Greece. Main cities and places of interest

The 25 largest cities in Greece

The last official census took place in Greece in 2011. The population in most settlements does not reach up to 60 thousand people. The metropolitan area has 3.7 million inhabitants, while in Athens itself live about 664 thousand. Greek cities can be divided into three categories.

Some rich in historical and especially archaeological sites, the second are located on the coast and attract tourists to beach holidays, while others combine both directions. For example, Karditsa tries to surprise the architecture and picturesque park, Chania – the beaches, marked with the sign “Blue Flag” for purity, and in Patras in the season you can comfortably both relax on the coast, and explore the ruins in the Upper City.

Greece’s largest cities

A list of the country’s largest cities by population.

Athens

The capital of Greece, named after the goddess of war. The region of Attica, which includes Athens, is the most populous part of the country. Its rich cultural and historical heritage is reflected in the collections of 250 museums of the city. Attractions: Athens Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the Tower of the Winds, the Agora, the Monastery of Kesariani. There are resorts that guarantee a comfortable beach holiday and entertainment program.

Population 664,046 (2011).

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Thessaloniki

A major seaport in the Aegean Sea. It hosts Aristotle University, the largest higher education institution in the Balkans. Monuments of the city dating back to the Byzantine and early Christian eras, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The 15 large museums allow to get acquainted with the history, traditions and culture of the region. In summer the villages around Thessaloniki are filled with beach lovers.

Population 325,181 (2011).

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Patras

The largest populated area of the Peloponnese peninsula. The local cathedral which bears the name of Saint Andrew the Firstborn is one of the most venerated orthodox churches in Greece. Patras is conventionally divided into two parts. The upper city – residential neighborhoods, ruins, historical sites. The lower town – the coast, beaches, tourist infrastructure.

The population is 167,446 people (2011).

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Larissa

The central city of Thessaly. Residential areas are spread out on both banks of the Pinios River. Larissa is not very rich in attractions, but the region has plenty of iconic places. For example, Mount Olympus – “home” of the gods of the Greek pantheon, the monasteries of Meteora and Thermopylae Gorge, where the legendary Spartans performed their feat. At 30 kilometers from the city there is a monastery, where fairs are held and the exchange of traditional seeds.

The population is 144,651 (2011).

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Heraklion

The capital of Crete. At the entrance of the city harbor, guests are greeted by the Venetian fortress Koules, the symbol of Heraklion. On the Lion’s Square there is the famous fountain of Morozini. The main collection of the archaeological museum is exhibits of Minoan culture. From early summer to September there is an art festival. It includes traveling exhibitions, concert programs and colorful shows.

Population – 140 730 people (2011).

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Aharne

It is considered a suburb of the capital. Until the beginning of the last century it was called Menidion. The Museum of Folk Art has collected exhibits from all over Attica. The monastery of Saint Paraskeva is the spiritual center of the non-canonical Church of the true Orthodox Christians of Greece and a gathering place for pilgrims. In Acharna there is also a temple of Old Believers, which bears the name of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius.

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The population is 99,346 (2011).

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Volos

The port of the Aegean Sea, located near Mount Pelion, which is said to be home to centaurs. The city is called the “pearl” of Thessaly because of the complex natural and man-made beauty as well as tourist infrastructure. The hotels in Volos are characterized by excellent service and accessibility. The beaches are marked with the “Blue Flag”. Excursions to nearby islands start from the harbor. The Municipal Gallery has paintings of modern Greek artists.

The population is 86,046 (2011).

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Kavala

Located on the coast of the bay of the same name. The port of the city is an important transportation hub. In the Middle Ages in Kavala appeared aqueduct, which has now become a tourist attraction. The ethnographic center is housed in a 14th century boarding house Imaret. In addition to beach recreation, wellness activities are also developed. Nearby is the ancient city of Philippi, among the ruins of which you can discern the outlines of former temples, theaters and other buildings.

The population is 76,186 (2011).

