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Ancient Corinth

The ruins of ancient Corinth, a short drive from the modern city of Corinth, are spread around the base of the rock of Acrocorinth, which forms a natural acropolis for the city. Most of the surviving buildings are Roman rather than Greek; dating from the city's prosperous age after Caesar sacked and rebuilt much of the original Greek city. Much of the city has been toppled by recurring earthquakes over the centuries.

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On the Acrocorinth itself are ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite, of which little remains. The Temple of Aphrodite had more than 1,000 sacred prostitutes at one time, exemplifying the ancient city's reputation for luxury and vice. Also on Acrocorinth are the ruins of a stone minaret and ancient defensive walls.

Gortyna, Greece

The most important ancient site in Gortyna is the ruins of the Temple of Pythian Apollo. The rectangular outline of the sanctuary and most of the altar remain.

Other ancient Greek sites of interest in Gortyna include the Temple of Isis and Serapis and the Odeon, where archaeologists found the famous law code of Gortys (500 BC).

Panagia Chalkeon, Thessaloniki

The Panagia Chalkeon has a classic Byzantine cross-in-square plan with three apses on the east end and a narthex on the west end. It is constructed of deep red bricks that have given it a local nickname of "Red Church." It has a rather charming appearance due to its small size and sunken position below modern street level.

The main facade is pleasingly symmetrical, with three tall arches and three domes. The central dome is supported on an octagonal drum and the cross-arms have triangular pediments.

Agios Stefanos Monastery, Meteora

The old katholikon, which was rebuilt in 1545 and frescoed shortly thereafter, still stands. The new katholikon of Agiou Stefanou was built in 1798 and is currently being frescoed by a modern artist. It is dedicated to the martyred St. Charalambos, whose head it contains.

The refectory (15th century) has a surviving fresco of the Virgin in the apse. The monastery contains a small museum of vestments and other religious objects and the nuns sell handmade embroideries and other trinkets.

Ancient Akrotiri, Santorini

Ancient Akrotiri provides a rare glimpse into urban life in the Minoan period. Its elaborate architecture and vivid frescoes demonstrate the high level of culture on ancient Santorini. It has been estimated that the 40 buildings uncovered so far account for only 1/30th of the huge site.

The impressive buildings of Akrotiri include three-story houses faced with masonry (some with balconies) and extensively decorated with frescoes, which were very well preserved in the ash. Most of them are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens; Santorini is trying to get them back. Meanwhile, a few frescoes are in the nearby Museum of Prehistoric Thira.

Agii Apostoli Church, Athens

The church is built on the plan of a Greek cross (a cross with equal arms), with a narthex on the west side. Each arm ends in a semi-circular niche (or apse) and smaller niches are placed on either side of each apse. A dome rests on four pillars in the central crossing; it is the oldest example of the "Athenian type" of Byzantine dome in the city.

The church contributed to the development of Byzantine architecture by its successful combination of a central plan with a cross-in-square design.



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