Ancient Greek Sites and Ancient Greek Ruins

Ancient-Greek-RuinsIf you’re looking to explore Ancient Greek sites and Ancient Greek ruins and want to find the best places to view Ancient Greek history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Ancient Greece was the cradle of democracy. A civilisation which produced some of the most groundbreaking art, philosophy and culture the world has ever seen, the Ancient Greeks left their legacy in a myriad of ways.

Many Ancient Greek sites and ruins that have survived today are among the most famous landmarks in the world. The Acropolis in Athens stands tall as a testament to Ancient Greek achievement. Yet there is a multitude of Ancient Greek sites and Ancient Greek places that are still able to be seen today, some equally as famous, others ignored by the masses.

There’s a great selection of Ancient Greek sites and Ancient Greek ruins and you can plan some fantastic things to see on your trips. Once you’ve explored the list of the sites of Ancient Greece you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Ancient Greek ruins.

Our database of historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. If you know of other Ancient Greek sites, remains or ruins, you can add them to Trip Historic by visiting our upload page. Click the links below to explore Ancient Greek sites and ruins:

Ancient Greece: Editor's Picks

Photo by Historvius

1. The Acropolis

The Acropolis is one of the most recognisable historic sites in the world and remains an inspirational monument to the achievements of Ancient Greek civilisation.

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The Acropolis is one of the most recognisable historic sites in the world and remains an inspirational monument to the achievements of Ancient Greek civilisation.

Standing tall above the Greek city of Athens, the Acropolis contains a number of buildings and monuments from Greek Antiquity, including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia and the temple of Athena Nike.

The majority of sites on the Acropolis were constructed in the 5th Century BC, during the ‘golden age’ of Athens and under the stewardship of Athenian statesman Pericles. After the original site was burned to the ground in 480BC during the Persian Wars, the Athenians set to re-building their city with monuments that would bear testament to the greatness of their state.

The Acropolis continued to be developed throughout the Hellenistic, Macedonian and Roman periods. After the area became Christianised, the Acropolis complex was largely converted for use as a Christian centre, with the Parthenon serving as a Cathedral.

However, by the early middle ages, the Acropolis was more frequently used as a defensive fortification by the various occupiers of the city. During a battle between Venetian and Ottoman forces in 1687, the Parthenon suffered severe damage which was never repaired.

These impressive monuments have largely stood the test of time through invasion, conquest and war and the Acropolis stands as one of the greatest historic destinations in the world.

Today, the Acropolis is an extremely popular historic site and caters for a multitude of tourists every year. The recently opened Acropolis Museum, which lies nearby, contains an amazing array of displays and artefacts from the Acropolis itself.

The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.

Photo by Historvius

2. Paestum

Among the best Greek ruins anywhere in the world, Paestum is a Greco-Roman site in Italy containing the stunning remains of three ancient Greek temples.

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Paestum is a Greco-Roman site located south of Naples which contains the stunning remains of three ancient Greek temples which still stand tall today.

Founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century BC, Paestum was originally known as Poseidonia, named for the Greek god Poseidon. The city was captured by the Romans in 273BC after the Pyrrhic Wars and became the thriving Roman settlement of Paestum.

However, the changing climate and political upheavals of the later Roman Empire saw Paestum begin to decline in the early medieval period and by the turn of the millennium the site had been abandoned – it was not rediscovered until the 18th century.

Today, visitors to Paestum can still see the spectacular temples – the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Neptune and the Temple of Ceres (thought by some to be a temple of Athena).

The site also contains impressive defensive walls, a Roman forum, the basic remains of a Roman amphitheatre and a number of ancient tombs. Paestum also boasts an early Christian church and Paestum Museum, which has a wealth of information about the local sites. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.

Photo by Erik Daniel Drost (cc)

3. Olympia

Olympia was a city in Ancient Greece from which today’s Olympic Games originate and is now an important archaeological site protected by UNESCO.

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Olympia was a vibrant Ancient Greek city. It is believed that the site of Olympia was inhabited from 3000 BC, however it was after the fall of the Mycenaean civilisation that the city began to flourish and, by 900 BC it was already considered an important religious site.

The Olympic Games
In 776 BC the first Olympic Games were held in the city in honour of the Greek deity, Zeus. The games at Olympia were a national event and attracted participants and spectators from around the country, raising Olympia’s status. They would continue until 394 AD when  Roman Emperor Theodosius I, seeing them as a "pagan cult", put them to an end.

Olympia’s Growth
Over time, the city began to develop and grow. Today the result of this gradual growth can be seen at Olympia through sites such as the Treasuries, the Temple of Hera, both of religious importance and contained in the sacred precinct known as the Altis and the Pelopion, the supposed tomb of the mythical Pelops. These were built in around 600BC.

Even the stadium in which the Olympic Games were played was upgraded, a purpose built area being built in around 560 BC and able to seat approximately 50,000 people. The remains of this impressive stadium are still visible today.

Classical Period
Olympia reached its peak during the classical period and it was at this time that many of the other sites which can be seen there now were built, most notably the Temple of Zeus. This was a vast religious structure the ruins of which were located in the Altis area.

The Temple of Zeus was later entirely destroyed, first by fire and then in an earthquake. Archaeologists were however able to excavate several sculptures and artefacts believed to have originated from the building, which are now on show at the nearby Olympia Archaeological Museum.

Hellenistic Period
Other impressive sites at Olympia were built later during the Hellenistic Period. These include the remains of the fourth century BC Philippeion memorial to the family of Alexander the Great and the Leonidaion. There are also several other impressive sites, many of them built during the Roman period.

Olympia is well signposted, making it easy to tour the site and understand how it might have looked in its heyday. If you want to know more about Olympia, you can visit the Olympia Archaeological Museum.

Photo by thebaldwin (cc)

4. Epidaurus

Epidaurus was a city of Ancient Greece located on the Greek mainland. Its incredible ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Epidaurus was a major city in Ancient Greece famed as a centre for healing. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Epidaurus thrived as a sanctuary devoted to the healing deities including Apollo, Asklepios and Hygeia and contained hundreds of spas, the remains of many of which can be seen today.

The main sanctuary area, called the Asklepieion, contains two such spas where a variety of healing rituals took place, including hypnosis. This was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. There is also a shrine to Asklepios and the remains of rooms for patients. 

Probably the most impressive of the sites at Epidaurus is the fourth century BC theatre, which was built to accommodate approximately 15,000 people and still extremely well preserved.

Whilst most of the sites at Epidaurus were constructed in the fourth and fifth centuries BC, when the city was at its peak, some of them date back as far as the Mycenaean period and others were also adapted later by the Romans. The theatre is one example of such refurbishments.

Overall, Epidaurus is an absolutely vast, fascinating site set over three levels and offering an insight into Ancient Greek life. There is also a nearby Epidaurus Museum, exhibiting artefacts from its excavation. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.

Photo by emilio labrador (cc)

5. Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO-listed site in Sicily housing the very well-preserved remains of several Ancient Greek temples which rank among the best ancient Greek remains in the world

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The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is a famous archaeological site in Sicily housing some of the best preserved Ancient Greek ruins in the world, especially outside Greece.

Agrigento, in which they are located, had been a Greek colony since the 6th century BC. Really more of a ridge than a valley, the Valley of the Temples is mainly comprised of the beautiful ruins of nine sacred temples.

The majority of the sites at the Valley of the Temples were initially constructed in the fifth century BC. However, having been destroyed first by the Carthaginians (circa 406 BC) and then the Christians (in the 6th century AD) they are now partly made up of reconstructions. Nevertheless, of the ten original temples, the remains of nine can now be seen.

The oldest of the temples, the Temple of Herakles, was constructed in the sixth century BC and is made up of several Doric columns. The best preserved of the ruins is the fifth century BC Temple of Concorde, saved from destruction when it was incorporated into a Christian church. The other temples are dedicated to Juno, Olympian Zeus, Hephaistos, Hera Lacinia and Castor and Pollux.

Beyond the temples, the Valley of the Temples has numerous other archaeological sites, including the 1st century AD Tomb of Theron and several sanctuaries, the oldest of which was built sometime around the sixth century BC. This UNESCO World Heritage site also has an on-site museum.

Photo by Travelling Runes (cc)

6. Troy

Troy is a world-renowned archaeological site, and one of the best-known ancient Greek ruins. Inhabited since the 4th millennium BC, it is believed to the have been the location of the famous Trojan War.

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Troy or “Truva” is one of the most famous and historically significant sites in the world. Located in modern day Turkey, the site marks the meeting place of Anatolia, the Aegean and the Balkans, making it a vitally important source of information about the historic relationships between these regions.

Imbued with several millennia of history and the subject of legend, Troy’s fame mainly derives from being the fabled location of the Trojan War. There are several ancient accounts of this conflict, mainly fiction, the most famous of which was written by Homer in The Iliad. The story goes that the Greeks besieged Troy after Helen, wife of the Menelaus, the king of Sparta, was taken by Paris of Troy. Many historians now believe that the reason for the Trojan War was a bitter commercial rivalry between the people of Troy and the Mycenaeans.

It was also Troy which was the subject of Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid, in which the Greeks laid the famous “Trojan Horse” trap for the people of Troy. The Greeks, pretending to have left Troy during the Trojan War, placed a wooden horse at the gates of the city as a purported trophy of the Trojans’ victory. In fact, Greek soldiers were hiding inside the horse and, once taken in by the Trojans, proceeded to destroy the city and claim victory. The archaeological site of Troy has an obligatory replica of a Trojan horse for visitors.

The vast ruins now found at Troy lay witness to thousands of years of history, with the oldest section dating back to the late fourth millennium BC. Over the millennia, Troy became a bustling commercial hub, particularly from 1700 BC. However, a combination of natural disasters, invasions and occupations led to the city being rebuilt numerous times. Each part of the site is numbered, correlating to a specific period of time. The famous walls of Troy, which played such an important role on the Trojan War, some of which remain, can be seen in the VII section.

It is said that Alexander the Great visited Troy in 334BC, at the start of his campaign against the Persians. The Macedonian leader is believed to have paid his respects at the Tomb of Achilles.

Troy continued to maintain its status under the Romans, especially after it was identified as the location of Homer’s Iliad in 188 BC and the city was exempt from taxes. The site has a mix of Greek and Roman monuments, many built by prominent figures such as Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Augustus.

Regardless of whether Troy was the actual site of the Trojan War, the archaeological site of Troy is a fascinating place for history enthusiasts and tourists alike. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.

Photo by Historvius

7. Delphi

Among the best known of all Ancient Greek sites, Delphi is an Ancient Greek city once considered to have been the centre of the Earth.

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Delphi is an archaeological site in mainland Greece comprised of the well-preserved ruins of one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. Archaeologists have found evidence that Delphi was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period and sites dating back to the Mycenaean Civilisation, but it was the Ancient Greek city which developed in Delphi which has left the biggest mark on the area.

Many of the sites at Delphi date back to the fifth century BC, although many have been reconstructed and some altered by the Romans. Many of the buildings also suffered from damage and destruction caused by fires and earthquakes. Nevertheless, walking through Delphi offers a fascinating insight into the lives of its former inhabitants.

Part of what made Delphi such an important city was its mythological and religious status. Ancient Greek mythology states that when the deity Zeus released two eagles to find the centre of the world, they met in Delphi. The name “Delphi” derives from the word “dolphin” as it was believed that this was where Apollo arrived on the back of a dolphin.

Today, Delphi reveals much of its past through incredible ruins, demonstrating a balance between religion, politics and leisure activities, particularly sports. Amongst these are the Temple of Apollo, believed to date back to the fourth century BC and once a central ceremonial site. This temple is believed to have been one of several that were built on the site, the previous ones having been destroyed by fires and earthquakes. This stood next to the Archive of the winners of the Pythian Games which were held at Delphi, burnt down in 373 BC, also known as the Chresmographeion. Other sporting sites, such as the Delphi gymnasium and the stadium are also visible and are very well preserved.

Possibly the best preserved site in Delphi is the fifth century Doric building of the Treasury of the Athenians, which is located along The Sacred Way, a central road of the religious area of the city. The Treasury of the Athenians held the trophies of sporting victories, although its exact purpose is still the subject of debate.

Perhaps Delphi’s most iconic site is the Tholos. Constructed in around 380 BC, this once circular building had six Doric columns, three of which stand today. The Tholos is actually located away from the rest of the main Delphi sites and, again, its exact purpose is unknown. The nearby Delphi Museum explores the history of the archeological site and houses many finds from its excavation. This famous site also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.

Photo by davehighbury (cc)

8. Sparta

The ancient Greek city of Sparta was one of the most famous city-states of the ancient world.

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Sparta was one of the most famous city-states of the ancient world and left not only a mark in our historic records, but its very culture at the heart of modern language – the English word 'Spartan' reflecting their very way of life – simple, basic, severe.

Rising to power in the late 7th Century BC, Sparta produced the most powerful land-army of the Hellenic world. Spartan soldiers led the Greek coalition during the Greco-Persian War, becoming legendary in their heroic last stand at Thermopylae and the eventual victory of the Greeks at Plataea.

Sparta’s star continued to rise in the following century, with victory over Athens in the long-running Peloponnesian War and a brief spell of hegemony over all Greece and even parts of Asia Minor.

However, it was their constant military involvements combined with their elitist, purist approach to citizenry which led to their downfall.

Sparta’s conflict with a resurgent Thebes, particularly their defeat at the Battle of Leuctra, crippled Spartan power, a blow from which they never recovered. Their own discriminatory nature left Sparta without the capacity to suffer losses, and therefore one or two severe defeats crippled Sparta’s military manpower.

Sparta did live on as an independent power for the next two centuries, but the city never wielded real power again. Sparta had no part in the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the city was eventually conquered, along with the rest of Greece, by the Romans in the mid-second century BC.

Today, the ruins of ancient Sparta exist on the outskirts of the modern city of Sparti – founded by King Otto of Greece in 1834. A good proportion of the remains you see today are actually from the Roman period and few are well preserved.

Unlike Athens, Spartan culture never led to grand building projects and consequently few historic structures remain. Visitors to Sparta can see the remains of the ancient theatre of Sparta, the nearby Roman shops, the partially-preserved sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, and the site that is said to be the tomb of Spartan King Leonidas.

The Sparta Archeological Museum is also worth a visit and contains artifacts from the various archeological digs.

Ancient Greece: Site Index

Abila

Abila is an ancient town in Jordan and one of the Decapolis, a federation of 10 Greco-Roman cities providing a defence of the eastern front of the Roman Empire.

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Along with Philadelphia, Gerasa, Pella, Gadara, Kanatha, Dion, Scythopolis and Damascus, Abila made up part of the Decapolis, a ten-city Greco-Roman federation southeast of the Sea of Galilee in Jordan providing a strategic defence post protecting the eastern front of the Roman Empire.

It was occupied in the Bronze Age around 6,000 years ago to approximately 1500 AD (although an earthquake in 747AD turned much of the thriving city into rubble) and even though the site fell to ruin, there have been some spectacular discoveries. Archaeologists have painstakingly uncovered Byzantine churches, a monastic complex from the early Islamic period, Roman baths, a theatre, temples used to worship Herakles, Tyche and Athena, miles of subterranean water tunnels, aqueducts, megalithic columns, tombs, city gates and various municipal buildings.

Abila has been excavated extensively for almost 40 years but it remains one of the most exciting sites in the region for two reasons. Firstly so much is yet to be excavated and secondly much of what the resident archaeologists want to dig up is already visible from the surface, teasing them. It is close to the village of Quwayliba and on the bus from Irbid - the nearest sizable town - ask the driver to drop you off at the ruins.

Photo by Shadowgate (cc)

Acropolis of Rhodes

The Acropolis of Rhodes is the site of the main remains of what was the city of Rhodes in the Hellenistic period.

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The Acropolis of Rhodes is the site of the main remains of what was the city of Rhodes in the Hellenistic period.

Containing several different sites, including temples, monuments and public buildings, the Acropolis of Rhodes represents the main ancient site in the city, dating to mostly the third and second centuries BC.

Amongst the things to see at the Acropolis of Rhodes, there are impressively reconstructed sites such as an odeon and theatre as well as the ruins of the Temple of Apollo.

Photo by Rufus210 (cc)

Aigai

Aigai in northern Greece, was once capital of the Macedonian kingdom and the site where Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. A number of remains of the ancient town can be seen, including the tomb of Alexander’s father.

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Aigai in northern Greece was once the capital of the Macedonian kingdom and it was here in 336BC that Alexander the Great was proclaimed King of Macedon after the assassination of his father, Philip II.

Though evidence of human occupation of the site stretches back to the 3rd millennium BC, it is thought that it was not until around 1000BC – 700BC that it became an important regional centre. Aigai probably reached its height around 500BC as the Macedonian capital, before being replaced by Pella around 100 years later.

After the death of Alexander, Aigai suffered during the Wars of Alexander's Successors and the city was again damaged during the Roman conquest of the region in 168BC. Aigai survived into the Roman era but gradually declined during the latter Imperial period.

