Archive for greece

greek islands

The islands are Greece’s chief morphological trait and an integral part of the country’s civilisation and tradition. The Greek territory comprises 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, a truly unique phenomenon on the European continent; of these islands only 227 are inhabited.

The Greek Archipelago takes up 7,500 km of the country’s total 16,000-km coastline, offering a highly diversified landscape: beaches stretching along many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, golden stretches of sand with dunes, pebbly beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and black sand typical of volcanic soil, coastal wetlands… Many Greek beaches have been awarded the blue flag under the programme Blue Flags of Europe . Apart from swimming, they lend themselves to scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, sailing and windsurfing. As they are the cradle of some of the most ancient and prosperous European civilisations (the Cycladic, Minoan civilisations, etc.), the islands boast unique archaeological sites, an outstanding architectural heritage and centuries-old, fascinating local traditions of a multifaceted cultural past. Moreover, 58.5% of the country’s lodging establishments and 62.6% of hotel beds are found on the islands (data for 2003). All the above, combined with the ideal climate, the safety of Greek waters and the short distances between ports and coasts, have rendered the Greek islands extremely popular among Greek and foreign visitors.

Most islands lie in the Aegean Sea and are divided in seven groups (from north to south):

  • The Northeastern Aegean Islands: Agios Efstratios, Thasos, Ikaria, Lesvos, Limnos, Inousses, Samos, Samothrace, Chios, Psara.
  • The Sporades: Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros 
  • Evia
  • The Argo-Saronic Islands: Angistri, Aegina, Poros, Salamina, Spetses, Hydra and the coastal area of Methana.
  • The Cyclades: A group of 56 islands, its most important ones being Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Syros, Tinos, Folegandros, as well as the “Minor Cyclades” comprising Donousa, Irakleia, Koufonisia and Schinoussa. 
  • The Dodecanese: Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastelorizo, Kos, Lipsi, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Halki.
  • Crete

The Ionian Sea is home to one sole island group:

  • The Ionian Islands: Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Cephallonia, Lefkada, Paxi, Antipaxi, Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Meganissi, Othoni, Strofades.
    These islands, together with Kythira, which is however cut-off from the rest, opposite the southern Peloponnese (Lakonia), as well as neighbouring Antikythira, they constitute the Eptanissa.

(See map of administrative regions.)

The islands of Gavdos (situated south of Crete), Elafonissos (in the Gulf of Laconia) and Trizonis (in the Gulf of Corinth), although not forming part of any group, are of unparalleled natural beauty.

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arts and culture

Civilisation is the sum total of the material and cultural achievements of a group of people. Culture and arts are two concepts that are closely interwoven, as art is the  characteristic expression of the culture of a given period.  Arts such as architecture, sculpture, pottery, weaving, music, jewellery making, and painting have a long-standing tradition in Greece, where civilisations were already established in pre-historic times.
Little is known to date about the Palaeolithic period in Greece, but quite a lot about the subsequent Neolithic period (7th – 4th millennia B.C. approximately) and its civilisation, which is found mainly in areas such as Thessaly and Macedonia.
Civilisations with impressive achievements developed during the Bronze Age (3,000 – 1150 B.C. approximately) in the Northeastern Aegean, the Cyclades (its trade-mark being the big-sized marble figurines), Crete and the Greek mainland.  The civilisations which flourished during the 2nd millennium in the latter two areas, known as the Minoan and Mycenaean respectively, are considered the first two major civilisations of Greece.  The architectural remnants (e.g. palaces), as well as the samples of pottery, stone carving (vessels, sealstones), metallurgy (vessels, weapons), jewellery making and painting (murals) are impressive and representative of these civilisations. 
During historic times, the civilisations of the Geometric (9th – 8th centuries B.C.) and the Archaic periods (7th – 6th centuries B.C.) are considered forerunners of the culture of the classical period (5th – 4th centuries B.C.). The classical works of art, with their ideal proportions and beauty, expressed the philosophical ideals of their times and were the model of the European Renaissance of the 15th century A.D.  During the subsequent Hellenistic (3rd – 1st centuries B.C.) and Roman times (1st century B.C. – 3rd century A.D.) Greek civilisation developed within the framework of big kingdoms and an empire, respectively. 
Again within the framework of an empire, Greek civilisation developed during the Byzantine period – early, middle and late – (4th -15th centuries A.D.), while in more recent times civilisation is marked by the Ottoman domination and the first steps of the new Hellenic state after the War of Independence of 1821. 
A visit to archaeological sites, museums and monuments all over the country offers a vivid picture of the civilisations in Greece, their achievements in arts and technology from the pre-historic era to modern times.

