Ancient Greek Sites

Zakros

Zakros contains ruins from the Minoan civilization. The site is often known to archaeologists as Zakro or Kato Zakro. It is believed to have been one of the four main administrative centers of the Minoans, and its protected harbor and strategic location made it an important commercial hub for trade to the east. The town was dominated by the Palace of Zakro, originally built around 1900 BC, rebuilt around 1600 BC, ...
Founded: 1900 BC | Location: Zakros, Greece

Netum

Netum was a considerable ancient town in the south of Sicily. Its current site is at the località of Noto Antica, in the modern comune of Noto. As a treaty was concluded in 263 BCE between the Romans and King Hieron II of Syracuse, Netum was noticed as one of the cities left in subjection to that monarch. Ptolemy is the last ancient writer that mentions the name; but there is no doubt that it continued to exist thro ...
Founded: 8th century BCE | Location: Noto, Italy

Lato

Lato was an ancient city of Crete, the ruins of which are located approximately 3 km from the small town of Kritsa. The Dorian city-state was built in a defensible position overlooking Mirabello Bay between two peaks, both of which became acropolises to the city. Although the city probably predates the arrival of the Dorians, the ruins date mainly from the Dorian period (5th and 4th centuries BCE). The city was de ...
Founded: 400-300 BC | Location: Kritsa, Greece

Euryalus Fortress

The Euryalus Fortress was the key point in the fortifications of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse. It is located on the highest point of the hill of Epipolae. During the Athenian invasion of Sicily (415-413 BC), the fortress did not yet exist, but the strategic importance of the area was clear; the Athenians initially captured the hill, but their failure to retain it prevented them from effectively besieging the city. ...
Founded: 402-397 BCE | Location: Syracuse, Italy

Greek Acropolis of Gela

Located near the Regional Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis of Gela is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sicily. The area was already occupied in prehistoric times by indigenous settlements dating from between the 4th and 2nd millennia BC. After a period of neglect, this site was occupied again around the 8th century BC by a small settlement prior to the founding of Gela, a proto-colony which had been g ...
Founded: 8th century BCE | Location: Gela, Italy

Itanos

Itanos was particularly powerful community during the Greek era and it was flourishing by the seventh century BC. Itanos was continuously at war with its neighbours Praisos, and later Hierapytna.  In the 8th century AD Itanos was destroyed in an earthquake but the inhabitants stayed and rebuilt the town. Only in the 15th century after attacks by pirates the town was finally destroyed and deserted. Because the west of Cr ...
Founded: 700 BC | Location: Vai, Greece

Megara Hyblaea

Megara Hyblaea is an ancient Greek colony in Sicily It was founded about 728 BC by colonists from Megara in Attica. In 628 the city established a colony at Selinus but in 483 was destroyed by the Syracusan leader Gelon. The city had a brief independent existence in the 4th century BC, when it issued coinage, but is heard of mainly as a fortified place. Excavations carried on in 1891 led to the discovery of the nor ...
Founded: 728 BCE | Location: Augusta, Italy

Morgantina

Morgantina is an archaeological site in east central Sicily. It was inhabited in several periods. According to Strabo Morgantina was founded by a pre-Roman Italian group known as the Morgetes of Rhegium. Dionysius of Halicarnassus wrote that the Morgetes were led by a king named Morges. The earliest historical date associated with Morgantina is 459 BCE, when Ducetius, leader of the indigenous Sicel population of central S ...
Founded: 5th century BCE | Location: Aidone, Italy

Ietas

Ietas was an ancient town in the modern comune of San Giuseppe Jato. Ietas was mentioned by Philistus as a fortress, and it is called by Thucydides a fortress of the Siculians, which was taken by Gylippus on his march from Himera through the interior of the island towards Syracuse. It first appears as an independent city in the time of Pyrrhus, and was attacked by that monarch on account of its strong position and the ad ...
Founded: 6th century BC | Location: San Giuseppe Jato, Italy

Diana Archaeological Park

The Archaeological Park of Lipari is located at the Diana district. In the park there are the remains of walls for a length of about 50 m, a tower of the 4th century BCE and some Roman fortifications built by Sextus Pompey. Behind the Greek walls there are buildings of the Imperial-Roman period (2nd century AD). Within the walls there is a street with some home facades of the Imperial-Roman period, mainly located under t ...
Founded: 4th century BCE | Location: Lipari, Italy

