The tale of Odysseus, known to the ancient Romans as Ulysses, tells us how he fights to find his way back home after the long and brutal Trojan War, having to endure harrowing ordeals and adventures, and come to terms with devastating losses. Whilst this may sound quite tragic, there are triumphant tales to be celebrated and lots of hidden morals to be unfolded. We look at where you can take your children on your Greek holiday, that will make them feel like gods and goddesses
Be King of Ithaca for a day
Situated in the Ionian sea, the beautiful island of Ithaca was where Odysseus reigned in Ancient Greek times. From the island, he started a quest to Troy to rescue his wife Penelope’s cousin Helen from the grasp of the prince of Troy, then returned some 10 years lately. According to mythology, Ithaca was named after Ithacus’, son of the sea-god Poseidon or Ithaca’s, the sun of a Kefalonian king who settled there.
The island is mostly unspoilt, with beautiful beaches, clear blue seas and lots of sun, as you would expect from a Greek Island. Head to Vathy, home to the Cave of the Nymphs, where Odysseus hid the gifts that he was given by the Phaeacians, who supported him in his eventual return to Ithaca.
For a little history, head to Homer’s School, an archeological site where you can immerse yourselves into the ancient Greek world and charming 3000 year old ruins. After your educational trips, you can sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere of modern Greek culture.
Experience what it is like to be shipwrecked
In Homer’s Odyssey, the shipwrecked hero Odysseus is washed ashore on what is possibly at modern Érmones, on the North west coast of Corfu. The women that rescued him, took him to the Phaeacian Palace and after revealing his identity to King Alkinoös he is given a ship to take him safely back to Ithaca.
Upon his return, the Phaeacian ship is turned to stone by Poseidon, still enraged because Odysseus’ men had blinded Poseidon’s son the Cyclops, in revenge for the Phaeacians helping Odysseus.
There are plenty of activities on the island of Corfu, including a trip the impressive Achillion Palace and walks along both the old and new fortress will allow you to step back in time and picture Odysseus taking the very same path.
You can walk forward into more modern history as you visit archeological sites, such as Palaeopolis and ancient churches and monasteries that give Corfu it’s laid back, spiritual feel.
Follow in a true god’s footsteps
Visit the remains of ancient Sparta and relive the history of Ancient Greece, where Achilles and Odysseus battled to become the most renowned gods of the land. Situated in the Laconia region, Sparta was built on the banks of the Evrotas River, which provided water and acted as a natural fortress that protected its inhabitants.
Odysseus famously took 10 years to get back home from battle, with Sparta being one of his main stop of points, where plenty of battles ensued.
Modern Sparta is a lovely place to head to, where you can see remains of ancient theatres and artefacts that remain from the Roman period. Head to The Menelaion, where excavations are uncovering a significant Mycenaean settlement. The views over to Sparta are spectacular from here so it is well worth the drive and there are always opportunities to stop off along the way to soak up the Greek atmosphere.
Go Day Tripping
The third major stop of point on Odysseus’ hiatus from Ithaca was Troy, an ancient Turkish town that is now a UNESCO world heritage site. You can take a day trip from Greece and explore the regions significance in terms of classical mythology.
Troy is famously known as being the battleground for the Trojan war and is steeped in plenty of history to keep little ones entertained for a fun day out. You will be best spending a few days here, either by taking a plane or a short ferry from Rhodes, Kos or Samos to Marmaris or Kusadasi. Here all about Odysseus and Achilles battles, go in search of life size Trojan horses and hear about the life of Helen of Troy, who was integral to this famous battle.
These adventures can be combined for a full on Greek Myth experience or simply built into your itinerary for your standard Greek holiday, either way you are sure to have lots of godly fun!