Ancient Corinth – Village & Ruins – March 2020

temple of apollo at ancient corinth
The Temple Of Apollo – Ancient Corinth

As mentioned in a previous post about The Acrocorinth, I had wanted to return to Ancient Corinth after the first time I visited it, back in November of 2017. We had not planned to visit this site back in 2017, but when we realized how close we were after a day trip exploring north of the area, we decided to check it out, but arrived too late in the day to do any exploring.

However, the idea of walking the grounds that the Apostle Paul had walked during his approximately 18 months at Corinth about 2,000 years ago, intrigued me greatly. Having been brought up in a home where the Bible was read regularly, doctrine was taught, and Reformed Protestant theology discussed, I am quite familiar with Paul’s contributions to the New Testament including of course, his two epistles to the church at Corinth. In addition, I Corinthians 13 had been a long favourite portion of mine.

But the ancient city of Corinth (or Korinthos as it is referred to in Greece) has much more history behind than just the Christian church assembly that was located there in Paul’s time. It dates back thousands of years, and it’s believed the area was settled by humans at least as far back as 6500 BC. So there was much more to learn about than simply what it might have been like to visit for 18 months for Paul.

The Village Of Ancient Corinth

Today, there is a village that borders on the ruins of Ancient Corinth, and many who live there are directly involved in hospitality (food, accommodations) for tourists that visit. The first time we had visited the village, we were very hungry and decided to eat at a “Taverna” called Marinos. It turned out it was a great choice – the view from the restaurant was great, and the food was terrific. I don’t recall what the meal cost, but I do remember it was of surprising good value – less than what we were expecting to pay for a wide selection of foods on their menu.

So, when we returned to the village in March, we left our tummies empty before heading out on the road with plans to visit Marino’s again. And like the first visit, we were not disappointed. If you ever get a chance to visit Ancient Corinth, I highly recommend you try this Taverna – and you’ll probably love the quaint appearance from the outside:

marino's taverna ancient corinth
A Great Place To Eat in the Village Of Ancient Corinth

Before we left for Ancient Corinth, we had booked a room for the weekend at “hotel” called “Marino’s Rooms,” thinking it was related to the restaurant (taverna). It was not.

But it was a very pleasant place to stay for the two nights, and our hosts were wonderful! Like most small “hotels” in Greece, the room we had was small and the bed mattress was not exactly a deluxe version, but it was clean and the two nights stay cost us in Canadian dollars, $153.00 total. And that included a fabulous traditional Greek breakfast both mornings.

Marino’s Rooms was also close enough to walk to anywhere we wanted to go in the village, including to the ruins of Ancient Corinth. Our view from the balcony was not the best, but it was not horrible either if we looked out beyond the roofs of the houses nearby. When you are in a Greek village, be prepared no matter where you stay, for tight quarters and that mostly, your accommodations will likely be right in the middle of a neighbourhood with little space between properties.

With the zoom lens on the camera, I could easily see the Corinthian Gulf from our balcony of our room:

view from our balcony at marino's rooms in ancient corinth village
The view from our balcony at Marino’s Rooms, Village of Ancient Corinth

I mentioned that from our accommodations, everything we needed was within walking distance. This is pretty much true of most small Greek villages, and to be sure, you don’t really want to be driving around the village much. Greek village roads are generally very narrow – houses and roads were built before motorized cars and trucks were imagined, and there is often very little space. This is one example – some are a bit wider than this, but we had to wait for this car to pass before we could proceed down towards where we wanted to go:

typical road in ancient corinth village
A typical road in the village of Ancient Corinth

The Ruins Of Ancient Corinth

It’s been stated that the ancient city of Corinth dates back many centuries – as far back as 6500 BC. It became significant probably around 700 BC, and shortly after, the Temple of Apollo was built. At the beginning of this post, you can view the photo that shows some of the remaining columns out of the original 38 that were built at the temple, dedicated to the Sun god, and also the god of archery, prophecy, and music.

