Did you know?


Greece has about 16.000 miles of coastline, making it the 11th longest coastline in the world. The maximum distance between any point in Greece and the sea is 85 miles.

The Greek archipelago comprises of approximately 6,000 islands and islets, scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, of which 227 are inhabited.

Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine (or 3,000 sunny hours) a year.
 
Greece_beach under the sun 
 
The words thalassa (sea), ilios (sun), gi (earth), and ouranos (sky) are among the oldest of the Greek language, dating back over 4,000 years.

There are approximately 120,000,000 olive trees in Greece. The world’s third leading producer of olives, the Greeks have cultivated olive trees since ancient times. Some olive trees planted in the thirteenth century are still producing olives.
 
Old olive tree

White sugar cube houses with blue painted doors and windowsills is probably the most popular image of the Greek islands and one strongly connected with the Cyclades. What you may not know though, is that this is not just an aesthetic choice, but one routed on an ancient belief that the blue colour keeps evil away.
 
Sifnos
Traditional house, Sifnos

Continuously inhabited for over 7.000 years
, Athens is one of the oldest cities in Europe.
 
Athens_Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon Of Herodes Atticus

Greece has 17 Unesco World Heritage sites, among which are: the medieval city of Rhodes, the old town of Corfu, the historic centre of Patmos with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, as well as the sacred island of Delos
 
Delos_photo by Eugenio EmublaDelos island_ photo credit

Elafonissi, located near Crete, ranks continuously among the Top 25 beaches in the World in the Traveller's Choice Awards of Tripadvisor. Elafonissi is famous for its pink beaches, which owe their colour to red organisms that live on the nearby coral reefs and pieces of red and pink sea shells that are washed onto the shore.

Elafonissi, Crete
Pink beach in Elafonissi, Crete
 
Voidokilia beach in Western Messinia, with its natural semicircular shape is a quite unique spectacle. Crystal clear, turquoise waters and fine white sand with hidden small sea shells.
 
Voidokilia beach in MessiniaVoidokilia beach, Western Messinia

The famous Blue Cave in Kastelorizo is considered the most stunning grotto of the Mediterannean. A rare geological phenomenon, with iridescent calm blue waters that are almost impossible to capture on film. The cave is also known as "Fokiali" due to the seals that live inside it.
 
Kastelorizo Blue cave_ photo byTatsushi Okamoto
Blue Grotto, Kastellorizophoto credit

Melissani
is one of the most beautiful sites in Kefalonia. An underground cave and lake, surrounded by trees, with turquoise waters and an opening on top that filters the sunlight and gives the visitor the impression of a cathedral. In Greek mythology Melissani was the cave of the Nymphs. Legend has it that the nymph Melissani commited suicide there when Pan rejected her love. Various Minoan artefacts uncovered in the cave are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Argostoli.
 
Melissani lake and cave,Kefalonia
Melissani lake and cave, Kefalonia

The sunken settlement of Pavlopetri, is one of the oldest submerged cities in the world! Situated between Pounta and the Pavlopetri islet, just opposite the island of Elafonissos in the southern Peloponnese, the settlement was hailed as a rare archaeological find. Visible at a depth of about 3 meters, the layout of the townremains as it was thousands of years ago, with its urban planning still evident: buildings, roads, squares, even a cemetery. In 2011 Pavlopetri became the first underwater city to be fully digitally mapped and recorded in three dimensions, and then brought back to life with computer graphics.
 
Pavlopetri, Elafonisos
Pavlopetri underwater city_photo credit

Chios
is famous for its mastic trees, the aromatic resin of which can be used not only as a natural chewing gum, but also as a main ingredient in cosmetics and pharmaceutical or culinary products. Even though the mastic trees grow in other countries in the Mediterranean, too, only those in the south of Chios actually produce quantities of mastic. This peculiarity is attributed to the volcanic soil of the area and its climate.
 
Chios, mastic tree
Mastiha tree, Mastihohoria in Chios

The sand dunes in Limnos make for a spectacular site. Covering an area of approximately 70.000 m2 in the nothern part of the island, this surreal, desert like landscape is quite unique in Greece.
 
Limnos_sand dunes
Sand dunes, Limnos

Longing for the waters of the Caribbean? In the northern Gulf of Euboea, lies this group of lushly vegetated, volcanic islets. Lihadonisia offer a tropical landscape with emerald green waters, white sands and a rich sea bottom to reward scuba divers.

Lihadonisia, Euboea
Lihadonisia islets, Euboea_ photo credit

A fjord on a Greek island? Why, yes! A magnificent blue, natural fjord is your narrow gateway to a lush, green volcanic valley embroided with tangerine and orange trees in Vathys, Kalymnos. Near the mouth of the fjord, accessible only by the sea, you can also explore the Cave of Daskaleio, once a holy place that yielded a collection of beautiful pre-historic artefacts.
 

