Although most tourists associate Ancient Greece with Athens and its numerous sights, such as the Parthenon, the Herodion of Atticus theatre, or the Temple of Olympian Zeus, there are hundreds of additional places around the country that are home to some of the most important archaeological findings in Greece.
In fact, in almost every Greek city or on every Greek island, you will find ancient monuments, sculptures or remains of ancient buildings, that are evidence of the grand historical past of the country.
Many of these monuments are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, not just because of their majestic architecture or because of how old they are, but also because of their contribution to modern civilization, society, art and sciences.
Apart from the capital of Greece, here are some of the most important cities of antiquity that testify to the country’s rich history, and are considered today, brilliant touristic attractions.
Knossos, Crete (Κνωσός, Κρήτη)
Knossos is the most important centre of the Minoan Civilization, the home of King Minos, but also the magical place where the myths and legends of the Labyrinth, Theseus and the Minotaur originated.
Although the Minoan Civilization was destroyed in 1650 BC by a series of large tsunamis in the Aegean Sea – caused by the eruption of the Santorini volcano, which split the island in two – many of the masterpieces of Minoan art can still be admired to this day by visitors, at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion in Crete.
Mycenae, Peloponnese (Μυκήνες, Πελοπόννησος)
The city of Mycenae is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, and presumably the oldest in Europe. According to archeologists, the first human activity in the area dates back to the 7th millennium BC, during the Neolithic Era.
Mycenae has also gone down in history as the kingdom of Agamemnon and the House of Atreides, while its participation in the war against Troy played a crucial role in the development of Greek history.
Delos, Cyclades (Δήλος, Κυκλάδες)
According to research data by the Greek Ministry of Culture, “it is estimated that around 90 BC, the small island of Delos was just a dot on the map of the Mediterranean Sea, and home to only 30,000 people.” Excavations, which began in 1872 and are still ongoing, have uncovered a large sanctuary on the island and many other monuments of the Hellenistic Era, which prove that Delos was a place of great significance in the ancient world.
Ancient Messene, Peloponnese (Αρχαία Μεσσήνη, Πελοπόννησος)
The archeological site of Messene is one of the largest and most remarkable sites in Greece, and home to many athletic events, famous theatre plays and ceremonies of the ancient world.
Messene is also considered the place where Greek was born, as the earliest written evidence of the language is a Linear B clay tablet that was found in Messinia, and which dates back to 1450 – 1350 BC, making Greek the world’s oldest recorded living language.
Philippi, Kavala (Φίλιπποι, Καβάλα)
Philippi was an ancient city in Kavala, Eastern Macedonia, that had strong military power and flourished during the Hellenistic years. In 42 BC, Octavius Augustus turned Philippi into a Roman colony, while there, in 49-50 AD, Apostle Paul founded the first Christian church on European soil.
Dion, Pieria (Δίον, Πιερία)
Although Dion is a small village, it hosts one of the most charming archaeological sites of Greece, with lots of ancient ruins from temples, full body sculptures and columns, that are spread across its area.
According to the Greek Ministry of Culture, the existence of Dion was discussed for the first time by historian Thucydides, during 424 BC.
The excavations in Dion started in 1928 by the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki, but were paused several times because of the World Wars, and finally ended in the 1970s.
Lindos, Rhodes (Λίνδος, Ρόδος)
Lindos has been called “the Jewel of Rhodes” and is also considered one of the most popular archaeological destinations in Greece. The Temple of Lindia Athena is the most famous attraction on the island, and it is built at the top of an acropolis hill at 116 meters high. In front of the hill, visitors can enjoy the wonderful view of the Aegean Sea and the picturesque settlement of Lindos, with its small white houses.
Akrotiri, Santorini (Ακρωτήρι, Σαντορίνη)
Santorini may be the home of the most famous and most beautiful sunset in the world, but the historic importance of the island is also significant.
The small village of Akrotiri on the south peninsula of the island, is one of the most important centres of the Greek prehistoric times, with remains of old civilizations dating back to the Late Neolithic Age.
According to historians, the people of Akrotiri were killed during the volcanic eruption of the island, and even those who managed to escape, were killed by the large tsunamis that resulted, which reached even Crete and destroyed the Minoan Civilization.
Acrokorinthos, Korinthos (Ακροκόρινθος, Κόρινθος)
The ancient settlement and castle of the historic city of Korinthos are located at the northern side of the hill of Acrokorinthos, and can be admired by visitors who passed by. Excavations have brought to light the Roman Agora, temples, galleries, fountains, baths, and more ancient monuments. The archaic temple of Apollo and the Pyrenees Fountain are among the most important sights.
Pella, Macedonia (Πέλλα, Μακεδονία)
The ancient city of Pella in Central Macedonia is the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon and birthplace of Alexander the Great.
It covers an area of about 4,000 acres, but even to this day, it has not been excavated in its entirety, as new ancient findings are being discovered every year. The Palace, the houses with the mosaic floors, the sanctuaries and the tombs that have been found in the area, give us a taste of the past greatness of Greece.