Day 9: Corinth Canal, Mycenae, Nafplion

Plan for the day
We had planned to visit four places, they were ;
  • Corinth Canal 
  • Ancient city of Corinth
  • Mycenae
  • Nafplion Port
The total distance we would drive today was about 151km.

We were able to achieved all our target destinations for the day.

Route for the day

Route for the day

Breakfast at Hotel Giorgios

Our double room came with free breakfast. The breakfast was simple but sufficient. It consisted of bread, butter, cheese, ham etc. Coffee, tea and milk were also available.

At breakfast we saw a Nespresso milk frothing tumbler on the coffee table so we requested for frothed milk for our coffee, the receptionist who was also in-charge of breakfast was very wonderful and she quickly made us two cups of frothed milk.

Corinth Canal

Our first destination was the Corinth Canal. We drove on E94 for about 75km taking about 1 hour from Hotel Giorgios to reach the canal. Just before the canal we made an exit (Exit 9) so that we could detour to a carpark just before the Corinth Bridge that spanned the canal. Corinth Bridge was a dual carriageway with pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge.

Map to Corinth Bridge

Map to Corinth Bridge

I was quite surprise to see many cars and tourists at the carpark as I did not think that the canal was a huge tourist attraction.Just before the bridge there was a park with huge granite blocks inscribed with information regarding the construction of the canal.

This canal cut through the narrow isthmus that connected the Greek mainland with Peloponnese. The canal provided a shortcut that joined the Gulf of Corinth to the Gulf of Saronic in the Aegeans Sea. This man-made canal took eleven years and huge financial resource to complete. The canal is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.4 metres wide at its base. Although the canal saved a 700km journey around the Peloponnese, it was too narrow for modern ocean freighters so the canal was mostly used by tourist ships.

We walked onto the bridge to look down the canal. Wow, the canal was deep and its sides dropped vertically down to the water.

Corinth Bridge (Co-ordinates:37.928187, 22.996379)

Corinth Bridge (Co-ordinates:37.928187, 22.996379)

End to end the canal was so straight that by standing on the bridge I could see both ends of the canal. There were at least four crossings throughout the entire 6.4 km and I could see that the canal was at its highest ground at Corinth Bridge. The land sloped downward at both ends of the canal as it met the Aegean sea at one end and Corinth Gulf at the other.

While standing on the bridge we heard some excitements. There was a bungee jumper getting ready to jump. Underneath the bridge there was a setup for bungee jumping. It was a platform attached to the underside of the bridge. We did not have to wait long before the jumper took off and all the spectators cheered and clapped. We stayed for about 30 minutes and then moved on to our next destination.

Bungee Jumper at Corinth Bridge

Bungee Jumper at Corinth Bridge

Ancient Corinth

 From the Corinth Canal we drove about 12 km to the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth. The archaeological site was huge but the remains of the ancient city was very little.

Ancient Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities of ancient Greece. It had a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. It was totally destroyed in 146 BC by the Romans when all the men were killed, women and children turned into slaves and the city torched to the ground. Corinth remained deserted until Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC.

Ancient Corinth

Ancient Corinth

Ancient Corinth had such an exciting history, in its heydays it must be a very grand city, unfortunately what we saw at its site was an ancient city at its most severe stage of ruination. Piles of rocks here and there and a few standing columns. We stood outside the fencing of the archaeological site not wanting to go in. Why bothered to buy entrance tickets to see the site when we could already see all that could be seen, which was nothing much, outside the fence.

Ancient Corinth (co-ordinates: 37.906028, 22.877981)

Ancient Corinth (co-ordinates: 37.906028, 22.877981)

Mycenae

 From ancient Corinth we drove about 38 km to the archaeological site of Mycenae. The fortified citadel was nested over the plain of Argolis near the seashore in the northeast of Peloponnese.

route to Mycenae

route to Mycenae

Mycenae was the largest and most important of center of the civilization of Mycenaean. It flourished in the late Bronze Age from the 15th to the 13th century BCE.

layout of the Mycenae Ruins

layout of the Mycenae Ruins

From the carpark we could already see the citadel up the high slope. I was not too sure what to expect I could only hope that it was better than a pile of rocks. We could see a string of people walking upslope, zig zag to the top where the ruin of the palace sat.

Mycenae Citadel

Mycenae Citadel

We walked along a path that sloped gently uphill toward the entrance of the citadel. The wall of the citadel was made up of huge stones stacked one on top of another. The wall led us to an entrance called the Lion Gate. The gate was pretty impressive, its sides and lintel were made up of three singular pieces of huge stones. Sitting on top of the lintel was a triangular piece of stone with craving that looked like two animals (Lions) standing on a platform holding a pillar in the center.

Lion Gate

Lion Gate

We spent about an hour exploring the ruin. We zig zag our way to the top of the hill passing the ruins of the grave, residence and palace. Near the top at the hill we came across an opening that had steps that went down deep into the ground. According to the write up, this place was called a cistern which was supposed to hold water.

