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Jun 30 2017

Historical Sites to Visit near Athens

Category: Destinations | General | Sightseeing | Historykmaxwell @ 09:12

There is much to explore in Athens—from museums to ancient architecture to the vibrant nightlife. But many of the region's most fascinating archaeological sites lie outside the city. If you're ready to dig deeper into Greek history, head to these remarkable spots. ("Yamas" [cheers] to adventure!)

Mycenae

Located southwest of Athens, in the northeastern Peloponnese (a peninsula in southern Greece), this archeological site was one of the major centers of Greek civilization during the late Bronze Age Era. In fact, the period of Greek history from about 1600-1100 BC is called "Mycenaean" in reference to this important citadel.

According to Greek myth, Mycenae was founded by the legendary hero Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae. It was also the home of Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Greeks at Troy. Be sure to check out the Lion Gate, which served as the main entrance to the citadel and is the only surviving monumental piece of Mycenaean sculpture.

The Lion Gate at Mycenae; via Wikimedia Commons

Delphi

Considered by the Greeks to be the "navel of the world," this impressive archaeological site lies between two towering rocks of Mt. Parnassus, located in upper central Greece, and is easily accessible from Athens as a day trip. Inhabited since Mycenaean times, Delphi was home to the sanctuary of Apollo—god of light, knowledge and harmony—as well as the Panhellenic Pythian Games and the famous oracle, known for foretelling the future during the eighth century BC.

If it's a hot day, be sure to bring water, as much of the walk is uphill.

Ancient ruins of Delphi

Temple of Poseidon

This archaeological site, located in Sounion, at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, dates back to as early as 700 BC. Though the original Archaic-period temple of Poseidon (god of the sea) was likely destroyed by Persian troops in 480 BC, the temple was rebuilt in the middle of the fifth century BC, and its columns still stand today.

Look for the spot where English Romantic poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) engraved his name.

If you don't have enough time to do a full-day trip, visit the temple in the early evening. The ruins, which are surrounded by the Aegean Sea on three sides, are a stunning site at sunset.

Temple of Poseidon in Sounion; photo via Wikimedia Commons

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