The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus (Greek: Πελοπόννησος, Pelopónnisos; see also List of Greek place names) is a large peninsula (technically an island since the 1893 construction of the Corinth Canal) and region in southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth.
The Peloponnese covers an area of some 21,549 km² (8,320 square miles) and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893 - like other peninsulas that have been separated from their mainland by man-made bodies of waters - it is rarely, if ever, referred to as an "island". It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth and an artificial one in the shape of the Rio-Antirio bridge (completed 2004).
The peninsula has a mountainous interior and deeply indented coasts, with Mount Taygetus its highest point at 2407 m. It possesses four south-pointing peninsulas, the Messenian peninsula, the Mani Peninsula, the Cape Malea peninsula (also known as Epidaurus Limera), and the Argolid in the far northeast of the Peloponnese.
Two groups of islands lie off the Peloponnesan coast: the Argo-Saronic Islands to the east, and the Ionian Islands to the west. The island of Kythira, off the Epidaurus Limera peninsula to the south of the Peloponnese, is considered to be part of the Ionian Islands.
The peninsula has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Its modern name derives from ancient Greek mythology, specifically the legend of the hero Pelops who was said to have conquered the entire region. The name Peloponnesos means "Island of Pelops". During the Middle Ages, the peninsula was known as the Morea. According to folk etymology, this is because the Crusaders found it densely planted with mulberry trees (Greek: moreai) used by the flourishing silk industry.
Mainland Greece's (and Europe's) first major civilization, the Aegean (or Mycenaean) civilization, dominated the Peloponnese in the Bronze Age from the stronghold at Mycenae in the north-east of the peninsula. During classical antiquity, the Peloponnese was at the heart of the affairs of ancient Greece, possessed some of its most powerful city-states and saw some of its bloodiest battles. It was the site of the cities of Sparta, Corinth, Argos and Megalopolis, and was the homeland of the Peloponnesian League. The peninsula was involved in the Persian Wars and was the scene of the Peloponnesian War of 431 BC-404 BC. It fell to the expanding Roman Republic in 146 BC and became the province of Achaea.
The Peloponnese was subsequently ruled by the Byzantine Empire (but some areas were under the control of Slavic tribes between 618-805), until the Fourth Crusade in 1204, when it was lost to the Venetians and Franks. The Franks founded the Principality of Achaea in the northern half of the peninsula in 1205, while the Venetians occupied a number of ports around the coast such as Monemvasia, Pylos and Koroni, which they retained into the 15th century. The Byzantines regained control of the southeastern part of the peninsula, centered at the fortified hill town of Mystras near Sparta. From there, the Greek Despotate of Morea staged a revival from the mid-13th century through to the mid-15th century, until the Ottoman Turks overran the Peloponnese between 1458–1460. The Venetians occupied the peninsula between 1685–1715, after the successful Morean War (1684-1699) but Ottoman control was re-established in 1715. Throughout the 18th century, Ottoman authority remained relatively solid and opposed only by rebellions in the Mani Peninsula, the southernmost part of the Peloponnese, and the activities of the bands of the klephts. The Russian-instigated Orlov Revolt of 1770 temporarily threatened Ottoman rule, but was quickly and brutally subdued.
The Peloponnesians played a major role in the Greek War of Independence – the war actually began in the Peloponnese, when rebels took control of Kalamata on March 23, 1821. The decisive naval Battle of Navarino was fought off Pylos on the west coast of the Peloponnese, and the city of Napoli di Romania or Nafplion or Mora Yenişehri on the east coast became the seat of independent Greece's first parliament.
During the 19th and 20th century, the region became relatively poor and economically isolated. A significant part of its population emigrated to the larger cities of Greece, especially Athens, and other countries such as the United States and Australia. It was badly affected by the Second World War and Greek Civil War, experiencing some of the worst atrocities committed in Greece during those conflicts. Living standards have improved dramatically throughout Greece since then, especially after the country's accession to the European Union in 1981. The rural Peloponnese is renowned for being amongst the most traditionalist and conservative regions of Greece and is a stronghold of the right-wing New Democracy party, while the larger urban centres like Kalamata and especially Patra are bastions of the centre-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement. Villages still continue to see a population decline due the lack of economic opportunities, industrial farming, and the aging population.
In late August 2007, large parts of Peloponnese suffered from wildfires, which caused severe damage in villages, forests and the death of 77 people. The impact of the fires to the environment and economy of the region are still unknown. It is thought to be the largest environmental disaster in modern Greek history.
The principal modern cities of the Peloponnese are (2001 census):
The Peloponnese possesses many important archaeological sites dating from the Bronze Age through to the Middle Ages. Among the most notable are:
Peloponnese is a region in Greece.
You will get along with English pretty well, in the more touristy places you won't have too much problems with German or Italian either. Pick up some Greek, it will be appreciated!
From Athens, by car or bus; having a car allows occasional stops that are worth along the way to most parts of Peloponnese. To get to Sparta takes around 3 hours. Patras is around 5. Kalamata is around 4.5 hours.
You can also take a ferry from Piraeus to the Saronic island of Poros. Then it's just a 5 minute boat ride from Poros Town to Galatas on the mainland of the Peloponnese. There is a car rental agency there.
Car or KTEL bus. If you have no hurry, a lot of patience and a train timetable you can take the train.
Ceramics and sculptures from Atelier Sud art gallery near Finikounda. Inventive and evocative work by two very talented artists.
Peloponisian "Psistaria" - Gourounopoulo (Roasted Pig), Roasted Lamb, Kontosouvli. Pasto (smoked pork) Loukaniko from Mani/Kalamata (regional sausage with orange) Kokoras Krasatos / Kokoras Horiatikos (rooster in wine sauce/country cooked rooster)
Other typical Greek foods such as: Horiatiki, Saganaki, Kokkinisto, Tyropitakia, Souvlaki, Pastisio, Gemista etc.
Ouzo Frappe Moschofilero (wine variety) Xinomavro (wine variety)
In general Greece is quite a safe place to visit, although the notorious dangers can be found here as well: Pickpockets in the cities and larger towns and drunk fellow-tourists at nighttime.
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The island of Peloponnese has lots of mountains and coasts, with the highest part being Mount Killini.
There are four south-pointing penisulas within the Peloponnese. They are called Messenia, the Mani Peninsula, Epidaurus, and the Argolid.
There are also two groups of islands near the Peloponese. In the east there are the Argo-Saronic Islands and in the west there are the Ionian Islands. There is also the island of Kythira, which is near to the Epidaurus peninsula. The Kythira is often thought of as part of the Ionian Islands.
The Peloponnese has had people living on it since prehistoric times. Its name means Island of the People and was named after Pelops. Pelops was a person from Greek mythology, who took over the island. During the Middle Ages the peninsula was known as the Morea.