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Janina

Located on the shores of the lake of the same name at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level. The lake has an island where tourists are taken by boat. In addition to taverns and souvenir shops, there are active monasteries. One of the cloisters is converted into a museum. This monastery was built by an Ottoman vizier as a gift to his Christian wife. In Ioannina there is one of the oldest castles of the Byzantine era – a fortress of the first half of the VI century.

Population – 65 574 (2011).

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Trikala

Mentioned in the “Iliad” by Homer under the name Trikka. The city is divided into two parts by the river Liteos. On the site of the ancient acropolis now rises a Byzantine fortress. There are monuments of the Roman and Hellenistic periods – baths, portico galleries with one or two rows of columns and mosaics. There are two most interesting churches in the “new” city – the Church of the Holy Unmerciful and the Church of St Demetrius of Thessaloniki.

The population is 61 653 (2011).

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Halkida

Halkida sits on the coast of the Evrips strait, famous for its strong currents and whirlpools. The Church of Saint Paraskeva is one of the main prides of the city. In the interior decoration is preserved the best example of the Italian Gothic stone carvings on the territory of Greece. The central arch above the iconostasis, fragments of the ceiling and walls are decorated. Two bridges connect Halkida with the mainland.

The population is 59 125 people (2011).

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Serre

A town in northern Greece, which is only 71 kilometers from Thessaloniki. Roman cemetery and ruins of Byzantine fortifications found during excavations, testify to the settlement of these lands from time immemorial. The Basilica of Ai Theodori was erected in 1430. Five centuries later it burned down and was rebuilt. In the territory of the fortress the church of Ayios Nikolaos is preserved. There are also mosques in Serre – a legacy of the Turkish period.

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Population 58,287 (2011).

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Alexandroupolis

Alexandroupolis, a port city at the crossroads of the sea and land trade routes. It is close to the Bulgarian and Turkish borders. Alexandroupolis was founded by fishermen the century before last. Attractions: the Turkish lighthouse on the waterfront, Ethnographic Museum, and the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. There are ruins of ancient sanctuaries in the vicinity. Large selection of hotels and resort recreation options.

Population – 57,812 (2011).

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Katerini

A lively relatively young city named after a Christian martyr. Its location near Mount Olympus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gives Katerini an additional influx of tourists. Spa vacations are the main reason for visiting the city. Beaches, hotels, cafes and night entertainments are at your disposal. From here start a variety of excursion routes.

The population is 56,434 (2011).

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Xanthi

It existed even before Christ but gained popularity in XVIII century: high quality tobacco was produced here. Xanthi attracts fans of active recreation, which has a lot of options: rafting, fishing, rock climbing, biking. Ecotourists and ornithologists love the neighborhood. The historical part of the town is a real open-air museum. On Saturdays, there is a fair on the square and a big carnival every February.

The city has a population of 56,122 (2011).

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Kalamata

Located in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. The earthquake of 1986 caused the necessity to rebuild the city from scratch. Byzantine churches, the 13th century Church of the Holy Apostles and the Cathedral of the Redeemer in Ipanandi square are a miracle survivor. The mansion of the Benaki family took under the archaeological museum. Develop beach recreation, right on the beach built modern hotels.

The population is 54,100 people (2011).

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Chania

One of the major cities of Crete. The historic part of Chania has survived even during the Second World War and is an ornament of the whole region. For walking it is best to choose the neighborhoods of Topanas and Kastelli. The coast has both sandy and shingle beaches. Some of them are surrounded by pine forests. Stalos beach awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness.

The population is 53,910 (2011).

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Lamia

The city is spread across two large hills near the bay of the Aegean Sea. On the Freedom Square, the traditional annual parade is held. Nearby is the main cathedral of the city. There are also other squares in Lamia: Diakos, Park Square, People’s Square. They are decorated with statues and surrounded by outdoor cafes and stores. The collection of the archaeological museum is housed on the first floor of the former barracks building.

The population is 52,006 people (2011).