Today, Aigai can be found near the modern town of Vergina and there are a number of interesting sites to explore. Probably the most famous of Aigai’s sites are the royal burial tombs, which are believed to house the tombs of Phillip II and Alexander the Great’s son, Alexander IV. An impressive museum – the Royal Tombs of Vergina Museum - was built to enclose these tombs and visitors can explore this underground experience.

Along with these main tombs are as many as 300 other grave mounds, some dating back to the 11th century BC.

Other important remains at Aigai include the royal palace – which includes impressive mosaics – and the 4th century BC theatre, believed to be the exact site of Philip’s murder. There are also a number of temples near the theatre, including the temple of Eukleia.

Note: At time of writing the royal palace and theatre are closed for excavation work. They are set to reopen in 2014.

Alexandria National Museum

The Alexandria National Museum in Alexandria, Egypt houses one of the world's finest collections of Pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Coptic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic artefacts in the world.

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Opened in 2003 by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Alexandria National Museum sits in the middle of the city in an elegant early 20th century Italianate mansion that used to be the home to the Consulate of the United States of America.

The 3,480 square metre museum documents the rich and varied history of Alexandria - founded by Alexander the Great in April 331BC - from the age of the Pharaohs up to the 19th century and takes in the Pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Coptic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras.

Chronologically spread over three floors, the 1,800 artefacts include statues, jewellery, coins, weaponry, homewares, religious iconography, sarcophagi, terracotta figurines, clothing, glassware, pottery and even mummies.

The old garage block has been converted into a lecture hall and open air theatre while visitors can take a high-tech audio-visual tour of the museum and its artefacts in the basement workshop, looking at the pieces from lots of angles. All the labels are in Arabic and English and for anyone interested in Egyptian antiquity and history, the Alexandria National Museum in Egypt is a 'must visit'.

Photo by isawnyu (cc)

Amathus

Amathus is an archaeological Ancient Greek site in Cyprus containing the remains of one of the island’s oldest ancient towns.

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Amathus is an archaeological site in Cyprus containing the remains of one of the island’s oldest ancient towns.

Known to have been inhabited since at least 1050BC, the origins of Amathus are unclear. It is believed to have been founded by the Eteocyprians and to have flourished and grown. Over time, it played host to the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Persians, the Ptolemies and the Romans. The abandonment of Amathus appears to have occurred in the late seventh century.

Amathus is strongly connected with the cult of Aphrodite as well as having links to the legend of Ariadne. Today, the ruins of Amathus include several ancient sites, including several tombs, an acropolis with a first century AD Roman temple to Aphrodite, an agora with some public baths and the remains of the eighth century BC palace of Amathus.

Photo by Eustaquio Santimano (cc)

Ancient Agora of Athens

One of many Ancient Greek sites in Athens, the Ancient Agora was a market, a meeting place and the social, political and commercial hub of the ancient city.

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The Ancient Agora of Athens was a market, a meeting place and the social, political and commercial hub of the ancient city. Whilst initial developed in the sixth century BC, the Ancient Agora of Athens was destroyed, rebuilt and renovated several times, including attacks by the Persians in 480BC, the Romans and by the Scandinavian tribe known as the Herulians in 267BC.

Despite its turbulent history, the Ancient Agora of Athens houses several fascinating sites, including the stunning fifth century BC Temple of Hephaestus. It is also home to the remains of several covered walkways or "stoas" such as the famous Stoa of Zeus where Socrates is said to have debated and met with other philosophers.

A good way to get your bearings within the Ancient Agora of Athens is to start by visiting the Agora Museum, which offers more information on the site.

Photo by Alaskan Dude (cc)

Antalya Museum

The Antalya Museum contains thousands of ancient and prehistoric artifacts, many from the ancient Greek period.

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The Antalya Museum (Antalya Muzesi) is an archaeological museum in one of Turkey’s most popular resorts. It contains thousands of ancient and prehistoric artifacts and good explanations of their history. It is one of Turkey’s largest museums.

The pieces at the Antalya Museum come from a variety of sites around Turkey and are divided thematically into ’halls’ each relating to a different period. The museum includes a wealth of statues and sculptures from the Roman period, the majority of which were found during the excavations of nearby Roman cities such as Perge. These astonishing ancient statues are among the top highlights of the museum and have brought international renown to the institution.

There is also a collection of sarcophagi from the Roman period, Roman and Byzantine era mosaics and a  charming children’s section.

Photo by yeowatzup (cc)

Apamea

Apamea is an ancient site in Syria which boasts a remarkable 1800 metres of dramatic Roman colonnades as well as Ancient Greek ruins.

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Apamea (Afamia) is an ancient site in Syria which boasts a remarkable 1800 metres of dramatic Roman colonnades together with a range of other ruins.

Said to have been one of the largest Seleucid cities and built in around the 4th century BC in what is now Syria, Apamea flourished and thrived as a commercial hub. Indeed, at its peak under the Romans it had a population of some 117,000 people.

Today, Apamea is an incredible site. Most of the remains are from the Roman period, but there are some fascinating finds from its time under the Seleucids including ruins of its defenses, much of which have been restored.

Photo by Ken and Nyetta (cc)

Aphrodisias

The ancient city of Aphrodisias was named after the Goddess of Love; Aphrodite. Established in what is now modern day Turkey in the 6th century BC, it expanded into the thriving capital of the surrounding region.

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Aphrodisias was once a thriving Hellenic and Roman city in what is now modern day Turkey. Today it is an archaeological site, whose ruins include the remains of a beautiful ancient stadium.

Established during the late Hellenistic period, Aphrodisias became a prosperous city under Roman rule from the 1st to the 5th century AD. In the 1st century BC, the city came under the personal protection of the Roman Emperor Augustus and many of the structures which can still be seen today date from that period and the following two centuries.

The city became an artistic centre as a result of its location near a marble quarry; the city is now littered with sculpture. Artists even travelled to Aphrodisias to take part in annual sculpting competitions. However the city fell to ruin after a series of earthquakes and was eventually abandoned in the 12th century.

Upon arrival to the ruins you will be greeted by the renovated Tetrapylon, a gateway of Corinthian style columns decorated with reliefs of the god Eros and goddess Nike.

The Temple of Aphrodite would have been in the busy heart if the city. Originally over forty columns of the temple would have stood, a number of which have been realigned today, giving a great sense of the scale of the original building. The Temple was converted into a Basilica in the 5th century AD with the Roman conversion to Christianity.

The stadium, dating as a far back as the 1st century BC, is beautifully preserved and is one of the biggest ancient constructions still surviving with a capacity of 30,000.

There is also an onsite museum featuring thousands of pieces of Aphrodisian art including busts, decorative and religious sculpture, ceramics and a unique figure of the goddess Aphrodite herself.

Other features of the ruins include the Odeon, the baths of Hadrian and the 8,000-seater ancient theatre which was adapted for gladiatorial combat in the Roman period. Also, look out for some of the over 2,000 Roman inscriptions still decipherable around the ruin.

Contributed by Rebecca Carman

Apollonia

Apollonia is an ancient site in Albania which Cicero deemed a 'great and important city'.

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Apollonia is an ancient site in Albania which was home to a succession of civilisations, but which reached its zenith in the 3rd or 4th century BC. Whilst the site of Apollonia was once inhabited by Illyrian tribes, it was in approximately 588 BC that Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth led by Gylax founded the city on the right bank of the Aous (Vjosë) River. This riverside location was vital in making Apollonia the trade and economic hub it eventually became, but also played a role in its downfall.

The Romans ruled Apollonia from around 229BC and added to its splendour. However, an earthquake in 234AD altered the riverbed of the Aous, silting up Apollonia's harbour and reducing the city's importance significantly and leading to its decline.

Today, Apollonia's 137 hectares is encircled by a 4 km long wall, housing a series of ruins including a triumphal arch, a library, a 2nd century Odeon, several temples and a city council building with a surviving facade. There is a museum housing artefacts from the site and both the museum and site have French and English translations.

Photo by GOC53 (cc)

Aptera

large site on northern coats of Crete. Key strategic location results in occupation from early Greek through Roman, early Christian to Ottoman with WW2 machine gun posts. Impossible to provide one picture to show whole site. Would like to split according to place and time.

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The archaeological site of Aptera contains an array of interesting Greco-Roman ruins, the highlight of which is probably the remains of the Roman cisterns which originally supplied water to the city’s baths.

Founded around the 7th century BC, Aptera became one of the most important cities of western Crete and grew into a thriving centre for much of the Hellenic and Roman periods. The city continued to be inhabited into the Byzantine age before a combination of natural disaster and external attacks forced its abandonment, which is dated to 823 AD.

Today as well as the impressive Roman cisterns, visitors to Aptera can explore a number of fascinating ruins at the site including Roman baths, villas and an ancient theatre - though this is not currently accessible as it is under excavation and possible restoration (Sept 2013). The archaeological site also includes a small ancient temple most likely dedicated to the goddess Demeter as well as the ruins of early churches. There is a small museum at the site which expands the history of Aptera and is situated within the surviving 12th century monastery.

A WW2 German machine gun post can also be viewed nearby along with a 19th century Turkish castle.

Photo by אסף.צ (cc)

Arsuf

The site of Arsuf, also known as Apollonia, contains the remains of a Crusader castle once occupied by the Knights Hospitaller as well as remains from other periods including Ancient Greece.

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Arsuf, also known as Apollonia, contains the remains of an ancient settlement on the Israeli coast that has stood for over 1,000 years. Arsuf is best known for the remains of a once-mighty Crusader castle which was once home to the Knights Hospitaller, but the site also contains remnants from the many other civilisations that have occupied the area.

Founded by the Phoenicians in the 6th or 5th century BC, Arsuf was occupied by the Persians, Seleucid Greeks (from where it gained the name Apollonia), Romans, Byzantines, Muslims and finally the Crusaders who captured the town in 1101AD. In 1191AD Richard the Lionheart defeated Saladin here in the Battle of Arsuf.

The area was fought over throughout the Crusader period and, from 1261AD the fortress of Arsuf was occupied by the Knights Hospitaller. However, just four years later the Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the fortress after a 40-day siege. His forces destroyed the town and the site was abandoned.

Today, Arsuf has been excavated and is now Apollonia National Park. Visitors can see the remains of the Crusader fortress, including evidence from the final battle. The clifftop setting and impressive defensive moat bring to life the scale and drama of the once-mighty castle. Also on show are the remains of a Roman villa, which highlights the diverse nature of the settlement at Arsuf.

Visitors can wander through the remnants of Crusader chambers and the site contains useful information on the various areas of the ruins. The site itself takes only about an hour to view, and contains some pleasant coastal and tranquil walkways.

During the holidays, events are often held here for children and the site can make for a good family day out. Purists be warned, those core historians seeking to explore the atmosphere of the ancient ruins should check ahead to avoid these events, as the site can be overrun with children dressed as pirates!

Photo by *clairity* (cc)

Asklepieion

Asklepieion is an ancient Greek archaeological site containing the well-preserved ruins of the birthplace of medicine.

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Asklepieion, also known as Asclepeion, in Kos was an ancient Greek and Roman sacred centre of healing based on the teachings of Hippocrates.

It seems that there has been a healing sanctuary at the site of Asklepieion since prehistory, but the main ruins today are those of later sanctuaries. The most significant was dedicated to Asklepios, who was a deity of health.

Over time, Asklepieion became increasingly popular and visitors would travels from far and wide to experience its healing properties. Thus, the sanctuary was expanded.

Today, the pretty and relatively well-preserved ruins of Asklepieion are set over three levels and include several temples, some Roman baths, gateways and a banqueting hall.

It is worth noting that this is not the most easily accessible site for people with mobility issues. The terrain is quite steep and there are many stairs to climb.

Photo by Travelling Runes (cc)

Assos

The city of Assos was founded by Ancient Greeks from the 7th century BC. The ancient ruined city is crowned by an impressive temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena.

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The city of Assos on the Aegean coast of modern Turkey was founded by Ancient Greeks sometime around the 7th century BC. Today the site, whose modern name is Behramkale, is a beautiful seaside resort littered with ancient ruins dating from the ancient Greek and Roman periods.

The city passed through many hands during its long existence, the Persians took Assos from the possession of the Ancient Greeks during the 4th century BC only to be driven out a few years later by Alexander the Great. Later, the city came under the control of the nearby Kings of Pergamum, until it was engulfed by the Roman Empire in 133 BC. The prosperity of the city dwindled after the Roman period and it remained just a small settlement throughout the Byzantine period and through to modern times.

The most famous of Assos’ ancient inhabitants would likely be Aristotle, who founded a school of philosophy here and married the niece of the city’s most famous king, Hermeias. St Paul was also a reputed visitor to the city.

Perhaps the best known ancient site at Assos is the Temple of Athena, which is situated on the crest of a dormant volcano. It offers beautiful views of the area stretching as far as the island of Lesbos, which is just 12km across the sea, and also of other nearby ruins such as Pergamum. For the best views, stay until dusk or get up early to see the sun rise. Although little remains of the temple, it is the only Doric example in the Anatolian region.

Other sights to see in the town include the impressive ancient city walls, the Hellenic city gateway - consisting of two massive towers - a Roman theatre, gymnasium, agora and the necropolis (cemetery). Some of the ruins have been reconstructed. Sights at Assos from other periods include the Ottoman era mosque and fortress which date from the 14th century.

Contributed by Rebecca Carman

Photo by jaybergesen (cc)

Athens National Archaeological Museum

Athens National Archaeological Museum is one of the most prominent of its kind in the world and has over 20,000 pieces.

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Athens National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in Greece, housing over 20,000 exhibits spread over 8,000 square metres of an imposing nineteenth century building.

With permanent exhibitions ranging from the Neolithic era and the Mycenaean era to the Ancient Romans and even the Ancient Egyptians, the Athens National Archaeological Museum’s collection offers a comprehensive insight into the history of Greece throughout the ages, from prehistoric times to the eighteenth century.

Amongst of the most impressive exhibits at the National Archaeological Museum is its collection of Greek sculptures. This vast exhibit includes statues, altars, busts and other pieces from throughout mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. Many of the sculptures are funerary in nature and include sarcophagi and reliefs.

The Neolithic, Mycenaean, Cycladic and Thera exhibits, which make up the National Archaeological Museum’s prehistory collection, encompass everything from tools from 6800 BC to finds from the doomed settlement of Akrotiri in Thera, destroyed by a volcano in the sixteenth century BC. The Mycenaean collection is the largest exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum. This includes excavation finds from Mycenae itself as well as from the settlements of Argolid, Lakonia, Messenia, and Attika.

Photo by isawnyu (cc)

Baalbek

Baalbek is home to the largest ever Roman temple and a range of other magnificent ancient structures, including many from the ancient greek period.

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Baalbek is a hugely impressive Roman site in Lebanon which is home to the largest Roman temple ever built, as well as a range of other magnificent ancient structures.

Initially a Phoenician settlement dedicated to the worship of the deity of the sun, Baal, the city was known as Heliopolis (City of the Sun) by the Greeks in the 4th century BC.

However, it was during Roman times that Baalbek reached its peak, becoming a Roman colony in 47BC under Julius Caesar. Over the next two centuries, the Romans would imbue Baalbek with the empire’s largest holy temples. By 150AD, it would be home to the vast temples of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus.

Today, visitors to Baalbek can see the impressive ruins of these incredible structures including standing in the shadow of six of the original 54 columns of the Temple of Jupiter - the largest temple ever built by the Empire. Baalbek is also the place to see the extremely well-preserved Temple of Bacchus, the stairs of the Temple of Mercury and a ceremonial entryway known as the propylaea.

There is also evidence of Baalbek’s time beyond the Romans. For example, the ruins of the Roman Temple of Venus show how it was incorporated into a Byzantine church. This and other sites tell of the time of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius, who destroyed many of the Roman holy sites in favour of churches and basilicas. Visitors can also see the remnants of a large 8th century mosque from the Arab conquest.

Baalbek is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by DAVID HOLT (cc)

Bassae

Bassae is an ancient site and home to a famed UNESCO-listed monument to Apollo Epicurius.

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Bassae is an ancient site where the Phigaleia built a sanctuary to the cult of Apollo Epicurius. A 5th Century BC magnificent temple in honour of the deity still stand there today. At one time, the Messenians people fled to Bassae, seeking sanctuary there from their war with the Spartans.

Photo by cpence (cc)

Benaki Museum

The Benaki Museum houses a vast collection of art and artefacts from Greek history, from Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine Greece to the Ottoman age and right up to the present day.

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The Benaki Museum in Athens houses over 100,000 artefacts from Greek history and showcases the many eras, civilisations and cultures which have influenced the development of Greece. Spread over a number of locations, the museum ranks among Greece’s foremost cultural institutions.

The main museum is located in the centre of Athens in a neo-Classical mansion which belonged to the Benaki family. This is a fluid, beautifully designed space which incorporates a whole range of Greek art and artefacts, spanning from pre-history right up to the present day.

