The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the fifth century B.C .
Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age that followed, as thought and art flourished, an exceptional group of artists put into effect the ambitious plans of Athenian statesman Pericles and, under the inspired guidance of the sculptor Phidias, transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts. The most important monuments were built during that time: the Parthenon, built by Ictinus, the Erechtheion, the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles and the small temple Athena Nike.
The Athenian Acropolis is the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site. This grand composition of perfectly balanced massive structures creates a monumental landscape of unique beauty consisting of a complete series of masterpieces of the 5th century BC. The monuments of the Acropolis have exerted an exceptional influence, not only in Graeco-Roman antiquity, a time when in the Mediterranean world they were considered exemplary models, but in contemporary times as well.
From myth to institutionalized cult, the Acropolis, by virtue of its precision and diversity, bears a unique testimony to the religions of ancient Greece. It is the sacred temple from which sprang fundamental legends about the city. It illustrates the civilizations of Greece over more than a millennium. From the royal palace of kings in the 15th century BC and the Pelasgic walls of the first fortification, to the Odeon constructed in AD 161 by Herod Atticus, a unique series of public monuments was built and conserved in one of the densest spaces of the Mediterranean.
The Acropolis is located on a rocky promontory 156m above the valley of Ilissos; it covers a surface area of less than 3ha. From the 2nd millennium BC it was a fortress protecting places of worship and royal palaces. Access to the plateau was protected by a wall, the Pelasgicon, which existed prior to the invasions of the Dorians who threatened Athens beginning in 1200. After the fall of the tyrants, Hipparchus in 514 and Hippias in 510, the Acropolis was reconstructed. The Pelasgicon, which a Delphic oracle declared cursed, was destroyed. The upper town, deprived of its ramparts, was weakened, and in 480 the Persians under Xerxes took it over, looting and burning the sanctuaries. Paradoxically, the looting of the Acropolis in 480 BC guaranteed the conservation of one of the most impressive collections of archaic sculpture in the Greek world. The rampart was destroyed in 472-471, at the same time as the 'Long Walls,' which enclosed Athens and its port at Piraeus. With Pericles the 5th century BC marks the apogee of Athenian democracy.
A period of several decades, 447-406 BC, saw the successive building of the main temple dedicated to Athena, the Parthenon; the Propylaea, the monumental entrance which replaced the Gate of Pisistratus, built on the very site of one of the entrances to the citadel of the ancient kings; the temple of Athena Nike; and the Erechtheion - the four masterpieces of classical Greek art. Although the disastrous Peloponnesian War and the capitulation of Athens in April 404 BC caused the demolition of the Long Walls, they did not affect the Acropolis monuments.
The sacred hill of Athens, whose monuments were the admiration of all, continued to be beautified by the powerful personalities of the moment, including the sovereigns of Pergamon, Cappadocia, and Egypt, Roman Emperors such as Claudius and Hadrian, and wealthy private citizens like Herod Atticus, the private tutor of Marcus Aurelius. The first incidence of damage to the monumental heritage of the Acropolis came at the time of the Herulian raid in AD 267. Since then and in spite of long periods of relative calm, the monuments and the site have been damaged many times. The Byzantines converted the temples into churches and removed their art treasures to Constantinople. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1204, Athens was put into the hands of Frankish lords who had little respect for its ruins. When the Turks took over the city in 1456, it became a mosque, and the Erechtheion was used from time to time as the harem of the Turkish governor. In 1687, the most tragic of dates, the siege of the Acropolis by the Venetian armies of Morosini resulted in the explosion of the Parthenon, which the Turks used as a powder magazine.
In the 19th century, with official authorization from the Sultan, Lord Elgin, ambassador of the King of England to the Sublime Porte, completed the pillaging by acquiring marble sections which since 1815 have been the pride of the British Museum. After a century of excavations and improvements of the site, the Acropolis is now a testing ground for the most innovative open-air conservation techniques aimed at safeguarding the marble sections, which have been affected by heavy atmospheric pollution.
Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)
The city of Aigai, the ancient first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia, was discovered in the 19th century near Vergina, in northern Greece. The most important remains are the monumental palace, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C. One of the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus is identified as that of Philip II, who conquered all the Greek cities, paving the way for his son Alexander and the expansion of the Hellenistic world.
Vergina represents exceptional testimony to a significant development in European civilization, at the transition from the classical city-state to the imperial structure of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. This is vividly demonstrated in particular by the remarkable series of royal tombs and their rich contents. The paintings found at Vergina are of extraordinarily high quality and historical importance.
The ancient city in the northern foothills of the Pierian range is the capital of the kingdom of Lower Macedonia, Aigai, traditionally founded by Perdiccas I when the Macedonians of the Argive spread northwards over the plain of Emathia. This region was already settled in the early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), as evidenced by a tumulus (grave-mound) near the river Haliakmon. The wealth and density of over 300 grave-mounds in the Cemetery of the Tumuli testifies to the importance of Aigai in the early Iron Age (1100-700 BC). As the capital of the Macedonian kingdom and site of the royal court, Aigai was the most important urban centre in the region throughout the archaic period (800-500 BC) and the following century. The grave-goods in a series of tombs dating from the 6th and 5th centuries BC demonstrate commercial and cultural links with Greek centres of eastern lonia and the south. At the end of the 5th century, Archelaus brought to his court artists, poets and philosophers from all over the Greek world.
Although the administrative centre was transferred to Pella in the 4th century BC, Aigai retained its role as the sacred city of the Macedonian kingdom, the site of the traditional cult centres, and the royal tombs. It was here in 336 BC that Philip II was assassinated in the theatre and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. The bitter struggles between the heirs of Alexander, the Diadochoi, in the 3rd century adversely affected the city, and it was further slighted after the overthrow of the Macedonian kingdom by the Romans in 168 BC. Nevertheless, it was rebuilt and survived into early imperial times. However, between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD the population progressively moved down from the foothills of the Pierian range to the plain, so that all that remained was a small settlement whose name, Palatitsia (palace), alone indicated its former importance.
The most important building so far discovered is the monumental palace, located on a plateau directly below the acropolis. This building, which rose to two and perhaps three storeys, is centred on a large open courtyard flanked by stone Doric colonnades. The rooms were used for religious, administrative, and political functions. On the north side was a large gallery that commanded the stage of the neighbouring theatre and the whole Macedonian plain. It was sumptuously decorated, with mosaic floors, painted plastered walls, and fine relief tiles.
The theatre, from the second half of the 4th century BC, forms an integral part of the palace complex. Just to the north there is a sanctuary of the goddess Eukleia, with small 4th and 3rd centuries BC temples containing statue bases inscribed with the names of members of the Macedonian royal family.
The best known feature of the site is the necropolis, which extends for over 3 km, with the Cemetery of the Tumuli at its heart. This contains over 300 grave-mounds, some as early as the 11th century BC. To the north-west of the ancient city there is an important group of tombs from the 6th and 5th centuries BC belonging to members of the Macedonian dynasty and their courts. These contained rich funerary deposits, along with imported materials. One from around 340 BC with an imposing marble throne, is believed to be that of Euridike, mother of Philip II. The most impressive funerary monument is the Great Tumulus, an artificial mound 110 m in diameter and 13 m high, beneath which four elaborate royal tombs were discovered. One contains wall paintings representing the rape of Persephone, believed to be the work of the famous painter Nikomachos. Two of the tombs were undisturbed in antiquity and both contained rich grave-goods. In Tomb II the body was found in a solid gold casket weighing some 11 kg; the occupant has been identified as Philip II, father of Alexander the Great and consolidator of Macedonian power. This tomb is especially noteworthy for the frieze that adorns it, believed to be the work of the celebrated Philoxenos of Eretria.
