A map of ancient Greece shows just how central to the world’s development the country was. Amazingly, the Greeks were responsible for building five of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although none of those still exist today in Greece, the country does boast 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the most important one in Europe. Here we’ve compiled a list of our favourite five that you might want to visit when you’re on holiday in Greece:
If London 2012 inspired you, Olympia, as its name suggests, was the site of the original ancient Olympic Games in 776 BC. Amazingly, many of the structures built for the games are still standing and some of the sports are still featured in the Modern Olympics, including athletics, boxing and wrestling. Sadly, there is no room for running while wearing armour or chariot racing! The Olympic torch is still lit here before every modern Games. Olympia was also a centre for the worshipping of Gods, most famously Zeus, and some of the impressive temples remain standing to this day.
Situated on a hill above Athens and dominating the capital city below, the Acropolis is a collection of monuments to the arts built in the second half of the 5th century BC. Its most impressive and recognisable feature is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. In 2007, the Acropolis was awarded the title of pre-eminent monument on the European cultural list so if you make it here, you’ll have visited the best of the best!
Despite being referred to as “The navel of the world”, which doesn’t sound particularly complimentary to us, Delphi stands proudly on the side of Mount Parnassus and was a major site for worshipping Apollo. People would travel from far and wide to ask a question of the oracle here, even into Roman times. Given its spectacular, and slightly precipitous, position, Delphi is unique and is visually one of the most impressive of Greece’s many ancient sites, especially the remains of the theatre.
Old Town of Corfu
Most recently awarded heritage status (in 2007) the Old Town of Corfu is situated at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea and boasts three old forts that were used to defend the Republic of Venice and its trading routes against the Ottoman Empire. Over time, the town has been ruled by Venice, France, Britain and Greece and remnants of all cultures can been seen throughout. Look out for the stunning Angelokastro or “Angel Castle”, situated 1,000ft up on a rocky outcrop that overlooks the town and the Ionian Sea.
Medieval City of Rhodes
The Medieval City of Rhodes is a Gothic architectural masterpiece. Enclosed within huge walls, labyrinthine streets wind through the town and you can still see the huge cannons that were used to defend the city in times past. While we don’t want to tear you away from the amazing beaches if you’re staying in the nearby resort centre of Rhodes, a visit to the old city is really not to be missed.
Click on the map below to explore these fantastic sites and their positions compared with some of our most popular holiday hotspots in Greece.
View UNESCO sites in Greece in a larger map