What are the best Historic sites in Greece?

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When it comes to travel inspiration, there’s little doubt that the historic sites in Greece provide endless possibilities with famous locations such as the Acropolis, Akrotiri and Mystras being among the most popular to visit. Other prominent places to visit usually include the Temple of Hephaestus, Mycenae and the Grandmasters Palace on Rhodes, which are all fascinating in their own right. We’ve put together an expert guide to the historic sites in Greece with our top places to visit as well as a full list of Greek cultural landmarks which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

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

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.

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2. Akrotiri

Akrotiri is a beautifully preserved ancient site in Santorini, famed for its incredible frescos and its connection with the Minoans. 

The stunning ruins of Akrotiri now stand in testament of the sophisticated urban settlement which once existed there. The buildings are not only multi-storey, many of them contain vivid frescoes of various themes. This excellent state of preservation has drawn parallels with another famously volcanically preserved site, earning it the moniker of the "Minoan Pompeii". 

Yet, Akrotiri has another claim to fame. It is generally considered that Akrotiri was linked with Knossos and would have been a Minoan site. However, some have gone further, claiming that it was the lost city of Atlantis.

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3. Mystras

Mystras sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Sparta. In approximately 1248-1249, William II of Villehardouin, a prince of Achaea who had taken part in the Fourth Crusade, decided to build a stronghold there as a defence from the Byzantines.

Probably abandoned in 1832, Mystras is today an important archaeological site listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. During its time as an active city, many churches, palaces, houses and other structures, including its famous fortress were considered to be some of the best architectural gems of their times, known as the so-called “wonders of Morea'.

What remains at Mystras today is a series of Byzantine churches and a monastery as well as several ruins including the castle, some roads and the fortress walls, all set amidst an incredible landscape. The entrance to the site is particularly well preserved. There is a nearby Mystras Museum housing finds from the site.

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4. Temple of Hephaestus

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.

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5. Mycenae

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. A few other dwellings can also be seen at Mycenae, together with a granary and some guard rooms. The most impressive of the burial sites and arguably the most remarkable of Mycenae’s sites is the Tomb of Agamemnon itself. This once elaborate thirteenth century BC tomb is carved into Mycenae’s hills.

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6. Grandmasters Palace - Rhodes

The Grandmasters Palace was the palace of the Knights Hospitaller of St John. Dating to the fourteenth century (circa 1309), the Palace would be the base of this famous Christian and military order until Rhodes was captured by the Ottomans in 1522.

Today, this medieval castle operates as a museum of works mostly from the early Christian period up to the Ottoman conquest. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Medieval City of Rhodes.

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7. Meteora

Meteora is an incredible set of monasteries each perched high atop Greek mountains in area of extraordinary natural beauty. In fact “Meteora” literally means “suspended in the air”. The sites on which the Meteora monasteries were built are believed to have first been inhabited by a group of monks who lived their lives in seclusion, in the eleventh century. However, many of the Meteora monasteries seen today date back to the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The most important of the Meteora monasteries is perhaps that of The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, built in the mid-fourteenth century and this is now a museum. Other monasteries of Meteora include Agias Triados, Agiou Nikolaou, Varlaam, Agias Varvaras Rousanou and Agiou Stefanou. When visiting Meteora, it is required that women wear skirts covering their knees and that both men and women cover up generally.

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8. Delphi

Delphi is an archaeological site in mainland Greece comprised of the well-preserved ruins of one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. Many of the sites at Delphi date back to the fifth century BC, although many have been reconstructed and some altered by the Romans. 

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. Yet 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.

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.

The nearby Delphi Museum explores the history of the archaeological site and houses many finds from its excavation.


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9. Knossos

Knossos was an important ancient site found on the outskirts of the modern city of Heraklion in Crete. It is believed that Knossos was first established a place of settlement in Neolithic times in around 7000 BC and then continuously inhabited until the Ancient Roman period.

Excavated and vastly reconstructed  in the nineteenth century by archaeologist Arthur Evans, Knossos has revealed a wealth of ancient treasures, not least of which are its many fascinating ruins. The most famous of these is the Knossos Palace, also known as the Labyrinth for its incredible maze of passageways and rooms.

