Greece is an incredible place to visit on vacation. It’s full of friendly people, beautiful beaches, and fantastic cuisine. Even the finest Greek restaurant you can imagine isn’t a patch on the best eateries in the country, and the beautiful sights of Santorini feel like paradise on Earth. There’s more to Greece than just relaxation and food, though. It’s a country full of ancient history, with some of the most spectacular ancient sites on the planet.
We’re all familiar with the myths and legends of Ancient Greece, such as Medusa, the Gorgon who could turn people to stone with a single look, and Icarus, whose wings melted as they flew into the sun. The stories have even found their way into the entertainment of the modern age, in movies like ‘Troy,’ and slots like ‘Zeus: Ancient Fortunes.’ Not many subjects you were taught in school end up being featured as online slots at internet casinos! All the riches of all the online slots in the world couldn’t compare to the treasures you can experience first hand by visiting the land that inspired them, though.
If you’re interested in visiting Greece and seeing some of its historical wonders, you’re spoiled for choice. You might not even know where to start! Fortunately for you, that’s what we’re here for. Here’s our pick of just a few of the best ancient locations and buildings in Greece.
The ancient city of Delphi is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. You don’t have to be an archaeologist to get a kick out of visiting it, though. According to Greek lore, this is the place that the heavens and the earth met. Delphi was a focal point for the worship of Apollo, who the ancient Greeks believed was the God of the sun. The Temple of Apollo is still standing at the city, along with theaters and gymnasiums. There’s even the ruin of a stadium that was built to host the Pythian Games – a national sporting event that you could consider to the precursor to the Olympics.
This is arguably the most famous ancient site in Greece, and also one of the most famous and celebrated ancient sites in the world. People have been coming to the to of this hill for at least two thousand years, and possibly even longer than that. While visitors of those ancient times were up there, they built some stupendous buildings which have stood the test of time. Among them is the Parthenon – always one of the first structures that comes to mind when you think of Greece – and the temple of Athena Nike. Most of the buildings are made of marble and must have been incredibly difficult to construct given how steep the ascent to the hilltop is. Being up there gives you a sense of wonder that’s hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it.
The biggest selling point for a visit to Epidaurus is its theater, which still retains the same magnificent acoustic properties that it had when it was built thousands of years ago. Modern engineers struggle to achieve such perfect sonic conditions in the here and now! Although some of the stadium is now ruined, it’s still in good enough condition to host live music performances on special occasions. In times of antiquity, the Temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus was said to be imbued with special powers that could heal the sick. That made the city a pilgrimage site for travelers from the rest of the country – not always a good thing, because the pilgrims were sick and often brought their illnesses with them when they came.
If you’re going to go all the way to Greece, it would almost be rude not to pay a visit to Crete while you’re there – and if you’re going to Crete, you should take the time to visit Knossos! We’re all familiar with the tale of the Theseus and the Minotaur – the bull-headed creature that lived inside a labyrinth. The palace of Knossos, which was once the seat of power in Minoan Crete, is said to be the inspiration for that tale. Walking around the palace, you can easily see how someone could become lost in there, especially after dark. Part of the reason the palace and surrounding buildings are preserved so well is that the irrigation drains, built more than a thousand years ago, are so effective at keeping away the worst of the effects of exposure to the elements.
Not to be confused with Mount Olympus, Olympia was built to honor Zeus and to give people a place to worship the God of all Gods. Every four years in ancient times, Olympia would host the Pan-Hellenic Games – another Greek athletic tournament that had an influence on the creation of the Olympics. Sadly the site is missing its 40-foot-high statue of Zeus, which was one of the wonders of the ancient world. While the statue may no longer be there, there’s plenty of centuries-old art and architecture that are well worth taking the time to visit. The ancient baths no longer run with water, but you’ll marvel at how people living so many years ago managed to keep them warm all year round without access to electronic heaters.
You should consider this article to be an introduction to Greek’s wonderful ancient sites as opposed to a complete list. The truth is that we could write a guide for you five times this long, and we still wouldn’t have found the space to fit in all the things we could tell you. As well as the five sites we’ve listed above – which we consider to be highlights – we could also tell you about the Athenian Agora, Sparta, Aigai, Mycenae, and Corinth. Now we’ve listed their names you can add them to your own list and go and see them for yourself.
Because Greece is still in the process of recovering from an economic downturn a few years ago, it’s never been more open to visitors. It’s also never been cheaper to go. For a hot-weather vacation that combines great cuisine and great culture, it’s hard to look past Greece in favor of anything else – so when will you book your trip?