The ancient city in the northern foothills of the Pierian range has been identified with certainty as the capital of the kingdom of Lower Macedonia, Aigai According to tradition it was founded by Perdiccas I when the Macedonians of the Argive spread northwards over the plain of Emathia. This region was already settled in the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), as evidenced by a tumulus (grave-mound) near the river Haliakmon. The wealth and density of over three hundred grave-mounds in the cemetery of the Tumuli testifies to the importance of Aigai in the Early Iron Age (1100-700 BC). The quality of the grave-goods shows that this was a period of highly developed culture and technological skills in the community.
As the capital of the Argive Macedonian kingdom and site of the royal court, Algal was the most important urban centre in the region throughout the Archaic Period <800-500 BO and the century that followed. The grave-goods in a series of tombs dating from the 6th and 5th centuries BC demonstrate commercial and cultural links with the Greek centres of eastern Ionia and the south, such as Athens, Samos, and Corinth, and illustrate the wealth and sophistication of the royal court. At the end of the 5th century Archelaus brought to his court artists, poets, and philosophers from all over the Greek world: it was, for example, at Algal that Euripides wrote and presented his last tragedies.
Although the administrative centre was transferred to Pella in the 4th century BC, Algal retained its role as the sacred city of the Macedonian kingdom, the site of the traditional cult centres and the royal tombs. lt was during the marriage here in 336 BC of Alexander, King of Epirus, to Princess Cleopatra that Philip II was assassinated in the theatre and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king.
The bitter struggles between the heirs of Alexander, the Diadochoi, in the 3rd century adversely affected the city, and it was further slighted after the overthrow of the Macedonian kingdom by the Romans in 168 BC. Nevertheless, it was rebuilt and survived into early Imperial times. However, between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD the population progressively moved down from the foothills of the Pierian range to the plain, so that all that remained was a small settlement whose name, Palatitsia ("Palace"), alone indicated its former importance.
Archaeological Site of Delphi
The pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, the 'navel of the world'. Blending harmoniously with the superb landscape and charged with sacred meaning, Delphi in the 6th century B.C. was indeed the religious centre and symbol of unity of the ancient Greek world.
The layout of Delphi is a unique artistic achievement. Mount Parnassus is a masterpiece where a series of monuments were built whose modular elements - terraces, temples, treasuries, etc. - combine to form a strong expression of the physical and moral values of a site which may be described as magical. Situated in a magnificent natural setting which is still intact, it is an outstanding example of a great Pan-Hellenic sanctuary.
During the Mycenaean period, the female deity of Earth was worshipped in the small settlement of Delphi. The development of the sanctuary and oracle were to begin in the 8th century BC with the establishment of the cult of Apollo. Under the protection and administration of the Amphictyony, the sanctuary continued to be autonomous after the First Sacred War and, as a result, increased its Pan-Hellenic religious and political influence. The Pythian Games were reorganized, the sanctuary was enlarged, and it was enriched with fine buildings, statues, and other offerings. In the 3rd century BC it came under the domination of the Aetolians and later, in 191 BC, was conquered by the Romans. During the Roman period the site was plundered on occasions, but it was also favoured by some of the Emperors. With the spread of Christianity, the sanctuary lost its religious meaning and was closed down by Theodosius the Great.
Some of the most important monuments of the site:
Temple of Apollo: dated to the 4th century BC, the temple was erected precisely on the remains of an earlier temple of the 6th century BC. Inside was the adyton, the centre of the Delphic oracle and seat of Pythia.
Treasury of the Athenians: A small building in Doric order, with two columns in antis and rich relief decoration, built by the Athenians at the end of the 6th century BC to house their offerings to Apollo.
Altar of the Chians: The large altar of the sanctuary, in front of the temple of Apollo, erected by the people of Chios in the 5th century BC, according to an inscription. The monument was made from black marble, apart from the base and cornice in white marble, resulting in an impressive colour contrast.
Stoa of the Athenians: Built in the Ionic order, has seven fluted columns, each made from a single stone. According to an inscription cut on the stylobate, it was erected by the Athenians after 478 BC, to house the trophies taken in their naval victories over the Persians.
Theatre: Originally built in the 4th century BC, but the visible ruins date from the Roman imperial period. The cavea had 35 rows of stone benches; the foundations of the skene are preserved on the paved orchestra. The theatre was used mostly for the theatrical performances during the great festivals.
Stadium: Constructed in the 5th century BC and remodelled in the 2nd century AD at the expense of Herodes Atticus; at this time the stone seats and the arched monumental entrance were added. It was in this Stadium that the Pan-Hellenic Pythian Games took place.
Castalian Spring: The preserved remains of two monumental fountains that received the water from the spring in the ravine of the Phaedriades date to the archaic period and the Roman era. The later one is cut in the rock and has niches cut high in the cliff, which probably held the offerings to the Nymph Castalia.
Tholos: A circular building in Doric order, built around 380 BC: its function is unknown but it must have been an important one, judging from the fine workmanship, and the high-standard relief decoration.
Polygonal Wall: Built after the destruction of the old temple of Apollo in 548 BC, to support the terrace on which the new temple was to be erected. The masonry is polygonal and the curved joints of the stones fit perfectly in place. Many inscriptions, mostly manumissions, are carved on the stones of the wall.
Archaeological Site of Mystras
Mystras, the 'Wonder of the Morea', was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 by William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape. The complex of the ruins of Mystras offers the image of a city with a brilliant destiny that was deserted by men and threatened by the return of encroaching vegetation, which is splitting the walls and covering the slopes, thus destroying here and there fragile traces of history.
Mystras came into existence in 1248-49 when the Frankish lord, William II of Villehardouin, Prince of Achaia, resolved to build a great castle on the top of the 620 m hill overlooking Sparta. The castle would be able to withstand attacks by the Byzantines, and also contain the Esclavons, the Slavic tribes of the Melinges and the Lezerites who inhabited the Taygete. Although a few inhabitants continued to live in the ruins, the city was not abandoned until after 1832, when King Otto I founded the new city of Sparta. For almost six centuries, Mystras lived a troubled existence. However, several times and under different regimes it assumed a leading political and cultural role. The vicissitudes of history did not spare the construction built by William II of Villehardouin. The castle had barely been completed when the Prince of Achaia, defeated by Michael VIII Palaeologus at the battle of Pelagonia and made prisoner, was forced to cede as ransom to the basileus the three strongholds of Monemvasia, Mania and Mystras (1261-62). When the favour of victory momentarily shined upon him once again, in 1265, Villehardouin found that the inhabitants of Sparta had deserted that vulnerable city and taken refuge around the castle of Mystras. From 1262 to 1348, because of many wars in which it was often the prize, Mystras was the seat of the Byzantine military governor, first named for a year then, after 1308, for life. The bishopric of Sparta was transferred to the new city, and the Metropolis, dedicated to St Demetrios, was built in 1264, and reconstructed after 1310. Convents, such as those of the Theodore Saints (prior to 196) and those of Brontochion (c. 1310) were built and richly decorated.
