Thiva (Thebes) On a BudgetThe City of Thiva (Thebes in ancient times) is a place built on top of history. Dating back to its powerful city-state status in the 4th Century BC, the city was home to legends like Hercules and Dionysus, and laid basis to the famous story of Oedipus as well. Following the Trojan War, Thiva had reached its golden age as a dominant city of the Boeotia region. The glory however was short to last. Around 335 BC, Thiva was all but destroyed by Alexander the Great for siding with the Persians under Xerxes against Athens.
Although present-day Thiva shows few remnants of its former splendor, a closer look at its ruins has revealed much about the past. It is believed that so much more lies beneath the modern day developments, possibly a great Mycenaean palacewhich would further provide evidence for Thebes as a major force in Greek history.
Thiva is located in central Greece, a civilization in the midst of the countryside north of Athens. With periods of industry from its beginnings through the Byzantine Era to present day, most industrial complexes now stand vacant. This city is a great place to get a taste of the slower side of life while still experiencing the gems of history that Greece has to offer.
SightsAs mentioned above, the ruins of ancient Thebes coexist with the modern city of Thiva as it stands today. Taking a day to walk around the city will reveal remnants of the past and ongoing archaeological digs around every corner. On your journey you might run into an excavation directed by Greek archaeologist Vasilios Aravantinos, or stumble upon the ruins of the Apollon Temple on the Ismenion Hill. Much of recent work here has been uncovered by American archaeologists, Stephanie Larson and Kevin Daly. Every single one of these sights has already revealed so much about the classical antiquities and cultural history of the region.
NeighborhoodsThe city's center lies on and around the street called Pindarou. Here you will find just about anything you could need from fresh market goods and pharmacies to clothing stores, ATMs, restaurants, bakeries, bars, coffee shops, and churches. While Pindarou itself is the more commercial stretch of road for shopping, the avenue just west of Pindarou lays home to restaurants, hotels, and stone laid walkways away from the busy car traffic of Pindarou. This is the place where many locals convene to socialize (with the ability to nurse a cup of coffee for 3-hours or more!). Spending some time with the locals in this neighborhood will have you adopting to the Greek pace of life in no time.
ActivitiesAs far as activities go, the Archaeological Museum of Thebes is a must-see for those interested in Thiva's rich history. Artifacts from the local excavations as well as those in the surrounding Boeotia region can be found in displays at the museum. Though it has been closed for several years due to renovations, the museum is now open, exhibiting some new and exciting discoveries from digs in the surrounding areas.
For those interested in urban exploration, the abandoned industrial complexes located throughout the city can be an attraction in itself. Though they sadly stand as a reminder of fading industries, they embody a certain beauty in their states of decay.
Food and DiningFood in Greece is fresh and delicious no matter where you choose to eat. Thiva has many options from the more traditional fare of the restaurant Ladokolla, serving Greek salads, tzatziki, flavorful meat dishes, and seafoodto Greek fast food gyros from a place like Alati Piperi (which are just as delicious, and cheap!). If it happens that you have just about had enough of Greek food, Barbeque Thiva will come to the rescue with more Americanized salads, burgers, and even pulled BBQ sandwiches. For breakfast, or a snack on the go, you cannot pass up any opportunity to visit a Greek bakery. Flaky warm doughs wrapped around anything from melting cheeses and herbs to decadent chocolate will have you hooked in an instant. A great bakery is located just next to the K.T.E.L. bus station mentioned below.
As for drinks, visit a place called The Bar for the freshest mojito you will ever taste. Whether it's a late afternoon libation or after dinner drink, The Bar is a great place to kick back and enjoy being in Greece.
Be aware that most restaurants and businesses are closed during siesta hours from the late afternoon until around 7pm.
TransportationThe K.T.E.L. Bus services main station is located at 10 Estias, Thiva, 32200, Greece. Buses operate to Athens for 8, hourly until 8pm. The ride takes about an hour and a half. Stops to other locations are also located around the city (see K.T.E.L.'s website or call for details).
Trains from Thiva station are located 500m north of the archaeological museum. They depart for Athens and Thessaloniki daily.