The many museums in Greece constitute a major reference point for the culture and identity of the country where visitors have a total view of the birth and the flourishing of the ancient Greek art, the main source of inspiration for the western world, the beautiful Byzantine architecture and the folklore tradition in the 18th century spanning 6,000 years of civilization in Greece. Museums in Greece are national or private. There are located in all cities but also in many villages. You will find bellow a guide and photos of the most interesting archaeological, byzantine anf folklore museums.
National and private museums
The museums in Greece host countless exhibits which span over thousands of years of human civilization, achievements and conquests. The 300 national and private museums keep a huge treasure of cultural wealth, from the Neolithic to modern times. The archaeological, Byzantine and Historical museums are those which highlight the aspects of ancient and modern Greece.
The most important archaeological museums are located close to the archaeological sites, discovering the traces of civilizations that once prospered in and around the area. The most important museums are the Archaeological museum of Athens, the Archaeological museum of Delphi, Museum of Ancient Olympia, Museum of Mycenae and the New Acropolis Museum. Equally important are the hidden treasures that are kept in the lesser known archaeological museums of Greece, like the ones in the Cycladic islands.
Many museums in the country are devoted to the Byzantine art owing a bewitching collection of exquisite marble architecture, mosaics and rare manuscripts. One of the best exhibits from that era can be traced in Athens Byzantine museum and Thessaloniki Byzantine museum.
The Folklore museums focus on the traditional works of art that local artists made through the ages. These include traditional uniforms, jewels, agricultural tools, furniture and great paintings. One of the museums of Greece that lead by example is the Folklore Museum of Nafplion as well as the Benaki Museum in the centre of Athens. Equally interesting folklore museums can be found in many Greek islands and villages around the country.
Archaeological sites and monuments
Greece has been home to one of the oldest civilizations in history and has been inhabited for thousands of years. Every civilization has left a mark on this land, whether visible to the eye today or not, archaeologists have a very special interest in Greece and all the treasures it holds within her. Many people are interested in the rich culture and history of Greece and they are looking for ways to explore the secrets hidden. Providing for precisely that category of people are various Greece archaeology holidays, which let visitors explore and discover the various archaeological sites that Greece is famous for. The ancient city of Athens hosts a large part of the archaeological sites one can visit in Greece. The highlights are the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, Aphaea temple and Apollo Temple, the Ancient Agora, the ancient cemetery, to name only a few. Another must visit in the surroundings of Athens is the Sanctuary of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, known as the place where King Aegeus committed suicide, after his son Theseus has killed Minotaur in Crete island.
The famous site of Delphi with the renowned oracle can by no means be excluded from an archaeology tour. There you can also visit the Sanctuary of Apollo and Pythia. The region of Peloponnese includes a lot of impressive and interesting sites, covering both Greek and Byzantine history. On the site of Epidaurus, maybe the most visited site in Greece, you will admire the 4th century Theater, a real archaeological marvel to explore. The 1,800 seat theatre, built in homage to Apollo, with excellent acoustics will leave you speechless. Ancient Mycenae can come next, the land of Agamemnon and the strongest city in ancient world. One of the most attractive archaeological sites on Peloponnese is the city of Ancient Olympia, where the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. The tours are handled by trained guides, who give you useful information throughout the tour. Nemea is the site of Hercules killing of the Nemea Lion, the first on his list of 12 tasks. The Nemea museum is the first on the list for you, followed by the Temple of Zeus, the spa baths, unique to this region and the only extant stadium, where the Propylaea and vaulted athletes entrance tunnel still stands. Finish your tour in Peloponnese with a visit to the ancient city of Corinth, with the museum and the Corinth tunnel. Northern Greece has also similar attractions, such as the Vergina site, where the tomb treasure of Philip, the famous Greek king and father of Alexander the Great was discovered. The Greek Islands are also reccommended for archaeology holidays in Greece as there are many archaeological places, with the most famous being Delos, located opposite to Mykonos Island, the sacred place where the gods Artemis and Apollo were born. This could take many pages, but the real experience you can get while on these places can not be that easily described. You have to discover their beauty and mystery by yourself… and be prepared for an amazing time travel you can hardly imagine.
