Argos

ARGOS - Distance from Ermioni: 89 kms/1.3 hours

Argos gives its name to the whole Argolis region and is the most populated city of the Argolida.  It is a characteristic big Greek city, located 12 kms North of Nafplio, on the main road that takes you past the Mycenaean citadel of Tiryns.  As Argos is one of the oldest cities of Greece, there is a long historic background.  The first findings of human inhabitation in the area are dated approximately by the end of the third millennium BC.  Inachon, was the mythical hero and founder, and the first king of the city.  A later king re-named the city after himself.  The city of Argos is famous for its Castle of Larissa (pictured left) the ancient Roman Agora and large Hellenistic theatre.  The theatre was constructed in the 3rd Century BC with a capacity of 20,000 seats, it is one of the biggest theatres in Greece, far larger than Epidavros. Close by, one can also find the Roman baths and the Nymphaeum. 

The Archaeological Museum of Argos is one place you should visit when exploring the city.  In 1957 the doors were open to the public exhibiting various findings not only from the city of Argos, but from the surrounding areas as well.  Certain findings are dated  from the prehistoric years through to the late Roman period.  Argos was excavated principally by the French School of Archaeology, with excavations still ongoing.  Many of the exhibits are on display at the museum, with information and descriptions in Greek and French. The museum is located close to the Metropolis Cathedral of Saint Peter in the central city square.  The Archaeological Museum is open daily 08:00 - 15:00.  Closed on Mondays.  Admission: 2 Euros.  Presently closed for redevelopment.  

The Castle of Larissa which towers over the city is a Medieval site that the visitor should explore.  The hill over the city was first fortified during the 6th Century BC, and was named after the daughter of the mythical hero Pelasgos.  Some ancient Cyclopean wall sections of the fortifications are still visible, dating from the Mycenaean period, which were incorporated into the 10th Century double-ring of stone walls.  With each new conqueror, additional wall sections, towers and bastions were added to the castle defenses. These invaders included Romans, Frankish Crusaders, Venetians and Ottoman Turks.  Today, you can drive up to the castle and enjoy spectacular panoramic views from the crest of Larissa Hill, the 5 km journey from the central square to the castle crest takes you on a road that 'snakes' right around the castle, giving you great views of the castle from all angles.  The castle overlooks the church of Panaghia, the Hidden Virgin of the Rocks.  This church was originally a monastery, built over an ancient cave sanctuary of the goddess Hera Akraia.  From the battlements of Larissa castle, there are wonderful panoramic views of the whole Argive plain towards Nafplio and the sea, Aspis hill and the beautiful modern monastery of Aghia Marina.  

Aspis (Aspida) and the ancient city of Deiras lies below the castle of Larissa, on a circular wooded hill.  Archaeological ruins at the bottom of the hill have identified the sanctuary of Pythia Apollo and Athena the Sagacious, erected in the 5th Century BC.  During the excavations of the sanctuary area, tombs, temples and an ancient market with its stoa were found.  At the summit of Aspis hill there are the pre-Mycenaean ruins of ancient Deiras from the middle bronze age 2000-1600 BC (pictured right), the small chapel of Aghios Elias and close by a small taverna where you can get food and refreshments during the high summer months.  Driving from the city centre, the entrance to the Aspis is on the right of the junction that turns left up to the Castle of Larissa, a further 3.5kms away.

The Ancient Agora is located on the slopes of Mt. Larissa to the South-East of the castle. The archaeological site includes the large Hellenistic theatre, which originally included 20,000 seats due to the relocation of the Nemean games to Argos.  The existing theatre seats are carved directly into the rock, but almost half the seats have now gone.  Close by there is the smaller older 5th Century BC Odeon theatre, so called as the Romans later covered this theatre with a roof, which could seat an audience of up to 1,800 people. It's quite possible that the ancient Greek writers like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes knew both these theatres. The Nymphaeum is close to the large theatre, once a monumental Roman drinking fountain and the Aqueduct, built during Hadrian's time, that brought fresh water to Argos from the nearby mountain.  Water was required for the thirsty population, and also for the giant Roman baths that are the centrepiece of the archaeological site, constructed from Roman mud-bricks.  At the far side of the Odeon there is the ancient Sanctuary of Aphrodite, and the ancient Agora (market place) is located across the modern road from the main archaeological site.  Argos was initially destroyed by the Visigoths in 395-396 AD and later by the Ottoman Turks in 1397 and 1821. The Ancient Agora archaeological site is open daily 08:00 - 15:00.  Admission: Free