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Komotini

The city has preserved the old layout of the streets and neighborhoods. In the historic part of Komotini there are iconic landmarks, such as the Byzantine fortress. Several museums are open, including archaeological and ethnographic museums. Everywhere there are stores with souvenirs and local products, as well as cafes with national cuisine. In the vicinity of the city there are the fort of Nymphaia and the grove of the same name.

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The population of the town is 50,990 (2011).

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Rhodes

The center of the island of the same name. Trade, fishing, agriculture and tourism are the basis of the economy of the city. One of the wonders of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes has stood in Rhodes for almost half a century. The Rhodes Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a bronze deer in the harbor, the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite, the Fort of St. Nicholas and the windmills deserve special attention among the remained sights.

Population 49,541 (2011).

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Agrinion

A major center of the tobacco industry. The city was founded before Christ, but it was completely rebuilt after the earthquake of 1887. The central square is decorated during holidays and festivals, so it looks ornate for most of the year. In the vicinity of Agrinion there is a picturesque gorge Klaisura, as well as the ruins of the Church of the Holy Trinity on the shore of Lake Lysimahia.

The population is 46,899 (2011).

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Drama

It has existed since Roman times. In the past, the city had a commercial and military purpose, but now it is more focused on agriculture and ecotourism. The archaeological museum contains finds from several regions of the country. The slopes of Mount Falakron have become the site of a modern ski resort. Every year an international festival of short films is held in Drama.

The population is 44 823 (2011).

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Veria

Occupies the eastern slopes of the mountain range Vermion. It is a commercial town where fabrics, handicrafts, pasta, canned fruit, among other things, are sold. The Jewish quarter, the place where the Apostle Paul preached, many churches and monuments of different periods, the necropolis and fragments of ancient walls are the most interesting objects of the city. There are 2 museums opened: the Byzantine Museum and the Archeological Museum.

Its population is 43,158 (2011).

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Kozani

Kozani is located in a basin between the Vourinos and Vermion mountains. The city retains a long tradition in folklore, cuisine and way of life. Even outside the country Kozani is known as a place of saffron production. The most interesting place to walk is Nikes Square, from where the roads to the museums and architectural beauties lead. At the end of winter there is a big carnival in honor of Dionas.

The population is 41,066 (2011).

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Cardica

There are two versions of the origin of the name: from the words meaning “walnut” or “heart”. The latter is explained by the location of the city close to the center of Greece. Attractions: the Cathedral of Konstantin and Helena, the Arni Hotel, Paphsilipou Park, the Christian Museum and the Archaeological Museum. In the architecture of Karditsa there are different styles, but the market building is the only representative of Art Nouveau.

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Travelling is not only an opportunity to rest from the usual bustle and plunge into the world of unknown exoticism, but also to get acquainted with the culture and history of the country chosen to visit. Tourists, who are interested in the birth of Europe, often choose Greece for a vacation – the state, which began the formation of Western civilization.

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Intricate mixture of ancient architecture and modern achievements, sunny beaches and mysterious caves create a unique image of eternally young and at the same time incredibly ancient country.

The historical sites of Greece

The temple complex on Mount Parnassus

The temple complex on Mount Parnassus

The famous Delphic oracles that predicted the future of those who ventured to their dwelling have long since fallen into oblivion. But the temples where the mysterious priests lived and worshipped the god Apollo have survived. They are now a famous landmark in Greece, attracting fans of mystery. Besides the archaeological park, which has now become a grandiose complex, on Mount Parnassus there is a spring where, according to legend, the Muses, who enjoyed the special patronage of the god of art and light, used to bathe.

2. The Palace of Knossos

Knossos palace

The famous legend of the Greek Labyrinth and the Minotaur that lives there has very real origins: there is a palace on the island of Crete, which seems to have risen from the pages of Greek mythology. On the ancient walls in some places there is an ancient sign “labros,” which means “labyrinth.

The partial reconstruction carried out in the 20th century gave visitors the opportunity not only to admire the picturesque ruins, but also to see with their own eyes the appearance of the ancient buildings. Among the seemingly chaotically arranged structures is the throne room with a porphyry bowl at the entrance, and in the courtyard one can see deep wells intended for ritual sacrifices.

