UP TO 12 GUESTS
Corinth & Swimming with Helen of Troy Private Tour
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Corinth & swimming private tour
- Corinth Canal
- Ancient Corinth – Temple of Apollo
- Archaeological Site of Isthmia
- Loutra Oreas Elenis (Helen’s of Troy Baths)
The tour begins with a drive along a coastal road. During the ride, you will see some Greek seaside villages and the island of Salamis (where the historical naval battle took place between the Athenians and the Persians). Our first stop the incredible Corinth Canal. Opened in 1892 separating the Peloponnese peninsula from the rest of Greece and fusing the Saronic Gulf with the Corinthian Sea. You will have the pleasure of walking across on a pedestrian bridge to admire the canal closer, for the adventurous on some days bungee jumping, is an option.
Continuing we will drive you to Ancient Corinth. Historically the city was dominated by the hill of Acrocorinth, and the old Castle, the oldest and largest castle in southern Greece. The site located at the base of the hill includes the Roman Agora of Corinth, the Temple of God Apollo and a small museum. In addition to its archaeological and historical interest, Ancient Corinth is also one of the most popular religious destinations in Greece. It was here that the Apostle Paul preached Christianity, was judged by the tribunal in the Agora and established the best organized Christian church of the time.
Then, we will drive up to the imposing castle of Acrocorinth to take some great photos of the Corinthian Gulf and feel amazed by this incredible castle while thinking how many chapters of history have been written at these walls…
Our next stop will be Isthmia Archaeological Site and its museum. In Isthmia lied one of the most famous sanctuaries of Poseidon, the God of the sea and there were held one of the four Pan-Hellenic Games, the Isthmian. Wander around the temple, the stadiums, the theatre. Worth visiting is its museum, exhibits athletic equipment, weapons and great panels of glass mosaic found in Kechries port.
Next stop is the Ancient Port of Kechries. A natural bay, it was once the Saronic Gulf port of Korinthia. There are still two ruined piers, one opposite the other, and between them, ornate buildings submerged in the sea after a devastating earthquake. At the bottom were also found uniquely beautiful paintings and glass/ivory opera sectile, dating from the 4th century AD, which can now be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Isthmia.
Next, we will visit the settlement of Loutra Oraias Elenis,or else Baths of Helen of Troy. Myth has it that the secret of her beauty was that she used to bath at the springs of this area. A long pebble beach which is organized and equipped with taverns and cafe bars that attract a great amount of visitors. There, we will swim and have traditional Greek lunch with a relaxing sea view. After a satisfying meal, we will make our way back to Athens.
If weather doesn’t allow swimming we have the alternative option of visiting an oil mill at a nearby village. You will have the opportunity to walk in an old olive grove, see the olive press, watch a video about olives and taste olives and olive oil.
Inclusions - Exclusions
Private Tours are personal and flexible just for you and your party.
Professional Drivers with Deep knowledge of history. [Not licensed to accompany you in any site.]
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Transport by private vehicle
- Bottled water
- Entrance Fees [10€ for over 6 yo for Non-EU & 24 yo for EU Citizens]
- Licensed Tour guide upon request depending on availability [Additional cost – 300 €]
- Airport Pick Up and drop-off (Additional cost)
- Food & Drinks
ADMISSION FEES FOR SITES:
(1 April – 31 October): 10€ per person
Ancient Corinth: 8€ (08:00am- 20:00pm)
Acrocorinth: free (08:30am -15:30pm)
Isthmia: 2€ (08:00am- 15:30pm, Tuesdays closed)
(1 November – 31 March): 5€ per person
Ancient Corinth: 4€ (08:00am- 15:30pm)
Acrocorinth: free (08:30am -15:30pm)
Isthmia: 1€ (08:00am- 15:30pm, Tuesdays closed)
Free admission days:
- 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
- 18 April (International Monuments Day)
- 18 May (International Museums Day)
- The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
- Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 3rd
- 28 October
- 1 January: closed
- 25 March: closed
- 1 May: closed
- Easter Sunday: closed
- 25 December: closed
- 26 December: closed
Free admission for:
- Escorting teachers during the visits of schools and institutions of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education and of military schools.
- Members of Societies and Associations of Friends of Museums and Archaeological Sites throughout Greece with the demonstration of certified membership card
- Members of the ICOM-ICOMOS
- Persons possessing a free admission card
- The employees of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Archaeological Receipts Fund, upon presentation of their service ID card.
