THE CRADLE OF WESTERN CIVILISATION
Travel to the country that layered much of the foundation of the ancient world and remains one of the most appreciated tourist destinations in the world today
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
12 July 2019
Located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia and on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula lays Greece. Not only does the country have the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, but as its length exceeds thirteen and a half thousand kilometres, it also ranks as the eleventh longest coastline in the world. The location of Greece allows for a great experience either in the hot and dry summer season or even during the wet winter periods. The country's rich historical legacy is reflected in 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Greece was also a founding member of the United Nations, it is part of the EU, NATO, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and several other international unions. There is plenty to do and much to be visited, while the food culture takes a bit of space in the heart of anyone who has tried the traditional dishes and drinks, especially the fresh Mediterranean seafood cuisine.
Greece was the birthplace of the first advanced civilisations in Europe. It marked the beginning of the Minoan civilisation on Crete, the Cycladic civilisation on the islands at the Aegean Sea and the Mycenaean civilisation on the mainland. The cradle of Western civilisation and way ahead of its time, Greece served as a foundation to many other nations and governments. The Greek nation was organised into city-states, independent from one another, called polies ever since the eighth century BC. Pioneers in the principles of having equity under the law, trial by jury and a government based on the people, the Greeks layered the very beginning of modern-day democracy.
The country is where the Olympic Games alongside major mathematical and scientific principles, democracy, Western literature, philosophy and drama emerged. The literary forms, tragedy, comedy and poetry were all introduced by the Greeks and in turn influenced the entire Western artistic scene. The Greek culture and principles became integral aspects of the majority of the ancient world. From the east part of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea to the Roman and its succeeding Byzantine Empire, the Greek language and culture had a vital influence. Having gone through Ottoman oppression in the late 15th century and surviving a war of independence, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830.
Today thousands of islands contribute to the territory of the country including Crete, Euboea, Rhodes and Lesbos, yet over two hundred remain uninhabited. While the west part of the country has many lakes, the majority of close to eighty per cent of the mainland of Greece is covered in mountains. Mount Olympus culminates at 2,918 meters with Mytikas peak and is known for being the home of the Twelve Gods. With Zeus in charge, married to his sister Hera, the rest of the Olympian Gods include Aphrodite, Poseidon, Dionysus, Ares, Athena, Demeter, Artemis, Hephaestus, Hermes and Apollo. An essential role of the Greek mythology which revolves around nymphs, magical creatures, legendary heroes and events, told trough ancient epics such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, was partly religious but above all cosmological in its attempt to explain the formation and function of the world.
With such significant history and beautiful scenery, it is only natural that tourism would be of the most beneficial factors to Greece's economy. In the past decade the country saw a steady rise in the number of tourists reaching over twenty-eight million visitors in 2016, compared to the seventeen million the country welcomed in 2007. This makes Greece among the most visited destinations in Europe. Its second-largest city Thessaloniki was named the fifth-best party location worldwide by the Lonely Planet in 2010. The following year Travel+Leisure showcased Santorini as 'The World's Best Island' with Mykonos ranking fifth in the whole of Europe.
People travel long and far to set foot on Greece's land. To walk the streets of this Mediterranean country means to walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest thinkers, philosophers and writers in global history. You can read more about the world-class islands of Greece and their extraordinary atmosphere or explore more of the global Destinations on NOMADSofORIGIN's official website.