Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the 5th century BC, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age tha ...
Founded: c. 495-429 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The temple as seen today was built between 421 and 406 BCE. It may have been built in honor of the legendary king Erechtheus, who is said to have been buried nearby. Erechtheus was mentioned in Homer"s Iliad as a great king and ruler of Athens during the Archaic Period ...
Founded: 421-406 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Rome and Augustus

The temple of Rome and Augustus was erected in the late first century BC. Several architectural elements of the building were found east of the Parthenon and many more were brought here after their discovery elsewhere. Nearby are the irregular tufa foundations (approximately 10.50x13 metres) of a building generally considered to be the Roman temple. Another theory, however, based on the construction technique of these fou ...
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Propylaea

A propylaea means an monumental gateway in ancient Greek architecture. Entrance into the Acropolis was controlled by the Propylaea. Though it was not built as a fortified structure, it was important that people not ritually clean be denied access to the sanctuary. It was one of several public works commissioned by the Athenian leader Pericles in order to rebuild the Acropolis hill at the conclusion of the Persian W ...
Founded: 437 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Asclepeion

To the west of the Dionysos theatre and quite close to the cliff of the Acropolis lies the Asklepieion, the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios dated to 420 BC. Functioning pretty much as hospitals, the asklepieia were of immense importance in ancient Greece, the most popular being the Asklepieion of Epidaurus. Besides the usual facilities for sheltering the pilgrims, the core structures of the Athenian complex we ...
Founded: 420 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis of Athens was named after the Greek goddess. Built around 420 BCE, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. It was a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea. In contrast to the Acropolis proper, a walled sanctuary entered through the Propylaea, the Victory Sanctuary w ...
Founded: 420 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped theater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of expensive cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with ...
Founded: 161 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major theatre in Athens, built at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis. Dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine, the theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people with excellent acoustics, making it an ideal location for ancient Athens" biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It was the first theatre ever built, cut into the southern cliff face of the Acro ...
Founded: 6th century BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Hadrian's Library

Hadrian"s Library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. The building followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style, having only one entrance with a propylon of Corinthian order, a high surrounding wall with protruding niches (oikoi, exedrae) at its long sides, an inner courtyard surrounded by columns and a decorative oblong pool in the middle.The ...
Founded: 132 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Classical Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora (central public space in ancient Greek city-states), located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill. The Agora"s initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering pla ...
Founded: 5th century BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Roman Agora

The original Roman Agora was encroached upon and obstructed by a series of Roman buildings, beginning with the imperial family"s gift to the Athenians of a large odeion (concert hall). The Odeon of Agrippa was built by him in around 15 BC, and measured 51.4 by 43.2 metres, rose several stories in height, and – being sited just north of the Middle Stoa – obstructed the old agora. In return for the odeion, the A ...
Founded: 19-11 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Knossos

Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete island and has been called Europe's oldest city. The settlement was established well before 2000 BC and was destroyed, most likely by fire (though some claim a tsunami) around 1700 BC. The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th centur ...
Founded: 2000 BC | Location: Heraklion, Greece

Areopagus

The Areopagus is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis. In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders of the city, similar to the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership was restricted to those who had held high public office, in this case that of Archon. In 594 BC, the Areopagus agreed to hand over its functions to Solon for reform. He in ...
Founded: 6th century BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a former colossal temple at the centre Athens. It was dedicated to Olympian Zeus, a name originating from his position as head of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC (around 520 BC) during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in t ...
Founded: 520 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus is a well-preserved Greek temple located at the north-west side of the Agora of Athens; it remains standing largely as built. It was dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire and Athena, goddess of pottery and crafts. According to the archeologists, the temple was built around 450 BCE. at the western edge of the city, on top of Agoreos Koronos hill, and it is a classical example of Dor ...
Founded: 450 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Arch of Hadrian

The Arch of Hadrian is a monumental gateway resembling – in some respects – a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It has been proposed that the arch was built to celebrate the adventus (arrival) of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and to honor him for his many benefactions ...
Founded: 131-132 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Eleusinion Sanctuary

Eleusinion was the place where all sacred objects associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept between ceremonies. It was located at the base of the Acropolis. The temple was built around 490-480 BCE and it"s size was around 11 x 18m.
Founded: 490-480 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Arch of Galerius and Rotunda

The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda are neighbouring early 4th-century AD monuments in Thessaloniki. The 4th-century Roman emperor Galerius commissioned these two structures as elements of an imperial precinct linked to his Thessaloniki palace. Archeologists have found substantial remains of the palace to the southwest. These three monumental structures were connected by a road that ran through the arch, which rose abov ...
Founded: 298-306 AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

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

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum of Thessaloniki is the ancient Roman-era forum of the city, located at the upper side of Aristotelous Square. It is a large two-terraced forum featuring two-storey stoas, dug up by accident in the 1960s. The forum complex also boasts two Roman baths, one of which has been excavated while the other is buried underneath the city, and a small theater which was also used for gladiatorial games. Although the in ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.