Archaeology in Peloponnese


Ancient Corinth also boasts archaeological ruins – mostly Roman and some Greek – at the foot of the huge rock, Acrocorinth. Walls, mosaics, reliefs and works of different civilizations are all present.
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Near the ancient city of Trifilia, founded south of Olympia on the valley of Alfios river, lies the acropolis of Ancient Samia or Samiko in what is known today as Kato Samiko.
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Alifeira is situated on the top of a steep hill over the modern village of Alifeira. This hill is also known as the Nerovitsa Castle. It was occupied by Philip in 229 BC and then became a member of the Achaic commonwealth.
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Known also as Helike, this ancient city near Aegio and the Selinus river lies today in the Municipality of Diakopto, where the idyllic village of Eliki is today. The old settlement was apparently destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami, with much ruins having sunk into the sea.
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Once a very powerful city, Figaleia was surrounded by a thick wall and with circular and rectangular towers which are still in evidence today and in relatively good condition.
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Ilida was the capital of the prefecture Ilia and organized the Olympic Games. There are some excavations and buildings from Greek and Roman times.
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Loutra Iraeas near the Ladonas bridge has sulphur springs which may have been popular in antiquity. Very good mosaics are present in what used to an ancient bathhouse, in an area known also as Liadora.
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Built in a strategic position, Ancient Lepreo was a powerful city that strategically controlled all passages to Ilia, Messinia and Arcadia. This city would have frequent conflicts with the Ilians who were their main rivals.
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It was the Austrian Archaeological Institute and its work around this site that have revealed the remains of an important Arcadian city, lying in the Municipality of Kalavrita in the village of Soudena or Lousoi. Notable among the finds is the Temple of Artemis, dating back from the third century BC.
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The best-known and most extensive archaeological site in Messinia is the eponymous Messene. Founded by the Theban general in 369 BC, the ancient city of Messene offers a venerable archaeological treasure for visitors.
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The ruins of the ancient town (Tipanai or Aipi), occupied the hill of mount Lapitha on the southern part of the village Platiana, near Olympia. It is situated inland, some 17km from the Kiparissian bay.
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The city of Trifilia is 3.5 km south of Olympia, where excavations revealed a settlement from the mid-Hellenistic period. The Ilians destroyed the twon in 572 BC and the Spartans dominated it around 400 BC before surrendering it to Xenophon.
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In the site of Mycenae itself, the museum unveils the life of the Mycenaeans and their burial customs.
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Near the picturesque seaside village of Asini lies the archaeological site by the same name. It features many Mycenaean tombs (the Barbouna necropolis) among others.
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Across from the Panagia Katakekrymmeni, lies a round, wide hill that is about 80 metres high, reaching the Charadros River. Once upon a time this hill featured an acropolis with towers.
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Another almost equally important ancient site in Greece is Bassae, where the Temple of Apollo Epicurus (Epikourios) lies.
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Here are some good examples of roman baths with subterranean waterworks and a ceramic furnace. There's also a large public building (use unkown) as well as foundations of homes dating from the Hellenistic and Roman years.
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In 1905, archaeologists found artefacts here from the Neolithic period. Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in 1997 found clay seals and coins from the Early Helladic era. There is also evidence of a Mycenaean city about 1800 BC until when the Dorians arrived.
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Found in an area called Klidi, the tomb was unearthed in 1954 and it contained 16 graves, with many important artefacts that were moved to the museum in Olympia.
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The area of Kakovatos is an important Mycenaean site where chamber tombs and fortified settlements were excavated, northeast of today’s village of Kakovatos.
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Not to be confused with the city by the same name, and lying at an elevation of almost 290 metres, Larissa represents the Acropolis of Argos.
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This is the most significant city of the mountainous region in Ilia which borders with Arcadia and Achaia. It was located in the Kapelis plateau surrounded by particular plants called foloi.
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Mazi is located close to the current village Skilloundia, some 6 km from Krestena. Excavations revealed a graveyard in which 13 tombstones from the classical period were discovered.
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Having gathered settlers from all over Arkadia, Megalopolis offered temples to many gods such as Zeus, Asclepius, the Mother of the Gods and more. Its ruins include the Stoa of Philippos, Sanctuary of Zeus Soter, Stoa of Myropolis and a Bouleterion.
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Long before the ancient Greek philosophers and the battles of Athens and Sparta ever took place, more than a thousand years before these events, there was another powerful and intriguing civilization of Greece belonging to the Mycenaeans.
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Near the town of Chalandritsa and Agios Georgios, while excavating to build a health centre in 1985, remains from a Mycenaean settlement emerged. Interesting is how the buildings were placed in concentric rings, with the streets emanating from the centre. There are more ruins, tombs and a megaron atop a nearby hill.
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In a mountainous and inaccessible northeast side of Ilia between Panopoulo and Agia Triada lies an elongated graveyard with dozens of Mycenaean tombs.
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The region of Nemea, known more for its wine, also contains some ruins, a small sample of what remains of Ancient Nemea.
