by Ioanna Zikakou -
By Cliff Blaylock
The heart of the Mediterranean, Greece is blessed with many beautiful islands scattered about its coastlines. They often have glorious sandy beaches, fine cuisine and five-star resorts, but there is something about the Greek islands that sets them apart from many other holiday destinations across the globe; their mythology.
Many ancient societies had different beliefs and myths, but none are more prominent in modern-day life than that of the Greeks. Their creatures have become legends, their tales inspiration for great fiction and their gods immortalized through the continued retelling of their conquests and trials.
Matched only by the Acropolis of Athens, the ruins on the island of Delos are an unmissable location for anybody interested in ancient Greek culture. One of the best preserved examples of an ancient Greek civilization, the island is completely unblemished by modern architecture and as such, allows its visitors to delve deep into history. However, it is not just a site of great historical importance, but a mythological one too. It was on this island that both gods Artemis and Apollo are said to have been born. As a result, the island became a sacred place. Sanctuaries and temples sprung up across its hillsides as people from across Greece came to the island’s shores to worship the deities.
One of the most famous and exciting stories of Greek mythology is the tale of Minos, Theseus and the Minotaur. Minos was a powerful king, ruler of Crete and the son of Zeus, but after he betrayed Poseidon, he was cursed to raise a son with the body of a man and the head of a bull. Using this curse to his advantage, however, Minos built the fabled Labyrinth and trapped the Minotaur within it. He would then send victims to their deaths until Theseus, prince of Athens, ventured into the Labyrinth and slayed the beast.
While there are no Minotaur bones for you to see, there are two possible Labyrinths to explore. First is the likely home of King Minos, and therefore the most plausible home for the labyrinth, Kommos. Located along the southern coast of the island, Kommos is a great place to visit, with spectacular ancient ruins and beautiful ocean views. However, if you venture deep enough into the ruins of this ancient city, you will find many maze-like corridors and walkways that may have been the Minotaur’s home; or at least the inspiration for its tale. However, just down the road you will also find Gortyn, a site of great archaeological importance to Crete and another suspected home of the Labyrinth. Further away from Minos’ home, these ruins bear a much similar resemblance to the maze of mythology. Perhaps then, it is best to visit both and decide for yourself.
Ithaca, a well-known Greek holiday destination, is a place with a very interesting mythological past. Most notably, it was home to the legendary trickster Odysseus, the island’s greatest king and the brains behind the trojan horse. Odysseus was also the protagonist of Homer’s “Odyssey.” His decade-long struggle to return home after the war is the source of many of the most enduring Greek myths.
Cave of Zeus
Hidden away on the island of Crete is an extraordinary piece of Greek mythological history. Within a cave beneath Mount Ida, it is said that the King of Gods, Zeus, was born and raised. The Cave of Zeus is a beautiful location, with one entrance leading into a network of caves filled with stunning rock formations and underground pools. It does indeed seem a fitting place for the beginnings of the greatest god Greek mythology has ever known. However, it was not by choice he was raised here but by necessity. His father, the titan Cronus, was set on devouring all of his progeny to ensure that they could never contest his power. However, unbeknownst to Cronus, Zeus’ mother, Rhea, hid him within the cave so one day he could return to overthrow his tyrannical father; which, according to legend, he did.
Along the eastern coast of the Greek mainland, you will find one of the most well-known natural landmarks in the world; Mount Olympus. This legendary and iconic mountain is an awe-inspiring sight, however, there is more to it than meets the eye. In Greek mythology, Olympus was created after the gods defeated the titans in the battle of Titanomachy; otherwise known as the War of the Titans. Atop its peak they then built the Pantheon, where Zeus sat upon his throne as King of Gods and the rest of the deities would convene to discuss matters of the world below and survey the world of men.
Seeing all these incredible mythological sites can be tricky, unless you charter a course aboard Deep Blue Yachting’s luxury sailing boat, the Glaros. It is a private vessel, you can set your own course and visit every site on this list, all in one trip.