The Roman occupation of the Greek world was established after the Battle of Actium, where Augustus famously defeated the lovers Cleopatra, the Greek queen of Egypt, and Roman general Mark Antony, and then captured Alexandria.
The ruins that remain today are a joy to explore, and are testament to the sophisticated society that once thrived during classical antiquity. From aqueducts and villas to mausoleums and monuments, remnants of the country’s fascinating and turbulent past are situated amongst the lush landscapes, azure blue seas, and dynamic cities that make Greece a wonderful tourist destination.
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus is stunning Roman theatre built in 161 AD. Built by an rich Greek-born Roman senator in the mid-second century AD, it was constructed it in commemoration of his wife, Regilia. Able to seat up to 5,000 people, the theatre was mostly used for music shows and festivals, a function it still performs today.
For visitors to the site, this ancient theatre is startlingly photogenic and offers some great shots of the city.
Eleusis contains a range of hugely impressive Greco-Roman ruins, including the Sacred Court, a Roman reproduction of Hadrian’s Arch, and the Kallichoron Well.
A number of these monuments and buildings have survived today and are a popular draw with tourists, providing as they do a picturesque scene to explore. For those seeking to know more about the history of the city, there is a museum located on site which gives more detail on the story of this ancient settlement.
Also known simply as the forum, the Roman Agora of Athens was founded in the early first century AD and its construction was funded by Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus. The agora is home to an array of fascinating ruins including the Gate of Athena and even the remains of some ancient public toilets!
Probably the most impressive monument is known as the Tower of the Winds. A clock, weather vane, sundial, and compass all in one, it’s very well preserved and fascinating to discover.
Although the Romans certainly did a lot of building in Greece, they also spent a lot of time killing one another. Probably the most famous of these internecine clashes was the battle of Philippi. The clash took place in 42 BC, two years after Caesar’s assassination. The forces loyal to the heirs of Caesar met those of his assassins and the two sides met in Greece near the ancient city of Philippi.
Today, the battlefield is believed to be located outside the modern town of Krinides in north-west Greece, near the archaeological site of Philippoi. As well as the battlefield, visitors can explore the ruins themselves which contain a range of structures and monument from this once-thriving settlement.
The Philopappos Monument is an important mausoleum built around 116AD and celebrating the life of one of Athens’ most important citizens of the time, Gaius Julius Philopappos. When this great benefactor to the city died, the citizens built a spectacular two-storey marble monument close to the Acropolis to honour his name.
The mausoleum was preserved virtually intact up until at least the late fifteenth century and, though degraded by the years, visitors can still view elements of the lavish decoration and burial chamber.
The Arch of Hadrian of Athens is a triumphal gateway built in the second century AD by this famous Roman emperor.
While not necessarily the most impressive of ancient gateways when compared to those in Italy or North Africa, its Pentelic marble can still be seen, despite being somewhat damaged by years of exposure to pollution.
The archaeological site of Aptera contains an array of interesting Greco-Roman ruins. Today as well as the impressive Roman cisterns, visitors to Aptera can explore a number of fascinating ruins at the site including Roman baths, villas and an ancient theatre.
The archaeological site also includes a small ancient temple most likely dedicated to the goddess Demeter as well as the ruins of early churches. There is a small museum at the site which expands the history of the settlement.
Built by the Emperor Hadrian between 125 and 132 AD, Hadrian’s Library was an important centre of ancient learning in Athens. In its heyday, this vast structure would have housed over 17,000 scrolls and other documents. Destroyed by the Herulae in 267 AD, it was later repaired before being damaged again during the later barbarian invasions.
The most impressive of ruins of the ancient building are the great Corinthian columns on the well-preserved outer wall, and the impressive portico which served as the entrance to the courtyard.
Delphi is an archaeological site in mainland Greece comprised of the well-preserved ruins of one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. Archaeologists have found evidence that Delphi was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period and sites dating back to the Mycenaean Civilisation, but it was the Ancient Greek city which developed in Delphi which has left the biggest mark on the area.
Many of the sites at Delphi date back to the fifth century BC, although many have been reconstructed and some altered by the Romans. Many of the buildings also suffered from damage and destruction caused by fires and earthquakes. Nevertheless, walking through Delphi offers a fascinating insight into the lives of its former inhabitants.
The Athens Byzantine Museum contains over 25,000 artefacts from the late Roman period all the way up to the Byzantine, Medieval, and post-Byzantine eras.
It includes religious artefacts, sculpture, paintings, manuscripts, jewels, and art. The artefacts come from all across the country as well as from nearby regions where Hellenic, Roman, and Byzantine culture were prominent.