Top Ten Greek Attractions

Top Ten Greek Attractions

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       Greece is a country in Southern Europe, with a population around 11 million. Athens is the nation’s capital and largest city. Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Western Asia, and Africa, and shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast. The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited). 80% of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft.). Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, which is considered the cradle of all Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, with many aspects of Greek civilization being imparted to the East through Alexander the Great’s campaigns, and to the West through the Roman Empire. The modern Greek state, which comprises much of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. Greece is a democratic, developed country with an advanced, high-income economy, a high standard of living and a very high Human Development Index. Greece is a founding member of the UN, has been a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 (and the eurozone since 2001), and has been a member of NATO since 1952. Greece’s economy is also the largest in the Balkans, where Greece is an important regional investor.

  1. Athens
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           Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece dominating the Attica region. It is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years. Classical Athens, as a landlocked location was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC in later centuries on the rest of the then known European continent. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2012, Athens was ranked the world’s 39th richest city by purchasing power and the 77th most expensive. The city of Athens has a population of 664,046 (796,442 in 2004) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi). Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland. The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments. Athens is also home to the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy, consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics. Athens is home to the National Archaeological Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cities, Top Ten European Cities, Top Ten Columns/Pillars,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens,
  2. Santorini
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           Santorini, officially Thira, is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 square km (28 square mi) and a 2001 census population of 13,670. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 square km (34.990 square mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit. Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements, on a formerly single island and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft.) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the 4th side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The caldera being 400 m deep makes it impossible for all but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is, however, a newly built marina in Vlychada on the southwestern coast. The principal port is called Athinias. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine and have a notably small presence of hornblende. It is the most active volcanic center in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lava from vents around the Akrotiri. The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of feet deep.
    Links: Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Greek ArtifactsTop 100 HousesTop Ten Minoan Artifacts,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santorini,
  3. Thessaloniki
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    Thessaloniki, often referred to internationally as Salonica, is the 2nd largest city in Greece and the capital of the geographic region of Greek Macedonia. Its honorific title is Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally “co-capital,” and stands as a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or “co-reigning” city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople. The municipality of Thessaloniki has a population of 322,240, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area has a population of 790,824; making it the 5th largest and most populated city in the Balkans and the 2nd most populated city that is not a capital, after Istanbul. Thessaloniki is Greece’s 2nd major economic, industrial, commercial and political center, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and the southeastern European hinterland. The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general, and is considered to be Greece’s cultural capital. Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. In 2014 Thessaloniki will be the European Youth Capital. Founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon, Thessaloniki’s history spans some 2,300 years. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the 2nd largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. The city’s main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans. Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece and in 2010, ranked 5th in Lonely Planet’s best party cities in the world, comparable to other cities such as Dubai and Montreal.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cities, Top Ten European Cities, Top Ten Party Cities,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thessaloniki,
  4. Rhodes
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    The City of Rhodes is a former municipality a popular tourist destination on the island of Rhodes, Dodecanese, Greece. It has a population of approximately 100,000 and has been famous since antiquity as the site of Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Colossus has been used in many poems, the most famous being Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The citadel of Rhodes, built by the Hospitalliers, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_City_of_Rhodes,
  5. Olympia
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    Olympia, a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, the most famous games in history. The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical Antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The first Olympic Games were in honor of Zeus.
    Links: Top Ten Olympianshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia,_Greece,
  6. Paros
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           Paros is an island of Greece in the central Aegean Sea. One of the Cyclades island group, it lies to the west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about 8 km (5 mi) wide. It lies approximately 100 nmi (185 km) south-east of Piraeus. The Municipality of Paros includes numerous uninhabited offshore islets totaling 196.308 km² of land. Its nearest neighbor is the municipality of Antiparos, lying to its southwest. Historically, Paros was known for its fine white marble, which gave rise to the term “Parian” to describe marble or china of similar qualities. Today, abandoned marble quarries and mines can be found on the island, but Paros is primarily known as a popular tourist spot.
