Art & Culture
There are few places in the world with so rich and diverse an artistic and cultural history as Greece. In terms of archeology there are artifacts that are 200,000 years old, while architecturally Greece boasts Minoan and Dorian ruins dating back almost four millennia. Greece is also where drama originated, so there are plenty of ancient theatres to pick your way through
Greece is bursting at the seams with museums. Almost every single city, town, village, historical site, settlement and hole in the hedge has an archeological museum which details the archeological and historical significance of its surroundings
There is certainly no shortage of these in Greece. Every city has their own specialties, like the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora in Athens, the Oracle at Delphi, the Palace of the Grand Masters in Rhodes Town, and so on. There are far too many to list here. It is suggested you get hold of a tourist map from the Greek Tourist Organization (EOT) which sets out all the ancient, Byzantine and medieval sites throughout the country. But some of the major historical sites you should make a special effort to see are listed below:
The Acropolis, Athens
The Ancient Agora, Athens
The Byzantine monument of Nea Msni on Chios
The Polycrates Wall and Eupalinos Tunnel at Pithagorio, Samos
The Oracle at Delphi
The Minoan palace city of Knossos, Crete
The ruins of Gsrtyn, Crete
Minoan ruined city at Phestss, Crete
Arch of Galerius, Thessalon?ki
The White Tower, Thessalon?ki
The Sanctuary of Isis, at D?on.
Dafn? Monastery, Greeces largest Byzantine monastery
Met?ora Monasteries, perched on mountain outcrops, in Kalabaka
Greece is perfect for those who enjoy the sun, as for over two thirds of the year the country basks under clear, sunny skies. Temperatures do vary, however. Winters are mild and rainy, with temperatures sometimes dropping to freezing point, especially in the north. Summers are long and dry, with extremes of 37C (99F), making the yearly mean temperature about 17C (63F). For those not overly fond of the heat, the mountainous areas offer some respite as they receive more rain in summer, and even snow in winter.
Rainfall figures vary, depending on the region. Thessaly is very dry, receiving around 38mm (1.5in). Portions of the western coast paint a different picture, however, receiving about 1,270mm (50in) of rain.
Greece can be divided into the northern and southern climatic regions:
Northern Macedonia and the northern part of Epiros have a climate similar to the Balkans, with freezing winters and very hot, humid summers. Atticas peninsula, the Southern Aegean Islands and the central and eastern Peloponnese have a typically Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and milder winters.
Snow covers the highest mountains during the winter, while the temperatures soar to 40C (104F) during July and August. During these months the meltemi, a strong northerly wind, sweeps the eastern coast of mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. The areas more to the south and to the west do not experience the meltemi.
Crete stays warm the longest – you can swim off its southern coast from mid-April to November. Mid-October is when the rainy seasons starts in most areas, and the weather stays cold and wet until February, although there are also occasional winter days with clear blue skies and sunshine.
The unit of currency is the drachma (GrD).You will have to deal with coins of 5, 10 (silver), 20, 50 & 100 GrD (bronze), and notes of 500 (green), 1.000 (brown), 5.000 (blue) and 10.000 GrD (purple).
The predominant language in Greece is Modern Greek (Demotike), with its origins dating back 3,500 years. English and French are also used as well as, to a lesser degree, German. Tourism is one of the largest trades in Greece, so visitors should get by with a basic understanding of any of these languages.
The main problem with a holiday in Greece is that you can feel totally illiterate. The Greek alphabet differs from the Roman one used in most Western countries, and not all street signs are written in both. But here are some useful phrases for you with the phonetic spelling.
Art & Culture