Enjoy the Greek odyssey with Bettany Hughes

A Greek Odyssey with Bettany Hughes; (Channel 5, 9pm)

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 5:00 pm
Bettany sees the tradition of a warm Greek welcome is very much alive today on Chios
Bettany sees the tradition of a warm Greek welcome is very much alive today on Chios

Whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches, the turquoise Aegean Sea and delicious gyros – it’s no wonder us Brits make around three million visits to Greece each year.

Yet while the mainland holds the Acropolis and evidence of an ancient civilisation, it’s the magical islands that really draw us in.

Greece has many islands, with estimates ranging from somewhere around 1,200 to 6,000, depending on the minimum size taken into account.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Tourism in the area is slowly getting back up and running following the coronavirus restrictions, and sadly many of us aren’t quite able to explore the rich history of Greek Islands again just yet.

However, Bettany Hughes has the next best thing.

In this new series, the historian, author and broadcaster embarks on the journey of a lifetime – travelling across the stunningly beautiful Greek Islands from the coast of Turkey – where the mythical Trojan War took place – to the island of Ithaca in the west of Greece.

Sailing through the islands, on her very own Odyssey, Bettany explores Greece from the time of the Ancients right up to the present day.

She will uncover incredible new archaeological discoveries, reveal hidden treasures and secrets, explain the truth around the myths and legends of the ancient world, and visit iconic sites.

Bettany begins in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean finding a graveyard of ancient shipwrecks.

She meets underwater archaeologist George Koutsouflakis, who takes her to the site of an incredible discovery – 58 shipwrecks dating back 2,500 years.

These ships and their crews met a watery end travelling this busy trade route.

It’s a sobering first-hand experience that shows the dangers sailors from the ancient world would have faced on these seas, just as sailors do today.

Bettany sees the tradition of a warm Greek welcome is very much alive today on Chios, fifth largest of the islands, situated in the northern Aegean Sea.

This ancient custom of hospitality and welcoming of travellers even has its own name: ‘Philoxenia’ or ‘a love of strangers’.

Next, Bettany explores the island of Lesbos, which is filled with incredible stories.

Famous as the birthplace of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, Lesbos is also known for producing anise-flavored liqueur ouzo.

She visits the ancient Greek Theatre of Mytilene, which the Romans used as a design prototype and built copies of throughout their empire, and also takes a dip in the island’s thermal waters, enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

Finally, Bettany stops on Samos, an island known for its ancient naval power, sweet Muscat wine and its famous sixth-century BC resident, mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras.

Bettany experiences a more playful side of mathematics with a local ceramicist before seeing how mathematical engineering built the underground aqueduct the Tunnel of Eupalinos.

Torch in hand, Bettany explains how the tunnel provided a vital water supply more than 2,500 years ago before heading back to the harbour and sailing onto her next adventure.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we Brits are flocking back to these beautiful and fascinating islands.

They are thousands if not millions of years in the making, and as Bettany’s new series proves, they will be just as alluring when we do return.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.

You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to newsletter.co.uk

With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Thank you