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the greek coasts

The Greek coast has a total length of approximately 16,000 km.  Half of these are on the thousands of Greek islands, while the rest extends along the mainland. What characterises the famous Greek coasts is their unique diversity (beaches stretching over many kilometres, small bays and coves, sandy beaches with dunes, pebbly shores, coastal caves surrounded by steep rocks and with the characteristic dark sand of volcanic soils, coastal wetlands), their clean and transparent waters which have made them renowned all over the world and, for this reason, extremely popular.
In 2006, Greece has 404 beaches and 5 marinas that were awarded the “Blue Flag” (See below), a fact that puts the country in a top-ranking position among the European countries.
Most of the thousands of Greek coasts are freely accessible and you have the opportunity to discover and enjoy them without the presence of a large  number of swimmers. There are, however, also many organised beaches in the country with the necessary infrastructure providing high-quality services (umbrellas, reclining chairs, changing booths, cafes, bar-restaurants etc), where, apart from swimming, you can enjoy water sports  (water ski, windsurfing, diving etc) as well as other means of having fun in the water, such as the parachute for one or two persons, “tyres” and the “banana”, pedalo, jet ski etc. All organised beaches also have lifeguard towers ensuring safe swimming in the area.

“Blue Flags of Europe”

Each year this programme presents an award to the coasts and marinas which meet strict criteria as regards the cleanness of the sea and the coast, good organisation and safety as well as the protection of the coastal environment in general. More specifically, the criteria for the award of the “Blue Flag” are the following:

1. Cleanness of the sea and the coast
-Quality of swimming water verified by measurement of water samples;
-Absence of industrial sewage discharge on the coast;
-Treatment of urban sewage as required by the relevant EU directive;
-Adequate number of litter bins which must be emptied at regular intervals; 
-Periodical cleaning of the beach from litter, cigarette stubs etc.

2. Organisation of the coast and safety of the visitors
-Continuous information of the public regarding the quality of swimming water;
-Immediate information if the water has become unsafe for swimmers;
-Plans to deal with a pollution accident and to immediately inform the public;
-Adequate number of sanitary facilities with controlled sewerage;
-Trained lifeguards or direct access to telephone, lifesaving equipment and First Aid; 
-Safe passage to the coast and special care for people with disabilities;
-No driving (vehicles and motorcycles) is allowed on the beach;
-Free camping is forbidden; and
-Pets have to be supervised on the beach.

3. Protection of nature and environmental education
-Printed information and publicly displayed instructions regarding behaviour on the coast;
-Activities actively promoting the protection of the natural coastal environment.

For more information, visit:
  -“Blue Flags of Europe
  –“Blue Flags” at Greek beaches

List of awarded beaches and marinas (2006)