Heraclea Minoa

Heraclea Minoa was an ancient Greek city situated near the mouth of the river Halycus (modern Platani). Excavations have revealed several parts of the city which are now open to the public. Archaeological finds from the necropolis show the city was founded in the mid-6th century BC. The first written mention of the city is of a small town and a colony of the Greek settlement of Selinus. The city was only briefly under th ...
Founded: 6th century BCE | Location: Cattolica Eraclea, Italy

Temple of Victory

The Greek Temple of Victory (Greek Nikē) was located in the ancient city of Himera, today in the archaeological area of Termini Imerese. The temple dates to the fifth century BC and has been identified with the temple built by the Carthaginians at the command of the tyrant Gelon of Syracuse, who commanded the Greek coalition which defeated them at the Battle of Himera in 480 BC. Probably dedicated to Athena, the build ...
Founded: 5th century BC | Location: Termini Imerese, Italy

Gournia

The Late Minoan town of Gournia was excavated by Harriet Boyd in the first years of the 20th century. The original name of the settlement is not known and its present name comes from the hollow vessels found all over the site, many of which can still be seen at the entrances to the rooms. Gournia lies on a small hill, a few hundred metres from the sea in the Gulf of Mirabello. Its position is important as it lies on the ...
Founded: 1700 BC | Location: Ierapetra, Greece

Lissos

Lissos and Syia were the harbours of the city of Elyros, the most important ancient city of the area, located near the village Rodovani. It was established in the Classical period and flourished until the Late Antiquity. The early history of the city is unknown. Based on inscriptions and coins of the 3rd century BC, we know the city allied with King Magas of Cyrene, and joined the League of Oreians. Lissos had powerfu ...
Founded: 400 BC | Location: Kandanos Selinos, Greece

Halaesa

Halaesa was an ancient city of Sicily, situated near the north coast of the island. The city was of Siculian origin; in 403 BC the tyrant Archonides of Herbita, having concluded peace with Dionysius I of Syracuse, gave the northern part of his territory to the Sicilians as well as to mercenaries and others who had helped him during the war. He named it Halaesa, to which the epithet Archonidea was frequently added for the ...
Founded: 403 BCE | Location: Tusa, Italy

Temple of Demeter

The so-called Temple of Demeter (the remains of which are located below of the church of San Biagio) can be dated between 480 and 470 BCE. This temple offers an interesting example of distylous building in antis, i.e.without an outer colonnade. It has a simple cella preceded by a pronaos (ante-room) with two columns. Still preserved from the original structure are the base (30 by 13 m approx and partly visible), the oute ...
Founded: 480 BCE | Location: Agrigento, Italy

Kamarina

Kamarina was an ancient city on the southern coast of Sicily. It was founded by Syracuse in 599 BC, but destroyed in 552 BC. The Geloans, however, founded it anew in 461 BC, under the Olympic charioteer Psaumis of Camarina. It seems to have been in general hostile to Syracuse, but, though an ally of Athens in 427 BC, it gave some slight help to Syracuse in 415–413 BC. It was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 405 BC, re ...
Founded: 599 BCE | Location: Vittoria, Italy

Helorus

Helorus was an ancient Greek city of Sicily, situated near the east coast. It was probably a colony of Syracuse, of which it appears to have continued always a dependency. The name is first found in Scylax; for, though Thucydides repeatedly mentions the road leading to Helorus from Syracuse, which was that followed by the Athenians in their disastrous retreat, he never speaks of the town itself. It was one of the cities w ...
Founded: 8th century BCE | Location: Noto, Italy

Azoria

Azoria is an archaeological site on a double-peaked hill overlooking the Gulf of Mirabello in eastern Crete. The excavations have recovered evidence of an Archaic Greek city, established c. 600 BC, following a long period of continuous occupation throughout the Early Iron Age or Greek Dark Age (1200-700 BC) and Early Archaic (700-600 BC) (or Orientalizing) periods. The city was destroyed by fire early in the 5th ...
Founded: 600 BC | Location: Kavousi, Greece

Cave di Cusa

Cave di Cusa was an ancient stone quarry in Sicily. This site was quarried beginning in the first half of the 6th century BC and its stone was used to construct the temples in the ancient Greek city Selinunte. It was abandoned in 409 BC when the city was captured by the Carthaginians. It is now an official Sicilian Archeological Zone and a popular tourist site.
Founded: 559 BC | Location: Campobello di Mazara, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.