Architecture Arts Engineering History

Top 25 Greek and Roman Ruins to Visit

Top Greek and Roman Ruins to Visit

Greek and Roman ruins offer a window into the ancient civilizations that set a foundation for modern Western societies. The most popular Greek and Roman ruins to visit offer iconic architecture, innovative design, and unforgettable travel experiences. The top ruins are ranked by the Visited travel app, which has over 2.1 million users around the world. You can browse bucket list destinations and get your personalized travel map using the Visited app. Set a travel goal, check off where you’ve been, and see your progress using the Visited app. 

The best Greek and Roman ruins to see, according to Visited users, are:

1. Colosseum

The Colosseum, located in Rome, Italy, is the largest amphitheater ever built and remains the largest in the world. The iconic symbol of ancient Rome is an elliptical theater that opened in 80 AD. The Colosseum seated up to 50,000 people for grand gladiator events, performances, public executions, and religious ceremonies. The structure’s complex system of vaults and arches has stood the test of time and remains the top ancient Roman ruin to visit. 

Related Post: Top 10 Lakes in Italy to See

2. Pantheon

The Pantheon, also located in Rome, is a former ancient Roman temple that is now a Catholic church in Italy. The sacred space is well-preserved, with a massive portico, towering granite columns, and a coffered dome ceiling. The Pantheon houses tombs of famous Italians, including the artist Raphael, adding to the many layers of history within its walls. In front of the Pantheon is the Pantheon obelisk, one of a few ancient monoliths in the world. The obelisk was created in Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II (around 1279–1213 BCE).

3. Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient Greek citadel above the city of Athens, Greece. The ruins include the famous Parthenon, a former temple that was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. The Parthenon dates back to 447 BC and has held up incredibly well, with its stately columns and classic architecture. Other iconic structures at the Acropolis include the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Propylaea.

Related Post: Top 10 Ancient Sites to See in Egypt

4. Forum of Caesar

The Forum of Caesar is an ancient Roman masterpiece that was built by Julius Caesar in Rome in 46 BC. The pivotal place preserves an important part of Roman history, where government activities relating to the Senate were carried out. Although the ancient ruins have been hit by earthquakes and the effects of time, the historic site includes partially restored structures with a temple podium and the remains of the colonnades. 

5. Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus is an honorific arch to commemorate the Roman victory in the Jewish war, which ended in 70 AD. The ancient Roman structure is located on the Via Sacra in Rome, Italy, and dates back to the 1st century AD. The arch features elaborate reliefs depicting scenes from the Roman triumphal procession, including spoils of war taken from Jerusalem.

6. Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is the tomb of Emperor Hadrian in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. The historic cylindrical building has served as a fortress, a prison, and a papal residence and is now a museum. The museum houses a collection of art, artifacts, and weapons from Roman history. The fortress is located on the banks of the Tiber River and offers stunning views of Rome.

7. Pompei

Pompei is the site of the ancient Roman city that was buried by lava in what is now Naples, Italy. The ancient civilization was preserved in remarkable detail by the ash and puma from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Visitors can tour the archeological site and get detailed glimpses into daily life in the city. In addition to items from daily life, visitors can see the city’s amphitheater and the frescoes of the Villa of the Mysteries.

Related Post: Most Visited Ancient Sites in Mexico

8. Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine commemorates the emperor Constantine the Great in Rome. The triumphal arch opened in 315 AD. The arch features intricate carvings depicting scenes from Constantine’s reign, his military campaigns, and sacrifices to Roman gods. The grand structure is considered the last major monument of the Western Roman Empire. 

9. Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman race track that served as the competition ground for horse-drawn chariots. In ancient Rome, people would come by the thousands to cheer on their favorite charioteers in races. Circus Maximus wasn’t just for races, though. The venue also hosted gladiator fights and other shows. Today, it’s a public park where you can still see the remains of this historic place.

10. Forum of Trajan

The Forum Trajan was the last and grandest of plazas built by ancient Roman emperors. The forum opened in 112 AD. The forum, true to its name, was built on the order of the emperor Trajan and was the largest forum in Rome at the time. The multi-story complex was built on a hillside and had government buildings, markets, two libraries, and Trajan’s Column, a tall, spiraling monument depicting Trajan’s military campaigns in intricate detail.

11. Palatine Hill & Stadium

Palatine Hill is the historical heart of Rome and was the center of ancient Roman life. Palatine Hill was also the home of the Roman emperors for centuries, and the ruins of their palaces, including the Domus Flavia and the Domus Augustana, offer a glimpse into the lives of the emperors. Palatine Hill offers sweeping views of the Roman Forum, the Circus Maximus, and the city of Rome. Palatine Stadium, also known as the Stadium of Domitian, was part of the imperial palace of ancient Rome.

12. Temple of Venus and Rome

The Temple of Venus and Rome is believed to be the largest temple in ancient Rome. The temple is located in the eastern part of the Roman Forum. The temple was dedicated to two goddesses – Venus Felix (“Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune”) and Roma Aeterna (“Eternal Rome”). The temple symbolizes the connection between the goddess of love and prosperity and the eternal power of the Roman Empire. The temple was built by Emperor Hadrian, with construction beginning in 121.

13. Arch of Hadrian of Athens

The Arch of Hadrian is a Greek historic structure that resembles a Roman triumphal arch. The arch is located between the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, Greece. The monumental gateway was built around 131 or 132 AD. The arch marked the boundary between the old city of Athens, associated with Theseus, and the new Roman city built by Hadrian. The arch blends Greek and Roman architecture and honors the Roman emperor Hadrian, who was known for his admiration of Greek culture and his contributions to the city of Athens.

14. Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Athens, also known as the Classical Agora, is a renowned Greek agora. Agoras were central public spaces in ancient Greece that served as a marketplace and a hub for political, social, and cultural activities. The Agora of Athens dates back to the 6th century BC and continued to be an important center of Athenian life until the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC. The archeological site at the agora contains many structures and ruins, including the Temple of Hephaestus, the Stoa of Attalos, the Tholos, the Prytaneum, and more.

15. Olympia

Olympia, Greece, was a sacred space in ancient Greece and also was the site of the ancient Olympic Games. The ancient sanctuary was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Greek gods. The site includes the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera, and the Palaestra, a training ground for athletes where they practiced wrestling, boxing, and other sports. Olympia also includes a stadium and gymnasium where training and athletic competitions were held. Olympia’s archeological site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important archeological sites in Greece.

16. Ludus Magnus

Ludus Magnus – also called the Great Gladiatorial Training School – was the largest gladiator training school in ancient Rome. The school was built by the emperor Domitian in the late first century CE Ludus Magnus, and it served as a training ground and living quarters for gladiators from across the Roman Empire. The large rectangular building had a central courtyard where the gladiators endured intense training. 

17. Temple of Olympian Zeus Athens

The Temple of Olympian Zeus Athens is located in Athens, Greece. The formal colossal temple was dedicated to Zeus, the head of the Greek gods. The iconic temple was built between the 6th century BC and completed in the 2nd century AD. The grand temple had 104 colossal Corinthian columns, each 17 meters (56 feet) tall and 2 meters (6.6 feet) in diameter. Today, 15 of the original columns remain as part of the majestic ruins. The temple was built in the Corinthian order, characterized by slender fluted columns with ornate capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and other floral motifs.

18. Bath

The city of Bath in Somerset, England, is home to ancient Roman Baths with natural hot springs. The baths date back to the 1st century. The ancient Roman ruins also include a Roman bathhouse and temple that was built between 60 and 70 AD. The site also includes a museum with artifacts from Roman Britain. 

19. Theatre of Herodes Atticus

The Theatre of Herodes Atticus is a Roman theater made of stones located on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece. The theater was built in 161 AD by the Athenian benefactor Herodes Atticus in memory of his Roman wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. The historic theater was used for musical concerts and had the capacity to seat 5,000 people. The theater was restored in the 1950s and still hosts musical performances and cultural events today.

20. Ephesus

Ephesus in western Turkey was a thriving city during the ancient Roman era, from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. The Roman ruins include the ornate Temple of Hadrian and an impressive theater. The city was founded by Greek settlers from Athens, led by the prince Androclus. Under the rule of Alexander the Great and his successors, Ephesus flourished as a center of Greek culture and learning. The Library of Celsus, built during this period, housed a vast collection of scrolls and was considered one of the largest libraries in the ancient world.

21. Temple of Caesar

The Temple of Caesar was built in the Roman Forum of Rome, Italy, was built in 29 BC to honor Julius Caesar, the iconic Roman general and statesman. The temple’s ruins are not as well-preserved as some of ancient Rome, but they offer a peaceful place to contemplate the past and see slivers of an illustrious history. 

22. Arch of Septimius Severus

The Arch of Septimius Severus is a triumphal triple arch located at the northwestern end of the Roman Forum. It was erected to commemorate the victories of Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons, Caracalla and Geta, over the Parthians in the late 2nd century AD. The statuesque arch is made of white marble and has a unique triple arch design, with a larger central archway for traffic and smaller side arches for pedestrians.

23. Temple of Apollo, Delphi

The Temple of Apollo, Delphi, is situated on Mount Parnassus in central Greece. The temple was a religious sanctuary in ancient Greece dedicated to the god Apollo, who was associated with music, light, prophecy, and healing. 

24. Temples of the Forum Boarium

The Temples of the Forum Boarium, also known as the Forum Venalium, was the cattle market of ancient Rome. The forum was centrally located near the Tiber River. The temples include the Temple of Portunus, dedicated to the god of rivers and harbors, and the Temple of Hercules Victor, which honored the hero Hercules.

25. Herculaneum

Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town that was nestled in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius on the Bay of Naples, Italy. The town was part of the Roman Empire at the time of the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The volcanic ash and gas buried and preserved the city. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a detailed look into the lives of ancient Romans. 

Optimize Your Travel

Plan your dream trip and find more bucket-list destinations using the Visited travel app. You can check off places you’ve been and get your own personalized map using Visited. Browse top destinations and see where other travelers recommend going using the app.

You may also like...