Esperidon fjord, Vathys village, Kalymnos

Slotted into the rock, the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa in Amorgos is awe- inspiring. Clinging from the cliffside, 300 m. above the sea level, 40 m. tall and 5 m. wide, the Monastery extends over 8 narrow storeys and took 80 years in the making. The effect of its imposing figure and mystical aura can be surpassed only by the view from its top most balcony: a secluded beach below and the vastness of the Aegean sea as far as the eye can reach.

Amorgos
Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa in Amorgos

The windmills, a landmark of the Cyclades, appeared on Greek islands between the 12th and 13th century. Their location was always carefully chosen in order to make the most of the strong north winds. The handling of the mill’s elaborate system of axes and wheels, demanded from the mill men skills similar to a skipper's. Being able to tell the weather signs and handle the triangular sails of the mill that set the wheels in motion was necessary in order to grind wheat, barley and corn into flour.  Most of the mills which now adorn many greek islands operate as museums or art exhibition halls. Others were turned into houses or offer an alternative accommodation.
 
Whitewashed wind mill in Patmos
Whitewashed windmill in Patmos

The Peristeriones (dovecotes) of Tinos with their elaborate decorations, are some of the most impressive works of art in the Cyclades. Although found also in Andros and Sifnos, those of Tinos are considered the most exquisite. The breeding of doves was originally introduced to the island by the Venetians. The dovecotes usually have 2 storeys:  the lower is for storage, while the upper houses the doves. More than 600 can be found in Tinos made of slate, stone and limestone and filled with lithographs.
 
Tinos dovecotes (Peristeriones0
Traditional Dovecote in Tinos_ photo credit

Ikaria island, in the northeastern part of  the Aegean, is well known for a particular, laid back pace of life and the longevity of its people (its residents live about 10 years longer than people in other developed Western countries). Among the island's many sights are these anti-pirate hide-aways. Houses built for fear of pirate raids inside rocks, camouflaged by round boulders, or carefully hidden under trees, proving that necessity is the mother of invention!
 
Ikaria anti-pirate houses
Traditional Ikarian housephoto credit

The lighthouse Tourlitis of Andros Island is located  opposite the harbor at Chora, about 200 meters out to the sea. Bulit in 1897, it was bombarded during the World War II and then restored in 1994. It is the first automatic lighthouse of the Greek lighthousing system and one of the most picturesque. The first time that Andros island was to be emprinted on a Greek stamp was with a portrait of this offshore lighthouse.
 
Tourlitis lighthouse, Andros island
Tourlitis lighthouse, Andros island_ photo credit

Have a taste of ancient vineyards in Santorini. With a variety of red and white grapes and the renowned sweet wine Vinsanto, the island boasts of volcanic vineyards that go back 3.200 years ago. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the unique Wine Museum, located in a natural cave 6 metres below the ground.
 
Santorini wine
Santorini Wine Museum

Look for a traditional greek kafeneio for a cup of greek coffee (also known as turkish coffee). Those meeting places of old were a social institution, where men used to gather to play cards or tavli (backgammon), drink coffee, ouzo or raki and of course argue about politics! You will still find a few on the islands, retaining their traditional character, on village squares or in small, back alleys. If the waiter spills some of the coffee on the way over, don't fret: it means you have money coming your way!

Greek coffee
 
Traditional boatyards (karnayia in Greek), can still be found on certain islands and coastal areas of Greece – places where a fading craft struggles to be preserved. In the past few years the European Union has subsidised the burning of small wooden fishing boats and since 1991 about 10,500 traditional wooden boats, mostly of the trehantiri type, have been destroyed. In the heart of the Old Port in Spetses, the old boatyards stand as defiant reminders of a time-honoured craft.

Spetses, old boatyard
Old boat yard in Spetses_photo by Annika Barbarigos

The wreckage of a German Arado AR196 shipboard reconnaissance aircraft that sank during World War II can be seen underwater at a depth of about 9m, close to the beach in Alimia bay, at Iraklia’s southwestern tip. The plane crashed after a battle with British aircrafts in September 1943. A buoy marks its position today and it can be easily seen from the surface.

Iraklia seaplane wreck

The spiral rock engravings of Iraklia Island date back to 3000BC. Were they early astronomical signs of the Cycladites? Were they ancient signposts denoting local landmarks, like springs or maybe even graveyards? Or were they, as most locals believe, marks made by pirates to remind them where to find their loot? Scattered all over the island, in fields or dirt roads they stand as an  mystery that excites the imagination.A few of Iraklia’s spiral rock drawing can also be viewed at the Archaeological Museum of Apiranthos in Naxos.

Iraklia bousoulesIraklia rock spiral Iraklia rock
 

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