Among this extensive collection are a wide variety of objects of historical and national importance. Foremost among these is an enormous collection of Greek art and sculpture ranging from Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine Greece to the Ottoman age and right through to modern times. Yet alongside these grand artworks, the museum includes a range of more commonplace items including books, regional costumes, documents and scrolls.

As well as Greek artefacts there are also permanent exhibits focusing on Chinese, Pre-Colombian and Islamic collections, though these areas are not all located in the central museum.

A number of satellite museums operate within the Benaki framework, including a children’s toy museum in Kouloura House, Palaio Faliro, and the Museum of Islamic Art, which is located near the Kerameikos cemetery.

Please note that the opening hours, contact details and entry fees listed here are all for the main museum.

Photo by Dysanovic (cc)

British Museum

The British Museum in London is a world-famous museum of history and culture and has an excellent collection of ancient greek artefacts.

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The British Museum is one of the world’s foremost museums of history and anthropology. Based in London, the British Museum has some of the largest and most revered collections from around the globe ranging from Babylonian stonework and Samurai armour to pottery and glass from the Roman Empire.

The British Museum has several permanent collections, including its world-famous Egyptian collection which includes a large number of Egyptian mummies as well as temporary exhibits. One of the British Museum's most famous residents is the second century BC Rosetta Stone.

The British Museum divides its collections by themes and cultures, each of which is displayed in numbered rooms. One of its most popular exhibits is its collection of Parthenon Sculptures from Ancient Greece, which can be found in room 18. With such a wide collection, it’s difficult to summarise the work of the British Museum or to explore its myriad of galleries. However, the museum does offer a variety of itineraries, including a one hour tour which showcases, amongst other things, the Parthenon Sculptures, the Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone and Assyrian lion hunt reliefs from 668 BC as well as several other famous objects like the Lewis Chess Set and 12th – 14th century Nigerian artwork.

Three hour and children’s’ itineraries are also available on the British Museum’s website and at the museum itself. Alternatively, free audio guides are available or visitors can book a highlights tour in advance for a fee, which take place at 10.30 am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm daily. You can book this online or by calling the museum. This site also features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in the UK.

Photo by Pero Kvrzica (cc)

Butrint

Butrint is a prehistoric UNESCO World Heritage site in south west Albania which has been occupied by the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines.

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Butrint is an archaeological national park in Albania and a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its ancient ruins dating back as far as the 7th century BC. In fact, classic mythology says that exiles moved to Butrint to escape following the fall of Troy.

Originally part of an area called Epirus, Butrint has been occupied by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Venetians. As a result, Butrint offers a wealth of incredible archaeological structures, including a well preserved Greek theatre, fortifications which have been changed by each civilisation which occupied it, Roman public baths inside which lies a paleo-Christian baptistery and a 9th century basilica.

One of Butrint’s earliest sites is its sanctuary, which dates back to the fourth century and sits on its hill or “acropolis”. The sanctuary was named after the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, and was a centre of healing. Butrint was abandoned during the Ottoman era when marshes started to emerge around it, however, many of its historical treasures remain intact and attract tourist from around the globe.

The great thing about Butrint is the ability to trace the development of a succession of eras through its sites and structures, making it a microcosm of history. With so much to see, including an onsite museum exploring the site’s history, a visit to Butrint National Park usually lasts around three hours.

Photo by leoncillo sabino (cc)

Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

The Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities contains the most comprehensive and important collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the world as well as some from the Ancient Greek period.

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The Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities contains the most comprehensive and important collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the world. Indeed, it is said to have over 100,000 pieces in all.

From smaller objects such as coins and piece of papyrus to statues of pharaohs and the magnificence of the Royal Mummies room with its eleven mummies (although entry is subject to an additional entry fee), the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is the place to see some of the most significant finds from this period.

Perhaps the most famous part of the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is its Tutankhamen collection, which includes the iconic funereal mask of the boy king as well as several other objects related to this pharaoh.

The Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities also contains ancient Greek and Roman pieces and, with such an array of things to see, it’s a good idea to plan your route before making your way around. Otherwise, it can be rather overwhelming. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Egypt.

Capua Archaeological Museum

Capua Archaeological Museum houses a collection of ancient artefacts and is next to an ancient Mithraeum.

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Capua Archaeological Museum in Santa Maria Capua Vetere displays a series of artefacts from around the region including from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, the Etruscan civilisation, Ancient Greek and Roman objects.

Adjacent to the Capua Archaeological Museum is a second century Mithraeum, a subterranean temple of the Persian cult of Mithras. You can visit the Mithraeum with a member of the museum staff.

Photo by Alun Salt (cc)

Corinth

One of the most famous Ancient Greek sites, Corinth was a major city to both the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans and its fascinating ruins are a popular tourist destination.

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Ancient Corinth, the ruins of which can be found in the modern town of Korinthos, was a city of major importance in Ancient Greece and in Ancient Rome. Located in between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, Corinth was a vital port and a thriving city-state as well as being of religious significance.

Inhabited since the Neolithic period, Corinth grew from the eight century BC under the Ancient Greeks, developing into a centre of trade and a city of great riches. Much of this wealth was accumulated from the seventh century BC under the rule of Periander, who exploited Corinth’s location in the Isthmus of Corinth. By travelling through Corinth, ships could cross quickly between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf, avoiding the need to sail around the coast. Corinth had the diolkos, a ship hauling device which allowed them to do just that. Ship owners were charged for using this device, providing Corinth with an ongoing flow of income.

Corinth became such a powerful city-state that it even established various colonies such as Syracuse and Epidamnus. In 338 BC, following the Peloponnesian War and the subsequent Corinthian War, Corinth was conquered by Philip II of Macedon. Throughout the classical era, Corinth had held regular sporting tournaments known as the Isthmian Games. These were continued under the Macedonians and, in fact, it was at the 336 BC Isthmus Games that Alexander the Great was selected to lead the Macedonians in the war against Persia.

In 146 BC, Corinth suffered partial destruction from the invasion of Roman general Mummius, although it was later rebuilt under Julius Caesar, eventually growing into an even more prosperous Roman city. Corinth’s decline began in 267 AD following the invasion of the Herulians. Over the subsequent years, it would fall into the hands of the Turks, the Knights of Malta, the Venetians and finally the Greeks, each of these conflicts, together with numerous natural disasters, depleting but never entirely destroying the city’s once magnificent sites.

Another interesting aspect of Corinth is its diverse religious history. Dedicated to the Greek deities of Apollo, Octavia and Aphrodite, during Roman times it was also the home of a large Jewish community as well as being visited by the Apostle Paul.

Today, visitors to Corinth can see its many ancient sites, including the fairly well-preserved ruins of the Temple of Apollo, which was built in 550 BC and the remaining columns of the Temple of Octavia. By contrast, only few remnants remain of the former Temple of Aphrodite, once a home of Corinth’s sacred prostitutes. Perhaps what makes Corinth such a fascinating site is that, due to its extensive wealth over the years, this ancient city’s Doric architecture was exceptionally ornate.

Beyond these sacred sites, much of Corinth’s original infrastructure is visible along with many remains from the Roman-era city, including the Theatre and the Peirene Fountain.

Those wanting to learn more about Corinth and see many of the artefacts from its excavation can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth.

Photo by filologanoga (cc)

Cumae Archaeological Park

Cumae Archaeological Park in Pozzuoli houses a series of ancient ruins and artefacts and is thought to have been inhabited as far back as the Iron Age.

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Cumae Archaeological Park in Pozzuoli houses a series of ancient ruins and artefacts and is thought to have been inhabited as far back as the Iron Age.

Cumae itself was a settlement established by Greek colonists in the eighth century BC. Sacked by the Oscans in the fifth century BC and incorporated into the Roman Empire in the fourth century BC, Cumae’s sites are mostly Roman, but there are several Greek ones as well.

The most celebrated site at Cumae Archaeological Park is Sybil’s Cave or ‘Antro della Sibilla’. This atmospheric cave was built in two phases, the first in the fourth century BC, the second in the late first century BC or early AD.

Named after the Cumaean priestess who, according to Virgil's Aeneid, is said to have prophesized to the Trojan Aeneas prior to his entry into the underworld, the exact purpose of Sybil’s Cave is yet to be decided upon, but it was most likely a defensive structure. It also served as a Christian burial site. Whatever its original use, this atmospheric trapezoidal tunnel is fascinating.

Other sites at Cumae Archaeological Park include the fifth century acropolis walls, a second century BC amphitheatre, a forum, several temples, such as the Temples of Jupiter and Apollo, and a second century AD public baths complex.

Photo by davehighbury (cc)

Cyrene

Cyrene in Lybia is considered to be one of the most impressive Greco-Roman sites in the world and has many ancient Greek ruins.

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Cyrene in Libya is considered to be one of the most impressive Greco-Roman sites in the world and one of the best Classical Greek sites beyond Greece itself.

Traditionally said to have been founded by the Greeks of Thera in 631BC, Cyrene was a trading hub first inhabited by the Battiadae dynasty and which became one of the most important centres of the Greek world.

Over time, Cyrene was conquered several times yielding to, amongst others, Alexander the Great, before being Romanised in 74BC. Cyrene’s status and importance further flourished under Roman rule and was rebuilt under Hadrian. In fact, it was only after the great earthquake of 365AD and the region’s changing climate which eventually caused its decline.

Amongst its fantastic remains, Cyrene is home to the ruins of the great sanctuary of Apollo which has sites ranging from the Temples of Artemis and Apollo which date back as early as the 7th century BC to the 2nd century Trajan Baths. Also found at Cyrene is the impressive Temple of Zeus.

One of its most impressive sites is Cyrene Amphitheatre, which the Greeks built in the 6th century BC, was used as a Roman amphitheatre and is now the largest Greek site in Africa.

There’s lots more to see at Cyrene including its acropolis, agora, forum and necropolis. Part of what makes Cyrene so incredible is not just its monuments but its overall planning - a mix of Greek and Roman, which is evident throughout.

Listed by UNESCO and protected by the Global Heritage Fund, sadly Cyrene is considered to be badly neglected.

Check the official advice of your country’s foreign office before considering travelling to Libya.

Photo by isawnyu (cc)

Delos

Delos is a UNESCO listed ancient Greek site and the island on which Apollo was said to have been born.

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Delos is an island and archaeological site which was held sacred by the ancient Greeks as the birthplace of the deity Apollo. It is unclear as to whether his twin sister Artemis was also believed to have been born there. There were temples built in honour of Artemis at Delos, but the legend seems focused on Apollo.

Evidence shows that Delos was inhabited as early as the third millennium BC and, from around the tenth century BC, when it was taken by the Ionian Greeks, it developed into a religious centre as well as a thriving port. A site of pilgrimage for many civilisations, Delos was later ruled by the Athenians, under which the native Delians suffered greatly, being exiled on several occasions.

Delos was considered such a sacred site that it was forbidden to die or to give birth there. Athenian leader Peisistratus is said to have even rid the island of all of its existing graves in the sixth century BC. Later, severely ill people and pregnant women would be removed from the island and taken to nearby Rheneia.

Over the centuries, activity at Delos centred around shrines and temples to Apollo in an area known as the Sanctuary of Apollo. Few of the once many temples in the Sanctuary of Apollo remain intact today, but what there is has been beautifully preserved and reconstructed. Mosaics and statues are dotted around Delos as are the facades of former temples, such as that of Isis.

Some of its most famous statues are those of the Terrace of the Lions. The originals of these are now held at the Delos Archaeological Museum, but the on-site replicas do give an idea of how it once looked. There is also an ancient theatre.

Unfortunately there are few if any English explanatory panels, so it’s a good idea to get a guide to go with you unless you speak French or Greek. Delos has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990.

Photo by Charles Haynes (cc)

Delos Archaeological Museum

The Delos Archaeological Museum houses finds from the ancient site of Delos.

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The Delos Archaeological Museum contains findings from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Delos. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Delos was an ancient Greek holy site, believed to have been the birthplace of the deity Apollo.

Amongst its collection, the Delos Archaeological Museum houses a range of pottery, funerary artefacts and stelae as well as mosaics and jewellery. One of the most celebrated exhibits at the Delos Archaeological Museum is that of the lion statues from the Terrace of the Lions.

Whilst many of its exhibits relate to the ancient Greek period, the Delos Archaeological Museum has pieces dating as far back as the twenty-fifth century BC, offering an overview of the island since it was first inhabited.

Photo by Peter Long (cc)

Delphi Archaeological Museum

Delphi Archaeological Museum displays artifacts from the Ancient Greek city of Delphi.

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Delphi Archaeological Museum is an historical museum dedicated to exploring the history and exhibiting artifacts from the nearby archeological site of ancient Delphi.

Delphi was a major city of Ancient Greece and its sites are themselves popular tourist attractions. Amongst its displays, Delphi Archaeological Museum exhibits statues, sculptures and everyday items excavated from Delphi as well as exploring the site’s history.

Didyma

Didyma in Turkey contains the ruins of the temple of Apollo, which was one of the most important oracles of the Hellenic world.

DID YOU KNOW?

The archaeological site of Didyma in Turkey contains the remains of the ancient Sanctuary of Apollo, one of the most important oracles of the Hellenic world.

The oracle, second only to Delphi in importance, was linked to the Greek city of Miletus by the 17km long Sacred Way and the site is believed to date back as far as the 8th century BC. The original temple was destroyed by the Persians but Alexander the Great had the oracle rebuilt in around 334BC.

Today visitors to the site can explore a range of ruins from the oracle, including several structures, columns, decorative friezes and even the remains of ancient tunnels.

This article is a stub and is currently being expanded by our editorial team.

Photo by carolemadge1 (cc)

Dion

Dion is an ancient city in Greece which became the religious centre of the Macedonian kingdom and now contains a number of Greek and Roman-era ruins.

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Dion is an ancient city in Greece which contains a number of Greek- and Roman-era ruins. Today it operates as an archaeological site and museum.

Very much a place of religious importance, Dion became the religious centre of the Macedonian kingdom in the 5th century BC as well as hosting important games.

In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great offered sacrifices at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Dion before setting out on his campaign against the Persian Empire. He later donated a magnificent statue to the temple, portraying his fallen cavalry troops who had died at the Battle of Granicus. Heavily damaged by Aetolian invaders in 219BC, the city was rebuilt and survived into the Roman era – indeed the Emperor Augustus founded a Roman colony here in 31BC.

However, as the Empire weakened the threat of barbarian attack combined with natural disasters and slowly the city was abandoned. Though it survived into Byzantine times, there is no reference to ancient Dion after the 10th century AD.

Today Dion Archaeological Site is located just outside the modern town and contains a number of interesting ruins from the Greek and Roman periods. Chief among these are the many Greek temples, including the large Temple of Zeus as well as temples to Demeter, Isis and Asclepius.

The site also contains the remains of a Hellenistic theatre, a partly-preserved 2nd century AD Roman theatre, ancient baths and the ruins of several ancient villas. A later-Roman church can also be found here, probably dating to the 4th or 5th centuries AD. Among Dion’s other treasures is an extremely well preserved Macedonian tomb.

Dion Archaeology Museum operates at the site and contains a fascinating selection of artefacts found within the ruins.

Photo by kalleboo (cc)

Eleusis

An archaeological site of great national importance, the Greco-Roman ruins at Eleusis are beautifully preserved and steeped in the richness of Greek mythology.

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Eleusis archaeological site contains a range of impressive Greco-Roman ruins, steeped in the richness of Greek mythology.

Surrounded on all sides by a thriving modern industrial town, the site of Eleusis is renowned as the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a series of annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone which ranked among the most sacred religious rites of ancient Greece.

The site was also the birthplace of Aeschylus, a playwright (or ‘tragedian’) who is known as the ‘father of tragedy’ and whose plays are still performed and read.

Today, the Eleusis archaeological site houses a number of important ruins including the Sacred Court, a Roman reproduction of Hadrian’s Arch in Athens and the Kallichoron Well, according to the Homeric Hymn, the resting place of Demeter. There is also a museum located on site which gives more detail on the history of Eleusis and provides further explanation on the myths associated with the site.

Photo by tristanf (cc)

Empuries

The ruins of a Roman military camp built on the remains of a bustling Greek city, Empuries is the only archaeological site on the Iberian Peninsula that boasts such an ancient history.

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The site of Empuries in Catalonia contains the remains of an ancient Greco-Roman city and military camp and is one of the oldest of its kind found on the Iberian Peninsula.

The history of Empuries dates back to the early Iron Age, but the remains that can be seen today at the Empuries archaeological site are those of both a Greek trading port and a Roman military camp.

Founded in the sixth century BC by ancient Greek traders from Phocaea, Emporion – as it was originally known – was used by Greek merchants who utilised the advantageous location of its valuable natural harbour. The very name of the city implied its commercial purpose – empurion meaning ‘market’ in ancient Greek.

In 218 BC the Romans took control of Empuries in an attempt to block Carthaginian troops during the Second Punic War. By 195 BC a Roman military camp had been established and over the next century a Roman colony named Emporiae emerged at the site, lasting until the end of the third century AD. However, over time the city waned as the nearby centres of Barcino (Barcelona) and Tarraco (Tarragona) grew. The importance of Empuries dwindled and the city was largely abandoned at this time.

