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Home  /  About Greece  /  History

History

Today’s visitors to Greece have the opportunity to trace the “fingerprints” of Greek history from the Paleolithic Era to the Roman Period in the hundreds of archaeological sites, as well as in the archaeological museums and collections that are scattered throughout the country.

The first traces of human habitation in Greece appeared during the Paleolithic Age (approx. 120000 - 10000 B.C.). During the Neolithic Age that followed (approx. 7000 - 3000 B.C.), a plethora of Neolithic buildings spread throughout the country. Buildings and cemeteries have been discovered in Thessaly (Sesklo, Dimini), Macedonia, the Peloponnese, etc.

The beginning of the Bronze Age (approx. 3000-1100 B.C.) is marked by the appearance of the first urban centers in the Aegean region (Poliochni on Limnos). Flourishing settlements were found on Crete, Mainland Greece, the Cyclades and the Northeastern Aegean, regions where characteristic cultural patterns developed.

At the beginning of the 2nd Millennium B.C., organized palatial societies appeared on Minoan Crete, resulting in the development of the first systematic scripts. The Minoans, with Knossos Palace as their epicenter, developed a communications network with races from the Eastern Mediterranean region, adopted certain elements and in turn decisively influenced cultures on the Greek mainland and the islands of the Aegean. 

On Mainland Greece, the Mycenean Greeks –taking advantage of the destruction caused on Crete by the volcanic eruption on Santorini (around 1500 B.C.)- became the dominant force in the Aegean during the last centuries of the 2nd Millennium B.C.. The Mycenean acropolises (citadels) in Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Thiva, Glas, Athens and Iolcus, then comprised the centers of the bureaucratically organized kingdoms. 

The extensive destruction of the Mycenean centers around 1200 B.C. led to the decline of the Mycenean civilization and caused the population to migrate to the coastal regions of Asia Minor and Cyprus (1st Greek colonization).

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After approximately two centuries of economic and cultural inactivity, which also became known as the Dark Years (1150 - 900 B.C.), the Geometric Period then followed (9th - 8th Century B.C.). This was the beginning of the Greek Renaissance Years. This period was marked by the formation of the Greek City-States, the creation of the Greek alphabet and the composition of the Homeric epics (end of the 8th Century B.C.).

The Archaic Years that subsequently followed (7th - 6th Century B.C.) were a period of major social and political changes. The Greek City-States established colonies as far as Spain to the west, the Black Sea to the north and N. Africa to the south (2nd Greek colonization) and laid the foundations for the acme during the Classical Period. 

The Classical Years (5th - 4th Century B.C.) were characterized by the cultural and political dominance of Athens, so much so that the second half of the 5th Century B.C. was subsequently called the “Golden Age” of Pericles. With the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 B.C., Athens lost its leading role.

New forces emerged during the 4th Century B.C. The Macedonians, with Philip II and his son Alexander the Great, began to play a leading role in Greece. Alexander’s campaign to the East and the conquest of all the regions as far as the Indus River radically changed the situation in the world, as it was at that time.

After the death of Alexander, the vast empire he had created was then divided among his generals, leading to the creation of the kingdoms that would prevail during the Hellenistic Period (3rd - 1st Century B.C.). In this period the Greek City-States remained more or less autonomous, but lost much of their old power and prestige. The appearance of the Romans on the scene and the final conquest of Greece in 146 B.C. forced the country to join the vast Roman Empire. 

During the Roman occupation period (1st Century B.C. - 3rd Century A.D.), most of the Roman emperors, who admired Greek culture, acted as benefactors to the Greek cities, and especially Athens. 

Christianity, the new religion that would depose Dodekatheon worshipping, then spread all over Greece through the travels of Apostle Paul during the 1st Century A.D. The decision by Constantine the Great to move the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople (324 A.D.), shifted the focus of attention to the eastern part of the empire. This shift marked the beginning of the Byzantine Years, during which Greece became part of the Byzantine Empire. 

After 1204, when Constantinople was taken by Western crusaders, parts of Greece was apportioned out to western leaders, while the Venetians occupied strategic positions in the Aegean (islands or coastal cities), in order to control the trade routes. The reoccupation of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1262 marked the last stages of the empire’s existence.

The Ottomans gradually began to seize parts of the empire from the 14th Century A.D., and completed the breakup of the empire with the capture of Constantinople in 1453. Crete was the final area of Greece that was occupied by the Ottomans in 1669. 

Around four centuries of Ottoman domination then followed, up to the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Numerous monuments from the Byzantine Years and the Ottoman Occupation Period have been preserved, such as Byzantine and Post-Byzantine churches and monasteries, Ottoman buildings, charming Byzantine and Frankish castles, various other monuments as well as traditional settlements, quite a few of which retain their Ottoman and partly Byzantine structure.

The result of the Greek War of Independence was the creation of an independent Greek Kingdom in 1830, but with limited sovereign land. 

