A May 2003 trip
to Corinth by Re Carroll
Quote: The highlight of my visit to Corinth was the archaeological site of ancient Corinth. As well as the impressive remains of temples, fountains, and more, it is also a place where ancient legends and myths read like plots in a soap opera.
I found the town rather plain and unexciting but the nearby site of ancient Corinth was a totally different story.
In the 8th century BC, Corinth was a major commercial center and one of the most powerful cities in ancient Greece. Its location on a narrow isthmus between the two seas made it an important trading route which added to its reputation as a very wealthy city.
The drawback to all this wealth and power was the continual wars and invasions because of jealous and greedy neighbors. This eventually took its toll and over the years Corinth lost a great deal of its power. To top it off, the Romans destroyed and looted much of the city in 146 BC.
It was rebuilt by Julius Caesar in 44 BC and much of the remains of ancient Corinth are from this time period. I was particularly impressed with the site’s focal point, the temple of Apollo as well as the Glauke and Peirene
Fountains whose history is rooted in Greek mythology and legend.
Buses to ancient Corinth run hourly from the main bus station and the cost is just under 1 euro each way.
If you choose to rent a car and drive from Athens be prepared for bumper to bumper traffic for most of the drive. If you want your own wheels, rent in Corinth and travel the Peloponnese at your leisure.
The hotel is being renovated and management wisely decided to do the guest rooms before tackling the rest of the hotel. The first good sign was an elevator which saved me from lugging my heavy pack up the stairs. My room was large by Greek standards and had a queen-size bed, end tables, and a dresser unit with mirror and loads of shelves. The furniture was modern - sort of a Scandinavian style. The room had a small balcony but looked over busy Damaskinou Street and the noise wasn’t conducive to relaxation. Luckily, the windows were double glazed so it was fairly quiet at night. The room had satellite TV with a good selection of channels, including some in English.
Getting power in the room was an interesting experience. I had to insert the end of the big brass key ring into a magnetized peg in the wall and this supplied all the switches, lights, etc. with power which I could then turn on or off as normal - talk about shades of Star Trek.
The bathroom was a delight - fully tiled in brown and black marble from floor to ceiling and a modern new pedestal sink, toilet and overhead heat lamp. The shower fixtures and chrome gleamed and everything was spotlessly clean.
The hotel’s large bar and separate eating room just needed a few finishing touches and were expected to be ready for guest use by the time high season arrived in June.
My room was 25€ without breakfast and I was told it would be 35 during high season with breakfast or 30 without. Doubles are expected to be 55 with breakfast or 50 without. The hotel is currently classed as a 'D' but once the renovations are finished, they will probably jump up one or two rating points which means prices could also jump.
The hotel is very conveniently located two blocks from Corinth’s train and bus station and about 25 minutes from the ancient site. Across from the hotel is a large bakery/confectionery that is open 24 hours and sells good cheap snacks like pizza, spinach pies, etc. Within easy walking distance are a number of restaurants as well as a couple of small markets for picnic items, etc.
The hotel's email is: email@example.com
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 10, 2003
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The restaurant has two distinct dining areas - the taverna which I didn’t check out and a grouping of tables and chairs under a large blue and white striped awning across the street. With temperatures in the 90s outdoor dining was the way to go, especially when it included a view of the water so I was set.
Although not fancy, Axinos is a bit more upscale than a regular
taverna. Rather than just the standard red and white Greek wines, Chardonnay was also on the menu but at 22 euro per bottle, I opted for a beer. The menu featured pork, chicken, pasta and a good assortment of seafood. I started with a cheese salad consisting of sliced feta with an olive oil and oregano dressing. My entrée was spetses, large meatballs made with ground beef and lamb, served in a tomato sauce. The meatballs were tender and juicy and seasoned with oregano, pepper and other spices I couldn’t identify. Served with French fries and a small basket of bread, it was a filling lunch and the total price was under 12 euro.
Axinos was a pleasant place to eat. Even though there was ever present traffic noise from the road I had my back to it so I could ignore the
noise and concentrate on the waterfront area. When I got tired of that, I could watch the waiter very cleverly dodge traffic as he carried food and drinks from the main taverna to our little place in the sun.
