Greece is literally a land of myth and legend. Wherever you go, the land in Greece is imbued with millennia of history. So, it is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to walk where legendary figures of ancient myths have been said to tread, and take in the majestic views or uncanny locations that inspired the tales in the people of those times that are lost in history.
Where in Greece can I find locations of ancient Greek myths and legends?
Literally everywhere! But there are a few places that are more prominent than others, either because they were part of more famous or well-known myths, or because they are better preserved. Here are a few of the best ones:
Mount Olympus: home of the gods
Home to the 12 gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek pantheon, Mt. Olympus is the perfect place for experiencing the awe and grandeur of ancient Greek mythology! Mount Olympus was first scaled in modern times in 1913, and ever since there are several spots on its slopes and peaks that will make you feel like Zeus has invited you to dine in his palace: with the help of an experienced guide, hike or climb up to Olympus’ highest plateaus and peaks and wait for the moment where the profile of Zeus himself appears.
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Ithaca: the kingdom of Odysseus
One of the most famous legends is that of Odysseus, the king of the island of Ithaca, who went to fight in the Trojan Wars for 10 years, and after victory, he went through another 10 years of tribulations and trials in his effort to return home, because the god Poseidon was his enemy. You can read about Odysseus’ trials and tribulations in Homer’s Odyssey, while you walk around in his island, visit the various archeological sites, and look upon the views Odysseus would have when he returned home, disguised as an old man.
Athens: Athena’s city
There are several myths associated with the city of Athens, which is also the capital of Greece: from the contest between Athena and Poseidon over whose city Athens would become (it was Athena) to having its very own entrance to the underworld through Eleusis, not 30 km away from Athens proper. There are many events and activities you can partake in and become part of the legends! Weave to help save Arachne from the wrath of Athena on the hill of Philoppapos, be part of the trial of Ares for his war crimes on the Areopagus hill, and walk along the Nymphs in the National Gardens as you learn about each one, and in which tree she is residing.
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Nemea: Where Hercules defeated the lion
Explore the ancient site of Nemea, one of the most important locations in the myths about Hercules, the strongest demigod in Greek mythology! Hercules travelled to Nemea to defeat the Nemean Lion, as part of his 12 feats. See the temple of Nemean Zeus and walk around the ancient stadium where sports events are still held even today! While you do, enjoy exquisite Greek wine when you visit the Wisdom of Nature, coupling it with Greek cheeses as you learn more about history and myths tied to this fabled land.
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The Palace of Knossos: Where the Minotaur dwelled
Visit the stunning, imposing Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete, where legend has it that Daedalus, the genius inventor, had constructed the Labyrinth, where the Minotaur was kept. According to the myth, the Cretan king demanded of Athens to send seven young men and seven maidens to be fed to the Minotaur as a tax, until the young hero Theseus put an end to it by killing the monster. Walk along the meandering complex of the palace of Knossos as you learn the story, and marvel at the throne room where the legendary king Minos is said to have sat.
Mt. Ida: Where Zeus grew up
Mt. Ida, also called Psiloretis, is a mountain in Crete where it is said that Zeus’ mother, Rhea, hid him to protect him from his father Cronos, who ate his children to prevent them from dethroning him in the future. Visit the cave of Dikteon Andron, one of the most important places of pilgrimage and worship in Ancient Greece! Dikteon Andron is said to be the place where Zeus was born, and where he was hidden from Cronos by the Kourites, young warriors who danced noisily to cover the baby’s crying so Cronos wouldn’t hear. According to legend, on perfectly clear days, you can see the sun before dawn!
Delos: Where Apollo and Artemis were born
The king of the gods, Zeus, was notorious for his unfaithful ways, as he often cheated on his wife Hera with various other goddesses, nymphs, and mortals. One of those was Leto, who became pregnant with twins! Mad with jealousy, Hera harrowed Leto and didn’t want to let her give birth. Leto took sanctuary on the island of Delos, where she managed to give birth to Apollo and Artemis. Delos island, part of the Cyclades, was considered sacred, and there are many temples and other archeological sites for you to experience there!
Acheron River: The border between life and death
The gorgeous river of Acheron near the town of Ioannina in Epirus is one of the borders that separate the land of the living from the kingdom of the dead, according to ancient Greek myths. When Orpheus was allowed to go seek his wife Eurydice in the underworld, he had to cross the Acheron River. Visit the breathtakingly beautiful river, go kayaking and hiking in a mythological tour of all the significant spots that the Ancient Greeks called sacred, including one of the gates to the underworld, the kingdom of the god Hades!
Cape Tainaron: Where Hercules brought Cerberus to the world of the living
At the southernmost point of the Balkan peninsula, the very end of it, in the Peloponnese, you will find Cape Tainaron: one of the four gates to the kingdom of the dead. It is through the cave entrance of Cape Tainaron that Hercules entered to take Cerberus, as part of his 12 feats, and through there he brought the three-headed dog up to show to the king who demanded it. Walk along Cape Tainaron and take in the wild beauty of the Ionian sea meeting the Aegean sea, and if you feel brave, enter through the Gates of Hades into the cave!
Santorini: What was left of Atlantis
Santorini island, also known as Thera, is a volcanic island in the Cyclades. It is gorgeous and famed for its sunsets, the great caldera, and its black beaches. Santorini is known for the great volcanic eruption that nearly destroyed the Minoan civilization.
That catastrophic event also gave rise to the myth of Atlantis, the ancient island with the inhabitants that lived like gods thanks to their technology, whose arrogance caused it to sink to the depths of the sea. According to the descriptions left to us by ancient writers, Santorini could very well have been the spot of the ancient marvel, and you can walk its winding roads today!