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Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki  also known in English as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace.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.

According to the Greek census 2011, the municipality of Thessaloniki today has a population of 325,182, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area (the contiguous built up area forming the "City of Thessaloniki") has a population of 788,952.Furthermore, the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area extends over an area of 1,455.62 km2 (562.02 sq mi) and its population in 2011 reached a total of 1,104,460 inhabitants

Thessaloniki is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre, 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.Thessaloniki is the 2014 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 second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman, Ottomanand 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. For 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine (Foreign Direct Investments) declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle

 

Olympia

In western Peloponnese, in the beautiful valley of the Alpheios river, lies the most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, it sprawls over the southwest foot of Mount Kronios, at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers, in a lush, green landscape. Although secluded near the west coast of the Peloponnese, Olympia became the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece. Its fame rests upon the Olympic Games, the greatest national festival and a highly prestigious one world-wide, which was held every four years to honour Zeus. The origin of the cult and of the festival went back many centuries. Local myths concerning the famous Pelops, the first ruler of the region, and the river Alpheios, betray the close ties between the sanctuary and both the East and West.

The earliest finds in Olympia are located on the southern foot of Mount Kronios, where the first sanctuaries and prehistoric cults were established. A large number of pottery sherds of the Final Neolithic period (fourth millennium BC) were found on the north bank of the stadium. Traces of occupation of the three periods of the Bronze Age were identified in the greater area of the Altis and new museum. A great tumulus of the Early Helladic II period (2800-2300 BC) was discovered in the lower strata of the Pelopion, while several apsidal structures belong to the Early Helladic III period (2150-2000 BC). It is traditionally believed that in approximately 1200 BC the region of Olympia was settled by Aetolians under the leadership of Oxylos, who founded the state of Elis. The first planned sanctuary dedicated to local and Pan-Hellenic deities was probably established towards the end of the Mycenaean period. The Altis, the sacred enclosure with its shady oaks, planes, pines, poplars and olive-trees, was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BC, when the cult of Zeus was probably established. Olympia was subsequently devoted exclusively to worship and for many centuries had no other structures except for the Altis, a walled precinct containing sacrificial altars and the tumulus of the Pelopion. The numerous votive offerings, mostly figurines, bronze cauldrons and tripods were placed outdoors, on trees and altars. The first figurines representing Zeus, the master of the sanctuary, date to the Geometric period.

Delphi

At the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. Delphi was regarded as thecentre of the world.

According to mythology, it is here that the two eagles sent out by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world met. The sanctuary of Delphi, set within a most spectacular landscape, was for many centuries the cultural and religious centre and symbol of unity for the Hellenic world.

The history of Delphi begins in prehistory and in the myths of the ancient Greeks. In the beginning the site was sacred to Mother Earth and was guarded by the terrible serpent Python, who was later killed by Apollo. Apollo's sanctuary was built here by Cretans who arrived at Kirrha, the port of Delphi, accompanied by the god in the form of a dolphin. This myth survived in plays presented during the various Delphic festivals, such as the Septerion, the Delphinia, the Thargelia, the Theophania and, of course. the famous Pythia, which celebrated the death of Python and comprised musical and athletic competitions.

The earliest finds in the area of Delphi, which date to the Neolithic period (4000 BC), come from theKorykeion Andron, a cave on Parnassos, where the first rituals took place. The remains of a Mycenaean settlement and cemetery were discovered within the sanctuary, but traces of occupation are rare and very fragmentary until the eighth century BC, when the cult of Apollo was established and the development of the sanctuary and the oracle began. The first stone temples of Apollo and Athena, who was also officially venerated under the name of “Pronaia” or “Pronoia” and had her own sanctuary, were built towards the end of the seventh century BC. According to literary and archaeological evidence other gods were associated with the sanctuary; these included Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Hermes, Zeus Polieus, Hygeia and Eileithyia.

The sanctuary was the centre of the Amphictyonic League, an association of twelve tribes of Thessaly and the Sterea (south-central Greece), with religious and later political significance. The Amphictyonic League controlled the operation and finances of the sanctuary, as it designated its priests and other officials chosen from among the inhabitants of Delphi. In the sixth century BC, under the League's protection and administration, the sanctuary was made autonomous (First Sacred War), it increased its territory and political and religious influence throughout Greece, and reorganised the Pythian Games, the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics, which were held every four years.

Arachova

The Arachova is a mountain village located at the foot of Mount Parnassus in altitude of ongs to the prefecture of Viotia and is about away 160 km from Athens. Beautiful stone houses and narrow streets around water sources is the first images visitors see. Arachova, despite the high level of tourism development has retained its traditional character, while offering the amenities and activities, which the visitors are seeking.

If you visit Arachova during Easter you will be given the opportunity to experience e «Panigyraki», a three-day, double celebration for polioucho city of St. George and the Battle of Arachova (November 1826). The village of Arachova combines grandeur with wild scenery, breathtaking views, healthy climate, peculiar architectural homes, nightlife and winter sports. It is a winter destination that offers visitors adventure, variety, and yet calm and relaxation for those who wish!

Edessa

A magical nature, full of water and green. O valley full of fruit and verdant mountains. Just above, on your left, the white giant, the Kaimaktsalan and on the right the wonderful Pike. The prefecture of Pella is a mountainous terrain with 140,000 residents whose main occupation is mainly agriculture and livestock. Tourism is relatively recent (1995) by creating the Kaimaktsalan Ski Center. The four known parts of the county is Edessa, the Baths of Pozar, ski resort Kaimaktsalan and Old St. Athanasius.

 

 

Meteora

These immense, solid rocks, split by earthquakes, weathered by water and wind over millions of years, are nature’s authentic masterpiece. Emerging about 25 million years ago as the elevated seabed material that was the outcome of strong tectonic movements, the Meteora rocks became a shelter of humankind. The first hermits arrived in this area to seek spiritual isolation and inhabited the caves of the rocks, with the sole aid of ropes and ladders. Common existential needs and strong religious faith compelled them to live united in the first monastic communities, their common drive of faith guiding them towards the unrepeated construction of monasteries of highest architectural and artistic value.

The 24 monasteries emerged on the countless summits of the rocks from the 14th until the 16th century, 6 of them remaining to be explored and admired by all. These monasteries became the centers of the Orthodox creed in the Byzantine era, having produced some of the best pieces of religious art and craft and still possessing a collection of precious manuscripts, which today are on display in their museums. The Meteora monasteries have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and the Meteora-Antichassia region has been officially declared a Natura 2000 Ecological Zone by the Greek Ministry of Environment, for the protection of rare species of birds and flowers.