Large white marbled columns, detailed ornaments coupled with statues illustrating hero myths, and just the word ‘classic’, are imagery evoking ancient Greek architecture.
In places where long-past centuries societies lived, we can only imagine -as we admire them- how influential their lifestyle was, so much that it serves as a continuous and eternal source of inspiration.
That’s why, up to this day, people from all over the world continue to study how the ancient Greeks conceived the world, nature, and above all things: Architecture. Precision, harmony, and homage to their polytheist culture come to life in some of the most beautiful constructions you’ll ever see. If you don’t take our word for it, just check out the top 10 most impressive buildings of ancient Greece.
10. The Acropolis Of Athens
Although acropolises aroused all over Greece, the series of buildings in this High City (from ‘acro-polis’ translation) of Athens stand out. The main building is the Parthenon, dedicated to the patron city goddess, Athenea Parthenos. She’s the goddess of warfare and wisdom, always accompanied by her loyal owl Nike, goddess of victory.
Therefore, right next to it, is the Athenea Nike building. Followed by the temple of both Athena and Poseidon. Lastly, well known for its architectural style of female figures as column support (also know as Caryatid), the Erechtheum.
9. Agora Stoa Of Attalos
‘Stoa’ means classical public building. The roofed hall, now restored museum, was a gift to the Athenians from King Attalos II of Pergamon (159–138 B.C.) as a token of appreciation for the time he spent studying under the philosopher Karneades. The marbled facade and walls, along with the limestone for the walls were destroyed by Herulians A.D. 267. At the time, a very successful mall: 42 buzzy shops were displayed over 116 meters of the hall.
The restoration with ancient stones was completed in 1956 allowed visitors to appreciate the reason why stoas were such a popular public building: Not figuratively, thousands of people would gather to enjoy dramatic plays or to offer sacrifice to gods, as they could serve as theaters and sanctuaries. Enormous colonnades offered shelter from the rain in the winter and protected from the sun during summer, permitting more than enough air and light in the space.
The origin of the birthplace of the Olympic Games finds its roots in a small town on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, dedicated to one of the most important gods of Greek mythology, Zeus. The Hellenism heart of athletics and religion is crowded by athletic buildings and temples equally.
Remarkable places are The Echo Gallery, the Leonideon baths, the Olympic stadium, and, at the entrance, the Memorial Crypts and The Stoa of Echo. If you travel to Greece, you just can’t miss this UNESCO’s World Archaeological Heritage Site.
In the same Peloponnese peninsula is Delphi, the ancient Greek’s sacred city. Picture the old Vatican city but instead of participating in the Sacrament of Penance, you get a prophecy from The Oracle. The center of the world, as the Greeks considered it, stood high and proud for almost 1,400 years.
During this time, it went through more than one rebuilding with the help of other city-states, until it’s close up by the Roman Empire, as Greek religion was then considered pagan. Along with the sanctuaries built in honor of Apollo and Athena, stands out the Tholos (in Greek, small mountain or hill), a circular building renowned for its architectural creativity and workman’s dexterity.
Located on a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea. It was considered to be the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. This religious capital was so sacred that no mortal birth or death was allowed to take place. The Delos tour starts in the Agora of the Competaliasts, an important marketplace at the time due to the island’s strategic location.
Then, we have the enormous Theatre District situated in Mount Kinthos, and at the center, we find the Sanctuary of Apollo. Walking down the Sacred Way, pilgrims’ ancient route, you’ll find the Stoa of Philip. At last, the famous Lion District or Terrace of the Lions, marbled creatures who guarded the sanctuary.
5. Temple Of Segesta
Perhaps due to never being completed (it misses the roof over the pillars), but definitely because it’s countryside idyllic location, is considered the best-preserved temple. Segesta wasn’t actually built by the Greeks however it stood proudly as one of the most important Sicilian-Greek cities; located between Palermo and Trapani, yes, Italy.
The Elymians (1100 BC), native Sicilians. assimilated rapidly the Greek culture. The roofless Stoa-like building seats in a natural bed of flowers in spring. We know it’s off the regular Greek route, but don’t miss this beauty on your tour.
4. The Theatre Of Pergamon
Although it’s not exactly located in Greece, you’ll still want to take a look at this Greek-made building. Located in Turkey, you’ll find the steepest theater in ancient times, which used to hold 10,000 spectators. This UNESCO World Heritage was the soul of the acropolis -today’s Bergama- and an important African Aegean city.
At Pergamon, you’ll also spot the Temple of Athena, the Sanctuary of Hera, the Sanctuary of Demeter, the Temple of Dionysus, and the Gymnasium. Even though it’s more suited for classical Hellenistic period lovers, it’s something you definitely want to see if you’re around.
3. Temple Of Poseidon
In celebration of the guardian of the sea, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion sits above the Aegean Sea. Giant white marbled columns of 6,10 meters (20 feet) high frame the big blue, it’s the Athenian tipping point coming by sea.
Due to its remarkable venue was employed as a watch over. The sight is so unforgettable even some literary celebrities acclaimed it; poets Lord Byron and William Falconer. Martin Heidegger is, of course, on the list of fans. It’s just astonishing.
2. The Temple Of Zeus
Very similar to the colonnades of the Temple of Poseidon, the remains of this mythical construction have inspired countless people, from videogames to Adolf Hitler. At the time, 104 gigantic erected columns are one of the reasons to be considered a cult centerpiece of the ancient world.
At the heart of Athens, the biggest statue was keep (of more than 13 meters), made of ebony, gold, and ivory, and ornamented with gems, depicting the most important God: Zeus seated at his throne. In one of his hands, he holds Nike (the goddess of victory, remember? Just like the brand), on the other hand, a scepter with an eagle at the top, his consecrated animal.
1. The Library Of Celsus
Situated in Ephesus, it stands in honor to senator and consul, Celsus, which served as his tombs, as well. 12,000 scrolls were stored and read outdoors but like most libraries, they were destroyed, this one, by a Gothic invasion in 262 AD.
Surprisingly the elaborate facade remained intact, depicting the Four Virtues: Sophia (Wisdom), Arete (Bravery), Episteme (Knowledge), and Ennoia (Thought). It’s the kind of building everybody should definitely visit at least once in his life.