Greek Ramblings
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Argo

Argos is a small town about 15 minutes from Nafplio. There are buses every half hour from Nafplio, on the hour and the half hour. Return buses from Argos go at the same times. You buy tickets on the bus and in December 2011 a single was 1.60 euros.

The castle at Argos is the most attention-catching aspect of the town. Itís visible from miles around. In fact, when you are in back in Nafplio, if you go to a spot where you can look out across the bay youíll be able to see it.


View from the Nyphaeun across Argos to Nafplio

Argos also has a really interesting Roman site and ancient theatre which are well worth exploring, as well as a small archaeological museum.

Argos itself is a modern sprawl that often has traffic clogging up its narrow streets (you may have found yourself stuck in it on the bus from Athens).

Things have improved a bit in recent years as more of the streets have been pedestrianised, making it more pleasant to walk around.

Like most old-fashioned Greek provincial towns it has its charms, but it can't be said it's a very beautiful place.

Thereís a really good market here on Wednesdays. It takes over the large car park close to the central square. Itís bigger than the one at Nafplio, and as well as fruit and veg has a lot of clothes, shoes and other goods. If you want to experience a really lively, local Greek market this is one to come to.

Argos Roman and ancient Greek ruins

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ancient theatre in Argos

These are really worth visiting. They are substantial and impressive, and very little visited.

They arenít quite as grand as some of the more famous sites, but they wonít be crowded and are full of interest.

Work on the site in recent years has meant it is much more accessible and there is more information available, so you can get a lot more from your visit. Entrance is free.

To get to the sites follow the signs to the Ancient Theatre. Itís about 10 minutes walk from the bus station.

If you use the fort as a guide, and are standing facing it, the theatre is at the base of the hill, on your left.

The theatre is earlier than Roman, although adapted by the Romans. It is impressive, with lots of seats intact, giving you a real feeling of what it was like in ancient times.

It is smaller than Epidavrus and less well tended but on the other hand you are likely to have it pretty much to yourself.

Roman baths and Agora

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remains of the roman hypocaust

Next to the theatre are extensive remains of the roman baths.

You can see the hypocaust which heated the baths, substantial remains of walls, and the odd bit of mosaic and fallen columns.

Across the road are the remains of the Agora. As well as information boards there is a big picture of how this would have looked on the side of one of the houses overlooking the Agora.

Ancient Greek Nymphaion, Roman Kriterion and water aqueduct


footpath to Kriterion, showing deep water gully running alongside the path

In theory, you can walk across to the Nymphaion from the theatre Ė go right to the top of the theatre, and turn right.

However, this gate was locked when we were there. If this is the case then you need to go back to the theatre entrance, turn left and walk a few yards along the main road, then left through houses. There are brown archaeological site signs to indicate where to turn.

The Nymphaion and Kriterion are always open, and free to get in. Itís really worth walking the extra to visit them.

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The Nyphaeun, a level platform where trials and public meetings were held

The Kriterion is an old Roman fountain and water system built by Hadrian.

Water from here was used in the baths and villas of Roman Argos and was piped up to 30 km to irrigate the plain.

You can see the niches where statues stood, as well as the old gullies along which the water ran, and the remains of water tanks.

In front of it is the Nyphaeun, a level platform where trials and public meetings were held. It dates from around 50 BC.

You get good views across the town of Argos back to Nafplio, and can see clearly the distinctive shape of the hill on which the Palamidi is built.

A path takes you from here along the hill-side to the back of the theatre. Assuming you havenít come this way it is well worth following to see the waterways carved out of the rock. There is also a 3rd century BC figure of a horseman carved into a rock about half way along on your right.

The path is well maintained, and there are good information boards along the way.

Fort

Weíve never actually made it up to the fort in Argos, although it looks like it would be a really interesting outing.

Someone I met in Nafplio, who was staying with friends in Argos, told me he'd cycled, run, and walked up to the fort. Suspecting he was a lot more energetic than us (he was just emerging from a swim on a cold December day) I asked how long he thought it would take to walk up from the town, and he admited it was at least an hour's walk up the road.

He hadn't been able to find a footpath, and neither had we when we explored on a previous occasion, despite it looking tantalisingly like it should be possible.

He said it was worth the effort of getting there - the fort itself is interesting, and there are great views over Argos to the hills, and out across the bay to Nafplio.

It would always be possible to get a taxi from Argos (loads of them near the bus station) to take you up there, and collect you later. On our list for a future visit!