Greek Island Hopping is not only discovering the beaches and the traditional villages of the Greek islands. Of course, these criteria are important when you choose which Greek island to visit, but the sites and the monuments that an island can offer to you is also another criterion you should consider. Culture hopping on the Greek islands is a different version of Island Hopping in Greece, a great opportunity to explore more Greek islands that are characterised by long history and rich culture. These suggestions are the ultimate routes for cultural island hopping in order to discover the most significant historical sites on the Greek islands.
For the lovers of history, the island of Delos is unique, and you can visit it with a day-trip from Mykonos. Since Delos is uninhabited, you can stay in Mykonos, which is located in a very close distance to Delos. According to mythology, Delos was the birthplace of God Apollo, and the ancient Greeks considered it a sacred place, building the Temple of Apollo and a theatre for performances. In the archaeological site of Delos, you can also see the Street of the Lions to the way to the temple and admire the findings of the excavations in the Archaeological Museum.
Naxos is a Cycladic island that has a long history and can offer to its visitors important archaeological sites to discover. Portara is the symbol of Naxos and the first thing you will see on the cliff above the port as the boat approaches the island. Portara is a gate, which is the only remain of the ancient Temple of Apollo that was constructed on the island in the 6th century B.C. In the 6th century B.C., it was also constructed the ancient Temple of Demeter, the goddess of grain and agriculture. It is located in a short walking distance from the village of Ano Sangri, and it is an ideal place to explore the history and ancient culture of Naxos. Outside the village of Melanes, in the countryside of Naxos, can be seen the remarkable statue of Kouros. It lies on the ground, at the exact position, where it was found by the archaeologists. It is 6 meters long and dates back to the 7th century B.C. Historians believe that this huge statues represents either a god or a local hero. Another Kouros statue is located 200 m from the first, and there is also a third statue in the village of Apollonas.
Santorini was the cradle of the Neolithic civilisation in the area of Cyclades, which has been destroyed by the eruption of the volcano around 1,650 B.C. In Fira Santorini, there are two main museums, the Prehistoric Thera Museum, which presents the most significant murals found at the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri Santorini, and the Archaeological Museum of Thera, which hosts statues and discoveries from the Archaic, Geometric, Hellenistic and Roman Periods. The archaeological site at Akrotiri Santorini is definitely worth a visit as it was constructed around 4,500 B.C. and was covered by ashes and lava due to the enormous volcanic eruption around 1,650 B.C., and thus, it was preserved intact through time.
Rhodes is worldwide famous for its Medieval Town. The Medieval Town of Rhodes is one of the best-preserved medieval cities, and thereat, Unesco inscribed it on its World Heritage List. During the Byzantine Period, Rhodes was an important trading post between Alexandria and Istanbul. In the 7th century A.D., the Arabs captured Rhodes, and the Knights Period started in the 14th and continued until the 16th century. Walking around the Old Town of Rhodes is a unique experience of medieval beauty and multicultural character between the East and West. In Rhodes,you can also admire ancient sites, such as the Acropolis of Lindos, where you will see the Doric temple of Athena Lindia, the Propylaea of the Sanctuary, the Hellenistic Stoa, or ancient Kamiros.
Kos is the hometown of Hippocrates and ancient medicine. In the front of the Castle of the Knights, in the centre of Kos Town, there is a plane tree, under which, according to the myth, Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, used to teach his students, while you can also visit Asklepieion. In the antiquity, Asklepieion was a medical centre, and it was built to honour the God of Medicine and Health, Asklepios. It was built during the 5th century B.C., and Hippokrates had taught also there his students, the doctors of the antiquity.
In Aegina, it is definitely worth visiting one of the best-preserved Greek ancient temples.The ancient temple of Aphaea is built in a stunning location on the top of a hill, inside a forest of pine trees, and has a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. The well-preserved temple of Aphaea is located within a sanctuary complex dedicated to the goddess Aphaea. This great Doric temple was built in the sixth century B.C. over the remains of an earlier temple. You will be impressed by the beauty of the landscape and the history of the place. The temple of Aphaea is located in the same distance from Acropolis and the temple of Poseidon in Sounio, creating thus an equilateral triangle.
From Aegina, you can go by ferry to Hydra in less than one hour. Hydra had a prominent role in the Greek War of Independence in 1821 as well as in medieval and modern Greece. The Historical Archive-Museum of Hydra showcases 19th-century paintings, 1821 Greek Revolution artifacts, historical manuscripts dating back to the 18th century as well as an impressive photo archive. The Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum of Hydra, which is housed in the old Monastery of the Dormition, exhibits vestments, relics and icons primarily from the 18th century, while in Lazaros Kountouriotis Historical Mansion are on show old furniture and personal artefacts once belonging to the Kountouriotis family, as well as works of art in the traditional Hydra style. Hydra, in addition to its rich history, has an interesting art scene with numerous art exhibitions and galleries you can admire all year round.
Another Greek island, which played leading role during the Greek Revolution is Spetses, in a short distance to Hydra. In Spetses Town, worth visiting is the Museum of Mpoumpoulina, the most famous woman heroine in the Greek Revolution in the 19th century. The collection of her personal objects in her traditional mansion will impress you and give you much information about the Greek War of Independence against the Turks. If you live the experience of Greek Island Hopping in September, don’t miss out in Spetses the festival of Armata. On the hill above the old port of Spetses, the Church of Panagia Armata (=Armed Virgin), which was built in 1824, is the symbol of the Greek battle against the Ottoman Empire. The church commemorates the defeat of the Ottoman fleet during a naval battle in Spetses. Every September, in the festival of Armata, is celebrated this victory and the miracle of Armed Virgin. A wooden boat, which is used as an effigy of the Turkish boat in 1821 during the Greek revolution, is constructed a week before the festival. On the day of the festival, all Greek boats approach this effigy, which bursts into flames and fireworks, while a commentary outlines the history of the battle and people scream with delight. The show and the fireworks display are very impressive and gather thousands of visitors, who give Spetses a festive atmosphere.