Map of Ancient Corinthia

Ancient Corinth covered a range of 900 km². Already from the 8th c. B.C., it was a rich and powerful city-state. The limits of Corinthia reached the Megarid. Towards the south, it bordered with Kleonai and the Argolid. To the west, it neighbored with Sikyon. To the east, Corinthia shared its sea borders with the island of Aigina. At the foot of the Acrocorinth, within the walls, there was the city of Corinth, the political center of Corinthia. The surrounding countryside disposed smaller settlements, the so-called komai. Some of their names have been preserved through ancient sources: Solygeia, Tenea, Krommyon, Sidous, Therma, Peiraion, Oinoe, Lechaion, Kenchreai, Schoinous, Asai, Kromna, Mausos, Melissos, Voukephalos, Petri.

  • 1

    Back to list


    The Diolkos is a paved road which was used for the transport of boats by land on a platform (“puller of boats”).

    Its western section was excavated to a length of 255m. on the Peloponnesos side of the Isthmus and of 204 m. on the Sterea Hellas side, in the precinct of the School of Engineering.

    Its width is 3,40 – 6,00m. It is paved with square blocks of poros and carried two grooves in the middle, at a distance of 1,50 m. from each other. On its western side it ended on a paved quay.

    It became necessary to built the “diolkos” in order to provide a quick passage for the boats between the Saronic Gulf and the Corinthian Bay. It was constructed during the 6th century B.C., probably during the tyranny of Periandros in Corinth. Its western end was reconstructed at the beginning of the 4th century B.C. It was used for the transport of small boats, mostly warships, up to the 9th century A.D. as is confirmed by various sources.

  • 2

    Back to list

    Sanctuary of Hera at Perachora

    Perachora is part of the territory of both ancient and modern Corinthia, extending to the north of the Isthmus. It is noteworthy that even today it preserves for the most part its ancient name, Peiraion or Peraia (land), which means the region beyond the sea, as one looks northwards of Corinth.

    There are two outstanding landmarks in Perachora. One is natural, the Vouliagmeni lagoon, a site of rare beauty. Τhe other is manmade, the Sanctuary of Hera, where the goddess was worshipped with the epithets Akraia (of capes) and Limenia (of harbours). The Sanctuary was founded during the Geometric period and survived until the destruction of Corinth by the Romans in 146 BC.

  • 3

    Back to list

    The Sanctuary of Poseidon

    The Sanctuary of Poseidon was located on the ancient road linking Athens with Corinth, near the east end of the Isthmus. Thanks to its strategic position, the Isthmia sanctuary became one of the four major panhellenic sanctuaries, a place of congregation for the Greeks and of consolidation of their ties. In 480 BC, the gathering here of representatives of the Greek cities to decide on their coalition against the Persian invaders was a landmark event in ancient Greek history. Henceforth, the assembly of the Greeks at Isthmia acquired a symbolic character and important leaders, such as Philip II (337 BC), Alexander the Great (336 BC), DemetriosPoliorketes (302 BC), set their sights on convening representatives of the Greek city-states at Isthmia, in order to extol the necessity of the common effort to confront the foreign foe.

    The Temple of Poseidon

    The first Temple of Poseidon is dated to between 690 and 650 BC, and is one of the earliest Greek temples in which the main architectural elements of the Doric order are fully formed. A large stone altar for making sacrifices had been constructed to the east of the temple. Initially, it was the same length as the cella of the first temple (100 feet).

    This temple survived, with minor modifications, until 460-450 BC, when it was destroyed by fire. Between 450 and 420 BC an imposing peripteral, amphiprostyle Doric temple was erected on the site of the earlier one, with building material of local poros limestone, which was extracted in large quantities from the neighbouring quarries at Hexamilia. This temple was more or less contemporary with the temple of Zeus at Olympia and almost identical in plan, except that it was slightly smaller. The temple peristasis had 13 columns on the long sides and 6 on the narrow ones. On the roof was a marble sima decorated with lion-head waterspouts to shed rainwater. The cella kept the bipartite division at first, with a central colonnade of 6 columns, possibly because of the dual worship of Poseidon and his wife Amphitrite. The altar was enlarged, reaching 40 m. in length and about 1.80 m. in width, making it one of the longest altars known, together with that of the temple of Zeus at Nemea, which was 41 m. in length.

    The temple kept its Classical form into the Roman period, even though it suffered damage in 146 BC, during the Romans’ razing of Corinth. With the rebuilding of the sanctuary at the end of the first century AD, the aspect of the edifice was improved and a precinct wall (peribolos) was constructed around it. Within the precinct, the temple of Poseidon, probably bereft of its peristyle, appeared quite small in relation to other temple buildings. That is why Pausanias describes it as a temple of small dimensions in comparison with other ancient peripteral temples.