From 1348 to 1460 Mystras became the capital of the Despotate of Morea. The despotate was the expression of the relative desire for decentralization of the Cantacuzenes (1348-84) and the Paleologi (1384-1460), who, according to a system modelled on feudalism, conferred power to family, in most cases to sons or brothers. During this period - the zenith of Mystras, when the Peribleptos and the Pantanassa were built around 1350 and 1428 respectively - the cosmopolitan city was a major piece on the political chessboard on the Mediterranean. Most of the despots married Frankish princesses; some made necessary alliances with the Turks, others with the Venetians. In 1402 Theodore I Paleologus sold Mystras to the Knights of Rhodes; only the hostile reaction of the population forced him to cancel the transaction.
After paying a tribute to Murad II at the time of his victorious expedition in 1446, Mystras fell to Mohammed II on 30 May 1460. The event was seen in the West and in the East as being almost equal in importance to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The beauty of the churches of Mystras, which during the Paleologus Renaissance had been covered with dramatic frescoes, the renown of the libraries of Mystras and the glory of its writers (including Georges Gemiste Plethon and Jean Bessarion who brought neo-Platonic humanism to Italy) gave substance thereafter for the legend of the 'Wonder of Morea.' Dominated by the Turks, conquered briefly by the Venetians In 1669, then occupied for a longer period from 1687 to 1715, and recaptured in 1715 by the Ottoman Empire, Mystras never recovered its past grandeur, although it still numbered some 40,000 inhabitants. The silk industry was the manufacturing and trading city's only resource. Mystras was burned by the Albanians during the Magna Revolt in 1770 and was in a state of decadence when it was definitively abandoned.
Archaeological Site of Olympia
The site of Olympia, in a valley in the Peloponnesus, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the 10th century B.C., Olympia became a centre for the worship of Zeus. The Altis – the sanctuary to the gods – has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces from the ancient Greek world. In addition to temples, there are the remains of all the sports structures erected for the Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia every four years beginning in 776 B.C.
Olympia bears exceptional testimony to the ancient civilizations of Peloponnesos, in terms of both duration and quality. The first human settlements date back to prehistoric times; the Middle Helladic and Mycenaean periods are represented at the site. Consecrated to Zeus, the Altis is a major sanctuary from the 10th century BC to the 4th century AD corresponding to the zenith of Olympia. A Christian settlement survived for a time at the site of the ruins of the great Pan-Hellenic sanctuary.
In north-western Peloponnesos the archaeological site of Olympia at the foot of the Kronion Hill stretches over a triangular alluvial terrace at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos. In this area of very ancient settlement, religious centres of worship succeeded one another during the Hellenic period: those to Kronos, Gala, and other Chtonian divinities, those to Pelops, the hero who gave his name to Peloponnesus, and those to Hippodamia, whose hand Pelops won in a chariot race against Oenomaos, her father. Olympia became a centre of worship to Zeus in the 10th century BC.
The name Olympia, which described the wooded valley where the site was located, referred to the sacred mountain of Olympus, the habitual residence of Zeus. Placed under the protection of the cities of Pisa and later Elis, the Olympian sanctuary experienced an enormous renown in the 8th century BC, with the Pan-Hellenic games which were held every fifth year. Beginning in 776 BC, the games regularly brought together athletes. Later, orators, poets and musicians also came to celebrate Zeus.
The Altis (the sanctuary to the gods) includes the ruins of the two principal temples: the Temple of Hera (6th century BC) and the Temple of Zeus (5th century BC). The sanctuary contained one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces of the ancient Mediterranean world. Many have been lost, such as the Olympian Zeus, a gold-and-ivory cult statue which was probably executed by Pheidias between 438 and 430 BC. Other masterpieces have survived: large votive Archaic bronzes, sculptures of tympanums and metopes from the Temple of Zeus, and the Hermes by Praxiteles, found along with its base in the Temple of Hera.
To the north stood a row of Archaic Treasuries (6thand 5th centuries BC), several of which were built by residents of the distant Greek colonies of Selinus, Cyrene, and Byzantium. More recent structures - the Metroon and the Echo Colonnade (4th century BC), the Philippeion in honour of the victory at Chaeronea in 338 BC, and the Exedra of Herodes Atticus (157-60 AD)- gradually added to the complex topography of the sanctuary whose precinct overlooks an area of prehistoric settlements.
The density of buildings outside the Altis is even greater: the built-up zone combines official housing and assembly rooms for the clergy and administrators, sports structures, thermal baths, and lodgings and accommodation for guests. To the north-west the Palaestra and the Gymnasium (3rd century BC), and to the east the old Stadium, rebuilt during the 1st century AD and remodelled in 1961-62, highlight a landscape of ruins of majestic beauty. Flooding of the Alpheios carried the Hippodrome away: only its original location is known.
The influence of the monuments of Olympia has been considerable. To mention just three examples, the Temple of Zeus, built in 470-457 BC, is a model of the great Doric temples constructed in southern Italy and in Sicily during the 5th century BC; the Nike by Paeonios, sculptured around 420 BC, so lastingly influenced iconographic allegories of Victory that neoclassical art of the 19th century is still much indebted to it; with reference to the Roman period, the Olympian Palaestra is undoubtedly the typological reference made by Vitruvius in De Architectura.
Olympia is directly and tangibly associated with an event of universal significance. The Olympic Games were celebrated regularly beginning in 776 BC. The Olympiad - the four-year period between two successive celebrations falling every fifth year - became a chronological measurement and system of dating used in the Greek world. The significance of the Olympic Games demonstrates the lofty ideals of Hellenic humanism: peaceful and loyal competition between free and equal men, who are prepared to surpass their physical strength in a supreme effort, with their only ambition being the symbolic reward of an olive wreath.
Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns
The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. These two cities are indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey , which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia.
Justification for Inscription
Criterion (i): The architecture and design of Mycenae and Tiryns, such as the Lion Gate and the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae and the walls of Tiryns, are outstanding examples of human creative genius.
Criterion (ii): The Mycenaean civilization, as exemplified by Mycenae and Tiryns, had a profound effect on the development of classical Greek architecture and urban design, and consequently also on contemporary cultural forms.
Criteria (iii) and (iv): Mycenae and Tiryns represent the apogee of the Mycenaean civilization, which laid the foundations for the evolution of later European cultures.
Criterion (vi): Mycenae and Tiryns are indissolubly linked with the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the influence of which upon European literature and the arts has been profound for more than three millennia.
Mycenae and Tiryns represent the apogee of the Mycenaean civilization, which laid the foundations for the evolution of later European cultures, including classical Greek architecture and urban design, and consequently also on contemporary cultural forms. Moreover, the two sites are indissolubly linked with the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the influence of which upon European literature and the arts has been profound for more than three millennia.
