Ancient Greece

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Ancient Greece or Classical Greece was a civilization which emerged around the 8th century BCE, and was annexed by the Roman Empire in the second century BCE.

Ancient Greece is remembered for its architecture, philosophy and other ideas, which became the foundation of modern Europe. The Olympic Games are originally an ancient Greek tradition.


Greek language and culture stretched far beyond the territory of modern Greece; especially across Asia Minor (today's Turkey). Starting with the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, the Greek culture spread as far east as modern day Afghanistan, and Egypt (see Ancient Egypt) was ruled for three centuries by the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty, which was founded by one of Alexander's generals. This late bloom of Greek culture, which was later partially supplanted by the Roman Empire, is known as the Hellenic era. Some elements of Greek culture endured for centuries after the last Greek polity had disappeared. For instance Coptic, the language that Ancient Egyptian evolved into, was written in Greek-derived letters until it died out in the 17th century. Other examples include Greek authors and philosophers, such as Homer and Socrates, that were and are still widely read among a certain subset of Europeans. Greek terms have even entered the general lexicon of the English language, mostly relating to things the Greeks were known for (Theater, Politics, Democracy) or scientific terms. Sometimes Greek and Latin terms have been mixed, most notably in the case of "automobile" which derives from Greek "autos" (~self) and Latin "mobilis" (~movable, moving). For these reasons and the fact that the Christian New Testament was written in Ancient Greek, Ancient Greek is still taught in many secondary schools and universities throughout Europe.



  •   Athens. One of the most important poleis in Ancient Greece, Athens was a naval power and a center of learning and philosophy. While it was temporarily surpassed militarily by Sparta and Thebes, its immense wealth meant that some of its classical architecture is still standing. Due in part to its history Athens later became the capital of modern Greece
  •   Corinth. One of the largest and most important cities of Classical Greece, with a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. In classical times and earlier, Corinth had a temple of Aphrodite and rivaled Athens and Thebes in wealth.
  •   Delos. This island, the alleged birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, was already a holy sanctuary for a millennium before the establishment of this piece of Olympian Greek mythology; a very significant archaeological site.
  •   Delphi. Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the omphalos (navel) of his "Grandmother Earth" (Ge, Gaea, or Gaia). Site of the Apollo cult, oracle, and eternal flame.
  •   Olympia (Greece). Site of the original Olympic Games and the Temple of Zeus.
  •   Sparta. Even contemporaries agreed, that Athens would be perceived to have been much more important than Sparta. This is mostly because the Spartan society was very militaristic and invested in war rather than monuments or temples. A famous quote sums up the Spartan attitude towards building even if for war says "Sparta has no walls. The Spartans are the wall of Sparta"
  •   Heraklion. Known in ancient times as Knossos; the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture.
  •   Mycenae. Arguably the very oldest Greek city; the period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to this city. Its acropolis, continuously inhabited from the Early Neolithic onwards, had already become a tourist attraction by the Roman period.
  •   Samos. Birthplace of Pythagoras, the famous mathematician.
  •   Samothrace. Site of Sanctuary of the Great Gods, the centre of a mystery cult that rivaled Delos and Delphi.


  •   Agrigento (Sicily). Site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas (Ἀκράγας), famous for its Valle dei Templi ("Valley of the Temples", a misnomer, as it is a ridge, rather than a valley), a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city, where seven monumental Greek temples in the Doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself.
  •   Gela (Sicily). founded around 688 BC by colonists from Rhodes and Crete; playwright Aeschylos, the "father of tragedy", died in this city in 456 BC.
  •   Paestum (Campania). Widely considered to have the best and most extensive ancient Greek relics in the former Magna Graecia.
  •   Syracuse (Sicily). Birthplace of Archimedes, the famous philosopher and mathematician.
  •   Brindisi (Apulia). Its name comes from the Greek Brentesion (Βρεντήσιον) meaning "deer's head", which refers to the shape of its natural harbor.
  •   Reggio di Calabria (Calabria). A Greek colony at first, under the name Rhégion (Ῥήγιον, "Cape of the King"), Reggio is home to the National Archaeological Museum of Magna Græcia, one of the most important archaeological museums of Italy.


  •   Aphrodisias ( Southern Aegean). Site of the Temple of Aphrodite. Now it's one of the best preserved ancient cities in Turkey, and without the usual crowds of Ephesus.
  •   Ephesus (Central Aegean). A famous and prosperous poleis in Classical times, birthplace of philosopher Heraclitus, now a large world heritage-listed archeological site and one of Turkey's major tourist attractions.
  •   Çavdarhisar (Central Anatolia). Features the impressive ruins of Aizanoi, site of the awesome Temple of Zeus.
  •   Izmir (Central Aegean). Ancient Smyrna has always been famous as the birthplace of Homer, thought to have lived here around the 8th century BC. Its agora (central market place) is now an open-air museum.
  •   Sinop (Black Sea Turkey). Σινώπη, Sinōpē, the birthplace of seminal philosopher Diogenes the Cynic.
  •   Trabzon (Black Sea Turkey). Τραπεζοῦς (Trapezous) was the first Greek city reached by Xenophon and the Ten Thousand mercenaries, when fighting their way out of Persia, as described in the Anabasis.
  •   Troy. According to Homer's Iliad, this is where the legendary Trojan War took place.


  •   Alexandria. the best known of several towns funded by and named for Alexander the great. A center of learning in antiquity as well as the seat of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

See also[edit]

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