Are you a fan of Greece in combination with wildlife and wonder about the national animal of Greece?
I’m happy to add another post to the series of national animals of countries that I cover on my blog! Greece is a fascinating and beautiful country. You can see its long history in its ruins, landscapes, and national symbols. How about the national animal of Greece?
From the powerful Parthenon to the beautiful olive fields, each symbol tells you a different story that makes Greece a very special place.
Let’s dive in and go on this journey with me!
What is the national animal of Greece?
Believe it or not, the national animal of Greece isn’t a land creature! It’s the dolphin! The dolphin has a special place in Greek culture because of how graceful and playful it is.
Because of its deep historical and cultural importance, dolphins are often found in Greek myths, legends, and all forms of art. They represent friendship, freedom, and the Greeks’ close link with the sea.
It’s a close call between the Phoenix and the dolphin as the Greek national animals as the phoenix stands for rebirth and immortality. But it’s impossible to ignore the dolphin’s important role in Greek marine history and mythology.
Many Greeks think of the dolphin as a symbol of their country. This shows that Greece has always had a close relationship with the Mediterranean Sea.
Why is Greece’s national animal a dolphin?
The dolphin has a deep and special place in Greek culture, myths, and history, which is why it is often thought to be the country’s national animal. Here are a few examples of the importance of the dolphins for the Greeks:
- Ancient Greek Mythology and Legends: In many Greek stories, dolphins have a special place. The god Dionysus is at the center of one of the most famous stories.
According to the story, he was once kidnapped by pirates, but because he was a god, the sea turned into wine and dolphins came to save him.
As he was thankful, Dionysus turned the pirates into dolphins and told them to watch out for people at sea.
- Cultural Symbolism: Dolphins were seen as signs of friendship, cleverness, and a strong sense of community in ancient Greece. The Greeks thought dolphins had good qualities because they were playful and seemed to like people.
These were qualities that were valued in Greek city-states, which were based on strong social bonds.
- The Importance of the Sea: Because Greece is made up of islands and peninsulas, it has always had a close relationship with the sea. Dolphins jumping near Greek ships was a common and great sight for sailors.
It was a sign for a safe trip. Because they saw these marine animals so often, the Greeks became closer to them, which led to a high regard for them in Greek society.
- Artistic Representations: Dolphins were also respected by the ancient Greeks, which you can see in their art. Dolphins were a popular subject in ancient Greek art, from frescoes in buildings to intricate designs on pottery and coins.
This showed how important dolphins were in both everyday life and Greek cosmology.
- Philosophical Views: Plutarch, Oppian, and other historical Greek philosophers and writers were all very fond on dolphins and wrote about them.
They were often talked about in ways that emphasized how smart and kind they were and how close they were to the gods.
Even though the dolphin is the unofficial national animal of Greece, it has a special place in Greek history, culture, and myths that gives it a unique and almost unmatched status.
The way the Greeks and dolphins were connected shows a mix of mythology, maritime custom, and social values that have been around for thousands of years.
Can you swim with dolphins in Greece?
Many people dream of this! Who wouldn’t want to play in the water with these nice animals?
But here’s the thing: it’s not always a good idea to swim with wild dolphins. Why? For both of yours and their safety. In the end, dolphins are wild animals, so the best thing to do is to leave them alone and not bother them.
For example, they could become submissive, sexually aggressive or even self-harm when interacting with you.
But there are places in the world where it is safe to swim with dolphins that have been educated. But keep in mind that it’s important to pick places where the dolphins are treated well and with care.
What time of year do you see dolphins in Greece?
A lot of people dream of seeing dolphins as they are beautiful animals. If you want to see these playful animals on your trip to Greece, you’re lucky! Greece is a great place to see them because it has a long shoreline and clear water.
Between April and October is the best time to see dolphins in Greece. Dolphins love to play and jump in the water during these months because the water is usually calm and the weather is sunny and warm.
Dolphins seem to be more active when the sun isn’t too hot, like early in the morning or late in the afternoon. So, keep your eyes on the sky if you’re on a boat or just relaxing at the beach during these months.
You might see a group of happy dolphins, which would make your trip to Greece even more memorable.
Where are you most likely to see dolphins in Greece?
If you really want to see dolphins, you should go to either the Ionian Sea or the Aegean Sea. Dolphins like to hang out in these two areas!
