An Odyssey across Ancient Greece

Take a journey across the Aegean Sea in search of the city-states of myth and legend

By Google Arts & Culture


Our journey starts here, at the centre of the world - if you're an ancient Greek, at least. Delphi was the most important sanctuary of the gods, and the oracle here was the most sought-after in all of Greece. Prophesies made here have changed the course of history.

Stadium of Delphi

Further up into the mountains is the Stadium of Delphi, the best-preserved in all of Greece. The games and music played here weren't just for entertainment - they were dedicated to the gods themselves, and formed an important ritual practice.


As Thucydides, the ancient Athenian historian wrote, "Suppose the city of Sparta to be deserted, and nothing left but the temples and the ground-plan, distant ages would be very unwilling to believe that the power of the Lacedaemonians was at all equal to their fame."


Today, Sparta is synonymous with rugged, uncultured asceticism and military prowess. They may not have built city walls, or many grand temples, but the landscape and what remains of their city is still impressive and beautiful.


The ancient Greek world stretched far beyond the borders of the modern nation. On the west coast of Sicily was the city of Syracuse. Unlike the allied but war-like Sparta, this was a city of high culture, brimming with philosophers, mathematicians, and poets.

The Temple of Apollo, Syracuse

Ancient Syracuse was the home of the engineer and mathematician Archimedes, who, infamously, was taking a bath when he discovered how water could be used to measure density and purity of gold, and ran through the streets shouting Eureka! (I found it!).


Up here, on the fortified hill of the Acrocorinthis, we have a view across the entire city of Corinth. In the ancient world, its name was a byword for luxury and extravagance. The Corinthian order of architecture, the most highly decorated of the orders, was developed here.

Temple of Apollo, Corinth

The ancient city is all but lost. It was first destroyed by the Romans in 146 BCE, before being rebuilt by Julius Caesar a hundred years later. But once again, in 1858, it was destroyed - this time by an earthquake. The modern city lies 3km from the ruins of the ancient one.


There have been people living here continuously for the past 7000 years. It was a major city even before the classical era. Sights include the Ancient Theatre of Argos, the Agora, and the Heraion - an enormous temple complex dedicated to Hera, wife of Zeus.

Heraion of Argos

However Argos' reputation soon suffered. In 494 BCE it was crushed by Sparta. In 480 BCE it refused to join in the defence of Greece from the Persian Empire, leading to a period of diplomatic isolation, and in 418 BCE it led a failed war against Sparta and Athens.

The Acropolis, Athens

Athens was one city amongst many, but for many today, the temples and shrines of the Acropolis are the definition of classical architecture. Much of what remains today, such as the Erechtheion with its sculpted caryatid columns, was built by the politician Pericles.

The Parthenon, Athens

His rule saw the city's 'Golden Age' between 460-430 BCE. His crowning achievement was the Parthenon, a temple to Athena, the patron goddess of the city, and admired and copied across the world for its sculptures and proportions.

Zeuxis Choosing his Models for the Image of Helen from among the Girls of Croton (c. 1791) by François-André VincentCantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Want to know more about the modern world's links to Ancient Greece? Discover how classical antiquity influenced contemporary social trends

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps