Stoa of Attalos and walk around to see different aspects of Athens.

Roman Agora of Athens

Under Roman rule, the civic centre of the city was the Agora, anchored by the Tower of the Winds at its far end. Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus funded its construction. The Agora had two main entrances: an Ionic propylon to the east and a Doric gate to the west, known as the Gate of Athena Archegetis.

Highlights: The remains of the Vespasianae, or public toilets, dating from the first century, are worth seeing. They have benches with holes in the walls and a sewage pipe underneath.

Gennadius Library

Established in 1926, this library is a treasure trove of Greek literary and historical documents, manuscripts, archives, rare books and works of art, serving as a central point for studies in Greek culture and housed in a beautiful neoclassical building in Kolonaki.

Highlights: The comprehensive collection of unique works, the peaceful garden, and the remarkable structural design.

Zappeion

Built in 1888 and designed by the Danish architect Theophilus Hansen, this was the first building to be erected specifically for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world. Named after its benefactor, Evangelos Zappas, the semi-circular neoclassical building with a Corinthian style façade has played a versatile role, from hosting Olympic fencing in 1896 to serving as a significant venue for political and cultural events in Greek history and until today.

Highlights: Admire the hall’s grandiose architecture, reflecting Greece’s 19th-century cultural revival, wander through the adjacent National Gardens, an oasis of tranquility in the city that runs from Zappeion to the back of the parliament building.

Eleftherios Venizelos Statue

This statue near the Hellenic Parliament in Athens celebrates Eleftherios Venizelos, a key figure in the Greek national liberation movement, who significantly contributed to Greece’s expansion and the promotion of liberal-democratic ideals. His leadership saw Greece’s area and population double during the Balkan Wars (1912–13). Sculpted in the mid-20th century, it portrays Venizelos in a pose that reflects his role as a reformist and nation-builder.

Highlights: Experience the statue’s dignified representation and explore Eleftherias Park where it stands (you’ll also find a cafe here).

Plato’s Academy

In 388 BCE, Plato established his renowned philosophical academy on sacred grounds that once housed one of the city’s ancient gymnasia for athlete training from the 6th century BCE. This modest, open-air archaeological site offers the unique experience of walking the same paths as the father of Western philosophy.

Highlights: Investigate the archaeological remnants, enjoy the tranquil park atmosphere, and visit Plato’s Academy Digital Museum, which offers interactive exhibits about Plato’s life nearby on Monastiriou street.

First Cemetery

More than just a resting place, the First Cemetery in Athens is akin to an alfresco art gallery, with its striking marble sculptures and graves of prominent Greek families. Its calm aura is a stark contrast to the urban hustle and visitors often come here to rest on park benches and take in the art of the sculptural works.

Highlights: Graves of illustrious Greek figures, from heads of state and tradesmen to archibishops and war heroes, the exceptional funerary sculptures, and the tranquil promenades.

Sleeping Female Figure

Within Athens’ First Cemetery, this poignant statue depicting Sofia Afentaki, a young woman who died at 18, was reated by the renown Greek sculptor Yannoulis Halepas in 1878, stands out among many other impressive funerary sculptures in the first cemetery.

Highlights: The statue’s emotional resonance, the realism of the folds in the girl’s nightdress and bedsheets, the evocative expression of grief on her face.

Philopappos Monument

Visible from many points in Athens and especially beautiful when lit in gold light at night, the second century AD monument was built as a dedication to Gaius Julius Antiochus Filopappos, a prominent Roman administrator and benefactor of Athens. It stands atop Filopappou, the verdant hill that was named after it.

Highlights: Enjoy breathtaking views of the Acropolis, walk along the tranquil paths near the monument, and study the inscriptions on the monument.

Lysikrates Monument

In the 4th century BC, Lysicrates, a patron of the Theater of Dionysus, built a monument to celebrate his Dionysiacs victory. Situated on the route to the ancient theatre, this 6-meter-high rotunda, crafted from Pentelic marble, is adorned with Corinthian columns.

Highlights: The monument’s architectural intricacy; look closely at the narrative reliefs. Experience the charm of the historic Plaka neighbourhood in which it stands.

Hadrian’s Arch

The Arch of Hadrian, known in Greek as Hadrian’s Gate, is a monumental gateway in Athens, Greece, resembling a Roman triumphal arch, and is made of Pentelic marble. It was built over an ancient road leading to the city’s eastern structures, including the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Likely constructed to celebrate Emperor Hadrian’s arrival and to honor his contributions to Athens, it coincided with the dedication of the nearby temple complex around 131 or 132 AD.

Highlights: Examine the arch’s inscriptions, enjoy views of the Zeus Olympian Temple through the arch, and appreciate its picturesque location.

Socrates & Confucius Statues

These statues are a unique cultural synthesis. Made by a collaborative team of Greek and Chinese artists and placed in the ancient agora in 2021, they portray Socrates and Confucius in a symbolic dialogue. The statues are not only a nod to historical Greek and Chinese philosophies but also a modern reminder of the shared pursuit of wisdom across cultures.

Highlights: Reflect on the convergence of ancient Greek and Chinese thought, admire the many other features of the agora around the statues.

Tower of the Winds

Standing in the Roman Agora, the Tower of the Winds is an architectural marvel from the Hellenistic period, dating back to the 1st century BC. It functioned as an advanced horological and meteorological station, showcasing the sophistication of ancient Greek science. The tower is adorned with carvings of the Anemoi, the eight wind deities.

Highlights: Examine the historical depictions, discover the tower’s ancient technological functions, and enjoy the views of the Roman Agora.

Dromeas Sculpture

This contemporary sculpture, located near Athens’ Hilton Hotel, is a bold artistic statement. Created in the 1990s by Greek artist Costas Varotsos, “Dromeas,” or “The Runner,” uses glass and metal to convey themes of speed and human resilience. Its fragmented, transparent form offers a modern counterpoint to Athens’ classical heritage.

Highlights: Appreciate the sculpture’s dynamic design and observe its interaction with natural light.

Melina Mercouri Statue

At the entrance of Dyionissiou Aeropagitou street in Makryinanni, this statue pays homage to Melina Mercouri, a celebrated figure in Greek arts and politics who served as Minister of Culture and fought for the return of the Parthenon marbles.

Highlights: Admire the statue’s expressive artistry, remember Mercouri’s enduring cultural and political legacy and absorb the lively atmosphere on this beautiful pedestrian road under the Acropolis,

Athens Metropolitan Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens, between Syntagma and Monastiraki squares, is a key Greek Orthodox landmark. Built from materials of over 70 former churches, it features notable frescoes, icons, and a 24-metre-high dome. Starting construction in 1842 and completed in 1862, it’s known for hosting significant events like royal christenings and weddings. The cathedral, a blend of neoclassical and Greek-Byzantine styles, is a three-aisled basilica with a dome.

Highlights: The statue of Constantine XI Palaiologos, Greece’s last Byzantine Emperor outside the cathedral, the two marble lions at its entrance and the Little Metropolis, aka the Church of St. Eleutherios or Panagia Gorgoepikoos (“Panagia Who Grants Requests Quickly”), a Byzantine church adjacent to the Athens Metropolis.

Old Hellenic Parliament

The historic building that once housed Greece’s legislature from 1875 to 1935, the Former Hellenic Parliament, is a splendid example of Greek Neoclassical design. Today, it’s the site of the National Historical Museum, where exhibits on Greece’s fight for autonomy are displayed. The structure’s design and historical displays are highlights.

Highlights: The majestic parliamentary chamber, relics from the Greek War of Independence, and the building’s striking exterior.

Theodoros Kolokotronis Statue

Standing proudly in front of the Old Parliament House in Athens, this statue commemorates Theodoros Kolokotronis, a hero of the Greek War of Independence. Sculpted in the early 20th century, it captures Kolokotronis in a heroic pose, a fitting tribute to his role in Greece’s struggle for freedom.

Highlights: Observe the statue’s commanding presence, read the historical information, and visit the nearby National Historical Museum.

Alexander the Great Statue

Previously located near sculptor Giannis Pappas’ workshop since 1993, the statue, now ja few minutes from the Hadrian’s Arch, portrays a teenage Alexander the III of Macedon, known as Alexander the Great, astride his horse Bucephalus, highlighting his youthful aspect rather than his later image as a warrior and conqueror.

