Friday morning we finished off our brief visit to the World Heritage site close to the hotel. The Ancient Agora is the site through which all visiting the Parthenon would have travelled. It was a large market area with some churches and many large stoas (two storey shopping areas with covered forecourts or wide colonnades and more shops above)The Stoa of Attalos had been restored in the 1950's with American money and would be quite appropriate for a shopping mall now. The Romans adapted and used these buildings. There is also the Temple of Hephaestus which is the best preserved Doric temple from ancient times. Hadrian's Library was part of this area and the façade is still fairly intact with high solid marble columns not sectional block columns as usually used. The Roman Agora site adjoins and has a wonderful wind tower with carved decorated top.
I mentioned in a previous blog that when the Metro stations were improved for the Olympics many levels of history were discovered. We went into our local station and looked at the stream which had been covered with stone vaulting and converted into a Greek sewer. The wall behind the excavation shows all the changes made over the centuries including the two building setbacks etc great interpretation.
The car was delivered to the hotel at 12 noon and we drove off through the centre of this busy and fairly chaotic city without too much drama. You have to be a bit aggressive or you just sit there or someone may park in front of you. Di is a pretty good navigator, apart for getting left and right wrong at times. Our first stop was the Citadel of Ancient Mycenae known for the Lion Gate. This citadel was built as the centre of the Mycenaean Kingdom 1600 to 1200 BC the most powerful empire in Greece and is a small fortress town set atop a high steep hill above a very fertile valley; a good defensive town for those times before guns and cannons. A short distance down the hill is a site known as The Treasury of Atreus, or tomb of Agamemnon; a large beehive tomb within a hillside with stone entry passage with some gigantic blocks of rock.
We consulted the Lonely Planet for accommodation and chose a great small hotel, Hotel Naysimedon, on one of the main streets of the old section of Nafplio a port town. Nafplio was once the capital of the new Greece after the War of Independence in 1833,.The town has been a very important port since the Bronze Age and a major Venetian port from the early 1700's. A huge fortress, Palamidi Fortress, was built on the granite hill behind the port. The fort has been built in at least four sections all seem to be able to attack each other. We could not get a plan to work it out but it covers acres of very steep land would be so hard to conquer. A walkway from the town with about 999 steps connects to near our hotel.
Nafplio is a great town so we decided to stay two nights. Lots of tavernas, both on the back streets, on parks and the harbour front; food good and cheap with fresh seafood. The markets were on today ,Saturday, so made driving even more chaotic! Tomatoes, 60 cents a kilo, apricots $1 - $1.5, great olives $7, zucchini with flowers on $1. I thought they came separately as I've never seen them together at home - how silly are we! Also last night I had calamari it was not only rings there were nicer bits with tentacles etc - where do they come from at home as we only get tubes!
Being Saturday there are quite a few people about mostly Greeks, so many tavernas had put out all their seats and umbrellas 40 to 100 seats; the place could feed 60,000 at once. Unfortunately most only have about 10 customers at a time! The busiest place we saw on the harbour was about 75% full.