- The official guests of the Greek government, with the approval of the General Director of Antiquities.
- Young people, under the age of 18, after demonstrating the Identity Card or passport to confirm the age.
Reduced admission for:
- Greek citizens and citizens of other Member – States of the European Union who are over 65 years old, upon presentation of their ID card or passport for verification of their age and country of origin.
- Holders of a solidarity card
- Holders of a valid unemployment card.
- Large families’ parents of children up to 23 yrs old, or up to 25 yrs old (on military service/studying), or child with disabilities regardless the age, having a certified pass of large families, certification from the Large Family Association or a family status certificate issued by the Municipality
- Persons with disabilities (67 % or over) and one escort, upon presentation of the certification of disability issued by the Ministry of Health or a medical certification from a public hospital, where the disability and the percentage of disability are clearly stated.
- Single-parent families with minors, upon presentation of a family status certificate issued by the Municipality. In the case of divorced parents, only the parent holding custody of the children
- The police officers of the Department of Antiquity Smuggling of the Directorate of Security
- Tourist guides upon presentation of their professional ID card.
- University students and students at Technological Educational Institutes or equivalent schools from countries outside the EU by showing their student ID.
The famous Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island. The canal is 6.4 kilometers in length and only 21.3 meters wide at its base. Earth cliffs flanking either side of the canal reach a maximum height of 63 meters. Aside from a few modest-sized cruise ships, the Corinth Canal is unserviceable to most modern ships. The Corinth Canal, though only completed in the late 19th century, was an idea and dream that dates back over 2000 thousand years.
Before it was built, ships sailing between the Aegean and Adriatic had to circumnavigate the Peloponnese adding about 185 nautical miles to their journey. The first to decide to dig the Corinth Canal was Periander, the tyrant of Corinth (602 BCE). Such a giant project was above the technical capabilities of ancient times so Periander carried out another great project, the diolkós, a stone road, on which the ships were transferred on wheeled platforms from one sea to the other. Dimitrios Poliorkitis, king of Macedon (c. 300 BCE), was the second who tried, but his engineers insisted that if the seas where connected, the more northerly Adriatic, mistakenly thought to be higher, would flood the more southern Aegean. At the time, it was also thought that Poseidon, god of the sea, opposed joining the Aegean and the Adriatic. The same fear also stopped Julius Caesar and Emperors Hadrian and Caligula. The most serious try was that of Emperor Nero (67 CE). He had 6,000 slaves for the job. He started the work himself, digging with a golden hoe, while music was played. However, he was killed before the work could be completed.
In the modern era, the first who thought seriously to carry out the project was Kapodistrias (c. 1830), first governor of Greece after the liberation from the Ottoman Turks. But the budget, estimated at 40 million French francs, was too much for the Greek state. Finally, in 1869, the Parliament authorized the Government to grant a private company (Austrian General Etienne Tyrr) the privilege to construct the Canal of Corinth. Work began on Mar 29, 1882, but Tyrr’s capital of 30 million francs proved to be insufficient. The work was restarted in 1890, by a new Greek company (Andreas Syggros), with a capital of 5 million francs. The job was finally completed and regular use of the Canal started on Oct 28, 1893. Due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslips from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic anticipated by its operators. It is now used mainly for tourist traffic. The bridge above is perfect for bungee jumping.
Located on the isthmus which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese, surrounded by fertile plains and blessed with natural springs, Corinth was an important city in Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman times. Its geographical location, helped it play a role as a center of, trade, naval fleet, participation in various Greek wars, and status as a major Roman colony meant the city was, for over a millennium, rarely out of the limelight in the ancient world.
CORINTH IN MYTHOLOGY
Not being a major Mycenaean center, Corinth lacks the mythological heritage of other Greek city-states. Nevertheless, the mythical founder of the city was believed to have been King Sisyphus, famed for his punishment in Hades where he was made to forever roll a large boulder up a hill. Sisyphus was succeeded by his son Glaucus and his grandson Bellerophon, whose winged-horse Pegasus became a symbol of the city and a feature of Corinthian coins. Corinth is also the setting for several other episodes from Greek mythology such as Theseus’ hunt for the wild boar, Jason settled there with Medea after his adventures looking for the Golden Fleece, and there is the myth of Arion – the real-life and gifted kithara player and resident of Corinth – who was rescued by dolphins after being abducted by pirates.