Highlights: Study the statue’s artistry, reflect on Alexander’s vast influence.

Ag. Georgios Church, Lycabettus Hill

Aghios Georgios Church on Lycabettus Hill – Set atop the scenic Lycabettus Hill, at Athens’ highest point, the Aghios Georgios Greek orthodox church was built in the early 20th century. The whitewashed structure gleams in the sunlight and is spotted from many points in Athens with the characteristic Greek flag at its tip.

Highlights: Soak in the stunning 360-degree view of Athens from this elevated vantage point. Visit early in the morning to enjoy the church’s serene and intimate atmosphere. Read more about Lycabettus Hill.

Lord Byron Statue

Near Athens’ National Garden, this statue pays tribute to Lord Byron, the British poet who passionately supported Greece’s fight for independence. Sculpted in the late 19th century, it depicts Byron in a reflective pose, symbolising his poetic contributions and his solidarity with the Greek cause.

Highlights: Examine the statue’s fine detailing, read the commemorative inscriptions, and enjoy the lush beauty and peacefulness of the National Garden.

Icarus Fallen Aviators Monument

The Icarus Monument in Athens, inspired by the myth of Icarus who famously flew too close to the sun, is a metal sculpture depicting the figure in a downward plunge, wings outstretched, colliding with a pyramid symbolizing the earth. This monument honors aviators who lost their lives in the line of duty. The initiative for its construction, started in 2000, coincided with the renovation of Karaiskakis Square following the completion of the Metaxurgio metro station.

Highlights: Contemplate the powerful artistic representation, read the heartfelt tributes, and explore the surrounding area.

The post Best Monuments and Landmarks in Athens appeared first on travel.gr.

Best Museums in Greece

With an incredible wealth of cultural heritage spanning thousands of years, Greece is a country that offers museum lovers something to discover wherever they go. In recent decades, there have been significant advances in the way the country’s invaluable artefacts are displayed, with many state-of-the-art museums being opened to showcase sculptures, works of art, utilitarian objects and much more, using new technologies, sophisticated lighting and digital presentations, as well as disability-friendly exhibition experiences.

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What’s more, in order to encourage children and adults alike to better connect with exhibits, many Greek museums today go way beyond their permanent and temporary exhibitions, actively organising ongoing workshops, talks, presentations and artistic events and housing wonderful museum stores selling replicas as well as unique art and items created by Greek designers and inspired by the museum.

Here we present the best of the best museums in the capital, on the mainland and on the islands. These are the places not to be missed if you want to enrich your knowledge, vision and understanding of this multifaceted country.

ATHENS

National Archaeological Museum

A must-see for anyone interested in delving into the farthest depths of Greek history and art, the museum boasts more than 20,000 artefacts documenting Greek civilisation from the earliest times to the end of Antiquity. It covers 8,000 square metres of exhibition space and is housed in a late 19th-century neoclassical building with five main collections: Prehistory, Sculpture, Vases and Small Objects, Metallurgy and Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities. Highlights include Mycenaean antiquities with treasures from the 15th century BC and restored Santorini frescoes, as well as significant Geometric, Archaic and Classical art.

The museum, which is wheelchair accessible, presents educational programmes and services for individuals with total or partial loss of vision via tactile thematic tours and workshops.

Address: 44 Patission Street, Exarcheia, Phone: +30 213 2144891, Website

Acropolis Museum

The new Acropolis Museum houses a dazzling array of ancient artefacts in a sleek, ultra-modern setting flooded with natural light. Its spacious design accommodates a vast collection, ranging from the “Acropolis Slopes” exhibit to the detailed Archaic period displays. This area presents artifacts from the Acropolis area, featuring theatrical masks and vases dedicated to Nymphe, a marital deity. An entire floor showcases the Archaic era (650 BC–480 BC), including a wide array of statues. This section also houses artifacts from the Hekatompedon, possibly an earlier structure than the renowned Parthenon, like the famous lion and bull sculpture from 570 BC. Additionally, the museum honors the iconic Caryatids, the female sculptures from the Erectheion, by leaving an empty spot for the one located in the British Museum in London.

The museum’s most impressive area, the Parthenon Gallery, aligns perfectly with the Parthenon itself, offering a unique perspective of the ancient temple. This gallery poignantly highlights the absence of the original Parthenon Marbles, emphasising Greece’s stance on their return. Visitors can witness a blend of the nation’s archaic grandeur and contemporary architectural ingenuity, walking along glass floors and almost always with views of the majestic Acropolis looming right above. Kids can enjoy treasure hunts and drawing materials to make their visit – and yours, a lot more enjoyable. The museum is fully accessible for people with physical disabilities.

Address: 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Makriyianni, Phone: +30 210 9000900-1, Website

Benaki Museum of Greek Culture

Originally the neoclassical residence of the Benaki family, since 1926 the museum offers a titillating visual journey through history and art, with Greece at its centre. The museum’s 36 rooms travel visitors through different eras, showcasing everything from ancient gold bowls and Byzantine icons to Lord Byron’s pistols, and brilliantly illustrating the many facets of Greece’s rich past. Its elegant interiors contain a fascinating collection ranging from prehistoric, ancient Greek and Roman art and post-Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic art to Chinese, Korean, Coptic and Islamic art, as well as modern pieces that reflect the breadth of Greek civilisation as well as influences from abroad.

This may be the original museum, but it is not the only Benaki Museum in Athens; there are also an avant-garde annex on 138 Pireos Street, the Museum of Islamic Art in Kerameikos, and the Toy Museum in Faliron.

Address: 1 Koumbari, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 210 3671030, Website

Byzantine and Christian Museum

Founded in 1914, the museum stands as a key cultural institution in Greece, dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the region’s Byzantine and post-Byzantine heritage from the Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval, post-Byzantine and later periods. It houses an impressive collection of some 25,000 artefacts, including portable icons, sculptures, ecclesiastical textiles, ceramics and a range of artistic and architectural pieces, from murals to mosaics.

The vast permanent collection is divided into two sections: the first, covering the Byzantine period (4th to 15th centuries), contains around 1,200 objects, while the second, entitled ‘From Byzantium to the Modern Era‘, contains 1,500 objects from the 15th to 20th centuries. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions and its cafe has a loyal clientele who enjoy its cosiness in winter and a scenic garden setting in summer.

Address: 22 Vas. Sofias Ave, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 213 2139517, Website

Museum of Cycladic Art

A rich fabric of ancient Aegean and Cypriot heritage is housed at this museum, which centres on Cycladic art of the third millennium BC. Visitors can walk through a diverse collection of over 3,000 artefacts, including 350 from the Cycladic Bronze Age, known for its famously shaped marble figurines. The museum also offers fascinating insights from the 4th millennium BC to the 6th century AD, with special exhibits on Cypriot art and ancient daily life. At the Stathatos Mansion, visitors can see the museum’s temporary exhibitions.

The venue also offers a multitude of educational programmes for kids and adults, special exhibits for the visually impaired, a lovely cafe in a Cycladic-style courtyard with a skylight and a shop selling art replicas and original Greek design pieces. Individuals with physical disabilities can enter the Main Building 4 Neophytou Douka via a wheelchair ramp and access the floors by using the lift.

Address: 4 Neophytou Douka, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 210 7228321, Website

Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation

Opened in October 2019, the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens, near the Panathenaic Stadium, showcases a prized collection worth $3 billion, including Impressionist, Modernist, and post-war avant garde art. The permanent collection features works by foreign artists like Cézanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, Monet, Degas, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Monet as well as Greek artists such as Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Tetsis, Tsarouchis and Moralis.

Developed over 30 years, the museum’s collection is presented on floors dedicated to Western art from the 19th and 20th centuries and Greek art from the last century. Highlights include Van Gogh’s “Olive Picking,” Picasso’s “Woman Nude with Raised Arms,” and Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series. The facility also includes a café, gift shop, and a library housing about 4,500 art books. Wheelchair access to the Foundation is easy and the building has spacious lifts, which allow access to all areas.

Address: 13 Eratosthenes, Pangrati, Phone: +30 210 7252895, Website

Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology

This one-of-a-kind museum highlights the Ancient Greeks’ often overlooked technological achievements – of which there are a mind-boggling number, as one can discover here. It features around 300 working replicas of their inventions. The period covered is from 2000 BC to the end of the Ancient Greek era. The collection includes replicas of groundbreaking devices such as early automation, proto-cinematic equipment, intricate timekeeping devices and the ingenious Antikythera mechanism.