The Mycenaean civilization developed on the Greek mainland in the late Bronze Age (16th century BC). It was essentially a continuation of the Middle Helladic culture, transformed by Minoan influences from Crete. Knowledge of its two earlier periods I (c . 1580-1500 BC) and II (c . 1500-1400 BC) comes mainly from burials, notably the shaft graves at Mycenae. Towards the end of Period II more elaborate tomb types developed - large chamber tombs for families and beehive-shaped (tholos) tombs for royalty. The apogee of the Mycenaean civilization came in Period III (c . 1400-1120 BC), when strong citadels and elaborate palaces were built. Towards the end of this period a script, known as Linear B, came into use; the language used has been shown to be an early form of Greek, confirming that the Mycenaeans were Greek speakers of Indo-European origin. The political structure was that of an autocratic monarchy, the ruler of which was known as the wanax, who administered his territory by means of a hierarchical structure of officials. There was a special class of priests and priestesses. The people were organized in an elaborate class system, and slavery was widely practised.
The site of Mycenae is known from excavations to have been occupied from the Neolithic period (c . 4000 BC). During the Middle Helladic period a cemetery was established on the southern slopes of the natural hill which included Grave Circle B (dated to the 17th century BC) and Grave Circle A (16th century BC). The Palace was constructed on the summit of the hill and surrounded by massive cyclopean walls in three stages (c . 1350, 1250 and 1225 BC respectively). In the final stage the underground reservoir was also fortified.
A series of tholos tombs were built on the southern and south-western slopes of the hill during the Mycenaean period: the so-called Tomb of Aegisthos (c. 1500 BC), the Lion Tholos Tomb (c. 1350 BC), the Tomb of Clytemnestra (c. 1220 BC), culminating in the Treasury of Atreus, at some distance from the others. Four large buildings, believed to have been royal workshops, were built in the 13th century BC in the vicinity of Grave Circle B. The palace was abandoned at the end of the 12th century BC and a number of buildings were damaged by fire. However, the site continued to be occupied until 498 BC, when it was conquered by Argos and its inhabitants were expelled. The top of the hill was levelled at this time for the construction of an Archaic temple. The site was reoccupied briefly in the Hellenistic period, when another temple was built and a theatre constructed over the Tomb of Clytemnestra. By the time the Greek traveller Pausanias visited Mycenae in the 2nd century AD it had been completely abandoned for many years.
As at Mycenae, the earliest human occupation known at Tiryns is from the Neolithic period. The oldest architectural remains, on the Upper Citadel, are from the early Bronze Age (c . 3000 BC). The level of this area was built up in the middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC) to accommodate new buildings. Tiryns flourished during the Mycenaean period. A new fortified palace complex was constructed in the 14th century BC. The defences were extended in the early 13th century BC, and the Lower Citadel was also fortified. Following earthquake and fire damage, the site was reconstructed, the new defences enclosing an area of 20 ha; the extra-mural settlement covered more than 25 ha. The fate of Tiryns with the decline of the Mycenaean civilization paralleled that of Mycenae. It was not finally abandoned until the deportation of the 5th century BC, by which time it had lost its power and influence.
The Mycenaean civilization developed on the Greek mainland in the Late Bronze Age (16th century BC). It was essentially a continuation of the Middle Helladic culture, transformed by Minoan influences from Crete. Knowledge of its two earlier periods I (c 1580-1500 BC) and II (c 1500-1400 BC ) comes mainly from burials, notably the shaft graves at Mycenae. Towards the end of Period II more elaborate tomb types developed - large chamber tombs for families and beehive-shaped (tholos) tombs for royalty.
The apogee of the Mycenaean civilization came in Period III (c 1400-1120 BC), when strong citadels and elaborate palaces were built. Towards the end of this period a script, known as Linear B, came into use; the language used has been shown to be an early form of Greek, confirming that the Mycenaeans were Greek speakers of Indo-European origin.
The political structure was that of an autocratic monarchy, the ruler of which was known as the wanax, who administered his territory by means of an hierarchical structure of officials. There was a special class of priests and priestesses. The people were organized in an elaborate class system, and slavery was widely practised.
The site of Mycenae is known from excavations to have been occupied from the Neolithic period (c 4000 BC). During the Middle Helladic Period a cemetery was established on the southern slopes of the natural hill which included Grave Circle B (dated to the 17th century BC) and Grave Circle A (16th century BC). The Palace was constructed on the summit of the hill and surrounded by massive cyclopean walls in three stages (c 1350, 1250, and 1225 BC respectively). In the final stage the underground reservoir was also fortified. A series of tholos tombs were built on the southern and south-western slopes of the hill during the Mycenaean Period - the so-called Tomb of Aegisthos (c 1500 BC), the Lion Tholos Tomb (c 1350 BC), the Tomb of Clytemnestra (c 1220 BC), culminating in the Treasury of Atreus, at some distance from the others. Four large buildings, believed to have been royal workshops, were built in the 13th century BC in the vicinity of Grave Circle B.
The Palace abandoned at the end of the 12th century BC was and a number of buildings were damaged by fire.
However, the site continued to be occupied until 498 BC, when it was conquered by Argos and its inhabitants were expelled. The top of the hill was levelled at this time for the construction of an Archaic temple. The site was re-occupied briefly in the Hellenistic period, when another temple was built and a theatre constructed over the Tomb of Clytemnestra. By the time the Greek traveller Pausanias visited Mycenae in the 2nd century AD it had been completely abandoned for many years.
As at Mycenae, the earliest human occupation known at Tiryns is from the Neolithic period. The oldest architectural remains, on the Upper Citadel, are from the early Bronze Age (c 3000 BC). The level of this area was built up in the Middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC) to accommodate new buildings.
Tiryns flourished during the Mycenaean period. A new fortified palace complex was constructed in the 14th century BC. The defences were extended in the early 13th century BC, and the Lower Citadel was also fortified. Following earthquake and fire damage, the site was reconstructed, the new defences enclosing an area of 20ha; the extra-mural settlement covered more than 25ha.
The fate of Tiryns with the decline of the Mycenaean civilization paralleled that of Mycenae. It was not finally abandoned until the deportation of the 5th century BC, by which time it had lost its power and influence.
According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this tiny island in the Cyclades archipelago. Apollo's sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece and Delos was a prosperous trading port. The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the palaeochristian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.
The island of Delos bears unique witness to the civilizations of the Aegean world in the 3rd millennium BC. During the palaeo-Christian era, it was the seat of the bishopric of the Cyclades which ruled over the islands of Mykonos, Syros, Seriphos, Kythnos and Keos. From the 7th century BC to the pillage by Athenodoros, Delos was one of the principal Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries. The feast of the Delians, which was celebrated every four years in May until 316 BC, included gymnastic, equestrian, and musical competitions, dances, theatrical productions, and banquets. It was one of the major events in the Greek world.
Delos is a minuscule island stretching only 5 km north to south and a scant 1.3 km from east to west. It was here, that Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto, was born: like Delphi, Delos is the major sanctuary dedicated to Apollo, the Titan god par excellence, one of the most important in the Hellenic pantheon. On the island, which had already been the site of earlier human settlements (sparse during the Neolithic age, more dense during the Mycenaean period), everything revolved around the sanctuary of Apollo, the seat of the Ionian Amphictyonia. The Naxians, the Parians, and the Athenians disputed the site, with the last-named triumphing under Pisistratus (c. 540-528 BC). They ordered the first purification of the place. In 454, the treasure of the Delian Confederacy, which replaced the Amphictyonia, was moved to Athens. In 426 a second purification decree forbade being born or dying at Delos. Pregnant women and terminally ill persons were transported to the island of Rheneia. The decision, motivated by religious reasons, was not without political considerations. In 422 BC in a move to strengthen Athenian domination, the Delians were deported en masse. Except for some short reprieves and truces, their exile lasted until 314, when Delos regained its independence in principle and again became the centre of an island confederation that was tolerated and more or less controlled by the Lagides of Egypt and later by the Macedonians. It became a very important cosmopolitan Mediterranean port ,reaching outstanding levels during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, when the average population is estimated to have been 25,000.