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In reality, there are two castles on Navarino Bay near Pylos, the older being Paliokastro (literally old castle) built by the Franks and the more recent being Niokastro (literally new castle) built by the Ottomans.
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Only 10 kilometres from Pyrgos, Olympia stands as one of the most important sites of Greece, where the first Olympics came into being and thereafter became a legend in this part of the world.
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Prehistoric Orchomenos was founded at the foot of the Acropolis and later during historic times moved up to the mountain where its most important monuments (Agora, Theatre, etc) are also situated.
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Located in the Eglianos region some four kilometres south of Chora, the palace of Nestoras dates as far back as the 13th century BC with five principle buildings, compared in grandeur to Tiryns and Mycenae.
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One of the most important Pan-Hellenic shrines in the country is the sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia (7th century BC) not far from the village of Kiravrisi where the Pan-Hellenic games took place every other year.
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Not far from the coastal town of Kiato are the Hellenistic ruins of Sicyon or Sikiona. The ruins of the agora and a temple remain today, as well as the bouleuterion, stadium and theatre.
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Also known as the temple of Asclepius, this site was a religious and curative centre (as revealed in the poems of Pindaros), an anceint holistic and spiritual centre.
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Built on mount Kotilio at 1130 meters, the temple of Epicurius Apollo lies around 14 kilometres south of Andritsaina and was built between 420 to 400 BC where another temple from archaic times once stood.
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Located in a mountainous region east of Anditsaina the village of Theisoa was called in ancient times Lavda. Ruins of houses are found in the area, with parts of temples along with some inscriptions.
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Visitors will marvel at the huge boulders that may remind British and Irish visitors of the Gaelic dolmens. Myth has it that the boulders were created by the Cyclops (Kiklopi in Greek).
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There are only a few remains of the Acropolis of Sparta, with evidence of a Roman agora, a theatre, a cyclical building and a theatre. The Church of Christ from the 1st century AD is also there.
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This site flourished as far back as the prehistoric era and well into the Roman period. Spartan festivals were held there. The sanctuary was excavated in 1890, while barts of the Throne of Bathykles were retrieved from there as well.
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Ancient travel writer Pausanias wrote about a temple dedicated to Artemis and one dedicated to Apollon, as well as statues of Agamemnon, Ifigeneia, Athena, Asclepius of Serapis and Isis.
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At the beginning of the plain of Asea in today's Sapolivado (Sapiko in Byzantine times) there are remains of the area's old acropolis.
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This may be the site of Ancient Brasiae or Brasias with remains of a very ancient acropolis lying on the hill above Agios Andreas, with ruins from Palasgian times. Graves from different periods are also present.
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Near the village of Piana where the waters of the Elisson or Davia River run, there are remains of the ancient city of Dipaea. There's also a medieval castle.
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Mystery had shrouded the true position of Dymi (also Dyme or Dimi) for some time, which in ancient literature was always paired with Olenos, both reputedly established some 4000 years ago. The Byzantines also had conflicting information about it.
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Thanks to the efforts of the English Archaeological School, the move to unearth monuments from the Hellenistic era as well as a cemetery belonging to this ancient city have shed light on the site of Keryneia.
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In Ano Kleitoria near the town of Lefkasi there are remains of the city of Azania. There is little remaining of the ancient walls surrounding the city, but relatively recently parts of the ancient theatre and more fortifications have emerged.
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Once a thriving city with over 60,000 people and one of the first to be established, all that is left of Klitoras now are parts of walls, a theatre and a few buildings from Hellenistic and Roman times.
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Overlooking the plain of Megalopolis, Lykosoura is a very ancient holy city with remains from temples dedicated to Despoina, Demeter and the Great Mother, one dating from the 4th century BC.
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Just 10 km from Tripoli in the plain of Milia lie the remains of Ancient Mantineia (or Mantinea) and its acropolis. There are traces of temples, a theatre, an agora and other buildings. A strange doorless sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon also existed here.
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There are some ruins of Methydrion Here, including a temple dedicated to Poseidon Hypios. Not far off, the village of Valtetsiniko is said to be where Ancient Lousoi once stood.
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On a small hill near the village of Nestani or Tsipiana there are remains of the Acropolis of Nostia (also Nostea or Nestani). The settlement was part of Ancient Mantineia in the 5th century BC. There are Pelasgian walls and parts of a wall tower, the only evidence of many towers that were part of the wall.
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The Odeion of Patras was constructed just before that of Herod Atticus in Athens, in 161 AD. Twelve rows of seats render this theatre impressive, along with the wall of its stage, stairways, parapet and more. It was unearthed only in 1889 and redressed in marble to host many concerts and shows in summer.
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Near Dimitsana there are remains of cyclopean walls, an acropolis, and buildings from the classical era, which could be from the ancient city of Teuthis. The town reached its zenith in the Middle Ages, mentioned in Patriarchal documents in 963.
