Battlefields in Greece

Advanced Battlefield Studies – Greece aims to provide a wide range of study programs for 2018 that are both rigorous and driven by the important history that we share on the battlefields of Greece. Our team focuses on a variety of subjects spanning from the Greco-Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War to the special World War I Study of Macedonian Front to commemorate the Centenary of the final year of the war. We also offer a unique Leadership Study drawing lessons from the ancient battlefields.

Each of our Battlefield Studies have been carefully researched to deliver all encompassing experiences describing the campaigns and tactics of each battle but also giving insight into the human perspective. We aim to ensure you get the most from this memorable experience.

Ancient Wars Greek-Roman Era
1. Greco-Persian Wars

The Greco-Persian Wars, also known as the Persian Wars, were a series of conflicts fought over a period of a half century between the Empire of Persia and Greek city-states, mainly Athens and Sparta. The most intense fighting took place during two campaigns when Persia invaded mainland Greece between 490 and 479. The principal battles fought in these two invasions were at Marathon, Thermopylae, Artemisium, Salamis and Plataea. Although the Persian Empire was the most powerful at that time, the united Greek city-states succeeded in defeating the Persians thus ensuring the survival of Greek culture and Western civilization.

2. Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War, according to Thucydides the greatest that had ever occurred in Greece, was fought by the Delian League led by Athens against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Sparta and Athens struggled for dominance in the Mediterranean world in a war that lasted twenty seven years from 431 to 404 BC. Sparta eventually prevailed reducing Athens to complete subordination. Main battles of that war of attrition were fought at Sphacteria island, Delium, Amphipolis, Mantinea, Decelea and the concluding naval battles at Arginusae and Aegospotami. As the Greek city-states failed to unite, the war brought a close to Greece’s golden age.

3. Wars of the Theban Hegemony

The Theban Hegemony lasted for a short period of time, from 371 to 362 BC, in which the battlefield victories of Epaminondas overthrew the power of Sparta, and made Thebes the most powerful state in Greece. It began with the crushing Theban victory over a Spartan army at Leuctra using innovative tactics, and effectively ended with the death of Epaminondas at the battle of Mantinea.

4. The Rise of Philip II of Macedon

The Amphisseans and Delphians started the Fourth Sacred War over the sacred lands of Delphi and this was an opportunity for the expansionist Philip of Macedon to intervene. In the ensuing battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC Philip defeated the combined armies of Athens and Thebes and thus achieving dominance over Greece.

5. Macedonian Wars

The Macedonian Wars were a series of conflicts fought over half a century from 214 to 148 BC, by the Roman Republic and its Greek allies in the eastern Mediterranean against several different major Greek kingdoms. Two major battles were fought in these wars, at Cynoscephalae and Pydna.

6. Civil Wars of Roman Republic

The Roman Civil Wars resulted in the termination of the Roman Republic and transformed Rome into an Empire. Some of the most decisive battles of the Roman Civil Wars, which lasted from 49 to 30 BC, were fought in Greece. These battles include Pharsalus, Philippi and the famous naval battle of Actium.

7. Ottoman–Venetian War

The Fourth Ottoman–Venetian War was fought between 1570 and 1573 and belongs to the Early Modern Era. It was waged between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice, the latter joined by the Holy League, a coalition of Christian states formed under the auspices of the Pope. The coalition comprised Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The preeminent battle of this war was the bloody naval battle of Lepanto, where the Christian forces annihilated the Ottoman fleet.

1. Marathon, 490 BC
2. Artemisium, 480 BC
3. Thermopylae, 480 BC
4. Salamis, 480 BC
5. Plataea, 479 BC
6. Sphacteria, 425 BC
7. Delium, 424 BC
8. Amphipolis, 422 BC
9. Mantinea, 418 BC
10. Decelea, 413 BC
11. Arginusae, 406 BC
12. Aegospotami, 404 BC
13. Leuctra, 371 BC
14. Mantinea, 362 BC
15. Chaeronea, 338 BC
16. Cynoscephalae, 197 BC
17. Pydna, 168 BC
18. Pharsalus, 48 BC
19. Philippi, 42 BC
20. Actium, 31 BC
21. Lepanto, 1571 AD

Greece – 19th Century
Greek War of Independence

The Greek War of Independence lasted from 1821 to 1832 and was fought between Greek rebels and the Ottoman forces leading eventually to the establishment of the independent state of Greece. The war started in Moldavia and expanded to the Greek mainland and the Aegean Sea. Besides their irregular forces, the Greeks were assisted by European volunteers, the Philhellenes, and at the final stage from the combined fleets of Britain, France and Russia. The Ottomans turned to the hegemon of Egypt for assistance who responded by sending a force fought for three years in Peloponnese. Principal battles of this war were fought at Alamana/Thermopylae, Valtetsi, Tripolitza, Dervenakia, Peta, Krommydi, Lerna Mills, Maniaki, Missolonghi, Arachova, Acropolis, Navarino and Petra.

