Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

West Greece
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

The West Greece administrative region is made up of the north-western part of the Peloponnese peninsula and the western half of central, continental Greece – two areas that are separated  by the Gulf of Corinth. To the south is the archaeological site of  Olympia – the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games. Here too is the city of Patras, Greece’s third most significant city. The regional units that make up West Greece are: Achaea, Aetolia-Acarnania and Elis. The administrative capital is Patras.

Archaeology & History Sites in West Greece

Antirrio Fortress

Given the strategic location on the north side of the western entrance to the Gulf of Corinth, the fort has been important for the Byzantines to the Ottomans. The fortress is surrounded by sea on three sides and a moat on the fourth. It has been destroyed and restored numerous times. Much of what we see today was built by the Venetians, during their second period of occupation. This lasted until 1699 when it was surrendered to the Ottomans. Now in the hands of the Ministry of Culture and used for cultural events.

Olympia Archaeological Site

One of the most important archaeological sites of ancient Greece, Olympia is known as for the origins of the Olympic games. First held here in the 8th century BC, and again every four years until the 4th century AD. As the location of the largest sanctuary to Zeus, ancient Olympia was also an important religious and political centre. Monuments to successful athletes were placed alongside monuments to the gods and victorious battles. Many of these monuments have survived, and are in a relatively good state of preservation.

Patras Castle

The castle was built in 551 AD on the remains of the ancient acropolis. It has remained in constant, although control of the castle changed hands frequently, until World War II. War. The first castle was constructed using the remains of Classical period buildings. One of the stone pieces re-used was the bust of a Roman statue, now said to be a ‘maiden’ that guards the city against disease. It has been controlled by the Franks, Venetians and the Ottomans. Today the castle is used for cultural events throughout the summer.

Rio Castle

Also known as the Castello de Morea, the fort is on the southern side of the western entrance to the Gulf of Corinth – facing Antirrio Fortress. Built in 1499 on the site of an ancient temple (remains are still visible) by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II. In 1687 it was taken by the Venetians who rebuilt it substantially. In 1715 the Ottomans recaptured and retained control until Greek Independence. Thereafter it was used as a prison. During WW2 it was used by the Germans as a military base.

Museums & Art Galleries in West Greece

Olympia Archaeological Museum

Opened in 1882, this was then the first archaeology museum outside of Athens. The museum houses artefacts from the archaeological site of Olympia and the surrounding area. On display in 12 galleries there are terracottas, bronzes and marble sculptures from the prehistoric, archaic, Classical and Roman periods. Notable objects exhibited include the sculptures from the temple of Zeus, the helmet of Miltiades, a statue of Emperor Hadrian and a wine jug that belonged to Pheidias.