Private Tours in Greece

Orchomenos in Boeotia. Orchomenos was a very important Boeotian city and was particularly prosperous in Mycenaean times. It is referred to by Homer, Strabo and Pausanias as one of the strongest centers of the heroic past, with legendary wealth.

Excavations carried out at Orchomenos since the end of the last century have yielded rich fruit, which attests to the continuous occupation of the area from 2200 BC down to Roman times.

The ancient  city extends over the slopes of a low hill in the eastern foothills of Mount Akontion. The acropolis of historical times was laid out on the higher parts of the hill.

In the 5th century BC Orchomenos was a member of the Boeotian League. It continued to be tied to Thebes until 395 BC, when, during the course of the Boeotian War, it entered into alliance with the Spartans against Thebes. In 364 BC, the city was destroyed by the Thebans.

The city was refunded by Philip II after the battle of Chaeronia (338 BC). During Alexander the Grate's campaign against Thebes (335 BC), Orchomenos took the side of the Macedonians. Alexander recompensed the city by granting it privileges, such as the extending of its fortification wall.

Go to Top

In the 3rd and 2nd century BC, Orchomenos and the other large cities of Boeotia (Thebes, Plataia, Thespiai and Tanagra) reformed the Boeotian League. Orchomenos was destroyed by the Roman general Sulla in 86 BC, during the Mithridatic Wars.

Of the prehistoric settlements, the following structures are known:

  1. 1) circular and apsidal buildings of the 3rd millennium BC (in the area of the tholos tomb),
  2. 2) burials with lavish grave offerings in pit graves dating from about 1600 BC ( to the north-west of the theatre),
  3. 3) complexes of rooms in three balanced wings, dating to about 1300 BC and identified with a palace building (in the grounds of the Byzantine church of the Panagia Skripou) and 4) the impressive tholos tomb of Minyas, dated to about 1250 BC.

The tholos tomb, which was excavated by H. Schliemann in 1880-81, rose above ground level. It had a long dromos whish is no longer preserved, a deep doorway with a lintel weighing many tons, a circular burial chamber 14m. in diameter and a small side room, the ceiling of which is formed of stone slabs decorated with relief spirals, rosettes and papyrus flowers. The tomb was robbed in ancient times. Inside the tholos were found a statue base and a base for an altar, dating from the 3rd century BC.

Excavations to the west of the Tholos tomb have brought to light the city theatre, which dates from the 4th century BC. According to the evidence of inscriptions and dedications, the theatre will have been the venue of the Charitisia, the musical contests held in honor of the Graces (Charites). Mention should also be made of the temples of Dionysos and Asklepios, which date from historical times. The uppermost parts of the hill were fortified in the 4th century BC, when a large tower was built on the highest peak of the hill and later incorporated into the fortification wall.

Go to Top

During the 9th century AD, in 874 the church of the Panayia Skripou was erected above the ancient sanctuary of the Graces; according to a number of inscriptions incorporated into the monument, it was built by Leon Basilikos Photospatharios.

Go to Top

The church, which has rich sculptural decoration and incorporates material from ancient monuments in second use, is of a distinctive architectural type, transitional to the domed cross-in-square church.

Top Greek Cities & SitesLink to Top Destinations in Greece

You can view my portfolio of photos at or

Delphi-Parnassos-Orchomenos tour

Go to Top

Copyright 1999    All the rights reserved.