Argos of today has been built in a giant oval shape and has plenty of traditional and modern shops, from quaint haberdashery shops to the latest fashion boutiques.  In the city's central plateia square, is the large Metropolis Cathedral of Saint Peter, surrounded by many cafes, kiosks, bistro's and bars.  Close by is the recently renovated Archaeological Museum of Argos and the Barracks of Kapodistrias, originally built in the 1690's.  Opposite the barracks there is a very large market place, with a colourful outdoor market held every week on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.  This market area was redeveloped in 2017 and is now pedestrianised, apart from the taxi stand, with the original 19th Century Meat and Fish market building, constructed in 1889. Around the area of Saint Peter's cathedral, there are many streets and pedestrian avenues where you can shop to your hearts content, then later relax in the numerous cafes located around the main square, along the avenues and most street corners.  

Approaching Argos from Nafplio and Tiryns, you arrive and cross the Peloponnese Railway track, and turn right at the T-junction towards Argos.  Immediately after this junction, you can turn left and head directly towards the Ancient Agora archaeological site, however, if you want to get to the city centre, then continue straight and follow the one-way system.  After passing the Argos railway station on your right, turn left at the 'City Centre' signpost and continue straight on until you reach Saint Peter's main square*.  If you wish to visit the Castle of Larissa or the Aspis, then continue straight on and pass the main square and market place until you reach a 3-way junction.  At this junction, on the left there is a small road leading to the Panaghia church.  Turn right for the Aspis archaeological site.  A little further on, turn left for access on a small winding road leading up to the castle of Larissa.

Parking in the centre of Argos can be a little difficult, as most of the original streets are narrow, with parking allowed on one side of the street only.  However, there are a number of paying car-parks within the centre, and free street parking if you are prepared to park your vehicle just outside the city centre and walk a few minutes.  Whatever you choose, you'll have plenty to see and explore.

*Please note:  The main square of St Peter's has been redeveloped recently, together with the main open-market square, with most public areas within the centre now being pedestrianised.  All motorised transport is now re-routed on a one-way system around the outer perimiter of the city centre.

The Argos Archaeological Museum is presently closed, undergoing internal redevelopment.

Location

Argos City Centre
Greece
37° 38' 7.9224" N, 22° 43' 43.6548" E
Picture Gallery
Argos: Cathedral of St John in the main square Argos: St John's Square following redevelopment Argos: St John's Square with Castle of Larissa in background Argos: Archaeological museum near the main square Argos: Barracks of Kapodistrias built in 1690's opposite the market Argos: Meat and Fish market built in 1889 Argos: Fresh fruit and vegetables at the open market Argos: Market day every Wednesday and Saturday Argos: Ancient Greek and Roman Agora site Argos: Ancient theatre within the Agora market area Argos: Entrance approach to the archaeological site Argos: The Hellenistic 20,000 seater theatre Argos: Only half of the theatre stone seats remain Argos: The large 3rd Century BC theatre Argos: Artists drawing of the theatre during the Roman period Argos: The Roman Nymphaeum water fountain Argos: The interior section of the Roman baths Argos: The Roman Therme baths red mud-brick building Argos: The smaller Roman Odeon theatre Argos: Aspis sanctuary - Larissa castle in the distance Argos: Aspis sanctuary - General view of the ancient site Argos: Aspis sanctuary - Temples of Apollo and Athena Argos: Aspis - City wall foundations of ancient Deiras Argos: Aspis Deiras - Pre-Mycenaean city of Deiras Argos: Aspis hill-top taverna above the ancient city of Deiras Argos: Aspis hill-top chapel of Aghios Elias Argos: Church of Panaghia 'the hidden Virgin of the rocks' Argos: The modern Monastery of Marina below the castle Argos: Castle of Larissa overlooking the city of Argos Argos: Castle of Larissa from the South-Western approach Argos: Castle bastion towers built by various conquerors Argos: Main entrance gateway into the castle of Larissa Argos: Secondary gateway behind the main castle entrance Argos: Different period levels of castle stone fortification Argos: Original Mycenaean stone fortification in the centre Argos: Inner walls and towers of the castle of Larissa Argos: Close up view of the Frankish Crusader castle Argos: Castle outer wall overlooking the modern city Argos: City view towards Nafplio from the castle of Larissa Argos: Plan of the city