The city was first inhabited in the Neolithic period (c. 5000 BCE) but became more densely populated from the 10th century BCE. The historical founders were the aristocratic descendants of King Bacchis, the Bacchiadae (c. 750 BCE). The Bacchiadae ruled as a body of 200 until in 657 BCE when the popular tyrant Cypselus took control of the city, to be succeeded by his son Periander (627-587 BCE). Cypselus funded the building of a treasury at Delphi and set up new colonies.
From the 8th century BCE, Corinthian pottery was exported across Greece. With its innovative figure decoration, it dominated the Greek pottery market until the 6th century BCE when Attic black-figure pottery took over as the dominant style. Other significant exports were Corinthian stone and bronze wares. Corinth also became the hub of trade through the diolkos. This was a stone track with carved grooves for wheeled wagons which offered a land short-cut between the two seas and probably dates to the reign of Periander. In the Peloponnesian War, the diolkos was even used to transport triremes. Although the idea for a canal across the isthmus was first considered in the 7th century BCE and various Roman Emperors from Julius Caesar to Hadrian began surveys, it was Nero who actually began the project (67 CE). However, on the emperor’s death, the project was abandoned, not to be resumed until 1881.
From the early 6th century BCE, Corinth administered the PanHellenic games at nearby Isthmia, held every two years in the spring. These games were established in honor of Poseidon and were particularly famous for their horse and chariot races.
An oligarchy, consisting of a council of 80, gained power in Corinth (585 BCE). Concerned with the local rival, Argos, from 550 BCE Corinth became an ally of Sparta. During Cleomenes’ reign though, the city became wary of the growing power of Sparta and opposed Spartan intervention in Athens. Corinth also fought in the Persian Wars against the invading forces of Xerxes which threatened the autonomy of all of Greece.
Corinth suffered badly in the First Peloponnesian War, which it was responsible for after attacking Megara. Later it was also guilty of causing the Second Peloponnesian War, in 433 BCE. Once again though, the Corinthians, mainly as Sparta’s naval ally, had a disastrous war. Disillusioned with Sparta and concerned over Spartan expansion in Greece and Asia Minor, Corinth formed an alliance with Argos, Boeotia, Thebes, and Athens to fight Sparta in the Corinthian Wars (395-386 BCE). The conflict was fought at sea and on Corinthian territory and was yet another costly endeavor for the citizens of Corinth.
Corinth became the seat of the Corinthian League, but losing a war against Philip II of Macedon (338 BCE) this ‘honor’ was a Macedonian garrison being stationed on the Acrocorinth acropolis overlooking the city.
A succession of Hellenistic kings took control of the city – starting with Ptolemy I and ending with Aratus in 243 BCE when Corinth joined the Achaean League. However, the worst was yet to come, when the Roman commander Lucius Mummius sacked the city (146 BCE).
A brighter period was when Julius Caesar took charge (in 44 BCE) and organized the agricultural land into organized plots (centuriation) for distribution to Roman settlers. The city once more flourished, by the 1st century CE it became an important administrative and trade center again. In addition, following St. Paul’s visit between 51 and 52 CE, Corinth became the center of early Christianity in Greece. In a public hearing, the saint had to defend himself against accusations from the city’s Hebrews that his preaching undermined the Mosiac Law. The pro-consul Lucius Julius Gallio judged that Paul had not broken any Roman law and so was permitted to continue his teachings. From the 3rd century, CE Corinth began to decline and the Germanic tribes attacked the city.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
In Greek Corinth, there were cults to Aphrodite (protector of the city), Apollo, Demeter Thesmophoros, Hera, Poseidon, and Helios and various buildings to cult heroes, the founders of the city. In addition, there were several sacred springs, the most famous being Peirene. Unfortunately, the destruction in 146 BCE erased much of this religious past. In Roman Corinth, Aphrodite, Poseidon, and Demeter did continue to be worshipped along with the Roman gods.
The site today, first excavated in 1892 CE by the Greek Archaeological Service, is dominated by the Doric peripteral Temple of Apollo (550-530 BCE), originally with 6 columns on the façades and fifteen on the long sides. A particular feature of the temple is the use of monolithic columns rather than the more commonly used column drums. Seven columns remain standing today.
The majority of the other surviving buildings date from the 1st century CE in the Roman era and include a large forum, a temple to Octavia, baths, the Bema where St. Paul addressed the Corinthians, the Asklepeion temple to Asclepius, and a centre of healing, fountains – including the monumental Peirine fountain complex (2nd century CE) – a propylaea, theatre, odeion, gymnasium, and stoas. There are also the remains of three basilicas.
