Thursday, 22 May 2014

Petralona Cave & An Abandoned Turkish Mountain Village

Petralona Cave lies on the west side of Mount Katsika in Chalkidiki, Greece, and it is where the oldest European hominid was found. The consensus of opinion puts the date of the skull at around 700,000 years old.
For some reason no photos were allowed inside the cave even without flash. These two pictures were taken from a poster which does not do justice to the caves cathedral like proportions. It takes about an hour to travel along the walkways - the interior roof is a mass of spectacular stalactites with stalagmites meeting them from the floor forming interesting sculptural shapes - similar to the photo below.
Leaving the cave we headed off to a small mountain village beautifully situated 350 metres high on the Sithonia peninsular. An abandoned and forgotten Turkish village called ParthenĂ³nas, which was rediscovered in the 1970s. A programme of restoration was begun which is now almost completed. 


Sitting beneath the wisteria in the village taverna we could hear a nightingale singing its heart out 
This concludes our happy visit to Greece ♡

42 comments:

  1. Oh Rosemary, you are amazing! I'm so impressed by the photos you took...I have never been there, I feel so strange to discover Greece through your eyes.Thank you!
    Sending hugs and wishes for a lovely week end...
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - I understand that, I would feel the same if you came here and showed places that I had not visited. I am happy that you enjoyed the photos of your beautiful country.

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  2. Wonderful collection of pictures. Nice to see the very old tree!

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    1. There is an olive tree in Lebanon that is over 6,000 years old. This olive tree is probably a few hundred years old.

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  3. Petralona Cave is so interesting Rosemary; I have never heard of the oldest humanoid of Europe being found in Greece. I always enjoy visiting a cave and this one does look beautiful. It reminds me of the Jenolen caves west of Sydney. How incredible that such a pretty village could have been completely forgotten, only to be rediscovered. The restoration looks excellent, and I can imagine the joy of sitting under the wisteria and listening to a nightingale. What precious memories!

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    1. Dear Patricia - I wish I could have taken photos in the cave but it was not to be. The village was abandoned in 1923 after the Treaty of Lausanne which provided for a population exchange between Greece and Turkey. About one and a half million Greeks had to leave Turkey for Greece and half a million Turks had to leave Greece for Turkey. The population exchange was on religious grounds, thus the exchange was officially that of Christians for Muslims. Both nationalities had never lived in their home country for many generations so it must have caused immense difficulties on both sides.
      I heard a nightingale when we were in Croatia, but until then I had not heard one since I was a child. I always think of the song "A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square" - a leafy square in Mayfair, London - where they don't sing anymore.

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    2. I know Berkeley Square! Our hotel was near there last time we went to London...I kept thinking of that song too, whenever we walked through the square.

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  4. Hello Rosemary, Caves and abandoned villages--two of my favorite things! I love how you frame these photos with edges of curved roads and wooden fences; it gives you the feeling of standing right there.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim - I was very disappointed not to be able to take my own photos inside the cave - there were so many spots along the walkway which tempted the camera in my pocket.
      Thank you for the kind comment re the village photos.

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  5. The village looks beautiful and sensitively restored. Will people be able to live there once again?

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    1. All of the houses are privately owned by Greeks, some English I believe, Germans, etc, but tend to be used as holiday homes. Unbelievably it sometimes gets snow up there in the winter.
      There is a lovely little hotel run by a couple of Greeks who spent many years living in Germany. The rooms, and the outside eating area for breakfast looked idyllic.

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  6. So interesting about the rediscovery of the village.
    The views are lovely Rosemary. I do like visiting caves, the one you show us looks impressive. It was a pity regarding No photos, never mind you have this life from the caves in your memory. Wisteria looks delightful when in bloom.
    Take care, Margaret

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    1. Dear Margaret - yes, of course you are right, but I think that you understand as you enjoy taking photos yourself.
      I love wisteria, we had one at our last house. I have just visited a garden nearby and will show some lovely wisteria from that garden in the next post.

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  7. How much these photo remind me of parts of the interior of the north of Portugal.. with the stone houses.. some of slate and the winding cobbled paths.
    I visited years ago the underground caves of Mirandela .. fascinating to see how the staligmites and stalictites form. The bridges are the same. I must say, i was a little nervous going under ground.
    The nightingales are singing here too. I love to hear them.
    I have never been to Turkey.
    You both really travelled to remote parts Rosemary. You must have seen some amazing places.
    The olive trees so familiar to me. We have old ones here too. Not myself .. mine are about 50 to 60 years old.
    Great photos .. pleased that you enjoyed your travels.
    best wishes
    val xx

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    1. Dear Val - many of these stone villages remind me too of your area of Europe, Italy, France, they even look a little like our cotswold village houses.
      There are wonderful caves where I come from in Derbyshire, the Blue John caves, and you actually climb very steeply down and travel through the caves by boat.
      It was a Turkish village Val, but we were in Greece - you may remember that all the Turkish people had to leave Greece in 1923 and the Greeks in Turkey had to leave there and return to Greece.

