Athens is a large modern city, extending over a plain and surrounded by three mountains: Mount Parnitha (1413), Mount Penteli (1109) and Mount Hymettos (1026). Athens is a city that is very alive; a city where things are constantly happening.
It is modern, but it is romantic as well, it has busy streets and squares, places where movement never stops, but one can easily find little alleys in quiet, peaceful neighborhoods, such as Plaka and Mets.
One can choose to visit the museums and the archaeological sites or just to taste the vibrant, Greek way of life. In the countless shops, the visitor will find whatever (s)he may need. In the tavernas and restaurants (s)he can enjoy any taste sensation, Greek, international or ethnic cuisine; in the nightclubs, pubs, discos and bars (s)he can drink or dance the night away. Because in Athens, the fun never stops before daylight!
The Acropolis hill, so called the “Sacred Rock”
of Athens, is the most important site of the city. During Perikles’ Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architectural masterpieces of the period were erected on its ground:
- the Parthenon, which is the most important and characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilization and still remains its international symbol. It was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens
- the Erechtheion, dedicated to the worship of the two principal gods of Attica, Athena and Poseidon the Temple of Athena Nike, and
- the Propylaea, the monumental gateway of the Acropolis
The Acropolis Museum
It is one of the most important museums in the world. It houses masterpieces of the ancient Greek civilization, dedicated to the most important of the Athenian sanctuaries, the “temenos” of Athena Parthenos.
The Acropolis museum contains only the stone sculptures from the monuments of the Acropolis and from the excavations on the site. Since the beginning of the excavations, the vases and the bronzes have been kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, while the inscriptions are housed in the Epigraphical Museum.
According to tradition, the establishment of the sanctuary goes back to the time of mythical Deucalion. The site was inhabited in the
prehistoric period and the cult of Zeus is attested in early historic times. In ca. 515 BC, Peisistratos the Younger, began the construction of a monumental temple which was not finished because of the fall of the tyranny in Athens. Much later, in 174 BC, Antiochos IV Epiphanes, the king of Syria, attempted to continue the erection of the temple, which was finally completed by the Roman emperor Hadrian, in AD 124/125. Inside the temple stood a colossal chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Zeus.
The most important monuments of the site are:
- Temple of Zeus Olympios.
- Temple of Apollo Delphinios.
- The Court at the Delphinion.
- Gates of the city wall of Athens, built by Themistocles in 479/78 BC.
- Roman baths, constructed in AD 124-132.
- Temple of Panhellenic Zeus, built in AD 131-132.
- Temple of Cronos and Rhea.
Entertainment / Cultural events
Whether one wishes to broaden his/her cultural horizon or just to have fun, Athens is the place to be! The days and the nights present the visitor with a dilemma, what to choose: museums, ancient Greek drama or modern theatre, dance, cinema in high tech theatres or in cute little open-air cinemas, listening to music and/or dancing, eating out or clubbing. Musical events range from opera and classical music at the Megaron Mousikis (Athens Concert Hall) to Greek music played at all sorts of different places (tavernas, concert halls, nightclubs), to rock or pop concerts, to Ethnic music events, to Jazz concerts, … everything is there!
Syntagma Square, is the largest and the most important square in Athens. It houses the monument of the Unknown Soldier, the Parliament and the most luxurious hotels of the city.
The Athens Academy and the National Library are impressive buildings on Panepistimiou Street, which connects Syntagma Square with Omonoia Square, the second most important square of the center of Athens.
Plaka, the oldest neighborhood of Athens, the most characteristic area of the city and the only unchanged by time. The old houses and the nice neoclassic buildings have been preserved and have been restored in recent years. A walk through the quiet narrow streets of Plaka is a walk through the past of Athens, a unique and charming experience under the imposing monuments of the Acropolis.
Monastiraki, where the flea market is, is a fascinating area with anything from souvenirs in all their myriad form, marble chess sets, copper pans, ceramic pots, to junk and antiques. Old coins and stamps, old furniture, baskets and junk, piled haphazardly between office furniture, all go to make this area one of the most fascinating in the city.
Lycabettus, or Lycavitos hill (909 ft high), sits right in the center of the city and offers an unforgettable view of the city from its peak.
One can reach it with a cable railway and will find there the tiny Chapel of St. George (Ai Yorgis) and a restaurant.
It is one of the most attractive points of Athens, especially by night, when below the large lighted city extends its beauty.