In the eighth century AD the Franks took control of the region, after defeating the Moors, and the area took on an administrative function – becoming capital of the Carolingian county of Empúries. This role remained until the eleventh century, when it was transferred to Castellon. From then on Empuries served as the home of small groups of local fisherman and was largely forgotten.

Today, the archaeological site of Empuries is nestled between the coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries and l’Escala, on the Costa Brava. Remains at the site include the ruins of the Greek market and port, an ancient necropolis as well as the Roman-era walls, mosaics, amphitheatre and early Christian basilica.

The ruins illustrate the rich and diverse history of the city, from holy areas and temples to a statue honouring Jupiter. Many of the finds from Empuries can be seen in the small on-site museum, which contains replicas as well as original items. Artefacts from the site can also be found at the central museum in Barcelona.

The site’s location on the Balearic Sea boasts magnificent views, making it a perfect location to explore history in scenic surroundings.

Empuries is managed by the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya, which looks after other historic sites nearby and on the peninsula.

Contributed by Ros Gammie

Photo by Donna and Andrew (cc)

Ephesus

Ephesus in Turkey represents some of the best preserved Ancient Greek ruins in the Mediterranean.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ephesus or "Efes" was a vibrant classical city, now bordering modern day Selçuk in Turkey and representing some of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. 

Thought to have been founded in the 10th century BC by an Athenian prince named Androklos, Ephesus grew into a thriving city until 650BC when it was attacked and damaged by the Cimmerians. However, the settlement was reconstituted and soon the city began to thrive once more, eventually being conquered by the vast Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great.

The city was involved in the Greco-Persian wars but then fell back under Persian rule until its liberation by Alexander the Great. Fought over continuously by Alexander’s successors and their descendents, Ephesus, like so much of the region, was eventually absorbed into the Roman Republic, in the late second century BC.

Sights at Ephesus

Today, Ephesus is a treasure trove for enthusiasts of Ancient Roman and Greek history, allowing them to walk through its streets and view its magnificent houses, community buildings, temples and stadiums.

Ephesus was once famous for its Temple of Artemis, built in around 650 BC. Sadly, this was destroyed and is now represented by just a solitary column.

Some of the most impressive sites at Ephesus include the Library of Celsus, the ruins of which stand two storeys high, the Temple of Hadrian which was built in 118 AD, the classical theatre where it is believed Saint Paul preached to the Pagans and the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, so called because legend has it that the Romans locked seven Christian boys there in 250 AD, who only awoke in the 5th century.

The cross shaped Basilica of Saint John is also nearby, as is the fourteenth century Isabey Mosque, which is an impressive structure built from the remains of Ephesus.

A trip to Ephesus usually takes at least half a day - some tours include other local sites such as Priene and Miletus - but history enthusiasts will probably want to enjoy this site for a whole day. There is also a great Ephesus Museum displaying artifacts found in the old city. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.

Florence Archaeological Museum

Florence Archaeological Museum combines an impressive collection of Etruscan art with Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artefacts.

DID YOU KNOW?

Florence Archaeological Museum (Museo archeologico nazionale di Firenze) offers a diverse collection of antiquities. The most impressive and comprehensive collection is probably the archaeological museum’s exhibit of Etruscan art which includes the world famous Chimera of Arezzo statue dating back to 400 BC.

Florence Archaeological Museum also exhibits artefacts from Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek times. Its ancient Egyptian collection is of particular importance and has been classed by some as the second most important in Italy after Museo Egizio in Turin. Some of the most celebrated pieces at the Florence Archaeological Museum are the sixth century François Vase and the Ancient Greek Idolino statue.

Photo by The Consortium (cc)

Getty Villa

The Getty Villa is a museum dedicated to the ancient world.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Getty Villa is a museum of Ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan artefacts and works of art.

Located in Pacific Palisades, California, it displays a collection of antiquities from each of these periods in a thematic exploration of ancient life, culture, religion and even war.

The Getty Villa is itself a reconstruction of a typical ancient villa as well as including a reconstructed theatre.

Photo by Historvius

Heraklea Linkestis

Heraklea Linkestis is an archaeological site in Bitola in Macedonia which was once an ancient Roman settlement and contains many Ancient Greek ruins.

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Heraklea Linkestis, also known as just Heraklea, is believed to have been founded by King Philip II of Macedon in around the fourth century BC, before being conquered by the Romans in approximately the second century BC.

Located along the important trade route of Via Egnatia, Heraklea Linkestis thrived as a commercial hub. Well-preserved remains of this once thriving settlement can now be seen at the site, including a theatre and baths as well as a Jewish temple and a church. One of the most celebrated aspects of Heraklea Linkestis is its series of vivid mosaics.

Photo by Chris. P (cc)

Hierapolis

One of many ancient Greek sites in Turkey, Hierapolis was once a thriving, multicultural ancient city and spa, the remains of which can still be seen.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hierapolis was once a thriving, multicultural ancient city and spa, the remains of which can now be seen in modern day Turkey.

It is said to have been founded by the rulers of Pergamum, the Attalid Dynasty, and is usually attributed to their King Eumenes II (197BC-159BC). However, it is thought by many that Hierapolis was actually in existence a couple of centuries earlier.

Whatever the case, part of what made - and still makes - Hierapolis such an attractive site were its hot springs, once thought to have had miraculous healing properties. Visitors would travel to Hierapolis to dip in them, something which visitors still do today.

Most of the ruins at Hierapolis date from the Roman period. The Romans occupied Hierapolis in 129AD and the city grew into something of a multicultural haven, with Romans, Jews, Greco-Macedonians and others living there side by side. Of course, Hierapolis was not a complete utopia. In fact, it is said that Philip the Apostle was crucified there and the city suffered from earthquakes, particularly in the first century AD.

There’s plenty to see at Hierapolis today, including its theatre, Hellenistic layout and streets, many standing columns, the nymphaeum and a large necropolis to name a few sites. As mentioned above, visitors can also take a dip in the hot springs, a unique experience.

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hierapolis is paired with the stunning natural site of Pamukkale, known as the Cotton Palace, which is nearby.

Photo by amiinsidemyself (cc)

Histria

Histria was occupied by the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines and is thought to be the oldest settlement in Romania.

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Histria, close to the city of Constanta in Romania is an archaeological park housing ruins which date throughout Romania’s history. Histra was once a harbour, first occupied by the Ancient Greeks in 675 BC. Under the Greeks, it flourished into a centre of trade, specialising in ceramics, glass and metals. The earliest Romanian currency, the 8g silver Drachma, was first issued in Histria in circa 480 BC.

Over the centuries, Histria was invaded numerous times, including twice by the Romans and it served as both a Roman and Byzantine settlement. Only in the seventh century was Histria destroyed by enemy forces.

This rich yet turbulent history has endowed Histria with a wealth of sites and monuments such as temples to Aphrodite and Zeus as well as Roman baths. Visitors can walk around the site with relative freedom, looking at its fascinating collection of remaining walls, columns and structures.

Histria has an archaeological museum, housing a display of finds from the site ranging from jewellery and coins to tools and weapons.

Photo by ae35unit (cc)

Istanbul Archaeology Museum

The Istanbul Archaeology Museum houses around a million artefacts from an impressive range of cultures and periods.

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The Istanbul Archaeology Museum (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri) houses around a million artefacts from an impressive range of cultures and periods, including some of the world’s most remarkable pieces. Split between three buildings - the main archaeology museum, the Ancient Orient Museum and the Tiled Kiosk Museum - the Istanbul Archaeology Museum has much to offer the history enthusiast.

The Alexander Tomb and Other Funereal Pieces
The most impressive item at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum is often cited to be the Alexander Tomb, which was found in Sidon in the nineteenth century. Indeed, this fourth century BC tomb with its friezes of Alexander the Great is incredible and, although it is no longer thought to be this great leader’s original resting place, it is still a fascinating find.

Yet, the Istanbul Archaeology Museum has so much more to offer. For example, it has much more in the way of funereal items, such as the celebrated Sarcophagus of Mourning Women with its depictions of eighteen grieving women. In fact, as soon as the visitor steps through the door they are met with another important piece, the statue of a lion from one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

Ottoman Works
Another great collection at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum is from the Ottoman period. From its vast exhibits of coins and medallions to decorations and a whole library of books, this really is a great place to see Ottoman pieces.

Other Treasures
This is really only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the works at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. There’s a good Troy exhibit, a collection of classical statues, a Thrace-Bithynia and Byzantium exhibition and plenty of art from a variety of ancient civilisations such as Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Arabic and Anatolian.

Photo by maarjaara (cc)

Jardin des Vestiges

The Jardin des Vestiges is an archaeological site in Marseilles with ancient Greek and Roman remains.

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The Jardin des Vestiges is an archaeological site in Marseille housing the remains of this city’s ancient Greek then Roman port.

Discovered during building works carried out in the 1960’s, the ruins of Jardin des Vestiges have been excavated and include large sections of walls, gates and the remnants of warehouses and the general infrastructure of the old port.

Periods of time intermingle from the ancient to the medieval, with the earliest find dating back to 600 BC. There are trilingual panels at the site (in English, French and Italian), which make understanding the different ruins a more accessible experience.

Many of the finds excavated at Jardin des Vestiges, such as the remains of a third century AD ship, can now be seen at the adjacent Marseille History Museum. A visit to one usually includes the other, particularly as the entry fee is for both.

Photo by Shadowgate (cc)

Kamiros

Kamiros was an ancient city on the island of Rhodes, the ruins of which include an acropolis.

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Kamiros (Kameiros) was an ancient city on the island of Rhodes, the ruins of which include an acropolis. Excavations have revealed a long a diverse history at Kamiros including a temple to Athena dating to the 8th century BC.

Twice destroyed by earthquakes (in 226BC and 142BC), the main remains at Kamiros date to the Hellenistic period, although some Classical elements are also visible. The Hellenistic city was built on three levels with various buildings and monuments including an agora, a Doric fountain house, a reservoir and a stoa.

Located on Rhodes's north-western coast, the other side of the island from the more popular beaches, Kamiros is well worth a visit. It is easily accessible by car and less crowded than the better-known acropolis of Lindos. Unlike Lindos, the ancient city of Kamiros has not been overlaid by a modern town, so its geography remains visible to the visitor.

The acropolis commands fabulous views across the sea to the coast of Turkey, and below it is, reasonably well preserved, the remains of a town with all its ancient conveniences. If you have a car, and are prepared to explore the less touristy side of the island, you will see stunning countryside, including Rhodes's highest mountain, looming at over 1000m, and the Island's own wine producing region, Embonas.

Photo by Rev Stan (cc)

Kaunos

Kaunos contains the remains of an ancient Carian city and includes a host of Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine remains – particularly its impressive theatre.

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Kaunos archaeological site in Turkey contains the remains of this ancient city which has witnessed the rise and fall of several empires, cultures and civilisations over almost 3,000 years of history. Though not as spectacular as many ancient cities in Turkey, it has the advantage of being quieter, tranquil and picturesque.

Founded around the 9th century BC, Kaunos was a Carian city and an important trading port which bordered Lycia and was culturally influenced by its neighbour. Later conquered by the Persian Empire, the city was also altered by the increasing influence of Hellenic culture in the region leading to many ancient Greek-era structures, the ruins of which can still be found in places within the site.

As with the rest of the locality, Kaunos was incorporated into the Roman Empire and later was part of the Byzantine territories. With the Muslim invasions and later the rise of the Ottoman Empire, Kaunos was re-fortified and walls were constructed on the Acropolis.

Ancient writers attested the Malarial nature of Kaunos and it was this, along with earthquakes and the gradual silting of its harbour, which eventually led to the city’s abandonment.

Today, the ruins at Kaunos include a well preserved theatre, which displays both Roman and Hellenistic features, a temple dedicated to Apollo, a Byzantine basilica and Roman baths as well as the spectacular rock tombs - known as the Kings' Tombs - which are situated just outside the archaeological site.

Just to the north-west of the main settlement are the 4th century BC city walls which stretch for 3km – in places they are very well preserved.

Excavations at the site are still continuing and may lead to further areas being opened to the public at a later date.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Photo by dynamosquito (cc)

Kerameikos

Of of the lesser known Ancient Greek sites in Athens, Kerameikos was the site of an important ancient burial ground.

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Kerameikos is an archaeological site in Athens which contains the remains an important ancient burial ground as well as a series of famous monuments.

Once home to the city’s potters - hence its name meaning pottery - Kerameikos developed to also become the site of a cemetery. In fact, some of the oldest graves found at Kerameikos date back to as far as the third millennium BC. It would serve this function for centuries, including under the Romans up to the sixth century AD.

Yet, in addition to the burial aspects of Kerameikos, such as the Street of Tombs where prominent figures were laid to rest, the site also contains remnants of the entrance to ancient Athens. Visitors can see the ruins of what was the city wall, including the Sacred Gate and the Dipylon Gate. It is also where the Panathenaic procession - a great ancient Athenian festival - began its route. The ruins of the staging area for this procession - the Pompeion - can be found at Kerameikos.

To see finds from the site, such as vases, visit the Kerameikos Museum.

Photo by silverman68 (cc)

Knidos

The picturesque remains of the ancient city of Knidos are a popular tourist attraction, as much for the beautiful coastal views as for the archaic ruins.

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The remains of the ancient Greek city of Knidos, near the modern Turkish town of Datça, are among the most picturesque historic attractions in the region. Perched upon a steep hilltop, looking out over its natural harbour, Knidos boasts stunning views alongside its ancient ruins.

Founded by Greek settlers, Knidos was an important cultural and political centre by the 5th century BC and, with its large natural harbours, the city was also an ancient trading hub. Throughout this period, Knidos was a member of the Dorian Hexapolis - a federation of six cities of Dorian Greek origin - along with Halicarnassus and Kos among others.

The city was famed for its association with Aphrodite and for its famous statue of the goddess, sculpted by the renowned classical sculptor Praxiteles of Athens. While this statue has not survived, a number of copies exist, one of which can be found in the Vatican Museums. At Knidos itself, the ornate marble pedestal that the Aphrodite statue stood upon can still be seen.

Along with the rest of the region, Knidos was later absorbed into the Roman world and the city survived into Byzantine times – as evidenced by the remains of a number of churches on the site.

During the initial excavations in the 19th century a number of impressive statues and artefacts were discovered among the ruins, many of these are now found in the British Museum including the famous Lion Statue and the Statue of Demeter.

Other ruins found at Knidos include temples to Apollo, Dionysus and Aphrodite, ancient theatres, the agora and the remains of Byzantine-era churches. The site also includes a large ancient necropolis spread out over a wide area, much of which has yet to be fully excavated.

Overall, it’s worth pointing out that the ruins of Knidos are not particularly well-preserved compared to other ancient cities in Turkey, and today most visitors come for the views as much as the history.

Contributed by Victoria Haughton

Photo by bazylek100 [away] (cc)

Kos Ancient Agora

The Kos Ancient Agora contains a series of ancient Greek ruins dating from the fourth century BC to the sixth century AD.

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The Kos Ancient Agora contains a series of ruins dating from the fourth century BC to the sixth century AD. Amongst them are a temple, probably dedicated to Hercules, a shrine to Aphrodite and the columns of a stoa or covered walkway dating from the third century BC.

Over time, the Kos Ancient Agora would have been renovated and added to, including by the Romans. One such addition was a fifth century Christian basilica.

Photo by Historvius

Kourion

Kourion is an impressive archaeological site in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins.

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Kourion, also known as Curium, is an impressive archaeological site near Limassol in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins.

In fact, it is believed that the site of Kourion was first inhabited during Neolithic times, with the earliest evidence dating back to 4500-3900 BC, but that the town itself was founded in the thirteenth century BC by the Argives.

Over the centuries, Kourion has played important roles in many regional conflicts. During the Cypriot uprising against Persia (fifth century BC), its king – Stasanor – betrayed his country, lending his support and troops to the Persians. However, Kourion later supported Alexander the Great’s fight against the Persians (fourth century BC).

Kourion continued to be inhabited throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods, with the establishment of buildings, monuments and other structures from these times still visible today. Perhaps the most memorable site to be seen today at Kourion is its ancient theatre. Still intact and able to seat up to 3,500 spectators, the theatre at Kourion dates back to the second or third century AD, although there would have been a theatre here from the second century BC.

However, the theatre is definitely not the only thing to see at Kourion. The site includes the remains of a third century AD Roman market which includes some public baths and a Nymphaeum.

Several additional ancient buildings remain, including part of the fourth century AD House of Achilles - thought to have been a reception centre - with its mosaic floors and the third century AD House of the Gladiators, so named because some of its mosaics depict gladiatorial battles. The complex of Eustolios is another fascinating site, this having been an affluent fourth to fifth century private residence in Kourion and including a bathing complex.

Kourion also possesses evidence of early Christianity, both at the complex of Eustolios and by way of its early Christian basilica, a fifth century AD church at the site. Other sites of Kourion include the remains of a stadium and the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. However, it is worth noting that these latter two sites are slightly separate from the rest of the archaeological park.