The impressive inventions have been painstakingly recreated by Kostas Kotsanas, who spent 22 years studying ancient texts and rare archaeological finds in order to create these pieces, many of which have travelled around Greece and abroad. The exhibition is remarkable for its authenticity and detail, with interactive exhibits and extensive audio-visual aids, including descriptive labels, intricate diagrams and informative videos, providing a deep insight into the technological heritage of ancient Greece.

Address: 6 Pindarou & Akadimias, Kolonaki, Phone: +30 211 4110044, Website

National Gallery

In 2021, the new National Gallery of Athens Alexandros Soutsos Museum, reopened after a €60 million renovation – and a long wait for art-loving Athenians – in a state-of-the-art building, now occupying 20,760 square metres – almost twice its previous size. An essential stop for culture vultures, the three-storey space not only showcases an awe-inspiring collection of western European art but also more than 20,000 works of Greek paintings, sculptures, engravings and other forms of art from the post-Byzantine times until today. The collection includes over 1,000 artworks by modern Greek painters, presented in a minimalist setting with wonderful lighting. Exhibitions include Post-Byzantine Art, the Painting of the Independent Greek State, the Bourgeois Class and its Painters and Around 1900 to Modernism and Tradition, Greek Interwar Printmaking and Modern Greek Art.

The gallery also features an auditorium, educational spaces, a museum shop, a café, and a courtyard. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions, educational activities and other events throughout the year. The museum is fully accessible to people with physical disabilities.

Address: 50 Vasileos Konstantinou Street, Ilisia, Phone: +30 210 7235937, Website

MAINLAND GREECE

Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth

Located within the archaeological site of Corinth, the museum, which was founded in 1932, displays artefacts from Corinth and the surrounding area and following its expansion in 1950 and subsequent renovations, is divided into two main sections. One part presents the findings from the twin cemeteries of Kouroi and Tenea, and the other highlights the cultural, commercial and military history of Corinth through contemporary audiovisual displays.

The collections span from the Geometric Period until the destruction of Corinth by the Romans in 146 BC, with exhibition spaces dedicated to Prehistoric Corinth, Corinth, the Powerful City State, the Asklepieion Healing Sanctuary and the Famous Kouroi of Kleneia, as well as audiovisual presentations. The museum is accessible to people with physical disabilities.

Address: Ancient Corinth ArchaeologicaL site, Phone: +30 274 1031207, Website

Delphi Archaeological Museum

Starting in the late 19th century, excavations at Delphi uncovered significant historical treasures, leading to the establishment of the Delphi Museum, one of the most important in Greece. Showcasing items from the period spanning from the second millennium BC, prior to the establishment of the Sanctuary, through to Late Antiquity, marked by the formation of a small Christian community in Delphi.

Across 14 rooms, visitors can learn about ancient Greek religion, art and mysticism in a modern, immersive and sophisticated way. Most notable among its many impressive exhibits are the imposing (2.22 metres) marble Sphinx of Naxos and the renowned statue of the life-size (1.8 metre) Charioteer, also known as Heniokhos. The museum has a ramp and a wheelchair-friendly WC.

Address: Archaeological site of Delphi, Fokida, Phone: +30 22650 82313

Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina)

Often described as deeply atmospheric, transportive and unique in its near-mystical ambience, the museum’s design remarkably enhances the experience of the displayed artefacts, offering a journey through ancient Macedonia’s thunderous past. Among its notable exhibits are King Phillip II’s shield and armour, and the exquisite Golden Larnax, with its finely crafted golden wreath of oak leaves and acorns, accompanied by diminutive, yet intricately carved ivory figures. Also on show are a diverse array of items from everyday life to royal regalia, giving insight into the domestic and ceremonial aspects of ancient Macedonian culture.

The carefully arranged exhibits pay homage to the era’s artistic and cultural achievements, while also serving as a tribute to Professor Manolis Andronikos, whose archaeological work brought these treasures to light and contributed significantly to their preservation and understanding.

Address: Aigai Archaeological Site, Vergina, Imathia, Phone: +30 233 1092580, Website

Archaeological Museum of Olympia

The museum is renowned for its impressive collection, housed in a modern glass and marble building near the historic site. Notable displays include sculptures from the Temple of Zeus and the famous Hermes of Praxiteles Carrying the Infant Dionysus, discovered in the Temple of Hera.

The museum’s central gallery features the pedimental sculptures and metopes from the Temple of Zeus, illustrating Hercules’s Twelve Labors. Also exhibited is the celebrated Nike of Paionios, alongside significant terra-cotta figures, the head of Hera’s cult statue, works related to Herodes Atticus’s family, and various bronzes like votive figures, cauldrons, and armour. Among the many historically significant items is a helmet offered by Miltiades, victor at Marathon, and a cup from the workshop of the sculptor Pheidias, found on the Olympia site. The museum has a ramp at its entrance and can provide a wheelchair upon appointment.

Address: Ancient Olympia, Phone: +30 262 4022742, Website

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

Enriched by the northern capital’s rich ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine heritage, the museum offers an array of exhibits. Following a complete renovation in 2003, the museum now presents six permanent thematic units. It contains a vast collection ranging from Neolithic artefacts to Archaic, Classical and Roman sculptures, as well as objects from the Archaic temple at Thermi.

Among its most famous pieces is the Derveni Crater, which has attracted worldwide interest, and the small Arch of Galerius, depicting the emperor. The museum is housed in a modest single-storey building. The displays trace the history of Thessaloniki and present early urban settlements in the region, making it an accessible and enlightening destination for all visitors. The museum, which is accessible to people with disabilities and has a cafe and shop, also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions in collaboration with the world’s leading museums. The museum is accessible to people with disabilities and for blind or partially sighted visitors, a “Touch tour” can be arranged.

Address: 6 Manoli Andronikou, Phone: +30 231 3310201, Website

Paul Vrellis Greek History Museum, Epirus

Located near Ioannina, the museum is a renowned wax museum established by sculptor Paul Vrellis in 1983. Housing 150 lifelike wax models across 37 displays, it focuses mainly on Greek history, especially the 1821 War of Independence, offering visitors the chance to time travel through history in a memorable way.

The wax figures, made predominantly from natural materials and dressed in authentic costumes from the represented time periods, as well as being in settings that include antique furnishings, bring pivotal moments in Greek history to life in a unique way. Key ‘moments’ in history include the Krifo Scholio (the Clandestine School), Filiki Eteria (the Friendly Brotherhood, a Greek revolutionary secret society created ahead of the Greek War of Independence), the Slaughter of Ali-Pasha, the Battle of Crete, and various scenes from WWII. offering visitors an immersive journey through Greece’s past. The museum is accessible to disabled persons or persons with special needs. However, due to the unique complexity of the interior space, it is required that such visitors be escorted.

Address: 12th Km. Nat. road Ioannina – Arta, Ioannina, Phone: +30 265 1092128, Website

Archaeological Museum of Messinia

Located in the historical centre of Kalamata,the museum occupies the site of the former bustling Municipal Market, rebuilt after the catastrophic 1986 earthquake. The space, provided by the Municipality of Kalamata to the Ministry of Culture, houses an exhibition designed to illustrate the cultural evolution of Messinia from prehistoric times to the Byzantine period.

The museum is organised into four geographical sections – Kalamata, Messina, Pylia, and Trifyllia – each displaying significant archaeological finds from the region, whether unearthed through systematic excavations, surface research, or accidental discoveries by locals. A central pathway, symbolising the Pamisos river, links these sections, while ten thematic areas use visual aids to elucidate the historical context of the artifacts and their regions. The museum is accessible to people with physical disabilities.

Address: 3 Benaki & Agios Ioannis, Kalamata, Phone: +30 272 1083485, Website

THE ISLANDS

Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete

This museum houses an extensive collection of Minoan artifacts, mainly from the Palace of Knossos and other Minoan sites. These pieces, some dating back 3,000 years, were unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans. Notable among them are the mysterious Phaistos Disk and Linear B script-inscribed seal stones. The museum’s frescoes from Knossos, including the famous “Des Parisiennes,” depict Minoan life and mythological scenes.