During the 19th C. and the beginning of the 20th C., new areas with compact Greek populations were gradually inducted into the Greek State. Greece’s sovereign land would reach its maximum after the end of Word War I in 1920, with the substantial contribution of then Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. The Greek State took its current form after the end of World War II with the incorporation of the Dodecanese Islands.

In 1974, after the seven-year dictatorship period a referendum was held and the government changed from a Constitutional Monarchy to a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy, and in 1981 Greece became a member of the European Union.

Results
CHANIA
History of Chania

After archaeological excavations it was revealed with certainty that in the position of the present day city- the position of Kastelli – Kydonia was built in ancient times, which was built by the...
History of M. Chania

The Prefecture of Chania has a long history since the first signs of life on the land is dated to Neolithic times. In the following years Kydonia grew on whose ruins the present day capital of the...

CYCLADES
History of Mykonos

According to archaeological finds on the island but also in historical sources, the ancient city of Mykonos was founded in the 11th century by Iones from Athens who with their leader Ippokli, son of...
History of Syros

The most ancient traces of habitation belong to the end of the Neolithic Age, between 4000 and 3000 B.C. During the period of prosperity of Cycladic civilization (3200-2000 B.C.) the famous...

DODECANESE
History of Nisiros

The name of island most likely comes from the prehellenic Aegean times. The first inhabitants of Nisyros were the Kares. They were followed by the Achaeans of Kos and the (of Doric descent) Rhodians....

DRAMA
History of Drama

In the center of Drama, to the south of the park of Aghia Varvara, the prehistoric settlement of “Arkadiko” has been discovered. Since the middle of the 6th millennium B.C. Arkadiko was the first...

EVROS
History of Evros

During the Paleolithic era, from the time that people used their first stone tools until the taming of the first animals and cultivation of the first plants, men created groups of people who survived...
History of Samothrace

Chora (Samothrace) is located 5 km east of the port, built among hills so as to be protected from the winds and thief raids, which were very common during the last centuries. At one end of Chora you...

HERAKLION
History of Heraklion

The first traces of habitation in the prefecture are placed in the Neolithic Age mainly on the south shore. Its highest point of growth is noted during the Copper Age. It is the age of Minoan...

IMATHIA
History of Imathia

The history of Imathia is lost in the depth of past centuries and is connected with all aspects of Greek History. Human facilities appear from prehistoric times. In Nea Nikomidia settlement is one...

KAVALA
Greek history - Thassos

The lush green island of the Northern Aegean sea, because of its privileged location and its rich gold and marble resources, was inhabited very early first by the Phoenicians (1600 -1500 B.C.) and...
History of Kavala

The initial residential core of Kavala was the hill of Panaghia, a neighborhood where several traditional residences can be seen nowadays. On top of the hill there is an imposing Castle, the symbol...

KILKIS
History of Kilkis

According to archeological findings discovered in different regions of the prefecture, as well as writings of ancient historians (Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Stravon) Kilkis prefecture has been...

LASSITHI
History of Agios Nikolaos

The city is found built on the ruins of the ancient city of Latos as ancient inscriptions show. According to Mythology, the goddess Athena and the goddess Artemis preferred the city’s lake for their...
History of M. Lasithiou

The myth in regards to the birth of Zeus dictates that he was born in the Dikteo Andro Cave on the plateau Lasithi. The first traces of life are dated to the Neolithic period whereas in 2700 B.C....

MAGNESIA
The beginnings of history of Volos

Some of the most significant Neolithic sites in the whole of the Balkan Peninsula are accumulated in the greater area of Volos. The visitor can tour about 40 Neolithic settlements dating back to the...

RETHYMNO
History of M. Rethimnou

The area of the Prefecture of Rethymnon was already inhabited since Neolithic times whereas there were many settlement during the Minoan Age. During the Byzantine Age, Rethymnon followed the fortune...
History of Rethimno

The city of Rithymno already existed from the Late Minoan Period III as at the settlement of Mastaba a Minoan cemetery of Ancient Rithymnas was found in 1947. Archaeological excavation discovered...

RODOPI
History of Komotini

The first written evidence of the town (“polisma” as Emperor Ioannis VI Katakouzinos called it) names it “Komoutzina” and dates back to the 14th century. At the time, Komotini was a small and...

THESPROTIA
History of Thesprotia

Thesprotia with its particular geographic position, the anaglyph and the safe quays in its many natural gulfs led in the 14th century to the transfer of many Mycenaeans to the area and establishing...

THESSALONIKI
History of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is a big, modern city with 1 million inhabitants and the largest urban center of the Prefecture. It was founded in 315 B.C. by the king of Macedonia, Kassandros, son of the general...

XANTHI
History of Xanthi

For ancient Greeks Thrace was the place from where Voreas and God Aris were taking the warpath. In mythology it is mentioned as the birthplace of Orpheus and other mythical composers. Our...

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