Best temples to see when cruising the Greek islands

By Jenny Wilson published on 4 January 2016

A trip to Greece wouldn’t be complete without taking in some of the incredible architecture and fascinating history of the country’s ancient temples. Many are situated on the mainland but cruising the Greek islands gives you the chance to explore some of this region’s real gems.

Greek temples were first built around the 6th century BC. Unlike those of other cultures, they were not designed to house large numbers of worshippers; instead, the temples contained statues or friezes dedicated to the various deities and usually consisted of a roof supported by majestic columns. These were typically in one of three styles: Doric, Ionic or Corinthian.

Greek sightseeing tours - Temple exploration

The Temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina is one of the best island temples in this part of the world. The current ruins stand on top of the remains of at least two previous temples, and 24 of the original 32 columns can still be seen. Most unusually this temple originally had an inner structure around the main statue in addition to a series of internal statues. Although little of these remain today, the temple is still well worth a trip.

If you are venturing to the Cyclades, the island of Santorini is a must-see. A volcanic eruption here buried an entire Minoan city, the excavated remains of which have been incredibly well preserved. The remains of the city of Ancient Thira can be found just a little way from Fira and are also magnificent. Not only is there the Temple of Apollo Karneios but also the remains of several houses, some even still featuring elaborate mosaics.

Rather than being the location of a temple, the island of Delos was one large spiritual sanctuary and regarded as the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo. The island is now uninhabited but there are many ruins under excavation and a trip here gives a unique insight into how this political and religious centre might have looked.

With so many historical sites to visit, cruising the Greek islands is a fantastic way to see some of the region’s highlights.

Hiring boats in Greece - Tours of the islands
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