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Greek monuments - symbols of world heritage

18 April 2013 / 20:04:07  GRReporter
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Since 1983, by a decision of the General Assembly of UNESCO, 18 April has been the international day of monuments of cultural heritage. In Greece, there are a fair number of monuments declared symbols of World Heritage, namely:

1986: Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

In 1986, the temple of Apollo Epicurius (Apollo the helper – author’s note) at Bassae in the region of Ilia became the first Greek UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most important ancient temples dedicated to Apollo. According to the myth, it was built after the Olympic god helped the residents escape the plague. The temple stands at an altitude of 1,130 metres in the centre of the Peloponnese. It was built in the second half of the 5th Century BC (420-410 BC). According to some sources, the temple was built based on the design of Iktinos - the architect of the Parthenon in Athens.

It was discovered by French architect J. Bocher in 1765 and the first excavations began in 1812. Two years later, part of the frieze of the temple was taken down and today, it is among the exhibits at the British Museum in London.

1987: Delphi

Delphi, the navel of the earth, was mentioned in the works of Homer as Python. Apollo’s sanctuary had retained its importance until the end of the 4th century AD when Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I ​​closed the most revered oracle in antiquity.

According to local myth, the residents of the village of Kastri that was located at the site of the sanctuary refused to relocate in order for the excavations to start. The opportunity for the archaeologists to start them occurred after an earthquake damaged half of the village. Then, the residents agreed and moved elsewhere. In 1983, the French Archaeological School started the excavations, revealing buildings of the sanctuary of Apollo as well as thousands of objects, sculptures and inscriptions.

1987: The Acropolis

The impressive stone hill on which the Athenian Acropolis is situated is 156 metres above sea level and 70 metres above Athens. It can be approached only from the west side, through the entrance which the Propylaea adorn. The hill has been inhabited since the 3rd century BC.

Most of the damage on the Acropolis dates back to the time of the Ottoman rule. In 1645, a streak of lightning fell on the gunpowder, which had been stored there, and destroyed the Propylaea. In 1687, during the siege of the city by the Venetian Morosini, one of the bombs fell on the dynamite stored in the Parthenon by the Ottomans. The ensuing explosion destroyed the temple.

It was seriously damaged shortly before the Greek War of Independence in 1821 too. A large part of the frieze, a caryatid, a column of the temple of the Erechtheon and other decorations of the Parthenon were taken away by order of the British Lord Elgin and shipped to England. Today, they are at the British Museum.

1988: Mount Athos

The autonomous Mount Athos monastic community includes 20 monasteries and other religious sanctuaries. Mount Athos is a centre of Orthodox monasticism. Its name was first mentioned in the 12th century in a Golden Bull from Emperor Alexios Komnenos I to the monastery of Great Lavra in 1144. The Berlin Treaty of 1878 recognized the autonomy of Mount Athos for the first time.

1988: Meteora

The complex of huge dark colour rocks near Kalambaka is another unsolved mystery, although there are some theories about the geological formation of the terrain.

The monasteries of Meteora, which are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, are a most important monastery complex, second only to Mount Athos. Today, six of the thirty monasteries that have survived over the course of time are in operation.

1988: Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki has been a major economic and cultural centre of the Balkans since the Middle Ages. A large number of monuments of great architectural significance, which have survived to this day, represent its legacy. In 1988, fifteen medieval monuments, dating from the early Christian era (4th century BC) until the end of the Byzantine period (13th - 14th century) were recognized as monuments of world cultural heritage.

1988: Epidaurus

According to mythology, the "father" of medicine Asclepius was born in Epidaurus, which is situated in the foothills of the mountains Arahneo, Korifeo and Tithio.

Its third consecutive governor, Epidaurus, gave the town its name. According to Homer, he participated in the Trojan War under the leadership of Asclepius’ sons - Podalirios and Mahaonas.

Archaeologist P. Kavvadias started the excavations at Epidaurus in 1881 and they continued until his death in 1928. Then, the archaeological service with the help of the residents of the nearby village Ligourio continued the work. They not only acted as volunteers, but also granted their fields, which were located near the archaeological site.


1988: Medieval city of Rhodes

Tags: HistoryWorld heritage monumentsGreeceUNESCO
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