6 Of The Most Important Ancient Greek Cities
There are ancient remnants in every corner of Greece.
The name might give you a clue as to why this famous city in ancient Greece was so important. Olympia of course was home to the very first Olympic Games! The earliest recording of the ancient Olympic events was in 776 BC in Greece. These events were held in Olympia in the Peloponnese. In ancient times, people from all over the country came here to watch or take part in the Olympic Games, which were held to honour the Greek god Zeus.
Today archaeological treasures from more than 2,000 years ago can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Olympia in the north of Peloponnese. These artefacts and remnants will help you form an accurate picture of what Olympia used to be and, more importantly, what it means today for the people of Greece as one of their most important ancient Greek cities.
Thousands of years ago Delphi was once a place of pilgrimage. This was because one of the most important oracles in all of Greece resided here at the Sanctuary of Apollo. The oracle (or Pythia) was a revered female member of ancient Greek society as she had the ability to channel the Greek god Apollo. People from far and wide and from all different backgrounds would travel to Delphi to seek the advice of the oracle. Her presence made Delphi one of the most important ancient Greek cities.
Delphi was also the site of the Pythian games which were held every four years. Representatives from all over Greece competed in athletic and equestrian events for a laurel crown cut from the sacred tree of Apollo.
Nowadays the quaint mountain town of Delphi is frequented by travellers rather than pilgrims. The restaurants perched on cliffs that overlook the splendid olive groves below are just one of the many drawing points. A Greek holiday is not complete without a visit to this extraordinary piece of history!
Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities in ancient Greece. Here Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans, and pirates left their marks in stone and history throughout its now charming towns and villages. Make sure you visit the Temple of Apollo which built in c. 560 BC sits just below Acrocorinth, or the Acropolis of Corinth.
In modern-day Corinth, you are able to see the Corinth canal which connects the Ionian Sea and Saronic Gulf. Crossing the man-made Corinth canal, you will gain a bird’s eye view of this engineering marvel which has transformed the former Peloponnese peninsula into yet another amazing Greek ‘island’.
This is an ancient city in Greece that you will most likely be familiar with, no doubt from the modern-day depictions you’ve seen of the cities people. The Spartans! Sparta is located in the Peloponnese in Greece. In ancient times it was home to the Spartans who were famous in antiquity for being powerful and lethal warriors. It was their duty to defend Sparta at all costs. The Spartans came to the height of their power when they defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian wars in 404 BC.
You can explore the beautiful city that these warriors called home. The Spartans left a legacy that has spanned thousands of years and it is why Sparta has become one of the most important ancient cities in Greece. Here you can visit the Archaeological Museum, see the statue of Leonidas (the famous Spartan king) and just north of the city you can visit the ruins of ancient Sparta.
☞ Related: Explore Sparta For Yourself
The capital has been inhabited for over 5,000 years, was home to some of the most renowned Greek philosophers to ever live and was the birthplace of democracy, so it is no wonder it is one of the most important cities in ancient Greece. The importance of Athens lives on today which is what makes it one of the most exciting cities to visit in Greece as there is so much to do!
Walk in the steps of Socrates at the Agora, climb to the top of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and explore the famous 7 hills of Athens. One of which (Pnyx) was where Greek statesmen, such as Pericles, Aristides and Alcibiades would speak. Here, thousands of free citizens would gather to vote on important issues. Despite the Acropolis vastly overshadowing its importance, the Pnyx cannot be missed. In Athens, you are never far from history and it is what makes this place so special.
This ancient Greek city has ties to the Greek hero Hercules. Thebes was the hometown of the hero, who is famous for his 12 labours. Located in Central Greece, the modern-day city has a strong historical presence.
As well as making many appearances in Greek mythology, Thebes was also an important city in ancient Greece. Excavations have found the remains of a prominent Mycenaean settlement, much of which can be seen at the Archaeological Museum. Thebans were later known, in the Archaic period, to be fearsome rivals to the Athenians.