If you visit in summer, try to come here first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon: The sun on this virtually shadeless site will be less fierce, and fewer tourists will clog the area. Excavations continue at Corinth (you may see archaeologists at work) and since 1995, they have unearthed remains of an extensive Roman villa of the 4th century A.D. as well as imported English china of the 19th century A.D.—suggestions that Corinth's prosperity did not die in antiquity.

Most of the rest of the city that remains was built by the Romans. They refurbished the Greek Theater, adding rows of seats and engineering the arena so it could be flooded for naval battles. Glauke, daughter of the king of Corinth, allegedly threw herself into the Glauke Fountain when Medea, the scorned wife of Jason (who had sailed the Mediterranean with his Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece), presented her with a wedding dress that burst into flames.

The most conspicuous—and most handsome—surviving building at ancient Corinth is the 6th-century-B.C. Temple of Apollo, which stands on a hill overlooking the remains of the Roman Agora (the Roman forum, or marketplace). Only 7 of the temple's 38 monolithic Doric columns are standing, the others having long since been toppled by earthquakes.


From the temple, ancient Corinth's main drag, a 12m (40-ft.) marble-paved road that ran from the port of Lechaion into the heart of the marketplace, is clearly visible. Pottery from Corinth was carried down this road to the ships that took it around the world; back along the same road came the goods Corinthian merchants bought in every corner of the Mediterranean. Everything made and brought here was for sale in countless shops, many of whose foundations are still clearly visible in the agora.

Two spots in the agora are especially famous: the Bema and the Fountain of Peirene. In the 2nd century A.D., the Roman traveler, philhellene (lover of Greeks), and benefactor Herodes Atticus rebuilt the original fountain house. Like most Romans, Herodes seemed to think that bigger was better: When he was done, the spring was encased in an elaborate two-storied building with arches and arcades and a 4.6-sq.-m (50-sq.-ft.) courtyard. Peirene was a woman who wept so hard when her son died that she finally dissolved into the spring that still flows here. As for the Bema, this was the public platform where St. Paul had to plead his case when the Corinthians, irritated by his constant harangues, hauled him in front of the Roman governor Gallo in A.D. 52.