Home of learned philosophers, striking architecture and the baby-steps of what we now call modern civilisation, Ancient Greece played an undeniably important role in the formation of the world as we know it, with many remaining relics still in existence today. From the often repeated quotes of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle to togas being rolled out whenever someone has a fancy dress party outside of October, Greece has a fascinating history we are constantly reminded of today. However, it’s in the many examples of ancient architecture where these remnants of the past are most informative and fascinating.
With such a celebrated past, you can understand why the Greeks put such care into the many ancient sites across their gorgeous country – with a large majority being maintained and redeveloped to best tell their nation’s epic history.
In this blog, we’ll take you on a brief tour of some of the most beautiful Greek ruins and where they are in relation to popular destinations. Visits to these sites are an immersive history lesson for all students of life, where the only homework you’ll have is sharing the amazing pictures you take at each ancient monument.
Found in: Athens
Starting in the capital city of Athens, this is perhaps the most famous of all historical sites in Greece. Towering over the city below, the Acropolis complex has a number of interesting structures within its grounds including the Parthenon, the Old Temple of Athena and Erechtheion. A must-see when in Athens, it’s the city’s greatest hit – its Bohemian Rhapsody if you will.
Considered by the Ancient Greeks as the centre of the world, Delphi is similar to the Acropolis in that it has a number of individual monuments and relics within its perimeter. The most famous ruin here is the striking Temple of Apollo, which hasn’t just stood the test of time, it’s passed with flying colours. Standing proudly since the 4th century BC, the site has been ravaged by natural disasters and invading hordes aplenty over the years, but it still remains largely intact for your viewing pleasure.
Found in: the Peloponnese – approximately 124 kilometres from Kalamata
Olympia is a sanctuary dedicated to the gods, namely the head honcho himself, Zeus, it was also the original location of the Pan-Hellenic Games, which blossomed into what we now know as the Olympics (I bet you knew that name sounded familiar, eh?). Once home to a huge statue of Zeus that was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the site now contains a myriad of ruins including the ancient baths and various temples.
Found in: Crete
Knossos is the beautiful ruins of an expansive palace and the mythological home of Theseus and the Minotaur. The site is known across Greece for its intricate artworks and detailed murals, while the royal chambers, porticoes and irrigation drains are a fascinating glimpse into just how advanced and intelligent the Greeks really were – forgetting about the whole half man/half bull story for a second anyway.
Found in: modern Corinth (the Peloponnese) – approximately 83 kilometres from Athens
The ancient city of Corinth is found on the narrow stretch of land that connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese. An interesting change of pace from the previous entries, most of the landmarks of note here are of the Roman variety. Due to the city’s most prosperous period coinciding with Roman rule, the main attractions of the Temple of Aphrodite, Temple of Apollo and the Roman Forum sport a variation on the usual Greek ruin.
Found in: Rhodes Town
Found in Rhodes Town, the Grand Master’s Palace was built in the 14th century by the knights of Rhodes and used as a fortress to defend against the Ottomans. It was mostly destroyed in an explosion in 1856, meaning it had to be rebuilt. A job that was undertaken primarily by the Italians, leading to it possessing a unique architectural style quite unlike any other site in Greece.
Found in: Athens
Coming full circle, the Cathedral of Athens is another architectural gem in the Greek capital. Though not specifcally a ruin, the fact that the cathedral dates back to 1842, we wanted to included it anyway. Its construction was anything but simple as financial problems and the death of many of builders meant it had to be built in four disparate stages, but now, blessed with a style like no other structure in Athens, the pleasures of witnessing it are abundantly simple.
Greece has an extensive history matched by very few countries around the world, and one of the best ways of taking this story in is by visiting its many unparalleled ruins. These relics of times passed not only serve as stunning places to visit, but ensure that the country’s history remains as vital as ever.