    Τhe Palaimonion

    Myth has it that the Isthmia began as funerary games in honour of the child-hero Melikertes-Palaimon. When he and his mother, Ino-Leukothea, fell from a rock into the Saronicgulf, a dolphin carried the dead child and left him on the beach of Isthmia, under a pine tree. There he was found by Sisyphos, king of Corinth, who also founded the games in his honour. The altar and the hallowed pine tree were located somewhere on the coast of Isthmia. Little Palaimon with the dolphin was the patron deity of sailors, who protected them from shipwrecks. In the reign of Hadrian (AD 138) the first temple of Palaimon was built, with a precinct wall (peribolos), to the east of the temple of Poseidon.

    The Stadium

    From the early sixth century BC, the Isthmia were held in the second and the fourth year of each Olympiad. The programme of events included contests such as running (sprint), pentathlon (long jump, sprint, discus, javelin and wrestling), wrestling, boxing, pankration, horse races and chariot races. Later, music contests were held in the theatre. Initially, the victor’s prize was a wreath of pine and later of wild celery.

    Festivities, which lasted two or three days, included sacrifices to Poseidon and rites to commemorate the hero Melikertes-Palaimon.

    Essential prerequisite for holding the Isthmian Games was the existence of a stadium, as at the other major sanctuaries (Olympia, Delphi, Nemea) where panhellenic games were organized. The first stadium was constructed in the mid-sixth century BC, when the Isthmia were included in the quadrennial cycle (the so-called Period) of the four great panhellenic festivals. At first the stadium was simply a levelled running track, around which the spectators stood. Its maximum length was 600 Greek feet or one stade (193 m.) Ca 500 BC, an embankment of accumulated earth and stones was constructed along the northeast side of the track, as a cuneus for the spectators.
    In the fourth entury BC, new changes were made to the stadium. From this phase part of the sphendone of the ancient stadium has survived, as well as a unique mechanical system for regulating the athletes’ take off, the so-called hysplex.

    This first stadium became redundant after 300 BC and was replaced by a larger one, situated 240 m. to the southeast. The new stadium was used also in Roman times and it was here in 196 BC that the Roman general Flamininus declared the liberation of the Greek cities under Macedonian rule, one year after his defeat of Philip V at KynosKephalai [Cynocephalae].

    The Theatre

    The theatre lies on the banks of a ravine northeast of the terrace of the temenos of Poseidon. Its first phase is dated to the second half of the fifth century BC, when a three-sided cavea was constructed for the audience. The orchestra was placed at the base of the cavea. About one century later, the cavea was widened, acquiring its curved shape. The skene was remodelled and a proscenium constructed, of which the eleven openings created between the supporting antae were closed by revolving doors. The entire construction was of wood and could be taken apart in the intervals between the festive periods.

    In Roman times, when the games returned to the sanctuary, the cavea of the theatre was enlarged. The skene was reconstructed, possibly for the participation of Emperor Nero in the games.

    The Roman Baths

    The Roman baths lie at the north edge of the archaeological site. Built around AD 150-160, they were sponsored by a noble magnate, most likely the Athenian Herodes Atticus, who had made similar dedications in other Greek sanctuaries. The baths were adorned with sculptures, mosaics, murals and various marbles, which had been brought to Isthmia from various provinces of the Roman Empire. The aesthetic ambience of the thermae was completed by a system of fountains from which cool water flowed in abundance into spacious bathing pools. There were comfortable benches for men to relax and the premises were a suitable venue for social and philosophical discussions, perhaps even religious rites. The building’s 14 rooms were large and lofty, and probably covered by vaulted roofs.

  • 4

    Back to list


    In the narrow plain between the Saronic gulf and the mountain Geraneia, close to the village of Agioi Theodoroi, lies the ancient city of Crommyon, the northernmost Corinthian settlement. The importance of this agglomeration is reflected in its common mention in ancient sources. In mythology, Crommyon is linked to Theseus, who killed the sow Phaia who was ravaging the region. In his Corinthiaca, Pausanias mentions that the city was named after hero Cromos, son of Poseidon.

    Xenophon mentions that there existed a walled agglomeration, apparently due to its strategic spot in the middle of the seaside route which led from Megara to Corinth. Its important location rendered it the cause of a long strife between the two neighboring cities. Strabo mentions that Crommyon was acquired by Megara during its height and that it was annexed to Corinth, probably after the 6th c. B.C.

