Historical Athens fascinates
Athens, the capital of Greece, is today a living monument to a once-thriving culture that had a shattering impact on civilization and politics. Those tremors are still felt today, because, for example, democracy originates from Athens.
Read here five tips for city vacationers in Athens!
1. The magnificent Acropolis
The hill of the Acropolis of Athens rises to a height of 90 meters. This three-hectare area is home to one of the cradles of our civilization.
The Acropolis was already inhabited five thousand years ago. The modern tourist there is most fascinated by the magnificent monuments of antiquity. The Acropolis was selected for the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987. The Acropolis area includes, for example, the Parthenon, the Temple of Athene Nike, the Odeion of Herodes Atticus and the Theater of Dionysus.
The entrance to the area is dominated by the Propylaia, a monumental gateway. Before the six Doric columns of the Propylaia, on the south side of the entrance, there is a small temple dedicated to Athene Nike, whose graceful Ionic columns afford an intoxicating view of the sea.
In its worthy place in the middle of the Acropolis is the Parthenon, or the temple of Pallas Athene. The Doric-style columns and facade of the temple are world-famous sights and symbols of ancient Greece.
The temple known as the Erekhtheion is located east of the entrance, north of the Parthenon. There is no other like the Erekhtheion in the ancient world. The most famous part of the temple is the row of statues in the Hall of the Caryatids, where six beautiful women support the roof of the temple. On the south side of the hill are the remains of the Theater of Dionysus.
When visiting the hill, you should also visit the Acropolis Museum, which specializes in preserving the history of the hill.
2. Antikik Keskustori Agora
The center of the ancient city and the beating heart of everyday life was the Agora, or market, located north of the Acropolis.
Agora has a significant political history, as politics and democracy can be considered to have been born there. Socrates held his debates in the Agora, and early democratic votes were also held there.
The ruins of the ancient market have been excavated since the 1930s. Discoveries include, for example, many pillared halls, temples and administrative buildings. The most prominent of the buildings in the area is the so-called Temple of Theseus.
The look of the square is dominated by the stoa of Attalos. The original one was built between 159 and 138 BC, and it housed a market hall. The current stoa is a copy of the Stoa of Attalos built in the 1950s from marble and limestone. The Agora Museum is located there. The museum has a large collection of money, pots and potsherds, as well as, for example, a large bronze shield received from the Spartans during the Peloponnesian Wars.
3. Experience the Plaka area
Plaka is one of the most popular and idyllic areas of lively Athens. Located next to the Acropolis, Plaka is the old town of Athens, with many restaurants, shops and hotels in the old houses along the winding streets.
The Anafiotika area is also worth exploring, with its architecture reminiscent of the Greek islands in its atmosphere and appearance.
In an area of about a quarter of a kilometer, you can find ancient ruins, cheerful taverns and wonderful churches. Many of Athens’ Byzantine churches are located in the old town.
The most famous of these churches is Pikku-Mitropolis, the former episcopal church of Athens built in the 12th-13th centuries, with beautiful wall paintings. This tiny church is located on the Platia Mitropoleos square right next to the current cathedral, or Mitropolis.
4. Syntagma and the National Garden
Syntagma is a square surrounded by banks, hotels and travel agencies, which for many visitors is the center of modern Greece, as it was the center of the city already in antiquity.
In the middle of the traffic, cypresses and orange trees bring greenery, but they have to give way to the city’s relentlessly expanding traffic network. The square is an important traffic hub, as two of Athens’ three metro lines pass under it. In addition, several bus lines depart from there.
On the edge of the central square is located, among other things, the former King’s Palace, or the current Parliament Building, as well as some of the most expensive hotels in Athens, such as the city’s first Hotel Grande Bretagne.
The National Garden spreads out behind the Parliament building, which offers a green oasis in the middle of the city and traffic noise. The National Garden features stunning plantings, exotic plants, statues and balloon vendors. Peacocks, playgrounds and a small zoo bring even more life to the garden. On the south side of the park is also the Záppeion, i.e. exhibition hall and open-air theater.
5. Likavittós-kukkula and Kolonáki
Likavittós Hill is the highest point in Athens and offers a great view of the city. The best view is early in the morning. The best way to get to the top is to hop on a cable car. You can also reach the top of the 277-meter distance on foot. At the top there is a pavilion where you can enjoy refreshments and a modern amphitheater.
The route to the cable car goes through the most stylish area of Athens, Kolonáki. The streets radiating from Kolonák’s main square, Platía Filikis Eterias, are full of elegant shops and stylish cafes.
Read more tips for Athens in Rantapallo’s destination guide!
Text: Jenna Lehkonen
Source: Rantapallo.fi – Suomen suosituin matkailumedia by www.rantapallo.fi.
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