Minoan artistry is showcased in metalwork, stone carving, and pottery, such as the delicate Kamares ware. The zenith of their craftsmanship is evident in the later palace period (1700–1450 BC), with masterpieces like the serpentine bull’s head rhyton and ivory acrobat figures. Bull-leaping, a central theme, reflects either a religious ritual or a sport. Also remarkable are vases from Ayia Triada and a rock crystal rhyton from Zakro, illustrating various aspects of Minoan culture. The museum is best visited early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds. The museum is accessible to people with physical disabilities.

Address: 2 Sapoutie, Heraklion, Phone: +30 281 0279000, Website

Prehistoric Thera Museum

Centrally located in Fira, Santorini, the museum is a key Greek cultural institution that opened in 2000. Primarily featuring artefacts from the Akrotiri excavations, along with finds from various sites on the island, it provides a comprehensive overview of the island’s early history. The museum was an initiative of archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, responsible for the Akrotiri site, which was engulfed in ash following a 16th-century BC volcanic eruption. This natural preservation led to the excellent condition of many frescoes, objects, and artworks.

Spread across four sections, the museum chronicles Thera’s history from the Late Neolithic to the 17th century BC, focusing on Akrotiri’s golden age. The chronological display includes Neolithic pottery, Early and Middle Cycladic artefacts, bird jugs, metal objects, and remarkable wall paintings depicting various scenes and motifs from the Minoan period. The collection also features pre-human fossils from Thera, offering a window into the island’s ancient environment. The museum provides accessibility features for people with physical disabilities.

Address: Fira, Santorini, Phone: +30 228 6025405

Archaeological Museum of Rhodes

The Archaeological Museum of Rhodes, previously the Hospital of the Knights, dating back to 1489, encloses a historic Byzantine courtyard. This erstwhile hospital, which catered to knights and townsfolk, now exhibits relics from Rhodes’ ancient cities of Ialysos, Kameiros, and Lindos, as well as neighbouring islands. Its collection boasts a splendid array of ceramic amphoras and oenochoe, evidencing the island’s affluent trade history.

The museum sequentially presents the evolution of Attic pottery, ranging from early geometric patterns to the distinguished red-on-black figures from the 5th century BC. Amongst its treasures are two famed representations of Aphrodite, including the “Aphrodite of Rhodes” and “Aphrodite Thalassia,” and two 6th-century BC kouros statues from Kameiros.

Address: Old Town, Museum Square, Phone: +30 224 1365257

Corfu Archaeological Museum

The largest museum in Corfu, this two-storey building has a courtyard garden and balconies on the south and east sides. Most of the exhibits are on the first floor, in four rooms and a corridor. One of the most outstanding pieces is the massive pediment of the Temple of Artemis, dating from 580 BC. It is 17 metres wide and 3 metres high and depicts the myth of the Gorgon.

Key exhibits at the museum include the archaic Funerary Lion of Menekratis from the late 7th century BC, an archaic pediment depicting a Dionysian banquet scene, a bronze statuette of a running “komastos” from 570 BC, a 6th century B.C. kouros head unearthed at Paleopolis in Mon Repos, a 490 BC clay statuette of Artemis found at Kanoni, the 530 B.C. Parian marble kouros of Corfu and the 630-600 BC arniada discovered near Garitsa. The museum also houses artefacts from the Palaeolithic, Early Bronze Age, Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Address: 1 Armeni Vraila, Phone: +30 26610 30680

Casa Parlante

Visiting this museum, you’re transported into a noble family’s life in Corfu during the early to mid-19th century under British rule. This setting, different from typical museums, offers an intimate exploration of history, ensuring a memorable visit.

Casa Parlante, or the “speaking house,” uses animated figures to portray a noble household from that era. The house is filled with authentic 1800s furnishings and art, showcasing Corfu’s unique history shaped by Venetian, French, and British influences. Centrally located, it’s an ideal educational experience for all ages, delving into the island’s architecture, traditions, and lifestyle.

Address: 16 Νikiforou Theotoki, Phone: +30 266 1049190 Website

Read more

The Magnificent Seven: Top Museums of Athens | travel.gr

Portals into History: Unique Museums on Greek Islands | travel.gr

The Museums and Galleries of Kalamata in the Peloponnese | travel.gr

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Discovering the ‘Tholos’ Tomb of Mynias

In the rolling heartland of Boeotia, just 40 minutes from the fabled city of Thebes and about an hour and a half from Athens, lies a hidden gem of ancient Greek civilisation – Orchomenos. Often just a blip on the Athens-Lamia highway or a detour on the way to Arachova, this agricultural town holds secrets from a time long forgotten.

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The crown jewel of Orchomenos is the beehive-shaped tomb of Minyas, a remarkable structure dating from around 1250 BC. Named in a similar convention to the tomb of Agamemnon (or Atreus) in Mycenae, this Mycenaean-era structure bears the name of Minyas, the mythical king of Orchomenos. The name of the tomb was probably given by Heinrich Schliemann, who was the first to systematically excavate it, as he had done in Mycenae.

Schliemann wasn’t the first to set eyes on the site. Earlier in the 19th century, Lord Elgin had attempted to excavate it, albeit unsuccessfully. The French School of Archaeology, and later the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, followed Schliemann’s lead and uncovered a marble tomb consisting of four parts: a path (a trench), an entrance, a chamber (a small side dome) and the main dome – a colossal structure with a conical roof.

Originally, this tomb was probably the final resting place of the royal family of Orchomenos and later served as a treasure vault. However, when Schliemann and subsequent excavation teams revealed its grandeur, they found no precious objects, no silver, bronze or gold, as had been the case in other Mycenaean tombs. Tomb raiders had beaten them to it.

What’s certain is the untouched and awe-inspiring state of the tomb, 15 centuries after its construction, when the first travel blogger in history, Pausanias, visited in the 2nd century BC. He marvelled at the construction of the dome, comparing it to the Cyclopean walls of Tiryns and the Egyptian pyramids. It seems that the tomb (or ‘treasure’ as Pausanias called it) was already an attraction for passers-by and visitors to Boeotia, a region of greater importance in ancient Greece than it is today.

A stop at Orchomenos is certainly a must for anyone with an interest in antiquity if you find yourself in the wider area. Even if you have no such interests, you will be impressed by this magnificent structure. Especially when you consider that all these heavy materials were transported and worked on by craftsmen and workers with the means that were available to them almost 3,300 years ago.

The Tomb of Minyas is not the only important cultural attraction in Orchomenos. Very close to it is the ancient theatre from the 4th century BC, which unfortunately belongs to the category of poorly preserved ancient monuments. Its easy accessibility and intense activity during the Middle Ages led to the destruction and looting of a large part of the monument. Nearby is another important building, this time Byzantine. The Monastery of Skripou, a work of the 9th and 10th centuries, is also linked to a very important event in the more recent history of Orchomenos. You can read more about this important religious monument here.

Tips for Your Trip

Orchomenos and its monuments can be a stop on a day trip from Athens to Livadeia and the wonderful springs of Krya.

Orchomenos is also 45 minutes from Arachova and 55 minutes from Delphi.

A gastronomic hotspot of Orchomenos is the trout farm at the springs of Harites, which uses the waters of Melanas. It’s worth a visit to buy fish, see the facilities and enjoy your coffee overlooking the water.

Another Mycenaean attraction in the area is the Acropolis of Gla, about 20 minutes from Orchomenos.

Less than 20 minutes from Orchomenos, Skydive Athens is a free-fall parachuting centre for those who want to try their hand at adrenaline sports.

Read also:

Panagia Skripous, a Valuable Monument in Viotia

The Vital Ecological Importance of Tenagi of Philippi

Vaskina: Pastoral Bliss on Mt Parnon

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Christmas/New Year’s in Athens – All the Top Events

The Municipality of Athens has organised a series of festive events for us in every corner of the city throughout December and until 7 January.

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The Christmas tree in Syntagma Square and the streets of the city centre and neighbourhoods are already lit up in the festive spirit, while the city will shine even brighter over the next 38 festive days with the municipality’s Christmas events.

