When hearing the word Greece, people picture a place which is dominated by sun, surrounded by sea, full of mountains, beautiful lakes and rivers. All these elements of nature were worshiped by ancient Greeks as gods and mythology is the proof. For instance, in Athens, the river Ilissos was worshiped as a local mythical hero. In general, Olympus Gods were worshiped and some of them were protecting the elements of nature:
– Apollo was the god of the sun
– Pluto was the god of the underworld (Hades)
– Poseidon was the god of the sea
– Demeter was the goddess of agriculture
Each element was also connected to mythical figures or creatures:
For instance, Orestiads were mountain nymphs who sang and danced along god Pan in the meadows and hills.
In the mountains of Pelion, lived the mighty Centaurs, half human half horse.
Naiads were nymphs living near rivers and springs or in caves and they were falling in love with both humans and gods. They possessed the power to give healing properties to a source of water.
In stories told in Homeric poems, myths and reality become one.
In one of these stories famous Ulysses driven by his great desire to return to Ithaca, visited the Nekromanteion of Acheron (Oracle of the dead) in order to meet Oracle Tiressias and be told the way back home.
Myths were used to give a feeling of companionship and share knowledge. This practice has stood the test of time.
Some of these stories were handed down by oral lore, while others were forgotten through the ages and can now be found only in a few texts…
– These stories became the inspiration that drove ancient Greeks to create masterpieces such as
– Parthenon, one of the most famous monuments in the world. Olympia, where the Olympic flame was first lit. – The Oracle at Delphi and the omphalos, where the centre of the world was thought to be.
– The ancient theatre at Epidaurus, which was renowned for its exceptional acoustics.
Initially we researched the monument sites and then we visited them. These sites are so magical and awe inspiring that we decided to share with you the privilege of being there. We will be travelling ‘under the eyes’ of Apollo and Pluto.
Many monuments had a religious use. In ancient Greece not only temples were used as places of worship but also citadels, oracles and caves. Ancient Greeks worshiped many of their gods inside sacred caves. Some of the most famous myths took place inside them.
The world of caves can be rich and so magical that we get stupefied in every step of each exploration. There are many things to be said concerning the creation, the beauty and the role of caves in exciting the fantasy of prehistoric man as well as being the birthplace and place of worship for their gods.
The most important examples are the Diktaion and Idaion caves in Crete. They are both candidates for being the birthplace of Zeus the most powerful god in the ancient Greek pantheon. Another cave in Crete is supposed to be the place where God Eros, son of Aphrodite and Hermes was raised by the Nymphs. Centaur Cheiron raised the famed Achilles inside a cave in Pilion Mountain, while Dionysus the god of wine and vegetation was born in a cave in Peloponnese.
Goat-god Pan was crowned the protector of all caves and Persephone, daughter of Demeter, was the queen of the underworld. Pluto was in love with her so he kidnapped her put her on his chariot and took her to Hades. Finally she was forced to spend half of the year in Hades (winter to autumn) and half on Earth (spring to summer) with her mother.
The entrances to the kingdom of Hades were supposed to be inside caves and are called Katavassion. We will visit some of these sites and be Persephone’s guests.