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Ilia – A Cultural Journey in Time

Ευρωκίνηση

Marathias Beach in Ilia. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Antonis Nikolopoulos)

Ilia is located in the western part of the Peloponnese. Its capital, Pyrgos, about four kilometers north of the river Alfeios, which flows into the Ionian Sea, is not an ancient foundation, but the archaeological site of Olympia is renowned through history and across the World.

The region is also known to contemporary tourists for its ancient trails, historic monuments, Frankish castles, and chapels and monasteries that bear witness to the past.

Antiquity endowed it with a priceless gift, the sacred life of ancient Olympia, and the passing centuries have also imbued every corner of Ilia with a rich religious heritage. The sights in this part of Western Greece will take you to a higher spiritual plain, your pathway lit both by Christian history and the shining ideals of the ancient Olympics.

CULTURAL EXPERIENCES

A visit to Olympia is a unique experience as excitement builds with every step in the birthplace of the Olympic games. In the Archaeological museum of Olympia the exhibits wonderfully illustrate the story of the sacred site and the extent to which ancient Greeks were devoted to the athletic and aesthetic ideal.

In the Museum of the History of Excavations in Olympia you will be able to connect the findings with the many digs that have taken place there over the years, while the museum of the History of the Olympic Games initiates the visitor into the essence of the games as they were conducted in antiquity.

The region also shares in the glory of this institution. It was here that the Games were first organized in 776 BC. The archaeological site and the new Archaeological museum of Ilida offer you an enlightening journey into its long history.

Today the intellectual life of the area is enhanced by the International Festival of Ancient Olympia, the International Film Festival of Olympia, and the International Festival of Ancient Ilida.

The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology and Musical Instruments in Katakolo with the models of the inventions of the ancient Greeks and the new Archaeological Museum of Pyrgos further enrich your knowledge of the antiquity.

In picturesque Andritsaina, visit the historic library and from there walk up to Vasses to enjoy at close quarters the temple of Apollo Epicurius, a masterpiece of ancient Greek architecture.

Travelling a little further forward in time, Chlemoutsi castle in Kyllini still exudes the atmosphere from the period of the Frankish occupation are the Crusader era. Courtyards, towers, domed halls, and the Castle museum with its exhibits will stir fantasies of the knights in shining armor that used to strut around the ramparts.

HOLY PILGRIMAGES

A tour of the holy pilgrimages of Ilia always evokes strong emotions and feelings of reverence. The Holy Monastery of Panagia Skafidiotissa surrounded by its medieval fortress cannot fail to impress. In Gastouni, in the Church of the Kimisis tis Theotokou, with a monastery that goes by the same name, admire the Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary that has stood for years as a source of comfort and hope for the devout. In the village of Lygia lies the Monastery of Panagia Eleousa, where it is considered a blessing to drink water from the neighboring cave.

In the Holy Monasteries of Fragopidima, Vlaherna, and Fragavilla time becomes an irrelevance as you could literally spend hours happily lost in tranquil reflection. Finally, the Holy Monastery of Kremastis appears to defy gravity itself. Clinging precariously to the rock face, it is a symbol of the lengths – and heights – that the people here are willing to go to in order to express their faith.