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To Ioannina via the sanctuary of Dodoni

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 12 June 2015

Friday 12 June, to Ioannina via the sanctuary of Dodoni

The ferry from Lefkimmi to Igoumenitsa This scooter driver is ready for IgoumenitsaThe port of Lefkimmi is a desolate plain of concrete with a small building. We wait for the boat to go to the mainland and when we can get on the boat, we are commanded by scolding workmen. At least, that's how we experience it, they are very impatient and very unfriendly. Later we hear that that is very common behavior, it would belong to the Greek nature. We'll probably talk more about that later. We have to park the car tight against other cars to save space, even though half of the boat remains empty. I even have to climb out of the car via the passenger side.
Igoumenitsa from the ferryAfter an hour we arrive at Igoumenitsa, the port city on the mainland of Greece with high mountains directly behind it. The town has only 10,000 inhabitants but is still one of the largest ports in Greece and the largest connecting port with the rest of Europe. Until 1913 it fell under the Ottoman Empire and in the 2nd World War it was completely destroyed. We drive through the modern center and there seems to be little tourism. Then we take the Egnatia highway, which runs almost 700 kilometers all the way into Turkey.
Theater in Dodoni Excavations in DodoniWe have booked an apartment at Ioannina which is not very far away, so when we see a sign that refers to an archaeological site, we follow it. And thus we arrive in Dodoni, a small valley in the mountains with the oldest sanctuary dedicated to Zeus, since 2000 BC. this was a holy place. Here we also see one of the largest amphitheatres of Greece, even bigger than that of Epidaurus where we were last year. This one is not as well preserved, though. Almost 18,000 spectators could sit there.
The seats are built in a semi-circle against a hillside, which was characteristic of Greek theaters, we learn here. Roman theaters were always completely detached, perhaps to boast that they did not need a hill for their architecture.
Excavations in Dodoni Remains in DodoniHere games were organized as in Olympia and there was also an oracle that was highly regarded (after that of Delphi) and where predictions were made on the basis of the sounds of nature and those of bronze cauldrons that were hung onto a sacred oak tree. The cauldrons hit each other by the wind, and the priests under the oak tree could pronounce their oracles. That seems like a fascinating ritual to experience.
On the terrain you can find the ruins of 6 temples and it is nice to walk around here, especially because there are so few tourists.
Swallow';s nest in DodoniAlthough the Romans already largely destroyed Dodoni, the real end came in 392 when Emperor Theodosius I let the sacred oak cut down to eradicate all non-Christian shrines.
Every August, a festival is held in which classical tragedies and folk music are performed in the theater.
At the end of our walk we drink something in the restaurant where lots of swallows have built their nests.
The Katsan park in Ioannina The citadel of IoanninaIt is not far to Ioannina from here, the capital of the Epirus region. It takes us a while to find the center that lies on the edge of a large lake and is dominated by an extensive citadel where the medieval city used to be. Ionannina is a university city and has a fresh and lively atmosphere while almost no tourist is walking around. We take a short walk and then look for a terrace along the lake of Ionannina before we drive to Perama, a little bit further where we have an apartment.
There it takes us a while before we have found the building, and there is no one to see. So we cal the telephone number and we get a woman on the phone who speaks excellent English. Not much later a motorbike comes racing towards us from the village just above us with 2 people on it. Chrissie was raised in Australia, hence the good English but her husband speaks only Greek. That does not stop him from keep on talking to us enthusiastically even if we do not understand anything. He thinks we will understand better when he talks faster and louder.
We get the largest family room because at the time of booking something went wrong, they think we have 4 children with us. What a terrible idea, traveling with 4 children through Greece! Then you better have a pool and the sea in the neighborhood. But we do not complain, the room is very affordable, € 180 for 4 nights.


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