1. Alamana, 1821
2. Valtetsi, 1821
3. Tripolitza, 1821
4. Dervenakia, 1822
5. Peta, 1822
6. Kremmydi, 1825
7. Myloi, 1825
8. Maniaki, 1825
9. Missolonghi, 1825
10. Arachova, 1826
11. Acropolis, 1827
12. Navarino, 1827
13. Petra, 1829

Greece – 20th Century
1. Balkan Wars

The Balkan Wars took place between 1912 and 1913. In the First Balkan War the combined armies of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro overcame and defeated the Ottoman armies achieving rapid success. In the Second Balkan War, dissatisfied Bulgaria fought against Greece, Serbia, Ottoman Turkey and Romania, losing most of her territorial gains from the first war. Main battles fought by the Greek army are at Sarantaporo, Giannitsa, Bizani and Kilkis.

2. First World War

Although the Western Front has overshadowed the other theaters of the First World War, the Balkan battlefields played an important role in the course of the Great War and should not be neglected. The arrival of the first Allied troops in Salonika in 1915 marked the appearance of a new theater of war, the Macedonian Front. Main battles fought in this front are at Skra di Legen, the breakthrough battle of Dobro Polje and the battles around lake Doiran.

3. Second World War
a. Greco-Italian and Greco-German Wars

Encouraged by German success in the west, Italians invaded Greece from Albania on 28 October 1940. They were defeated by the Greek army in a couple of weeks, which counterattacked and entered Albania. Early the next year, German forces invaded Greece and despite their heroic resistance the Greek forces had to withdraw and surrender. Main battles fought are those at Kalpaki against the Italians as well as at the Metaxas fortified line against the Germans.

b. British Expeditionary Force

As German forces under Marshal Wilhelm List prepared to storm through the Balkans into Yugoslavia and Greece, some 60,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops under General Henry Wilson arrived from the Middle East in a futile attempt to defend Greece. After their withdrawal the badly mauled Allied forces evacuated to Crete. Battles conducted by Commonwealth troops include Amyntaio-Vevi, Platamon, Pinios River, Thermopylae and Corinth Canal.

c. Battle of Crete

When Greece fell, Greek, British, Australian and New Zealand forces under General Bernard Freyberg withdrew to Crete, where General Kurt Student launched a bold assault in May 1941 with gliders and paratroops. This first large-scale employment of airborne forces in history secured the Germans’ southern flank for their subsequent invasion of the Soviet Union.

d. Dodecanese Campaign

When Italy surrendered to the Western Allies on September 1943, German troops overwhelmed and disarmed the Italian Rhodes island garrison. Winston Churchill ordered in British and Greek commandos to occupy the islands. Despite the British naval superiority the Germans assaulted and seized firstly Cos and a month later Leros.

4. Greek Civil War

The Greek Civil War lasted from 1946 to 1949 between the National Army and the communist rebels who had attempted to seize power immediately after the German withdrawal. By 1947 the communists had been driven into the northern border areas, and in late August 1949, their main stronghold was captured in the mountains of the Greco-Albanian frontier. Intense fighting took place and some of the ferocious battles are those of Athens (1944), Konitsa, Grammos and Vitsi.

1. Sarantaporo, 1912
2. Giannitsa, 1912
3. Bizani, 1913
4. Kilkis, 1913
5. Skra di Legen, 1918
6. Dobro Polje, 1918
7. Doiran, 1918
8. Kalpaki, 1940
9. Metaxas Line, 1941
10. Vevi, 1941
11. Pinios, 1941
12. Thermopylae, 1941
13. Corinth, 1941
14. Crete, 1941
15. Cos, 1943
16. Leros, 1943
17. Athens, 1944
18. Konitsa, 1947
19. Vitsi, 1948
20. Grammos, 1949


Apart from wars or battles based on chronological order, such as the Persian Wars or the Peloponnesian War, we also offer thematic modules such as western way of war, naval battles, leadership lessons drawn from battlefields, irregular warfare, airborne operations, special operations and fortifications and sieges of cities. More specifically:

