Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seven Things To Do In Ancient Neapolis, Greece

Neapolis (“new city”), modern day Kavala, Greece, was nestled snugly in a half-moon bay looking down upon a natural harbor. An ancient port city on the northernmost edge of the Aegean Sea, it effectively divided Macedonia from Thrace. From the harbor, the city sloped away from the shore as a natural amphitheatre, backing into the foothills of Mount Symvolo, providing breathtaking views of nearby islands and the Aegean beyond. Strategically positioned at the point where East meets West, Neapolis enjoyed prosperity through trading. The ancient harbor never rested, with its busy docks. Quite rich in natural resources, nearby mines produced thousands of talents of gold and silver each year.

In the mythical stories recounted in Caenus And the Quiver of Artemis, when Caenus, the prince of Iolkos, competes in Apollo’s Tournament, he crosses swords with Makedon, a brash and ruthless prince from Neapolis. Makedon, who had been bequeathed an immortal long sword by Hephaestus, the Greek god of the blacksmith’s fire, had won the previous three tournaments and his ego will not allow you to forget it. The bad boy of ancient Greece, Makedon has the chiseled, rugged features to cause the ladies to swoon, perhaps even a few goddesses. In fact, the prince of Neapolis is to wed, Kalliste, the most beautiful girl in the world. The massive, opulent wedding is being held in Neapolis… that is until Caenus is spotted talking to Kalliste behind a temple. That, my friends, is when the drama unfolds.

Following are Seven Things To Do In Makedon’s Ancient Neapolis, Greece

1. Visit The Island of Thassos: Located across the Bay of Neapolis, Thassos rises from the sea with an imposing presence. You would have to take a ferry across the bay. On the northern side of the island, huge walls enclosed two harbors, one naval and the other fishing. The beaches of Thassos were pristine and spectacular… and plentiful. Buildings dotted the landscape from the shores to the base of the highest mountain on the island. Halfway up Mount Ipsario sat the Fortress Kastro, a site of interest all by itself. In Caenus and The Quiver of Artemis, Thassos serves as the naval command center for the Empire of Neapolis.

2. Go Hiking High In The Hills Above The City: As the city sat nestled into the hillside, mountainous peaks surrounded the city. The lush landscape into the hills had a myriad of trails that led high toward the summits. A hike along these winding paths is more than worth the effort exerted. You may even happen upon a mountain spring or two. Or a divine looking well… In Caenus’ mythical tales, there exists a famous looking well high in the hills.

3. Visit The Imperial Palace: The most opulent palace in northern Greece, the imperial palace was a sight to behold. Approaching the palace you would have crossed a bridge lined with statues of six of the most important Greek deities; Zeus, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Apollo, and Ares. Then upon entering the ten-foot high palace doors, the grandeur would overwhelm you. This palace is the setting for the wedding between Makedon and Kalliste. The castle still overlooks the modern city of Kavala.

4. Attend Makedon and Kalliste’s Wedding: The most lavish and opulent wedding in ancient Greece, all nobility around the Mediterranean and Aegean had been invited. The most handsome young man in the known world marrying the most beautiful young woman in the known world, it could not get any better. The wedding is being held at the imperial palace. The pre-wedding feast is held in the king’s great hall, an enormously majestic room with ceilings so high one can barely see any details and narrow windows running from floor to ceiling. The support of the room rests upon sturdy buttresses and twelve stone pillars, each representing the twelve Olympian Greek gods.

5. Pass Time In A Local Taverna: Poseidon’s Poison is the most famous, if not infamous, of these tavernas. It is a rather normal establishment. But, in Caenus and The Quiver of Artemis, Caenus and Makedon brush shoulders just outside the place. Drama, Drama, Drama… which happens to be the name of a city nearby to Kavala, Drama. I wonder if it was so named, because of the Drama that unfolds there in the novel???

6. Journey To Ares’ Altar: Traveling east from Neapolis, a well-worn mountain pass spills out onto it the wide-open expanse. Ares’ Altar was an infamous battlefield, so named in honor of the Greek god of war, Ares, whose legendary birthplace in Thrace was not far removed. With high hills to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south, wooded hills to the west and the Nestos River to the east, it seemed carved out especially for the purpose of war. And, forming the bottleneck between east and west, it chose itself as a fitting location for epic battles.

7. Walk In The Footsteps of The Apostle Paul: Neapolis was the first port through which the Apostle Paul’s feet touched European soil. Neapolis’ harbor was strategically located next to the coast road connecting Europe to Asia, a road that would later become the Via Egnatia.

Thank you for taking this ancient tour.

To learn more about the novel, Caenus and The Quiver of Artemis, follow the links below: