14 Most Fascinating Historical Sites in Greece
Greece’s classical antiquity sites have endured the test of time and this is in addition to its contributions to philosophy, astrology, and medicine. Greece, which is regarded as the cradle of western civilization, is like a living history book. The Acropolis, Akrotiri, and Mystras are three well-known historical sites in Greece that have a combined age of more than a thousand years.
Historical sites are a great way to learn about the fascinating history of a country. Greece is no exception, and there are many excellent historical sites to visit. Greece is a country full of rich history, and there are plenty of amazing historical sites to visit if you’re planning a trip there. From ancient castles to world-famous archaeological sites, here are fourteen (14) of the best historical sites in Greece to get you started:
The Acropolis of Athens
Given how recognizable the Acropolis of Athens is, it’s possible that when you think of Athens or Greece in terms of ancient legacy, you immediately think of it. It has a long history that is connected with the development of time up to modernity and dates back at least to the Bronze Age.
The highest point in the city is known as the “Acropolis,” and it is up a slope on a high bluff that you must climb to get to these amazing structures. Attracting a huge number of visitors each year, the Acropolis is currently one of Greece’s most well-known historical attractions.
A complex or fortified citadel situated on a high elevation that is easily defendable from prospective threats or invaders qualifies as an acropolis, which is a word used not only for the one in Athens but for many of the ancient cities dispersed throughout Greece. Due to its location atop a tall rocky hill still known as “the sacred rock,” the Acropolis of Athens rules over Athens.
Among the many buildings on the Acropolis, the Parthenon, a magnificent temple to Athena, the city of Athens’ patron goddess, is the most well-known. Initially, the Acropolis was a typical citadel with people living inside its walls.
Along with the Parthenon, the Acropolis also has other famous structures including the Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike. An extraordinary variety of exhibits and antiquities from the Acropolis itself are housed in the nearby, recently opened Acropolis Museum. After the marbles were taken from the Acropolis by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, a large portion of the artwork that graced the Parthenon is now on display at the British Museum. Should the Elgin Marbles be returned to Greece from the British Museum, empty areas have been purposefully left at the Acropolis Museum to show that Greece is immediately able to host and care for them.
In 1987, UNESCO named the Acropolis a World Heritage Site.
On top of a hill, Mystras looks down onto Sparta. A castle was decided to be built there as a defense against the Byzantines in roughly 1248–1249 by William II of Villehardouin, a prince of Achaea who had participated in the Fourth Crusade.
Mystras, a significant archaeological site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, was most likely abandoned around 1832.
The so-called “wonders of Morea” were a collection of buildings that were constructed during the city’s bustling period and included numerous churches, palaces, homes, and other buildings, including its renowned citadel.
Several Byzantine churches, a monastery, as well as the castle, several roadways, and the fortress walls, are all that are left in Mystras today. These ruins are scattered throughout an amazing landscape.
Particularly nicely kept up is the site’s entrance. The neighboring Mystras Museum houses artifacts from the location.
The ancient Greeks believed Delphi to be the center of the world. An omphalos (navel), a stone monument, marks the location. You should thus explore one of the most amazing ancient sites in the world, where heaven and earth once collided while touring Greece’s historical landmarks.
The location functioned as Pythia’s headquarters beginning in the eighth century BC. Pythia was a significant oracle with a worldwide reputation who was consulted about significant choices throughout the ancient world.
It was also the spot where the spirit of Apollo was infused into the Delphic oracle.
The site, which was constructed on the southern slope of Mount Parnassus, was managed by an amphictyony, a group of individuals recruited primarily from Central Greece. Delphi had a great impact on ancient Greece, as evidenced by the fact that every notable ancient Greek city-state erected numerous monuments there.
Many of the city’s remains still stand today, including the Temple of Apollo, treasury, the theater, and sports buildings like the stadium where the Pythian Games, an athletic competition that drew contestants from all across Greece, were conducted.
Santorini’s Akrotiri is a superbly preserved prehistoric monument known for its amazing frescoes and its association with the Minoans. Today, this is one of Greece’s most important historical landmarks, protected by a bioclimatic roof.
As a tiny fishing and farming community, Akrotiri was inhabited as early as the fourth millennium BC, and some even claim it was inhabited earlier. In the following millennium, during the Bronze Age, it would thereafter prosper and expand into a larger settlement measuring up to 20 hectares.
Some say that Akrotiri was finally abandoned in the 17th century BC as a result of more regular earthquakes in the region, but it was actually a volcanic explosion that put an end to the story of this wonderful location.
The settlement was excavated after 1967. It had been covered in volcanic ash, which had preserved many of the fine frescoes and artworks.
The impressive Akrotiri ruins today serve as a reminder of the advanced urban settlement that once occupied the area. The structures are not just multi-story, but many of them also include vibrant frescoes with a variety of subjects.
Akrotiri also has a different claim to fame. Akrotiri was thought to have been a Minoan site and was connected to Knossos, according to popular consensus. Some have gone even further, asserting that it was the Atlantis’ lost city.
On the outskirts of the contemporary city of Heraklion, Crete, is Knossos, a significant ancient site. Around 7000 BC is when Knossos is thought to have originally been settled, and people continued to live there until the reign of the Ancient Romans.
Knossos was extensively excavated and rebuilt in the nineteenth century by archaeologist Arthur Evans, revealing a plethora of historical treasures, not least of which is its numerous intriguing ruins.
Meteora, one of Greece’s most significant historical monuments, is home to six monasteries that were constructed on enormous natural pillars and stones that resemble hills. The first records of these monasteries date back to the 11th century when the first hermits arrived in the region. It is a gorgeous place of great significance, only second in importance to Mount Athos. In terms of total size, Meteora is Greece’s greatest archaeological site.
In fact, the word “Meteora” literally translates as “suspended in the air.” It is thought that a community of monks who lived in solitude during the eleventh century first resided in the locations in which the Meteora monasteries were established. But many of the Meteora monasteries still standing today originate from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.
Perhaps the most significant of the monasteries at Meteora is the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, which was constructed in the middle of the fourteenth century and is now a museum. The monasteries of Agias Triodos, Agiou Nikolaou, Varlaam, Agias Varvaras Rousanou, and Agiou Stefanou are among the others in Meteora.
Women must cover their knees and generally dress modestly when visiting Meteora, and men must also cover their bodies.
Dion is one of the most fascinating historical sites in Greece. It is located at the foot of Mount Olympus and dates back to the fifth century BC. Zeus, who was thought to reside at the mountain’s summit, was highly revered by the ancient Macedonians, who used the city as a sacred location and a place of worship for the Olympian gods.
The Archaeological Park of Dion is home to several springs, villas, a Roman theater, the ruins of a Christian basilica, public baths, and some temples, including the Temple of Demeter, the Temple of Zeus Hypsistos, and the Temple of Isis.
The first Olympic Games were staged in Olympia, a thriving Ancient Greek city, in 776 BC to honor the Greek god Zeus. The Olympian Games elevated Olympia’s prestige as a nation by drawing athletes and spectators from all over the nation. They persisted until 394 AD when Roman Emperor Theodosius I put an end to them because he viewed them as a “pagan religion.”
Olympia presently exhibits the results of this steady development through places like the Treasuries, the Temple of Hera, which is revered for its religious significance and is located within the Altis holy precinct, and the Pelopion, which is said to be the fabled Pelops’s tomb. Around 600 BC, these were constructed. Even the Olympic Stadium, a specially constructed space with a capacity of over 50,000 people, was improved. It was constructed around 560 BC. Even now, it is still possible to see the ruins of this magnificent stadium.
Temple of Hephaestus
In the Athenian Agora, there lies an enormous ancient Greek temple called the Temple of Hephaestus. According to some, it is Greece’s best-preserved ancient Greek temple.
During the “golden age” of Classical Athens, in the 5th century BC, the Temple was built. Its construction was dated by archaeologists to the middle of the Fifth Century (c.449 BC). The Temple, which is located in the Athenian Agora, is made out of sturdy Doric columns that are arranged in a hexastyle (6 by 13 columns).
The Temple was built out of Pentelic marble and was devoted to Hephaestus, the deity of fire and blacksmiths, just like its more modern and well-known counterparts that dot the Acropolis. But this Temple also served as a place of worship for Athena, the city’s patron goddess. Bronze statues of both of these gods were erected inside the Temple, according to the ancient author Pausanias.
Because it was formerly thought that the remains of the legendary Athenian king Theseus were interred here, the Temple of Hephaestus is occasionally referred to as the “Theseum.” The Church of Agios Georgios later included the Temple of Hephaestus, which accounts for its superb condition.
The most well-preserved ancient Greek temple in Greece is currently the Temple of Hephaestus. It is a must-see location for anybody traveling to Athens and is located within the ruins of the lovely Athenian agora. You may see the Temple’s ruins hidden among the Agora’s trees when looking north from the top of the Acropolis.
One of the most significant and well-known Greek historical sites is Mycenae. During the second millennium BC, it was one of the main capitals of Greek culture, with its military ruling most of southern Greece, Crete, and the Cyclades. It is situated in the northeastern Peloponnese.
When the Mycenaean civilization was at its height, between 1350 and 1200 BC, Mycenae was likely constructed. The Cyclopean walls, the Lion Gate, the chamber tombs, and the palace ruins are a few of the site’s most significant monuments.
Mycenae, which is thought to have been inhabited since the Neolithic period, grew into a fortified metropolis and was once controlled by the illustrious King Agamemnon. It shares connections with several important cultural works, such as the Odyssey and the Iliad.
The Lion’s Gate and the North Gate are just two of the Mycenae sites that have survived to the present day. At Mycenae, there are a few additional houses, as well as a granary and a few guard quarters.
The Tomb of Agamemnon itself is undoubtedly the most outstanding of Mycenae’s sites and the most impressive of the burial sites. The hills around Mycenae include a once-ornate tomb from the thirteenth century BC.
There is also the Mausoleum of Clytemnestra, a massive tomb resembling a tholos built in 1200 BC.
Heinrich Schliemann, a successful German merchant, is credited for excavating the Mycenae site. Grave Circle A, which is located in the bottom right corner of the citadel, was unearthed by Schliemann and his colleagues. The “Mask of Agamemnon” was among the skeletons and additional regal gold found in the shaft tombs. Schliemann would be disappointed to learn that more recent archaeological research on this gold face mask reveals it was made around 1600 BC, which is many centuries before the Trojan War.
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses many of the most well-known finds from Mycenae, including the golden face mask of ‘Agamemnon’.
At Mycenae, there is also a museum that houses a wide range of additional artifacts discovered during excavations.
On the Argolid Peninsula on the Saronic Gulf, Epidaurus was a tiny city-state in ancient Greece. The archaeological site now consists of a number of historic structures arranged over two terraces and encircled by a landscape that has been conserved.
The Sanctuary of Asklepios, the temple of Artemis, the Tholos, the Enkoimeterion, and the Propylaia are just a few of the many magnificent monuments that show the importance and strength of the healing gods of the Hellenic and Roman cultures.
Epidaurus’ theater is still in use today and is regarded as a masterpiece of architecture.
Sparta, which was Athens’ principal competitor in ancient Greece, took great pleasure in the iron-hearted warrior culture that served as the foundation of their society.
Compared to many of the Greek towns of antiquity, Sparta’s archaeological site is larger and more dispersed. One of the better-preserved and studied ruins is known as the Menelaion because it is also the fabled residence of Menelaus, Agamemnon’s brother.
The Spartan ruins still contain an acropolis and a city with a theater despite their lack of magnificent structures and rich artistic culture.
The historic city of Corinth is situated on a small peninsula that connects mainland Greece and the Peloponnese.
The city was one of Greece’s great cities before it was conquered by the Romans in 146 BC, and it thrived in commerce as a result of its strategic location.
The city thrived under the Romans, which is why the most intriguing remains to see here are of Roman construction. Visit the Aphrodite Temple, the Apollo Temple, and the Roman Forum while you’re there. A sacred spring and a little shrine are also close by, and there is also a hidden passageway.
Grand Master’s Palace of Rhodes
The residence of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John was the Grandmasters Palace of Rhodes. The Grandmasters Palace, which dates to the fourteenth century (about 1309), served as the headquarters of this illustrious Christian and military order until Rhodes was conquered by the Ottomans in 1522.
The structure lost its significance and was mostly utilized as a prison after the Ottomans took over Rhodos in 1522. Multiple earthquakes gradually weakened the structure until, in 1865, a horrific explosion in the basement of the adjoining church of St. John, which the Ottomans used as an armory, reduced the Palace to a heap of ruins.
A museum and exhibition space are now located in the Grand Master’s Palace. Two ongoing exhibits about Rhodes’ prehistoric and medieval past are on display on the ground floor, while on the first story, guests may view the Palace’s beautiful rooms that have been restored as well as its amazing floor mosaics.
The mosaics were transferred there during the Italian restoration to beautify the room. They date from the late Hellenistic period and were originally primarily from Kos.
For individuals who value the historical and cultural legacy of classical antiquity, Greece is the ideal travel destination. It offers everyone the chance to travel back in time and learn about the way of life of the ancient Greeks because it is full of archaeological sites and historical artifacts.
Some of the most interesting and historic sites in Greece include Athens, Corinth, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Olympia, Pella Argyroupolis Temple of Zeus, Grand Master’s Palace of Rhodes, Dion, Akrotiri and much more that have been discussed extensively in this article. Please save this list for your vacation in Greece!