3. the Acropolis

Acropolis

Athens’ calling card and one of the most famous sights in Greece is the Acropolis, a magnificent religious complex on which the most famous masters of Hellas worked many centuries ago. It included many temples, most of which were dedicated to the patroness of the city, Athena.

Parthenon, the center of the temple ensemble, is the best preserved of all the religious buildings that once stood there. This once majestic structure had beautiful frescoes and statues of the gods and people. Unfortunately, only a small part of these, such as the bas-relief frieze under the colonnade, has survived. But even the ruined Parthenon is a magnificent sight.

4. The Tower of the Winds

Tower of the Winds

Even in ancient times the Athenians were able to predict the weather, although not as accurately as modern instruments do. The Tower of the Winds, a 12-meter-high marble construction topped with a beautiful newt-shaped weathervane, was used to see which direction the wind was blowing and what was in store for the coming day. The latter was lost during the century-long history of the Greek landmark. However, the unique bas-relief, decorated with images of the 8 winds, is perfectly preserved.

5. Temple of Zeus at Olympia

Temple of Zeus in Olympia

The head of the Greek celestial pantheon is Zeus, the god of thunder and lightning. It is in his honor were built the most grand and beautiful temples, some of which have survived to this day. One of them is located in the sacred grove at Olympia.

Once in the main hall of the temple was a statue of Zeus, which came out of the hands of the master Fidius, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Now tourists can only admire the ruins of the grandiose structure and admire the miniature reconstruction and preserved sculptures exhibited in the city museum.

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6. Agora

Agora

The center of secular and religious life in Athens was a huge square called the Agora. Here was the largest marketplace, numerous temples held religious services, and famous minds of antiquity performed from the stage of the Concert Hall.

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Now the site of the ancient heart of Athens is a museum complex that is open to tourists. Visitors can see the ruins of Hephaestus’ temple, the beautifully preserved Attalus’ Stoa, and take part in themed festivals that give an even better sense of the spirit of the past.

7. The Palace of the Grand Masters

Palace of the Grand Masters

The sights of Greece are not only buildings that are unsurpassed monuments of the ancient era. The Middle Ages also gave the country a lot of constructions that amaze with their grandiosity to this day. One of them is the Palace of the Grand Masters, once the residence of the head of the Order, which started the history of the Maltese Knights.

The ancient fort, built according to the classical canons of the Middle Ages, is an impregnable fortress with thick walls and high observation towers. But despite its rough exterior, you can find great decoration inside: you will have to spend hours exploring the beautiful mosaic floors, unique frescoes, statues and paintings.

8. City of Mistra

City of Mystras

Abandoned and forgotten by its inhabitants back in the 18th century, the medieval town is now full of people again. The unique mixture of cultures, which emerged because of the ever-changing host states, has created bizarre historical monuments. People from all over the world come to admire them. The city is beautifully preserved: it seems that the narrow streets, old houses and beautiful cathedrals left recently.

9. Monasteries of Meteora

Monasteries of Meteora

The stone formations that soared upwards have become a haven for Orthodox monasteries. The small monasteries are literally located between heaven and earth: to get to them, you have to overcome the stone steps, cut right in the rock.

Of the two dozen monasteries, once united into a complex, only six have survived. The decoration fully complies with Christian canons: gilded faces, lamps and candles decorate the small halls. But the atmosphere, similar to the one that reigns inside the airy monasteries, one would hardly find anywhere else.

10. Achillion Palace

Achilleion Palace

Built in the 19th century by order of Empress Elisabeth of Austria the palace is a very interesting monument of European culture, located on the island of Corfu. The Greek landmark is decorated in the style typical of the country and named after the famous ancient hero Achilles.

In the courtyard and on the facade of the building there are classical columns, which have become the hallmark of Greek culture. And the interior of each hall revives scenes from ancient Greek myths. Despite the fact that the palace is only a few centuries old, the spirit of antiquity pervades it, reflected in every statue and carved furniture with mythological images depicted on it.

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