The Temple of Vassae

Coming around the last turn in the road and suddenly seeing the gray limestone columns of this 5th-century Doric temple to Apollo used to be one of the great sights in the Peloponnese. It seemed almost impossible that such a staggeringly impressive building should have been built in such a remote location -- and designed by Ictinus, the architect of the Parthenon. Evidently, the temple was built by the inhabitants of the tiny hamlet of Phigaleia, to thank Apollo for saving them from a severe plague.

If you saw the temple before it disappeared under its tent, cherish your memory and don't bother to visit now. The tent fits so snugly that the only way to get a sense of what the temple actually looks like is to buy a postcard.

Every year, the guard at Vassae says that he hopes that the temple will be mended and the tent removed "next year," a phrase that in Greek does not carry the specificity that its translation into English implies! In the summer of 2000, the Committee for the Preservation of the Temple announced government-funded plans to begin a 20-year restoration. Initially, the foundation along the temple's north end, along with 10 columns, will be restored. Of course, when this vital work begins -- which it had not at press time -- and while it goes on, the temple itself will be even less visible to visitors.

Visiting hours to the currently shrouded monument are usually daily from 8am to 7pm in summer, to 3pm in winter. Admission is 3€.

The Village of Andritsena

Tiny Andritsena has one of the finest small libraries in Greece, the legacy of a 19th-century philhellene. If you like old books, check to see if the Nikolopoulos Andritsena Library, just off the main street, is open (irregular hours, excellent English video on the collection). If you can't visit the library, you can console yourself reading online at the Club Mylos Internet Café on the plateia.

The small folk museum, on the plateia below the main street, is usually locked, despite its posted hours. Admission is 2€; contributions are welcome. To see the endearing collection of local wedding costumes, rugs, farm tools, and family photographs, ask to be let in at the house nearest to the museum. If the people there don't have the keys, they'll phone Kyria Vasso at the Sigouri restaurant .

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.