Archaeological finds at the site include many fine mosaics – notably the Dionysos mosaic – Greek and Roman sculpture – including an impressive number of busts of Roman rulers.
The steep rock of the Acrocorinth rises to the south-west of ancient Corinth, surmounted by the fortress, also called the Acrocorinth, which was the fortified citadel of ancient and medieval Corinth and the most important fortification work in the area from antiquity until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. It is 575 m. high and its walls are a total of almost 2.000 m. in length.
The ascent to Acrocorinth – Acrocorinthos, is facilitated by a road which climbs to a point near the lowest gate on the W side. This commanding site was fortified in ancient times and its defenses were maintained and developed during the Byzantine, Frankish, Turkish and Venetian periods. After a moat (alt. 380 m -1247 feet) constructed by the Venetians follow the first gate, built in the Frankish period (14th,c.) and the first wall 15th c. then come the second and third walls (Byzantine: on the right, in front of the third gate, a Hellenistic tower). Within the fortress we follow a path running NE to the remains of a mosque (16th c.) and then turn S until we join a path leading up to the eastern summit, on which there once stood the famous Temple of Aphrodite, worshipped here after the Eastern fashion (views of the hills of the Peloponnese and of Isthmus).
Courses of roughly dressed polygonal masonry allow us to suppose that the Acrocorinth was fortified as early as the time of the Kypselid tyranny (late 7th c. early 6th c. BCE). The surviving parts of the ancient fortifications, however, which are at many points beneath the medieval enceinte, belong mainly to the 4th c. BCE. In 146 BCE, Mummius destroyed the fortifications of the lower city and the Acropolis. The destroyed sections were subsequently reconstructed from the s During the Middle Ages, the Acrocorinth was of prime importance for the defense of the entire Peloponnese, and held out against the attacks of the barbarians. The Byzantines sporadically repaired the walls, especially after hostile raids (by the Slavs, Normans, and others), and added new fortifications on the west side of the fortress. In 1210, after a five-year siege, the Acrocorinth was captured by Otto de la Roche and Geoffroy I Villehardouin and was incorporated in the Frankish principate of Achaea. In the middle of this century, William Villehardouin extended the fortifications of the fortress, to be followed in this by the Angevin Prince John Gravina at the beginning of the 14th c.
In 1358 the Acrocorinth passed to the Florentine banker Niccolo Acciajuoli, and in 1394 to Theodoros, I Palaiologos despot of Mystras. Apart from a brief occupation by the Knights of Rhodes from 1400-1404, the fortress remained in Byzantine hands until 1458, when it was captured by the Ottoman Turks. The Venetians made themselves masters of the Acrocorinth from 1687 to 1715, after which it reverted once more to the Turks until the Greek Uprising of 1821. The approach to the fortress is from the west side. The walls have an irregular shape, which was dictated by the form of the terrain and remained the same in general terms from the Classical period to modern times. Three successive zones of fortifications, with three imposing gateways, lead to the interior of the fortress. The fact that the same material was used for extensions or repairs to the walls frequently makes it difficult to distinguish the building phases or assign a date to them.
Isthmia is an ancient city located on the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece. It is well known for being home to the Isthmian Games and is also the site of major Greek monuments, such as the Temple of Isthmia that honors the Greek God, Poseidon.
It is located on the main road that connected Athens and Corinth in the ancient world. This made it an easy stop for many travelers and therefore a logical geographic choice for the Panhellenic Games and monumental religious sanctuaries. Its location on the Isthmus and major ports created huge traffic through the city and established Isthmia as the hub for athletic and religious festivals; second in significance only to those at Olympia.
Stone artifacts show that humans have inhabited the area since the Neolithic Era. In the Archaic period, the locals began constructing large stone monuments and religious sanctuaries. In the year 481 BC, the Persian Empire attempted to invade Greece. Isthmia was not a major battlefield, but its central location made it a preferred site for Greek conferences and pre–battle meetings.
In the years 431–404 BC, Isthmia was in the middle of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. A second war between the two city-states in the years 395–387 BC and burned down the archaic temple for Poseidon. Isthmia entered a period of decreased prosperity at this time.
In the Classical period Philip II of Macedon united the Greek city–states, including Isthmia, in the 4th century BC. His successor, Alexander the Great, became one of Isthmia’s most famous guests by calling a meeting in the city between the Greek city–states to discuss war with Persia.
