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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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Katakolon is the gateway to Olympia, the area where the first Olympic Games was held in honour of the Greek god Zeus. This small Greek town has a population that is just over 600 people and it is located on western Ilia in Pyrgos. The town overlooks the Ionian Sea, as it is located on a peninsula. It has a lighthouse in the southwest that was opened in 1865 and it is the perfect place to relax for a weekend of exploring mythology and history, or for simply relaxing on the beach.  

The town is also the stop of many cruise lines, as visitors to Greece wish to see Olympia and the ruins of the sanctuary, the athletic quadrangles, stadium temples, and treasuries before moving on to visit the Archaeological Museum that holds Archaic, Classical and Roman sculptures taken from the area. This museum is the home of the famed Nike Winged Victory. If you have the time, taking the guided tour of Ancient Olympia and the Olympia Museum is well worthwhile.

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Why visit Katakolon ?

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Gateway to Olympia

The area where the first Olympic Games was held in honour of the Greek god Zeus

If you are only able to stay in Katakolon for a brief period of time, then relaxing on the beach with a good book is the perfect thing to do. The weather is a nice 80 degrees and sinking your toes in the sand and surf before heading home is the best way to enjoy this little slice of Greece. Plus, there is a variety of accommodation in which you can stay in if you choose to make your an overnight one.  

Olympia is the main attraction of Katakolon and the site – namely the sanctuary – was discovered in 1776 and excavated in 1829. The many different buildings that make up the Olympic complex have been built, destroyed, and rebuilt so many times through the centuries that there is indication of many different architectural styles. The Olympia Museum hosts many artefacts found in the sanctuary when it was first discovered. There are terracottas, bronzes, sculptures, and other pieces from the original Olympic games now exhibited for the world to see, many of them well known and photographed pieces such as the Hermes of Praxiteles, the Nike of Paionios, and the Helmet of Miltiades.  

Olympia isn’t the only thing Katakolon is known for. The Mercouri Winery is also located here and the estate is a working farm that has been in the same family for 150 years. The wine produced here is of the highest quality and is very popular in the region. There are also olive groves, the winery itself, a small museum of tools and implements, a garden, and an ivy covered stone chapel. There is a visitor centre and main office, and there are guided tours available. The Winery also hosts concerts and other cultural events from time to time.  

This relaxed town on the Ionian Sea has an open-air bar that serves some of the best food around. Between the hospitality of its residents and the historical site close by, it’s amazing that Katakolon hasn’t yet been completely overrun by tourists!

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