Axinos is open for lunch and dinner daily. Nearby, the Peloponnese Folk Museum looked interesting, but it wasn’t open on either of my visits to Corinth -- maybe it was too early in the season.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 10, 2003
Another legend surrounds the Peirene Fountain. Supposedly a woman, upon hearing that her son was killed, cried so many tears that she was turned into a fountain. No matter what its
origin, the fountain was one of my favorite places at the site. Corinthian columns and graceful marble arches frame an underground spring whose water is still used today by the nearby village. The marble is slippery smooth and contains colored veins of black and green throughout. The water looked so cool and
refreshing that I was tempted to take a dip but managed to refrain, barely.
Ancient Corinth is filled with remains of numerous public buildings, fountains, sanctuaries and temples. The main attraction is the Archaic temple of Apollo. Set on a slight rise, its seven remaining Doric columns dominate the
Corinth had a reputation for vice and the beauty and skills of its prostitutes were well known. St. Paul lived in Corinth for awhile and tried to get the Corinthians to repent their wicked ways although he didn't have much luck. During my visit there was a small religious service being conducted at the
tribunal, or bema, where he originally preached.
The site is extensive and there is quite a lot to see. The Museum is filled with artifacts from the excavations and is a definite "don't miss". Across the street are two more sights - the Odeon, cut into a natural slope in the hill and the Theatre where gladiators fought in Roman times.
I'd allow at least a couple of hours to wander the site. It is open daily and adult admission is 6 euro. This includes a pamphlet with
general information and a map of the site but to get the most out of a visit here, I'd recommend bringing a guide book or buying one at the site.
There are lots of small hotels, rooms to rent, restaurants and shops within a few blocks of the site and even more in town.
Archaeological site of ancient Corinth
Attraction | "Ancient Corinth Museum"
The museum is easily recognized because of an outside display showcasing the different architectural styles of ancient Greek columns: Doric,
Ionic and Corinthian. Doric is the simplest and oldest and Corinthian the most ornate and "newest" although we’re still talking 4th and 5th century BC.
Inside, the museum contains a wealth of finds taken from the excavations in the area. Some of the originals of the more outstanding pieces are actually in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens with copies here in Corinth. The
fact that they are copies doesn’t detract from the visual appeal of the displays. Exhibits are well labeled and there are guards everywhere to make sure that you don’t take flash pictures or touch any of the displays.
The museum is filled with pottery, figurines, tools, busts and more. There was a large collection of well preserved glass vessels, plates and bottles and pottery grave offerings dating from 1st to 13 century BC. I was really impressed with the color and
detail on portions of mosaic floors taken from two separate Roman houses. One of the mosaics from 2nd century AD had a replica of the head of Dionysus as its center point. There were lots of statues and busts of Dionysus throughout the museum, not suprising since he was the god of wine and the ancient Corinthians
liked to party.
Flanking an interior doorway were two massive 3rd century statues of Phrygian captives and I had to look "way up" to get the full effect. Other statues of Emperor Augustus and his grandson Lucius and "Statue of a Man in Armor" from the 3rd century were incredibly detailed and very impressive.
The Asklepieion room contained many offerings and votives from Corinth’s Asklepieion or healing center. Many were in the shape of body parts such as ears, breasts and feet. Some were quite detailed and others
crudely made but they were all left at the Asklepieion by the sick in the hopes that the gods would cure their affliction.
Near the Asklepieion room was a long corridor leading to an outside courtyard. The walls of the corridor were lined with reliefs taken from the Theatre. Inside the courtyard a number of
sarcophagi were on display. One from the 6th century had a glass top to showcase the skeleton still inside along with jars and dishes that were buried with the body. A group of statues stood nearby, arranged in a circle as if they were sharing a private conversation - hard to do since none had heads. The scents of jasmine and lemon hung in the courtyard and it was a very pleasant
spot to sit and relax after touring the site.
Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth
Abbotsford, British Columbia