    Links: Top Ten Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paros,
  7. Delphi
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    Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis. The site of Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the center of Grandmother Earth (or Gaia). He sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities, and the path of the eagles crossed over Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of Gaia was found. Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and became a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew Python, a dragon who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth.  Python is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of Python which Apollo defeated. The Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo recalled that the ancient name of this site had been Krisa. Apollo’s sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic (or stephanitic) games, precursors of the Modern Olympics. The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown (stephanos) which was ceremonially cut from a tree by a boy who re-enacted the slaying of the Python. Delphi was set apart from the other games sites because it hosted the mousikos agon, musical competitions. These Pythian Games rank second among the four stephanitic games chronologically and based on importance. These games, though, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia. Delphi would have been a renowned city whether or not it hosted these games; it had other attractions that led to it being labeled the “omphalos” (navel) of the earth, in other words, the center of the world. In the inner hestia (“hearth”) of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame burned. After the battle of Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi; in the foundation stories of several Greek colonies, the founding colonists were first dedicated at Delphi.
    Links: Top Ten Oracles, Top Ten Psychics, Coins, Top 100 Coins, Top 100 European Coins,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi,
  8. Create and the Architecture of Knossos
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    Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the 13 administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry, and music). Crete was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. Knossos, Knossus, or Cnossus is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and is considered Europe’s oldest city. The name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete. The identification of Knossos with the Bronze Age site is supported by tradition and by the Roman coins that were scattered over the fields surrounding the pre-excavation site, then a large mound named Kephala Hill, elevation 85 m (279 f.t) from current sea level. Many of them were inscribed with Knosion or Knos on the obverse and an image of a Minotaur or Labyrinth on the reverse, both symbols deriving from the myth of King Minos, supposed to have reigned from Knossos. The coins came from the Roman settlement of Colonia Julia Nobilis Cnossus, a Roman colony placed just to the north of, and politically including, Kephala. The Romans believed they had colonized Knossos. After excavation, the discovery of the Linear B tablets, and the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris, the identification was confirmed by the reference to an administrative center, ko-no-so, Mycenaean Greek Knosos, undoubtedly the palace complex. The palace was built over a Neolithic town. During the Bronze Age, the town surrounded the hill on which the palace was built.
    Links: Top Ten Islands, Palaces, Top Ten Palaces, Top Ten European Palaces, Top Ten Minoan Artifacts,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crete,
  9. Mycenae
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    Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km (56 miles) southwest of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km (7 miles) to the south; Corinth, 48 km (30 miles) to the north. From the hill on which the palace was located, one can see across the Argolid to the Saronic Gulf. In the 2nd millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centers of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae.
    Links: Top Ten Mycenaean Artifacts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycenae,
  10. Corfu
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    Corfu is a city on the island of Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece. The city serves as a capital for the region of the Ionian Islands. The city is a major tourist attraction, and has played an important role since the 8th century. The city has become known as a Kastropolis (Castle City) because of its two castles.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corfu_(city),
  11. Mt. Olympus, Greece
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    Mount Olympus (Greek: Όλυμπος Oros Olympos) is the highest mountain in Greece, located in the Olympus Range on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 80 km (50 mi) southwest from Thessaloniki, Greece’s 2nd largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks, the highest peak being Mytikas, meaning “nose,” rises to 2,917 m (9,570 ft.). It is one of the highest peaks in Europe in terms of topographic prominence. Mount Olympus is noted for its very rich flora with several species. It is a National Park of Greece and a World’s Biosphere Reserve.
    Links: Top Ten Mountains, Top Ten European Mountains, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Olympus,
  12. Meteora
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    The Metéora, “middle of the sky,” “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above” (etymologically related to “Meteorite”) is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka.
