Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Exploring Roman Greece

Different parts of what is now the nation state of Greece came under Roman rule at different times. The peninsular fell to the Romans during the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. Whereas Crete was conquered by the Romans later, in 66 BC. The final conquering of the Greek world came following the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, when Augustus defeated Cleopatra VII the Greek Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony, and shortly afterwards captured Alexandria, the last great city of Hellenistic Egypt. Life under the Romans carried on much the same, Roman culture was heavily influenced by the Greeks.

Roman Sites & Ruins in Greece

Ancient Corinth

From the earliest times in antiquity to the medieval period, Corinth has been and important commercial centre. By the 4th century BC Corinth was one of the most important cities in ancient Greece. Although destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, the city was rebuilt and became the provincial capital of Greece. Again it was destroyed, by earthquake in the 4th century AD. And again rebuilt, in the Byzantine period. Artefacts recovered from numerous excavations in the area are on display in the on site museum.


Although a flourishing city was mentioned by Homer, it was not until the Hellenistic era that the city of Gortyn was at its most prosperous and powerful. During the Roman period the city became the capital city of the province of Creta et Cyrenaica. Later, in the 6th century AD a Christian cathedral was erected and dedicated to St Titus, the ruins can still be seen today. The site is best known for the Gortyn Code, discovered in 1884 it is the most complete and oldest example of a code of ancient Greek law.

Hadrian's Arch

Unlike many other comparable Roman arches, the Arch of Hadrian appears to be a much more slight and slender construction. A single arch spanned a road that would have lead back to the Acropolis. Two inscriptions on the architrave seem to suggest that the arch marked the boundary between old and new Athens. When in 1778 the Turkish governor Hadzi Ali Haseki built a wall to enclose the lower city, Hadrian’s Arch was incorporated as a gate in this wall. Unlike other monuments which were destroyed in this process.

Hadrian's Library

Built in 132 CE, the Library was a gift from Emperor Hadrian to the people of Athens. Hadrian was a committed Hellenophile, and he did much to leave his mark here. Today we enter the site at the imposing Pentelic marble façade, with its monumental Corinthian gateway. A small onsite exhibition room houses a colossal statue of Nike and some other artefacts recovered on the site.


An ancient city known for its Temple of Poseidon and the Isthmian Games (one of the Panhellenic Games). Today visitors come to see the exceptionally well preserved and beautiful mosaic floors in the bath house, as well as the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon. Isthmia suffered the same fate as Corinth at the hands of the Romans in 146 BC. And it was not until 44 BC that Julius Caesar had the temple and stadium restored. The site was rediscovered and excavated in 1952 by the Swedish archaeologist Oscar Broneer.

Kerameikos Archaeological Site & Museum

A walkable distance from the main concentration of ancient sites north-west of the Acropolis is the oldest and largest ancient cemetery of Kerameikos. This was one of the largest districts of ancient Athens, and it was here that the potters who made the iconic ‘Attic vases’ lived and worked. Besides funerary features, you can also see part of the Themistoclean Wall, the Dipylon Gate and Sacred Gate. An onsite museum houses artefacts from the site, mostly dealing with funerary customs and rituals through the ages.

Olympia Archaeological Site

One of the most important archaeological sites of ancient Greece, Olympia is known as for the origins of the Olympic games. First held here in the 8th century BC, and again every four years until the 4th century AD. As the location of the largest sanctuary to Zeus, ancient Olympia was also an important religious and political centre. Monuments to successful athletes were placed alongside monuments to the gods and victorious battles. Many of these monuments have survived, and are in a relatively good state of preservation.

Olympieion - Temple of Olympian Zeus

Although the colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus can be seen from the street (it is one of the largest Classical temples), this is a monument that definitely should be experienced up close. When completed by Hadrian in the 2nd century CE 104 columns made up the temple. Of these, only 16 remain standing today. There are many other features on site, including a Roman bath house, a basilica and the remains of the city’s walls.

Roman Agora

The site of the Roman Agora, built between 19 and 11 BCE, was the first commercial centre of Athens. Here a large courtyard is surrounded by shops and other commercial buildings. Just beyond the agora, are the remains of the public toilets and the octagonal Tower of the Winds, built for astronomical purposes. The tower has carvings that depict the ‘eight winds’, and during the Ottoman period was used by Turkish Dervishes. In 1458 the Ottomans built the Fethiye Mosque on the site of a Byzantine basilica.