Photo by Ian W Scott (cc)

Laodikeia

Laodikeia was an Ancient Greek then Roman city, which is now represented by a set of ruins.

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Laodikeia, also known as Laodicea, was an Ancient Greek then Roman city, which is now represented by a set of interesting ancient ruins.

Said by some to have been founded by Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid Kingdom in the third century BC, many of the buildings and monuments at the Laodikeia site date from the first century BC onwards. Laodikeia later became an important Roman city, continuing to be inhabited even after it was damaged by an earthquake in 60AD.

Among the ruins of Laodikeia are the remains of the ancient theatre, which would originally have held up to 20,000 spectators. A few of the other ruins which can still be seen include the stadium and gymnasium (both 79AD), a baths complex and a Temple of Zeus.

Photo by Historvius

Lato

7 Century BC Doric city on Crete. Well preserved and very well cared for. More atmospheric than over restored Knossos. Just 3 kms from Kritsa

DID YOU KNOW?

The archaeological site of Lato in eastern Crete contains the ruins of the ancient city which once dominated this area.

The city was built atop two high hills which dominated the local area and went on to flourish throughout the Hellenic era. Lato was also the birthplace of Nearchos, the admiral of Alexander the Great. By the time of the rise of Rome, the city’s harbour to the east soon came to be of more prominence than the original settlement and slowly the institutions and administrative centre of the settlement were moved there, leaving the original city to slowly decline.

Today the site is quite well preserved and contains the remains of houses, the agora, temples, ancient cisterns, basements, a theatre and latter threshing floor. The site has not been troubled by modern restorations and therefore contrasts very well with more open construction of Knossos and Malia.

An interesting site, Lato is well worth a visit if you’re in the area and also offers excellent views.

Leukaspis

Leukaspis was a thriving Greco-Roman port and city founded in the second century BC. Today, it has been excavated as the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Leukaspis (Locassis) was a thriving Greco-Roman port and city founded in the second century BC and which grew to a population of 15,000 residents at its peak. Also known as Antiphrae, Leukaspis was a commercial hub of the Mediterranean olive, wine and wheat industries, conducting trade both inland and overseas.

In 365AD, Leukaspis was utterly devastated by a tsunami, an after effect of an earthquake in Crete.

Unfortunately, extensive development of the area around Leukaspis has meant that much of the former port has been lost. However, parts of Leukaspis have been carefully excavated and form the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site. 

Amongst the ruins at the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site are the remains of villas, baths, a theatre, a necropolis (burial site) and an agora (town square/marketplace). One of the main buildings to be seen is a basilica, which began as a public hall and then became a church following the rise of Christianity.

Marseille History Museum

The Marseille History Museum chronicles the city’s history since Ancient Greek times.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Marseille History Museum (Musee d’Histoire de Marseille) chronicles the city’s past since its founding by the Greeks in 600 BC up to the eighteenth century.

Adjacent to the archaeological site of Jardin de Vestiges, the Marseille History Museum houses a series of finds, including from ancient Greek and Roman times as well as a nod to the history of the city’s ancient port with the very well-preserved remains of a third century ship.

The exhibits continue into early Christianity, medieval times and beyond, offering a good overview of Marseille’s development.

Marseille Roman Docks Museum

The Roman Docks Museum has a collection of artefacts from Marseille’s thriving ancient port.

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The Roman Docks Museum (Musée des Docks Romains) in Marseilles is an archaeological museum located on the site of a former Ancient Roman dock warehouse.

One of the main exhibits is the set of ceramic jugs or “dolia” which were probably made in the Roman warehouse. Visitors can also see the remains of some other buildings and homes from this period.

Amongst its collection, the Roman Docks Museum shows the ruins of this warehouse and archaeological finds from within the site as well as from underwater excavations. All of these exhibits together portray the Marseille’s ancient port as a thriving centre of commerce.

The exhibits at the Roman Docks Museum are not only Roman, but also Greek in origin, reflecting the fact that Marseille was first a Greek settlement before being taken by the Romans in the first century BC.

Photo by AlexanderVanLoon (cc)

Metapontum

Remains of Greek city - part of 'magna grecia' or greater Greece. Extensive site with remains of Theatres, temples and drainage. Museum nearby

DID YOU KNOW?

The remains of the Ancient Greek city of Metapontum - part of ’Magna Grecia’ or greater Greece - include theatres, temples and drainage. Established as a Greek city in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Metapontum was later home to Pythagoras, who died there around the turn of the 5th century BC. Today, the modern town of Metaponto plays host to the extensive historic site itself as well as a museum.

Metapontum or Metaponte as it is called locally, is a large site covering the centre of the Greek city. The remains are well signed and include the theatre, temples, houses, shops and extensive water works. For those who find these things interesting, it is possible to trace the way water ran through the site. There seems to be a separation of clean water from a nearby spring from dirty and/or drainage water. Some of the works are clearly ornamental in nature. As with all sites of this nature, the remains have been somewhat restored, though it is easy to see the difference between old and new.

Photo by Miia Ranta (cc)

Miletus

Miletus was an important ancient Greek then Roman city, which still has an impressive theatre, but relatively few other ruins.

DID YOU KNOW?

Miletus was an important ancient Greek then Roman city, which still boasts an impressive ancient theatre among its ruins.

With a history thought to date back as far as the 16th, perhaps even the 17th, century BC, Miletus eventually became a thriving hub from the 8th to 7th centuries BC until suffering significant destruction during its capture by the Persians in the 5th century BC. It was rebuilt on a new site after this and once again became an important centre.

During Alexander the Great’s campaign against the Persian Empire, in 334 BC, the Macedonian conqueror undertook a short siege of the city before its capture. Another great leader, Julius Caesar, also visited this city when, upon his release after being kidnapped by pirates in 75 BC, he headed to Miletus to raise a fleet to pursue his former captors, whom he swiftly defeated and executed.

In its heyday, Miletus was a magnificent city, renowned for its great philosophers. The city’s success was due in large part to its port, which eventually silted up, contributing greatly to its decline. Sadly, today’s ruins of Miletus are barely a shadow of its former glory.

The 15,000-seater Roman theatre is definitely the star attraction. One fascinating aspect of this theatre, other than its excellent state of preservation are the inscriptions which are said to reserve seating for certain groups, including one for "Jews and G-d fearers". This is said by some to show Miletus to be a tolerant, multicultural society. Make sure you explore the covered walkways within the theatre, which are great fun to wander through.

Though the site has suffered greatly through the centuries, there are a handful of other highlights to be found at Miletus. These include the small remains of a colonnaded covered walkway, the Baths of Faustina and a reasonably well preserved temple to Apollo.

Museo del Sannio di Benevento

Museo del Sannio is an historical museum in Benevento which displays ancient and medieval artefacts from the local area.

DID YOU KNOW?

Museo del Sannio (The Samnite Museum) in Benevento is an archaeological and historical museum housing a series of finds from this area of Campania.

Amongst its collections, Museo del Sannio houses Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman pieces as well as those from the Samnite era and includes its Room of Caudium, Room of Isis and the Trajan exhibition.

Museo del Sannio also has medieval exhibitions dating from the fifth to the eleventh centuries, such as art, weaponry and everyday tools.

Photo by *clairity* (cc)

Mycenae

Mycenae is a well-preserved Ancient Greek archaeological site in the Peloponnese which formed the centre of the Mycenaean civilisation.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mycenae is an important archaeological site in Greece which was once the city at the centre of the Mycenaean civilisation of between 1600BC and 1100BC.

Believed to have been inhabited since Neolithic times, Mycenae flourished into a fortified city and was ruled at one time by the famous King Agamemnon.

At its peak, Mycenae was one of the most important Ancient Greek cities and is linked to several works of cultural significance, including the Odyssey and the Iliad. Today, Mycenae contains several well-preserved sites, including the Lion’s Gate and the North Gate, which form parts of its fortified walls and which once stood 18 metres high and 6 to 8 metres thick.

A few other dwellings can also be seen at Mycenae, together with a granary and some guard rooms. Other important structures include Mycenae’s Terraced Palace, which was abandoned in the twelfth century, the religious structures which comprise several shrines and temples and the grave sites, which date back throughout Mycenae’s history.

The most impressive of the burial sites and arguably the most remarkable of Mycenae’s sites is the Tomb of Agamemnon, also known as the Treasury of Atreus. This once elaborate thirteenth century tomb is carved into Mycenae’s hills. This fascinating site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions of Greece.

Photo by erinc salor (cc)

Myra

Myra has one of the best-preserved collections of ancient ruins, and is a perfect place to experience an illustrious period of Greek and Roman history being brought back to life.

DID YOU KNOW?

The ancient town of Myra in Lycia gives a unique insight into Turkey’s history and the many different civilisations which influenced the area.

Today a collection of mostly Roman ruins remain which give visitors the opportunity to envisage the bustling centre that is thought to have been established up to 2,500 years ago. Strolling through the Acropolis, the amphitheatre and the Roman baths, visitors can get a tangible feel for daily life in the ancient world.

According to Strabo, Myra was once a large city, making up one of the most influential parts of the Lycian League in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. This League brought self-rule and semi-independence to Lycia under permission from Rome.

Among the most impressive structures of the ancient city are the two necropoli of Lycian rock-cut tombs carved into Myra’s vertical cliff faces. The most remarkable tomb is known as the ‘Lion’s Tomb’ or the ‘Painted Tomb’, which still has eleven life-size figures in relief on its wall. And these tombs are likely to have been even more extraordinary in the past; when the traveller Charles Fellows visited the site in 1840, all of the tombs on the cliff face were painted in the bright colours of yellow, red, and blue.

Myra’s history has also been marked by a number of notable visitors. In around 60 AD, Saint Paul stopped at the city’s port on his journey to Rome, where he was to face trial after having been arrested for inciting a riot in Jerusalem. In 131 AD, the Emperor Hadrian paid a visit to Myra and built a large granary at Andriace. This granary can still be seen today by driving along the D400 highway into Demre.

However, Myra is perhaps best known for its Byzantine-era Church of St Nicholas (often associated with Santa Claus), who was bishop of Myra in the 4th century AD. Placed on the outskirts of Demre, the church has been a popular site of pilgrimage since it was built in the 6th century and remains a fascinating place of historical and religious interest today. Such was the church’s popularity that it played a role in Myra becoming the leading city for religion and administration in Lycia. Unfortunately Myra’s notability wasn’t to last; in 808 AD Myra was besieged and captured by Abbasid Caliph Harun ar-Rashid, after which it fell into decline. In the 11th century, Myra was once again subjected to invasion, this time by the Seljuk Turks, at which time the relics of St Nicholas were also taken from the city.

The ancient features of the city thankfully survived these invasions, and now help to make Myra an unmissable destination for anyone with an interest in developments in the area from the Ancient Greek period right up to the Byzantine Empire.

Contributed by Siobhan Coskeran

Photo by virtusincertus (cc)

Naples National Archeological Museum

The Naples National Archaeological Museum holds comprehensive collections from the Greek, Roman and Egyptian eras.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Naples National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli) holds a comprehensive collection of Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts, including most of the pieces found in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae.

Some of the most famous exhibits at the Naples National Archaeological Museum include mosaics from the Roman towns and cities destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 AD, Greek sculptures by artists such as Calamis and Nesiotes and the third largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world. Also popular is the Secret Cabinet, an exhibit of erotic Roman art and The Placentarius sculpture.

Look out for the mosaics of the House of the Faun, which include depictions of Alexander the Great battling Darius III.

The building which houses the Naples National Archaeological Museum was constructed in the 16th century and was used in the 1750’s by King Charles III of Spain as a cavalry barracks.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is a world-class museum of art containing a myriad of ancient works in Copenhagen.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen in Denmark is a museum of art with a world-class collection of over 10,000 works from the ancient world.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded in 1888 by the brewer Carl Jacobsen - the man who made Carlsberg beer known worldwide. A new wing was added in 1996, and all of the galleries were thoroughly modernised in 2004-6.

6000 years of Mediterranean art and history

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek collection of antiquities has a wide selection of art and artefacts, allowing the visitor to enjoy delightful, thought-provoking strolls through 6000 years of art and history, including the Ancient Near East, Ancient Greece and Egypt, Greek and Etruscan Italy and, finally, Rome.

Explore ‘The Ancient Mediterranean’
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek includes newly restored galleries with works of art ranging from the early high cultures of the Middle East to the fall of the Roman Empire. Of particular note is the collection of Roman artefacts, including a host of ancient marble sculptures and statues gathered from sites across the Roman world and covering everything from 600BC to 500AD. Included within this collection are finds from important Roman villas as well as the rich Palmyrene selection from the Roman city of Palmyra – it is one of the largest such collections outside Syria and includes remarkable funerary busts and grave stones. Don’t miss the bust of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus – a marble version of a bronze statue from Pompey’s own lifetime.

Impressionists and the art of Paul Gauguin
Visiting one of Denmark’s most beautiful museums you can also appreciate an important assembly of paintings by the French Impressionists, with a large gallery containing works by Monet, Sisley, Degas, van Gogh, Cézanne and many others. The Glyptotek has one of four existing complete sets of Degas’ bronze sculptures, and 45 works of art by Paul Gauguin, one of the world’s most important collections by this artist.

Visiting
The Glyptotek offers free guided tours throughout the year, however guided tours in English are generally conducted from June to September at 2pm on Wednesdays. Danish speaking tours are conducted all year round on Sundays at 2pm. There are also children’s tours.
 

Olympia Archaeological Museum

Olympia Archaeological Museum is a museum exhibiting artifacts from the ancient city of Olympia.

DID YOU KNOW?

Olympia Archaeological Museum is a museum focused on the Ancient Greek site of Olympia, which is located nearby. A major Greek city and the place of origin of the Olympic Games, Olympia was dedicated to Zeus and has been extensively excavated.

Many of the finds from these excavations are exhibited at the Olympia Archaeological Museum including expansive collections of terracotta and bronze, many mosaics, sculptures and numerous other artifacts from this ancient city. Some of its most treasured items include those from the destroyed Temple of Zeus.

Olympia Archaeological Museum explores the history of the ancient city of Olympia and offers an insight into this fascinating site and the lives of its former inhabitants.

Palazzo Nuovo

The Palazzo Nuovo is an archaeological museum of Ancient Greek and Roman art. Part of the Musei Capitolini.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Palazzo Nuovo is part of the Capitoline Museums, known in Italian as Musei Capitolini, which is a famous museum complex in Rome housing an incredible array of artwork and artefacts spanning much of Rome’s history.

Originally established in 1471, when Pope Sixtus I donated a series of bronze statues to the city, the Capitoline Museum is separated into two main buildings – Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori. Palazzo Senatorio is also considered part of the site.

Palazzo Nuovo displays the Capitoline Museum’s Ancient Greek and Roman art, mostly sculptures such as the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (there is also a copy of this in the square outside).

Photo by japrea (cc)

Panathenaic Stadium

The site of the first modern Olympic games, the 2,300-year-old Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is one of the most significantly important historical sites in all of Greece.

DID YOU KNOW?

The site of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, the 2,300-year-old Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is one of the most significant historical sites in Greece.

Originally built around 330 BC, the ancient stadium was used to host the Panathenaic games every four years. The stadium was rebuilt in the mid-second century AD by Herodes Atticus, a wealthy Greek-born Roman senator who built a number of grand public buildings in Athens at the time. At this stage the stadium would have been able to accommodate around 50,000 people.

Abandoned through the ages, it was not until the late 19th century that the stadium was excavated and subsequently rebuilt to host the reborn modern Olympics. As well as being a site of great historical importance, the Panathenaic Stadium now hosts modern competitions and famously hosted events at the 2004 games.

Today, the Panathenaic Stadium remains one of Greece’s most significant and popular tourist sites and includes the annual culmination of the Athens marathon. You can even do your morning jogging round the track!

Pasargadae

Pasargadae was the first capital of the Persian Empire, the UNESCO-listed ruins of which are located in Iran.

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Pasargadae was the capital of the Persian Empire from the sixth century BC until it was conquered by the Macedonians led by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. Now a town in Iran, Pasargadae was established by the first ruler of the Achaemenid Dynasty, Cyrus the Great.

Amongst the sites still visible at Pasargadae, which is a UNESCO World Heritage historical site, are several palaces – including the Presidential Palace - making up a royal complex and a fortress known as the Tall-e Takht.

Most of these structures were built in the sixth century BC under Cyrus the Great and expanded and renovated over the years. King Cyrus’ successor, Cambyses, carried out some of these works, as did Darius the Great.

The Tomb of Cyrus the Great can also still be seen nearby.

Pella

Pella in Greece was the capital of ancient Macedonia and the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

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Pella, near a small town in Greece by the same name, is an archaeological site which was once the thriving capital of ancient Macedonia.

Established by King Amyntas III at the end of the fifth, beginning of the fourth century BC, Pella took over this role from the former capital, Aigai.

