This post was guest authored by Sandy Smith.
Greece can rightly be considered one of the most alluring countries in the world for reasons that have nothing to do with its history. It’s a beautiful country marked by pretty, seaside cities and countless gorgeous islands made famous all over the world. And on top of all that, it’s long been a very affordable destination thanks to problems with the local economy. Beyond beauty and accessibility, Greece is also well worth visiting for anyone who loves its history and legend.
Given that, we wanted to point to some of the best ancient sites to visit should you get the chance to travel to Greece.
The Parthenon is probably the most famous monument in Greece, and the basis for much of our modern understanding of classical architecture. It was actually built as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, and it’s believed that a 12-meter high gold-coated statue of Athena once resided inside the temple. People visiting Athens today can’t miss the Parthenon, as it still stands proudly on the Acropolis – a sort of plateau of ancient sites some 150 meters over the city.
Meteora is something of a legend in and of itself. It’s an area near the Plain of Thessaly where giant rock formations that came into being tens of millions of years ago shoot up from a lush landscape. Some of these rock formations have ancient monasteries on top of them even today, while some other monasteries have been taken down or destroyed over time. It’s a place that clues you into the seriousness of some of the spiritual and religious history of Greece, as well as one of the most incredible natural attractions in the country.
Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo gives you a good reason to visit Delphi, which is one of the most incredible historical areas in Greece (which is really saying something). You can also visit ancient theatrical venues and the ruins of the Delphic oracle temple while you’re there. But the ruins of the Temple of Apollo are striking in a way that’s similar to the Parthenon. While the building hasn’t been preserved as well, it dates back more than 5,000 years and celebrates a god that many of us today think of as almost fictional. Again, however, there’s plenty to see in the Delphi area beyond a single temple.
Mount Olympus is the mythical home of the Greek gods, and most notably Zeus himself. Today, as with Apollo, Zeus has been largely fictionalized. He’s been portrayed in films by actors ranging from Luke Evans to Liam Neeson, and has been a subject in video games as well. These fictional interpretations make mention of Olympus as a sort of glorious peak between worlds. The film “Immortals” shows it as a gleaming paradise; the game Zeus III Slots mentions the sun rays coming from Olympus. But some visitors are surprised to learn that Olympus is actually a real, almost ordinary mountain that you can hike with relative ease. It’s hard not to feel a sense of legend if you reach the summit.
The Hot Gates
The Hot Gates were made famous in modern times by the film “300”. Named for the fact that 300 Spartans fought off a much larger Persian army, the film is highly stylized in an almost comic book-like way, which could leave many believing it’s a purely fictional tale. However, there is some real history in it. This battle really did take place at Thermopylae, really pitted a very small band of Spartan warriors against a much greater force, and ultimately held fairly serious implications for the survival of early Western culture. That’s not to say every element of the movie is realistic at all – but the gist of it all is based in history, and the Hot Gates at Thermopylae can be visited.
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