Ancient Greek Sites

Kerameikos

Kerameikos was the potters" quarter of the city, from which the English word 'ceramic' is derived, and was also the site of an important cemetery and numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city towards Eleusis. The earliest tombs at the Kerameikos date from the Early Bronze Age (2700-2000 BC), and the cemetery appears to have continuously expanded from the sub-Mycenaean period (110 ...
Founded: 2700 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Segesta Temple

Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymians, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily. The hellenization of Segesta happened very early and had a profound effect on its people. On a hill just outside the site of the ancient city of Segesta lies an unusually well preserved Doric temple. It is thought to have been built in the 420s BC by an Athenian architect, despite the city not having a large Greek populati ...
Founded: 420 BCE | Location: Calatafimi-Segesta, Italy

Altar of Hieron

The Altar of Hieron is a monumental grand altar in the ancient quarter of Neapolis in Syracuse. It was built in the Hellenistic period by King Hiero II and is the largest altar known from antiquity. The structure is aligned roughly north-north-west to south-east-east, and is located in the Neapolis. Almost nothing except the foundations of the structure survive today. The structure was partly built from masonry blocks an ...
Founded: 3rd century BCE | Location: Syracuse, Italy

Philopappos Monument

The Philopappos Monument is an ancient Greek mausoleum and monument dedicated to Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos or Philopappus, (65–116 AD), a prince from the Kingdom of Commagene. It is located on Mouseion Hill in Athens, southwest of the Acropolis. The monument was built on the same site where Musaios or Musaeus, a 6th-century BC priestly poet and mystical seer, was held to have been buried ...
Founded: c. 116 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Segesta Greek Theatre

Built in the 3rd century BCE in the Hellenistic period but under Roman domination, the Segesta Greek Theatre comprises a perfect, vast semicircle 63 metres in diameter situated on a rocky slope: the steps face towards the hills behind which, to the right, the gulf of Castellammare can be discerned. Every year, in summer, the theatre comes to life and fills with spectators ready to enjoy, in a timeless moment, the tragedie ...
Founded: 3rd century BCE | Location: Calatafimi-Segesta, Italy

Valley of the Temples

The Sicilian town of Agrigento was an important Greek colony in the 6th century BC and today it has some of the best preserved Greek remains outside of Greece itself. The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) contains a number of ruined temples in a spectacular countryside setting. Temple of Concordia Due to its good state of preservation, the Temple of Concordia is ranked amongst the most notable edifices of the Gre ...
Founded: 500 BCE | Location: Provincia di Agrigento, Italy

Butrint

Butrint, located in the south of Albania approximately 20km from the modern city of Saranda, has a special atmosphere created by a combination of archaeology, monuments and nature in the Mediterranean. With its hinterland it constitutes an exceptional cultural landscape, which has developed organically over many centuries. Butrint has escaped aggressive development of the type that has reduced the heritage value of most h ...
Founded: 800 BCE | Location: Sarandë, Albania

Berat

Located in central Albania, Berat bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries. It features a castle, locally known as the Kala, most of which was built in the 13th century, although its origins date back to the 4th century BC. The citadel area numbers many Byzantine churches, mainly from the 13th century, as well as several mosques built under the Ottoman era which beg ...
Founded: c. 314 BCE | Location: Berat, Albania

Pnyx

The Pnyx is a hill in central Athens. Beginning as early as 507 BC, the Athenians gathered on the Pnyx to host their popular assemblies, thus making the hill one of the earliest and most important sites in the creation of democracy. Pnyx is a small, rocky hill surrounded by parkland, with a large flat platform of eroded stone set into its side, and by steps carved on its slope. It was the meeting place of one of the ...
Founded: 570 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Phaistos

Phaistos is an Bronze Age archaeological site at modern Phaistos, a municipality in south central Crete. The was the second largest ancient palace in Crete. Phaistos was inhabited from about 4000 BC. The palace, dating from the Middle Bronze Age (2000 BC), was destroyed by an earthquake during the Late Bronze Age. Knossos along with other Minoan sites was destroyed at that time. The palace was rebuilt towa ...
Founded: 2000 BC | Location: Phaistos, Greece