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  8. Dear Rosemary,what an interesting post!
    I did't know about this villages!I like the stone houses,you can find them in all the Greek villages!
    Your pictures are gorgeous!!I don't like visiting caves!I'm claustrophobic Ha ha!Thank you for sharing with us all your Greek memories!!Wishing you a lovely day!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi - You might have been alright in this cave, it was so big that it resembled the inside of a huge church and was very well lit.
      Glad that you enjoyed my memories of your beautiful country.

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  9. You certainly saw some different sights on your holiday. Do we know why the village was abandoned - who would want to leave such a place with those magnificent views. And as for the caves - wow - they are jaw-droppingly wonderful.

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    1. Dear Elaine - this is a reply I gave to Red Cardinal which I have copied and pasted.
      The village was abandoned in 1923 after the Treaty of Lausanne which provided for a population exchange between Greece and Turkey. About one and a half million Greeks had to leave Turkey for Greece and half a million Turks had to leave Greece for Turkey. The population exchange was on religious grounds, thus the exchange was officially that of Christians for Muslims. Both nationalities had never lived in their home country for many generations so it must have caused immense difficulties on both sides.
      Wish I could have made my own photos inside the cave, but it was not to be.

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  10. A very interesting and informative post Rosemary. Stunning photos and wonderful views, thanks for sharing.
    Patricia x

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    1. Perhaps you will sail around this peninsular on your cruise Patricia - it is very near to Mount Athos - Holy Mountain - where the 20 monasteries are found which can only be visited by men.

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  11. That rose is amazingly beautiful, just stunning in fact. Shame that you could not take pictures in the caves, they probably do it to make you buy a guidebook or postcards! xx

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    1. A pertinent comment Amy - I hadn't thought of that, but I expect you are right. Taking photos without the flash causes no problems whatsoever.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,
    Very nice photos (as always). I do like that first one of the old olive tree. There is something very special, I always think, about ancient trees - living things that have been witness to so much history.
    I've never been to Greece - your posts have made it sounds like a very interesting place to go to!
    Bye for now
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - I suspect that tree is about 200 years old - the oldest olive tree is 6000 years old, which is simply amazing.
      I haven't been to Greece for years, and this area in Greek Macedonia was completely new to us.

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  13. Those caves look incredible and your final pictures of Greece are stunning. How wonderful to hear the nightingale singing too, it must have been quite magical. Sarah x

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    1. I can remember as a child that it was not unusual to hear the nightingales singing, but you hardly ever hear them here anymore. Apparently the UK is at the northern limit of its migratory range and that has contracted in recent years placing it on the amber list for conservation here. By contrast the European breeding population is very high giving it green conservation status, which is good.

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  14. Another lovely post Rosemary. You do get to some interesting places.

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    1. Europe is a very diverse place.

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  15. Beautiful photos, Rosemary! But surely the sun never hides behind clouds in Greece?

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  16. Dear Rosemary,

    Thanks for the tour of this lovely countryside. I would have been tempted to bring home one of those planters that look like so many Colonial American storage jars!

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    1. Hello Mark - I have carried back quite large items on planes, but those are perhaps just a little bit too large - they were lovely though.

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  17. Teatime would be so lovely under the wisteria. Its no wonder that the bird is so thrill. The dog rose? bush is amazing.

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    1. It was so lovely in this quiet village to be entertained by the nightingale's tuneful song.

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  18. I have enjoyed your posts of your holiday in Greece. Another beautiful country, with so much interesting history. Thank you for sharing it with us. Love your beautiful images, especially the brilliant rose bush, so pretty against that background.

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    1. Thank you Betty - I am delighted that you have enjoyed the posts - the rose had a wonderful luminosity about it.

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  19. These photos make you dream, lovely atmosphere throughout !

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  20. What an idyllic situation for a village, abandoned or not. Is it now lived in again, Rosemary? The landscape is wonderfully green, not at all how I imagined Greece from all the images of the sun-baked islands.

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    1. We were in the north of Greece Perpetua - Greek Macedonia, where it doesn't reach such very hot temperatures.

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