Katakolon (tours to Olympia), Greece cruises

Katakolon is an attractive port set against a backdrop of rolling mountains, giving way to the Ionian Sea and separating the ocean from the Gulf of Kyparissia. This is a stunning step into the past.

From Katakolon, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient wonder Olympia, with extensive and well-preserved ruins that include a stadium and temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus.

Step back in time to almost 3,000 years ago, where ancient glory awaits at Olympia: the birthplace of the Olympic games. The marble starting blocks where 20,000 spectators once stood to watch the Olympians are still visible. The eternal flame of Attis casts its unwavering gaze over the site, and today sends off the torch on its journey.

Katakolon has been a port for a long time, and it was initially built to allow the transportation of goods to other major European ports. A rail link was completed between Katakolon and Pyrgos in 1881, and remnants of the old town can still be seen in the old warehouse buildings along the backstreets.

Olympia is an unmissable site to witness on your Greek cruise. Atmospheric, eerie and fascinating, you can easily spend a day wandering these ancient ruins and soaking up every relic of the past that still remains.

Olympia was where the Ancient Greeks celebrated the Olympic Games, once every four years for a least 1,000 years! Situated in an Elis valley, Olympia was also a national shrine to the gods, and contained a number of temples, monuments, theaters and statues.

The Games were abolished in 393 AD by Emperor Theodosius I. The destruction of the site means that little remains of the architecture, but the rubble and ruins do manage to evoke a sense of a glorious past of sportsmanship and competition. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Olympic flame is still lit here for the modern games. Highlights include the Temple of Zeus, only one column of which remains, but it helps you to imagine the sheer size of this structure when it stood as a whole. Also look out for Phidias’ workshop, where the huge statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was sculpted.

The epic stadium lies east of the Altis and, unusually for a stadium, is rectangular. A few areas of note still survive, such as the judges’ seats and the start and finish lines for the sprint track. Although in its time the stadium could seat a whopping 45,000 spectators, slaves and women still had to watch from outside, on the Hill of Kronos.

Katakolon town

There is plenty in this seaside town to keep you entertained on your Katakolon cruise. Kourouta Beach is a beautiful place to soak up the sun. Thatched umbrellas and beach beds ensure you can relax in style and enjoy the views out to sea. The water here is warm and calm so it is perfect for swimming.

There are two museums: the Katakolon Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, which is an easy walk from the port and features a collection of inventions dating from 2000 BC to 100 AD, and the Museum of Ancient Greek Musical Instruments, allowing you to become fully immersed in fascinating Greek history.

It is well worth making the time to explore the Katakolon Lighthouse. Built in 1865, it dominates part of the entrance to the port. It is 30 feet tall and offers a nautical scope of 18 to 19 nautical miles.