As well as being a cultural and commercial hub, Pella was also a place of great historical significance, it being the birthplace of Alexander the Great. By the time of its peak, from the late fourth to second century BC, Pella would have been brimming with public, religious and commercial buildings as well as monuments and homes all carefully organised according to Hippodamian urban planning principles.

The Romans captured Pella in around 168 to 167 BC and it was incorporated into the Empire’s third regio. Thus began the decline of Pella’s political importance, quickened by the selection of Thessaloniki as the new capital of Roman Macedonia in 148 BC and finalised by an earthquake which destroyed it in the first century BC.

Whilst excavations have uncovered an archaeological site of over four square kilometers, little of this is open to the public. Nevertheless, visitors can see several sites at Pella, including a series of remains of houses, mostly dating back to the Hellenistic period and the marketplace or "agora". There is also a museum housing artifacts from the site.

Pergamum

Pergamum was a thriving ancient Greek then Roman city, home to famous sites such as its Asclepion, theatre and library.

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Pergamum, which is also spelt Pergamon, is a famous archaeological site in Turkey which developed under the Attalid dynasty following the death of Alexander the Great.

When Alexander died, one of his generals, Lysimachus, took control of the region. When Lysimachus died in 281BC, Pergamum and the surrounding area fell into the hands of the man he had charged with protecting it, Philetarus.

Through a series of successions, Pergamum fell under the rule of Attalus I and then his son Eumenes II. Both of these kings were part of the Hellenistic Attalid dynasty and it was during this time that the majority of Pergamum’s most celebrated buildings and monuments were constructed, especially under Eumenes II (197-159 BC). Pergamum thrived, becoming the centre of the Pergamese kingdom.

In 129 BC, Pergamum became part of the Roman Empire, accounting for the presence of Roman artwork and temples, and later became part of the Byzantine Empire. It remained an important city (later a metropolis) throughout both of these periods. Indeed, Julius Caesar himself once visited the city and it was here that Caesar imprisoned and executed the very pirates who had kidnapped him in 75 BC, after he had hunted them down following his release.

The historic ruins of Pergamum are split into three main areas. In the Acropolis, one can find sites such as its library, gymnasium, very steep theatre and arsenal as well as the Roman Temple of Trajan. This was also once the site of the incredible Altar of Pergamum, now controversially located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Now only its base remains at Pergamum.

The other two areas of Pergamum are its lower city and its stunning health centre or Asclepion, where a variety of treatments were offered, such as mud baths.

Pergamum has a small archaeological museum, with some of the finds excavated from the site.

Photo by pavdw (cc)

Perge

Perge is a Turkish archaeological site containing mostly Roman ruins, but has a history dating back to Ancient Greece.

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The ancient city of Perge near Antalya in Turkey is now an impressive archaeological site containing a wealth of ancient ruins, mostly dating back to the Roman period, though the city itself has a history dating back well into antiquity.

The current city is said to have been founded in circa 1000BC, though settlements may well have existed here earlier; in fact Perge was mentioned in a Hittite tablet discovered in 1986. Though the early history of Perge is more obscure, it is known that the site was captured by the Persians and then later by the armies of Alexander the Great in around 333BC. It then became part of the Seleucid Kingdom.

The Romans arrived in Perge in approximately 188BC and built most of the sites seen there now, including its once 15,000-seat theatre, the agora, gymnasium, baths and necropolis.  During its time under Rome's control the city went on to become an important Roman city and later Byzantine centre. During this period Perge underwent what would probably be its golden age, with a wealth of new public and private buildings and monuments being constructed. Indeed, in the later Roman period Perge became an important Christian city and it is believed that Saint Paul spent time here. During and after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the city was subjected to a number of attacks and was abandoned during this time.

Today, though Perge may not be as well-known as many ancient Roman cities, there is plenty to see and it’s not far from the popular resort of Antalya. Among the ruins visitors can explore the wonderful colonnaded main streets, the ancient theatre and the 12,000 seat Roman stadium. Also found at the site are the remains of Roman baths, the city’s imposing gates and a number of other ruins, including the impressive 2nd century AD Nymphaeum.

In addition, many of the statues and other finds excavated at Perge can now be found in the Antalya Museum.

Perperikon

Perperikon was an important Thracian sanctuary turned Roman town then medieval fortress.

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Perperikon was an important Thracian holy sanctuary which became a Roman town around the first century BC and was later the site of a medieval fortress.

Inhabited since 5000BC, Perperikon became home to the Temple of Dionysus, legendary for being the place of great prophecies. One of the most famous of these involved Alexander the Great, who was told that he would conquer the world in 334BC, prior to his invasion of Persia.

In a later continuation of the theme, Gaius Octavius - father of the Emperor Augustus - is also said to have consulted the oracle in 59BC, and was told his son would rule the world.

Whilst it was the Thracians who built the sanctuary, it was preserved and expanded under the Romans, who developed Perperikon into a larger settlement with an acropolis and even notable palaces. The remains of these structures have been excavated and can still be explored today.

Destroyed by the Goths in the fourth century AD, Perperikon experienced a resurgence in the sixth century under Emperor Justinian. At this time, the town's defensive elements were reinforced. Perperikon would continue to be an important site over the centuries, with further temples and Christian churches built there. It was also a medieval military stronghold, particularly in the thirteenth century.

Today, visitors can wander through historic Perperikon to see its fascinating ancient ruins including the remains of important public buildings, houses, stairways, altars, tombs and walls.

Perperikon features as one of our top ten Bulgarian Visitor Attractions.

Photo by Dave Lonsdale (cc)

Phaselis

Phaselis is an exquisite ancient site, where the ruins lie scattered amongst pine trees and the beautiful Mediterranean coast.

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The ruins of Phaselis lie to the west of Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, boasting a beautiful contrast of a mountain backdrop and an attractive white sand beach. The site is distinguishable by three natural harbours, and is located in the Olympos National Park.

Phaselis is said to have been founded around 700BC by settlers from Rhodes. Legend states that these newcomers bought the land from the locals by answering a demand for dried fish. Whatever the truth of the tale, the city's location lent itself to trading - Phaselis had trade links stretching as far as Egypt, and the inhabitants even accepted Persian rule in order to gain additional lucrative trading posts. The city's great wealth has been attributed to the pragmatism of its many able merchants, but it also had a reputation as a greedy and corrupt city. As a means of raising funds, Phaselis offered citizenship for 100 drachmas, which had the result of attracting many disagreeable characters from across Asia.

Phaselis changed hands numerous times during its history. The city was ruled by Persia on several occasions, being ‘liberated’ by Athens in 469BC, albeit against the wishes of its inhabitants who enjoyed the benefits of Persian rule. After returning to the hands of the Persians, Phaselis was then conquered by Alexander the Great in 334BC. In the second century BC Phaselis became a member of the Lycian League, before falling victim to attacks from pirates, notably Zeniketes who was eventually killed by the Romans in 78AD. By then however, Phaselis had been reduced to a shadow of its former glory.

The city recovered under Roman rule and on into the Byzantine period and enjoyed several hundred years of stability and growth. In 129 AD the Emperor Hadrian visited the city and several monuments were erected in his name. In the seventh and eighth centuries AD, like much of the region Phaselis suffered due to the turmoil of the period and repeated attacks from the Arab armies. The struggling settlement was eventually abandoned in the thirteenth century AD after earthquakes destroyed the area.

Today, the beautiful scenery and extensive pine forests are at risk of overshadowing what is left of the ruins. One of the best preserved ancient structures on the site is the Roman aqueduct, which runs alongside the bay by the north port. Another highlight is the main avenue leading into the heart of the city, a wonderful ten metre wide road stretching for some distance.

There are also a number of beautiful mosaics which can be seen in the Roman public baths, as well as a basilica dating from the Byzantine period in the sixth century AD. At the end of the main avenue, the main plaza still retains some of its original marble covering. There is little remaining of the city's main port, which one enters through the remains of Hadrian's gate, although there is a beautiful beach there. Ships weighing up to 100 tonnes would once have docked in this harbour, a stop on the important trade route running between Greece and Syria. There is also a second century AD theatre, which would have accommodated up to 1,500 people.

A small museum can be found within the Phaselis Archaeological Site and showcases a number of artefacts found among the ruins. The site is open to visitors throughout the year.

Contributed by Chris Reid

Priene

Priene is a quiet, picturesque ancient Greek city in Turkey which boasts some amazing historical remains without the crowds of the nearby sites.

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Priene is an ancient Greek city which lies between the popular holiday resorts of Kusadasi and Bodrum.

It is one of many important ancient sites in the area and is close to both Miletus and Ephesus. However, though smaller than other nearby historical attractions, the real charm of Priene lies in its quiet appeal and off-the-beaten-track atmosphere.

The original origins of Priene are unknown, though legend dates the city’s founding to Athenian settlers in the 11th or 10th centuries BC.

Although Priene itself may have never been a major power, it’s location in the heart of a region that constantly witnessed the clashes of empires ensured it saw an almost continual flow of conquerors, occupiers and ‘liberators’.

Originally an ally of Athens, Priene was conquered by the Lydians and then by the Persians in the 6th century BC. The city fought in the ill-feted Ionian Revolt against Darius (which would eventually lead to the Persian invasion of Greece and their defeat at Marathon) and, to punish the rebels, Priene was devastated. This destruction prompted one of many re-locations of the city that took place over the centuries, and the new Priene was founded in around 350 BC.

Built on a steep hillside to an innovative grid-pattern design, Priene was a more ordered construct than many contemporary ancient settlements. However, this new incarnation of Priene did not have to wait long for the next regime change, with Alexander the Great conquering the region in around 334 BC. In fact, Alexander himself dedicated a temple to Athena, the remains of which can still be seen at Priene today. A stone inscription recording this event can be found in the British Museum.

Further rule by the Seleucids and Pergamon followed, before Priene was incorporated into the Roman Republic and Empire. The city suffered during the invasions of King Mithridates of Pontus in the first century BC but recovered to prosper in the early Imperial period under the Emperor Augustus.

In the Byzantine era Priene became the seat of the local Bishop and an important local Christian centre. However, after the Muslim conquest, Priene began a gradual decline which, combined with the slow silting of the coast and harbour led to the eventual abandonment of the city.

Today the ruins of Priene are located next to the modern village of Güllübahçe near the town of Söke. The site remains relatively free of tourists, though several tour companies offer trips from local resorts.

Visitors to Priene can view the Temple of Athena, the ancient theatre and the well preserved council chamber (Bouleuterion). Also found at the site are the remains of Roman baths and gymnasiums, the ruins of an ancient Synagogue and the ‘House of Alexander the Great’ - where it is reported that the young conqueror stayed during his siege of Miletus in 334 BC.

As well as these historic sites, visitors to Priene can simply wander the side streets and houses of this Hellenistic city to explore the ruins in peace and quiet.
 

Rhodes Archaeological Museum

The Rhodes Archaeological Museum displays mostly Classical and Hellenistic as well as some Archaic artifacts.

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The Rhodes Archaeological Museum displays mostly Classical and Hellenistic as well as some Archaic artifacts including statues, funereal pieces and decorative items.

The building in which the Rhodes Archaeological Museum is located is also historically important, it being the Great Hospital of the Knights Hospitallers, built between 1440 and 1489. This Christian military order was based in Rhodes at the time and the Great Hospital is part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Sagalassos

Sagalassos is an active archaeological site in southwest Turkey which contains mostly Hellenistic and Ancient Roman ruins, some of them very well preserved.

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Sagalassos is an active archaeological site in southwest Turkey which contains mostly Hellenistic and Ancient Roman historic ruins, some of them very well preserved.

In particular, the Fountain of Antoninler at Sagalassos still has its pretty facade. There are also the remains of a 9,000 seat theatre, a council hall (bouleuterion), a library, rock carved tombs, temples and baths.

Part of the Phrygian kingdom from the ninth century BC and then part of the Lydian kingdom, Sagalassos became more urbanized under the Persian Empire from 546BC, becoming a focal point in the region of Pisidia over the course of two centuries.

In 334BC, Alexander the Great arrived in the region and attacked Sagalassos, eventually succeeding in destroying it, although its citizens did put up a good fight. Over the coming centuries, the Pisidia region - including Sagalassos - changed hands several times, finally coming under Roman rule in 129BC.

The prosperity of Sagalassos fluctuated over the end of the first century BC, but slowly it became more successful, particularly because of the fertility of its land and the production of a material called Sagalassos Red Slip Ware, a type of tableware. Much of this affluence translated into the construction of buildings and monuments, especially during the second century AD, under Hadrian, and up to the third century.

Sagalassos began to fall into decline in around 500AD and this was accelerated by a devastating earthquake in 590AD. Although abandoned for a long period of time, the area was further inhabited from the tenth century AD.

San Lorenzo Maggiore

The San Lorenzo Maggiore ruins in Naples are the underground remains of a Greek colony then Roman city.

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What seems to be the attractive thirteenth century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore in Naples in fact contains a startling secret – the amazing underground remains of the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis. For lovers of ancient Rome it's simply unmissable.

Established in approximately 470 BC by the Cumans, Neapolis would later become the Roman city of Naples and the remains reflect this change as well as development into medieval times.

The main find at the San Lorenzo Maggiore Ruins are the remains of the Greek meeting place and marketplace, known as the Agora. A Roman food market or “Macellum” has also been found, partially incorporated into the cloisters of a church, the cloisters themselves dating back to the fourteenth century.

Visitors to the San Lorenzo Maggiore Ruins can also see public buildings such as what would have been the public treasury or “Aerarium” and a series of roads and “tabernae” or shops including a laundrette and a bakery.

Beneath the thirteenth century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, there are also the remnants of a sixth century AD Christian basilica. This truly remarkable place is also an informative museum, with exhibits and historical information covering the archaeological excavations at the site. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.

Segesta

Segesta contains the famous fifth century BC incomplete, but very well-preserved, Temple of Segesta.

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Segesta is an archaeological site in north western Sicily most famous for the Temple of Segesta.

This fifth century BC temple was started by the Elymian people (circa 426 BC-416BC) but never completed. Nevertheless, with its over thirty intact Doric columns and clear structure, the unfinished Temple of Segesta is so well-preserved that it is considered to be one of Sicily’s most important historic sites. Only the roof and interior are missing.

As for its builders, the Elymians were thought by some to have been former Trojans who fled and settled in Sicily. The reason that the Temple of Segesta is incomplete is often attributed to a possible war between the Elymians and a neighbouring city.

Most of Segesta remains unexcavated. There is also a nearby third century BC ancient Greek amphitheatre, which can be reached by bus from Segesta.

Selinunte

Selinunte is an Ancient Greek archaeological site in Sicily containing the ruins of an acropolis and five temples.

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Selinunte is an Ancient Greek archaeological site in southern Sicily containing the ruins of an acropolis surrounded by five historic temples, mostly dating to the sixth to fifth centuries BC.

The sites at Selinunte are relatively meagre when one considers that this would once have been one of the great cities of Magna Graecia founded in the mid-seventh century BC. However, much of Selinunte was destroyed by the Carthaginians in the fifth century BC.

Of the temples at Selinunte, only one has been substantially partially reconstructed, its standing Doric columns forming an impressive sight.

Photo by Tobias Lindman (cc)

Side Ruins and Museum

Impressive ruins and a fascinating museum, Side hosts a wealth of Graeco-Roman remains and the impressive amphitheatre is a particular highlight.

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The ruins of ancient Side are among of the most spectacular that remain in the modern world and showcase hundreds of years of Greek life in the Roman Empire.

Its coastal location made Side a desirable trading port and, despite the prominence of piracy, Greek settlers flocked to the city around the sixth century BC. Unusually, this resulted in the preservation, rather than destruction, of the native culture and Side became a cultural melting pot - indeed, many original inscriptions found at the site today are written in the indecipherable native language.

Hellenic influence in Side grew, however, and it was under Roman rule that the city really flourished - even gaining repute as the best slave market of the period. Many of the Roman ruins still remain, and the city has become a popular destination for eager explorers interested in discovering the rich history of the ancient Mediterranean.

Today, this ancient metropolis showcases the skill with which the Romans were able to seamlessly combine elements of Greek culture, which they so admired, with their own recognisable Roman stamp of identity. Certainly, when Titus Flamininus declared the ‘freedom of the Greeks’ in 196BC he would not have imagined that the two cultures would have merged so comprehensibly centuries later.

Reflecting this combined cultural legacy, and ranking among the most prominent sites at Side is the 2nd century AD ancient theatre. A unique example of fusion design, it was born out of this combination of Hellenic plans and Roman construction. Moreover, the theatre’s decoration dates to the period of the Antonine Emperors and the exterior columns tell the story of Dionysus (or Bacchus in Roman), the Greek God of wine and patron of the theatre.

Among Side’s other fascinating remains are the temples to Apollo and Athena, which are picturesquely perched at the very tip of Side’s harbour. The sight of these ancient columns set against the picture-perfect Mediterranean sea makes for an ideal sightseeing spot.

