A Greek Odyssey: How to Appreciate Greek History
Most of us don’t have a PhD in Greek history – but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate all the treasures that Greece offers. From mysterious ancient cities to priceless artefacts in museums, Greece has many remarkable things to see.
Most travellers to Greece split their time between relaxing in the sunshine and visiting historical sites – but how can casual historians make the most of their experience? To ensure you don’t walk away feeling cold from the sites of this Mediterranean gem, here are some top tips for appreciating your surroundings.
Read up beforehand
If you find yourself visiting ancient monuments and feeling nonplussed, that could be because you don’t know the story behind them. Historical context helps us understand and make sense of the sites that stand before us, giving us something to work with when we get there.
Doing a little research on a monument beforehand – e.g. who built it, when was it built and why – can illuminate your visit. By looking for this basic information you might even come across things that surprise you. For instance, this article on unlocking the mysteries of the Parthenon, in Athens, takes a world famous monument and gives us a thought-provoking take on it.
Take a local guide
Of course, there some juicy nuggets of info you can’t search for on Google. For insider information that lights up what you’re seeing, the best thing to do is hire a local guide. Learn local folktales, get the lowdown on hidden tombs and passageways, and find out things even PhD students don’t know.
Once again, this is about connecting the monument or artefact to a deeper story. Plus, everybody loves it you find a local guide who is a bit bonkers. There’s nothing like a few laughs to spice up a historical day out. Local guides provide an informal twist to famous landmarks.
Cultivate a photographer’s eye
From Lindos on Rhodes to the Minoan Palace of Knossos on Crete, the Greeks have some fantastic ruins to visit. If you’re not a history buff, however, such visits can leave you uninspired, so take a different angle when you visit your next ruin by thinking like a photographer.
Instead of worrying about reading up or finding a guide, just appreciate the aesthetic beauty of what is front of you and the quality of the light. Look for symmetry in what you see, elegant arches, wonky pillars, decorative elements and mosaics. Focus on colours, textures, the effects of light at different times of day, figures in a landscape, solitary trees, dusty roads and odd arrangements of rocks.
If all else fails…
If you really can’t get enthused about Greek history on your next Greece holiday, just enjoy the weather! Being out and about at one of Greece’s many ancient sites is the perfect way to get a suntan, go for a walk with your family and take in the fresh air, or even to just do some meditation.
See our inviting selection of Greek holidays and you could find yourself appreciating Greek history sooner than you think.