Ancient Greek Towns

Just like today, towns and cities in Ancient Greece all had their own unique buildings and landmarks, but many features were found in every town.

Facts about Ancient Greek Towns

  • Ancient Greek towns had a large open area in the centre known as the agora
  • Many larger towns had a high point or hill known as the acropolis
  • Temples were a common feature around the agora and acropolis
  • Larger towns and cities had open-air theatres
  • Many towns had stadiums for sporting events known as stadion
  • Housing areas in some towns were planned to group people with the same job together
  • Tall outer walls made of stone surrounded many towns and cities
  • Cemeteries were located outside of the city walls


The agora was in the middle of a town and it was the central meeting and socialising place.

Free citizens would gather to listen to speeches and discuss politics. It was also the marketplace, and open-fronted buildings with shops in the back known as stoas were situated around the edge.

Merchants sold their goods from stalls and craftsmen made and sold their wares in workshops.

The large open space of the agora is the reason why a fear of open spaces is known as agoraphobia.


The acropolis was the highest point in the town and it was a “city in the sky” that would be visible from a long way off.

The buildings in this area would be the last line of defence if the town was under attack.

The Acropolis of Athens was built in the 5th century BCE and remains a major tourist attraction to this day.


Temples dedicated to Greek gods were built in the areas around the agora and acropolis.

Most towns and cities had a patron god, and a special temple was built in the town to honour them.

The patron god of Athens was the goddess Athena.


Open-air theatres were common in larger towns and cities.

They were built into hillsides in a semi-circular shape and had tiered rows of stone seating.

Audiences enjoyed music and plays. The stage was in the centre of the theatre alongside an alter where sacrifices were made to Dionysus, the Greek god of festivities.

All the performers and spectators were men as only free citizens could attend the theatre.


Stadiums known as stadion were used to hold sporting events.

They were flat areas of hard-packed clay and usually around 600 feet long – a modern-day football pitch is around 330 feet long.

Spectators could see running races, wrestling, boxing, and a form of fighting known as pankration. Stadiums were built in valleys between two hills so that spectators could sit on the hillsides.

A larger stadium known as a hippodrome was used for horse racing and chariot racing.


Houses were plain buildings made of stone, wood and clay.

The housing areas in towns were sometimes planned to keep soldiers in one area, craftsmen in another, and farmers in another.

Houses were built to look the same, no matter how wealthy or important the homeowner might be.

Ancient Greek architects and town planners also understood how to position homes to make best use of the sun, making sure they would stay warm in winter and cool in summer.

Some wooden homes had walls made from straw or seaweed covered with clay.

City Walls

Stone walls were often built around the outside of a town to protect it against invaders. People would enter and leave the town through a gateway.

The Long Walls built in Athens ran all the way to the sea so that supplies couldn’t be cut off if the city was under attack.


Townspeople were buried in cemeteries that were located outside of the town walls. Some towns also had sanctuaries outside of the wall where sick people could make offerings to the gods and ask to be healed.

The road leading into a town would often be lined with funeral monuments in memory of the dead.

Questions and Answers

The marketplace was found in which part of town?

The agora.

What name was given to the area of town high on a hill?

The acropolis.

True or false: Spectators sat on wooden seats at the theatre.

False. Seats were made of stone.

What name was given to the stadium designed for horse racing events?


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