UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece

Parthenon

The Parthenon is a former temple, on the Athenian Acropolis, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenit ...
Founded: 447 BC | Location: Athens, 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

Church of Saint Panteleimon

The Church of Saint Panteleimon is a late Byzantine church in Thessaloniki and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church lies in the eastern part of the old city, near the Tomb of Galerius, at the junction of Iasonidou and Arrianou streets. Its current dedication to Saint Panteleimon was given to the church after the end of Ottoman rule in 1912, and its original dedication is therefore disputed. In Ottoman times, it was c ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Thessaloniki, 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

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 ...
Founded: 629-634 AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Monastery of Great Meteoron

The Monastery of Great Meteoron is the largest of the monasteries located at Meteora, though in 2015 there were only 3 monks in residence. The Great Meteoro Monastery was founded in the mid-14th century by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite who was the first founder of the monastery and the systematic organizer. For this reason, the foundation of this monastery is considered to be a turning point, or even better, the begi ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Church of the Saviour

The Church of the Savior is one of the 15 Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki that were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988. Archaeological investigation and restoration work following the 1978 earthquakes, in which the church was badly damaged, have brought to light new evidence that has led to a radical review of our knowledge of the structure. The original position of the holy altar h ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Panagia Chalkeon

According to the founder's inscription above the west entrance, the The Church of Panagia Chalkeon was built in 1028 by the protospatharios Christopher, katepano of Longobardia, and his wife, son, and two daughters. The ground plan is that of a classic 'cross-in-square-form' typical of Macedonian-period architecture, with four columns and three domes, one central and two over the narthex. The entire building is built ...
Founded: 1028 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki is one of the oldest churches in the city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list. Since the 3rd century, there was a church in the location of the current Hagia Sophia. In the 8th century, the present structure was erected, based on the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). In 1205, ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Varlaam Monastery

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest monastery in Meteora. It is located opposite of the Great Meteoron Monastery and it was founded in the mid-14th century by the exercitant Hosios Varlaam. The elegant monastery Katholikon (main church) was built in the honour of Agioi Pantes in 1541-42, by two brothers from Ioannina, the priest-monks Hosioi Theophanes and Nectarios the Apsarades. The main church was d ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church (Naós Agíou Nikoláou) is a late Byzantine church built to the archaeological site of Mystras in the 17th century, during the Ottoman Era. Some parts of frescoes have survived. Today the church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras.
Founded: 17th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Roussanou Monastery

The Monastery of Roussanou was founded in the middle of the 16th century. Compared to other rocks where monasteries were built, the one of Roussanou has a lower elevation, which makes it more accessible. The monastery was initially founded by monks and it suffered severe damage during World War II. It became a convent in 1988. The beautiful wall-paintings of the Catholicon were executed in 1560, when the priest-monk Ars ...
Founded: c. 1550 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Despot's Palace

The Palace of the Despots dominates the Upper Town of Mystra. It is a great complex of buildings belonging to different times of construction. They started to be built by the Franks, possibly by Guillaume de Villehardouin, and were completed by the Byzantines (the Despot was usually a son or brother of the Emperor).  These palace constitutes a great example of the Byzantine architecture. The whole building complex is L- ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Meteora

Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area. It is located near the town of Kalambaka at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios r ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Church of Our Lady Evangelistria

Church of Our Lady Evangelistria is one of the Byzantine churches in the Archaeological Site of Mystras, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The domed, cross-in-square, two-column church decorated with wall paintings dates from beginning of the 15th century. The few original frescoes still survive.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Agia Sophia Church

Agia Sophia Church was built in the mid-14th century. During the reign of Ottoman Empire it was used as a mosque. The church is richly decorated with frescoes, although only some of them have survived. Today Agia Sophia is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Holy Trinity Monastery

The Holy Trinity Monastery (also known as Agia Triada) is situated at the top of a rocky precipice over 400 metres high and forms part of 24 monasteries which were originally built at Meteora. The church was constructed between the 14th and 15th centuries and is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites titled Meteora. Holy Trinity was built in 1475–76, though some sources say the construction dates of ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Agioi Theodoroi Church

The Church of Agioi Theodoroi is one of the oldest and largest chapel in Mystras. It is located in Kato Hora, the lowest part of Mystras Old Town. The church was constructed between 1290-1295 by the monks Daniel and Pahomios. Originally, it was the katholikon of a monastery and then it became a cemetery church. The architecture of the church is different than the usual Byzantine architecture and ressembles to the Monaste ...
Founded: 1290-1295 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Agios Demetrios Cathedral

One of the most important churches of Mystras is the Cathedral of Agios Demetrios, built in 1280- 1292. It is the oldest church in the city. This church has a mixed architectural style: on the one hand it has a three-aisled basilica with a narthex and a bell tower, built in the 13th century on the ground floor, and on the other hand, the upper floor is a cross-in-square church, added in the first half of the 15th century ...
Founded: 1280-1292 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Vlatades Monastery

Vlatades Monastery was founded by the brothers Dorotheus and Markus Vlatadon, who were students of Gregory Palamas, in the latter half of the fourteenth century. It was first mention in a letter by Patriarch Matthew dated in 1400 to Metropolitan Gabriel of Thessalonica. In 1387, Thessalonica and the monastery were occupied for the first time by the Ottoman Turks. While the monastic community held together, the monaster ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

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.