If you’re a history buff, an archaeology enthusiast, or you simply want to learn something new, this one’s for you! Greece boasts numerous archaeological treasures, such as the Acropolis, Delphi, and Olympia. While some attractions get world-wide attention, many are overshadowed. Why not make your Greek holiday just a bit different and more meaningful? Here is our pick of ancient sites that you probably haven’t heard of in well-known Greek destinations:
1. Akrotiri, Santorini
Amidst the multi-coloured cliffs of Santorini, south of Oia and Fira, lies the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri. Home to the ancient Minoans, the impressive site stems from the Bronze Age. It was a prominent port town in the Aegean until it was covered by volcanic ash, after an eruption by Thera in the 17th century BC. It is hence referred to as the Greek Pompeii. Although ruined, the site boasts archaeological wonders from a once sophisticated, prosperous settlement that had multi-storey buildings, and even a developed sewage system. Remnants include everyday items such as Minoan toilets, stone bathtubs, pottery, and painted frescos. You can explore the marvel of Akrotiri today via walkways that are suspended above the ruins. If it gets too hot, Red Beach is only a short walk away!
2. Skarkos, Ios
If you’re in need of a break from partying, Skarkos deserves a visit. Like Akrotiri, Skarkos was a flourishing Bronze Age settlement; urban and complex, but 1000 years older! Found north of Ios port, it was built in a circular shape on an imposing hilltop. Only recently discovered in the 1980s, ceramic objects, tools, and figurines were excavated. Yet most impressive, is that you can still see housing structures such as doorways, ground floors, and stairways today! Hike to the top of this unique settlement and witness fantastic views of the coastal plain!
3. Tower of The Winds, Athens
This beautiful structure literally stands in the shadow of the Acropolis, untouched and continuously functional! Built around the 50th century BC from Pentelic marble, the ancient tower was constructed to indicate and forecast the weather with sundials, wind vane, and water clock. It was also used to estimate time. Each wall of the octagonal tower is adorned in carvings personifying the eight winds. The well-preserved building fascinated many, inspiring numerous structures around the world.
4. Theatre of Dionysus, Athens
Even though it may be the first theatre ever constructed, these ruins are often disregarded. Situated along the slopes of the famous Acropolis, it was only rediscovered during the 1700s. With tiered seating centred around a rectangular stage, the theatre could hold an audience of about 17,000 people. Here, Greeks enjoyed theatrical performances, festivals, and religious practices dedicated to the god of wine and ecstasy, Dionysus. It is also recognised as the birthplace of Greek tragedy.
5. Little Metropolis Church, Athens
This small, charming church nestled in the heart of Athens goes largely unnoticed as it is overshadowed by grander surrounding spectacles. Also known as the Church of St. Eleutherios or Panagia Gorgoepikoos, the church is a unique Byzantine structure. It is almost entirely erected from “spoila”, which is previously used building material. Its beautiful stonework has thus created a confusion of when exactly the church was built. Yet, it persists as a sacred marvel considering it has remained completely intact since it was first constructed.