    Links: Top Ten Monasterieshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteora,
  13. Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos
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    The Pythagoreion is an ancient fortified port in Samos, Greece, which has transformed into a nice and tranquil city with charter and yacht tourism as its main industry today. It has three ports with a new marina and a dock for ferries and passenger boats to other islands like Pathmos and to mainland Greece and Turkey. It contains ancient Greek and Roman monuments and a famous ancient tunnel, the Tunnel of Eupalinos or Eupalinian aqueduct. The Heraion of Samos was a large sanctuary to the goddess Hera, in the southern region of Samos, Greece, 6 km southwest of the ancient city, in a low, marshy river basin near the sea. The Late Archaic Heraion of Samos was the first of the gigantic free-standing Ionic temples, but its predecessors at this site reached back to the Geometric Period of the 8th century BC, or earlier. The core myth at the heart of the cult of Hera at Samos is that of her birth. According to the local tradition, the goddess was born under a lygos tree. At the annual Samian festival called the Toneia, the “binding,” the cult image of Hera was ceremonially bound with lygos branches. The tree still featured on the coinage of Samos in Roman times.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagoreion, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraion_of_Samos,
  14. Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios
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    Although geographically distant from each other, these three monasteries belong to the same typological series and share the same aesthetic characteristics. The churches are built on a cross-in-square plan with a large dome supported by squinches defining an octagonal space. In the 11th and 12th centuries they were decorated with superb marble works as well as mosaics on a gold background, all characteristic of the ‘second golden age of Byzantine art.’
    Links: Top Ten Monasteries, Top Ten Mosaics,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_Greece,
  15. Delos
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    The island of Delos, near Mykonos, near the center of the Cyclades archipelago, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece. The excavations in the island are among the most extensive in the Mediterranean; ongoing work takes place under the direction of the French School at Athens and many of the artifacts found are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Delos and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Delos had a position as a holy sanctuary for a millennium before Olympian Greek mythology made it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. From its Sacred Harbor, the horizon shows the two conical mounds that have identified landscapes sacred to a goddess in other sites: one, retaining its pre-Greek name Mount Kynthos, is crowned with a sanctuary of Zeus. Established as a culture center, Delos had an importance that its natural resources could never have offered. In this vein Leto, searching for a birthing-place for Artemis and Apollo, addressed the island: “Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my son Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple; for no other will touch you, as you will find: and I think you will never be rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants abundantly. But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo, all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant savour of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed those who dwell in you from the hand of strangers; for truly your own soil is not rich.” —Homeric Hymn to Delian Apollo 51–60.
    Links: Islands, Top Ten Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delos,
  16. Mystras
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    Mystras is a fortified town and a former municipality in Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece. Situated on Mt. Taygetos, near ancient Sparta, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea in the 14th and 15th centuries, experiencing a period of prosperity and cultural flowering. The site remained inhabited throughout the Ottoman period, when it was mistaken by Western travelers for ancient Sparta. In the 1830’s, it was abandoned and the new town of Sparta was built, approximately 8 km to the east.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystras,
  17. Bassae
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    Bassae (Latin) or Bassai, Vassai or Vasses (Greek, Modern: Βάσσες, Ancient: Βάσσαι), meaning “little vale in the rocks.” is an archaeological site in the northeastern part of Messenia, Greece. In classical antiquity, it was part of Arcadia. Bassae lies near the village of Skliros, northeast of Figaleia, south of Andritsaina and west of Megalopolis. It is famous for the well-preserved mid- to late-5th century BC Temple of Apollo Epicurius. Although this temple is geographically remote from major polities of ancient Greece, it is one of the most studied ancient Greek temples because of its multitude of unusual features. Its construction is placed between 450 BC and 400 BC.
