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Greece: The Cradle of Western Civilization
From ancient times, Greece has been at the center of the world’s civilizations, largely due to its geographical position in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Often called “The Cradle of Western Civilization,” Greece is a crossroads in the Eastern Mediterranean, connecting the Middle East with Southern Europe. It is a country with thousands of islands, connected by boats and ferries and dotted with ancient ruins.
Greece is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites, dating from the fifth century BC. The city of Athens, on the southern shore of Greece's mainland, is home to the world famous Acropolis, which sits on a rock outcropping around 500 feet above sea level. It includes the Parthenon, a huge temple built in 440 BC, one of the most important historic sites in the world. Originally planned as a citadel, the Acropolis contained a marketplace, the public square, and several temples — including the Temple of Athena Nike, a tiny sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
One of the best-preserved Medieval towns of Europe can be seen on the Grecian island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. Appropriately called "Old Town," the city was built with strong stone walls, an impressive castle, paved pathways and elegant mansions. Historic sites are scattered through the island of Rhodes, including the Temple of Apollo, the Acropolis of Rhodes, and the Acropolis of Lindos. In ancient times, the island was protected by a huge bronze statue, the Colossus of Rhodes. Completed in 280 BC, it was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and stood at the entrance of the Mandraki Harbor. It was destroyed in an earthquake in 224 BC, and no trace of the statue remains today.
Visitors to Greece will appreciate the many ancient, historic sites that occur everywhere within the thousands of islands, but there are modern wonders, too. The islands of Santorini and Mykonos are favorite tourist spots with picturesque resorts and vibrant nightlife. On Santorini, whitewashed cubiform houses look out over the blue sea and the black, red and white sands of the volcanic beaches. Mykonos, lying southeast of Athens, is another scenic destination with colorful doors and stairways adorning the white buildings. Nicknamed "Island of the Winds," Mykonos is dotted with windmills and attracts sailors and wind surfers to its shores.
Greece vacations offer the history buff a world of ancient ruins to explore; but sun worshippers, hikers and boaters will also find their favorite spots among these thousands of sun-drenched islands.
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