Friday, May 08, 2015

Nafplion, Part 3: Palamidi, Nemea, Thebes

On the last day, we began with a visit to Palamidi Castle overlooking Nafplio. It's an enormous castle, built by the Venetians in only 3 or 4 years (1711-1714). Incredibly, though, after building it, they left it manned with only 80 soldiers. It was thus taken by the Ottomans after only 1 year.

The view from the top.

The key attraction for the kids was seeing the prison where Theodoros Kolokotronis was held. We even went down into this cramped, damp, lightless hole, where Kolokotronis spent 10 months awaiting execution, before being pardoned because he was needed to lead a new battle. It seems the Greeks only stop fighting each other when there's someone else to fight.

Here are the girls entering the dungeon cell.

Here are the kids hiding under a series of arches.

What an incredible view. If you squint, you can see Pelagia and Dami out at the end of the castle wall.

And here they are walking down one of the ramps.

After Palamidi, we started the long trek back home, stopping first at the ancient site of Nemea, the site of Hercules' first labor.

Here you can make out the boys sitting at the base of one of the columns of the massive Temple of Zeus. Three of the columns have remained standing since it was built ca. 330 BC.

Here's Dami, with the Temple of Zeus in the background.

Nemea was also the site of the Nemean Games. They recently discovered a tunnel that connected the athletes' locker room with the stadium. Here is everyone walking through the tunnel into the stadium. And here are the boys racing each other, just as they did in ancient times, while Pelagia and Dami stand next to what I guess was an altar.

After Nemea, it was back into the car until we hit Thebes. There is very little left of the ancient city, and the modern town is built around the little that is left. In fact, we ate at a little restaurant that was next to a playground for the kids, as well as an "archaeological site" with no less than three signs denoting it. I couldn't see anything, so I asked, and our waiter pointed at a big rock next to us, covered in weeds and trash, that he said was related to the great ancient Greek poet Pindar. Indeed, there was also a modern monument to Pindar. I've looked into this a little, and the only thing I can guess is that perhaps they say it was the site of the house of Pindar, who was born in Thebes. They say that Alexander the Great spared only his house when he razed the city in 331 BC, out of reverence for the great poet.

That's the rock behind the sign pole.

Finally, we took a brief look at the remains of the city's castle, which are used to house the city's archaeological museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed for renovations, so we headed home.

For all the photos from the trip, click here.

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