If that isn’t enough, the archaeological site at Side also features the remnants of the colonnaded main street, Roman baths, a nymphaeum and a Hellenic gate that decorates the exterior walls. The nearby museum is an ancient site in itself, being housed within a baths complex dating back to the second century AD, and contains many of the finds discovered during excavations of the ruins in the mid-twentieth century.

With ancient ruins dotted among the thriving modern city, Side truly combines a hands-on and hands-off approach to understanding the site’s jaw-dropping history and is well worth a visit to those seeking ancient exploration.

Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Stari Grad Plain

The Stari Grad Plain is a prime example of ancient Greek agricultural practices and organisation.

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The Stari Grad Plain is a prime example of ancient Greek agricultural practices and organisation dating back to the Greek colony of Pharos.

Inhabited by Ionian Greeks in the 4th century BC, the Stari Grad Plain became an important farming landscape, where mainly grapes and olives were grown. Remarkably, the land has continued to serve these purposes for centuries and still does so today.

In 2008, the Stari Grad Plain was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Amongst the reasons for its inclusion was the excellent state of preservation of its “chora”, geometrical shaped plots each enclosed by stone walls. These agricultural practices - ways of splitting or organising the land - were an important method used by the ancient Greeks to parcel up land in the course of farming.

Other aspects of the Greek town are also visible including the ruins of fortifications and some houses.

It is worth noting that, under the Romans in around the 2nd century BC, the port of Pharia became an important military base.

Stobi

Stobi in Macedonia was an ancient settlement of Paeonia before becoming a Roman city.

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Stobi is one of Macedonia’s most famous archaeological sites. Once the capital of the kingdom of Paeonia, Stobi was located along a busy trade route and thrived as a commercial hub specialising in the trade of salt. Stobi reached its peak in the third or fourth century AD.

Whilst the first mention of Stobi dates back to the second century BC, it is thought to have been founded several centuries – perhaps three or four hundred years - prior to this.

In the second half of the second century BC, Stobi came under Roman rule and, in 69 AD, under the Emperor Vespasian, it became a municipium. It continued to flourish up to the sixth century AD, when it was an important Christian site.

Today, the archaeological site of Stobi houses a wealth of ancient ruins, including the remains of palaces, baths, streets, temples and a second century AD theatre. Most of the ruins date back to the third century AD, although some, like the theatre, were built earlier. There are also several well-preserved vivid mosaics throughout the site as well as remnants of early Christianity, such as numerous basilicas.

Syntagma Metro Station

Syntagma Metro Station in Athens contains a wonderful display of ancient artefacts which were uncovered during the station’s construction.

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In the very heart of the city opposite the Parliament, Syntagma Metro Station is both a transport hub and museum.

Dating from the 1990s, when Athens was building its new metro for the 2004 Olympics, the station contains numerous artefacts dating from Classical times - including skeletons - excavated on the site as the station was being built.

A great many items are displayed in the station, the highlight being a glass-walled display behind which a number of these objects can be seen.

Syracuse Archaeological Site

The Syracuse Archaeological Site contains the impressive remains of an ancient city dating as far back as the eighth century BC.

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The Syracuse Archaeological Site (Siracusa) in Sicily contains the impressive remains of the ancient city of Syracuse dating as far back as the eighth century BC. The city of Syracuse was founded by Greek colonists - heralding from Corinth - in 734 BC.

At its height, Syracuse was the most powerful city in Sicily and, according to Cicero, was the “most beautiful” of all Greek cities. By the fifth to fourth century BC, Syracuse controlled Sicily, especially during the reign of Dionysus the Elder (405BC-367BC).

In the third century BC, the Romans laid siege to Syracuse and, after three bitter years, it came under Roman rule in 212 BC as a province. One of the most famous residents of Syracuse, the mathematician Archimedes, died during this attack.

Remaining a part of the Roman Empire, the city remained stable for hundreds of years until the fall of the Western Empire. Over the following centuries, Syracuse was invaded, conquered and occupied several times, leading to it being inhabited by several peoples including the Vandals and Byzantines (5th-6th centuries) as well as the Muslims (9th-10th centuries). It also came under Norman rule for thirty years from 1061.

From 1197 to 1250, Syracuse experienced resurgence under the rule of Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty.

Today, visitors to the Syracuse Archaeological Site can enjoy the spectacular remnants of its past, the most famous of which is its Ancient Greek theatre. There is also a Roman amphitheatre (pictured on the map), a sanctuary to Apollo, an altar to Sicilian King Hieron II (265-215BC), a set of ancient quarries and a fort known as the Castle of Euryalus (although the latter is located around 8km north of the main site).

Together with the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Syracuse Archaeological Site is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Taormina Amphitheatre

Taormina Amphitheatre was first built by the Ancient Greeks in the third century BC and reconstructed by the Romans.

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Taormina Amphitheatre (Teatro Greco Romano) was initially built by the Greeks in the third century BC before being rebuilt and enlarged by the Romans.

While known as an amphitheatre, the site is actually an ancient theatre, not an arena of the type normally meant by the term.

Parts of the Taormina Amphitheatre, such as its scenery, are still quite well-preserved, although some would say that the modern seating ruins the effect.

Today, as well as being a major draw for tourists to the city, the theatre is still used for concerts, plays and other event.

Taxila

Taxila was the ancient Gandhāran capital city and its incredible ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Taxila, also known as the Ancient Gandhāran city of Takshashila, is an ancient site in the Punjab Province of Pakistan dating back as far as the sixth century BC.

One of the factors which make Taxila such a significant archeological site is the fact that, over its five century lifespan, it witnessed the evolution of numerous civilizations, including the Persians, Greeks and Hindus. It was also an important site in the development of the art of Gandhara.

Taxila itself is actually made up of a complex of ruins, including the Khanpur Mesolithic cave, several Buddhist monasteries, medieval mosques and four settlements called Bhir, Sirkap, Saraidala and Sirsukh. In particular, Bhir was probably the earliest settlement in Taxila and, in its excellent condition, boasts street structures, house foundations and stone walls. Alexander the Great conquered Bhir during his victorious route through Taxila.

Sirkap, which was probably founded by the Greeks in the second century BC and destroyed by the Kushanas in the first century AD, also offers a wealth of both religious and cultural archeological finds, particularly as relates to its Hellenistic structure.

Taxila is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a great place to discover the roots of Buddhism, the art of Gandhara and the ancient culture of the subcontinent. If you’re only planning a day’s visit, the Taxlia Museum is probably the best place to get an overview and to see some of the relics as well as the artwork.

Photo by Dennis Jarvis (cc)

Temple of Aphaea - Aegina

The ancient Temple of Aphaea on the island of Aegina is one of the most important and picturesque temples in Greece.

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The ancient Temple of Aphaea on the island of Aegina is one of the most important and picturesque temples in Greece.

The site itself was the location of an important ancient sanctuary which dates back far into antiquity. The sanctuary was dedicated to the cult of Aphaia, a local deity later assimilated by Athena. Historical records and archaeological excavation have shown that a significant temple structure stood on the site in the 6th century BC and it is believed this earlier incarnation was destroyed by fire in 510 BC.

The Temple of Aphaea ruins we see today date back to the second temple built on the site, which was constructed between 500 BC and 490 BC. Built in the Doric style, it was comprised of twelve columns on each site while the internal temple (cella) had two rows of five columns each.

The importance of the Aphaia sanctuary declined after the Athenians began to dominate Aegina from the middle of the fifth century BC. Some repairs were made to the temple in the fourth century, but by the end of the second century BC the area was largely abandoned.

Today the Temple of Aphaea remains in a picturesque semi-ruinous state and is one of the most important ancient sites on the island.

Among the most interesting features of this ancient Greek temple were the pedimental sculptures, which show elements from history and legend. The east pediment showed elements from the first Trojan War, which was an early expedition by Herakles against the Trojan king Laomedon, and which included Telamon, son of Aiakos - the first king of the island of Aphaea. This expedition is not to be confused with the second Trojan War – the one described by Homer - which is depicted on the west pediment, and in which in which three descendants of Aiakos participated: Ajax, Teukros and Achilles.

As with other famous Greek sculptures, these pediments were removed in the 19th century and are now on display in the Glyptothek museum in Munich, Germany.

The Temple of Aphaea at Aegina is now a popular tourist site and offers a beautiful backdrop for those seeking to take some inspirational photography at a truly idyllic site.

Photo by DAVID HOLT (cc)

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae is often said to be one of the best examples of its kind in the Peloponnese.

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The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, also known simply at the Temple of Bassae, is not just beautifully preserved, but is often said to be one of the best examples of its kind in the Peloponnese. Built sometimes from the middle to end of the 5th Century (estimates range from 450-400 BC), the magnificent Temple of Apollo Epicurius is the highlight of the site of the former sanctuary of Bassae and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right.

Set amidst the rocky, mountainous and quite remote location, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae is oft praised for its unique blend of styles and has been linked – albeit not confirmed - to the famed architect Ictinos (Iktinos). The entire Temple of Bassae is now in a covered tent-like structure and contains many wonderful architectural features.

A frieze from the Temple of Apollo Epicurius can be found at the British Museum.

Photo by RMH40 (cc)

Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus is an imposing ancient Greek temple in the Athenian Agora.

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The Temple of Hephaestus is an imposing ancient Greek temple in the Athenian Agora and site of worship of the Greek deity of fire, blacksmiths and sculpture.

Built in the fifth century BC, the Temple of Hephaestus was later incorporated into the Church of Agios Georgios, this accounting for its excellent state of preservation. This site also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.

Temple of Horus

The Temple of Horus is a vast and incredibly well-preserved monument to one of Ancient Egypt’s most important deities.

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The Temple of Horus, also known as the Edfu Temple, is an incredibly well-preserved monument to one of Ancient Egypt’s most important deities, Horus.

Worshipped as the child of Isis and Osiris, Horus was depicted with the head - and often the body - of a falcon and was the ruler of the skies and the deity of the pharaohs.

Built over the course of around 180 years, the Temple of Horus was the work of the Ptolemies, beginning in 237AD under Ptolemy III. Today, this remains one of Egypt’s best preserved temples and its second largest - after the Karnak Temple - as well as the fountain of knowledge with regard to Ancient Egyptian beliefs.

The hordes of tourists who visit the Temple of Horus each year are greeted with the fantastic site of its vast entryway, adorned with stunning reliefs of falcons. Inside, one finds an impressive set of Greco-Roman built structures, all dedicated to this ancient deity.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the most impressive ancient temples in Greece.

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The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympeion is one of the biggest - if not actually the biggest - ancient temples in Greece.

Vast and impressive, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was begun by Peisistratus the Young in the sixth century BC but various events and circumstances meant it took hundreds of years to construct. It was the Roman emperor Hadrian who finally completed it in around 132AD.

The archaeological site of the Temple of Olympian Zeus contains not just the ancient temple but also other ruins. Amongst these are some other ancient temples, the remains of a defensive wall, some Roman baths and even homes.

Photo by nouregef (cc)

Temple of Poseidon - Sounio

The Temple of Poseidon of Sounio is a picturesque ruin of a fifth century BC Greek temple dedicated to the deity of the sea.

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The Temple of Poseidon of Sounio is a picturesque ruin of a fifth century BC Greek temple dedicated to the deity of the sea.

Dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the Temple of Poseidon of Sounio is now made up of a rectangle of restored large Doric columns.

For truly spectacular views this partially-ruined Greek temple is hard to beat. If you can catch it at sunset, then the scene will be complete. It’s roughly an hour out from Athens and there are several tour operators offering half-day trips.

Photo by Tilemahos (cc)

The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum is a museum of Ancient Greece and general Athenian history.

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The Acropolis Museum is a stunningly located and constructed archaeological museum housing a myriad of Ancient Greek artefacts, particularly those relating to the Acropolis and the Parthenon, both of which can be seen from the museum's top floor panoramic windows.

Housed in an eminently modern building and using multimedia presentations side by side with ancient artefacts, the Acropolis Museum is both fascinating and accessible.

The undoubted highlight of the Acropolis Museum is the top floor where the Parthenon sculptures are beautifully displayed in the order in which they would have graced the original Parthenon.

Pointedly, there are gaps, filled by plaster-cast reproductions, which await the return of the originals - the Elgin Marbles - which are currently found in the British Museum having been brought to England ('stolen' in the view of some) at the end of the 18th Century by Lord Elgin. This site also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.

The Agora Museum - Athens

The Agora Museum displays artefacts from the Ancient Agora of Athens and is housed within the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos.

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The Agora Museum displays finds and artefacts from the site of the Ancient Agora of Athens. It is also located within the reconstructed ancient building of the Stoa of Attalos.

Originally constructed in the mid-second century BC, the Stoa of Attalos - once a popular shopping precinct and meeting place - is named after the king who built it, Attalos II of Pergamum.

For those visiting the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Agora Museum is a good place to start as it helps you make sense of the ruins with models of how the site would once have looked.

Photo by Francisco Antunes (cc)

The Altes Museum

The Altes Museum in Berlin contains a collection of Ancient Greek and Roman artifacts.

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The Altes Museum is part of Germany’s National Museum and is located in Berlin. Displaying part of the National Museum’s collection of classical antiquities, even the building of the Altes Museum has been built in a style inspired by Ancient Greece.

One of the main collections at the Altes Museum is its Etruscan Art. It also exhibits a series of Roman portraits including those modelled on of the sarcophagi of Caesar and Cleopatra.

It is worth noting that the National Museum has made several changes to the arrangement of its classical antiquities collection and many pieces have moved to the Neues Museum.

The Amphiareion at Oropos

The Amphiareion at Oropos was a sanctuary built in the late 5th century BC dedicated to the mythical deified seer Amphiaraos where pilgrims came from far and wide for his oracular medicinal and psychological healing.

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The Amphiareion at Oropos is a ruined 5th century sanctuary in Oropos, around 30 miles north of Athens, the Greek capital city. It was built in the late 5th century BC dedicated to the mythical deified seer Amphiaraos, one of the most noble and well-respected figures in Greek mythology.

Pilgrims came from far and wide for his oracular medicinal and psychological healing, and they had to pay for the privilege (’argyroma’). A 55mm x 15mm x 2mm lead ticket was issued, they had to abstain from wine for three days and food for one, sacrifice a ram on whose skin they would have to sleep and then Amphiaraos would appear in their dreams and let them know how to be cured from their particular ailment or to give them oracle.

Oropos is the most famous of all the sanctuaries dedicated to the worship of Amphiaraos and was built in a shallow, verdant valley close to the village of Kalamos, two miles to the northwest. It flourished for a thousand years.

Somehow, the Amphiareion at Oropos remains relatively unknown, beaten in popularity terms by the Greek heavyweights - the Acropolis, the theatre at Epidaurus and the Mycenae but it’s a stunning site. Today, visitors can see remains of the baths, stoa (covered walkways or porticos), a theatre for around 300 spectators, a 4th century temple and five amazingly well preserved ’proedreia’, or thrones and each one carries the same votive inscription suggesting they were donated by 1st century priest Nikon. There are also domestic structures, a stadium for hosting gymnastics events, a hostel for the pilgrims with 11 rooms and a water clock, also known as a ’clepsydra’.

The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

Lysicrates’ monument to commemorate first prize in a dramatic performance that he had sponsored around 335 BCE.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates was the first Greek monument built in the Corinthian order.

The frieze decoration depicts the adventure of Dionysos with the pirates, whom he turned into dolphins.

Lysicrates is the man who paid for the monument, which commemorates a chorus that he sponsored who won first place in a competition.

The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates is located on the ancient Street of the Tripods near the Acropolis in Athens (so named for the tripod prizes awarded to choric victories. In 1669 the monument and surrounding area were incorporated into the Capuchin monastery. In the 1820s all of the buildings of the monastery, with the exception of the Choragic Monument, were destroyed by Ottoman forces.

 

The Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is a well preserved ancient temple in the Acropolis complex.

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The Erechtheion is a well preserved ancient temple within the Acropolis complex where its believed namesake, the legendary Greek king Erechtheus, is thought to have come to worship.

Immersed in myth and legend, the Erechtheion was home to several cults, including those of Poseidon, Athena and, of course, Erechtheus himself.

Completed in around 406BC, the Erechtheion is a distinctive building whose large columns are statues depicting women. These statues are known as Karyatides, derived from the fact that they were inspired by the women of Karyes in Lakonia.

Four of the original six statues are now on display in the adjoining Acropolis Museum having been replaced by copies in the Erechtheion itself. Of the remaining two statues, one is in the British Museum as part of the Elgin Marbles. Only a few fragments of the final statue survive, also displayed in the Acropolis Museum.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage is a world renowned museum in St Petersburg which includes a vast array of global exhibits ranging from ancient artefacts and archaeological finds to modern history.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Hermitage is a vast museum complex in St. Petersburg housing around three million historic and archaeological artefacts, paintings, sculptures, numismatics and other works.

It is one of world’s most well-renowned museums, with an astonishing array of exhibits ranging from the art and culture of ancient civilisations such as the Romans, Greeks and those of the Orient to Western European art and Numismatic coins.