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Greek nature – Ecotourism

Notwithstanding its limited surface area, Greece is endowed with a particularly rich and diversified natural environment as a result of a rare geomorphology, with many striking natural contrasts and areas of great ecological value. The country’s abundant natural gifts –thousands of indented coasts, imposing rocky massifs, caves, gorges, lakes, rivers, biotopes of spectacular beauty and unique natural habitats– coupled with the mild climate, place it among the ideal destinations for ecotourism and alternative forms of tourism.   
When travelling in Greece, nature-loving tourists are offered the opportunity to: 
– to wander in aesthetic forests or explore national parks not merely in the mountainous regions of the mainland, but also on certain islands or in the proximity of rivers and lakes
– to enjoy the wonderful natural monuments, gorges, caves and waterfalls.
– to watch and admire rare bird species nesting or seeking refuge in coastal ecosystems and wetlands (rocky coasts, sandy beaches, sand dunes, river deltas, lakes, marshes, coastal plains, etc)
– to study the highly diverse floral life of the Greek countryside
– to visit the unique marine parks supported near the islands of Alonissos and Zakynthos, which provide shelter to two protected species, the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus-Monachus) and the Mediterranean green loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) respectively. 
– to engage in extreme sports (canoe-kayak, rafting, monoraft, hydrospeed, canyoning, mountain biking, etc), activities which have seen a spectacular rise in popularity in recent years
– to stay in agrotourist units which are being developed all over the country and afford visitors the opportunity to become familiar with vernacular architecture, cultural and gastronomic tradition, local products, farming activities and the daily life of local inhabitants.    
Visitors of ecologically sensitive areas must observe all rules for the protection of the environment against pollution, the non-disturbance of natural habitats and the preservation of the various ecosystems’ equilibrium. Information on visiting protected areas and participating in special programs can be obtained from local information centres, local authorities, and specialised agencies

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attractions

Greece has an abundance of resources that tourists with ecological and cultural interests will find attractive. The wealth of cultural as well as ecological resources, both biotic and abiotic, constitute a special comparative advantage of the country for those interested in the conservation of cultural diversity, bio-diversity and eco-systems. These resources are marked by their wide variety, rareness and distinctiveness and are found in areas many of which have already been placed under special protection.  

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vacations

In Greece, you are standing at a crossroads of cultures, colours and civilisations, you feel the strength of history and the warmth of being in the southernmost part of Europe, you discover an evolutionary process of thought, influence and experience.

A country that despite being rich in history has a populaton that moves towards the future.

A country that although statistically small, is huge in its diversity.

A landscape that has given us thousands of postcard images but remains incredibly vibrant and impossible to capture.

Greece is a country of beautiful contradictions, a constant journey in time, from the present to the past and back again.

Walk through the olive groves, through ancient sites. Move to clusters of sparsely inhabited islands. Roam from the beaches to rocky mountains and explore breathtaking scenery.

In Greece the fusion of images becomes more than imagery and turns into reality.

Explore your senses in Greece.

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history of skiathos

    Skiathos took part in wars against the Persians and in 478 BC, became a part of the Athenian Alliance.Later was occupied by Alexander the Great and then by the Romans. In 1204 was conquered by the Venetians and in 1583 by the Turks. It was then that the inhabitants of the old town, built on the site of present-day Skiathos, abandoned it and constructed on the north side of the island the famous Kastro, perched on a nearly invisible rock.
    During the Greek War of Independence of 1821, many warriors from Thessaly opposite,took refuge on the island.Skiathos was liberated in 1823. In 1830, the local people, left the historic Kastro and rebuilt Chora
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Skiathos was one of the unknown paradises to be discovered.       
Skiathos is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece. Upon first seeing it visitors must think: “how can such a small island have all this beauty?”. When you are getting to know the island, first of all, you have to pay a visit to its picturesque and cosmopolitan Chora.

During the day, you can enjoy a hanging around into its narrow alleys, which are filled with vitality every summer. Here you have a lot of things to see and to do. You can visit for example the lovely small peninsula Bourtzi, situated between the two harbors of Chora plenty of pine trees and the ruins of a wall of an old castle. Or you can visit one of the beautiful churches here, like the impressive Treis Ierarches, the cathedral church in the upper part of the town. You can either enjoy your lunch or your dinner in one of the fine tavernas. And for nightlife, be sure! Chora does not sleep until early in the morning! A large number of clubs, pubs, bars and discotheques are waiting for your night amusement!Text taken from Toubis Editions      visit http://achladies.apartments.googlepages.com

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