This cistern was a triangular rock passage that led down a long long way. The further we go down the darker it became until it was pitch dark. We reached the end of the cistern which was just a dead ended chamber. The chamber was totally dried with no sign of water. 

In the ancient time, this chamber was fed with a continuous supply of water obtained through a system of pipes connected to the nearby Perseia Fountain. 

On the way up I tried to count the steps but lost count after 50 so my estimated was about 100 steps.

Cistern of Mycenae

Cistern of Mycenae

Tomb of Agememnon

 After the citadel we drove about 500 metres down the road to a tholos tomb, the Tomb of Agamemnon. There were nine of these tombs unearthed in the vicinity of ancient Mycenae and Tomb of Agamemnon was the best preserved among the nine.

From the outside of the tomb it looked just like a hill if one did not notice the passage way that led to the entrance of the tomb. The passage way was cut into the slope of the hill. Huge rocks were stacked to form the walls of the passage going right up to a tall entrance.

Tomb of Agamemnon, Treasury Atreus (co-ordinates: 37.726824, 22.754105)

Tomb of Agamemnon, Treasury Atreus (co-ordinates: 37.726824, 22.754105)

Inside the tomb was a huge circular chamber and the only light in the chamber was from the sunlight coming through the entrance. The wall of the circular chamber was made up of many rings of stones stacking up to the top. As the rings went higher up their circumferences reduced until the rocks formed a circular ceiling.

Interior of tholos tomb

Interior of tholos tomb

Standing inside the tomb made me appreciate the reason why tholos tomb was also called beehive tomb. The interior of the tomb looked like a beehive. The tomb was empty, there was no artifact. The wall was bare and there was no craving. The Tomb of Agamemnon was also called The Treasury of Atreus so whatever treasures this tomb had stored were long gone.

 

Lunch at Homer Restaurant

By the time we were done with Tomb of Agamemnon it was already near 2 pm and we were famished, unfortunately at Mycenae there was no restaurant. The nearest town was Mykines about 1.5 km away so off we go driving toward Mykines.

Homer Restaurant (co-ordinates: 37.718988, 22.749294)

Homer Restaurant (co-ordinates: 37.718988, 22.749294)

On the outskirt of Mykines, about 1 km from the tomb we spotted a couple of restaurants by the road side. So we drove into the carpark of one of the restaurants, Homer Restaurant.

Homer was a huge restaurant with a huge car park just in front. It was bright and airy and looked very welcoming. From the carpark we just had to walk up a few steps to the restaurant deck where many tables and chairs were placed.

Since it was already after the usual lunch hour there were no other customer but us. I requested the waitress to recommend a Greek local food and was recommended some sort of cheesy dish with spinach. Sadly it tasted rather plain so I would not be ordering that again.

Late lunch at a restaurant near Mycenae

Late lunch at a restaurant near Mycenae

Nafplion

Nafplion was only 24 km from Mycenae. It was a lovely town of Peloponnese with Medieval vibe and was considered the most beautiful and romantics cities in Greece. So when it came to picking a city to spend the night after visiting Mycenae, Nafplion was naturally the choice.

route from Mycenae to Nafplion

route from Mycenae to Nafplion

I had read on the internet that the town was very popular with tourists and locals over the weekend so I was all prepared for the crowd. It was about 3.30pm when we reached Nafplion but instead of checking in to our hotel we drove around to sightsee the three famous castles of Nafplion
1) Acronafplia,
2) Castle Bourtzi and

3) Pirgos Palamidi

Layout of attractions in Napfplion

Layout of attractions in Napfplion

Acronafplia

 Acronafplia was the oldest castle of Nafplion and rose above the old town of Nafplion. The castle sat on the rocky peninsula of Akronafplia and before the 15th century the whole city existed within the walls of the castle. Nafplion later expanded outside the rock closer to the sea.

We drove up to Acronafplia which ended in a roundabout that was also a helicopter landing pad near the end of the peninsula The view from Acronafplia was very beautiful, it provided a great view of the port, the Argolic Gulf and the city below.

Acronafplia Fortress (co-ordinates: 37.563224, 22.793044)

Acronafplia Fortress (co-ordinates: 37.563224, 22.793044)

Castle Bourtzi

We could see Castle Bourtzi clearly from Acronafplia fortress. The castle was built in 1471 by Venetians on a tiny islet in front of the port. The design of the castle was made to specifically fit the narrow shape of the island. From far the castle did not look like it was sitting on an island, it looked as though it was floating in the sea.

Castle Bourtzi

Castle Bourtzi

Pirgos Palamidi

We could also see Pirgos Palamidi from Acronafplia. Palamidi was a fortress to the east of Acronafplia and sat on the crest of a 216 metre high hill. It was also built by the Venetians.

