UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece

Xenophontos Monastery

The Xenophontos Monastery is one of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece. The monastery is on southwestern side of the peninsula near St. Panteleimon"s Monastery. Xenophontos ranks sixteenth in the hierarchical order on Mount Athos. First mention of the founding of a monastery was in 998, while the monk Xenophon is credited with building the monastery that bea ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Zograf Monastery

The Holy Monastery of Zographou (or Zograf) is located on the southwestern side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece. The monastery is dedicated to St. George. According to tradition, the monastery was founded during the 10th century by three Bulgarian brothers, the monks Moses, Aaron, and John from Ohrid. While the monastery initially was inhabited by Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian monks, since 1845 the monks a ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Esphigmenou Monastery

The Esphigmenou Monastery is located on the northeastern coast of the Athos Peninsula close to the Monastery of Chilandari. It is ranked eighteenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula. Esphigmenou monastery has existed since the 10th century, although Athonite tradition attributes its founding to Empress Pulcheria, the sister of Emperor Theodosius II, in the 5th century. The ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Philotheou Monastery

The Monastery of Philotheou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the eastern side of the peninsula. It is twelfth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. The name of "Philotheou" is named after its founder, St Philotheos, and is derived from two Greek words which mean "Beloved of God". Philotheou functions as a coenobitic monastery. Founded by St Philotheos ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

St. Stephen Monastery

The Monastery of St. Stephen was founded by St. Antoninus Cantacuzene, who is thought to be a son of the Serb ruler Nicephorus II of Epirus, in c. 1400. This monastery rests on the plain rather than on a cliff. It was shelled by the Nazis during World War II who believed it was harboring insurgents and was abandoned. The monastery was given over to nuns in 1961 and they have reconstructed it into a flourishing nun ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Pantanassa Monastery

The Pantanassa Monastery is a monastery in Mystras. It was founded by a chief minister of the late Byzantine Despotate of the Morea, John Frankopoulos, and was dedicated in September 1428. It is the only monastery on the site still permanently inhabited. Today it is inhabited by nuns providing hospitality. Its beautifully ornate stone-carved façade is of architectural note. Pantanassa Monastery is part of the UNESCO Wor ...
Founded: 1428 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Koutloumousiou Monastery

The Monastery of Koutloumousiou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the northeastern side of the peninsula, near Karyes. It is sixth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. While the existence of the monastery is confirmed by document from 1169, Koutloumousiou Monastery was founded in its present form in the 14th century. Its central church was built in 1540. It is consi ...
Founded: 1169 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Pantokratoros Monastery

The Pantokrator Monastery is ranked seventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Athos peninsula. As is case of the other institutions on Mount Athos, life at Pantokrator is coenobitic. The Pantokrator Monastery is located near the Monastery of Stavronikita. The monastery was founded about 1357 by Alexios the Stratopedarch and John the Primikerios. They are buried at the monastery. Th ...
Founded: c. 1357 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Xeropotamou Monastery

The Monastery of Xeropotamou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the southwestern side of the peninsula. It is eighth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the memory of the Forty Holy Martyrs. While tradition accords its founding to the Empress Pulcheria in mid-5th century, Xeropotamou Monastery is believed to have bee ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery

St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery is one of six monasteries built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area of Meteora. Hermits seem to have first occupied this rock in the early 14th century, as evidenced by remains of frescoes in the Chapel of St. Anthony. The present monastery was founded in 1510 by St. Dionysius, Metropolitan of Larisa, and Nikanoras, priest-monk and exar ...
Founded: 1510 | 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

Agiou Pavlou Monastery

Agiou Pavlou monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos, located on the easternmost peninsula of Chalkidiki, Greece. The founder of monastery was Paul of Xeropotamou, after whom it is named. The Monastery was founded in the late 10th to early 11th century by Saint Paul of Xeropotamou, also the founder of the Xeropotamou Monastery. Documents attest of its independence from Xero ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Karakallou Monastery

The Karakalou Monastery is situated on the southeast side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Great Lavra and Iviron. Karakalou is dedicated to the Apostles Paul and Peter. It is ranked eleventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula. Founded in the 11th century, the monastery received its name after either the Roman emperor Kar ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Konstamonitou Monastery

The Kastamonitou Monastery, officially called Konstamonitou, is an Orthodox Christian monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos in Greece. It stands on the southeastern side of the Athos peninsula. The monastery ranks twentieth and last in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries. The monastery was founded in the mid-11th century, either by an unknown member of the aristocratic Byzantine Kastamonites fam ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mount Athos, 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

Villehardouin's Castle

Mystras, the ‘wonder of the Morea’, developed down the hillside from the fortress built in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William II of Villehardouin, at the top of a 620 m high hill overlooking Sparta. The Principality of Achaea was one of the three vassal states of the Latin Empire which replaced the Byzantine Empire after the capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. It became a vassal of the Kingdom o ...
Founded: 1249 | Location: Mystras, 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

Peribleptos Monastery

The Peribleptos Monastery is a late Byzantine-era monastery in Mystras, Greece. It was probably built in the mid-14th century by the first Despot of the Morea, Manuel Kantakouzenos, and named after one of the most celebrated monasteries of Byzantine Constantinople. The Monastery is built into the side of a cliff with a cave supporting the structure. This architectural style is known as the Mystras style and is prevalent i ...
Founded: c. 1348 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Brontochion Monastery

Brontochion Monastery is located on the northern slope of Mystras, an archaeological site dedicated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The abbot Pachomius incorporated into  the small church of the Hodegetria, or 'Aphentikon', as the monastery"s catholicon. The church was reconstructed and completed around 1310.
Founded: 1308-1322 | Location: Mystras, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.