In 166 BC the Delians were again ousted, this time by the Roman Senate, which wished to supplant trade at Rhodes by making Delos a free port. It was a landmark decision that signalled the end of a period dominated by religious and political considerations and the beginning of a phase of economic expansion as had presaged the extent of diplomatic and commercial relations reflected in the honorific decrees of the late 3rd century BC in favour of the rich foreign benefactors of the sanctuary. The great era of maritime trade ended only in 69 BC with the sacking of the island by Athenodoros, the last of a series of disastrous events. Abandoned in the 6th century, captured successively by Byzantines (727), Slavs (769), Saracens (821), Venetians, the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, and the Ottoman Turks, Delos was turned into a quarry site. The columns of its temples were consumed by the lime kilns, the walls of its houses left in ruins.
Today the island's landscape consists solely of ruins unearthed systematically since 1872. On an archaeological site estimated at 95 ha, 25 ha have been excavated. The principal zones are the north-east coastal plain (Sanctuary of Apollo, Agora of the Compitaliasts, Agora of the Delians); the Sacred Lake region (Agora of Theophrastos, Agora of the Italians, the renowned Terrace of Lions, the Institution of the Poseidoniasts of Berytos (Beirut); the Mount Kynthos area (Terrace of the Sanctuaries of the Foreign Gods, Heraion); and the theatre quarter, whose poignant ruins have been overrun by vegetation.
The island of Delos is among the first important Greek sites in the Aegean world to have captured the attention of archaeologists. Delos had considerable influence on the development of architecture and monumental arts during the Graeco-Roman period; this influence was matched later by the important role it has played since the 15th century in furthering our knowledge of ancient Greek art from a widely renowned site.
Medieval City of Rhodes
The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and set about transforming the city into a stronghold. It subsequently came under Turkish and Italian rule. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period. In the Lower Town, Gothic architecture coexists with mosques, public baths and other buildings dating from the Ottoman period.
Rhodes is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble illustrating the significant period of history in which a military hospital order founded during the Crusades survived in the eastern Mediterranean area in a context characterized by an obsessive fear of siege. The fortifications of Rhodes, a 'Frankish' town long considered to be impregnable, exerted an influence throughout the eastern Mediterranean basin at the end of the Middle Ages.
With its Frankish and Ottoman buildings the old town of Rhodes is an important ensemble of traditional human settlement, characterized by successive and complex phenomena of acculturation. Contact with the traditions of the Dodecanese changed the forms of Gothic architecture, and building after 1523 combined vernacular forms resulting from the meeting of two worlds with decorative elements of Ottoman origin. All the built-up elements dating before 1912 have become vulnerable because of the evolution in living conditions and they must be protected as much as the great religious, civil and military monuments, the
churches, monasteries, mosques, baths, palaces, forts, gates and ramparts.
From 1309 to 1523 Rhodes was occupied by the Knightly Order of St John of Jerusalem, who had lost their last stronghold in Palestine, St John of Acre, in 1291. They proceeded to transform the island capital into a fortified city able to withstand sieges as terrible as those led by the Sultan of Egypt in 1444 and Mehmet II in 1480. An anachronic vestige of the Crusades, Rhodes finally fell in 1522 after a six-month siege carried out by Suleyman II, heading forces reportedly numbering 100,000 men.
The medieval city is located within a wall 4 km long. It is divided according to the Western classical style, with the high town to the north and the lower town south-south-west. Originally separated from the town by a fortified wall, the high town (Collachium) was entirely built by the Knights Hospitallers who, following the dissolution of the Templars in 1312, became the strongest military order in all Christendom. The order was organized into seven 'Tongues', each having its own seat. The inns of the Tongues of Italy, France, Spain and Provence lined both sides of the principal east-west axis, the famous Street of the Knights, one of the finest testimonies to Gothic urbanism. Somewhat removed to the north, close to the site of the Knights' first hospice, stands the Inn of Auvergne, whose facade bears the arms of Guy de Blanchefort, Grand Master from 1512 to 1513.
The original hospice was replaced in the 15th century by the Great Hospital, built between 1440 and 1489, on the south side of the Street of the Knights; today the building is used as the archaeological museum. Located north-west of the Collachium are the Grand Masters' Palace and St John's Church. At the far eastern end of the Street of the Knights, built against the wall, is St Mary's Church, which the Knights transformed into a cathedral in the 15th century. The lower town is almost as dense with monuments as the Collachium. In 1522, with a population of 5,000, it was replete with churches, some of Byzantine construction. After 1523, most were converted into Islamic mosques, like the Mosques of Soliman, Kavakli Mestchiti, Demirli Djami, Peial ed Din Djami, Abdul Djelil Djami, and Dolapli Mestchiti. Throughout the years, the number of palaces and charitable foundations multiplied in the south-south-east area: the Court of Commerce, the Archbishop's Palace, the Hospice of St Catherine, and others. The ramparts of the medieval city, partially erected on the foundations of the Byzantine enclosure, were constantly maintained and remodeled between the 14th and 16th centuries under the Grand Masters Giovanni Battista degli Orsini (1467-76), Pierre d'Aubusson (1476-1505), Aiméry d'Amboise (1505-12), and Fabrizio del Carretto (1513-21). Artillery firing posts were the final features to be added. At the beginning of the 16th century, in the section of the Amboise Gate, which was built on the north-western angle in 1512, the curtain wall was 12 m thick with a 4 m high parapet pierced with gun holes.
Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios
Although geographically distant from each other, these three monasteries (the first is in Attica, near Athens, the second in Phocida near Delphi, and the third on an island in the Aegean Sea, near Asia Minor) belong to the same typological series and share the same aesthetic characteristics. The churches are built on a cross-in-square plan with a large dome supported by squinches defining an octagonal space. In the 11th and 12th centuries they were decorated with superb marble works as well as mosaics on a gold background, all characteristic of the 'second golden age of Byzantine art'.
Although geographically distant from each other (Daphni is located in Attica, 11 km from Athens; Hossios Luckas in Phocis, 67 km from the capital, and Nea Moni in the centre of the island of Chios), the three properties belong to the same typological series and share the same aesthetic characteristics. These three monasteries are outstanding examples of a type of construction characteristic of the middle period of Byzantine religious architecture. Nea Moni illustrates the simplest expression, an octagonal church with no added spaces. Hossios Luckas and Daphni are more complex: they have a central octagonal space surrounded by a series of bays that form a square. This more elaborate structure defines a hierarchy of volumes and functions and permits the implementation of an extensive iconographic and decorative plan.