The Hermitage is made up of six buildings, each consisting of exhibits relating to different eras and specialities. The main buildings are called the New Hermitage, the Small Hermitage and the Old Hermitage. These house, amongst other things, Greek and Roman artwork and artefacts, including vases, sculptures and gems dating back as far as 2000 BC, antiquities from Siberia and exhibits of Russian culture dating back to the 10th century.

The Treasure collection is also fascinating, showing diamonds, jewels and precious materials going back as far as the seventh century BC. For the military historian, the Arsenal provides an array of arms and armour from around the globe and throughout history.

The Winter Palace of Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, is another building in the Hermitage complex and displays pieces relating to the life and times of this monarch in his eighteenth century palace. Amongst this collection is Peter I’s own incredible collection of prehistoric art, mostly gold pieces taken from ancient burial grounds and dating back as far as the sixth century BC.

Other buildings in the Hermitage complex include the beautiful Menshikov Palace, being the former home of St Petersburg’s first governor-general, Prince Alexander Menshikov, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, The Hermitage Theatre and the Reserve House and the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre.

With so much to see, it’s probably best to join in one of the tours, available in many European languages including in English. For those wishing to see the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre, visits must be booked in advance and must be by guided tour.

The Hermitage also features as one of our top ten Russian visitor attractions.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a world renowned museum exhibiting works spanning eight thousand years.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is one of the most famous art museums in the world, exhibiting pieces spanning over eight thousand years of history.

From prehistoric art and that of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to medieval works, Asian art and art of the Americas, the Metropolitan Museum of Art explores ancient and historical cultures through their artwork.

Containing an incredibly diverse and comprehensive collection, the best way to tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art is probably with one of their guided tours, especially if you’re not sure what you want to see or want an overview of the museum or one of its collections. Tours are included in the admission price.

Photo by Olivier Bruchez (cc)

The Neues Museum

The Neues Museum in Berlin has a vast collection including Prehistoric, Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek works.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Neues Museum in Berlin is part of Germany’s National Museum and, following a reconstruction project, is now the home of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Collection of Classical Antiquities and the Museum of Prehistory and Early History.

Within the Neues Museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection, one of its most famous pieces is the bust of Nefertiti, wife of Ancient Egypt’s Pharaoh Akhenaten. It also houses a large collection of Armana artwork.

Further fascinating pieces at the Neues Museum include its display of Trojan antiquities and the prehistoric skull of the Neanderthal from Le Moustier in southwest France.

Overall, the Neues Museum offers a comprehensive display of historical and archaeological exhibits from throughout ancient history and around the world. Guided tours are available and audio guides are included in the admission price.

Photo by Historvius

The Parthenon

The Parthenon is probably the most famous surviving site from Ancient Greece and is a monument to Classical Greek civilisation.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Parthenon is probably the most famous surviving site from Ancient Greece. Standing at the heart of The Acropolis in the centre of Athens, the Parthenon is a monument to Classical Greek civilisation.

Built during the golden age of Pericles - the famous Athenian statesman - the Parthenon was originally constructed to be a temple to the Ancient Greek goddess Athena.

The Parthenon was built in the mid-fifth Century BC and replaced an earlier construction on the site which had been destroyed during the Persian Wars. Through the centuries, the Parthenon has also been used as a Christian Church and a Muslim Mosque.

The Parthenon was heavily damaged in 1687 during a conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Venetians. Many of the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon were removed from the site in the early 19th Century by the Earl of Elgin and are now on display in the British Museum.

Today the Parthenon remains on the ‘must-see’ list of most history enthusiasts and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by SpirosK photography (cc)

The Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon Museum in Berlin displays ancient exhibitions and those of Muslim art.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pergamon Museum is a large and varied museum in Berlin housing three different exhibitions.

One of the collections at the Pergamon Museum is part of the Classical Antiquities, known as the Antikensammlung. This collection includes mostly Greek and some Roman pieces ranging from jewellery to sarcophagi, sculptures and even remains from buildings. However, it is the reconstruction of the second century BC Pergamon Altar, one of the sites from the ancient city of Pergamon and with its Hellenistic fresco depicting the battle of the Giants and the Gods, which forms one of its most famous attractions.

The largest collection at the Pergamon Museum is that of its Museum of the Ancient near East or ‘Vorderasiatisches Museum’, which covers over 2,000 square feet and around six thousand years of history. From reconstructions of Babylonian monuments such as the Ishtar Gate, the facade of the throne hall of King Nebuchadnezzar II and the Tower of Babel to ninth millennium BC reliefs from the Assyrian palace of Kalchu, this is a fascinating exhibit.

The Pergamon Museum also contains a Museum of Islamic Art or ‘Museum für Islamische Kunst’ in its southern wing where it displays everything from Islamic jewellery to architectural decorations.

Please note that recent reconstruction projects have meant that some of the exhibits of the National Museum have been moved to the Neues Museum.

The Propylaia

The Propylaia was the grand entranceway to the Acropolis.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Propylaia (also spelt Propylaea) was the grand entranceway to the Acropolis. Begun in approximately 437BC under the supervision of the architect Mnesikles, works on the Propylaia continued until 432BC, but were never completed.

Nevertheless, even in its unfinished state, the Propylaia is considered to be of great architectural importance and beauty. It would have been a grand structure, with many external Doric and internal Ionic columns, all built in Pentelic marble.

The Propylaia was fairly well preserved until the seventeenth century, when it was devastated by an explosion. Today, its ruins form a dramatic sight within the Acropolis complex.

The Serapeum

The Serapeum was a magnificent ancient temple and library complex in Alexandria of which little remains today.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Serapeum in Alexandria was an ancient temple dedicated to the worship of the Greco-Egyptian deity Serapis.

Built by Ptolemy III in the third century BC, the Serapeum also housed an important library which may have served as an annex of the Great Library of Alexandria.

In late 69AD or early 70AD Vespasian visited the Serapeum to help confirm his place as the rightful Roman Emperor during the civil war he fought with Vitellius.

Ancient writers describe the Serapeum as one of the most magnificent temples of the ancient world and it was said to be made of marble with great adornments throughout.

The Serapeum was destroyed in 391AD - either by a Christian mob or by Roman soldiers on instructions from the Christian authorities of the Roman Empire.

Today there is little to see at the Serapeum site, though access to the underground library remains and is worth a visit. Other artefacts from the Serapeum can be found in the Greco-Roman Museum of Alexandria.

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus was one of the most important theatres in Ancient Greece.

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The Theatre of Dionysus in Athens was one of the most important theatres in Ancient Greece.

Initially built of timber in the sixth century BC, the Theatre of Dionysus was named in honour of the Greek deity of wine and theatre. It soon became a focal point of Ancient Greek social life, with plays, festivals and competitions all taking place there. In fact, the Theatre of Dionysus played host to masterpieces by some of the most important playwrights of the time, including Sophocles and Euripides.

By 326BC, the Theatre of Dionysus had been expanded and renovated, able to seat up to 17,000 people and with added stone tiers. Some of the seating can still be seen today.

Thebes

Thebes was an ancient Mycenaean and Greek city eventually destroyed by Alexander the Great.

DID YOU KNOW?

Thebes was a powerful city in Ancient Greece, the few remains of which can now be seen in the modern Greek town of Thiva.

Whilst first occupied in Neolithic times and already thriving in the Helladic period, Thebes reached its peak during the Mycenaean period. The settlement continued to thrive, becoming an important city of Ancient Greece in the fourth century BC. Thebes is the site of numerous Ancient Greek events and myths, including being the birthplace of the Greek god Dionysus and demi-god Hercules. It was also the setting of Sophocles’s tragedy of Oedipus, the legendary King of Thebes who killed his father and married his mother.

The army of Thebes was at one time considered to be the best in Greece and demonstrated its prowess numerous times against that of Sparta. Thebes’s army was vitally important to its power and allowed it to become the ruling city of the Boeotia region.

Thebes began to decline in 338 BC, when it suffered defeat at the hands of the Macedonians in the Battle of Chaeronea. The final blow to the city occurred in 335 BC, when Thebes revolted against Alexander the Great, resulting in its absolute destruction. So great was the damage that Thebes never recovered and very little survives today.

Some ruins which can still be seen are the fortified Mycenaean palace of Kadmos, also known as Cadmea, and the Temple of Apollo Ismenios (found between the Electran Gates and the Aghios Loukas cemetery).

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum focuses on ancient Macedonia via five comprehensive exhibits.

DID YOU KNOW?

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum takes visitors through the history of Ancient Macedonia, exploring the lives of its citizens, their ideology and their culture from Neolithic times through to the Mycenaean period and the Roman period.

Exhibiting artefacts ranging from daily tools to burial pieces and ideological paraphernalia to gold, the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum offers an insight into the lives of those who lived in Ancient Macedonia from its creation and throughout its existence.

There are five exhibits in all in the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, arranged chronologically and including multimedia presentations and audio guides.

Photo by Historvius

Tombs of the Kings - Paphos

The Tombs of the Kings is a Hellenistic necropolis in Paphos in Cyprus containing a series of eight well-preserved tombs.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Tombs of the Kings is a Hellenistic necropolis in Paphos in Cyprus containing a series of eight well-preserved tombs.

Given that the Tombs of the Kings is a third century BC site and the monarchy was abolished in 312 BC, the name is somewhat of a misnomer, but this does not detract from the visitor’s experience. In fact, the name is said to derive from the impressive nature of the site.

Built for nearby Nea Pafos, the Tombs of the Kings was the cemetery to the elite, including prominent figures and high ranking officials. It continued to be used throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods up to the fourth century, possibly even by early Christians. However, as with many sites of this kind, the Tomb of the Kings was subject to looting and used to quarry materials. Furthermore, in medieval times, the Tomb of the Kings was damaged by squatters, some of whom apparently made changes to the tombs.

Nevertheless, it is well worth visiting the Tomb of the Kings. The tombs are actually quite unusual for the area, being more Macedonian in architecture than to local styles.

Visitors can wander down into the depth of these, mostly subterranean, rock tombs and view the atriums which still survive. The architecture of these tombs is quite impressive, some seeming more like houses than burial places. Sadly, very few of the frescoes which would once have adorned them survive, but you can see fragments here and there. What can still be seen are the structures of the tombs, their columns and porticos.

It is worth noting that the whole of Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by alchen123 (cc)

Trogir

Trogir is a small island town just to the west of Split renowned for its fortified walls and stunning Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. It appears in Game of Thrones as Qarth, 'the greatest city that ever was or will be'.

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Seventeen miles west of Split on the Adriatic Coast lay the historic Croatian harbour town of Trogir, renowned for its fortified walls and stunning Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

Trogir was founded by Greeks in the third century BC as Tragurion (‘tragos’ is Greek for ‘male goat’) and boasts 2,300 years of continuous urban tradition in its narrow, maze-like streets.

Over the last two millennia, it has been ruled and populated by the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, the Hapsburg Empire, the French, the Yugoslavs and finally today, the modern-day Croatians.

For such a small island (wedged between the mainland and the larger island of Ciovo), there is a very high concentration of churches, palaces, fortresses and towers and one advantage of successive and eclectic rule is the architecture that each group left behind. You’ll find some stunning examples of grand Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, both public and domestic and the town was conferred UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1997 as it is, in UNESCO’s own words, ‘a remarkable example of urban continuity’.

Three hours and 258km from Dubrovnik, Trogir is a beautifully picturesque harbour town with a beautiful seafront promenade that relies on tourism as one of its primary income sources and as such, there’s a proliferation of hotels and apartments, bars, cafés, restaurants and everything you could need for a few days here.

Trogir is also one of the most famous Game of Thrones filming locations being the site of the mythical city of Qarth, ‘the greatest city that ever was or will be’ situated on the Jade Gates and brimming with wealth and stunning architecture.

Photo by Historvius

Umm Qais

Umm Qais, also spelt Umm Qays, houses the remains of Gadara, one of the Decapolis cities.

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Present day Umm Qais has within it the remains of one of the ancient Decapolis cities, the Greco-Roman settlement of Gadara.

Probably established by the Greeks in the 4th century BC, Gadara was taken by the Seleucids and, in 63BC, by the Romans led by Pompey. It would later fall under the remit of King Herod. At its peak, Gadara was a creative and intellectual hub, home to famous poets, mathematicians, philosophers and poets.

For Christians, Gadara is also said to be the site where Jesus performed the Gadarene swine miracle.

Today, Umm Qais still has remnants of Gadara including a theater, churches, shops, a nymphaeum, baths, and paved roads. One interesting part of the sites in Umm Qais is that many of the structures, such as the theater, were made out of black basalt. There are also Byzantine-era elements built atop the original Roman ruins.

With the rolling hills of Jordan, Syria, and Israel and Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee) enclosing the area, Umm Qais is also very picturesque.

Underground Library of Alexandria

The underground library of Alexandria once formed part of the city’s famous Great Library and can be found under the ruins of the Serapeum.

DID YOU KNOW?

The underground library of Alexandria, found underneath the ruins of the Serapeum, consists of a series of subterranean tunnels and storerooms where it is believed part of the collection of the Great Library of Alexandria was stored.

The Great Library itself was constructed in the third century BC and was the most famous library of the ancient world. The date of its destruction is disputed but may have been during Julius Caesar's time in the city.

However, the underground library of Alexandria - or at least the construction itself - remained in use until the destruction of the Serapeum in 391AD and may have been used for religious purposes by worshippers of Serapis.

Today visitors can explore these underground chambers and see the niches in the walls where the documents were stored. This site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions in Egypt.

Photo by hanjeanwat (cc)

Velia Archaeological Site

The Velia Archaeological Site contains Greek, Roman and medieval ruins of the city initially founded as Elea.

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The Velia Archaeological Site (Scavi di Velia) in Campania houses the remains of a Greek colony turned Roman municipality.

Velia was originally founded by a Greek community as the colony of “Elea” in 540 BC. With the help of prominent citizens and philosophers Zeno and Parmenides (the latter having founded the school of Eleatics, the former having been a member), Velia managed to overcome several attacks including from Poseidonia and the Lucanians.

During the Second Punic War, Velia provided ships to Rome for its fight against Hannibal and in 88 BC it became a municipality of the Roman Empire. The decline of Velia, which was dependent on naval commerce, coincided with the reduced need for its harbour.

Today, the Velia Archaeological Site contains an array of ancient ruins as well as medieval ones. Visitors can see a series of public buildings and monuments from the Greek and Roman eras including third century BC fortifications, a large fourth century BC arch known as the Pink Gate as well as second century AD Roman baths with mosaics and a theatre.

The Velia Archaeological Site also has medieval sites such as its eleventh/twelfth century castle, which is recognisable by its rounded towers and turrets.

Photo by Dimboukas (cc)

Vergina Museum

The Royal Tombs of Vergina Museum is a fascinating underground vault containing the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Vergina Museum in northern Greece contains some of the most astonishing ancient tomb discoveries in history – namely tombs said to be of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and Alexander IV, the conqueror’s son.

The tombs were discovered by Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos in 1977 and, though there has been much debate on the matter, many – including the Greek government – believe it likely that the tombs do in fact belong to these famous historical figures.

In 1993 a set of underground enclosures were built to enclose and protect the tombs and this opened to the public a few years later as the Royal Tombs of Vergina Museum. Externally, the museum is contained within a reconstructed earth mound which covers the site and is similar to what is believed would have originally appeared above the tombs.

The Vergina Museum can be found in the centre of the modern town of Vergina – sometimes spelt Verghina - which was once the ancient Macedonian capital of Aigai.

Visitors descend through the subterranean passageways to enter the museum from where they can explore both the tombs themselves and a number of exhibitions showcasing artefacts from the site and the local area.

Photo by adam_jones (cc)

Zeugma

The remains of this important Roman city are under excavation in Turkey. Though not open to the public, many finds from the site can be seen in the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum.

DID YOU KNOW?

Zeugma was one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire in the East. Originally founded around 300 BC by one of Alexander’s successors, his general Seleucus Nicator, the city was a vital trading point across the Euphrates River.

The military and commercial importance of Zeugma led to major growth and wealth, with as many as 70,000 people living in the city at its peak. This strategic crossing became a military centre for Roman forces in the east, with thousands of Roman soldiers based in the city.

As such a crucial strategic strongpoint, Zeugma was always a target in times of war and a devastating sack of the city at the hands of Sassanid king, Shapur I, in 256 AD led to the city’s decline. Indeed, one of the reasons for the good state of preservation of some areas of Zeugma was that entire neighbourhood’s sacked by Shapur’s forces were never reoccupied.

Though Zeugma was still an important Roman and subsequently Byzantine city well into the 6th century, the mounting pressure on the Empire’s borders and later Arab raids led to its eventual abandonment.

Today much of the site is now underwater due to modern dam building projects. Amazingly, what is left of Zeugma itself has been protected to ensure it will survive the waters and be preserved for the future. The higher areas of the ancient city are also under renewed excavation, and protective structures have been put in place to cover the newly discovered remains of this ancient city.

Though not open to the public at this stage, those interested in seeing the remains of this ancient city should head to nearby Gaziantep where the impressive Zeugma Mosaic Museum contains an amazing number of brilliantly preserved mosaics from the site.