Flowers Among the Ruins

wild daisies, Mystra
Wild daisies in Mystra

Spring is the best time to explore the ancient monuments. The best display of wild flowers in the world are in the Peloponnese, Greece. Despina Siolas, Md. /Ph.D. and her husband, Laurentino Ibarra, explored the Acropolis and the Peloponnese during April’s stunning month of wild flowers. April is the month of sage, fennel, anemones and violets, blooming olives, planes, pomegranates, figs, mulberries and Judas trees.

Their first encounter of wild flowers among the ruins was at the Acropolis in Athens. Evergreens with pinecones. Yellow flowers and poppies in the cracks of the ruins.  Grape vines and greenery surrounded the ancient Greek monument. The pine wood was used by the ancients for shipbuilding and torches. Thy myth of Sinis Pityokamptes (the Pine-Bender) describes him tying his victims to the tops of pine trees and letting the tree spring up, ripping travelers in half. Theseus killed Sinis.

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Palamidi castle had wild flowers and blooming almond trees, dotting the path up the 99 steps. The almond tree is connected with the birth of Goddess Kybele. The plants and flowers of ancient Greece are rich in mythology: ranging from the tale of Persephone and the pomegranate seeds to the flowery metamorphoses of Hyakinthos, the golden apples of the Hesperides and the tree-morphing nymph Daphne.

Palamidi fortress, Nafphlion
Palamidi fortress, Nafphlion

They drove to Mycenae, seeing a unique sunset.  April showed ruins with wild flowers, poppies and flowering trees.

Mycene wild flowers
Mycene wild flowers

Anemones, poppies or windflowers with bulbs and delicate blood-red flowers decorate the landscape. Their seed is carried with the wind. The name anemone means the wind. This flower is sacred to Aphrodite. It is connected to the myth “Death of Adonis.”

Traveling through Pylos, they saw the rich greenery along the road and orchards. The apple tree was an important orchard fruit of ancient Greece. It was associated with love and marriage. It is dedicated to Hera (associated with weddings) and Aphrodite (associated with love).

A haunting memory of a Byzantine city is seen at Mystra in the spring, situated on Mt. Taygetos, near Sparta. Wild flowers make it a place never to be forgotten. Sage scented, being white to purple. It is used for cooking and curing liver problems. Orchids, a small perennial with sweet-scented violet colored flowers, are seen. It was the sacred flower of Apollo.

Dimitsana is a pastoral paradise grazing sheep and with spring flowers on the slopes. The Open Air Water Power Museum shows the harnessing mountain resources to create energy.

 Olympia
Olympia
Olympia with Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D.
Olympia with Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unforgettable blooming of Judas trees, grape hyacinths and spring flowers makes a visit to spring time Olympia a must.

The travelers visited the Lousios Gorge. It’s dashing waters created a gorge that reaches 5km and took its name from it, according to VisitGreece.com. Located in the area between Stemnitsa and Zatouna., the gorge with its steep rocky sides is imposing. Already since 1997 the gorge has been characterized as “an area of unified archaeological interest” and is protected by the Greek Ministry of Culture. The scenery is lush green, with maple trees, sages, lentisks and holm-oaks hiding the sunlight and turning the gorge into a true oasis of coolness….

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Observing the limestone rocks of its walls, you will see many hollows and caves, which from old times hosted hermit monks. Many of these hiding places are still accessible but only to experienced climbers-hikers. These were also the main foundation for the monasteries, which were built here giving Lousios Gorge the name “Mount Athos of the Peloponnese”.

Lousios Gorge
Lousios Gorge

Their Peloponnesian Spring voyage concluded in Tripoli. During April, the city’s urban park was in full bloom.

“The majority of the tourists who visit Greece is drawn there by the crystalline waters of the seas and the splendid vestiges of its ancient culture, and probably know little about the variety and the abundance of the flora of this country, which counts an astonishing number of species -more than 6,000- plus subspecies and varieties,” according to abettergreece.com. “In proportion to its size, Greece has more species of flowers than any other European country or the United States. The plenteousness of Hellenic flora is the result of a number of factors, first among which the particular geographical position of the country. Together with Greece’s climate, it permitted the land to receive contributions from other nearby floras, above all those of central Europe and Anatolia.” These factors describe the extraordinary sights tourists witness in Spring Peloponnese.

Photos by Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D.