This year’s programme has been curated by the Municipality of Athens’ Organisation for Culture, Sport and Youth (OPANDA) and Technopolis of the Municipality of Athens, in collaboration with This is Athens and Athens 9.84 radio. Special attention is given to the initiatives of “Olympia, Municipal Music Theatre ‘Maria Callas'” and the new cultural venues of the Municipality of Athens, including Kypseli Municipal Market, Maria Callas Museum and Athens Book Space in the renovated Eleftherias Park. Events include educational programmes and workshops for children and families, music galore in live concerts and parties, musical theatre performances, book launches and readings, book-inspired events and museum exhibitions, and ten “Christmas villages“, each offering unique festive surprises.

10 “Christmas Villages” Across the City

From 23 December 2023 to 6 January 2024, 10 “Christmas Villages” will be set up in 10 Athenian neighbourhoods to delight young and old alike with a wide range of activities. From Acharnes and Lambrini to Pangrati and Ellinoroson, Santa and his elves will transform some of Athens’ central neighbourhoods into villages of incredible joy and celebration, welcoming children of all ages with crafts, sweets, face painting and more. Stilt walkers, jugglers, Christmas mascots, animators, puppeteers and magicians are among the performers.

Christmas Music Fills the Air

Once again, Syntagma Square is dancing to the rhythm of Christmas. Over seven days, a total of 15 live concerts by local artists, groups and bands will take place on the central Christmas stage: George Zervos Trio, Wedding Singers, Hermaphrodites Child, Vasilis Kazoulis with Yellow Bicycles and Alexandra Koniak, Dimitris Tsakas Quintet, Polkar, Gumbo Ya Ya with Sugahspank! and Emily Mesko, Nefeli Fasouli, the Sub Quartet, Panos Vlahos, Jerome Kaluta, the Mihalis Kalkanis Group, the Christmas Gala with the voices of Maria Katripesi and Yiannis Housakos, the Jaguar Bombs and Tonis Sfinos & The Playmates.

This year, of course, parties are being thrown in the most unexpected places: The mobile party Needless transforms Justice Square (Santarosa) into a Christmas dancefloor, Kosmos Radio hosts a ‘Xmas party’ at the Kypseli Municipal Market dedicated to Schedia magazine, an initiative to help the city’s homeless, the Cool Crips prove that fun is for everyone with a wild party at Serafeio City of Athens, Pepper 96 transforms the Stoa of Merchants. 6, while on Christmas Day, & Beyond’s ‘Xmas Extravaganza’ fills the Kypseli Municipal Market with the dynamic beats of popular selectors and DJs.

During the festive days, the ATHINA 9.84 van will surprise the neighbourhoods of Athens with Christmas music and children’s choirs. The tour includes a stop at the Benaki Museum in Piraeus Avenue, where on a special morning, she provides musical accompaniment to the educational activities surrounding the exhibition. From 20 to 28 December, in the heart of the festive season, it will fill Syntagma with its music. Especially on 20 December, the Municipal Radio will join forces with “Mazi Gia to Paidi” (Together for the Child). We are invited to participate in the Christmas radio marathon in support of families and children in need.

Atmospheric “Night of Wishes” at Kotzia Square

The ‘Night of the Wishes’ has become a much-loved tradition on Christmas Eve. On the 24th of December, people of all ages will light up Kotzia Square with traditional biodegradable lanterns that will rise to the sky with wishes. On this magical Christmas night, the atmospheric melodies will come from the van of the radio station ATHINA 9.84, which will provide the musical accompaniment to the event with a selection of songs by its radio producers.

Seeing in 2024 at Syntagma Square

On New Year’s Eve, the rendezvous will be moved to Syntagma Square. Hosted by the television duo of ERT’s “Studio 4”, Nancy Zampetoglou and Thanasis Anagnostopoulos, 2023 will be bid farewell with a unique audiovisual spectacle full of live music, dance, fireworks, brilliance and many surprises. The evening will be an optimistic and joyful celebration of 2024.

All-Night Party at Vavakios

The biggest and most distinctive New Year’s Eve party of the year will once again take place at the Varvakios Municipal Market on Athinas street. Just before the New Year, Street Outdoors will be awaiting people at the city’s central market. Renowned DJs and producers will turn wishes into music, ensuring that 2024 finds everyone at the most exhilarating dance party in the heart of Athens, keeping the spirits high until the early hours of the morning.

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Christmas in a Glorious Mountainous Destination

Portaria is at an altitude of about 600 m on the western slope of Pelion and is just 12 km from Volos. A village with only 552 permanent residents, it has grown over the past few years to become a prime tourist destination and it is an ideal spot for a winter trip during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

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Portaria’s history starts in the Middle Ages and is closely linked to the immigration of Slavic speaking populations to the wider area of Pelion in the 12th century. It was first established with the name Drianouvena, and later on it passed into the hands of the local Byzantine monasteries, around the end of the 13th century. One of the monasteries was the Panagia of Portarea (Virgin Mary of Portarea) and it seems that it played a pivotal role in giving the village the name Portaria (a corruption of the word Portarea), which already seems to have been used during the time of Ottoman rule.

In the 18th century, the village experienced great financial growth as it became known for its silks and it was also the location of one of the largest weekly markets in Thessaly. With the liberation of Thessaly (1881) it was incorporated to the Greek state.

Where to stay

The tourist development of Portaria has resulted in the opening of many lodgings that offer accommodation of the highest standards. A great and affordable choice is the family hotel Filoxenia on the main square – if the weather permits it, you can enjoy your breakfast, with homemade marmalades and jams, underneath the plane trees. Hotel Belina, with 10 rooms, 5 of which have a fireplace, and a private parking lot – a valuable service in Portaria at Christmas with the crowds – is also on the main square.

Naoumidis Mansion, is a popular selection among families and couples, also offers parking facilities. Another great choice in the centre of Portaria is the small Kritsa hotel, if you manage to book one of its few rooms, while Valeni Boutique Hotel, at the entrance of the village may be more expensive but it offers an amazing view and spa services.

Where to eat

There are many options for food in Portaria, but if you’re there in the holidays, it’s best to book in advance. Gefsokratoras, serving simple modern Mediterranean inspired dishes, is on an uphill cobbled alley and is famous for its fireplace and homemade bread.

At Peliou Geyseis you are welcomed with a complimentary shot of tsipouro (traditional pomace raki) and they use ingredients they grow themselves – try the aubergine baked in an earthernware dish. Kritsa hotel also has a restaurant, and its rooster cooked in red wine sauce, as well as the rabbit stew with mashed potatoes come highly recommended, while at the end of your meal they will offer you baked apple, with the compliments of the house in accordance with local traditions. For something quieter, with a lovely view of Volos you can visit Kamelia where you have to try the traditional Pelion spetzofai (a dish prepared with sausage and peppers in tomato sauce), as well as the restaurant’s special: baked goat and beef in a ceramic dish with potatoes and smoked cheese. You can also have spetzofai in Katichori, the neighbouring village, at Ortansies (ask for the one with the village sausage), and they also make gioulbasi (stew with beef, pork, lamb and vegetables).

Where to drink your coffee and drink

For a coffee by the fireplace with a beautiful panoramic view and glorious desserts, go to Mirtillo All Day Coffee Bar, while Meli Coffee & More, right next to the Centaurs’ Path, offers coffee, brunch and desserts, and is heated by a fireplace and woodstoves. Lagini Rock Café opens in the morning for a coffee or mountain tea made with herbs they pick on Pelion and it also operates as a rock bar for a drink in the evening.

5 things to do in Portaria during the Christmas holidays

Portaria is well located for holiday excursions, as Volos is a stone’s throw away, while many other beautiful sights on Pelion are also not far. However, even if you stay within the borders of the village you will have a great time.

Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the locals

On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Portaria’s decorated main square becomes the main festive destination, with events curated by the local cultural club – you’ll distinguish its members by the traditional costumes they usually wear while singing Christmas carols. Festive music, traditional treats and abundant wine all guarantee that you’ll get into the Christmas spirit.

Visit the village’s Historical & Folklore Museum

It is housed in the two-storey Zoulia mansion, built in 1864, which is a sight worth seeing in its own right, being a great example of the Egyptiot architecture that was preferred by the residents of Pelion that acquired their wealth by doing business in Alexandria during the second half of the 19th century.

