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Greece

Greece

Greece Locator Map

Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, both East and West. With spectacular landscapes, delicious Greek cuisine and archaeological masterpieces, very few places can equal the passion and rich cultural past of Greece. Of special note are the 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are located in Greece, ranking it 7th in Europe and 13th in the world. Greece has a population just shy of 11 million of which 3.2 million live in Athens, the country’s largest city and capital of the country. Officially named the Hellenic Republic and known since ancient times as Hellas, Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.  Greece has approximately 1,400 islands of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft). The Modern Greek state, which encompasses much of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830, following the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey

Border countries (4): North (Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia) and East (Turkey)

Area: 131,957 sq km (50,948 sq mi)

Comparative: Slightly smaller than Alabama

Population: 10,773,253 Million (ranked 85th in the world)

Currency: Euro (€EUR) is the only legal tender in Greece. It is divided into 100 cents (sometimes referred to as euro cents). Note denominations are €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Each bank note has its own color. Coins are issued as €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c denominations.

Electrical Adapters: Greek plugs have a voltage of 230V and a frequency of 50 Hertz. The plugs have 2 round-prongs.

Religions: Greek Orthodox (official) 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%

Languages: Greek (official) 99%, other (includes English and French) 1%

UNESCO World Heritage Sites (18): Acropolis, Athens (1987), Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina) (1996), Archaeological Site of Delphi (1987), Archaeological Site of Mystras (1989), Archaeological Site of Olympia (1989), Archaeological Site of Philippi (2016), Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns (1999), Delos (1990), Medieval City of Rhodes (1988), Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios (1990), Old Town of Corfu (2007), Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika (1988), Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos (1992), Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus (1988), Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae (1986), The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos (1999), Meteora (1988) and Mount Athos (1988)

Popular Destinations in Greece

Athens

AthensAthensAthens is the capital and largest city of Greece with a population of 3 million. The city took its name from the ancient goddess Athena and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years. Athens is widely referred to as the 'cradle of western civilization' and the 'birthplace of democracy', largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state and a centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is the commercial, cultural, financial, political and industrial center of Greece. Three of Athens most iconic sites include: the Panathenaic Stadium where the 1st Olympic games of the modern era were held in 1896, the Ancient Agora of Athens (meaning "gathering place" or "assembly") and Greece's crown jewel, the Acropolis. It's home to the architectural masterpieces of the Golden Age of Athens: the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechteion and the iconic “Parthenon”, the temple on the Acropolis dedicated to the maiden goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron deity.

 

Delphi

Delphi Delphi is both an archaeological site and town, located 170 kilometers northeast of Athens on the enchanting southwestern slopes of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis. Established only in 1892, when the village of Kastrí, which had grown up on the site of the Temple of Apollo was moved to a new position 1km west to allow excavation of the ancient site to proceed.  Legend says that Zeus released two eagles, each going the opposite direction; meeting at the spot where ancient Delphi is located. Delphi is perhaps best known for the Delphic oracle at the sanctuary that was dedicated to the god Apollo. Delphi became a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew Python, a dragon who lived there and protected the navel "center" of the earth. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC and was one of the best-documented religious institutions of the classical Greeks. Authors who mention the oracle include Aristotle and Plato. Delphi was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

 

Meteora

MeteoraMeteora is one of the most dramatic landscapes and 2nd largest and most popular 'complex of monasteries' in the entire country. The Greek name given to this region means "suspended in the air" which perfectly describes its main feature, as the monasteries are placed on top of huge great rock pinnacles, which rise over 400 metres above the Peneas valley and the small towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki below. The monasteries look as if they were suspended in the air, which has been purposely made during the 14th century, in order to protect the hermit monks during the Ottoman occupation. Hermits and ascetics have traditionally clambered up the peaks of Meteora since the 10th century and by the 15th century, there were 26 monasteries functioning — 6 of which are still functional today. Byzantine relics and great 16th-century frescoes adorn the monasteries and showcase a key stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting. The monasteries not only represent a unique artistic achievement, but also one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation and prayer. The monasteries in Meteora were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

 

Mykonos & Delos

Mykonos & DelosMykonos & DelosMykonos is an island paradise with its white and blue Cycladic architecture, famous windmills and sandy beaches. Overlooking a  crescent harbor filled with fishing boats and lined with traditional tavernas and gelato shops, Mykonos Town is one of the most picturesque capital towns in the Cyclades. Considered by many to be a shoppers paradise, the labyrinth of narrow cobble-stoned streets lined with whitewashed shops and art galleries will with no doubt make you addicted to shopping. Also a must for every foodie is a visit to “Little Venice”— which was built right on the sea’s edge overlooking the islands iconic windmills. For those who enjoy sun and sand, you'll have plenty of stunning golden sandy beaches and transparent waters to choose from all over the island. There is a beach for every taste and are easily reachable by local bus, taxi or even small boat. Aside from exploring the island of Mykonos, anyone interested in ancient history should definitely visit the unique archaeological site of Delos, antiquity’s most sacred island and one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. According to mythology, this was the place where god Apollo was born, which is why the entire island was devoted to his cult. The small rocky islet of Delos is part of the Cyclades and is located just a few miles southwest of Mykonos. There are boat tours that run from Mykonos Town's  old port to Delos daily. The island of Delos was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

 

Santorini

SantoriniSantorini is an island that is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion 3000 years ago feeding the myth of the lost Atlantis. The present-day crescent shape of the island is about 40 kms wide throwing cliffs up 300 meters high. Several villages line this caldera rim, the most popular being the charming village of Oia, where hundreds gather to be spellbound by the spectacular sunsets. The majority of tourists that visit Santorini arrive by cruise ship and only stay for the day. A huge advantage of staying multiply nights is, after the crowds go away the island is all yours! Aside from the island's capital Fira and it’s many shops, museums and restaurants, there are many options for further sightseeing on the island. You can enjoy a lovely wine tour, visit the Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri (circa 4000 BCE) which was buried by the worlds 3rd biggest volcano eruption resulting in modern day Santorini, or choose from one of the many cruise companies offering half/full day cruises to the islands active volcano, swimming in its mineral hot springs and exploring the nearby island of Thirasia. For the self-proclaimed “foodie”, you must visit Ammoudi Bay located at the end of the village of Oia. It is one of the most well hidden gems on the island and a great place to relax and enjoy a relaxing lunch right on the waters edge!

 

Thessaloniki

ThessalonikiThessaloniki is the 2nd largest city of Greece with a population of around 1 million and the capital of Greek Macedonia. Founded in 315 BC, Thessaloniki was considered the second-most important city of the Byzantine Empire and a major role for Christianity during the Middle Ages from the 5th to the 15th century. Thessaloniki is home to the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 that includes the churches of Hagia Sofia, Saint Demetrios, the Rotunda of Saint George, Arch of Galerius, the Byzantine Bath and the Walls of Thessaloniki. The city has a great laid back seaside vibe and is fast becoming the destination of choice for those travelers looking to explore more of Greece beyond its mighty capital of Athens. Thessaloniki may be the country's 'second city' but it's thriving gastronomic scene has made it the gourmet capital of Greece. It has for centuries been a melting pot of cultures – with eastern spices playing a pivotal role in Thessaloniki's cuisine. Not to be left out, Frappé coffee was invented at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair in 1957 and has become a trademark of the Greek coffee culture.

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 Sources: CIA 2017, UNESCO 2017