The European winter: cold, rainy, and foggy.
During February, the most difficult month of this season, the Peloponnesus proved to be full of sunlight, wildflowers, budding almond trees, and surrounded by a sea of deep blue. It is the most inviting and charming time to visit the marvels that dot the Peloponnesus; in 2014, I brought my daughter Alexandra and my grandson Darius along with me.
Kalamata is the most important city in the southern Peloponnesus. This oceanfront community is simply charming, dotted with ancient aristocratic homes, shaded squares, bustling boutiques, and enticing restaurants.
Messini is an ancient Greek city. Until recently, it was infrequently visited despite being well known. After undergoing a meticulous restoration, the site now attracts many visitors. Alexandra poses beside a large stone column that was once part of the rampart.
Many years ago, these lands were heavily cutlivated. After a meticulous excavation, one of the most important Greek colonnades was discovered.
Wild flowers, such as these white roses which give off a wonderful perfume, grow right the midst of these venerable ruins.
At the end of an ancient stadium, now restored to its proper splendor, sits what I had believed to be a most charming little temple. It is in fact the tomb of a rich Roman family from the time of the Roman occupation of Greece.
Marina and our friend Christina sit atop the marble steps of an ancient stadium, talking away while contemplating the view.
This ancient site of Thouria was discovered only three years ago. They found a small temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of medicine, pictured here. These ruins may run beneath the entire hillside and could be one of the most important sites from Antiquity. Alexandra, wrapped in a turban to protect herself from the sun, examines an artifact with our friend Fivos.
Night has fallen upon the Gulf of Navarino where, in 1827, a great naval battle took place between the Ottoman Empire and the allied forces of France, England and Russia. The allied forces ultimately succeeded in destroying the Ottoman navy, and in doing so paved the way for Greek Independence. Now, serenty reigns in these lands where Alexandra watches Darius play.
Gytheio is a very old city full of ancient buildings that keep watch along the sea. She possesses a strong charm. The full moon falls on the small island in front of the city, home to an ancient Ottoman fort.
This ancient site of Mycenae is above all famous for its abominable habitants, the Atreid dynasty, who passed their time killing one another. Clytemnestra killed her husband Agamemnon with her lover Aegisthus. Electra drove her brother Orestes to kill their mother Clytemnestra as atonement, and so on and so forth. Yet few places are as charming as these ruins, despite their tragedy-charged atmosphere. The almond trees blooming in the midst of ancient rubble, surrounded by wild flowers of every color.
Between the blooming almond trees, the daffodils, and the tall grass we see the entrance of the Mycenaean tomb, one of the grandest ornaments of the area. When Schliemann, the most famous 19th century archeologist, discovered it, he was convinced it was the tomb of Agamemnon, the most celebrated king of Mycenae. He quickly telegraphed my grandfather, “To King George I of Greece, I have found the tomb of Agamemnon, King of Greece.”
Darius and I make our way towards the palace of the Atreids in Mycenae, the bloodsucking dynasty immortalized by the ancient Greek tragedians, where one has an incomparable view of the entire area.
Against the horizon rises the summits that comprise Mount Taygetus, the sacred mountain of the Spartans of Antiquity. Legend claims that the highest peak was shaped by the hand of man influenced by Egypt, in the form of a pyramid.
In the middle of the Gulf of Nafplio, the medieval fortress of Bourzi rises from the waters. My father Christopher, before World War II, sought to purchase this most romantic structure.
Around Nafplio and Mycenae stretches a vast plain of rich earth and opulent cultures. Acre after acre of orange, lemon, and mandarin trees weighed down with fruit. Here, Fivos and Darius buy some fruit to refresh themselves. The prices are without competition: five euros for 3 kilos of oranges.