Greece is one of the most-visited nations in Europe and many people travel to the small, rugged island nation to view some of the many ancient landmarks that are scattered throughout its borders.
Greek culture was once the pinnacle of civilization and historians point to ancient Greek cities as prime examples of the incredibly-talented architectural traditions which its people were known for throughout the world.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of these famous Greek landmarks that include many ancient structures, as well as modern buildings. Keep reading to learn more about the architects behind these masterful works and the purpose behind their construction.
Famous Greek Landmarks
1. Acropolis of Athens
One of the prime structures that tourists and even local residents view as one of the most famous Greek landmarks is the Acropolis of Athens.
Athens was a city steeped in tradition and was well-known throughout the ancient world for its emphasis on philosophy, artistic expression, mythology and architecture.
This building is said to be one of the crown jewels of ancient Greece and remains in remarkably good condition considering it was built some time during the 5th century B.C. under the guidance and design of Pericles, a prominent general and leader of Athens during this era.
Archaeologists and historians believe the site where the Acropolis of Athens stands today was once home to a much older structure that was likely used for some type of religious ceremony by earlier cultures.
The structure served as an ancient citadel that was seemingly impenetrable to outside forces who dared to attack the fierce Athenians.
At the peak of the rocky hilltop sits the Parthenon, or the Temple of Athena, which is built in classical Greek style with six large pillars standing on the outside of the building on every side.
One of the most well-known landmarks in Greece is not one of the country’s many man-made structures, but is instead a natural wonder that somewhat resembles a mighty fortress set on a hill.
The Meteora is a massive rock formation that’s located in the middle of the Greek mainland.
Nestled in the middle of these towering stone pillars is an ancient monastery that was long ago established by the Greek Orthodox church. Meteora is located near the town of Kalambaka where the northwestern plains join the rugged Pindus Mountains.
The name Meteora translates in the English language to “lofty” or “elevated” and the word is also the origin of the term “meteor.”
For many centuries, various travelers would use the Meteora as a prominent landmark to guide them through the rugged and high-reaching mountains as travel was extremely difficult.
Today, a monastery still stands near the top of the Meteora and is one of the most-visited locations in this part of Greece.
The Parthenon has long stood as a symbol of ancient Greek culture and it remains one of the oldest structures in the country.
Many view this structure as a testament to the architectural prowess of builders and architects in ancient Greece and it is this reason why many millions of tourists visit the city of Athens each year. The Parthenon is located in the middle of Athens at the top of the Athenian Acropolis.
The Parthenon was built to serve as a temple which had been dedicated to the successful ousting of the Persian invaders during the 5th century B.C.
Construction on the building began in 447 B.C. and the project took just over a decade and was finished in 432 B.C. It stood as a temple for Greek gods for many centuries until it was converted into a Christian church during the 6th century A.D. and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
4. Acropolis Museum
One of the most notable buildings in Greece is also located in the city of Athens. The Acropolis Museum is a relatively new building that holds some of the most priceless pieces of historic artwork from ancient Greece.
It is a museum that’s focused on archaeology and is located on the site of the former ruins of structures built during both Roman and Byzantine empires.
Construction on the Acropolis Museum began in the mid-19th century and the project was completed in 1874.
However, a sizable expansion effort was made nearly a century later, followed by a remodeling effort in which the city of Athens held an architectural competition to garner designs for the building’s new appearance.
It was American architect Bernard Tschumi that won the competition and later worked alongside Michael Photiadis, a Greek architect, to complete the project in 2009.
One of the most picturesque beaches in the world is found along the western shores of Zakynthos, which is one of the most prominent of the Ionian Islands that can be found along the Ionian Sea surrounding the Greek mainland.
Navagio is more commonly referred to as “Shipwreck Beach” since the particular stretch of seas along the nearby coast are known to be especially tumultuous throughout much of the year.
The beach was originally known as Agios Georgios and is often featured on postcards and photographs of the most famous landmarks and beaches in Greece.
This beach is known mostly for the vibrant blue color of the water, which is set against the pale sand of the beach and the dark, rugged appearance of the surrounding rock cliffs.
The cliffs actually enclose the beach, making it only accessible by water, even in modern times. This particular beach is an especially popular landmark among boaters and those looking to enjoy a secluded stretch of sandy beach along the Greek coastline.
6. Temple of Olympian Zeus
There are many locations throughout Greece where tourists can view ancient ruins and columns that are still standing from temples and buildings that have long since collapsed.
One of the most well-known sites that includes temple ruins is known as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is another one of the country’s most celebrated landmarks.
This temple is also located in Athens and was once known to be the central, most important temple to ancient Greek leaders.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus was built around the early 6th century as construction is recorded to have started in 561 B.C.
Work on the temple was completed in a relatively short fashion compared to some of the other large structures that were built during the time period shortly before the common era and the Temple of Olympian Zeus was finished in 527 B.C.
Much of the former structure has long-since collapsed, but the stone pillars that sit on the southeastern side of the building remain in remarkably good condition.
7. National Archaeological Museum
There is an abundance of famous ancient landmarks scattered throughout Greece, but the country is also home to some modern structures that have since become well-known among local residents and those who travel to the country as well.
The National Archaeological Museum sits on the northern portion of Athens, Greece just outside of the sprawling metropolis’ most populated areas.
The impressive grand entrance can be spotted from anyone traveling along Patission Street as it features a very modern, yet classical Greek design along with crimson red outer bricks.
The National Archaeological Museum is said to hold some of the most important archaeological finds from Greek antiquity, as well as others from the surrounding area.
Constructed in 1829, this structure remains one of the most famous symbols of modern Greece’s appreciation and commitment to preserving its history.
Much of Greece’s territory extends to the many islands that can be found along the seas surrounding the mainland. Some of these islands are rather insignificant, but others are among the many other famous Greek landmarks that exist.
One of these well-known locations is the island of Delos, which is found along the southeastern coast of Greece.
Viewing this island from the sea, one may see it as just another rugged, barren outcropping among the dozens of others in the Mediterranean Sea.
However, the island of Delos is actually home to some of the most well-preserved and impressive ruins from ancient Greek culture that still stands today.
Excavations on the island have revealed a large, open-air theater, as well as numerous statues and stone monuments and temples that were assembled with remarkable precision.
The island of Elafonisi is another prominent Greek location that stands today as a notable marker of the country’s many islands and subcultures.
Elafonisi is especially rugged and mostly inhospitable, yet it features a beautiful secluded monastery along the tops of the cliffs that can be seen from the ocean.
10. Ancient Agora of Athens
One of the most distinct ancient spaces that still remain in modern-day Greece is the Ancient Agora of Athens.
This large stretch of land features some of the last-remaining ruins from Greek culture dating back to roughly the 2nd century B.C.
One of the most prominent buildings that’s found within this agora is the temple of Hephaestus along with many others.