10 Interesting Facts about Greece: The Ancient Civilization

10 Interesting Facts about Greece The Ancient Civilization

Check out these interesting facts about Greece, one of the oldest countries in the world.

Chances are you learned a lot about Greece in history class throughout the years, and tourists flock to this fascinating country year after year. Some come for the historic monuments and stories, of course. You’d expect that from one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

Others come for the food, and we can’t say that we blame them for that either. And if food and history aren’t your cup of tea, well, you could come for the islands, or the mountains, or any other number of reasons.

Honestly, we think you should visit for all the reasons listed above, and more, but we will leave the exact motives up to you. This article will touch on only a few interesting facts about Greece, but trust us when we say, there is so much more awaiting you there. You will love every minute you spend enjoying the sunshine on the beach, or looking at some of the oldest monuments you can find.

Facts About Greece: A Journey Through Time

Greece is widely recognized as the birthplace of democracy, with its ancient city-state of Athens serving as the cradle of this political system. In the 5th century BC, Athenian citizens had the opportunity to participate in decision-making through voting and debates. Greece is a land of diverse wonders, ranging from historical landmarks to breathtaking natural beauty. Here are more captivating facts about Greece:

1. Greece’s capital is one of the oldest cities in the world

Interesting Facts about Greece The Ancient Civilization

Athens is the capital of Greece, and the first inhabitants to this city were present around the 11th-7th millennium BC. That makes it one of the world’s oldest cities. Athens is a mix of the old and the new, a draw for many tourists today.

You can visit structures like the Parthenon, the Acropolis or the Roman-era Philopappos Monument and revel in ancient history or experience a more modern Greece. Or you can do both in the same day if you choose. It’s no wonder that over 40% of Greece’s citizens live in the capital city of Athens.

2. The Parthenon-in honor of Athena

You probably remember learning about the Parthenon in high school history class, but perhaps you didn’t realize how fascinating (and important) this building really was. It was originally built as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena in 438 BC.

The Parthenon is considered one of the world’s greatest monuments. While built as a temple, it was mainly used as a treasury. Ihe 5th century, was converted into a Christian church. Once the Ottoman Empire took over, it was converted into a mosque in the 1460s.

Despite suffering damage over the centuries, including from an explosion during the 17th century, the Parthenon remains an iconic symbol of Ancient Greek civilization and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting millions of visitors each year.

3. Yes, Athens was named after Athena, and Poseidon wasn’t very happy about that

The first king of Athens, Cecrops, needed to find a patron deity for the city-state of Athens. Two Greek gods were interested in the position, the first being Poseidon, the god of the seas, and the second being Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill.

Cecrops asked them to both offer a gift that would be valuable to the city. Poseidon offered up water, which as many can imagine, would be extremely valuable. However, the water was salty and not at all useful for the population.

Athena created an olive tree, a symbol of peace and prosperity. The king was impressed with her gift, thus giving her the honor and naming the city after her. Poseidon wasn’t too pleased about this and cursed the city of Athens to never have enough water from that day forward.

4. Speaking of olive trees, there’s something you should know

Facts about Greece The Ancient Civilization

Greece is the third largest producer of olives in the entire world. Since ancient times, theycontinue to be big business even today. Considering the popularity of olives in Greek food, it should come as no surprise.

There are around 120,000,000 olive trees in Greece, and some of the olive trees from the 13th century are still producing olives today.

5. Greece has more islands than you can count

Yes, that’s a fact.Greece has anywhere from 1,200 to 6,000 islands, depending on the minimum size to take into account. But of all of these islands, only between 166 and 227 are inhabited. The largest of the Greek islands is Crete which is at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, but there is an island to fit any mood.

Interested in picturesque views with adorable villas perched high above the world? Santorini might be perfect for you. Looking to relax by a beautiful beach, Hydra sounds right up your alley. Each island is a little different, with its own unique appeal.

6. Greece has over 100 archeological museums

Possibly more than any other country, Greece has a large number of archaeological museums for history buffs to explore. Often located near excavation sites, these museums offer a glimpse into the vast history of ancient Greece.

While some museums are dedicated to a specific time period like ones devoted to the Byzantine Empire, others are devoted to specific themes such as theatrical art and painting. You can even visit museums dedicated to science, technology, and the art and history of seamanship. A trip to Greece could truly be the learning experience of a lifetime.

7. Greece has one of the largest varieties of wildlife in all of Europe

In addition to their history and islands, Greece has a  variety of wildlife due to its diverse geography. Mammals like the fox, deer, elk, bear and a rare white goat known as the Kri-Kri call this country home, among many others.

But it’s not just mammals that live here; there is also an abundance of reptiles and amphibians, including a few snakes. Sadly, many of the animals are in danger of becoming extinct, including about a half of the mammal population.

8. Greek’s highest point was the home of the Gods

Greece The Ancient Civilization

Mount Olympus is the highest point in Greece, and it  rises to 9,750 feet. If you’re the mountaineering type, you can visit Olympus and even reach its peaks. You’d likely start out in the town of Litochoro, translating to The City of the Gods because of its location.

9. The Ancient Olympics were nothing like the Olympics today

Yes, we all know that the Olympics started in Greece around 2,700 years ago, but they weren’t the same ones we have today. In the first Olympics in 776 BC, there was only one event, not the multitude that we see now, and it was a short 200 meter sprint. In fact, during the first 15 games, running was the only sport included in them.

Thousands of people from all over Greece would come to watch the game, as the main stadium held 45,000 people. Even in times of war, the fun went on. During the Olympics, the Greeks would set aside one month as a truce so athletes and spectators from different parts of Europe could come to the games.

And there were no gold, silver, and bronze medals for those who won, just olive wreaths for the winner and possibly some money or jars filled with olive oil and celery sticks.

10. Modern Greece is only a small part of what it used to be

In fact, Modern Greece is the center of the Ancient Greek civilization. Ancient Greece used to cover southern Italy, the coastal areas of Turkey and the Black Sea, as well as colonies in Africa, France and Spain. At the height of its empire, Greece actually reached as far as Russia in the east and Turkey in the south. Now, the country is roughly the size of Alabama in the United States.

Greece really does seem to have it all. The only question that remains is when you are going to plan your trip.

About the author

Kristen Duvall

Kristen is a writer of tales both real and make-believe. A Midwestern girl at heart, she currently resides in Southern California with her boyfriend, a Great Dane, and two rescued kitties, one of which is known simply as the KiKi Monster.


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