The museum’s exhibits include photographs and artefacts from the activities of the people of Portaria in Egypt, the village register from 1881, objects that were rescued from the luxurious hotel Mega Theoxenia that thrived at the beginning of the 20th century, photographs of local weddings between 1885 and 1950 (the Pelion Wedding is a very special tradition), as well as costumes and clothes, lace embroidery and rare books.

Walk on the Centaurs’ Path

It’s a short but famous trail that follows the watercourse of one of the many creeks around Portaria. You can hike during winter provided that you dress appropriately for the cold, and the route starts at Adamenas square and finishes at the Mana springs – about a 40 min uphill walk to get there, and another 25 min downhill to return.

The name comes from the famous Centaurs of Greek mythology that were half human-half horses and were thought to live here and in similar areas all over Thessaly. The landscape remains impressive in winter, while the path is well-marked throughout.

Ski excursion to the Agriolefkes ski centre

After the snowfall in Pelion in recent days of areas higher than 900-950 m, the season has started for the Agriolefkes ski centre which has announced that the draglines and the lifts are serviced and ready. This is a nice excursion if you are based in Portaria, as even if you have no interest in skiing, you will enjoy being out in the natural environment and appreciate the views from altitudes of up to 1500 m.

If you do plan to go skiing, the centre has four main slopes for downhill skiing with one reserved for beginners. The Agriolefkes Chalet offers food and entertainment options, while at the top of the mountain there is an observatory. The village of Chania, at an altitude of 1200 m, is also nearby where you can walk in a beech tree forest or visit the little shops to buy local products.

Plan a trip to Makrinitsa

It is the closest village to Portaria and it is a popular sight, called by many Pelion’s balcony due to its amazing view of the Pagasetic gulf. There is a Byzantine museum in the village – the only one in the wider area – while the famous Theofilos coffeeshop houses one of Theofilos Xadjimichael’s frescoes. The well-known Greek film “The Teacher with the Golden Hair” (1969) with Aliki Vougiouklaki and Dimitris Papamichail was filmed in Makrinitsa.

Read also:

Portaria Village on Pelion Mountain in Greece, Home of the Centaurs

Enjoy one of the most beautiful train rides in Europe in this quaint Greek village

The quiet mountain village of Greece with the amazing view – Great strolls, traditional food

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Best Greek Destinations with Superb Scenery

Greece is a truly multifaceted country, with some of its landscapes reminiscent of places as far and wide as the moon, the desert, the lush French countryside, exotic tropical paradises and majestic snow-swathed mountains. As well as the distinctive natural setting of each place, formed over the millennia by its geographical location and climatic character, each destination has also been uniquely shaped over the centuries by a palimsest of cultural influences from occupying nations or invaders. The enforced presence of Ottomans, Venetians, the English and even pirates led to architectural, cultural, gastronomic and social changes, while the Byzantine empire and the Christian faith also significantly affected the way villages, towns and cities were built and run, and how they appear today.

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The result of all these influences – from natural and political to religious and social – is that today’s visitor can witness a fascinatingly multifaceted landscape of unique places across the nation. Here, we introduce you to our 20 favourite destinations – many of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites – across the country’s mainland and islands, each with its own singular beauty and aesthetic appeal. All of them are composed, each in its own characteristic way, of a singular combination of magnificent scenery, nature, culture and physical form, and imbued by a special ambience and eye-opening allure.

Anafiotika, Athens

Built in the 1830s by stonemasons from the island of Anafi, who settled there while building King Otto’s palace (today’s Parliament building), and later settled in by migrants from Asia Minor, Anafiotika is a surprising marvel next to the Acropolis. As you make your way through its tranquil, winding village-like streets, the typical Cycladic aesthetic of Anafi is evident in the whitewashed, cubic houses with brightly coloured shutters and doors and plant-filled courtyards. Climb higher and you’ll also be rewarded with breathtaking views of Athens below and the Acropolis above. The area’s Byzantine churches, St George of the Rock and Agios Simeon, add an extra layer of the area’s history to the breathtaking scenery.

Chania, Crete

In Chania, in western Crete, each view you regard reveals a chapter of the Cretan city’s illustrous history. To immerse yourself in its scenery, walk along the Venetian harbour, where fishing boats and ancient walls echo a lively present and storied past. Its skyline is a mix of Byzantine churches, Greek Orthodox monasteries and Ottoman mansions, towers over narrow alleys and Venetian townhouses. Admire its Roman ruins, seafront promenades, fortress walls and Ottoman baths, and visit its many museums, among which are the Naval Museum, Archaeological Museum, Museum of Byzantine Icons, and the “Cretan House” Folklore Museum. Look up to find minarets meeting the sky in Splatzia Square and the surrounding Turkish quarter, and in Halepa, once the aristocratic neighbourhood of wealthy merchants and diplomats, feel the quiet elegance as you observe its grandiose architecture. Throughout the year, Chania remains vibrant and active, offering plenty of things to enjoy, from swimming and watersports at its beaches and globally exemplary food and wine, to hiking in astounding surrounding landscapes like the Samaria Gorge and the White Mountains and attending traditional festivals. Read more about Chania

Corfu Old Town, Ionian

In Corfu’s old town, picture Venetian, French and British architectural and other influences against the backdrop of the Ionian Sea. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is a kaleidoscope of pastel and terracotta buildings with grand squares and narrow, winding alleyways. The skyline is dotted with a myriad of church belfries, each unique, inviting exploration of their ornate marble entrances. It’s a place where you’ll feel a palpable sense of its history and sophisticated local culture, to be experienced especially at the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Asian Art, the Numismatic Museum and the Solomos Museum, or during the lively summer months, and especially at traditional Easter festivities. Here, in the town’s many restaurants, you’ll also indulge in a sophisticated cuisine heavily inspired by Venice. From the Old Fortress to the Achillion palace and the Angelokastro Castle, breathtaking views are guaranteed to make you fall in love with this place that, uniquely for Greece, remained untouched by Ottoman rule. Read more about Corfu’s Old Town

Delos, Cyclades

In mystical Delos, an uninhabited, five-kilometre-long island that was once the spiritual heart of the ancient world, you’ll gain mesmerising perspectives, both literally and figuratively. Excavations have uncovered much of the cosmopolitan Hellenistic city, and visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is deemed as one of the most rewarding archaeological experiences in the Mediterranean. Celebrated as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, this ‘sacred island’ combines awe-inspiring vistas out to the sea as well as an evocative exploration of the ancient ruins and mosaics hinting at its mythical past, which now lay splayed out in the sun, such as the Great Temple of Delia, the Avenue of the Lions, the Temple of Isis, the Minoan Fountain and the Residence of Dyionissus. Visit by boat from Mykonos to explore the ruins, snorkel around the island and climb the dusty, windswept path to the top of Mount Kynthos to admire the views of Delos from above and the surrounding islands. Read more about Delos

Delphi, Mainland

Delphi, the ‘world’s ‘centre of the world’ according to the ancient Greeks, now captivates with its extraordinary remnants and spanning views. Here, the Tholos of Athena Pronoia, the Temple of Apollo, and the ancient Gymnasium and the Stadium are just some of the dazzling remnants sprawled across the verdant slopes, overlooking a sea of olive groves that sprawl down to the Gulf of Itea. This sacred site, where the Oracle and Pythia once offered answers to the most volatile questions, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a sophisticated and modern Archaeological Museum to boot, drawing visitors to its still-mystical setting. Out of sight is the modern village of Delphi, a small settlement with its own charms that’s just a 10-minute drive from Delphi’s ancient site, and picturesque Arachova town. Read more about Delphi

Hydra, Argosaronic

Just two hours by ferry from Piraeus, this car-free and famously charming island is a visual delight, with its cobbled streets and a coastline lined by neoclassical dwellings so lovely that they look like a theatre set. The island’s architecture defines its beauty, with every size of mansion mainly from the 18th and early 19th centuries standing as a testament to Hydra’s rich maritime history. Walking around the island, on the harbour-front and along atmospheric backstreets and long, steep steps, you’ll come across luggage-carrying donkeys and plenty of cats, as well as a plethora of tavernas, boutiques and cafes tucked away in quiet corners. Stop to catch glimpses of dreamy views of the Hora and the seascapes and soak up the quaint atmosphere of a bygone era, which has seduced so many painters, musicians and writers. Visit the Historical Archives Museum, the Ecclessiastical Museum and the Lazaros Kountouriotis Mansion. Read more about Hydra