The Monastery of Daphni, located on the ancient sacred road from Athens to Eleusis, replaced a temple dedicated to Apollo Daphneios which had been destroyed in 396 AD. In the 5th century a basilica was built adjoining a wall that had been restored and completed under the reign of Justinian (527-65). It formed a square enceinte, 97 m on a side; a large part of the north wall, originally 8 m high, survives. This first monastery, discovered through a series of archaeological remains, was abandoned during the Slav invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries. It was not until 1100, when the Byzantine Empire was at its apogee under Alexis I Comnenus, that it rose out of its ruins. The church was built at that time. It had a narthex, to which a two-storey exonarthex was added a short time later. Other monastic buildings such as the refectory, cells and a well were built during the same building campaign and the church was sumptuously decorated with mosaics portraying the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. In 1205 the monastery was sacked by Frankish crusaders. In 1207 the Duke of Athens, Otho de la Roche, gave it to the Cistercians of the Abbey of Bellevaux. They built a cloister and remodelled the exonarthex and the enceinte wall but without altering the mosaics. Daphni was returned to Orthodox monks after Athens was taken by the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II in 1458. Deconsecrated in 1821, the monastery has been undergoing restoration work since 1888.
The Monastery of Hossios Luckas is 37 km from Delphi on the western slope of the Helicon: here a hermit named Lukas the Stiriote made his home in 946 among the ruins of a temple dedicated to Demeter. The holy man died in 953. A work on his life mentions a primitive church dedicated to St Barbara. In the latter half of the 10th century, construction on another church for pilgrims was begun. The topography of the vast polygonal enclosure of the monastery, which extends haphazardly on an east-west axis, still bears traces of successive additions and testifies to the enduring success of the cult to St Luke of Phocis. The immense central volume of the dome, 9 m in diameter, which rests on a drum pierced with sixteen windows, is supported on three sides by groin-vaulted bays. The bema and the apse define the cross-in-square plan of the church, which is one of the most perfect creations of Byzantine architecture. The church is filled with iconographic treasures of a magnitude and coherence rarely equalled. Its complex, compartmentalized plan is unified into a harmonious and luxurious whole by the rich decor of mosaics, frescoes, and marble slabs.
The construction of the monastery of Nea Moni of Chios is fully documented as it was linked to a major event in Byzantine history. Constantine the Gladiator, a nobleman living in exile, was told by two monks of Chios, Nicetas and John, that he would become Emperor. When Constantine Monomachos married the twice-widowed 64-year-old Empress Zoe in 1042, thus becoming Basileus, he remembered the prediction. In 1045 he founded the monastery, choosing as its site a valley on Chios on the slopes of Mount Aetos and bestowing it with possessions and privileges. The dome, approximately 7 m in diameter, has no lateral bays but is placed between a triconch sanctuary and a narthex preceded by an exonarthex with lateral absides.
The fairly rustic architectural design is carried over into in the more primitive style of the mosaics, which have a slightly Oriental flavour. Far from the somewhat abstract humanism of the decor at Daphni and Hossios Luckas, the typical characters portrayed at Nea Moni offer the stimulating counterpoint of more naïve art, a folk transcription of the great models of Constantinople.
Old Town of Corfu
The Old Town of Corfu, on the Island of Corfu off the western coasts of Albania and Greece, is located in a strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, and has its roots in the 8th century BC. The three forts of the town, designed by renowned Venetian engineers, were used for four centuries to defend the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire. In the course of time, the forts were repaired and partly rebuilt several times, more recently under British rule in the 19th century. The mainly neoclassical housing stock of the Old Town is partly from the Venetian period, partly of later construction, notably the 19th century. As a fortified Mediterranean port, Corfu’s urban and port ensemble is notable for its high level of integrity and authenticity.
Outstanding Universal Value
The ensemble of the fortifications and the Old Town of Corfu is located in a strategic location at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea. Historically, its roots go back to the 8th century BC and to the Byzantine period. It has thus been subject to various influences and a mix of different peoples.
From the 15th century, Corfu was under Venetian rule for some four centuries, then passing to French, British and Greek governments. At various occasions, it had to defend the Venetian maritime empire against the Ottoman army. Corfu was a well thought of example of fortification engineering, designed by the architect Sanmicheli, and it proved its worth through practical warfare. Corfu has its specific identity, which is reflected in the design of its system of fortification and in its neo-classical building stock. As such, it can be placed alongside other major Mediterranean fortified port cities.
Corfu, the first of the Ionian Islands encountered at the entrance to the Adriatic, was annexed to Greece by a group of Eretrians (775-750 BCE). In 734 BCE the Corinthians founded a colony known as Kerkyra to the south of where the Old Town now stands. The town became a trading post on the way to Sicily and founded further colonies in Illyria and Epirus. The coast of Epirus and Corfu itself came under the sway of the Roman Republic (229 BCE) and served as the jumping-off point for Rome's expansion into the east. In the reign of Caligula two disciples of the Apostle Paul, St Jason, Bishop of Iconium, and Sosipater, Bishop of Tarsus, introduced Christianity to the island.
Corfu fell to the lot of the Eastern Empire at the time of the division in 336 and entered a long period of unsettled fortunes, beginning with the invasion of the Goths (551).
The population gradually abandoned the old town and moved to the peninsula surmounted by two peaks (the korifi) where the ancient citadel now stands. The Venetians, who were beginning to play a more decisive role in the southern Adriatic, came to the aid of a failing Byzantium, thereby conveniently defending their own trade with Constantinople against the Norman prince Robert Guiscard. Corfu was taken by the Normans in 1081 and returned to the Byzantine Empire in 1084.
Following the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, the Byzantine Empire was broken up and, in return for their military support, the Venetians obtained all the naval bases they needed to control the Aegean and the Ionian Seas, including Corfu, which they occupied briefly from 1204 to 1214. For the next half-century, the island fell under the sway of the Despots of Epirus (1214-67) and then that of the Angevins of Naples (1267-1368), who used it to further their policies against both the Byzantine Empire now re-established in Constantinople and the Republic of Venice. The tiny medieval town grew up between the two fortified peaks, the Byzantine Castel da Mare and the Angevin Castel di Terra, in the shelter of a defensive wall fortified with towers. Writings from the first half of the 13th century tell of a separation of administrative and religious powers between the inhabitants of the citadel and those of the outlying parts of the town occupying what is now the Spianada.
In order to assert its naval and commercial power in the Southern Adriatic, the Republic of Venice took advantage of the internal conflicts raging in the Kingdom of Naples to take control of Corfu (1386-1797). Alongside Negropont (Chalcis), Crete, and Modon (Methoni), it would form one of the bases from which to counter the Ottoman maritime offensive and serve as a revictualling station for ships en route to Romania and the Black Sea.
The ongoing work on defining, improving, and expanding the medieval fortified perimeter reflects the economic and strategic role of Corfu during the four centuries of Venetian occupation. In the early 15th century activity concentrated on the medieval town, with the development of harbour facilities (docks, quays and arsenals) and continued with the renovation of the defence works. Early in the following century a canal was dug, cutting off the medieval town from its suburbs.
Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki
Founded in 315 B.C., the provincial capital and sea port of Thessaloniki was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches, some built on the Greek cross plan and others on the three-nave basilica plan. Constructed over a long period, from the 4th to the 15th century, they constitute a diachronic typological series, which had considerable influence in the Byzantine world. The mosaics of the rotunda, St Demetrius and St David are among the great masterpieces of early Christian art.The Christian monuments of Thessaloniki are outstanding examples of churches built according to central, basilical and intermediary plans from the 4th to the 15th centuries. For this reason, they constitute a series which is a typological point of reference. The influence of the Thessalonikian churches on the development of the monumental arts was considerable, first in the Byzantine and later the Serbian world, whether in the early Christian period of the high Middle Ages or the Palaeologan Renaissance. The mosaics of the Rotunda, St Demetrius and St David's are among the great masterpieces of early Christian art.
Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassandros, who named it after his wife Thessaloniki, just a short time after the new cities of Alexander. Following the Roman conquest of Macedonia, it became one of the Empire's provincial capitals. A cosmopolitan and prosperous seaport, the city grew in commercial and strategic importance during the Roman period and was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. St Paul first travelled there in AD 50, and he returned in 56 to visit the church he had founded and for which he exhibited great concern in his Epistles.
Imperial splendor and the changing fortunes of the Thessalonikian church were inextricably linked during the early centuries of Christianity. It was during the period that the palatial complex of Galerius was being built (298-311) that St Demetrius was martyred (c. 303). Some time later the rotunda, which Galerius had probably planned as his mausoleum, was taken over by the Christians who converted it to a church dedicated to St George. North of the Forum, on the ruins of the thermae (baths) where tradition has it that St Demetrius was imprisoned and tortured, they built the Basilica of St Demetrius. Rebuilt in 412-13 by the eparch Leontius and enlarged in 629-34 according to a grandiose plan that included five naves, the church, despite having been ravaged by fire in 1917, remains one of the most notable monuments of the early Christian era.
Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos
Many civilizations have inhabited this small Aegean island, near Asia Minor, since the 3rd millennium B.C. The remains of Pythagoreion, an ancient fortified port with Greek and Roman monuments and a spectacular tunnel-aqueduct, as well as the Heraion Temple of the Samian Hera can still be seen.
Samos was the leading maritime and mercantile power in the Greek world in the 6th century BC, and this importance is reflected in the extent and richness of the archaeological remains, which are largely untouched by subsequent developmentThe site is an area on the north-east coast of the island that is clearly defined by the surrounding mountains. It consists of the ancient city (Pythagoreion) and the classical Temple of Hera (Heraion). Pythagoreion is a classic site from the period of Greek colonization, situated round a good natural harbour on a peninsula that is protected by steep mountains behind it. It also had the advantage of being very close to the mainland of Asia Minor. The earliest finds are pre-classical; dating back to the 4th or 3rd millennium BC, but the main settlement began in the 16th century BC, when it was colonized by Minoans from Crete, later to be supplanted by Mycenaeans.
The ancestors of the classical Samians arrived from the Epidauros region in the 11th century BC, following the turmoil of the Trojan War. By the 6th century BC, Samos had become a major nautical power in the eastern Mediterranean, with close trade links with Asia Minor and the Greek mainland. It was strong enough to establish trading colonies on the coast of Ionia, in Thrace, and even in the western Mediterranean. Samian political influence waned after the island was conquered by the Persians at the end of the 6th century BC, but it continued to be an important mercantile city throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The city was sacked by Germanic peoples in the 3rd century AD and never properly recovered thereafter. Samos alternated between Byzantine, Turkish, and Venetian rule for many centuries, not being fully united with Greece until 1910.
Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus
In a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, developed out of a much earlier cult of Apollo (Maleatas), during the 6th century BC at the latest, as the official cult of the city state of Epidaurus. Its principal monuments, particularly the temple of Asklepios, the Tholos and the Theatre - considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture – date from the 4th century. The vast site, with its temples and hospital buildings devoted to its healing gods, provides valuable insight into the healing cults of Greek and Roman times.
In a small inner Argolid valley surrounded by rocky heights only thinly covered by the meagre vegetation of Mediterranean scrub, the archaeological site of Epidaurus sprawls over several levels. At an altitude of 430 m, the Sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas overlooks the rest of the ruins. Lower down, to the south-west, at approximately 360 m, is the Theatre. Finally, the Sanctuary of Asclepios and its various buildings - baths, gymnasium, palaestra, stadium and katagogeion (dormitories for patients) - stretch over a western shelf located at between 320 m and 330 m altitude.
This vast site (although only an area of 520,000 m2 is state property, construction has been forbidden throughout the entire valley from floor to crest) is a tribute to the healing gods of Epidaurus - Apollo, Asclepios, and Hygeia. Legend has it that Asclepios was the fruit of Apollo's love for a daughter of the king of Orchomenes. In the 6th century a cult dedicated to him was established at Epidaurus, where archaeological excavations uncovered a sanctuary dating from the much earlier Mycenaen period.
By the 5th century the sanctuary already enjoyed great renown, both for the miraculous cures that occurred there and for the games held every four years and the stadium dates from that time. Epidaurus entered its greatest period in the 4th century BC, when the Temple of Apollo Maneates and the great monuments of the Hieron were built. The Hieron includes the Temple of Asclepios, the Tholos, the Enkoimeterion, where the sick awaited their cures, the Baths of Asclepios, and above all the incomparable Theatre, rightfully considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture. Epidaurus continued to flourish during the Hellenistic period. Despite pillaging by Sulla in 87 BC and by Cilician pirates, the restored sanctuary prospered during the Roman period, as witnessed by the famous description by Pausanias in AD 150.
The group of buildings comprising the Sanctuary of Epidaurus bears exceptional testimony to the healing cults of the Hellenic and Roman worlds. The temples and the hospital facilities dedicated to the healing gods constitute a coherent and complete ensemble. . It exerted an influence on all the asclepieia in the Hellenic world, and later on all the Roman sanctuaries of Esculape. The emergence of modern medicine in a sanctuary originally reputed for the psychology-based miraculous healing of supposedly incurable patients is directly and tangibly illustrated by the functional evolution of the Hieron of Epidaurus and is strikingly described by the engraved inscription on the remarkable steles preserved in the Museum.
The Theatre, the Temples of Artemis and Asclepios, the Tholos, the Enkoimeterion, and the Propylaea make the Hieron of Epidaurus an eminent example of a Hellenic architectural ensemble of the 4th century BC. In particular, the theatre, an architectural masterpiece by Polycletes the Younger of Argos, represents a unique artistic achievement through its admirable integration into the site and the perfection of its proportions and acoustics.
Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
This famous temple to the god of healing and the sun was built towards the middle of the 5th century B.C. in the lonely heights of the Arcadian mountains. The temple, which has the oldest Corinthian capital yet found, combines the Archaic style and the serenity of the Doric style with some daring architectural features.
Isolated as it is in a conserved environment, the Temple of Bassae is an outstanding example of a Hellenic votive sanctuary in a rural setting. It represents a unique artistic achievement, remarkable for its archaic features (elongated surface, an exceptional proportion of 15 columns on the longer side and 6 columns on the facade, and a north-south exposure), and for its daring innovations (the use of Ionic and Corinthian orders for a Doric edifice, the variety of materials used, and the originality of the layout of the cella and the adyton).
The Temple was dedicated by the inhabitants of Philagia to Apollo Epicurius, the god-healer who had come to their aid when they were beset by the plague. Its ruins rise majestically to 1,130 m high in the mountainous region of Arcadia in the heart of the Peloponnese, near Andritsaina. Built in the second half of the 5th century BC (c. 420-410 BC?), it belongs to the first generation of post-Parthenonian edifices. Pausanias admired its beauty and harmony and, moreover, attributed it to the architect Ictinos, although contemporary archaeologists have been unable to provide confirmation.