    Included among the ancient remains confirming the existence of the ancient city are part of the Geometric cemetery, a late-archaic circular and theater-like area with a paved floor, whose function remains unknown, part of the city’s classical cemetery and the remains of classical and Hellenistic residences with particularly well-made floors of plaster and pebbles, etc.

  • 5

    Back to list

    Poros quarries at Examilia

    At a distance of 3 km. to the west of the sanctuary of Isthmia lie the remains of an extended agglomeration, identified as Cromna through a reference by poet Callimachos to the site of Cromnitis, which is close to the Isthmus and Lechaion. The region was inhabited from Kesimia to Perdikaria, to the north of Rachi Boska. The presence of extended quarries of poros stone, running for almost three kilometers alongside the route, and connecting ancient Corinth to the Isthmus, was a source of wealth, since Corinthian stone was one of the main exportable products of the ancient city. Although no systematic research has taken place so far in the area, surface finds show extensive habitation of the region in the archaic, classical and Hellenistic period. The funerary stele dating from the late 4th / early 3rd c. B.C. and bearing the inscription ‘ΑΓΑΘΩΝ ΚΡΩΜΝΙΤΗΣ’ was connected to the region in question.

  • 6

    Back to list

    Harbour of Kenchreai

    The harbour of Kenchreai [Cenchreae] was Corinth’s east outport on the Saronic gulf. During the Roman period, pioneering harbour installations were constructed at Kenchreai, making it a safe haven for merchant ships. As a result, commercial activity developed in the area, making an essential contribution to the formation of a prosperous and multicultural society. However, Kenchreai always was a satellite of Corinth, and proof of this is the fact that it never issued its own coinage.

    In the area, trade routes that ended at the harbour, linking Corinth and other important settlement in the hinterland with it, have been determined. Also, a coastal road, parallel to the modern road to Epidauros, was one of the basic arteries leading south to the Argolid. The fortifications found at Stanotopi in the Oneiamountains, west of the Loutra tis Oraias Elenis, seem to have offered full surveillance of the area. Dating from the fourth century BC and in continuous use in Roman and Medieval times, these fortifications show that from the Classical period Kenchreai was of great strategic importance for the Corinthians, who took measures to monitor the roads to the harbour and also the Isthmus.

    The visit in AD 51 by Paul the Apostle, who set sail from Kenchreai for Ephesos, is an important milestone in the harbour’s history. It at once signifies the founding of the first Christian community and confirms the presemce of an organized society in the port, which had already developed into a major centre of transit trade with Asia Minor.
    In the south part of the harbour, the ruins of the crepis, the warehouses and the piscinae (fish tanks), as well as of the sanctuary of Isis with the fountain, have been identified. With the prevailing of Christianity this sanctuary was converted into a Christian basilica. Remnants are preserved to this day, both on land and in the sea.
    In general, the funerary and settlement remains found around the perimeter of the harbour confirm a strong, almost unbroken and dense building activity with the harbour as nucleus, from Roman into Early Byzantine times. A series of events in neighbouring Corinth in the fifth century AD affected the society of Kenchreai. The plague in 542, the earthquakes in 522, 551 and 580, as well as the barbarian incursion in 580, all caused the gradual abandonment of the harbour, with some occasional efforts at revival from the late fifth until the seventh century AD. Then a new period of decline, perhaps even of desertion, intervened, lasting two hundred years or so, until the tenth century, when use of the harbour was resumed and it continued to function throughout the Byzantine Age, as well is in Ottoman times.

  • 7

    Back to list

    Ηarbour of Lechaion

    The west harbour of Corinth lies on the coast of the Corinthian gulf. Originally this was a marsh, which was appropriately arranged in Archaic times by extensive digging and dredging works to deepen the area, as well as by strengthening the strip of land on the side of the open sea, which functioned as a breakwater. Lechaion became Corinth’s main channel of communication with the western Mediterranean, as it was the port of departure of Corinthian ships intent on its commercial conquest and colonization. On account of its importance for the safety and viability of the city in times of peace, but also of war, the Long Walls were constructed, connecting the harbour to Corinth. Lechaion’s importance is confirmed by Plutarch’s testimony that the symposium for the Seven Sages, hosted by the tyrant Periander, was organized there, while Xenophon refers to its capture by the Spartan Agesilaos in the fourth century BC, in order to prevent the victualling of Corinth. Strabo mentions that in the first century BC Lechaion had few inhabitants and remained walled.

