Undeniably having one of the largest influences in architecture today, especially in Renaissance and Neoclassical movements, Greece is home to one of the most diverse cities. Famous for its numerous temples and greek columns, several towns were designed with influences from the Ottoman Empire to Italian, Venetian, and Byzantine Architecture. The country also holds several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, preserving many cities, both abandoned and still existing, and its rich history and cultural values.
1. Parthenon, Acropolis
One of the most recognized monuments today and known as a symbol of Ancient Greece, the Parthenon sits atop the Acropolis in Athens. It was built in 447BCE and symbolized power, wealth, and the center of religious life in the city. It was built in the classical architectural style and was the largest temple built in Greece.
2. Acropolis Museum
Just 300 meters away below the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum sits atop the ruins of an archeological site within the museum. The building is home to the city’s vast array of artifacts, exhibition spaces, a 200-seat auditorium, and facilities dedicated to showcasing Athen’s history.
Widely known for its distinctive whitewashed homes, blue-domed churches, and paved paths, Santorini utilizes locally found materials to construct its buildings such as volcanic dust, red rock, and pumice stone. The homes are often built as multi-level buildings with varying shapes and sizes. Santorini is also home to many churches and smaller chapels, which feature arches and bell towers. The white and blue colors mirror Greece’s symbol and its flag; this was commonly seen in other Cycladic architecture.
Referred to as the sanctuary of Greece, it is home to numerous archaeological sites such as the Tholos, the Temple of Apollo, and is home to the Pythian Games, the second most important game after the Olympics. Delphi is located between two towering rocks of Mount Parnassus, also known as the Phaidriades (Shining) Rocks. The site was dedicated to the Greek God Apollo in the 8th century B.C. and is also home to the Oracle of Delphi and the priestess Pythia.
5. Meteora Monasteries
This UNESCO World Heritage site can be found in the Plain of Thessaly, sitting atop a group of vertical rocks up to 300 meters high, often referred to as “columns of the sky.” The monasteries are a unique blend of Byzantine architecture and its surrounding nature, with the structures looking as if it were a continuation of the rocks themselves.
6. Rhodes Town
Known for its various styles due to the influence of many cultures throughout the years, Rhodes Town is a mix of Byzantine, Turkish, and Italian architecture spread throughout the city. The Medieval City, built during the Byzantium period, is home to the different structures such as the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Street of Knights, where if looking closely, you will also find the Coasts of Arms engraved. The Old Town is where the different mosques, built during the Ottoman Empire can be found, along with a Muslim Library. However, the most dominant form seen in the town are the various Italian structures, many of which are in use today due to the restoration programs done during their stay.
Located on the Saronic Gulf, Nafplio was once known as the original capital of the modern State of Greece. The area is home to Venetian architecture, along with influence from the Turkish Architecture. The town is filled with numerous archaeological sites, and castles make it an excellent location to learn about Greek culture.
8. Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, Athens
Built by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is located 4km south of central Athens. The site, spanning 170,000 sqm., is where the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera resides. The building consists of two structures, separated by an open-air agora, built atop a 100ft—human-made hill allowing magnificent views of the city. The cultural center also boasts of its many public spaces, including the landscaped park filled with indigenous Mediterranian plants, providing Athens with green-space, which the city was scarce in.
Corfu, unlike most towns, was not occupied by the Ottomans, giving it a very different and distinct look. Its strong resemblance to Italian cities stems from the influence of Venetians who resided there for four centuries.
The Napoleonic-French style is also seen on the western side of the town, Listón, where numerous cafes sit underneath the arches and near the public squares.
Known as the best-preserved castle in Greece, it is a mix of influences from both Greek and Western architecture. The city’s abundance in fortifications, palaces, churches, homes, streets, and public square reflects its reputation as once the Byzantine center of power and culture. Sitting atop a hill with two fortified precincts at the lower level, Mystras also presents itself as a city with a large and complex urban structure.