Greece and Turkey 2012

PYLOS: A Mycenaen tomb, Nestor's Palace and the Neokastro Castle,       9-27-12

PylosPylos has what has been called one of the best natural harbors in Greece. This morning when we arrived, the sea was calm but by this afternoon the ship was almost swaying. The weather was clear and perfect but it is typical in the afternoon for the wind to come up. This summer, when the various islands and mainland were over 100 degrees F. for weeks on end, people really looked forward to that afternoon breeze.


Our first stop this morning was at an old Mycenae grave site. This one was quite unusual since it is in the shape of a beehive, made out of stone blocks in a dome shape, has withstood over 2,500 years of earthquakes and pillaging, and apparently was a family(not just one person) crypt. Like most of the other structures in these islands, whether old or new, the beehive was surrounded by olive groves. Our guide told us that olive trees are called blessing trees because they provide so many products. It also seems that the bristlecone pine has competition. The guide told us that some olive trees have been dated back thousands of years, and they are still growing and producing new shoots.

PylosAfter that the bus took us to the ruins of Nestor's old castle. For those of you who are up on your Homer, he was one of the kings who joined in the attack on Troy. To me, it was basically a pile of stones under a metal roof. But Greece these days certainly isn't in a position to put lots of money into digging antiquities although there were workmen around the site.

As a finale we visited the Neokastro Castle (it looks more like a fort because of the huge surrounding wall). We could see it from the ship and it's situated right above the Pylosmodern town on a promontory. Neokastro was originally built by the Turks around 1570 and they used it as a supply station. Because of its strategic location on the Peloponnese peninsula, it quickly became one of the major fortifications in the Ionian sea. It's hard to figure out why it took the "I see it- I want it" Venetians so long to conquer this place, but they did a century later. Irritated about that, the Turks soon took it back. It's considered one of the best preserved castle/forts in the whole of Greece which is amazing since tourists are allowed to wander everywhere. CC walked around along the perimeter wall (which covered at least a quarter mile) and said there were no signs, no ropes, just walk anywhere you want. Somewhere on the grounds, but we didn't see it, is a Center for Underwater Archeological Studies. Scripps should be so lucky to have historic digs like this.

In more recent times, Pylos is rather central in an event that paved the way for Greek independence. The Battle of Navarino happened in Pylos in 1827 when combined British, French and Russian troops overcame the Turks who were besieging the island. That forced the Turkish Sultan's hand, the Turks left, paving the way for Greek independence.

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