    The founding of the Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis, into the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54), prompted the upgrading of the harbour installations and the construction of moles, which are still visible today below sea level. One century later, Pausanias saw in Lechaion a sanctuary of Poseidon and the bronze statue of the god. During the fourth century AD the harbour facilities were improved, thank to the initiative of the vice-consul of the Province of Achaea, Flavius Hermogenes, whom the citizens honoured by erecting his portrait statue in the harbour area.

    In the early 6th century AD, an impressive Christian basilica was erected in the area, dedicated to Leonides, the bishop of Athens, who was martyred, along with seven women, around the mid-3rd c. AD, by being cast into the nearby sea.

    It is the longest basilica in mainland Greece (ca. 180 m.). It belongs to the three-aisled basilica type, with a five-aisled transept and a dome, a narthex, a double atrium, a tripartite baptistery and multiple annexes. The use of the basilica ceased possibly in the 7th c., due to its collapse caused by an earthquake.

    The excavation finds from the basilica area show that the ancient harbour of Lechaion was still in use during the Frankish period.

  • 8

    Back to list


    The most important agglomeration of eastern Corinthia is Solygeia, or the modern-day village of Galataki, which is known to us through Thucydides. The ancient writer mentions that Solygeia lay close to the shore of the Saronic gulf, at a distance of 60 stadiums (approx. 11 km) from Corinth and 20 stadiums (approx. 4 km.) from the Isthmus. In 424 B.C., this region saw one of the fiercest battles of the Peloponnesian war between Athenians and Corinthians, resulting in the death of 212 Corinthians and 50 Athenians.

    The excavation research undertaken in the village of Galataki confirmed the region’s inhabitation from the Mycenaean era. An apsidal building of the archaic period was dedicated to the worship of female goddesses, possibly of Demeter and Kore and it was built of dried brick. The building also contained a depository with almost a thousand vases and 50 figurines. The existence of this agglomeration is also confirmed by an inscription from Isthmia, written in the Corinthian alphabet and mentioning the name of its dedicator from Solygeia.

  • 9

    Back to list


    Tenea was the most important agglomeration in the Teneatis region and for the most part of its history it functioned not as an independent city-state, but as an addition to Corinth.

    According to tradition, the Teneates originated from Tenedos and they were held prisoners in the Trojan War and Agamemnon permitted them to be installed at Tenea. For this reason, they worshipped Apollo and they built the sanctuary of Apollo Teneatus in his honor.

    The agglomeration lay close to the Kleisoura detroits at Agionori, where the Kontoporeia road passed, which according to written sources was the shortest path connecting Corinth to Argos.

    The exact site of Tenea has not been verified through excavations, but it is surmised from ancient sources that it lay in a fertile plain, among the modern agglomerations of Klenia, Hiliomodi and Athikia.

    Based on archaeological findings as well as the rereferences of ancient writers, Tenea prospered during the archaic as well as the classical period, thanks to its strategic position, its commercial activity and the active role it took in the colonization of Syracuse by the Corinthians, Archias leading the expedition.

    At some point, not long before 146 B.C., Tenea became independent of Corinth and it avoided being destroyed by the Romans. According to tradition, this happened because Romans and Teneates had common ancestry from Tenedos.

    In 1846 at the area of Agios Nikolaos at Athikia a kouros was discovered under unclear circumstances. He became known as the ‘Kouros of Tenea’ and has been exhibited in the Munich Glyptothek since 1854. The statue is 1.53 m. tall, made of parian marble and dates from 575 – 550 B.C.

    In May 2010 the prosecuting authorities revealed a network of traffickers of antiquities, who possessed two archaic kouroi dating from 530 – 520 B.C. The Archaeological Service conducted an extensive rescue excavation in the field where the traffickers had traced the two statues and it unearthed, apart from the missing members of the two statues, an ancient road and a cemetery from the 6th – 4th c. B.C. straddling both sides of that road.

    Another unique find is the painted tufo sarcophagus from Hiliomodi, which dates from the late 7th c. B.C. and was linked with ancient Tenea.

  • The site of ancient Nemea lies in a small upland valley. Its name derives from the greek word “nemos”, which means meadow, pasture. Its location in neutral ground, on the borders of Achaia, Arkadia, Argolis and Corinthia, was ideal for the creation of a panhellenic religious center and the conduct of the fourth panhellenic games, the Nemean Games.

    The sanctuary only came to life during the summer, when the Nemean Games took place. Therefore, it was always controlled by the nearby city-states, originally by Kleonai, with Argos becoming dominant in the 5th century B.C.

