With the remains of many temples, battlefields and ancient Greek cities dotted across the Greek countryside, it’s no surprise that so many flock to soak up the sights of Greece every year. As the original location of the Olympic Games, over 3,000 years ago, and home to the famous Parthenon, we explore some of the country’s top ancient sites.
Located in southern Naples, Paestum consists of three ancient temples; the Temple of Neptune, Hera and Ceres, also known as the Temple of Athena. This historic site contains impressive defensive walls, a Roman forum, ancient tombs, plus the remains of an amphitheatre. Along with a fascinating local museum, the ancient Greek town of Paestum, originally founded in the 6th century BCE, is a tourist hotspot certainly worth visiting.
Home to the most famous sporting event in history, Olympia was the birthplace of the Olympic Games back in 776 BCE. Athletes came from neighbouring lands and headed to Olympia to compete against each other in these epic games over 3,000 years ago, and now visitors can walk through the extraordinary ruins of the area. Not only that, Olympia is where the Temple of Zeus resides, one of the largest temples in the southern Greek peninsula of Peloponnese. Originally built with 104 columns, a mere 15 still stand today and are decorated intricately with mythical scenes.
Delphi was once believed to be the centre point of the world, after the Greek god, Zeus, sent two eagles to find the centre of his “Grandmother Earth” and their paths crossed in the sky above Delphi. Holding sacred meaning to the ancient Greeks, the Temple of Apollo was built here and its remains can still be looked upon today. Although very little is known about the temple’s interior, the columns still stand strong today. Additionally, there’s an ancient theatre waiting to be explored and a stadium which once seated over 6,500 spectators during the Pythian and Pan-Hellenic athletic games.
Known as one of the most famous cities in Greek history, Sparta rose to become one of the greatest military areas of ancient Greece from 650 BCE. Sparta was the Athenian’s main enemy for many years after conquering it in the Peloponnesian War; it was eventually defeated by Thebes in 371 BCE. Built on the banks of the Eurotas River, explore the ancient theatre which overlooks the stunning views across Mount Taygetus. Make sure you stroll around the fortified town of Mystras too, packed with a fortress, church, palace and other Spartan remains. Check out the history through the ages by heading to the Archaeological Museum of Sparta, where you’ll find an impressive collection of artefacts from the Neolithic Age to the late Roman Period.
The Acropolis is recognised as being one of the most famous historical sites in the world. Home to the renowned Parthenon, along with Theseo, Pnyx Hill and the Theatre of Dionysus, the Acropolis plays a huge part in revealing some of the Greek’s fascinating ancient history. The Parthenon, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is believed to have been built for the Greek goddess, Athena, and its remains can still be explored in the centre of Athens today. To the north of the Parthenon is the Erechtheion, which is immersed in history and myths, including stories of Poseidon, Athena and the legendary king Erechtheus himself.
With a wealth of history just waiting to be discovered, a holiday to Greece will give you the chance to explore the ancient culture of this stunning country.