As well as being some of the most popular, sunkissed destinations on the planet, the Greek Islands also hold a big draw for mythology lovers. For those who are unfamiliar, Greek Mythology is based around a series of stories about the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece, as well as a wider cast of humans, monsters and heroes.
As a result of weaving these myths in with settings that the listeners were familiar with, as well as using them as a way to explain the world, there are plenty of locations that you can visit today that are linked to Greek Mythology. Whilst the average holidaymaker can appreciate the beauty of these spots, taking a moment to learn and enjoy the myth associated with your holiday destination can really enhance your experience and feed your imagination. Here are some of the must-see destinations to add to your travel wish list.
According to the myth, Santorini was created by Euphemus, son of Poseidon. He dreamt that his nymph lover fell pregnant and begged him to create a safe place for her to hide and raise their child. She suggested that he take a lump of earth from the island of Anaphe to create the haven, Euphemus did as she asked, and so Santorini was created. It’s also theorized that Santorini is actually the inspiration for the Lost Kingdom of Atlantis.
Modern-day Santorini is one of the most popular spots in the world, especially for couples. The picture-perfect white houses set against the turquoise seas and the cauldron-like hollow of the caldera that soars 1100 feet above sea level are truly a feast for both the eyes and imagination.
Ermoupoli, the capital of Syros, is not only the capital of the island but of the whole of the Cyclades island group. Therefore, it’s no surprise it has mythological importance, too – it’s been proposed as the birthplace of Hermes, the herald of the gods and son of Zeus, although that is up for debate amongst historians. At any rate, Ermoupoli translates to mean ‘City of Hermes’, suggesting that locals showed a particular interest and respect for Hermes here.
Today, make sure to visit the island for several modern day legend spots, including the magical Agios Stefanos, a chapel built inside a cave, created by a fisherman to give thanks when he was saved from a giant octopus attack.
The island of Ikaria is quite literally named after Icarus. Icarus’ father, Daedalus, built a labyrinth for King Minos of Crete in order to imprison the Minotaur. Things took a turn for the worse when Minos trapped Daedalus in his labyrinth as punishment for helping Theseus. In desperation, Daedalus built wings made out of wax and feathers to allow him and Icarus to escape. Unfortunately, Icarus ignored his father’s advice not to fly too close to the sun, and the wings melted, causing him to crash into the ocean and drown. Legend has it, Ikaria is where his body was buried, hence its name.
Ikaria is one of the lesser-visited islands, and as a result is a great spot for those who want to get outside in nature and get the traditional authentic Greek experience.