Greece the ideal destination


Prefecture of Ilia the Ideal Destination

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

Prefecture of Ilia

Ancient Olympia
Perhaps one of the most important sites of antiquity in Greece, if not the world, the place where the Olympic Games were held in honour of Zeus, Ancient Olympia lies just to the east of Pyrgos. The surrounding area is of great natural beauty and has been constantly inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC.
Among the most important monuments of the site is the Temple of Zeus, a Doric structure dating from 470-456 BC, which dominated the sanctuary on account of its size, stone columns and magnificent pediments. In antiquity, inside the temple stood the magnificent gold and ivory statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The 7th century BC Temple of Hera (Heraion) is one of the oldest examples of monumental temples in Greek architecture. The Stadium, which dates from the early 5th century BC, has a seating capacity of 45,000, while the Bouleuterion comprises two buildings dating from the mid-6th and 5th centuries BC. The construction of the Philippeion, another monument of great interest, was started by Philip II after the battle of Chaeroneia (338 BC) and was completed by Alexander the Great.
According to tradition, the Olympic Games began in 776 BC, following a treaty which contained a "sacred truce", based on which all fighting in the Greek world was to cease for the duration of the Games. The Olympic Games continued uninterruptedly for twelve centuries until they were abolished in 393 AD by order of Byzantine Emperor Theodosios 1. The first Olympic Games of modern times were held in Athens in 1896. The Olympic flame, which is transferred every four years to the city hosting the Games, is lit at the altar of the Temple of Hera.

Ancient Elis
The historical site of Ancient Elis lies north of Amaliada. Located on the left bank of river Peneios, it was the ancient capital of the prefecture, for many years considered to be sacred as it was the town that organised the Olympic Games that were held in Olympia. The city was adorned with exceptional buildings, temples and artworks. Archaeological excavations revealed remnants of the market-place, the theatre and the gymnasium among others.

The Temple of the Epicurian Apollo
One of the finest temples of antiquity can be seen at Vasses (Haradres), 14 kilometres from Andritsaina. The Temple of the Epicurean Apollo was built in the honour of god Apollo who assisted ('Epicurean' in ancient Greek means 'he who assisted') and saved the residents of Figalia from a plague epidemic that had devastated the region during the Peloponnesean Wars. Built around 42iBC in mostly Dorian style with Ionian and Corinthian elements, the temple is the work of the architect of the Parthenon Iktinos.

Historical and Religious Monuments
One of the best preserved castles in the Peloponnese is Chlemoutsi, near the small coastal village of Kyllini. Strategically built on the highest point of a hill around 1220, it allowed Franks to control the entire area. Another interesting monument near Kyllini is the Castle of Glaredzas at Paleokastro.
There are a number of important monasteries in Ilia which attract many visitors from Greece and abroad, just a few kilometres from Pyrgos is the famous Panaghia Kremasti monastery, perched high on rocks in a manner which appears to defy the laws of gravity and architecture. Not far to the NW of Pyrgos, the i2th century nunnery of Skafidia lies in an idyllic spot. The fortress-like structure has a museum with fine exhibits. South of Kyllini is the monastery of Panaghia of Vlahernon, built on the edge of a ravine between two series of hills. Near Amaliada is the historic monastery of Fragavilla, which was founded in the nth century, while near Pyrgos is the monastery of Frankopidimato, another significant religious monument. Other religious monuments worth visiting are the church of St. Nicholas, which overlooks the main square of Pyrgos, the church of the Assumption of the Virgin (Panaghia the Catholic) in Gastouni, one of the finest examples of Byzantine art, as well as the churches of Andritsaina, which date from the 15th and 16th centuries.