A number of monuments and features survive from the different ages of the ancient capital city of Sparta, including an acropolis with a temple, a theatre, Roman shops and a Byzantine basilica. In the centre of modern-day Sparta is the Archaeological Museum of Sparta, which houses archaeological collections from the various monuments from the ancient city of Sparta, including the Acropolis, and other archaeological sites in the area, from the Neolithic to the Roman period.

Museums in Greece with Roman Collections

Acropolis Museum

Opened in 2009, this award winning museum displays over 4,000 objects from the nearby Acropolis. These range from the Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine periods on the citadel. One of the reasons for the construction of this state-of-the-art museum was the reunification of sculptures taken by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon. The museum was constructed above the archaeological site of Makrygianni. Visitors can follow walkways in a space under the museum to see in situ features of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The archaeological museum in Heraklion is one of the largest and most important archaeology museums in Greece. Not only does the museum have extensive displays of some 7,000 years of Cretan prehistory, from the Neolithic to the Late Roman period, it also has the finest collection of Minoan art and artefacts. Some of the island’s most iconic objects can be seen in permanent exhibitions, these include the enigmatic Phaistos disk, the bull head rhyton from Zakros and bull leaping fresco from Knossos.

Archaeological Museum of Kozani

Artefacts from the Palaeolithic to the Roman period from all over the prefecture of Kozani are on display in this early 20th century Neoclassical style museum. The objects range from everyday items to beautiful prehistoric and ancient jewellery, as well as an impressive collection of Roman marble statues. One display that stands is that of the metal objects recovered from Iron Age sites in the area, including a 3rd century BC necropolis.

Athens International Airport Museum

In the main terminal of the Athens International Airport there are three permanent exhibitions, free to visit. The first is an exhibition of the archaeology found during the construction of the airport in the Mesogaia area. On display are 172 archaeological artefacts from the Neolithic to the Post-Byzantine period. A small area with a few replicas and digital displays covers the Acropolis Museum. A third multimedia presentation explores Eleftherios Venizelos’ role in forming the modern Greek nation as well as its aviation ministry.

Delphi Archaeological Museum

The museum was founded in 1903 to mark the end of the first major programme of excavation at the archaeological site of Delphi. With the volume and size of objects recovered at the site, the museum has been expanded and redesigned many times since. In 14 galleries covering 2000 square metres of floor space are displayed some of the best artefacts, sculptures and architectural elements, including the Charioteer of Delphi, the frieze of the Siphnian Treasury, the cult statue of Antinous and the Sphinx of Naxos.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Established in 1986, the Museum of Cycladic Art houses Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris’ extensive collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art. The couple had been collecting prehistoric and ancient art since the 1960s. The museum also has one of the largest collections of Cypriot antiquities in the world outside of Cyprus. There are three permanent exhibitions: Cycladic art from the Cycladic Islands (3200 – 2000 BC), Greek art (2000 BC to 395 AD), and art from Cyprus (3900 BC to the 6th century BC).

Museum of Paul and Alexandra Kanellopoulos

On the north slopes of the Acropolis is the Neoclassical Michaleas residence, built in 1894 and now home to one of the richest private collections of ancient artefacts. There are over 7,000 objects, ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the Post Byzantine era. The objects are displayed in chronological and thematic order. This was the private collection of Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos that they donated to the Greek state in 1972 and opened to the public in 1976. In 2004 an extension was built so that the entire collection could be exhibited.

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Greece’s National Archaeological Museum in Athens is home to some of the most well known artefacts from all over the modern nation state of Greece. From prehistory to the Romans, with special collections of Cypriot and Egyptian antiquities. The museum has been in the current building with its spectacular Neoclassical façade since the 1889, but has been expanded many times since then. With the richest collection of ancient Greek artefacts anywhere in the world, this is a must for anyone with an interest in ancient Greece.

Olympia Archaeological Museum

Opened in 1882, this was then the first archaeology museum outside of Athens. The museum houses artefacts from the archaeological site of Olympia and the surrounding area. On display in 12 galleries there are terracottas, bronzes and marble sculptures from the prehistoric, archaic, Classical and Roman periods. Notable objects exhibited include the sculptures from the temple of Zeus, the helmet of Miltiades, a statue of Emperor Hadrian and a wine jug that belonged to Pheidias.