2012 April 12 – Day 32 – Piraeus, Greece (Day 2) (Part 1)

When we woke up our second day in Piraeus we discovered that during the night a European cruise ship had berthed on each side of us.  Each of the ships had over 2,000 passengers, many of them families with children as it was Easter break from school.  We were very pleased we had chosen to do the Acropolis tour on our first day.  Our friend Charles did the same tour on this day and said he saw more people than stones.  Just as in Turkey, the historic sites in Greece are jam-packed with people all summer long.

We left the ship at 8 am for our 8 1/2 hour tour to Corinth and Mycenae.  We made a stop at the Corinth Canal during our one hour drive to Corinth.  The canal was begun by Roman Emperor Nero around 30-50 AD using 6,000 slaves as construction workers.  All work stopped when Nero died and the canal remained incomplete until the builders of the Suez Canal used Hungarian workers to finish it between 1881-1893.  The canal is 6300 meters (just under 4 miles) long and cuts 242 km (131 nautical miles) off the route from the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea.  Water depth is over 8 meters (30′) and banks are 70 m (230′) above the water.  The channel is 18 m (60′) wide.  The solid rock sides are cut at 71-77° so it would have been extremely hazardous work. Truly an amazing construction feat. We were let off the bus at the museum and made our way through the exhibits to the ruins.  The exquisite details of the sculptures and pottery boggles my mind when I consider how very, very old these things are.  Truly amazing. The city of Corinth was built by the Greeks in the 6th century BC.  It was completely destroyed by the Romans in 149 BC.  Julius Caesar sent a colony to the area 44 BC and a new city was built on and out of the ruins.  This makes for an interesting mix of Greek and Roman architecture and archaeology.  Ephesus has had much more excavation and restoration work done than Corinth but we could still understand the city layout.

The fountain of Glauke, a large mass of limestone, was formed when the surrounding bedrock was quarried away.  The fountain is named after the second wife of the hero Jason Medea and is the site of a mythological tale.  There were four large reservoirs fronted by three draw basins and an architectural facade.  Glauke fountain is not connected to a natural spring like the other fountains in Corinth but is instead fed by water piped in from the south.

Just like our guide at the Acropolis our guide in Corinth would stand at a statue or ruin and pontificate for 15-20 minutes, so we left her to it and wandered off on our own.  Everything has good signs so we were able to understand what we were seeing.  The guides often have additional stories or information that is very interesting but I don’t like standing and listening for 3/4 of my time at a place instead of seeing the place it self.It was spring and poppies and a small white flower and a nice yellow one were blooming all over.  So very pretty. On this very spot, the Bema in Corinth, the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to the people and Christianity spread rapidly throughout the city and surrounding area.  Paul later wrote two circulating letters to the churches, one of which contains the famous passage about love that is quoted at thousands of weddings every year, “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud……It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres….And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-13).

The Fountain of Peirene is a Roman construction. We left Corinth and got back on the bus for the 45 minute drive to Mycenae; the ruins of the most powerful Greek kingdom for 400 years. 

 

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