Ever wanted to visit Greece? Well, before booking your next getaway, learn more than 50 interesting facts about the country that will make you want to pack up and head straight for this beautiful European destination.
Bordering the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, Greece is praised for its eye-popping beaches, bustling islands, amazing food, and rich culture, and it’s one of the top tourist destinations in Europe.
But how well do you really know this splendid Mediterranean nation?
Sure you may know many common fun facts about Greece including that is one of the oldest countries or a thing or two about Greek mythology, but we are diving in to share the most interesting facts about Greece you need to know before your visit.
What Is Greece Known For?
Greece is known for its rich history, especially how it was the birthplace of democracy. Greece is also known for its beautiful blue coastlines and picturesque villages on top of hills.
The Greek islands are a popular destination because they are close to mainland Europe but have unique cultures!
Facts About Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece refers to 700-480 B.C
It’s no surprise that Greece has one of the oldest and longest histories, but one of the biggest misconceptions is that the period most famous for architecture, art, and philosophy is the Archaic or Ancient Greek period. However, it was in fact the Classical Age (480-323 B.C.).
Athens is Europe’s oldest capital
Athen’s origins date back as far as 3,400 years ago. This makes Greece’s capital one of the oldest cities in the entire world! Plus, Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7,000 years
Democracy Originated In Greece
People in Greece got together and decided what they wanted to do. It also was the country that gave birth to Western civilization. This means Greek history has had an enormous impact on our lives.
The First Olympic Games Took Place In Greece
The games happened more than 2600 years ago in 776 B.C. in Olympia. The tradition of the games lasted until 393 A.D. and did not return until the first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896.
Women In The Olympic Games? No Way!
Women were forbidden to watch or participate in the ancient Olympic Games.
All-Time-Classic Books Date Back To Ancient Greece
The two major Greek poems, the Odyssey and the Iliad by Homer were written during the ancient Greece period.
Greece’s Real Name Is Not Greece!
Greece’s official name is the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas.
Ancient Greece Had Over 1,000 city-states (Greek Polis)
The main ones were Athína (Athens), Spárti (Sparta), Kórinthos (Corinth), Thíva (Thebes), Siracusa (Syracuse), Égina (Aegina), Ródos (Rhodes), Árgos, Erétria, and Elis.
Ancient Greeks Had An Unusual Way Of Doing Their Laundry
They cleaned clothes with fat from sacrificed animals!
Eating Beans In Ancient Greece? Never!
Many ancient Greeks believed that eating beans was a bad thing because the grains had the souls of dead people in them. Creepy!
Facts About Greek Geography and Cities
Mount Olympus Is The Highest Mountain In Greece
It’s also one of the highest peaks in Europe. Located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, the mountain rises up to 2,917 meters above sea level.
Greece Is One Of The Most Mountainous Countries In Europe
80% of the country is mountainous. Aside from Mount Olympus, the country is home to other well-known mountains, such as the Parnassus, Taygetos, and Pelion;
Greece Has The Longest Coastline In Southern Europe
Over 60 km of the coastline surrounds Athens!
Greece Is Quite Small
Greece is smaller in size than the state of Alabama, in the USA;
And Athens Is Packed!
About one-third of the Greek population lives in the capital, Athens.
Summer In Greece Is (Very) Hot!
The highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was in Athens — 48° C on July 10, 1977.
Facts About Greek Mythology & Architecture
Greece Has More Archaeological Museums Than Any Country In The World
Some of these archaeological museums include the most famous, Acropolis in Athens, The Archeological Museum of Rhodes, National Archeological Museum, and many more.
Greece Is Home To 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Including the Acropolis, Mount Athos, Old Town of Corfu, and the Medieval City of Rhodes. According to the official list, there are 14 locations that are currently pending consideration for becoming a Greek UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Acropolis Is The Most Popular Tourist Attraction In Greece
Aside from being one of the most prominent World Heritage Sites in Greece, the Acropolis Of Athens is considered to be the symbol of Athens and Western Civilization.
Greek Mythology Is Still Relevant In Greece Today
There were twelve Olympic gods celebrated in Ancient Greece, including Zeus, leader of the Olympians, Hera, Zeus’s wife and sister, and Athena, goddess of wisdom, defense, and war.
Athena Defeated Poseidon To Become The Guardian Of Athens.
They each gave the city a gift, Athena an olive tree and Poseidon water in the form of a spring. The people of Athens thought the olive tree was much more useful as it could provide food, oil, and wood.
Columns Are Very Symbolic Of Greek Architecture
There are three main types of columns used to build Greek temples and structures. They are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
There’s A Famous Saying Inspired By A Greek Myth
The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth of Hercules saving Crete from a raging bull by seizing its horns.
The Acropolis Almost Became One Of The “New 7 Wonders of the World”
But Mexico’s Chichén Itzá made it to the list.
High Heels Are Forbidden In Some Greek Places
It’s illegal to wear high heels in Greece when going on a tour of ancient historic sites because you could damage the monuments.
Interesting Facts About The Greek Isles And Nature
Greece Has Over 6,000 Islands
These islands are spread throughout the Aegean Sea and are some of the most popular destinations to visit in the world. Only 200 of these islands are populated.
Crete Is The Largest Greek Island
The entire island is 3218.548 square miles (8836 square kilometers) and has a population of over 630,000 people. In comparison, Halki is the smallest inhabited Greek island and is only 11 square miles (28 square kilometers).
Greece Is One Of The Sunniest Places In The World
The country has 85% of sunshine a year, an equivalent of 300 days of sunshine per year.
