The Acropolis is the most important ancient site in the Western world. Crowned by the Parthenon, it stands sentinel over Athens, visible from almost everywhere within the city. Its monuments of Pentelic marble gleam white in the midday sun and gradually take on a honey hue as the sun sinks, while at night they stand brilliantly illuminated above the city.
Evans’ reconstruction brings to life the palace’s most significant parts, including the reconstructed columns; painted deep brown-red with gold-trimmed black capitals, they taper gracefully at the bottom. Vibrant recreations of frescoes add another dramatic dimension to the palace ruins.
Held every four years until their abolition by killjoy Emperor Theodosius I in AD 393, the Olympic Games were held here for at least 1000 years. The World Heritage–listed site of Ancient Olympia is still a recognisable complex of temples, priests’ dwellings and public buildings.
Of all the archaeological sites in Greece, Ancient Delphi is the one with the most potent ‘spirit of place’. Built on the slopes of Mt Parnassos, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth and extending into a valley of cypress and olive trees, this World Heritage site’s allure lies both in its stunning setting and its inspiring ruins.
This outstanding museum is one of the largest and most important in Greece. There are artefacts spanning 5500 years from neolithic to Roman times, but it’s rightly most famous for its extensive Minoan collection. A visit here will greatly enhance your understanding and appreciation of Crete’s history and culture. Don’t skip it.
Kastro & Upper Town From opposite the upper entrance ticket office, a path (signposted ‘kastro ’) leads up to the fortress. The fortress was built by the Franks and extended by the Turks. The path descends from the ticket office leading to Agia Sofia , which served as the palace church, and where some frescoes survive. Steps descend from here to a T-junction.
About3km east of the town of Malia, this grand palace was built at about the same time as the two other great Minoan palaces of Phaestos and Knossos. The First Palace dates back to around 1900 BC and was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1700 BC, only to be levelled again by another temblor around 1450 BC.
Begin your tour of the Knights’ Quarter at Liberty Gate , crossing the small bridge into the Old Town. In a medieval building is the original site of the Museum of Modern Greek Art . Inside you’ll find maps and carvings.
The ruins lie right in the centre of the modern village. Thanks to the area’s compact size (although excavations are ongoing), and the excellent signs in English, complete with diagrams, a visit here is enjoyable and rewarding. The remains are mostly from Roman times. An exception is the prominent 5th-century-BC Doric Temple of Apollo .
The best views of this beautiful site are from the village central square, and it’s worth briefly examining the layout before heading down for a closer look at the site itself. Access is by a road near the museum, about 300m northwest of the square.
The following is an outline of some significant archaeological remains on the site. For further details, a guidebook from the ticket office is advised, or take a guided tour. The rock-encrusted Mt Kythnos (113m) rises elegantly to the southeast of the harbour. It's worth the steep climb, even in the heat.
The city’s cemetery from the 12th century BC to Roman times, Keramikos was originally a settlement for potters who were attracted by the clay on the banks of the River Iridanos. Because of frequent flooding, the area was ultimately converted to a cemetery. Rediscovered in 1861 during the construction of Pireos St, Keramikos is now a lush, tranquil site with a fine museum.
The ruins of Knossos (k-nos-os ) were uncovered in 1900 by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. Heinrich Schliemann, the legendary discoverer of ancient Troy, had his eye on the spot, believing an ancient city was buried there, but he was unable to strike a deal with the local landowner in Turkish-controlled Crete.