The stunning ancient Greek ruins found in Italy

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Concordia Temple – Agrigento, Italy. Credit: Public Domain

When you think of Italy and ruins, scenes from the Roman Forum and the Colosseum automatically come to mind. However, Italy is home to myriad ruins that are actually ancient Greek – many of which are in excellent condition.

The mainland of the country as well as the island of Sicily are littered with Greek ruins – some of which are integrated into modern cities and are even still used for events! Others can be found in remote locations, off the beaten path.

Ancient Greek ruins of Italy

Greek Delight supports Greece

When you travel through Italy, be sure to say “Grandpa!”. as often as you say “Mamma mia!” The following are just a few of the truly breathtaking ancient Greek ruins scattered across the Italian countryside.

Paestum

Located in southern Italy on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in what was then “Greater Greece” or Magna Graecia, this was a major Greek city in antiquity. The ruins date from the year 600-450 BC. And are among the best preserved Greek temples in the world!

Paestum
Temple of Hera, Paestum (Poseidonia) Italy. Recognition: Norbert Nagel/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The three famous ancient Greek temples at this point are of the Doric type, and the ancient city walls and amphitheater are largely intact. The lower part of the walls of many other structures is completely intact.

Walking the old cobbled streets and seeing the buildings lining the roadsides is an amazing experience like the ancients did. The site is open to the public, and there is also a modern national museum on-site for you to visit.

Another plus: this archaeological site is off the beaten path and is rarely crowded with visitors!

Locri Epizefiri

Also on the Italian mainland, in Reggio di Calabria, you will come across the ancient ruins of Locri. The ancient city was largely taken over by the encroachments of the surrounding cities.

Locri Epizefiri,
Locri Epizefiri, Greek theater. Photo credit: Sandro Baldi / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The area is well worth a visit, however, as the atmosphere calms down as you walk through shady olive groves and meander on the overgrown paths. Here you will inevitably and literally come across a treasure trove of ancient ruins.

Greek temples, amphitheater and the famous sanctuary of Persephone adorn the area of ​​Locri. The magical experience is really something not to be missed.

The island of Sicily has some truly remarkable ruins to explore, starting with the still-in-use ancient Greek theater of Taormina!

The ancient Greek theater of Taormina

With the beautiful Mediterranean Sea lapping its shores below and the active Mount Etna volcano looming over the city, Taormina is an upscale destination with cultural events, museums, and prized antiques – right in the middle of a bustling city!

The ancient theater of the ruins of Taormina
The ancient theater of Taormina. Credit: Public Domain

Here you will find an ancient Greek amphitheater with great views of the volcano and the sea. While there, you might even be lucky enough to see a show in the ancient theater. It was originally built in 300 BC. And then in the second century BC. Rebuilt by the Romans

Valle dei Templi in Agrigento

In Argrigento you will be pampered with refreshing views of wide fields and forests – as well as one of the most pristine ancient Greek ruins in the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples).

Agrigento, ruins
Agrigento, Valle dei Templi. Recognition: Jesper2cv/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Many of the temples and ruins here are not fenced off so travelers can go inside and go back to the 5th century BC. BC when the Greeks first built the ancient city of Akragas. This valley is home to one of the best-preserved Greek temples in the world, the Temple of Concord.

Segesta archaeological site

Segesta is only 70 kilometers southwest of Palermo. Lucky travelers can visit what is perhaps the second best-preserved temple in the world after those in the Valle dei Templi. Segesta also has a beautiful amphitheater located on Mount Barbaro, which is also in pristine condition.

Segesta ruins
The Doric Temple of Segesta, Italy Anna & Michal/ CC BY-SA 2.0

The temple dates from the fifth century BC. BC and has a typical Doric architecture. Every summer the ancient amphitheater hosts a series of classical Greek dramas performed in Italian. If you are lucky enough to visit in the summer be sure to see a show.

Ancient Greek colony in Syracuse

A favorite for everyone are the ancient ruins of Syracuse (Syracuse), where the ancient Greek colony dating back to the 5th century BC. BC dates. This area has a Greek theater and the 6th century Temple of Apollo. Syracuse also has the ruins of the famous Altar of Hieron II – the largest altar in Ancient Greece!

Ancient ruins of Syracuse
Ancient ruins of Syracuse Il Turista Informato/ CC BY-NC 2.0

Located on the southeast coast of Sicily and founded by the ancient Greeks from Corinth, the city of Syracuse was once one of the most powerful city-states of antiquity. It was once described by the Roman orator Cicero as “the largest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”.

Syracuse is so rich in historical treasures that it was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Of course, there are plenty of other Greek ruins that you will come across on your travels around Italy and Sicily, and we’ve just scratched the surface to highlight some of the most popular and better-preserved ones.

Make sure to add a little Greek history to your itinerary when you visit Italy!



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