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5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to See in Greece

Greece ranks 8th among European countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to See in Greece

Greece’s history spans over 4,000 years—from the Minoan civilisation to the Byzantine Empire. Significant events such as the Persian Wars and the Golden Age of Athens left a lasting impact on the country’s culture and architecture. As such, Greece ranks 8th among European countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites. All 19 of their sites are considered cultural sites, with two being a mix of cultural and natural sites. These sites are all recognised for their outstanding universal value and contribution to the preservation of Greece’s cultural heritage.

Below are just a few of the cultural heritage sites you should definitely include in your itinerary during your next visit to Greece.

Old Town Corfu

Corfu is an island located on the northwest coast of the Ionian Sea, a clever spot renowned for its entrance to the Adriatic Sea. Dating back to the 8th century BC, it was ruled by the Venetians, French, and British, leaving a unique blend of architecture and culture. Its recognition highlights the importance of preserving the town’s historical and cultural significance. The charming old town’s Venetian-style architecture and narrow streets lined with cafes and shops make the site perfect for a holiday in Greece. If you’re visiting Greece on holiday, try to make the most out of your stay by walking along the paved roads, enjoying the sun, tasting local delicacies at traditional taverns, and taking in the culture of this wonderful Greek island.

Rhodes Medieval City

Rhodes has a rich history dating back to ancient times, with its medieval city built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century and served as a major stronghold during the Crusades. Today, it is known for its medieval architecture, ancient ruins, and strategic location, which made it an important centre for trade and culture throughout history. The Palace of the Grand Master, the Street of the Knights, and the Clock Tower are only a few of the town’s architectural highlights, which feature a combination of Gothic, Byzantine, and Ottoman architecture, making up the unique aesthetic characteristic of Rhodes. The city resembles somewhat of a maze, so travel with a guide, bring a map along with you, or simply embrace aimless wandering.

Temple of Athena Aphaia

The Temple of Athena Aphaia was built in the 5th century BC using the Doric order, similar in style to the Parthenon, and is believed to have been dedicated to the goddess Athena. Located in one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, the island of Aegina, the temple is made of local limestone and decorated with countless sculptures and friezes. While the structure was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times throughout history, it has been well-preserved since the 19th century. Its historical and cultural significance comes as insight into Greek architecture and religion, as well as a connection to the role of women in ancient Greek society. Public buses take multiple trips to this site, but visit early in the morning to avoid the bustling crowds and midday heat.

Meteora Rock Formation

Meteora is a complex of six monasteries built on natural sandstone pillars, making it one of Greece’s only two mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. The monasteries were built between the 14th and 16th centuries during political instability and invasions. These monasteries served as a safe haven for monks seeking refuge from the Ottoman Empire, making them one of Greece’s most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Besides its rich history, the structures are also famous for their unique architecture, which blends Byzantine and Gothic styles. Being constructed on top of tall rock pillars, the buildings can only be accessed by climbing steep steps carved into rocks. Before you visit, check the monasteries’ schedules, as their rest days vary.

Archaeological Site of Olympia

Olympia was a sanctuary of ancient Greece and the birthplace of the famous Olympic Games, which were held every four years from 776 BC to 393 AD. Athletes from all over Greece came together to compete in various events to celebrate athleticism and the god Zeus. The area also includes multiple temples, altars, and treasuries, with the most prominent being the temple that housed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—the statue of Zeus. Since its discovery in the 18th century, the area has been excavated and restored over the years. For those who want to experience it for themselves, entrance to both the site and the museum only costs €12, but be sure not to visit during the summer to avoid extreme heat.

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