The sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea in Greece is the perfect setting for a timeless learning adventure. Sacred sites and temples were built throughout the first millennium BC to worship the large amount and varied Gods worshipped in ancient Greece. The most important, though, were the Olympian gods led by Zeus. Greek temple architecture is very distinct and has become famous today for its rectangular shape with a single row of columns lining the exterior sides. The two most popular styles of columns were the Doric and Ionic orders.
While many of the temples exist in Greece, there are some around other parts of Europe, including Libya and the temple of Concordia, Agrigento, Sicily, one of the best preserved Greek-style temples in the Mediterranean.
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Here Are the Top 10 Most Famous Greek Temples to Visit
1. Parthenon, Athens
On top of Acropolis Hill, the city center of ancient Athens, lies a very famous Greek temple called the Parthenon that is dedicated to Athena the patron goddess. The Parthenon is one of the most famous and popular tourist attractions in Greece. Work on the Parthenon began in 447 BC, and work was completed in 432 BC. The Parthenon was built to house the massive statue of Athena Parthenos, which was looted in the 5th century and then destroyed. Over thousands of years, the Parthenon has been used as a mosque, a church, and a fortress.
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2. Temple of Athena Nike, Athens
The temple of Athena Nike (Athena as a goddess of victory) is the smallest Greek temple to visit at the Acropolis in Athens, completed in the year 420 BC. This temple in Greece is made from white marble and has four columns at the front and back.
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3. Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, Olympia
To explore Greek temple Poseidon, visitors need to travel 37 miles south of Athens on the tip of the Attica Peninsula in Greece, surrounded on three sides by the sea. In Greek mythology, Poseidon is the god of the sea and storms. This temple in Greece was built in 444 BC, and only some of its columns stand today, but it’s a great place to watch the sunset through the ancient pillars.
4. Temple of Olympia Zeus, Greece
The Temple of Zeus can be found within the archaeological site of Olympia. It took 13 years to build until it was completed in 457 BC. This temple in Greece of Zeus is a hexastyle building made of limestone and is covered with stucco. The sculptures inside the temple were made of marble, the most famous being the statue of Zeus, considered to be one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. Sadly, the temple and the statue of Zeus were destroyed by an earthquake, but the temple is still a site to behold. There are only a few columns remaining of the Temple of Olympia Zeus, but it’s clear that at one time, it was a huge temple in Greece.
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5. Temple of Apollo, Greece
Visitors get to the sacred Temple of Apollo via a sacred path lined with monuments. It was first built around the 7th century BC. and rebuilt after a fire in the 6th century BC. The Oracle of Delphi was the most important shrine in Greece, and people came from all over Greece to have their questions about the future answered by the priestess of Apollo, Pythia, This temple sits centrally among a large number of ruins on the Southern slopes of Parnassos mountain.
6. Temple of Zeus at Cyrene, Libya
High up from the rest of the city is the Temple of Zeus, Cyrene, dating back to the 5th century BC. Cyrene was the most important of the five Greek colonies in present-day Libya, but was destroyed during a Jewish rebellion in 115 AD. In 365 AD an earthquake destroyed the temple and it was not rebuilt until modern times by British and Italian archaeologists.
7. Temple of Erechtheum, Athens
On the north side of the acropolis in Athens lies the temple Erechtheum built between 421 and 407 BC. This famous Greek temple’s most interesting feature is the porch supported by six female statues known as Caryatids.
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8. Doric Temple of Segesta, Sicily
Long ago, Segesta was one of the main cities of the Elymian indigenous people of Sicily. Segesta consisted of Elymian and Greek people. There is a well-preserved Doric Greek temple to visit located outside the ancient site, built in the late 5th century BC. Many believe that the temple was never completed because the Doric columns were never fluted and there wasn’t a roof built over the main chamber in the temple.
9. Paestum, Italy
The ruins of Paestum are notable for their three ancient Greek Doric temples located in southern Italy, which are in a very good state of preservation. Temple of Hera is the oldest Greek temple to visit in Paestum, built around 550 BC by Greek colonists. The temples of Neptune and Hera are located next to each other at the southern end of the site, while the smaller Temple of Ceres is at the northern end.
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10. The Temple of Hephaestus
Located northwest of the famous Greek temple, Acropolis, The Temple of Hephaestus is the best-preserved Greek temple in the world. Built in the 5th century BC in a district of metalwork shops, the Temple of Hephaestus was built and dedicated to Hephaestos, the god of metalworking. The Temple of Hephaestus was designed by Ictinus, the same architect that worked on the Parthenon.
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