With its elongated dimensions (39.87 m by 16.13 m), the peripteral structure is built mainly in grey limestone of local origin. The outer colonnade of the hexastyle temple respects an extremely strict Doric order (the metopes are not sculptured). Inside, however, fine-quality sculpturing blends with a more sophisticated architectural style. The front of the pronaos and the opisthodomos, with two in antis columns, restate the Doric order. In the cella, however, a series of embedded Ionic columns stand against low support walls. On the southern side, where an adyton is located, the last two Ionic columns standing in the cella at the far end of the oblique walls flank one Corinthian column which stands alone in the centre of the temple. The decoration is notable, particularly by virtue of the different materials used: the walls and the bases and tambours of the columns are limestone, and the Ionic capitals and the Corinthian capital are in Doliana marble, as are the sculptured metopes of the exterior frieze of the cella, the plates of the Ionic frieze which runs along the inside of the sanctuary, the guttae, the roof supports and the roofing tiles.
The capital of the central column of the Temple of Bassae is the most ancient conserved Corinthian capital, and as such the temple may be considered a model for all 'Corinthian' monuments of Greek, Roman and subsequent civilizations.
Being located away from the city, the temple long remained undiscovered. A French architect came upon it accidentally in 1765 and brought it to the attention of the academic world. The first archaeological investigation in 1812 was profitable but at the same time prejudicial for the integrity of the site. The discovery of the Ionic frieze's 22 sculptured plates ultimately divested the site of these remarkable sculptures, which were acquired in 1814 by order of the future King George IV of England and transferred to the British Museum along with the Corinthian capital. Deprived of decorations of exceptional quality (a Centauromachy and an Amazonomachy), the Temple of Bassae was carefully restored in 1902, but in 1965 the critical state of the monument called for renewed renovation.
The Historic Centre (Chorá) with the Monastery of Saint-John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the Island of Pátmos
The Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos (Saint John the Theologian) and the Cave of the Apocalypse on the island of Pátmos, together with the associated medieval settlement of Chorá, constitute an exceptional example of a traditional Greek Orthodox pilgrimage centre of outstanding architectural interest. The town of Chorá is one of the few settlements in Greece that have evolved uninterruptedly since the 12th century. There are few other places in the world where religious ceremonies that date back to the early Christian times are still being practised unchanged.
The Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos and the Cave of the Apocalypse commemorate the site where St John the Theologian (Divine), the 'Beloved Disciple', composed two of the most sacred Christian works, his Gospel and the Apocalypse.
Pátmos is the northernmost island of the Dodecanese group with an area of some 88 km2 , is largely barren, formed from three volcanic masses connected by narrow isthmuses. There are three settlements: the medieval Chorá, the 19th-century harbour of Skála, and the small rural Kampos. The site selected by Christodoulos for his Monastery of Hagios Ioannis Theologos dominates the whole island.
Pátmos was colonized first by Dorian and then Ionian Greeks. When it was absorbed into the Roman Empire it was used, like other Aegean islands, as a place of exile for political prisoners. Among them was the Evangelist St John the Theologian (also known as St John the Divine), who was brought to the island in AD 95 during the reign of Domitian. Like so many of the Aegean islands Pátmos was devastated by Saracen raiders in the 7th century, and it was virtually uninhabited for the next two centuries. In 1088 Hosios Christodoulos, a Bithynian abbot who had already founded monasteries on Léros and Kos, obtained permission from the Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Comnenus to found a monastery on the island dedicated to St John. This was at a time when the imperial state was encouraging resettlement on the islands and shores of the Aegean, a policy that included the establishment of fortified monasteries.
The island was captured by the Venetians in 1208. It is around this period that the oldest settlement on Pátmos was founded, that of Chorá, when married lay brothers and other people working for the monastic community settled around the monastery. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 about 100 families were resettled in Chorá, to the west of the monastery, where they established the wealthy area known as Alloteina. At this time the appearance of the settlement was that of dispersed houses essentially rural in nature. Pátmos came under Turkish control in the early 16th century. Paradoxically, this marked the beginning of a period of prosperity for the islanders, who were granted certain tax privileges in exchange for their submission. The inhabitants of Chorá took advantage of these to engage in shipping and trade, and this is reflected in the fine houses built by wealthy merchants in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a number of which survive to the present day.
This prosperity ended when the island was sacked by the Venetians under Francesco Morosini in 1659. Following the fall of Candia to the Turks in 1669, Venetians refugees were settled on the island. They created a new residential area, known as Kretika, the main square of which was named Agialesvia, dedicated to a female Cretan saint.
The urban tissue began to change, the new properties being much smaller and densely packed. It was slowly to recover its former mercantile role, but in the later 18th century and throughout the 19th century Pátmos was once again a major trading centre. In the mid-18th century the Aporthiana quarters were formed as the town expanded. Many of the old houses were rehabilitated and new mansions were built.
In a region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these 'columns of the sky' from the 11th century onwards. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties, at the time of the great revival of the eremetic ideal in the 15th century. Their 16th-century frescoes mark a key stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting.
'Suspended in the air' (the meaning of Meteora in Greek), these monasteries represent a unique artistic achievement and are one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation and prayer. The Meteora provide an outstanding example of the types of monastic construction which illustrate a significant stage in history, that of the 14th and 15th centuries when the eremitic ideals of early Christianity were restored to a place of honour by monastic communities, both in the Western world (in Tuscany, for example) and in the Orthodox Church.
Built under impossible conditions, with no practicable roads, permanent though precarious human habitations subsist to this day in the Meteora, but have become vulnerable under the impact of time. The net in which intrepid pilgrims were hoisted up vertically alongside the 373 m cliff where the Varlaam monastery dominates the valley symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with exinction.
The monasteries are built on rock pinnacles of deltaic origin, known as Meteora, which rise starkly over 400 m above the Peneas valley and the small town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain. Chemical analysis suggests that the pinnacles were created some 60 million years ago in the Tertiary period, emerging from the cone of a river and further transformed by earthquakes. The Meteora are enormous residual masses of sandstone and conglomerate which appeared through fluvial erosion. Seismic activity increased the number of fault lines and fissures and hewed the shapeless masses into individual sheer rock columns. Hermits and ascetics probably began settling in this extraordinary area in the 11th century. In the late 12th century a small church called the Panaghia Doupiani or Skete was built at the foot of one of these 'heavenly columns', where monks had already taken up residence.
During the fearsome time of political instability in 14th century Thessaly, monasteries were systematically built on top of the inaccessible peaks so that by the end of the 15th century there were 24 of them. They continued to flourish until the 17th century. Today, only four monasteries - Aghios Stephanos, Aghia Trias, Varlaam and Meteoron - still house religious communities.
The area includes forested hills and river valley with riverine forests of Platanus orientalis and species such as the endemic Centaurea lactifolia (found near Koniskos village) and Centaurea kalambakensi. The nearest protected area is Trikala Aesthetic Forest (28 ha), created in 1979, which has been planted with Pinus halepensis and Cupressus sempervivens. The potential vegetation cover is described as supra-Mediterranean, with climax cover of Quercus and Ostrya species and Fagus sylvatica beech forest above 700 m.
An Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times. The 'Holy Mountain', which is forbidden to women and children, is also a recognized artistic site. The layout of the monasteries (about 20 of which are presently inhabited by some 1,400 monks) had an influence as far afield as Russia, and its school of painting influenced the history of Orthodox art.