Over the centuries, Corinth has much history, many rulers, influences, and for a long time, was among the Greek “City States,” often allied with Athens, then switching its allegiances to Sparta, and sometimes trying to act as a mediator between Athens and Sparta. It was also under Roman control for a time and it thrived commercially.

There is no point in me reporting on the full history of this ancient city – Wikipedia has a very good account with further references you can study, here.

Today, there is not a lot left of the ancient city; most of what you see are ruins that resulted from earthquakes and the progress of time. But I still found them very interesting and photos below:

view from near the official entrance to ancient corinth
The view from near the official entrance to the archaeological grounds of Ancient Corinth 
fountain of glauke at ancient corinth
Fountain Of Glauke

The Fountain of Glauke was likely built sometime between the 6th century BC and 480 BC (the “Archaic Period”). The fountain was named after a woman by the same name who it is said, was going to marry Jason, however out of jealousy, Jason’s first wife Medea, said to be a witch, tried to poison Glauke with a cape. Glauke then purposely fell into the fountain in order to save her own life.

ruins of ancient corinth
A wide view of the ruins of Ancient Corinth

As the photo caption says, a wide view of the ruins of the ancient city. This is what is left of much of the city today – mostly ruins, but there are indeed some great things to see that still stand or partially stand. Work is ongoing in further excavations as well both within the boundaries of the ancient city and outside of it.

part of ancient wall still standing - ancient corinth
Part of the old wall of the city still standing
old stone wall marked with West Shops as a descriptor
Wall marked as “West Shops” in Ancient Corinth
stone wall shops of ancient corinth
Shops in Ancient Corinth – The Agora

These stone walled structures were probably shops in Ancient Corinth, where merchants would sell their wares. Perhaps the Apostle Paul had conducted some business here, perhaps to purchase wine, or other supplies. Maybe even Paul’s hosts, Aquila and Priscilla, sold their tents out of one of these shops.

public bathing area

I don’t recall what this was, but I believe it was a public bathing area for the ancient Corinthians.

view of the temple of apollo with ancient corinth ruins
The Temple Of Apollo from a different direction with other ancient ruins near by.
roman fountain of pierene at ancient corinth
The Roman Fountain of Peirene

There are two known myths regarding the Fountain of Peirene, one which claims that the nymph Peirini created the fountain, while another myth credits Pegasus. By the 2nd century BC, it contained six chambers that had access to three pumping basins. Truly a remarkable feat of engineering for its time.

Later, the Romans built the facade around the fountain with the arched openings.

I’m not sure if I was “hearing things” while standing nearby (I do have tinitus that sometimes tricks me), but I was pretty sure I could hear the sound of water running from behind the arches, but I couldn’t see any evidence of water from a fountain.

byzantine church at ancient corinth
Byzantine Church Located Near The Pierene Fountain

rock carving

I don’t recall what the purpose of this large stone was, but the carving that still exists was pretty amazing to see.

roman road in ancient corinth
Roman Road In Ancient Corinth

While obviously this road does not get motor vehicular traffic, it’s still pretty amazing that the Romans built roads that could last 2000+ years. Apparently, the liked to build roads that were considered quite wide. As an aside, one could travel the Roman roads throughout the Roman Empire, quite safely. Most travel was done on foot, and there were Inns at regular intervals where travelers could stop after each day’s miles of walking, get some food, and rest. Records suggest there was little danger to travelers – one could walk if they wanted to, from areas of what is now the middle east, through Asia Minor, and onto parts of Europe via Greece.

If you do get an opportunity to visit Ancient Corinth, I’d highly recommend it. Be prepared to pay an entrance fee of 12 Euros per person to enter the archeological grounds though (children I think get a discounted price and some can get in for free).

Museum At Ancient Corinth

Included witht the entrace fee to the archeological grounds, you will also get admittance to the museum, which is well worth it. I do have quite a photos from the museum, but I may publish with another post, another day. The museum covers artifacts from very ancient times and through the Roman and Byzantine eras of Corinth (there may be items from later times, but I don’t recall).

There are still new discoveries being made at Ancient Corinth and in the area!

Photos and text copyright © 2020 Ian Hugh Scott

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