As the oldest civilization of the western world, Greece has a plethora of remains and buildings from the last 5000 years. In addition to the historical sites and sights, there’s modern Greece, with popular beaches and nightlife. With so many choices, what should you see? We give you ten of the most famous places to visit in Greece.
The name Mycenae itself may not ring any bells unless you have an interest in Greek history and legend. But the city was the seat of the dominant power in Greece between 1600 and 1100 BC, and has left its mark. The Mycenaeans had an empire encompassing most of mainland Greece, as well as settlements on Crete, Asia Minor, Italy and Cyprus.
The most famous royal family was named after King Atreus, who had two sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Agamemnon was king of the Mycenaeans, while his brother Menelaus ruled Sparta, and was married to the beautiful Helen. When Helen was kidnapped and brought back to Troy by Prince Paris, Agamemnon raised a fleet of more than a thousand ships and an an army of a hundred thousand men, including the heroes Achilles, Odysseus and Ajax. The army besieged Troy, and thus began the Trojan war as described in Homer’s Illiad.
The remains of Mycenae are located on the Peloponnese.
Mykonos is the number one party island in the Eastern Mediterranean. During the summer, the hundreds of clubs are filled with people, and top DJs are in charge of the music. The beach clubs open in the late afternoon, and the last night clubs don’t close until after sunrise. And during the day, you can nurse your hangover on one of the many beautiful beaches that Mykonos has to offer.
Even if you are not in a party mood, you can go during the off-season to see the gorgeous Cycladic town center, and visit the nearby island Delos, which is filled with marble monuments. Delos was holy to the ancient Greeks, who believed it was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and also the point which the Cycladic islands rotated around.
Olympia was the site of a temple dedicated to Zeus. The temple contained a gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the world.
As the name implies, this is where the original Olympic games were held, in honor Zeu. Between 776 BC and 393 AD, games were held every four years. In addition to the athletic competitions, where the athletes competed naked, there were artistic competitions, including poetry and sculpture.
The Olympic flame used at the modern Olympic games is still lit at Olympia.
The word Meteora is greek for suspended in the air, and the monasteries of Meteora are perched on top of narrow, seemingly inaccessible limestone clifs, appearing to defy both gravity and common sense.
The cliffs were first used by hermit monks who wanted solitude, but were eventually turned into fullblown monasteries by hauling building materials to the top. More than 20 were built, but only six are still inhabited. Several of the monasteries have richly decorated chapels, with vivied frescoes from the Cretan school.
The Meteora is located in central Greece, and is truly one of the most stunning sights in the country.
In ancient times, Rhodes was home to another of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Colossus of Rhodes. The bronze statue was over 30 meters high, and probably stood by the harbour.
Nothing remains of the wonder, but there’s plenty of other things to see. The old town of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site, and is enclosed by massive walls, built by the Knights of St John, after they were forced out of Jerusalem, and decided to settle on Rhodes instead. They also built one of the most famous monuments of the town, the Palace of the Grand Master.
South of the town of Rhodes lies the Acropolis of Lindos, a natural citadel with spectacular views. The doric Temple of Athena Lindia still remains from 300 BC, but the walls around it have been refortified by everyone who has conquered Rhodes.