I always try to visit as many UNESCO world heritage sites as possible when I travel to a region. When it came to exploring Greece, we found ourselves among an overwhelming number of UNESCO sites and other sites of historical and cultural importance. In order to visit all the sites on the mainland south of Athens, we based ourselves in the beautiful and pleasant town of Nafplio.
Now Ancient Corinth is not a UNESCO world heritage site, but it is located near Nafplio and can be easily reached from Athens as well by both car and public transport. Due to its accessibility and cultural and historical importance, we decided that a visit to this site was just as important as a visit to the surrounding UNESCO sites.
There are actually two Corinths. There is the modern city of Corinth, and there is the site of the ancient city (which is a few kilometers from the modern city). Corinth in modern times is a pretty small town – with a population around 40,000. But in antiquity it was one of the most important cities in the region due to it’s strategic location for trade. As development continued, the ancient city was actually covered by newer and newer development – until a series of earthquakes destroyed the city, and excavations of the ancient structures under the ruins could commence.
Excavations are still ongoing, and most buildings have not been reconstructed, so a good guide book and a vivid imagination are an asset here. That being said, the ruins of the Temple of Apollo which were built on a hill to overlook the marketplace, are still awe inspiring today. Other interesting sites are the ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite, which apparently once contained 1,000 sacred prostitutes. By the way, the wikipedia article on sacred prostitution is actually quite interesting.
During our visit, we were the only people there. We didn’t hire a guide, but instead opted to wander through the site on our own time.
So what next?
The site of Ancient Corinth is located just a short drive from some other great historical sites such as Mycenea and Epidaurus.