By taking a look at the world map today you would never believe that Greece, which is nothing but a small country, currently known as a beautiful tourist destination in southern Europe, had once dominated and colonized most parts of the then-known world. For those who love history though, Greece is without a doubt one of the most significant and influential nations of all time with amazing contributions to human culture including philosophy, various sciences, architecture, the Olympic Games, and democracy just to name the most prominent few.
The culture and spirit of Greece had once conquered major parts of modern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa through the empires and colonies built by different Greek city-states notably Athens, Miletus, Ionia, Knossos, Corinth, and the kingdom of Macedon (not to be confused with the recently formed Slavic country in the Balkans). Here are 25 ancient Greek cities that occupied an astonishing 19 countries of the modern world.
Akragas, Modern Italy
Nowadays Agrigento is a small city in Sicily that is known for its archaeological legacy, since the city has some of the best ancient ruins and sites in southern Italy thanks to its glorious past. The city, named Akragas, was established around 580 BCE by Greek colonists from Gela, another former Greek colony in what is now southern Italy. The city was one of the most dominant, prominent cities of Magna Graecia which translates as “Great Greece,” and was the term ancient Greeks used to refer to all the colonies and coastal areas of southern Italy during Greece’s golden age. Akragas was for many years a financial and cultural center with an extremely large population and great wealth.
Nikaia, Modern France
“Nice the Beautiful” is famous around the world as one of France’s most beautiful tourist spots mainly because of its warm climate, amazing coastlines, its picturesque villages, and rare natural beauty. However, Nice has a very rich historical and cultural background as well. It’s believed to have been founded around 350 BCE by the same ancient Greek colonists who founded Massalia. It was named Nikaia after the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, way before she gave her name to the most popular brand of sports shoes in the world.
Odessos, Modern Ukraine
The city of Odessa has been in the world news as of late because of the violence that occurred in the area earlier this year and the clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protestors. Odessa, however, was once a peaceful ancient Greek colony called Odessos, probably after another Greek city with the same name. Many artifacts and ruins discovered during excavation leave no doubt that Greek settlers once inhabited the city.
Eucratideia, Modern Afghanistan
Eucratideia was an ancient Greek town and part of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom that covered vast areas of Central Asia from 250 to 125 BCE. It was founded and named after the Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides I, who was a distant descendant of Alexander the Great. Even though we don’t know much information about the city since there aren’t many historical sources from that period that speak of the region, we know that the citizens worshiped Zeus, in many parts of the city they spoke Greek dialects, and considered themselves sons and descendants of Heracles and Alexander the Great.
Dodona, Modern Greece
Dodona was an ancient Greek town located in Epirus, a region that’s still inside the borders of modern Greece and which became particularly famous in antiquity as a cultural and religious spot where many people traveled from around the then-known world to worship Zeus and the goddess Dione, from which the city took its name. The shrine of Dodona was considered to be the oldest Greek oracle, dating to the second millennium BCE according to the Greek historian Herodotus. The ancient theater of Dodona, built in the third century BCE under Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus who was one of the most ferocious adversaries of Rome, had a capacity of 18,000 and was at the time the largest and most impressive theater in the ancient world.