Greece is a perfect vacation destination for those that have a passion for exploring the ruins of ancient civilizations. If you are that person, and are planning a vacation to Greece, make room in your itinerary for Ancient Corinth.
A Brief History
The ancient city of Corinth has a long turbulent history that can be traced back to the 10th Century BC. Corinth’s strategic location, being ideally situated between the Peloponnese and Mainland Greece, made this city an important hub of trade and communication between the two regions. Through the cities trading activities, Corinth was able to achieve a great deal of authority and wealth until the Persian Wars in the 5th Century BC. After the Persian Wars, Athens rose as the definitive marketplace for trade in ancient Greece, a major setback for the city of Corinth.
Under Macedonian control (338-243 BC.), Corinth once again rose in wealth and power for a short period of time. In 146 BC, as a result of the Battle of Corinth, the city was completely destroyed at the hands of the Romans. Corinth remained in a state of ruin, and it was not until 44 BC that the city began to be resettled. Now under Roman control, Corinth developed into an important center of economic activity.
Corinth remained an important center of manufacturing and trade until the fall of the Roman Empire. The proceeding years after the fall of the Roman Empire, Corinth endured repeated attacks from Goths, Normans, and Turks and a number of catastrophic earthquakes. The culmination of these events prevented the city from ever attaining the power and prestige it enjoyed in the past.
Today, the tumultuous story of Corinth is revealed in the ruins of this ancient city.
Visiting Ancient Corinth
The most predominate feature at Ancient Corinth is the Temple of Apollo. Today, this temple is marked by only 7 of the original 38 monolithic columns. Nevertheless the remaining columns are a testament to the abilities of the ancient architects and craftsmen that designed and built this beautiful structure.
As you explore the ruins of Ancient Corinth you will discover the remnants of many striking buildings and structures including agoras, temples, fountains, basilicas, and a theater.
Be sure to take your time. There are many beautiful ornate columns and architectural features everywhere!
When you finish your tour of the ruins make your way to the museum. The museum was built in the early 1930s by the American School of Classical Studies, and it houses an amazing collection of artifacts from the site. On display are fine Corinthian ceramics, statues of Roman citizens, intricate mosaic floors, and even artifacts from the areas prehistoric Neolithic past.
As with the ruins, take your time admiring the objects on display. There is a lot there to see.
When you visit Ancient Corinth, high above the city, you will notice the walls of a fortress built in the 10th century. Inside the fortified walls of Acrocorinth are acres of ruins that include mosques, towers, gates, and walls. Much like Ancient Corinth, Acrocorinth has a long colorful history and is a great place to explore.
If you have time, I would suggest visiting Acrocorinth. The ruins are incredibly interesting; the view from Acrocorinth is amazing, and best of all it does not get crowded. As a matter of fact, when I was there in 2009, I got to the site early in the morning and did not see another person for almost two hours.
To visit Acrocorinth you can take a taxi from Ancient Corinth, or you can save some money and get some exercise by walking there. The walk from Ancient Corinth takes about 45 minutes and it is relatively easy.
Getting to Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth is an easy day trip from Athens. Buses travel frequently between Athens and New Corinth. From New Corinth, the ancient ruins are a 30 minute bus ride. Buses to the ancient ruins from New Corinth leave approximately every 30 minutes. While this is an easy day trip, if you have a flexible schedule, I would suggest spending two days at Ancient Corinth to fully explore the ruins of the old city and Acrocorinth.
Before you visit, keep in mind, as with most of Greece there are very few shade trees so explore the ruins early in the morning and bring plenty of sunscreen and water. In the afternoon, when the sun is high and blazing hot, take a break and visit the museum or some of the shops outside of the ruins. There are also several good tavernas that serve ice cold beer and typical Greek fare.
If you decide to spend the night at Ancient Corinth stop by Niko’s Ancient Corinth Restaurant and ask about the Rooms-For-Let. The owner of Niko’s has several rooms in his house that he rents to tourist at a reasonable rate. Plus, he will take good care of you if you eat in his restaurant. If Niko’s is full, there are many places to stay and several very good gyro shops in New Corinth.
So if you are planning a vacation to Greece think about visiting the ruins of Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth. You will not be disappointed.
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Themelis, P. G.
2004 Ancient Corinth : The Site and the Museum. Editions Hannibal, Athens.