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The 18 UNESCO Heritage Monuments of Greece

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
The monastery of Agiou Nikolaou. Credit: Bgabel/CC BY-SA 3.0

Greece has 18 World Heritage Monuments in its territory according to UNESCO the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance. The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”.

If you are ever fortunate enough to go to the country, you really must take some time to explore these UNESCO historical sites.

World Heritage Monuments in Greece

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
Parthenon. Credit: Gary Bembridge/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.0

The Acropolis: The Parthenon and the other buildings on the Athenian hill known also as “the sacred rock” are masterpieces of classical architecture and monuments to human history. Completed in the 5th Century BC, they are still influential in blending harmonic architecture with their natural surroundings.

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
The ancient city of Aigai. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

Aigai (modern-day Vergina): The first capital of the Kingdom of Macedon, home of Alexander the Great, and burial ground of his father, Philip II of Macedon. Many mosaics mosaics and stuccoes decorate the tomb; the ruins there are fairly well-preserved.

Delphi oracle
Delphi, Temple of Apollo. Credit: Berthold Werner / Wikimedia Commons

Delphi: The sanctuary of Delphi, home of the oracle of Apollo, sits on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. It was the spiritual center of the entire Greek world, home to the Oracle of Delphi. The monuments there are still as stunningly beautiful as ever against the backdrop of the soaring mountains. A first-class museum is also on the site. Located next to Arachova, the mountain village that becomes a winter wonderland every year for skiers.

Mystras Greece Destination
View of the Mystras Castle from the top of the mountain. Credit: George E. Koronaios/CC BY-SA 4.0

Mystras: The well-preserved medieval city of Mystras played a central role in the final years of the Byzantine Empire.

Olympia Greece
Cercis blooms in Olympia, Greece. Credit: Kristoffer/CC BY 2.0

Olympia: The location of the ancient Olympic Games in the Peloponnese beginning in 776 BC. In addition to numerous temples and sanctuaries, it contains the remains of its famous stadium.

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
Lion’s Gate, Mycenae. The Mycenaean Civilization was destroyed during the Bronze Age Collapse. Credit: Andreas Trepte/CC-BY-SA-2.5

Mycenae and Tiryns: The most important cities of Mycenean Greece, flourishing  between the 15th and 12th centuries BC. The Lion’s Gate and Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae have been listed as “outstanding examples of human creative genius.”

Ancient Greek theater on Delos Greece
Ancient Greek theater on the island of Delos, off Mykonos. Credit: Bernard Gagnon/ Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Delos: The sacred island that was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, according to mythology. In addition to being a pan-Hellenic sanctuary, it was also a prosperous trading port at one time.

Monastery of Saint John 0n the Greek island of Patmos. Credi: Wikipedia/Valeria Casali/CC BY-SA 4.0

Monastery of Saint John: The island of Patmos, where the Apostle John was exiled, is believed to be the place where he wrote his Gospel and the Apocalypse. The monastery was founded in the 10th century and has served as a place of pilgrimage for many Christians over the centuries.

Rhodes Castle Palace of Grand Master. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY 3.0

Medieval City of Rhodes: Built by The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, it is one of the most impressive urban complexes of the Gothic period.

Nea Moni Greece
The site of Nea Moni. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni on Chios: The three monasteries in three different locations share the same aesthetics. Lavishly decorated in the 11th and 12th centuries, they are all exquisite examples of the “second golden age of Byzantine art.”

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
The Old Town of Corfu. Source: Wikipedia/Martin Falbisoner/CC BY-SA 4.0

Old Town of Corfu: Strategically positioned at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian island had three forts, designed by renowned Venetian engineers, to protect the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice, which ruled the island for centuries. The Italian flavor of the island, especially in its architecture, makes it quite different from most other Greek islands.

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
Saint Pantaleon Church in Thessaloniki. Credit: Wikipedia/George Groutas/CC-BY-2.0

Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki: Fine churches built from the 4th to the 15th century dot this incredibly historic city. St. Paul visited Thessaloniki and it was a major center of Christianity throughout the Byzantine era.

Heraion of Samos, Greece
Heraion of Samos. Credit: Wikipedia/Tomisti/CC-BY-SA-4.0

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos: Pythagoreion was an ancient fortified port, marked by several civilizations that inhabited the Aegean island since the 3rd millennium BC. The Heraion was the temple of the Samian Hera.

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus. Credit: /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus: The shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, was built during the 6th century BC. The temple of Asklepios, the Tholos and the Theatre – considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture – dates back to the 4th century.

UNESCO Heritage Monuments Greece
Temple of Epikourios Apollon. Credit: egonwe/CC BY 2.0

Epicurius at Bassae: The temple to the god of healing and the sun was built towards the middle of the 5th century BC. It stands in the heights of the mountains of Arcadia.

Meteora, Greece
The monasteries of Meteora, in the region of Thessaly. Credit: guillenperez/CC BY-ND 2.0

Meteora: The inaccessible sandstone peaks, like columns into the sky, host monasteries that were constructed during the 11th century. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties, at the time of the great revival of the eremetic ideal in the 15th century.

Mount Athos
The Holy Mount Athos, Greece. Credit: WPFDC/CC BY 2.0

Mount Athos: An Orthodox spiritual center since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous state since Byzantine times. There are about 20 monasteries now inhabited by some 1,400 monks. The Holy Mountain, which is forbidden to women, is also a well-known artistic center; monks there produce some of the finest art in the Orthodox world.

The archaeological site of Philippi
The archaeological site of Philippi. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY 3.0

Philippi: The walled city in the present-day region of Eastern Macedonia was founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. Later, the city became a center of the Christian faith – following the visit of the Apostle Paul – as the remains of its basilicas testify.

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