3 Unique Attractions In Fascinating Greece
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Greece is renowned for its majestic ancient ruins, standing tall against clear blue skies, while the balmy Aegean laps a beautiful coastline and the country’s magical islands. This European country is also alive with music and delicious cuisine. The good news is that Greece is hoping to reopen to international visitors during May 2021 after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is also a more unusual side to Greece with several unique attractions to explore. Here we look at three.
1. The Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera Mechanism is also known as a “clockwork computer” and is a device of remarkable engineering. It was discovered in a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera that had laid there for 2,000 years.
In 1900, sponge divers discovered the shipwreck and discovered the perplexing device. While no one really knew what it was, it sat in a museum for some fifty years until historians took a serious look at it.
Image by joyofmuseums/Wikimedia Commons
The small bronze instrument is known as a “clockwork computer” and is totally unique. No other machine of comparable complexity has been seen from the past. It is believed to have been built around 200 BC. The machine has more than 30 gears hidden behind a series of dials and is easily the most advanced technological artifact of pre-Christian history. The Antikythera Mechanism is regarded as the first analog computer and it can make precise calculations based on astronomical and mathematical principles developed by the ancient Greeks.
The builders’ identity is still unknown, along with the reason why it was on the ship.
Image with X-ray by Andrew Barclay/Flickr
However, scientists have pieced together the mechanism’s history over the last century. Most consider it to be a navigational tool and due to its small size, this does suggest it was designed to be portable.
The Antikythera Mechanism can be seen in the Bronze Collection of the National Archaelogical Museum in Athens.
2, Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri, Santorini, Greece
The prehistoric town of Akrotiri is located at the southern tip of Santorini. It is considered to be one of the most sophisticated settlements of the Bronze Age, which prospered for centuries before being destroyed by a volcanic eruption.
Photo by Norbert Nagel/Wikimedia Commons
Similar to the Roman ruins in Pompeii, Italy, the ruins of the Minoan town of Akrotiri are remarkably well-preserved. It is believed to have been destroyed in the second millennium BC when the volcano on which it stood, Thera, erupted, leading all its inhabitants to flee. In fact, the volcanic ash enveloped the whole island of Santorini, preserving the buildings and their contents, including houses and pots.
However, unlike Pompeii, no human remains were found at Akrotiri and only one gold object was discovered on the site. This suggests that the Minoans evacuated in an orderly fashion prior to the eruption and had time to take their valuables with them.
Photo: Spring Fresco in Akrotirii by Jebulon/Wikimedia Commons
Akrotiri was an outpost of Crete, dating back to the third millennium BC and developed into one of the main ports and urban centers of the Aegean. The buildings were incredibly sophisticated for the time and were multi-storeyed, faced with masonry and had a highly evolved and elaborate drainage system. Here some of the first examples of indoor lavatories can be found. Also, with its elaborate architecture and colorful frescoes, it appears to be a highly cultured settlement.
The prehistoric town of Akrotiri can be accessed by car or bus from Fira. Opening hours between November and March are 8 am to 3 pm every day except Monday. From April to October, opening hours are 8 am to 8 pm every day.
3. Kastania Cave, Kato Kastania
At the beginning of the last century, Kostas Stivaktas, a shepherd, noticed bees entering a crack in the rocks while sitting in his fields. He noted that when the bees exited, they appeared to be refreshed.
Stivaktas was curious about this unusual occurrence and broke open the small fissure. To his amazement, he discovered a unique and rare cave, filled with stalactites and stalagmites in many colors and shapes. Following his discovery, he and his descendents often entered the cave to see and get fresh water from a small well inside, which is where the bees were getting their refreshment.
Photo by Batikiotis/Wikimedia Commons
In 1958, the cave became better known as was given protection by the community of Kato Kastania. These days, it is open for tours via a number of its chambers. The cave is located at the foot of Mt. Parnonas and is rich in unique stone formations, estimated to be around 3 million years old. Besides the impressive rock formations, visitors might catch a glimpse at the cave’s rare creature, the “dolichopodo,” a locust-like insect that is both blind and deaf. Read more information about Kastania Cave on the official website.
Enjoy visiting the unique attractions of Greece this summer. These, and so many more locations are just waiting to be explored.
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Latest update: March 15, 2021