    The first building activity dates back to the 2nd quarter of the 6th century B.C., when the early Temple of Zeus and the Heroon of Opheltes were constructed. Towards the end of the 5th century B.C. the sanctuary has been destroyed and, as a result, in the following years the games were held in Argos.

    In 330 B.C. the games returned to Nemea; this was probably connected with the panhellenic politics of the Macedonians. At the same time, the temple of Zeus has been reconstructed, one of the first buildings to combine all three ancient Greek architectural orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian); several buildings were also constructed in order to serve more practical needs: the Xenon, (=guest-house), the Oikoi, the Bath, the Restaurant and the Houses.

    In 271 B.C. the games returned yet again to Argos and since then the Nemean sanctuary has gradually been abandoned.

    In the early-Christian era (late 4th–5th century A.D.) an agricultural settlement was created on the site. In A.D. 453 the emperor Theodosius banned all pagan activities and so began the systematic destruction of the temple of Zeus: its architectural members were used for the construction of a basilica with a central nave and one aisle at each side.

    The settlement has been abandoned around A.D. 580 because of the Slavic invasions in the Peloponnese.

    The Ancient Stadium of Nemea

    The Stadium (Stadion) of Nemea lies 450m. in the south-east of the Sanctuary of Zeus. It was closely connected with it, since it constituted the main locale of the Nemean Games, one of the four ancient Greek festivals elevated to a Panhellenic status. According to one myth, the games were instituted to commemorate the death of Opheltes, the son of Lycurgus, king – priest of Nemea. A second myth, though, points to the Panhellenic status of the festival, attributing to Hercules the institution of the Games, to offer thanks to Zeus for helping him accomplish his first labour, the death of the Nemean lion. The Games took place every two years, including musical, theatrical and mainly athletic events. Around 415 B.C. the greatest part of the Sanctuary of Zeus was destroyed and, as a result, in the following years the Games were held in Argos. In 330 B.C. the Argives decided to undertake a building programme in Nemea and proceed to the reestablishment of the Games.

    Nevertheless, the Games returned to Argos in 271 B.C., until Α.D. 393, when the Emperor Theodosius banned them.

    The Stadium was constructed in 330-320 B.C. as part of the Argive building programme and remained in use until 271 B.C. Its track was 600 ancient feet long. The starting line, the balbis, consisted of a line of stones, while it also included the hysplex, a starting mechanism allowing the athletes to have consistently fair starts to races. The majority of the spectators sat on the ground, since only a few stone seats were discovered on the west side of the Stadium. The judges, called Hellanodikai, had a special platform on the east side of the Stadium, where they could oversee the Games. In a natural depression east of the Stadium lie the remains of a rectangular building with a central portico, the Apodyteirion (locker-room) of the Stadium. This is where the athletes prepared for the upcoming competition. In order to enter the Stadium, the athletes had to cross the Krypte Eisodos (hidden entrance), a 36 metres long tunnel.

  • 11

    Back to list


    The archaeological site of ancient Sikyon lies on a plain area of the Vasilikos hill; it includes the excavated area of the Agora of the Hellenistic and Roman city, the Theatre, the Stadium and the Roman Baths (Balaneion).

    Since 1935 the archaeological Museum of Sikyon is housed in a section of the Roman Baths (Balaneion). In the atrium and the three halls of the museum are exhibited treasures from Sicyon and the surrounding areas, artefacts from the cities of Stymphalos and Pellene, as well as the cave of Pitsa; the objects are dated between the Mycenaean and the early-Christian period.

    A temple excavated in the Agora and dated from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period, was turned into a Basilica during the early-Christian period.

    A Gymnasion – Palaistra, dated to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, dominates the southwestern part of the Agora, at the foothills of the Hellenistic citadel (Acropolis). This monumental complex spreads over two levels, connected by three staircases. Of particular interest are the two fountains, located along the upper retaining wall.

    In the eastern excavated section of the Agora have been revealed two 4th-century B.C. buildings, the Bouleuterion and a long Stoa. During the Roman period the Bouleuterion was turned into a public bath (Thermes), while the Stoa was used as a workshop.

    The Theatre was carved into a natural depression at the foothills of the Hellenistic Acropolis and dates back to the late 4th century B.C. It consists of the Koilon, the Orchestra and the Scene (stage-building); the two vaulted passages at the sides of the Koilon, used for the entrance of the spectators, constitute unique examples of the Hellenistic architecture. During the Roman era several adjustments were made to the building, especially the Scene.

    The Stadium has not yet been excavated; it has, however, been located west of the Theater, due to the landscape: its southern part, the sphendone, is still visible, while the northern end of the track is retained by a wall.