Exploring Greek ruins*

Athens Acropolis

Ancient Greek ruins are some of the most famous in the world, providing a fascinating glimpse into ancient civilisations. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll know that my degree is in Classics and I spent nearly a month in Greece doing an undergraduate course in Archaeological Studies during one of my uni summers. So I’m a little obsessed with Greek ruins!
Ben and I have recently been planning our future holidays so Greece has been on our minds. We’ve actually booked elsewhere (more on this another day), but jolidays in Greece are the perfect way to combine sunshine and relaxation with historical sightseeing, and visitors of every age will be in awe of these vast landmarks.

If you’re planning a Greek getaway, you’ll find a wealth of sights in and around Athens, but venture off the mainland if you want to explore the archaeological wonders of the Greek islands. Here are some ancient ruins you won’t want to miss:

The Asklepieion, Kos

Kos is one of the picturesque South Aegean Islands, and it’s the birthplace of Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine.’ As a result, the island’s ruins exhibit the intriguing centre of ancient medicine.

The Asklepieion of Kos was an ancient healing temple, and it was built in honour of Asklepios, the god of health. People would travel here from all the surrounding islands to pray and seek treatment from the temple’s priests and physicians. Wander the ruins, and let yourself imagine what it would have been like thousands of years ago.

Greek Ruins

Image by samchills.

Vaulted Mycenaean Tomb, Kefalonia

Kefalonia, one of the Ionian Islands, is full of excavation sites, but the Vaulted Mycenaean Tomb is perhaps the best preserved of all the island’s ruins. Located in Tzanata, in the east of the island, the tomb is said to be the burial place of an important Mycenaean ruler, and it was discovered in 1992.

Standing 4 metres high and 7 metres wide, the tomb is big enough for you to walk inside, so you can really get a sense of the grandeur it once boasted. Excavators also found a range of objects and artefacts in the tomb, and you can see these at the nearby Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.

The Palace of Knossos, Crete

The biggest archaeological site on Crete is the Palace of Knossos, the first Minoan Palace, which dates from 1900BC. The Minoans inhabited Crete during the Bronze Age, and you will find remnants of their civilisation all around the island.

The Palace of Knossos would have been at the centre of life in Knossos, but it is also connected to the myth of the minotaur and the labyrinth. The entire palace has not survived, but in its glory days it was a vast structure with four wings surrounding the central court.

Knossos ruins

Image by Andrew Skudder.

Whichever island you choose to visit, Greece is home to an abundance of ancient ruins that you can explore.

Mainland Greece


Heading back to the mainland though, I just have to recommend a few more places: Delphi has THE most spectacular views – I’ve written all about it here.

And finally Eleusis: home to the Eleusinian Mysteries, the topic of my dissertation, so it holds a special place in my heart.

What is the most interesting archaeological site you’ve visited? Share your sightseeing experiences in the comments!

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