Greece's capital city is also one of its greatest centers for ancient ruins. First and foremost among them is the Acropolis, first a citadel and then home to the Parthenon, the great architectural masterpiece of classical Athens. Lying immediately south of the Acropolis are the famous Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysus. Other major monuments of ancient times in the city are immediately to the northeast and northwest of the Acropolis, including the Temple of Zeus, the Old Agora and the Roman Agora.
In ancient Greece, Delphi was the home of the most famous oracle of the god Apollo, and many of ancient Greek histories most famous events began with a cryptic admonition or prediction on the part of this oracle. Delphi became a major religious center in Greece, with many city-states and important peoples dedicating temples, monuments and shrines there over the centuries. The result is a first-rate collection of ruins, including the old Temple of Apollo and an amphitheater with an outstanding view of the surrounding countryside.
Older than classic Greece is the civilization of Mycenaean Greece. If the events of the Trojan War actually took place, it was during this period, as Mycenae was the seat of King Agamemnon. It was also the birthplace of both him and his brother, Menelaus, the spurned husband of Helen. Ruins from this earlier time have been excavated, including the Mycenae Acropolis with its "Lion Gates" and the impressive Treasury of Atreus.
One of the better ancient sites in Greece is that of pan-Hellenic Olympia, the original seat of the Olympic Games. Like Delphi, the area attracted the attention of almost every city-state or important person across Greece. Its ruins represent a span of ancient Greek history covering several hundred years, as successive generations erected statues, shrines, temples and other monuments. The oldest is the Temple of Hera (seventh century B.C.), while the most impressive is the classical-era Temple of Zeus. Of course, the most important remnant of that time is the Stadium, where the Olympic athletes competed.