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.
20. Naucratis, Modern Egypt
The discovery of the ancient Greek city of Naucratis proved many historians wrong who were claiming that the first time the Greeks visited Egypt was during Alexander’s reign. Around the seventh century BCE, almost four hundred years before the Greek king wouldconquer the area, some Greek mercenaries from Miletus had already landed in Egypt, and according to Herodotus, with the help of other Greek pirates and explorers from Caria and other places on the Greek mainland, they established the city of Naucratis around 550 BCE, which is considered to be the first and oldest Greek colony in Egypt.
15. Heraclea Lyncestis, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Heraclea Lyncestis was a strategically important Greek city during the Hellenistic period and was established in the fourth century BCE by Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II, who ruled the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon at the time. The city was named after the mythological hero Heracles, from whom both Philip II and Alexander believed they were descended. Today, only a few ruins and monuments exist near the present-day town of Bitola, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
10. Myrmekion, Modern Russia/Ukraine
Earlier this year most of us learned about the Crimean Peninsula (also known as Crimea) because of the territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine. However, the ancient Greeks had explored and colonized the region many centuries before the Russians or the Ukrainians ever lived there. Originally settled by Milesian Greeks in the sixth century BCE, the city, located on the shore of the Cimmerian Bosporus, soon became the richest in the region. In the following years and under Greek influence the city flourished on many levels and was known for producing high-quality wine.
5. Sybaris, Modern Italy
Sybaris was a Greek colony in what is now southern Italy and was founded around 720 BCE by Achaean and Troezenian settlers. The city was famous for its remarkable strategic position on the Gulf of Taranto and at some point Sybaris became synonymous with luxury and immense wealth. At its peak the population exceeded three hundred thousand. The citizens became known throughout the ancient world for their excessive wealth and luxurious lifestyle, and slaves did all the manual work and labor in the city. Sybaris was also known for its diverse cuisine and innovative culinary arts because the local cooks and bakers invented many new dishes and desserts that were ahead of their time.