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The municipality of Argos also features a theatre built by Polycleitus sometime towards the end of the 5th century BC. It held possibly up to 20,000 people in 83 rows, and is considered the biggest of ancient Greece.
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Another member of the Achaian Cities, Tritea reached its zenith in the 3rd century BC, although little evidence remains. Around Vassilikos there are parts of an ancient building known as Palioklissi, while on Palataki hill there's an underground building.
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Lying over modern Egio (or Aegio) is Vura, which flourished after Eliki was destroyed. It was initially established by the Pelasgians who were followed by the Ionians. In 146 AD it fell under the Roman empire. Eventually the Byzantines, Franks Venetians and Ottomans all passed through.
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The plateau of Elliniko on Mount Lykaion features remains of a stadium and hippodrome where the Lycaean games in honour of Zeus took place. There are also remains of a shrine to Pan.
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Excavations have revealed parts of a theatre from the Hellenistic period (175 BC), an agora from the Hellenistic and Roman period, two early Christian basilicas (5th-6th century AD), amazing mosaic floors and parts of a Byzantine settlement (10th-13th century AD). In the middle ages the area was called Nikliou.
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The area of Kalyvia boasts remains of an ancient site called Feneus.
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Fliountos (pronounced Flioundos) shows remnants of a temple dedicated to Zeus as well as a stadium and other buildings.
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The castle-fortress of Patras was built in the 6th century A.D. by Justinian where an ancient acropolis once stood. The castle repelled the Slavs, Saracens and even Normans who surrounded the city and helped thwart the invasion of the Peloponnese.
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In Kehries, a little port on the Saronic Gulf, ancient foundations were excavated at the harbour, although most remain submerged. There is evidence of a temple for Isis and an early Christian church.
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At the village of Leonidi there are remains of an ancient acropolis and Pelasgian walls at the hill above the town, around the churches of Agios Athanasios (11th century) and Agios Dimitrios (12th century).
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There is a shrine dedicated to Menelaos (or Menelaus) and Helen, along with evidence of a 5th century BC temple with votive offerings to Helen (now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Sparta).
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Travel through the different excavations to learn how history is unearthed. Get to know the excavation teams throughout the years through photographs, designs, engravings, etc. Excavations, tools and techniques explained!
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Around 100 rock-cut tombs of different types (chambers, tholoi, pit-graves, well-shaped graves, etc.) and a temple for religious ceremonies have been uncovered here from the late Mycenaean era, matching Homeric texts about Necyia in the Iliad. The sites artefacts are at the Archaeological Museum of Tripoli.
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Albeit a Byzantine site rather than an ancient Greek site, Mystras is truly magical and a Unesco World Heritage site worthy of a visit. See more in the section titled Religious/Spiritual under Lakonia, Peloponnese.
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In Monemvasia near Agios Ioannis there is the acropolis of Epidaurus Limeras, now known as Paliokastro or Kastraki.
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After designating Patras as a Roman colony and a gateway to Italy in 31 BC, the Roman emperors built an 6.5-kilometer-long aqueduct to support the city's population. A water reservoir was also constructed by damming part of the Romanos River. Remains of the dam can still be seen within the riverbed.
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Sparta might be better known, but Pellana was just as developed in ancient times, with spectacular royal Mycenaean towns and an acropolis to show for it. There is also the Sanctum of Asclepius just a few meters away from the Pellanida spring.
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A well preserved Roman theatre can be found here, as well as remains of an ancient settlement called Laryssion on Mount Koumaros. The town exported the murex shell for dyeing Imperial roman togas in the colour purple.
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Going back to the the first half of the 4th century BC, this temple is the largest in the Peloponnese after that of Olympian Zeus in Olympia. There are remains of another temple under it from the Archaic period, as well as of a Byzantine basilica from much later.
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Bulit around 1100 B.C. but destroyed in the 6th century BC probably because of flooding. Rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The Spartans performed dances here with masks, as the place was used to educate young Spartans.
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Near Argos lies a site to worship the Greek-Egyptian god Serapis established during Hellenistic times under the Ptolemaic dynasty. Considered the guardian of medicine and the saviour god, Serapis enjoyed popularity of the peoples in Argolis.
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Four metallurgic kilns were from around 1700 BC, and interestingly from the Roman period as well have been revealed at the site, used for melting and improving copper ores. In Roman times the kilns were probably used to remelt metal scrap.
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In the Municipality of Molaon archaeological excavations have revealed remains from the Mycenaean era at Sykia, as well as Byzantine mosaics in the area of Chalasmata area and Aghios Nikolas at Pakia.
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The medieval town of Tavia boasts remains of buildings and a castle, supposedly built with stones from Dipaia, a more ancient site.
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Near lake Stymphalia – known in mythological lore for its iron-winged birds that were destroyed Hercules – there are ruins from the temple of Artemis and walls of the old city, as well as a Frankish castle and church from the 13th century.
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Amazing and distinct in their architecture with beehive domes, these tombs are very representative of early Mycenaean settlements.
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