    Links: Top Ten Friezes, Top Ten Relieves, Top Ten European Relieves,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Apollo_Epicurius_at_Bassae,
  18. Vergina
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    Vergina is a small town in northern Greece, located in the regional unit of Imathia, Central Macedonia. The town became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. The finds established the site as the ancient Aigai. The modern town of Vergina is about 13 km (8 mi) southeast of the district center of Veroia and about 80 km (50 mi) southwest of Thessaloniki, the capital of Greek Macedonia. The town has a population of about 2,000 people and stands on the foothills of Mount Pieria, at an elevation of 120 m (394 ft.) above sea level.
    Links: Top Ten Warriors, Top Ten Generals, Top Ten Tombs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergina,
  19. Monastery of St. John the Theologian
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    The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian is a Greek Orthodox monastery founded in 1088 in Chora on the island of Patmos. It is built on a spot venerated by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as the cave where St. John of Patmos had visions. In 2012, 40 monks reside there. In 1088, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos gave the island of Patmos to the soldier-priest John Christodoulos. The greater part of the monastery was completed by Christodoulos three years later. He heavily fortified the exterior because of the threats of piracy and Seljuk Turks. 330 manuscripts are housed in the library (267 on parchment), 82 manuscript of the New Testament.
    Links: Top Ten Monasteries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monastery_of_Saint_John_the_Theologian,
  20. Epidaurus
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    Epidaurus was a small city in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros (Επίδαυρος): Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidavros, part of the regional unit of Argolis. The seat of the municipality is the town Asklipieio.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_of_Asklepios_at_Epidaurus,
  21. Mount Athos
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    Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Greece. A World Heritage Site and autonomous polity in the Hellenic Republic, Athos is home to 20 stavropegial Eastern Orthodox monasteries under the direct jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. Today Greeks commonly refer to Mount Athos as the “Holy Mountain.” In Classical times, while the mountain was called Athos, the peninsula was called Akté (Ἀκτὴ) (sometimes Acte or Akte).
    Links: Top Ten Mountains, Top Ten European Mountains, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Athos,
  22. Treasury of Atreus
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    The Treasury of Atreus or Tomb of Agamemnon is an impressive “tholos” tomb on the Panagitsa Hill at Mycenae, Greece, constructed during the Bronze Age around 1250 BC. The lintel stone above the doorway weighs 120 tons, with approximate dimensions 8.3 x 5.2 x 1.2m, the largest in the world. Mentioned by Pausanias, it was still visible in 1879 when the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the shaft graves under the ‘agora’ in the Acropolis at Mycenae. The tomb has probably no relationship with either Atreus or Agamemnon, as archaeologists believe that the sovereign buried there ruled at an earlier date than the two; it was named thus by Heinrich Schliemann and the name has been used ever since. The tomb perhaps held the remains of the sovereign who completed the reconstruction of the fortress or one of his successors. The grave is in the style of the other tholoi of the Mycenaean World, of which there are nine in total around the citadel of Mycenae and five more in the Argolid. However, in its monumental shape and grandeur it is one of the most impressive monuments surviving from Mycenaean Greece. With an interior height of 13.5m and a diameter of 14.5m, it was the tallest and widest dome in the world for over a thousand years until construction of the Temple of Hermes in Baiae and the Pantheon in Rome. The entrance portal to the tumulus was richly decorated: half-columns in green limestone with zig-zag motifs on the shaft, a frieze with rosettes above the architrave of the door, and spiral decoration in bands of red marble that closed the triangular aperture above an architrave. Segments of the columns and architraves were removed by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century and are now held by the British Museum. The capitals are influenced by ancient Egyptian examples, and one is in the Pergamon Museum as part of the Antikensammlung Berlin.
    Links: Top Ten Domes, Top Ten Megalithic Stones, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasury_of_Atreus,
  23. Smuggler’s Cove
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    Navagio Beach, Smuggler’s Cove or the Shipwreck, is an exposed cove on the coast of Zakynthos, in the Ionian Islands of Greece and is the location of the wreck of the alleged smuggler ship Panagiotis.
    Links: Top 100 Beaches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navagio,
  24. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece,