5 Places to Visit in the Peloponnese with Kids if you love Greek Mythology
The Peloponnese is without a doubt the birthplace of ancient Greek myths and heroes. A place with high archaeological value since 5 of the 18 Greek UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located in the Peloponnese. In this article, we have identified some of the most famous and unique myths for kids associated with the Peloponnese.
Did you know that ‘’Peloponnese” means “island of Pelops”?
The Peloponnese took its name from Pelops, the son of Tantalus and grandson of Zeus. Tantalus was an arrogant man who thought he was the most intelligent person, even more intelligent than the Greek Gods. One day Tantalus invited the Gods for dinner and served them his son as a stew. Luckily for Pelops, the Gods realized Tantalus’ play and brought his son back to life. They also gifted him a magic chariot with 4 of Poseidon’s horses. Tantalus was sentenced to a never-ending punishment; he was to be forever thirsty and hungry in the Kingdom of Hades.
The magic chariot race
After that, Pelops traveled the world and he reached the kingdom of Oenomaus in Olympia. Oenomaus was the son of Ares and a very strict father. He had a beautiful daughter, Hippodamia and Pelops fell in love with her. The strict king Oenomaus challenged Pelops to a chariot race which resulted to Oenomaus death. The new King, Pelops, conquered the whole of The Peloponnese. This mythical race was very popular in ancient times and it was engraved in marble on the pediment of the temple of Zeus in Olympia.
To plan your trip in the ancient Olympia and admire the statues in the Archaeological Museum: Visiting Olympia with the Family
On the east of Peloponnese, lies the city of Mycenae, which is associated with another hero, Perseus. According to Greek Mythology, Perseus named the city Mycenae during the following incident: On a very warm day, Perseus found a water spring. Near the spring Perseus found some mushrooms – myces in ancient Greek. Mycenae was also the city where Hercules’ uncle Eurystheus came up with the 12 labors in an attempted to get his nephew killed.
Mycenae is perhaps best known for being the kingdom of Agamemnon. Agamemnon was a rich king who led the Greeks to the Trojan war. In the Iliad Agamemnon is descripted as a well-respected leader. His luxurious tomb was discovered in Mycenae during excavations.
To visit the site and archaeological museum of Mycenae, plan your trip: Family Visit To Mycenae and Nafplion
Epidaurus, the city of theater and Asclepius
Epidavrus is a small city near Mycenae with a very rich history. It is the birthplace of Asclepius, the son of Apollo. Asclepius was the god of medicine and health in ancient mythology. According to the Greeks, Apollo taught his son everything about the art of medicine. Asclepius had a snake as his symbol, since snakes had healing properties according to Greek tradition.
Moreover, Epidaurus is associated with theater in the Greek world. A gigantic theater was constructed in the 4th century BC which could seat up to 14,000 people. This theater was famous for its excellent acoustics and it is still used today for theatrical plays.
To visit Epidaurus with your Family if you are a Percy Jackson Fan: Family Visit to Epidaurus
Nemea and Hercules’ labor
Another popular region in the Peloponnese is the region of Nemea near Corinth. Nemea is mostly associated with Hercules and his first labor. King Eurystheus of Mycenae ordered young Hercules to bring him the skin of The Lion of Nemea, which was undefeated and terrorized the fields around Nemea killing other animals and people. Hercules succeeded in killing the monster. When Hercules returned to Mycenae, the king was amazed. Hercules was wearing from this point the skin of the lion of Nemea and thus it became his symbol.
Many more of Hercules’ labors took place in the Peloponnese such as the Hind of Ceryneia, the Lernean Hydra and the Augean stables.
In Nemea the Panhellenic Nemean Games took place every two years to honor Zeus and his son Hercules. The first temple of Zeus was erected in the 5th century BC and around 400BC the stadium was constructed. The stadium of Nemea could seat around 42,000 spectators.
The terrible fate of Sisyphus, king of Ancient Corinth
Sisyphus was the founder and the first king of the great and prosperous city of Corinth. He was the gods’ favorite and Zeus often invited him to feasts in his palace on the Μount Olympus. Sisyphus liked these meetings especially because he could learn the gods’ news first, and since he was a newsmonger, he shared the information with other humans.
One time he got too far and revealed one of Zeus’ biggest secrets. As a punishment, Zeus sent his servant Thanatos – Death – to take Sisyphus to the Underworld, but the clever king expected it and imprisoned Thanatos in the basement of his palace. Soon people stopped dying and Hades, the god of the Underworld, went to Olympus to complain to Zeus. Then Zeus sent Ares to liberate Thanatos and take Sisyphus to the land of the dead.
At this point, the gods were furious and sentenced Sisyphus to a terrible fate. He would need to roll a huge stone uphill in the kingdom of Hades, but when he was close to the top, the stone always rolled down and Sisyphus had to start all over again. That was the never-ending punishment for Sisyphus, the kind of Corinth, who tried to fool the Gods around.
You can plan your trip in ancient Corinth, if you are a Percy Jackson fan: Visit Corinth with the Family
Temple of Apollo at Bassae
Also known as the Parthenon of the Peloponnese, the temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae is a magnificent sample of ancient Greek architecture. The temple was built on the slopes of Arcadian mountains, near Messenia in the center of the Peloponnese.
Dedicated to the god of the sun and healing this temple was build in 420 BC. This temple has the earliest Corinthian capitals ever made in the Greek world. After the Roman period, the temple was completely forgotten and rediscovered at the end of the 18th century. Since 1986, the archaeological site in Bassae is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We hoped you enjoyed this list of mythological places in the Peloponnese for families. To plan your visits please take a look at the offered tours on our page: Family Tours in The Peloponnese for Mythology Lovers.
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