Are you getting ready for your Greek vacation, but are concerned your kids might not appreciate some of the history as much as you? These fun facts about Ancient Greece are an ideal starting point for them!
Fun Facts About Ancient Greece
1. Who were the Ancient Greeks?
No one really knows exactly when Greek Civilization began. Some people believe it began with the mighty Minoans of Crete, but little is known about them. Even their writing is yet to be properly deciphered! Most people however believe that the first ancient Greeks would have been people from the Mycenaean civilization. The center of their power was held at the cities of Mycenae and Tiryns. These cities still survive today, and are UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can look here to find out about visiting Mycenae in Greece.
2. Ancient Greeks believed in the weirdest things….
Did you know that for some time in Ancient Greece, people wouldn’t eat beans because they believed that they contained the souls of the dead? This is just one of many strange beliefs that they had! Many others were combined into Greek Mythology, and some of the ones that stand out the most are their mythological monsters like Cerberus, which was a dog with three heads! There was also Medusa who had snakes for hair and turned people into stone if she looked at them, and the one-eyed Cyclops!
3. Ancient Greek and the Olympic Games
Greece is of course the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and the first ones were held thousands of years ago at Olympia in the Peloponnese. It is from here that we get the name of the Games. The events held in ancient times were much different than today though. There would have been chariot racing, ‘manliness’ competitions, wrestling with very few rules, and boxing. Whilst this might not seem hugely different to the events of today, remember, the Ancient Greeks used to compete naked!! Find out more here about Visiting Ancient Olympia.
4. There was not really a country called Greece
Although today we know of the country Greece, in ancient times it was not really thought of in the same way. Instead, each powerful city state such as Athens, Sparta, and Thebes were fiercely independent of one another. Whilst they identified as ‘Greeks’ – they shared the same language, Gods and customs – they only united in times of need. One example of this is when the Greeks fought against the Persians on several occasions. Once they had defeated the Persians, they would disband their joint army, and then return to their own rivalries once more, often fighting against each other!
5. Ancient Greeks had many Gods and Goddesses
There were literally hundreds of ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses. Some would be local to a particular town or community, whilst some such as Zeus would be recognized everywhere. Each one was to be worshipped or respected in a certain way on different days or circumstances. We imagine it might be quite confusing! To find out more about Greek Gods and Goddesses during your family vacation in Greece, we highly recommend our Percy Jackson inspired tours. These have been specifically developed with families in mind who love both Greek mythology and the Percy Jackson books. Talk to one of our online assistants today about them for more information!