Greek Guide

Ancient Corinth Greece Ancient Corinth

Ancient Corinth Greece Ancient Greek Historical Sites

The archaeological site of Ancient Corinth, located 81 kilometres south west of Athens, is one of the most popular day excursions from the Greek capital. The ruins of this once magnificent city are spread over a vast area and ongoing excavations since 1896 have uncovered extensive remains of the former capital of Roman Greece. As far back as the 5th century BC, the city was one of the richest, most powerful and vice ridden cities of ancient Greece. The site lies at the base of the imposing Acrocorinth, a 575 metre mass of limestone rock with the remains of a fortress which was among the most forbidding and impregnable strongholds in Greece.

The city's strategic location at the crossroads between the Peloponnese and northern Greece and the eastern and western Mediterranean made it a prime target for successive invaders over the centuries. In turn it suffered periods of great glory and terrible turmoil.

Today's invading armies are day trippers from Athens who arrive by the coachload mid morning and return before sun down. But these fascinating ruins are worthy of a full day's exploration so consider bedding down for the night in the attractive village of Ancient Corinth which lies seven kilometres south west of the sprawling modern city of Corinth.

The main focus of the excavated area is the 5th century BC Temple of Apollo with its seven Doric columns. This is one of the few structures from the Classical Greece era to have survived the numerous earthquakes and manmade destruction which razed much of the ancient city to the ground. Most of the ruins date from Roman times a glorious era when Julius Caesar rebuilt the city transforming it into a major commercial and cultural centre with 300,000 inhabitants and 450,000 slaves.

To the south of the temple you'll find yourself in the ruins of a vast Roman agora (marketplace) flanked by the foundations of a huge stoa a colonnaded walkway which once had 33 shops. In the middle of the central row of shops you can see the "bema", a marble podium from which the Roman dignitaries addressed the people. The excavated Odeon, built in the 1 st century AD, once delighted bloodthirsty Romans with fight to the death battles between gladiators and wild beasts.

One of the most impressive structures is the Peirene Fountain a natural spring used in ancient times and still supplying water to the village of Ancient Corinth. Legend has it that Peirene, the daughter of the river god Asopus, wept so uncontrollably when her son was killed that the gods turned her into a fountain to save the water.

The site's archaeological museum houses a large collection of treasures tracing Ancient Corinth's turbulent history through Greek, Roman and Byzantine rule. The exhibits include some impressive statues, mosaics, pottery and sarcophagi.

A trip up to the Acrocorinth is a must an easy journey by taxi or a more challenging four kilometre climb for which you should allow at least a couple of hours. The ancient acropolis is still largely surrounded by two kilometres of fortified walls and contains the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite which once housed 1,000 sacred prostitutes. The lascivious habits of the ancient Corinthians prompted St Paul to spend 18 months here in a futile attempt to impose a more Christian code of conduct.