Western Way of War – Greek Phalanx and Roman Legions

Fifth-century BC Greeks, as Victor Davis Hanson has suggested, invented not only the central idea of Western politics—that power in a state should reside in the vote of the majority—but also the central act of Western warfare, the “decisive battle.” In this unique course we study the evolution of the Greek phalanx, Athenian and Spartan, through the battles Marathon and Thermopylae. Then in the battle of Mantinea we examine the Theban phalanx while in the battle of Chaeronea we witness the rise of the Macedonian phalanx. Lastly we consider what the Romans contributed to the western way of war, by making the legions more flexible and fluid, in the battles of Cynoscephalae (197 BC) where the legions defeated Macedonian phalanx and Pharsalus (48 BC), where Roman legions collided.

Naval Battles

This thematic program examines for the first time four great naval battles fought in Greek waters, namely Salamis, Actium, Lepanto and Navarin. Salamis (480 BC) has a solid position as one of the most influential battles of all time including land battles. At Actium (31 BC) the victory left Octavian as the most dominant leader in Rome and through a swirl of political actions created the line of Emperors that would rule for centuries. Lepanto (1571 AD, one of the decisive battles of the world, marked the first significant victory for a Christian naval force over a Turkish fleet and the climax of the age of galley warfare in the Mediterranean. In Navarin (1827 AD), the combined fleets of Britain, France and Russia defeated the Ottoman fleet enabling the Greek Independence.

Leadership Lessons

We offer a variety of battlefields program, all of which showcase vivid and impressive leadership lessons from history. This battlefield-based leadership training session lasts five days and use great battles from military history as intensive case studies for examining and learning about contemporary leadership practices. Programs will be conducted on the field, on the actual terrain of the historic battles, featuring such leaders as Miltiades, Themistocles, Pericles and Alcibiades, Philipp and Alexander. Many other combinations are possible as well.

Irregular Warfare

Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001, the problems over the al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State, the so called “hybrid warfare” and various terrorist acts and insurgencies, have attracted the attention of the entire world. But irregular warfare is nothing new. Our program on irregular warfare includes cases ranging from nineteenth to twentieth century Greek Civil War. We study two major operations from the Greek War of Independence, the siege and capture of the city of Tripoli (1821) and the next year large scale ambush and destruction of Ottoman expeditionary force at Dervenakia. Then we move to northwestern Greece to study the last battles of Greek Civil War, Vitsi (1948) and the final one on Grammos (1949). Some other battle combinations are also possible.

Airborne Operations

Airborne warfare has caught the attention since the first German parachute troops carried out their daring and alarming invasions in early 1940. The airborne assault is fast, dynamic and unpredictable. In our course we examine how the Germans employed in Greece their Fallschirmjagers in some spectacular operations. The first is the assault to seize the Corinth Canal in April 1941, followed by the famous operation for the seizure of Crete. Lesser known but by no means lesser amazing are the German airborne operations in fall of 1943 for the capture of the British held Dodecanese islands of Kos, Leros and Astypalea (Stampalia).

Special Operations

Greece in Second World War was the area where some spectacular special operations took place, organized and executed by the Greek Resistance and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Commandos. Operation Harling aim was to to cut the railway line connecting Athens with Thessaloniki by destroying the bridge of Gorgopotamos in Central Greece. Operations Albumen and Anglo were raids carried out by SAS and SBS in 1942 to sabotage airfields in Crete and Rhodes respectively, aiming at disrupting Lutwaffe operations in North Africa. Operation Bricklayer was an operation to abduct the commander of the 22nd Luftlande-Division Major General Kreipe from Crete while in Operation Tenement British SBS and Greek Sacred Band commandos captured in 1944 Symi island.

Fortifications and Sieges: Urban Operations

In this unique course we offer case studies in sieges and urban operations throughout history from ancient to modern times. We begin with the Long Walls, the walls that connected ancient Athens to its ports at Piraeus and Phalerum as part of the Athenian defensive strategy. Next we examine the siege of Plataea (429-427 BC) a Theban victory that saw the capture of Athens’s only ally in Boeotia during the Peloponnesian War. In modern times we study the siege and capture of Tripoli by Greek insurgents in 1821, the major urban battle of Athens in 1944 between British and Greek regular troops and communist insurgents and lastly the insurgents’ attempt to seize the town of Karpenisi in 1949. Some other battle combinations are also possible.