In 146 BC, The Achaean War ended in a quick Roman victory, and consul Lucius Mummius Achaicus ordered the complete destruction of Corinth as an example to all Greeks. The Altar of Poseidon was destroyed and control of the Isthmian Games was taken away from the city. It is not until 44 BC that Julius Caesar restored the stadium and temple to their original state.
In the 4th century AD, Emperor Constantine the Great banned all pagan religions and artifacts. The Temple of Poseidon fell into disuse and its material was re-used for the building of the Hexamilion wall which was used as protection against invading barbarians in the 5th century.
The Ottoman Empire captured Isthmia in 1423. It was fought over by the Turks, Venetians, and local potentates for over three centuries. In 1715 the Ottoman Empire controlled Greece until the Greek War of Independence.
Kechries Ancient Port:
In ancient times, Kenchreai was one of the two ports of the inland city-state of Corinth. While Kenchreai served the eastern trade routes via the Saronic Gulf, Lechaion on the Corinthian Gulf served the trade routes leading west to Italy. Situated on the eastern side of the Isthmus of Corinth, Kenchreai sat at a natural crossroads for ships arriving from the east and overland traffic heading north and south between central Greece and the Peloponnese.
It has been inhabited from early times, probably in prehistory, on account of the deep natural harbor that was favorable for landing ships. The area is endowed with abundant water sources, massive bedrock of oolitic limestone that is excellent building stone, and several defensible positions with good viewpoints. The name of the site seems to derive from the ancient Greek word for millet.
The earliest sources reveal that there was a permanent settlement and a fortified naval station but few archaeological remains survive from this early settlement.
Kenchreai flourished during the Roman Empire, when the settlement was focused around the crescent-shaped harbour enclosed by massive concrete breakwaters and protected by sea-walls. The local community was small but prosperous, and it was distinguished by its social, cultural, and religious diversity. Ancient inscriptions attest to the presence of cults of Aphrodite, Isis, Asklepios, Poseidon, Dionysos and Pan.
Christianity also arrived early in the religion’s history. According to Acts 18:18, Apostle Paul stopped at Kenchreai during his 2nd missionary journey after leaving Corinth in 52-3 AD heading to Ephesus.
Archaeological evidence indicates that trade with other Mediterranean regions continued into the 7th c.
Historical and geographical texts of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras indicate that Kenchreai was still used by travellers and Imperial expeditions. While the ancient harbour could still receive ship traffic after antiquity, the archaeological evidence for medieval occupation is thin, and any permanent settlement must have been smaller than in ancient times.
Helen of Troy:
In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy is known as the woman whose beauty sparked the Trojan War. But Helen’s character is more complex than it seems. When considering the many Greek and Roman myths that surround Helen, from her childhood to her life after the Trojan War, a layered and fascinating woman emerges. Helen is among the mythical characters fathered by Zeus. In the form of a swan, Zeus either seduced or assaulted Helen’s mother Leda. On the same night, Leda slept with her husband Tyndareus and as a result gave birth to four children, who hatched from two eggs.
From one egg came the semi-divine children, Helen and Polydeuces (who is called Pollux in Latin), and from the other egg came the mortals Clytemnestra and Castor. The boys, collectively called the Dioscuri, became the divine protectors of sailors at sea, while Helen and Clytemnestra would go on to play important roles in the saga of the Trojan War.
In another myth, Helen’s parents were Zeus and Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance. In this version, too, Helen hatched from an egg.
Helen was destined to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her reputation was so great that even as a young child, the hero Theseus desired her for his bride. He kidnapped and hid her in his city of Athens, but when he was away, Helen’s brothers, the Dioscuri, rescued her and brought her home.
As an adult, Helen was courted by many suitors, out of whom she chose Menelaus, the king of Sparta. But though Menelaus was valiant and wealthy, Helen’s love for him would prove tenuous.
Around this time there was a great event among the Olympians: the marriage of the goddess Thetis to the mortal Peleus. All the gods were invited to attend except for Eris, whose name means “discord.” Furious at her exclusion, Eris comes to the party anyway and tosses an apple to the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite on which is written “for the most beautiful.” Each goddess claims the apple is meant for her and the ensuing dispute threatens the peace of Olympus.
Zeus appoints the Trojan prince Paris to judge who is most beautiful of the three. To sway his vote, each goddess offers Paris a bribe. From Hera, Paris would have royal power, while Athena offers victory in battle. Aphrodite promises him Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife, and Paris names her winner of the competition.
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