Santorini Island Is An Active Volcano
The last eruption recorded was in 1950. Santorini is also commonly known as the most popular Greek Island to visit.
Santorini Is The World’s Only Inhabited Caldera
The towns and villages sit densely on top of the mighty cliffs of the caldera (volcano cauldron).
Many Houses In The Greek Isles Are White-Washed With Blue Doors And Roofs
That color is believed to keep evil spirits away.
Mykonos Has An Official Mascot
It’s a pelican named Petros!
Mykonos Was Nicknamed “The Island of the Winds”
This happened due to the strong Meltemi winds that sweep through the Aegean Sea.
In Mykonos, Doors And Shutters Are Painted Blue, Green, Or Red.
Slanders would paint them according to their profession.
Greece Has Two Pink Sand Beaches
These picture-perfect beaches are Elafonisi, and Balos, in Crete.
The “Mamma Mia” Movies Were Filmed In Greece
The sequel was filmed on the Greek islands of Skopelos and Vis.
Greece Is Home To Many Unique Animals
The country is inhabited by bountiful wildlife. Some animal species, including the Mediterranean Monk Seal and the Cypriot Mouflon, are only found on certain Greek islands.
- Bonus Fun Fact: Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Corfu and Preveza, Greece, were named two of the European Best Destination‘s safest cities to visit in summer 2020.
Facts About Greek Culture & Lifestyle
Athens Has The Most Theatrical Stages In The World
More than New York’s Broadway or London’s West End. There are a total of 148 theatrical stages in Athens.
98% Of Greece’s Population Are Ethnic Greeks.
40% of the entire population resides in the capital city, Athens.
Greek Grandparents Usually Live With Their Children’s Families Until They Pass Away
There are very few retirement homes in Greece, so grandparents will live with the family of their children for the rest of their lives.
The Ancient Greek Alphabet Is The Oldest Written Language Still In Use
The Word “Alphabet” actually comes From Greek, and refers to the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha (α) and beta (β),
You speak Greek and you don’t know it!
The Greek language has contributed to the English vocabulary, and 150.000 of the English words derive from Greek. Examples: economy, academy, paradise, school, poem, and decade, just to name a few.
The Evil Eye Is A Common Greek Superstition
Also known as mati, the “evil eye” is believed to be negative energy, such as jealousy or hostility, and it can cause several bad things, such as headaches, weakness and bad luck. To protect against the harmful energies of the evil eye, Greeks wear a mati pendant, a blue and white eye charm that dates back to the 6th century BC.
90% Of The Population Of Greece Is Christian Orthodox
The Orthodox Church is the third largest branch of Christianity, after the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. There are also Muslims, Jewish, and Catholics in Greece.
In Greece, It’s Common To Celebrate “Name Days” Instead Of Birthdays
Greeks have a holy name calendar, and each day of the year is dedicated to a Christian saint or martyr. According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, when someone is named after one of these holy figures, that saint’s day becomes their “name day”.
“Eleftheria I Thanatos” Is The Motto Of The Hellenic Republic
The sentence means Liberty or Death.
The Greek Flag Is Also Known As The Γαλανόλευκη (galanolefki) or Κυανόλευκη (kyanolefki)
The flag consists of a cross in the upper left corner, and nine horizontal lines of sky blue and white alternated. It’s said that the nine stripes represent the nine syllables of the phrase “’Eleftheria I Thanatos”, but some say they symbolize the nine letters of the Greek word “freedom” (Eleftheria).
In Traditional Greek Weddings, The Best Man Will Shave The Groom
This gesture happens on the day of the ceremony and symbolizes trust.
Interesting Facts About Greek Cuisine
Ancient Greeks Loved Wine
Winemaking in Greece has been a tradition for 4,000 years, and there are over 600 wineries in Greece. A typical meal in ancient Greece always included bread, olives, and wine.
Lunch Is Called “mesimeriano”
This is the most important meal of the day in Greece.
The “Mediterranean Diet” Is Based On Food Patterns That Originated In Crete, Greece
The Mediterranean Diet includes vegetables, olive oil, nuts fish, grains, and a low intake of red meat.
There Are Thousands Of Olive Trees In Greece Since Ancient Times
Greece is also known to be the country in the world with the most olive oil consumption per capita. In fact, many greek women rubbed olive oil into their skin to make it soft.
Greece Is The Third-Largest Producer Of Olives In The World
And it produces more than 430,000 tons of olive oil annually.
Olive Trees Are A Gift From The Gods
According to Greek mythology, the goddess Athena gave the first olive tree to Athens before it spread to the rest of Greece.
Greece Is Also Known For Its Mouthwatering Feta Cheese
Fetta cheese is one of the country’s most important exports. In fact, the cheese was affectionately nicknamed “white gold”.
The Ancient Greeks Believed That Milk Was A Sacred Food
According to Greek mythology, the gods sent the son of Apollo to teach the Greeks the secrets of cheese making.
Quick Facts About Greece:
|Population||10.72 million (2019)|
|Neighboring countries||Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey|
|Anthem||“Hymn to Liberty” or “Hymn to Freedom”|
And before you totally make your mind to visit Greece this last Greece trivia just for you.
What is ouzo?
Ouzo, or tsikoudia as it’s called in Crete and Corfu, are both distilled beverages that have a high amount of alcohol. They taste like licorice with fruity notes. It’s usually served chilled on the rocks!
What new things did you learn about Greece? Now that you know the most interesting facts about Greece, it’s time to pack your bags and explore the beautiful Mediterranean destination. Start by booking one of best Greece hotels and affordable vacation rentals in Greece on CuddlyNest.
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