Argolis

The birthplace of legends, heroes and fighters, led by the demi-god Heracles, who performed one of his 12 labours in the waters of the Lerna, destroying the Lerniean Hydra.

Access to the whole of the Regional Unit of Argolis is fast and easy, both from Athens, as well as other urban centres in the Peloponnese. The Regional Unit has basically two urban centres, Nafplion and Argos.

Nafplion is on the innermost part of the Argolic Gulf. At a distance of about 145 kilometres from Athens, it is the capital of the Regional Unit of Argolis and is the gateway to the eastern Peloponnese. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in the country, and was the first capital of the free Greek State. According to mythology, the city was founded by Nauplius, who fortified it with cyclopean walls. The harbour of Nafplion is marked by the lighthouse and Bourtzi Castle, built on the small islet of Aghioi Theodoroi, on which there is also a Byzantine church of the same name.

In the eastern side of the city and above its centre, on the 216-metre-high hill of the same name, rises the castle of the Palamidi. The fortress of Acronafplia, with its three different castles, is the most ancient in the city.

From Nafplion, the passage into various periods of history is fascinating, as you visit the Archaeological Museum, the Peloponnesian Folk Institute, the church of Aghios Spyridon, where the first governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was murdered, and the Lion of Bavaria, carved into the rock.

Starting from Nafplion, one can visit the nearby islands of the Saronic Gulf, while close to the city, one encounters Neo Kio, founded on the Erasinos River by refugees from Marmara in 1922. The transition to cosmopolitan Tolo is accompanied by the natural beauty of the area and the enjoyment of seafood, for example, at the Trawl Festival, every September. Along the road that leads from Nafplion to Argos, standing on a rocky hill, is the impressive walled (according to Homer) citadel of Tiryns, the most ancient of the Mycenaean citadels.

Crossing the orange-tree-covered Argolic plain, with its unique fragrances, one comes to Argos. The oldest continuously occupied city in Europe, and the largest city in the Regional Unit of Argolis, as the seat of the Municipality of Argos-Mycenae, today, it is the centre of all the trade and industrial activity in the Unit. Its history is recorded in the many remarkable archaeological monuments that make it an open-air museum. The Kapodistrias Barracks, the ancient Agora, the ancient theatre carved into the rock in the centre of the city, the Nymphaeum, the Roman Odeon with its palaistra and the Bouleuterion, are just some of these. The remains of the chamber tombs in the Deirada necropolis, the archaeological site at Lerna to the south of Argos, next to Lake Lerna, where, according to myth, Heracles killed the Lernean Hydra, complete the tour of this historic city. A short distance outside Argos, on the way to Corinth by the old national road, a rocky rise between two high conical hills is dominated by the ‘spacious, golden’ citadel of Mycenae, with its Lions Gate, cyclopean walls, the Palace of the Atreides and the famous Treasury of Atreus.

The land of Argos and the roads of Danaos call upon the visitor to enter a unique natural environment, as it is presented in the Kotsiomitis Museum of Natural History, in the Municipality of Epidaurus. Between the hills of Titthio and Kynortio, which took their names from the nanny goat and guard dog which saved the young Asclepius from dying of hunger and wild animals, lies the impressive retreat, the ancient Asclepieion, with its thermal waters and invigorating countryside.  As you wander around this sacred place, you will see the baths, the gymnasium, the dome, the Abaton, the Temple of Asclepius, the stadium and other monuments. Here, the ancient spirit is reborn every June, during the Asclepieia.

In Argolis, the road leads to the famous theatre at Epidaurus, which has been a site of culture for centuries. There have been thousands of visitors, thousands of spectators that have enjoyed the experience of a lifetime watching a performance here. Recently, the small theatre at Epidaurus has also been put to use, mostly for highly atmospheric musical performances.

Lygourio is a typical village in the Municipality of Epidaurus, with wonderful natural beauty and colours. Palia Epidaurus, built amphitheatrically between two peninsulas with a view towards the sea, along with Nea Epidaurus, with its rocky slopes and lush green landscape wrapped in the breeze coming in off the deep blue sea, offer the opportunity for unique relaxation. As you leave the area of Epidaurus behind, the transition to one of its oldest settlements, Tracheia, is accompanied by the scent of steaming hot fresh bread and an internationally famous cheese, which has a protected designation of origin.

As you cross the Ermioni Plain, the visitor’s eye spots the pomegranate trees which abound in the area. Every autumn, the area is painted in the red of its fruit, which has been renowned and well-known for its beneficial properties since ancient times. Built amphitheatrically on Prono Hill, in a beautiful corner of the Saronic Gulf, Ermioni is one of the most beautiful and seductive areas in the Peloponnese, as it is washed by the sea on both sides. In Thermisia, east of Ermioni, lies the famous lagoon of the same name, one of the most important natural habitats in the area, which has been included in both national and international protection networks. An idyllic natural fortress, with a panoramic view of the Ermioni peninsula, Kranidi takes the prize for its beauty, with the particular architecture of its traditional buildings, windmills and oil presses. Neighbouring settlements of special interest are Fournoi, Koilada and Didyma. In the beautiful village of Didyma, with its endless meadows of wild tulips, every April, the Tulip Festival is held to celebrate this plant, which is unusual in Greece. A rare geological phenomenon, the Didyma sinkholes, await adventurers to come and discover their secrets. Thrust deep into the inhospitable rock of Pelei in the Didyma mountain range, and after climbing a rugged path, you will find the Byzantine monastery of Avgo, inextricably linked to the natural landscape. Another incredible monument with an international reputation is Franchthi Cave, in the rocky wild mountain opposite the village of Koilada.

The passage to Portoheli, with its long history, blends harmoniously with the provisions that one can enjoy in an unbeatably beautiful natural landscape. Wrapped in densely vegetation and blue seas, with luxurious hotel complexes and entertainment areas, it is one of the most famous and cosmopolitan tourist resorts in the Peloponnese.  Its equally cosmopolitan harbour, which has excellent facilities and a substantial capacity, plays host every summer to hundreds of craft, which lie right next to luxury restaurants, taverns, cafeterias and bars. At the same time, sea transport connects the harbour at Portoheli with the islands of the Saronic Gulf and Piraeus, and there are cruises every day to the other seaside areas.