Kastellorizo, Dodecanese

The harbour town of Kastellorizo, with its charming neoclassical Venetian buildings set against the cobalt blue of the sea, is the setting for an unparalleled ambience, as captured in the film ‘Mediterraneo’. There is a U-shaped settlement, known as “to kordoni” (the shoestring) around the port, which means that accommodations, restaurants and shops are at the water’s edge, with Mesi tou Yialou (the central part) being the heart of all the action. For a quieter vibe, visit Mandraki, Kastellorizo’s second harbour. Sandy beaches may be scarce, but you can dive off small rocks into the invigorating waters. Notable places to stop at include the Lighthouse, Kavos castle, Megalo Nifti’s Cape, the mosque that now houses the Kastellorizo Historical Collection and Navlakas. Also, not to be missed is the Museum of Puzzles, the only one of its kind in Greece. The island’s main attraction is the Blue Cave, one of the most remarkable sea caves in the world. Accessible only by boat, it is famous for its crystalline blue waters that shimmer in the sunlight. Read more about Kastellorizo

Klima, Milos, Cyclades

Klima, a tiny village in Milos with fewer than 20 residents, is a key destination for its picturesque, colourful houses and stunning sunset views. The village offers limited accommodation, three charming tavernas and two churches. Its uniqueness stems from the syrmata: traditional two-level structures built by local fishermen. These boat houses, integrated into the volcanic rocks, feature a boat storing area at sea level and a living space above. Historically, fishermen are thought to have painted their homes in vibrant colours to mirror the shades of the island’s rock strata, or in order to effortlessly recognise their own home when returning by boat in the dark. Having now undergone modern restoration, some of the houses today provide unique tourist accommodations with the sea at your doorstep. This is not the only scenic fishing village on Milos; you can also visit Aghios Konstantinos, Areti, Fourkovouni, Fyropotamos, Mandrakia, Mytakas and Schinopi. Read more about Milos

Lindos, Rhodes

Lindos, a magnetic tourist destination once adored by the likes of Aristotle Onassis, Giovanni Agnelli, Pink Floyd and Brigitte Bardot, is renowned for its architecture and picturesque streets. At its majestic Acropolis, perched at 116 metres high on a cliff, you’ll find the remnants of the Athena Lindia temple dating back to the 4th century BC, along with the Propylaea, the grand Hellenistic Stoa, and the Byzantine-era Church of Saint John, and breathtaking views. Visitors to this car-free town also admire its fascinating whitewashed buildings, the classic “kamarika” houses constructed by using a blend of straw, sand, and lime, with walls as thick as 50 centimetres. Many of these houses also feature skylights for improved air circulation, a spacious internal arch, and floors adorned with pebble mosaics known as “hochlakia.” For a swim, visit the stunning beach of St Paul, with its aquamarine waters, or Megalos Yialos. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you’re in luck; the main street leading up to the Acropolis is lined with shops selling everything from clothes and accessories to tourist trinkets and jewellery. Read more about Lindos

Medieval Old Town, Rhodes

Rhodes’ Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a remarkable example of medieval urban planning, where imposing walls mark a line between history and modernity. Walk along the medieval Street of the Knights and Head to the Palace of the Grand Master, stopping also to visit the three-aisled Gothic church of Our Lady of the Castle. During this incredibly scenic stroll, you’ll be transported to the Middle Ages as you catch views of lush greenery, palm trees, along with ancient ramparts, towers, and walls. The Old Town’s architectural tapestry spans various eras, and includes 15th and 16th-century structures alongside 30 Byzantine churches, six mosques, a synagogue and cool, fountain-adorned squares for people-watching. The nearby Mandraki area contrasts with Venetian architecture, a lively marina, and a bustling mix of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Art lovers shouldn’t miss out on the Municipal Art Gallery on Symi Square, where works by prodigious Greek artists are displayed. Read more about Rhodes’ Old Town

Meteora, Thessaly

Meteora, in central Greece, is renowned for its majestic sky-high rock formations that rise to create a dramatic landscape straight out of a fairytale. The rocks, unique geological formations, are where 24 ancient monasteries were built in a testament to ingenious engineering from centuries past, specifically since the 11th century when monks first retreated there. Today, six of these monasteries are accessible, year-round drawing global visitors to gawp at this UNESCO World Heritage site with its jaw-dropping vistas. Meteora has also become a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers and rock climbers, and the next-door town of Kalabaka offers a broad choice of places to eat and stay at. For an extraordinary, almost otherworldly adventure, consider taking a tour from the skies in a hot air balloon. Read more about Meteora

Metsovo, Epirus

Surrounded by the towering Zygos, Peristeri, and Katara mountains, the village of Metsovo, built at an altitude of 1,160 metres, has a serene, old-world aura and revivingly fresh air. Its all-embracing charm is enhanced by the traditional Epirotic architecture of stone houses with slate tiled roofs, stone cobbled streets, a main square shaded by plane trees, where the chuch of Aghia Paraskevi stands, and the beautiful backdrop of the lush Pindos mountains. This picturesque setting, combined with the charm of shops selling famed local cheeses, souvenir stores, quaint tavernas and the smell of wood smoke in the air, makes Metsovo a top destination, especially in the winter months, when it is especially popular among skiers who frequent the Metsovo Ski Centre. Metsovo is also very popular for its delicious regional cuisine and fine, locally produced wines such as those from the Averoff Estate. Visit the Metsovo Folk Art Museum to get a better sense of the traditional culture, and for something very different, the Averofeios Garden (five minutes’ walk from the main square) to see a layout of the flora of Mount Pindos. Read more about Metsovo

Monemvasia, Peloponnese

Spectacular and dizzingly romantic all year round, Monemvasia was separated from the Peloponnesian coast after an earthquake in 375 AD and became an island, once only accessible by boat but in modern times connected to the mainland by a short causeway. It is known for its enchanting medieval castle town, strategically built into a sea-facing rock and originally hidden from enemies on the mainland. Overlooking the sea (and being a view to behold in itself), it consists of two different levels and fortified areas: Pano Poli, now uninhabited, and Kato Poli. This historic town, a melting pot of civilisations, has passed through Venetian, Turkish, French, pirate and Greek hands, all of which have left their mark. Entering the medieval tower town is like stepping back in time to the Lacedaemonians of the 6th century BC, but within its walls, visitors will find contemporary restaurants, shops, cafes and several cosy and luxurious accommodations. Read more about Monemvasia

Mount Athos

Mount Athos, only accessible to male visitors, is a tranquil UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Halkidiki peninsula. A spiritual haven for Orthodox Christianity, it is home to 20 monasteries set amidst lush landscapes and tranquil settings. Covering some 350 square kilometres, the area boasts breathtaking natural beauty, with its rugged terrain and coastal views offering a sense of profound peace. The architecture of the Athos monasteries, having endured for over a millennium, is striking; these are expansive complexes featuring magnificent churches, towers, aqueducts, welcoming areas, living quarters, dining halls and kitchens. Notable among them are Simonopetra, an awe-inspiring structure perched on the brink of a precipitous rock; Aghios Panteliemonas, distinguished by its unique green roofs; the fortress-like Iviron; and paramount in stature, the majestic monasteries of Megistis Lavras and Vatopedi. Staying here is a retreat for the body, mind and soul, as you connect with the age-old practices and culture of the monastic community surrounded by the sea and pure, wild nature as well as artfully cultivated food gardens and fields. Read more about Halkidiki

Nafplio

Romantic Nafplio was Greece’s first capital after the nation’s liberation from Ottoman oppression and remains one of Europe’s most beautiful places. The car-free (there is a large car park just outside) town’s beauty comes from its neoclassical buildings, many painted in soft pinks and yellows, with showers of fuschia-coloured bougainvillaea draped against walls and blue window frames, and the blue backdrop of the sea. The Venetian castle of Bourtzi, once a prison, is especially gorgeous at night when it is beautifully lit, taking centre stage as people sip aperitivos on the harbourfront. Lose yourself in the charming backstreets streets of Nafplio, to discover unique finds in delightful little boutiques, cafes, restaurants and gelato shops. Climb up the step-streets leading to Ano Poli and the Psaromahalas Quarter, and if you’re feeling brave walk up to the Palamidi castle, for incredible views. Read more about Nafplio

