Lonely Planet is a very respected travel guide book which recently reviewed 5 of the most beautiful vistas in Greece, and quite unexpectedly gave high regards for Corfu’s Byzantine Castle, Angelokastro, English translation, “Castle of Angels”. From the very first time I climb it, I knew this place was something spectacular. You felt, once you looked out to the sea, that you were among the clouds and like the name suggest ‘you were flying with the angels’. What amazes me the most being just an ordinary man and looking at things more practically rather than esthetically, is how they built some of these structures? Who in their right mind would build monasteries on top of nature’s obelisk so they can be closer to God and away from ordinary folk and more realistically how did they get these raw materials up there! What sort of people would build a marble structure 2500 years ago that architects would still study today and still not know all it secrets?
What would be your Top 5 Greek vista list?
1. Soaring high at Meteora
Meteora Holy Trinity, Agia Triada monastery, was built in 1475
Spectacularly perched atop rocky pinnacles in Thessaly, the Meteora monasteries are among the most striking sights in Greece. Meaning ‘suspended in air’ the name Meteora soon came to encompass the entire rock community of 24 monasteries of which only 6 now remain. Their 16th-century frescoes mark a key stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting. The bizarre but beautiful monasteries of Meteora are centuries old and listed by UNESCO World Heritage.
2. Surreal Santorini
Santorini (also called Thira) is one of the most amazing islands in Greece’s 3000 or more islands. It’s essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion which could have destroyed the legendary island first mentioned by Plato, Atlantis. The beauty of the island is the most important reason for being ranked as one the top island in Europe. It’s famous for its black sand beach, red sand beach and white sand beach all due to the volcanic eruption and it . For me the 2 things that would draw me to the island would be its great wines and its archaeological site in Akrotiri. Akrotiri could be characterised as the prehistoric Pompeii of the Aegean.
3. Rhodes’ medieval old town
Rhodes medieval town
The citadel of Rhodes, built by the Hospitalliers, is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe which in 1988 was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and set about transforming the city into a stronghold. It subsequently came under Turkish and Italian rule. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period. In the Lower Town, Gothic architecture coexists with mosques, public baths and other buildings dating from the Ottoman period.
4. Experiencing the Acropolis
The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. The word acropolis referred both to the hill and to what was built on it. Almost every Greek city had its acropolis, which provided a place of refuge for townspeople during times of war. The ruins of its temples and their sculptures are widely regarded as the finest examples of ancient Greek art and architecture. Built on a limestone hill that rises about 150 m (about 500 ft) above sea level, the Acropolis dominates the city of Athens. The most important monuments were built during that time: the Parthenon, built by Ictinus, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles and the small temple Athena Nike.
5. Climbing to Angelokastro
Angelokastro (Greek: Αγγελόκαστρο, English translation: “Castle of Angels” or “Angelos’s castle”) is one of the most important Byzantine castles of Greece. It name and date of construction is a bit of a mystery with some historians attributing it to Angelos Komnenos of the Komnenoi dynasty of Byzantine emperors and a ruler of the Byzantine Despotate of Epirus in 1214. It is located on the island of Corfu near the town of Krini and unbelievably built on an inaccessible pinnacle above the sea. Its fortifications repulsed Ottoman attack three times. My first visit up the steep cliff was exhausting just walking it never mind had you had to do any fighting to capture it. Once up there you soon realized why it got it name as you feel to soar amongst the clouds along with the angels!