Religion is an important aspect of Greek culture. Greece is a profoundly Christian Orthodox country with countless examples of holy sites such as churches and historic monasteries scattered in the Greek land and islands. The rest of the population consists of Muslim, Roman, Catholic and Jewish religions. The Orthodox Church forms the third largest branch of Christianity after the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Of unique interest is the architecture and the character of the churches in Greece, scattered on top of the hills, in isolated spots among green landscapes, at the center of large squares and amidst the picturesque quarters. The Orthodox churches are characterized by their particular domed architecture and the well-decorated interiors with beautiful frescoes and holy icons. Their passionate character charms everyone and varies depending on the construction period and the region of Greece.
Churches in Cyclades islands, for example, are whitewashed with blue painted domes whereas in other regions, the churches are painted with earthy colors. Churches in the Ionian islands are strongly influenced by the Venetian and Renaissance period while on the mainland churches date back from the Byzantine times. You will find bellow a guide to the the most important monasteries and churches in Greece and links to churches in many locations in Greece. Read also: After reading about the churches, get also informed about the religion in Greece.
Important churches and monasteries
Monasteries of Meteora
Meteora is the second largest monastic state, after Mount Athos located in Thessaly area, close to kalambaka. It is a living monument part of the world culture and consists of 24 monasteries perched on the huge smooth grey rocks. Today, only 6 of them are active inhabited by either monks or nuns. Most of the monasteries were built by hermits between 14th and 15th century. Given the secluded location, it is worth mentioning that the survival of these monks was based on the use of the fertile valleys where corn, grapes and potatoes were cultivated. Meteora is a unique place with devine atmopshere and bewitching view from the top of the rocks.
Monastery of Saint John in Patmos
The Monastery of Saint John is one of the most important religious sites in Greece located in the holy island of Patmos. It is built next to the cave where Saint John wrote the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation). It lies at the centre of the island, on the hill above Chora. Its strong walls make it look like a fortress and inside are many chapels. It was built in 1088 by Saint Christodoulos. It can be accessed by the stone paths.
Church of Megalochari in Tinos
The Church of Megalochari in Tinos island is one of the most important pilgrimages in Greece. On this holy site, the icon of the Virgin Mary was found, after a vision of the nun Pelagia. Tradition has it that the icon is miraculous and visitors arrive by thousands to pray and ask for help (usually for health issues). The church is located on a hill above Chora and pilgrims go on their knees from the port to the church entrance. Inside the monastery complex lies a great chapel and a lovely fountain with holy water.
Monastery of Hozoviotissa in Amorgos
The Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa is one of the most important byzantine monuments in the Aegean standing on the slopes of Amorgos island, above the sea. The monastery was founded in 1088 in this symbolic site by Alexios Komninos who found the miraculous icon of the Virgin on this exact place. Thousands of pilgrims visit the byzantine monument for prayer and relaxation as the view is breathtaking.
Church of Ekatontapiliani in Paros
The Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, one of the most important monuments from the paleo -christian times is located in Paros island, in the village of Parikia. The church complex dates from the 6th century and consists of two churches dedicated to the Virgin and Agios Nikolaos. Many consider the church as miraculous and thousands of pilgrims visit every year on the 15th of August, the day of its celebration.
Mount Athos or holy Mountain is the most important monastic state complex in Greece located in the eastern penisula of Halkidiki. It consists of 20 Orthodox monasteries. It counts on 1,400 monks who live in ascetic ways, even in caves, as hermits. Women are not allowed to enter Mount Athos and men need special permission. Every monastery is a rich storehouse of medieval history with many paintings, manuscripts from the Byzantine era.