Greece, the cradle of Western Civilization and beginning of Democracy as a political system, has a wealth of structures which are extremely significant in world history and architecture. Although many of these sites are now in ruins, since Greece has had its share of conflict and bad management over the years, there is enough remaining to appreciate the splendor of this pivotal country. Below is my list of Greece’s Seven Man-Made Wonders.
1. Acropolis & Parthenon, Athens. Named the top European Cultural Heritage Monument in March of 2007, The Acropolis has long been seen as a symbol of the Greek civilization which began Western Civilization as we know it. The buildings whose ruins grace this promontory and center of Athens were constructed in the 5th century BC. Although there has been much damage to the structures since that time, their former glory can still be appreciated.
2. The Oracle at Delphi, Delphi. Considered by the Greeks the center of the Universe, Delphi housed the world-renowned oracle which was consulted on a regular basis by the leaders of the various Greek city-states. Most of them maintained treasuries on the grounds of the oracle to house their offerings. The actual "oracle" was beneath the Temple of Apollo, to whom the area was consecrated. Also nearby, further up the slopes of Mount Parnassus was an Amphitheater and an arena for the performance of the Pythian Games, forerunners of the Olympics, during which athletes from all over Greece competed for honor and glory.
3. Meteora Monasteries, near Kalambaka. These monasteries, perched high on pinnacles of rock, were probably built in the 14th century as refuges from the expanding Turkish occupation going on at that time. Orginally there were 20 monasteries, although only six remain. They were extremely inaccessible, but now can be visited by tourists. They are all considered World Heritage Sites.
4. Knossos Palace, Crete. This complex is thought to be the center of the Minoan civilization until its destruction in the 15th century BC, presumably by a tidal wave or other aftermath from the eruption of an immense volcano on the island of Santorini, to the north. Discovered in the late 19th century and excavated in the early 20th century by Sir Arthur Evans, it has become a major tourist destination and common stop on the itinerary of cruise ships. The site is unusual in that several sections have been restored to what they are thought to have looked like when the site was occupied.
5. Monastery of St John the Theologian & the Cave of the Apocalypse, Patmos. The monastery, high on a hill of this island which is near the Turkish coast, is a formidable fortress as well as a religious site. Just below the monastery is the cave where St John is said to have received visions which lead to the description of the Apocalypse and the Book of Revelation.
6. Palace of the Grand Master, Rhodes. This major structure in the city of Rhodes was built in the 14th century by the Knights of Rhodes and was used a fortress during the Ottoman invasion and takeover of the island. The location of the palace is at the end of a well-preserved cobblestone street, known as the Avenue of the Knights, lined by residences for the knights.
7. Greek Amphitheater, Epidaurus. This premier example of the classic Greek amphitheater is well-known for its excellent acoustics. Built in the 4th century BC, it holds 15,000 spectators, it is still used for productions today.
Other sites considered:
Ruins of Delos
Ruins of Olympia
Agia Sophia Church, Thessaloniki
Island Fortress, Nauplion