Other important buildings at Knossos include the 14th century BC Royal Villa with its pillar crypt, the Little Palace, believed to date back to the 17th century BC, the ornately decorated House of Frescos and the Villa of Dionysos, a 2nd century BC house from the Roman period.

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10. Olympia

Olympia was a vibrant Ancient Greek city where, 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.

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.

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.

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Full list of Historic Sites in Greece

As well as these more famous entries, we’ve scoured the archives to showcase an in-depth list of 70 historical monuments in Greece including more hidden sites such as the Nymphaeum of Kos, Pella and Hadrian’s Library. These lesser-known historical attractions in Greece can in fact be the most intriguing to discover and contain a number of secret gems for your bucket list.

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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Agios Eleftherios

Agios Eleftherios is a very small yet important Byzantine church in Athens known as the little cathedral

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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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Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Athens was a market, a meeting place and the social, political and commercial hub of the ancient city.

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Aptera

Aptera contains an array of interesting Greco-Roman ruins, the highlight of which are probably the well-preserved Roman cisterns.

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Arch of Hadrian - Athens

The Arch of Hadrian of Athens is a triumphal gateway built in the second century AD.

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Asklepieion

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

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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 War Museum

The Athens War Museum houses an extensive range of exhibits relating to the history of war.

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Averof Museum

The most famous Greek warship, the Averof saw action for over 40 years including during the two world wars.

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Bassae

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

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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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Casa Romana - Kos

Casa Romana is a third century Ancient Roman villa in Kos.

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Castle of the Knights - Kos

The Castle of the Knights in Kos was the one of the fortifications of the Knights Hospitaller.

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Corinth

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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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 Archaeological Museum

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

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Delphi Archaeological Museum

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

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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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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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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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Gortyna

Gortyna in Crete was the capital of Crete and Cyrene during the Roman era.

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Hadrian’s Library

Built by the Emperor Hadrian, this ancient library originally housed over 17,000 books, scrolls, documents and papyri. The ruins of the site were opened to the public in 2004.

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Hellenic Parliament

The neoclassical Parliament building on Syntagma Square the centre of Athens has been the seat of Government since 1935 and was previously the Old Royal Palace built for King Otto.

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Heraklion Archaeological Museum

The Heraklion Archaeological Museum explores the ancient history of Crete.

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Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki

The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki tells the story of the city’s Jewish community since the 3rd century BC.

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Kamiros

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

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Kapnikarea

Sitting right in the middle of bustling modern streets, Kapnikarea is a beautiful 11th century Byzantine church in Athens.

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Kerameikos

Kerameikos was the site of an important ancient burial ground.

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Kos Ancient Agora

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

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Lappa Fulling Mill

The Lappa Fulling Mill is one of few fulling mills to survive, mainly because they were made of wood. This one was discovered only in 1994.

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Lato

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

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Museum of Byzantine Culture - Thessaloniki

The Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki explores the history and legacy of the Byzantine era.

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National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum in Athens covers modern Greek history and folklore between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Nymphaeum of Kos

The Nymphaeum of Kos was actually an Ancient Roman luxury public lavatory.

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Odeon of Kos

The Odeon of Kos dates back to the second or third century and would have served as a Roman theatre.

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Olympia Archaeological Museum

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

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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.

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Pella

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

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Philippi Battlefield

Philippi Battlefield is the location of the Battle of Philippi, where Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the forces of those who had assassinated Julius Caesar.

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Rhodes Archaeological Museum

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

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Sparta

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

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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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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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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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Temple of Olympian Zeus

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

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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 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 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 Beule Gate

The Beule Gate was built in the third century AD as part of a defensive wall.

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The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

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

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The Erechtheion

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

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The Parthenon

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

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The Propylaia

The Propylaia was the grand entranceway to the Acropolis.

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The White Tower of Thessaloniki

The White Tower of Thessaloniki, is a cylindrical stone tower monument and museum in the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the Macedonian region of northern Greece.

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Theatre of Dionysus

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

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Theatre of Herodes Atticus

The Theatre of Herodes Atticus is a Roman amphitheatre built in Athens in 161AD.

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Thebes

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

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Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum

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

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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.

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Our database of historic sites in Greece is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Greek historic landmarks, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.