Can you really visit ancient Greece?
Yes, there are still some magnificent remains of this ancient way of life to be seen during a visit to Greece.
This website is a guide to some of the main places where the ancient Greeks lived, and the civilization they created.
If you travel to Greece it would be a shame to stay in such a wonderful country and not appreciate its history and culture.
Whether you already have an interest in ancient Greece or a visit to an ancient site is something you might 'do' while you're there, a fascinating world awaits you.
A lasting legacy
There are not many civilizations going back over 3000 years which have left so much of their workmanship for us to admire today.
"Mighty indeed are the marks and monuments of our empire which we have left. Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now."
Pericles, 5th century BC
Pericles was addressing the beleaguered Athenians during their war with Sparta in the later part of the fifth century BC, but he was right. The people of ancient Greece left their 'marks and monuments' all over the lands of the Mediterranean.
No one who has stood in front of the Parthenon at Athens can fail to wonder at the technical abilities and sense of proportion of those who built it. And these remains aren't just in Athens, you can find them everywhere.
Visit sites of ancient Greece during a relaxing holiday
A way of life preserved
Many cultures have come and gone, and left relatively little for us to know them by. But there are a couple of reasons why we know so much about the Greeks.
First, they built monuments in stone. Huge temples and agoras, or market places appeared wherever they settled. They decorated the buildings with scenes of daily life, warfare and sea battles. They buried their dead in graveyards, and the headstones are some of the most poignant sculptures ever made.
Second, the Greeks were greatly admired by the Romans, who helped preserve greek drama and other writings. The plays of Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles are still performed today.
So whatever your reason for going to the lands once inhabited by the ancient Greeks, there's plenty to see and discover.
Ancient Corinth with Acrocorinth in the background
The main attraction for those interested in ancient Greece is Athens. Its agora, areopagus and cemetery are all worth visiting. But the highlight is the acropolisakros: top or high + polis: city, containing the Parthenon and other buildings. No visitor should miss the treasures of the new Acropolis museum or the National Archaeological museum.
Do you know...
...what the following words have in common?
Daphne, cinema, echo, character, orchestra, drama, scene, genesis, zone, analysis?
They are the english versions of greek words. Many of our modern words, such as telephone, are constructed from multiple greek words.
Just along the coast from Athens is the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, made famous in poetry by Lord Byron. Even closer, but in what is largely an industrial area is Eleusis. This was where the Eleusinian Mysteries were enacted. No one knows exactly what these were, as the initiates never divulged their secrets.
Others on the mainland
Lying in the shadow of Mount Parnassus, Delphi is still one of the most atmospheric of all the ancient Greece sites.
Reputed to have commenced in 776BC, Olympia was the home of the games. Ancient Greeks from far and wide gathered every four years to take part. To represent one's home area was a great honour, and wars between city states were suspended to allow the games to take place.
Corinth was a great rival of Athens and Sparta, and although much of the remains of ancient Corinth are Roman, there is still much to see of the Greek era.
Epidauros was a place of healing, but is best known for its theatre which is still used today for the production of plays.
Bassae is the site of a temple to Apollo, and although covered up at present during renovations is still worth a detour, especially if you're visiting Olympia.
Vergina is an amazing site. Although it's quite a way from Athens (much nearer Thessalonika) it has some of the most admired treasures in all of Greece.
The enchanting ruins at Delphi
The islands of the Aegean have their own treasures and pleasures. Close to Athens lies the island of Aegina, where you can find the temple of Aphaia, a beautiful temple of modest proportions. Out in the Aegean lies Delos, regarded by the people of ancient Greece as a sacred island. The popular islands around it in a circle are appropriately named The Cyclades. Paros is the island hoppers' favourite and Naxos has excellent antiquities.
Further south is Santorini, one of the most amazing islands anywhere in the world. It is in fact a huge volcano, and at its southern end is Akrotiri. Like Pompeii this was buried for millennia under volcanic ash, and was only unearthed in the 1960's.
Crete contains a number of Minoan sites, such as the famous Knossos. Cyprus was fought over many times in the ancient world, and Rhodes, while there is more to see of recent history (the street of the Knights Templar), it still has a few gems to offer such as the acropolis at LIndos. Kos has a few remains as well, and is also a good destination as a day trip from Rhodes.
The Italian connection
The people of ancient Greece didn't confine themselves to the area we know today as Greece. They left their homeland and set up colonies all around the Mediterranean. Paestum, south of Naples, has some of the most spectacular temples, and an excellent museum as well. Sicily was also a popular destination, and there are a number of important sites at Agrigento, Syracuse and Segesta.
There are many other places you can visit, in fact, you can hardly set foot anywhere in the Mediterranean without finding bits and pieces of ancient Greece. But the ones we've listed are the main ones you'll find from popular holiday destinations.
It isn't all ancient ruins and piles of rubble...