Palamidi Fortress

Palamidi Fortress

There were two ways to go up to Palamidi Fortress, the first way was by walking 913 steps up a winding stair from the town. We chose the second way that was to drive up to Palamidi.

The road ended at a car park just outside Palamidi Fortress. We did not go into the castle as we were not interested to explore the interior of the castle. The view from the car park overlooking the town was worth the trip up.

View of Nafplion City from Palamidi Fortress Car park

View of Nafplion City from Palamidi Fortress Car park

Coastal Walk

We checked into Hotel Agamemnon around 5 pm, left our luggage in our rooms and were out of the hotel in 15 minutes. Our hotel was along a lovely waterfront promenade with many other hotels and cafes. The promenade faced the harbour and had a clear view of castle Bourtzi shimmering in the water in the gulf.

View of Nafplion City from Palamidi Fortress Car park

View of Nafplion City from Palamidi Fortress Car park

Stepping out of our hotel we turned left and walked along the paved walkway just beside the sea. We reached the jetty and continued to followed the path as it curved left. The path joined to a cobble walkway that ran beside the tall wall of Acronafplia fortress hugging the headland of the peninsula.

Our sunset walk around peninsula of Akronafplia

Our sunset walk around peninsula of Akronafplia

It was a very pleasant and scenic walk, the breeze was good and the sun was setting. The rays from the setting sun continuously changed the scene in front of us.

Sunset at Nafplion

Sunset at Nafplion

From the coast we could see Fortress Palamidi high up the hill. Earlier in the day we saw a the grey stone colored Palamidi Fortress sitting on a grey stone colored hill. The setting sun changed the color of the fortress and the hill into a beautiful orangy shade.

Palamidi Fortress

Palamidi Fortress

The coastal path was about 1.2 km and the cobble walk ended at a huge car park that was directly below the hill where Palamidi Castle sat. Looking up we could see the zig zag stair that connected the castle above to the old town below. We turned left again and walked toward the old town.

Church of Agio Giorgio

In the old town of Nafplion, we walked past the Church of Agio Giorgio and noticed that from the ground level looking up, the fortress Palamidi looked as if it was sitting directly on the roof of the church next to the bell tower.

Church Agio Giorgos

Church Agio Giorgos

Church Agio Giorgos was one of the most important and oldest churches in the city and many great events from Greek history took place at this church.

Old town of Nafplion

The alleys of the old town was very picturesque, I felt as though I had travelled back in time. Seeing the neoclassical building and Venetian balconies made me felt nostalgic, this town had been around for a long time. Though it was an old town, the building looked well maintained, there was no peeling paints or moldy walls. The street was clean and well lighted.

Old town of Nafplion

Old town of Nafplion

We walked to an alley that was full of restaurants. The street was lined with tables and chairs for outdoor dining. We stopped at a restaurant with a huge sign “Tabepna” for dinner.

When we asked for meal recommendation a lady at the next table suggested rabbit meat and said it tasted fantastic. “No!” We could not eat rabbits! Rabbits are pets! I ended up ordering Mousaka and salad for my hubby and I. My two friends ordered pork and salad.

Dinner was great, dining ambience was great, “Tabepna” restaurant was great. We enjoyed our dinner immensely.

Diners outside Tabepna Restaurant (co-ordinates: 37.565700, 22.796792)

Diners outside Tabepna Restaurant (co-ordinates: 37.565700, 22.796792)

After dinner we walked back to the beginning of the alley where it intersected the road Andrea Siggrou to view Palamidi Fortress again. We knew that the fortress was lighted up at night and wanted to see how the scene would be like. The lighted fortress was very beautiful at night, it looked as though it was hovering above the city protecting it even through the night.

Palamidi Fortress above the old town

Palamidi Fortress above the old town

Agamemnon Hotel

I had booked our rooms with Agamemnon Hotel in Nafplion for the reasons that it was along the waterfront promenade overlooking castle Bourtzi, it was in the old town and also because its room rates were very reasonable. The room rates was €55 for a twin room. The room came with ensuite bathroom and wifi. The reservation was done online.

When we drove to the hotel in the afternoon we found that all the nearby car parks were full. I kind of expected it as I had read that Nafplion was very crowded during weekend and even the locals from Athens like to come down to Nafplion to relax.

The receptionist drew me a map and told me to follow the road that would loop to the back and go uphill and along the road there would be a few car parks. We drove on and finally found an empty lot in the third carpark which had a roundabout.

When I booked my rooms, I purposely picked rooms with sea view, so I was surprised when the receptionist told us that our rooms were not directly facing the waterfront promenade. It turned out fine because though our rooms faced the side alley, there was no tall structures across the alley. From our balconies we could see the sea and Bourtzi castle without blockage.

side balcony of our room

side balcony of our room

The hotel was generally clean, its deco was dated and its furnishing old. But considering the location and the room rates, I would say that Agamemnon Hotel okay for its value.

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