: Travelogue Greece summer 2016, to the caves of Petralona and the excavation of Olynthos
Elisabeth & Teije's reis website

To the caves of Petralona and the excavation of Olynthos

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 02 June 2016

Thursday 02 June, to the caves of Petralona and the excavation of Olynthos

We start today with something I do not feel like: a cave visit. In recent years I have seen so many caves that I am a bit bored with them. Every time I say this will be the last time but every time there is some fantastic reason to go: it is the most beautiful cave in the country, it has the most beautiful colors, and so on, and so on. But this is really the very last time! The road to the cave is quite bad since Teije has chosen some alternative roads.
This cave, the Petralona cave or Cave of the red stones, was discovered by accident in 1959 and soon all kinds of fossils were found. Fortunately, we can take a train from the car park to the entrance of the cave.
Museum at the caves of Petralona Skull of Petralona manOutside the cave are a number of replicas of the animals whose bones were found, but the most important find was the skull of a human being, the Petralona man. I could have skipped the cave and I regret going into it afterwards, because I have a lot of trouble with my back after climbing and descending. But the museum on the site is very interesting and a number of finds form the cave are exhibited. The skull is the subject of much controversy, the Greeks want to date him hundreds of thousands of years earlier than other scholars, but it is at least very old.
But if you like caves, you should definitely go inside. Photographing is not allowed, the explanation was rather sober and general (what you always hear in all caves about stalagmites and stalactites and where the colors come from) and the guide was in a hurry. When you saw something beautiful there was no time to stop and have a good look.
So, no more caves for me. After this we drive to the south, to the 30 meter high hills on which ancient Olynthos was built. According to the legends, Olynthos, the son of the Greek mythological hero Herakles, was the founder of the city.
The land around Olynthos Turtle at OlynthosThe hills are flat, perhaps flattened, and in the 5th century BC. the settlement became a Greek polis but not a very important one. After the devastation of the city in 348 BC. there was never a new settlement built over the old one, so you can now see a very large part of the foundations of the houses. The city was about 60 hectares large, of which about 5 hectares have been excavated, I have no idea if there are plans to investigate the rest. The first thing we see is a big turtle that feeds on the weeds.
Stones and pieces in Olynthos Excavation in OlynthosIn a corner of the site all sorts of loose fragments of pillars and buildings have been deposited, but the most impressive is the city map that you see before you: rows of walls indicate how the houses were built along straight streets and how the room layout was. I am always surprised that in spite of devastation and looting (to use the stones for new houses) there is often still much to see of the foundations. There are also remnants of a settlement from the New Stone Age in a corner of one of the hills.
Bathroom in Olynthos Mosaic in OlynthosIn various rooms you can also see the mosaics on the floors, the Greeks were crazy about them. An individual Greek style was developed only a century after the destruction of Olynthos, and the mosaics here are one of the oldest found in Greece. The terrain is rather large and it is very hot and so we miss the most beautiful mosaic of Bellerofon on the flying horse Pegasus that kills the monster Cjimaera. Most of the finds are exhibited in a small museum on the grounds, but some, such as this bathroom furniture (a bath, toilet or foot bath?), you can still see in the place where they were found.
Pfff, it is really hot and we have walked a long time over the excavation, time for a well deserved break! Fortunately, we are only a few kilometers away from our beach in Kalyves. There we have a large part of the beach for ourselves and especially the shallow part of the water is wonderful to lie in. With a good book and occasionally a dive into the the sea to cool off, we enjoy ourselves for a couple of hours. But not too long because I want absolutely no heat stroke, that was once but never again!
The sea at Afytos, Kassandra The sea at Afytos, KassandraAt the end of the afternoon we drive back to the island of Kassandra and go to the village Afytos for some food. Afytos lies on a high rock and towers above the bay of Toroneos so that we have a beautiful view over the bay and the peninsula Sithonia in the distance. And then those beautiful blue colors of the sea where the light pieces indicate the shallow parts. Beautiful, with those floating boats off the coast!
Small square near Ag. Dimitrios  in Afytos, Kassandra Restaurant in AfytosThe village itself is also very nice to wander through with the many narrow alleys. Most of the houses are still from the beginning of the 19th century and you feel like you were back in that time. But the streets are going up and down a lot and my back does not really like that. So we look for a restaurant from where we have a nice view of the sea. Unfortunately we are not allowed to sit on the nice seats at the edge, that part of the terrace is just for having a drink. That is typical Greek: if there are wooden, uncomfortable chairs then you can assume that you can eat there. If there are nice, easy chairs or benches then you can only drink something. A rule that often turns out to be true.
House in Afytos, Kassandra Shopping street in AfytosAfter dinner we walk around the village a bit because the sun is still shining. And because it is not that busy yet, we can take a look around in the souvenir shops. Outdoors are the sunglasses, bags, slippers and various bath equipment at almost all of these stores. Would there really be a lot of sales of these things, since there are so many displayed? Well, I myself have also bought a bath mat that at the end of the holiday really does not go back with me into the plane. So next year I have to buy another.
Ready for a meeting, AfytosOn a small square in the village we all see folding chairs in a row. Would there be a performance or a village meeting? Anyway, nobody has shown up yet and we do not want to wait for it. In our own village is a Greek music perfomance this evening where we go with Michael and Vassiliki and some others so we get our entertainment. Tomorrow we will leave this area but we have already decided that we should come back here more often, it is a very nice area to stay.


© Teije & Elisabeth 2000 - 2023 To the top of the page