The Peloponnese is located in the southern part of Greece and means 'the island of Pelops'. It received its name from the mythical king Pelopa of Ilida who in legend was fed to the gods by his father Tantalos. During the medieval times it was named Morias and the people who lived there were called Peloponnesians or Moraites. The largest river of the Peloponnese is the Alfios River which is about 68 miles long. The landscape is dominated by forested mountains. The Peloponnese is one of the primary strongholds and battlefields of the 1821 Greek Revolution. It is the kernel from which the modern state grew.
Today the ancient and medieval sites of the Argolida region (to the south of Corinth) contrast with the elegantly Neo-Classical town of Nafplio. In the west lies ancient Olympia the athletic and religious nexus of the ancient world and inspiration for the games revival in ancient times. This enormous peninsula which falls short of being an island by the mere 4 mile width of Corinth canal also has some of the most spectacularly varied scenery and monuments on the mainland. Ancient and medieval ruins are abundant on the Peloponnese and provide the main focus of sightseeing.
Ancient Corinth is an ancient city of Greece with many ruins to see. The city was built on an important geographical position between the Saronic Gulf and the Gulf of Corinth. Both ports: Lechaion port in the Gulf of Corinth and Kechrees port in the Saronic Gulf greatly attributed to quickly making Corinth a prestigious naval and commercial center. Small boats were not forced to go around the Peloponnese but instead they would dock in one of the two ports and unload their cargo. After that the shipments were transferred to the port from the isthmus.
Periandros the tyrant built Diolkos (means movable platform) in order to ease the trouble from this transfer. It was a road that connected the two Gulfs. The road was built with hewed stones and was dug in a way so that the rollers of the platforms would easily move the ships they carried. Some of the colonies Corinth founded were in Corfu, Syracuse, Lefkada and Epirus.
The city of Corinth reached its peak during the rule of Periandros the tyrant in the beginning of 6 century BC. Periandros ruled Corinth for 44 years. The city was filled with temples, big constructions and workshops. It was a time when art was blooming. The workshops exported great amounts of their products to the foreign market. Some of the products that the Corinthians made were: elegantly painted amphorae, beautiful knitwork, armory, cupreous utensils and vases with fragrances. All of these products were in demand everywhere. Corinth also had good shipbuilders. They were the first to build the Trireme. During the time of Periandros the Isthmia took place where many people gathered to admire the wealthy city that had developed such a great culture (named Corinthian).
The Corinthians also took place in the Persian Wars and they were the reason for the Peloponnesian War. The last battle between the Romans and the army of the Achaean League (Corinthians) took place in Lefkopetra near the isthmus in the year 146 BC. Lucius Mummius destroyed Corinth following a siege in 146 BC. When Mummius entered the city he put all the men to the sword and sold the women and children into slavery before he torched the city, for which he was given the cognomen Achaicus as the conqueror of the Achaean League. General Diaeos of the Achaean League killed his wife and then killed himself. This battle was the Greeks' last attempt to hold on to their independence. After that the Romans conquered Greece.
Mycenae is considered to be one of the most ancient Greek cities. It was built on top of a rocky hill. Mycenae became the most important center of Greece and reached its peak during the years of (1100-1600 B.C.). That is why this period is called Mycenean.
According to mythology the city of Mycenae was established by Perseus. The city was fortified with a powerful wall which was called "Cyclopean Walls" this wall still exists today. In reality Mycenae was inhabited from 2500 B.C. Two dynasties ruled Mycenae: a) the house of Persidon b) the house of Atreus. During the rule of king Agamemnon the city developed with glory and wealth. Ancient Greek poet Homer characterizes the city as "Golden Mycenae". The Trojan War gives us a clear view of the city's military power. The Lion Gate at Mycenae and the towering fortified wall were constructed at about the presumed date of the Trojan War. At that time wealthy Myceneans were laid to rest outside the citadel walls in beehive-shaped tombs covered by enormous earthen mounds.
The best preserved of these is the so called Treasury of Atreus which was believed to be the repository of the treasure of Atreus, father of Agamemnon. The Treasury of Atreus had been looted long before its modern re-discovery but spectacular grave goods have been found elsewhere at Mycenae. Just inside the Lion Gate Schliemann came across what archaeologists now designate as Grave Circle A. Schliemann excavated six deep shafts that dad served as tombs for kings and their families. The dead were laid to rest on the floors of these shaft graves with masks covering their faces. Women were buried with their jewelry and men with their weapons and golden cups. Among them most spectacular of Schliemann's finds is the golden mask of Agamemnon.
Due to the fact that the Egyptians had friendly relationships with the kings of Mycenae many support the fact that the gold found in the city came from Egypt. During the kingdom of Tisamenou, son of Orestis, Mycenae comes to a halt but still has its independence. The Myceneans fought in the Persian Wars against the Persians. In 468BC troops from Argos besieged and destroyed the city. Today one can still see the Cyclopean Walls, the Lion Gate, the floor of Agamemnon's palace as well as the tombs.
Nafplio is one of the most historical and picturesque cities of Greece. It is built on the north side of the Argolic Gulf on a rocky peninsula (this is where ancient Nafplio was also positioned). It is the capital of Argolida and has about 10,000 residents. It is a remarkable commercial and industrial center focused mainly on canning plants and fruit. A visitor can easily be impressed from the many monuments that state its glorious past.
The most important sites are: castle Bourtzi, castle Palamidi (it has a staircase made of stone with 999 stairs), Acronafplia with its ancient cyclopean walls and the big and historic Square with the Venetian buildings surrounding it. According to mythology ancient Nafplia received its name from its founder: Nafplio, son of Poseidon. Nafplia was an important city during the prehistoric times. It was later renamed to Nafplio and Anapli.
During the Byzantine years Nafplio did not play an important role, it became great when the Franks took over (it had 13,299 residents). The Venetians handed it over to the Turks in 1715. During the Turkish domination and up until 1715 Nafplio was the capital of the Peloponnese. It was released on December 3rd 1822. It became capital of the Greek country and welcomed its first governor of liberated Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias. This man was also assassinated in Nafplio.