Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Greece

Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Greece

The physical presence of Greece’s glorious ancient history is still visible through the country’s countless archaeological sites, buildings, and monuments. It should not come as a surprise, then, that the country boasts a rich list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Greece has eighteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with sixteen inscribed for cultural heritage and two—Meteora and Mount Athos—for their exceptional natural landscape and cultural significance.

The Acropolis - UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece in 1987

greek alphabet
The Parthenon. Credit: Greek Reporter

A few of Greece’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located on the islands, while most of them are found on mainland Greece. The first site included on the list was the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, added in 1986. The ancient Greeks dedicated the famous Temple of Apollo Epicurius, also known as Bassae, to the god of healing and the sun. They erected it on the mountains of Arcadia, dating back to the 5th century BC.

The Temple, which has the oldest Corinthian capital ever found, combines the Archaic with the Doric architecture styles.

In 1987, the authorities included the Acropolis as an entire site containing some of the greatest masterpieces of the classical period, such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

The so-called center of the world for the ancient Greeks, the archaeological site of Delphi, as well as the site of Mystras and its castle, dating back to 1249 AD, are also among the noted sites on the UNESCO list.

The ancient city of Olympia, where the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC and served as an important religious center in ancient Greece. Any traveler to Greece should not miss this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vergina, capital of kingdom of Philip II

Philip Macedon Tomb Vergina
Philip of Macedon’s tomb. Credit: Public Domain

The city of Aigai, known today as Vergina, was the first capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia in northern Greece.

The site features royal monuments, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, discovered in the 1970s.

This priceless archaeological site and the treasures found there were included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996.

The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are home to impressive remnants of the two cities which dominated the eastern Mediterranean from the 15th to the 12th century B.C.

Medieval city of Rhodes, Greece another UNESCO Must-See

Rhodes is a World Heritage City with a Medieval castle and citadel. Delos is the birthplace of Apollo and a UNESCO site. Three monasteries and Corfu's old town are also listed.

The oldest fort is located on an island, joining the city through a bridge that was once made of wood. In the past, high protective walls linked both fortresses, but they have since been destroyed.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thessaloniki include the Rotunda, the Temple of Acheiropoietos, and more. Samos features the Pythagoreion and the Heraion.

Meteora and Mount Athos included as sites of both natural and cultural importance

The Asclepion at Epidaurus. Credit: Sharon Mollerus/Wikimedia Commons/

The main monuments belonging to the Sanctuary of Asklepios in Epidaurus, particularly the theater— a masterpiece of Greek architecture—are also part of the distinguished list. The ancient temple complex was home to a healing center in ancient Greece.

Patmos, where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation, is famous for its monastery. Visit the Chora, Monastery, and Cave of the Apocalypse.

Phillippi is the most recent addition to the list. Philippi, founded by Macedonian King Philip II in 356 BC, is a Hellenistic city with Roman public buildings. Visit the Forum and monumental terrace.

The remains of its basilicas are beautiful examples of the early establishment of Christianity in the area.

Meteora and Mount Athos, introduced to UNESCO for cultural and natural significance, are unique landscapes. Meteora's tectonic formations date back 30 million years. Mount Athos, surrounded by forests and steep cliffs, is only accessible to men with a special pass and includes 20 Orthodox monasteries.

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