Oia, Santorini

Legendary Oia in Santorini is known for its classically Cycladic sugar cube houses cascading down Instagrammably dramatic cliffs. Set on volcanic ash, the village and its vistas are especially enchanting at dusk when pastel coloured walls are set ablaze and later as houses glow in blue-green hues, reflecting from plunge pools. The Oia sunset, a world-famous spectacle, draws endless crowds from across the globe, especially at the Castro, partially destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1956. Until the 19th century, the village, known as Apano (or Pano) Meria meaning “the upper side,” thrived as a notable shipbuilding hub, and its residents, referred to as Oiates or Panomerites, were primarily sailors or shipowners. Now Oia a luxurious destination with top-notch hotels built into the rock and fine dining restaurants as well as a lively art and shopping scene with plenty of art galleries and mainly clothing and jewellery stores. If you’d like to enjoy a hike, the scenic walk from Oia to Fira is a memorable experience, showcasing Oia’s unique blend of natural beauty and cultural wealth. Read more about Oia and Santorini

Parga

Parga has a tropical natuural splendour that makes it stand out, intriguingly combined with mainly Venetian architecture reminiscent of the Italian Riviera. Bustling with tourists in the summer months, it is a place for great swims in its emerald green and blue waters, fine dining as well as hearty eats at traditional tavernas and visits to fascinating historical sites. Walk past its colourful, densely built houses and scenic winding cobbled streets and up to see breathtaking views from the Venetian Castle, a symbol of resilience through the ages. From here you’ll enjoy panoramic perspectives of the Ionian Sea and the beach of Valtos, while there is also a cafe from where you can sit to soak up the dreamy vistas. Swim at Kryoneri, the town’s main beach, or explore Piso Kryoneri and Valtos, which are located on either side of the town. No visit to Parga is complete without a visit to the springs of the River Acheron and the Nekromanteion, beautiful and atmospheric places that offer a dive into Greek mysticism and mythology. Read more about Parga

Pyrgi, Chios

In Pyrgi, artistry meets architecture and local history. A mere 25 kilometres from Chios town, this medieval stronghold, once under Genoese rule, is a visual feast. Every wall and every balcony is a canvas for “xista” – Escheresque geometric patterns etched into whitewashed walls using black sand from Mavra Volia, revealing stark black designs against bright backgrounds. Located 25 km south of the island’s capital, Pyrgi is one of the largest villages in Chios, situated in the southern part of the island. It serves as the traditional center of the Mastic Villages, a group of communities dedicated to mastic agriculture, which are recognized on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The village tower, also a Genoese legacy, anchors the village, once serving as a fortress against raids, and offers lovely views. Read more about Pyrgi

Symi

Symi, a gem in the Aegean Sea and a standout in the Dodecanese, lies just 12 miles from Rhodes, radiating an elegance reminiscent of the Italian Riviera. Its hallmark is the vibrant neoclassical architecture, a design approach rooted in the historical traditions of Greek and Roman architecture: behold the view of 2,500 multi-coloured houses that could be straight from a classic Italian film. Gialos’ port and Hora (or Horio), cradled in a bay, showcase these buildings in hues of blue, pink, and green, all with distinct tiled roofs, reflecting Symi’s maritime heritage. The abundance of neoclassical architecture, infused with a touch of Symiot flair, harmoniously blends with traditional features like pebble mosaic floors, stone arches, and expansive, white-washed squares adorned with towering plane trees. The harbour’s 1881 Clock Tower and the Italian-era police building are iconic. Climb 500 stone steps to Hora to enjoy stunning views and see historic mansions housing the island’s museum complex. Though roads are few, Symi’s beach, offers a serene retreat. Don’t miss the Panormitis Monastery, a 15th-century marvel surrounded by cypresses and pines, and the castle in the main town, offering breathtaking vistas. Read more about Symi

Zagori, Epirus

With clean, fresh country air and surrounded by lush greenery in the heart of Epirus, Zagori, in the Pindus Mountains is made up of of 46 stone villages with exquisitely harmonious architecture, a testament to the area’s traditional craftsmanship. It’s a haven for hikers, rafters and anyone seeking a cosy country retreat in contemporary boutique accommodations. At the heart of the Vikos-Aoos UNESCO Global Geopark, Zagori also boasts the Voidomatis River, Aoos river, the towering Mt Tymfi and alpine lakes like Drakolimni, all amidst scenic traditional stone settlements where cobbled streets and slate roofs add to the harmony of the surrounding nature. Beyond the villages, the Stone Forest at Monodendri reveals a spectacle of slate towers carved over millennia among oaks and maples; walking among these geological wonders is like stepping back in time. And then there’s the astoundingly deep and verdant Vikos Gorge, the largest gorge in Europe and a must-visit spot. Read more about Zagori

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Panagia Skripous, a Valuable Monument in Viotia

Orchomenos, like the plains of Viotia overall, isn’t exactly what you’d call a popular tourist hotspot. Most of us just drive through the Viotian plains on the Athens-Lamia motorway without looking twice or stopping. However, Orchomenos is home to some significant monuments, both ancient and Byzantine, like the Panagia Skripou.

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The Panagia (named after the Virgin Mary) served for hundreds of years as the main church of the male monastery of Skripou. Not much is known about the history of the monastery, but it is believed that the church dates back to the 9th-10th century AD and was built as a tomb for its patron, Leon, a high-ranking official in the service of the Byzantine Emperor.

The monastery is built in the well-known ‘cruciform transitional’ style and is the most important church of this architectural kind in Greece. Its style is a mixture of the free cross and the three-naved basilica with a dome. It represents the intermediate phase before the establishment of the cross-in-square plan, which is the most familiar architectural style of Greek Byzantine churches, such as the churches of Mystras or the Monastery of Hosios Loukas.

Even if you don’t wish to delve too deeply into its history, it’s worth visiting to enjoy the Byzantine craftsmanship that has been highlighted by the restoration and conservation of Panagia Skripou.

The church now functions as the parish church of Orchomenos and is surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds. We were also impressed by the interior decoration of the church and its bell tower, which is a recent addition, dating back to 1939 when the church was declared a monument. It was built in such a way as to respect the Byzantine architectural heritage. The Byzantine sundial that is carved vertically into the southern wall of the church is particularly interesting.

A Story from the WWII Occupation

Panagia Skripou is celebrated five times a year, with the most important event taking place on 10 September, with a fair honouring a local event from the Second World War. On 8 September 1943, the Italians surrendered and withdrew from their alliance with the Germans. At the time, there were more than 2,000 Italian soldiers in the town of Livadia, along with a large amount of military gear.

The Greek resistance forces of EAM and ELAS in Orchomenos saw an opportunity to seize the military gear and recruit Italian soldiers with anti-fascist sentiments. When the Nazi Germans heard of this they counterattacked, executing Italian prisoners and preparing mass reprisals against Orchomenos’ inhabitants. In the early hours of 9 and 10 September, a German group of soldiers with tanks was positioned in front of Panagia, but their mission led them nowhere because of a miracle: The German commander of the detachment claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary standing in front of the tanks to block their way. Later, when he saw the icon of the Virgin Mary in the church, he pointed to it and told the locals that “This woman saved you”.

After the war ended the German commander returned to Orchomenos and even donated an icon to the church, the image of which depicted a representation of his vision, and in the following years, he annually participated in the memorial procession on 10 September.

Tips for Your Visit

The Monastery of Panagia Skripou isn’t the only important religious site in Viotia. The Monastery of Hosios Loukas on Mount Steiri also stands out. A Middle Byzantine monastery, it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Despite being hit by last summer’s wildfires, its most important parts were saved.

For a great day trip from Athens, pass through the Monastery of Skripou and end your journey in Livadia to eat, drink and walk around the Fountains of Krya.

Skripou Monastery can also be a stop on a longer journey, with Arachova and Delphi as your final destinations.

Orchomenos has important archaeological sites, such as the theatre and the Mycenaean tholos tomb of Minyas, a smaller version of the tomb of Atreus in Mycenae.

Read also:

Karya, a Picture-Perfect Village Perched 1,300m High

Vaskina: Pastoral Bliss on Mt Parnon

In the Path of Aristotle in the Kalloni Wetlands

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