Also, you can see them very well on islands like Corfu, Mykonos, and Crete. Always keep your eyes open when you’re on a boat or ship. You never know when a playful fin will show up.
If you would like to spot dolphins in Greece while having a great day on the Santa Maria wooden boat including a great lunch, I would really recommend the following cruise:
National animal of Greece: FAQs
The information below is related to the national animal of Greece and will give you some more great insights about animals and other national Greek symbols!
What animals is Greece known for?
There are many different kinds of animals in Greece. Besides dolphins, Greece is known for the following animals:
- Aegean Cat: The Aegean Cat is from the Cycladic Islands of Greece. It is one of the oldest cat types that has been kept as a pet. They are usually about the size of a small dog and have a slim, strong body.
Their bodies can be different colors, but most of the time they have a white base with beautiful blue or red spots. People say that these cats are friendly, outgoing, and loving, which makes them great pets.
Their past is linked to that of the Greeks, and you can often find them relaxing in the sun-drenched streets of island villages or hanging out with fishermen at local ports. A very nice sight!
- The Greek Turtle: This is also called the spur-thighed turtle. It lives in the grasslands and forests of Greece near the Mediterranean Sea. They have a hard, round skin that can be a mix of brown, yellow, and black.
This makes a pattern that looks like a work of art, don’t you think? They move slowly, but they have a strong will and won’t give up to reach their goal.
Ancient Greeks often thought of tortoises as being patient and living a long time. They also thought of them as representing the slow but steady pace of life.
- Golden Jackal: The name Golden Jackal sounds strange, and it kind of is. You can find these animals in the northern parts of Greece, especially in the forests. Their name comes from the color of their fur, which is golden.
They look like a small wolf or a big fox. Golden Jackals are flexible animals that can live in different places. They are usually out and about at dawn and dusk looking for food, which can be anything from flowers to small animals.
Greek myth sometimes talks about jackals and says that they are smart and able to transform.
Each of these animals adds something special to the nature and cultural heritage of Greece.
Whether it’s the friendly meow of an Aegean Cat, the slow steps of a Greek Tortoise, or the far-off call of a Golden Jackal, these animals bring the Greek scenery to life in the most charming ways.
National symbols of Greece
Greece isn’t just fond of their dolphins, though. Here are the three most important symbols of Greece’s national identity:
- The Parthenon is an old temple to the goddess Athena. It is built on top of the Acropolis in Athens.
Built in the 5th century BC, when the Athenian kingdom was at its strongest, it is the best example of Classical Greek architecture and a symbol of the lasting spirit of Greek culture.
The temple is known all over the world for its Doric columns and perfect proportions, which make it a clear sign of Greece’s rich history and culture.
- Olive Tree: The olive tree is a big part of Greek mythology, history, and everyday life. It stands for peace, wealth, and strength. People say that Athens got its name from Athena because she gave the city its first olive tree.
Olive oil is still a main ingredient in Greek food, and the silvery-green leaves of the olive tree are a familiar sight all over the country. These leaves represent Greece’s connection to nature and its long history.
Besides this, the olive tree is always a beautiful sight when you walk around in Greece!
- The Greek Cross (Blue and White Flag): The Greek flag has blue and white bands that alternate horizontally. In the upper hoist-side corner of the blue square is a white cross.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is the main religion in Greece, is represented by the cross. People say that the blue and white colors reflect the sky and sea of Greece, as well as the country’s purity and freedom. I like that thought!
Each of these symbols has a deep meaning and shows a different part of what it means to be Greek, from its rich history to its spiritual roots and natural beauty.
Motto of Greece
Many countries in the world have their own motto. You could say that this is also a symbol of a country. The motto of Greece? That is Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος which is the Greek phrase for Freedom or Death.
To me, this saying shows how much Greece values their freedom and how brave its people have been throughout history. I think it’s a very strong motto to have as a country.
The Wrap-Up: National Animal of Greece
Greece is a fascinating place full of legends, myths, and strong connections to nature. Its native animal, the dolphin, shows how close the country has always been to the sea.
So, the next time you see a dolphin or think of Greece, remember the stories, images, and the heart of a country that loves freedom and its animals.
Have a great trip to Greece and enjoy seeing dolphins!
Your restless voyager,