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In the footsteps of… Aristotle

Wax philosophical in northern Greece

In the footsteps of… Aristotle
Portokali Beach, Kavourotypes, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece. Image: Getty

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Halkidiki, the scenic three-fingered peninsula that juts from the northern Greek mainland into the Aegean Sea, was the birthplace of Aristotle, and this year is the 2,400th anniversary of his birth. He may be half a millennia older than Christ, but Greece’s prolific writer, polymath, philosopher and scientist will be celebrated with an array of festivities that includes the recently opened Aristotle Trail, as well as a dedicated ‘theme park’.

Along with Socrates and Plato, Aristotle was the person responsible for laying out much of the groundwork for western philosophy. Teacher of Alexander the Great, he was credited for creating the peripatetic (wandering) school, so fond was he of lecturing on the hoof. You can follow in his footsteps along a magnificent mountain trail that rises up from the ruins of ancient Stagira, where the philosopher was born in 384BC, following a path across the Aristotelian Mountain overlooking the Aegean, concluding 22km later in the modern village of the same name. The Aristotle Trail can also be linked to a number of shorter satellite walks and mountain bike tracks.

Even if you’re not wildly keen on visiting Aristotle’s Park, the setting alone makes it worthwhile, surrounded as it is by fragrant pine and cypress forest on the southern slopes of Stratonikos Mountain, overlooking the gulf of Ierissos. Learn about Aristotle’s laws in a display of instruments that includes a solar clock, lens, compass, pentaphone and pendulum.

Further details of the Aristotle festivities should be available in early 2016. visit-halkidiki.gr

How to do it
Greek specialist tour operator, Sunvil, is working with local hotels to offer Aristotle tours. Stay at the Liotopi and Akroyiali hotels in Olymbiada and guests can book into various Aristotle-related activities, such as a guided tour of ancient Stagira, his birthplace, a two-hour trek from Aristotle’s Park in Stagira to the village of Olymbiada through the mountains, tickets to a talk on the life and work of Aristotle by a professor from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, and a cooking workshop with ancient recipes from Stagira. sunvil.co.uk

Published in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)