A brief History of Greece & the islands

Greece is a country with a very rich history and the homeland of many famous personalities throughout the centuries.
This section features information about the history of Greece (from the Stone and Bronze Αge to the Twentieth century), but also information about historical facts: famous personalities of ancient Greece, archaeological sites, historical monuments, and more.
For quality videos about Greek history, you can visit the Youtube channel TinyEpics.

Table of contents
By PeriodMore FactsBy Location


The History By Periods

Knossos Palace in Heraklion, Crete

Bronze Age

Excavations have shown that the first settlement dates back to the Palaeolithic era (11000 - 3000 BC).
During the second millennium BC, Greece gave birth to the great stone and bronze civilizations: the Minoans (3500 BC - 1100 BC), the Mycenaeans (1750 BC - 1050 BC), and the Cycladic civilization (3100 BC - 1000 BC).
These were the first important civilizations in Greek but also world history.

The Parthenon of Athens

Classical period

The Classical Period (6th-4th century BC) is very famous worldwide.
The peak of the classical period is the 5th century BC when the foundations of Western civilization were created in Athens. This city-state became the greatest naval power of Greece at that time and developed all domains of science and culture, including mathematics, physics, philosophy, architecture, music, drama, rhetoric, and even a new regime called democracy.
It is not exaggerating to say that this period changed the history of the world.

Athens and Sparta were the most powerful city-states and the other city-states were allied with one or the other of these two.
In the 5th century, the allied Greek city-states managed to repel the invasion of the Persians.
However, the Peloponnesian War that followed, between Athens and Sparta, led to the decline of the glorious classical era.

That was when the Kingdom of Macedonia, a tribe residing in northern Greece, came to power defeating and conquering the other Greek city-states.
After the death of King Phillip II, his son Alexander started a large expedition in Asia. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire and his army conquered the lands up until India.
However, in 323 BC, he died in Babylon at the age of 33 and the Macedonian empire is torn apart and governed by his heirs.

Roman Aqueduct

Roman period

From 168 BC onwards, the Romans conquered Greece and a new period started in Greek history.
This is when the ancient Greek world falls into the hands of the Romans. At that time, the country became the field of many important battles and new cities were constructed, such as Nikopolis in western Greece.
Athens and the Greek culture overall declined, but Greek became the second official language of the Roman Empire.
The Romans read the classical philosophers and based their religion on the Olympian gods.
In the 3rd century AD, the powerful Roman Empire started to decline and it is divided into two pieces, the Eastern and the Western Roman Empire.

Byzantine church in Naxos

Byzantine Period

While the Western Roman Empire was gradually conquered by barbaric North-European tribes, the Eastern Roman Empire with Constantinople (Byzantium) as its capital developed and was turned into the Byzantine Empire which lasted for about 1,000 years.
At this point in history, Christianity becomes the official religion of the new empire, new territories are occupied and new state laws are formed. These laws will later constitute the first laws of the modern Greek state, as it will be formed in the 19th century.

Ottoman Bath in the main town of Chania, Crete

Ottomans period and Independence War

In 1453 AD, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and gradually the rest of Greece, which had already partly been dominated by the Venetians and the Knights of Saint John.
The country suffered a lot under the Ottoman yoke and frequent rebellions would rise. As these revolutions were unorganized, they were all suspended by the Ottoman army, until March 1821 when the Greek War of Independence broke out. This year is a cornerstone of the history of the country.
After many fights, massacres, and seizes, the country finally got its freedom in 1829, when the first independent Greek state was formed and Ioannis Kapodistrias, a Greek diplomat in the Russian courtyard, was set as its governor.
The first Greek state included Peloponnese, Sterea, and the Cyclades islands.

The Hellenic Parliament in Athens, in Syntagma Square

Twentieth century

After Kapodistrias was assassinated in 1831, Prince Otto from Bavaria became the first king of Greece, followed by George I from Denmark in 1863.
At that time, the Ionian islands were donated to Greece by Britain as a gift to the new king, and then Thessaly was attached to the Greek state by the Turks.
In the early 20th century, Macedonia, Crete, and the Eastern Aegean islands were also attached to the Greek state after the First World War.
This was the time when the figure of an important Greek politician was raised, Eleftherios Venizelos, the most famous Greek prime minister of modern history.

The year 1922 was troublesome for Greece as many Greek refugees from Asia Minor came to the mainland, after the burning of Smyrna.
Although at first, it was very difficult for refugees to adapt to their new lives, they gradually contributed a lot to the development of the country.

During World War II, Greece resisted a lot of the Axis forces, but eventually, most of the Greek territory was conquered by the Germans and some parts by the Italians.

After the Second World War, the Dodecanese islands, which were still under Italian occupation since the early 20th century, also became part of the Greek state in 1947.

Three decades of political turmoil followed, including a military junta from 1967 to 1974.
Since 1975, the regime of Greece is the Unitary Parliamentary Republic.


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