COASTAL VILLAGES & RESORTS

Prefecture of Ilia

The visitor to Ilia will be captivated by its seemingly endless golden sandy beaches. Idyllic coves and magnificent sandy strands run over 120 kilometres along the entire western coast, offering visitors endless possibilities to find what they are looking for. Travelling from NW, one comes to Kyllini, renown for its thermal springs and organised beaches. The uniquely beautiful Thines Vartholomiou has a fine beach with crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming. At 3 to 4 kilometres from Amaliada, the second largest city of the prefecture, is the organised beach of Kourouni with a variety of sport facilities, municipal camping and a refreshment bar. just a few metres from the monastery of Skafidia is a small bay with crystal-clear waters and a small spring on its rocky edges, which turns into a cosmopolitan beach during the summer months. West of Pyrgos is Katakolo, a picturesque seaside town with a range of tourist facilities and one of the main ports of the prefecture. Not far away is the attractive bay ofAghios Andreas, which is particularly popular with young people drawn by a variety of watersports. Kaiafas has one of the prettiest and well-known beaches in the Kyparissiakos Gulf, with sand dunes and a magnificent pine forest. About 3 kilometres further on is Zacharo, which has a fine beach of golden sand and crystal-clear waters. Continuing down the coast, one comes to a small group of small villages with marvellous beaches (Neochori, Kato Taxiarches, Yianitsochori) which are ideal for relaxing, carefree holidays.

Inland
Ilia of course is not all sand and sea. The prefecture has many attractions and picturesque villages inland. One of the most attractive villages is Andritsaina, which has its own unique charm. The winding cobbled paths of the village - built on a lush green hillside - lead past impressive stone houses and old churches. Of great historical importance, the Library of Andritsaina, was established in 1840 featuring valuable rare editions, significant documents and a remarkable archaeological collection of finds from the surrounding areas.

Natural Beauty The natural beauty of Ilia features wetlands, forests, caves and thermal springs. In the north of the prefecture is the forest of Strophylia and the salt marsh of Kotichi, both natural habitats of unique beauty with a great variety of fauna and flora, protected by the international RAM SAR treaty. To the south are the lake and thermal springs of Kaiafa spouting out from the innards of Mt. Lapitha. Between the lake and the sea is a strip of pine forest with sand dunes going down to the beach. There are also thermal springs at Kyllini and Irmini. Heading towards Olympia, one meets the river Alfeios, whose gurgling waters, according to mythology, flowed into the Ionian Sea where they joined the crystal-clear waters of the Arethousia Spring, which travelled all the way from Sisily. Further along the scenic route to Lala is the plateau of Folois in the foothills of IVlt. Erymanthos. This vast oak forest was the mythical home of the kindly centaur Folos, who gave shelter to Hercules. In the south of the prefecture, near Ancient Figaleia, flows the river Nedas with a series of small waterfalls, which can be reached by a path that affords a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

Museums With its long and rich history, it is not surprising that Ilia has a large number of fine museums. In the Archaeological Museum of Olympia are exhibits of exceptional artistry, including the magnificent statue of Hermes by Praxiteles (334 BC). The modern village of Olympia is also the location of the Museum of the Olympic Games, with unique exhibits related to the Games. The recently opened Folk Museum of Amaliada has exhibits from the daily life of the local people representative of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Outdoor Activities Ilia is the ideal location for a variety of outdoor activities in areas of striking natural beauty. In addition to numerous water-sports and trekking (which provides an intimate acquaintance with the rich 'ora and fauna), there are also opportunities for more vigorous sports such as ranting, hang gliding, kayaking and mountaineering.

Cultural Events The prefecture hosts a number of interesting cultural events, particularly during the summer. The International Festival of Ancient Olympia takes place in July and August. The festival attracts thousands of visitors and features distinguished artists of theatre, music and dance. The Festival of Ancient Iliada is held over five to six weeks in the summer. Also, a series of cultural events dedicated to Hellenism abroad is held at Al-Giannaki Makrysion in August.

Prefecture of Ilia

Prefecture of Ilia

Prefecture of Ilia

Prefecture of Ilia

Prefecture of Ilia