Apollonia

Apollonia was an ancient Greek city located on the right bank of the Vjosë river. Apollonia was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site where native Illyrian tribes lived, and was perhaps the most important of the several classical towns known as Apollonia. Apollonia flourished under Roman rule and was noted by Cicero in his Philippicae as magna urbs et gravis, a great and important ...
Founded: 588 BCE | Location: Fier, Albania

Salona

Salona was an ancient city and the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The first mention of the name Salon originates about 7th century BC as an Illyrian settlement. It is the largest archaeological park in Croatia, whose size is attested by the monumental ramparts with towers and gates, a forum with temples, an amphitheater and cemeteries with Salonian martyrs (Manastirine, Kapljuč, Marusinac). Salona was a town ...
Founded: 7th century BCE | Location: Solin, Croatia

Gortyn

Gortyn or Gortys was a city that flourished particularly during the Roman era. It was the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica. It had its origins in the Minoan era (around 3200 BC). The most distinctive monuments are the Praetorium, the residence of the Roman governor of the province, and the Nymphaion (both dating from 2nd century AD), where the Nymphs were worshipped. There is also a temple of Pythian ...
Founded: 3200 BC | Location: Górtyn, Greece

Akrai

Akrai was a Greek colony founded in Sicily by the Syracusans in 663 BC. It was among the first colonies of Syracuse founded by Corinthian colonists arriving in Sicilian territory. Constructed on the peak of a hill, Akrai was difficult to attack and at the time of its construction an ideal point for watching the surrounding territory. By the treaty concluded by the Romans with Hieron II, king of Syracuse (270 - 215 BC), A ...
Founded: 663 BCE | Location: Palazzolo Acreide, Italy

Aptera

Aptera was an ancient city, now an archaeological site in western Crete, a kilometre inland from the southern shore of Souda Bay. It is mentioned tablets from the 14th-13th centuries BC. With its highly fortunate geographical situation, the city-state was powerful from Minoan through Hellenistictimes, when it gradually declined. In Greek mythology, here was placed the scene of the legend of the contest between the  ...
Founded: 2000-3000 BC | Location: Chaniá, Greece

Cumae

Cumae was an ancient city of Magna Graecia on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC, Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl. It spread its influence throughout the area over the 7th and 6th centuries BC, gaining sway over Puteoli and Misenum and, thereafter, founding Neapolis (Naples) in 470 BC. The Greek pe ...
Founded: 8th century BCE | Location: Bacoli, Italy

Malia Minoan Palace

To the east of the modern resort is the Minoan Palace of Malia. This is the third-largest Minoan palace in Crete, built in a wonderful setting near the sea, on the road linking eastern and central Crete. This palace - the seat, according to myth, of Minos’ brother Sarpedon - was first constructed circa 1900 BC. The already large settlement, some parts of which are preserved around the palace, thus became a palace-city ...
Founded: 1900 BC | Location: Malia, Greece

Tyndaris

The monumental ruins of ancient Tyndaris are a main attraction in current day Tindari. Tyndaris was strategically situated on its prominent hill overlooking the wide bay of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was one of the latest of all the cities in Sicily that could claim a purely Greek origin, having been founded by the elder Dionysius in 396 or 395 BC. By the 19th century, the site of Tyndaris was wholly deserted, but the name w ...
Founded: 396 BCE | Location: Tindari, Italy

Selinunte

Selinunte was one of the most important of the ancient Greek colonies in Sicily. It was founded, according to the historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara Hyblaea, in the 7th century BCE. At its peak before 409 BC the city may have contained up to 30,000 people, excluding slaves. In 409 BCE Carthaginian Hannibal crushed and plundered Selinunte, saving only women and children. Thus this is the en ...
Founded: 7th century BCE | Location: Marinella di Selinunte, Italy

Lilibeo

Lilibeo or Lilybaion was originally a Carthaginian city founded around 397 BCE. It became soon a dynamic trade and handicraft centre. In the Hellenistic period it was a multiethnic town where Punic, Greek and Roman people lived together. After a long siege, it was subdued by the Romans in the first Punic war in 241 BCE. Cicero mentioned Lilibeo in 76-75 BCE as a 'magnificient town'. During the age of Emperor Se ...
Founded: 397 BCE | Location: Marsala, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.