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Athens was named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, which is certainly fitting for the birthplace itself. Evidence of its ancient heyday is everywhere, in the remnants of monuments, statuary and sacred sites that are still revered as survivors of one of history’s most important eras.
A Poseidon adventure in art
In Greek mythology, Poseidon is the god of sea, so it is only fitting that the astoundingly wrought bronze statue of him was raised from the bottom of the Aegean Sea, where it lay for centuries after a shipwreck off the Cape of Artemision. The two-meter tall figure stands with arms extended and leaning forward on its left leg. The right hand once held a trident, and the unknown sculptor clearly was a master in accurately duplicating the complicated balancing act that goes into the seemingly simple motion of throwing a spear.
This work of art is one of the many stunning bronzes at the National Archeological Museum in Athens. The museum’s collection – which includes pieces that date all the way back to the prehistoric period – offers the best collection of Greek art in the world. Renovations closed the museum for a year and half, but it was reopened just in time for the 2004 Olympic Games.
At 260 feet above the city, the Acropolis (“high city”) is not only the highest point in Athens, but for many people it is the high point of any visit to Greece. It is the oldest known settlement in Greece and was a sacred site for ancient Athenians.
During the period of 448 to 420 B.C., the distinguished Athenian statesman Pericles commissioned the construction of four new monuments on the Acropolis at the site of former ruins. The Athenian sculptor Phidias presided over the construction and interior design. The Ionic Erechtheum includes the Porch of Caryatids, with its column in the shape of monumental female figures that identify remains a mystery. The Ionic Temples of Athena Nike, dedicated to the cult of Athena as the goddess of victory, was built during the Peloponnesian War, its frieze depicts the Greek victory over the Persians in the battle of Plataea. The Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis with rows of both Doric and Ionic columns, replaced an earlier version destroyed by the Persians. And of course, the Acropolis remains home to what’s left of the Parthenon.
The Parthenon, designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, took 15 years to complete. It was the closest to Pericles’ heart: Among various friezes depicting life among gods, the large statue of Athena represented his homage to the goddess and to the greatness of Athens.
Even in A.D. 131, savvy developers like the Roman Emperor Hadrian recognized the importance of signage. “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus,” reads the inscription on Hadrian’s arch, situated at the foot of the Acropolis and once the marker between Hadrianopolis and the Athens city limits. The side facing the Acropolis and ancient Athens reads, ” This is Athens, the city of Theseus.”
Like all the surrounding monuments and the Athens infrastructure itself, Hadrian’s Arch has undergone a major facelift. The 60-foot high archway, constructed of Pentelic marble, upheld by columns with Corthinian capitals and topped by a series of Corinthians columns, lost a bit of structural stability in the mid-18th century, when 8 of its columns were removed.
Restorers shored up the arch, cleaned away centuries of pollution and repaired its cracks, just in time for the 2004 Olympic Games.
The Evzones were once the elite soldiers of the Greek army. Today they are the presidential guards, a ceremonial unit that maintains watch over The Parliament, The Presidential Mansion and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The soldiers wear a traditional and highly photogenic uniform comprising a scarlet cap with a long black tassel, a cotton tunic, black knee tassels above white stockings, red clogs with black pompons and a woolen kilt called a fustanella. The fustanella has 400 pleats, one for each year that the Greeks were on the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. Bearing leather cartridge belts and rifles with a bayonet, the soldiers maintain strict physical discipline as they stand at attention and resist tourists’ attempts to distract them.
A changing of guard is performed daily before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but on Sundays, the complete ceremony – involving an army band and dozens of soldiers – is conducted.
Alice in Wonderland
Imagine Alice in Wonderland’s tumble into a magical world, and you will have an idea what this-off-beaten-path attraction in the Village of Paiania is like. Far larger than a rabbit hole, Koutouki Cave is a natural wonder that will awe you with its colors and formations. In 1926, a goat disappeared from its herd where it was grazing on the slope of Mount Ymittos. A search turned up a small crevice, and a brave soul descended by rope into the abyss below. The goat had not survived the fall, but its intended rescuer returned with a story of a beautiful underground chamber.
The vertical cave consists of a 38.5 meter shaft that opens onto a large cavern with a diameter of about 60 meters. Guided tours take visitors in through a man-made entrance and lead them on a path through stalactites and stalagmites formed by mineral deposits from water seeping through the limestone of the mountain. The tour ends with a light show accompanied by classical music. It’s just a short taxi ride from Athens to nearby Paiania.
There is no denying how Athens is one of the most important sites in the world for political, economic and aesthetic advancement and enhancement. For many people, it IS the most significant place in the world, period. And this birthplace of western philosophy seems to have fanned its mysticism throughout the ages. Today, Athens is still one of the most visited sites in the world. Many people want to retrace the footsteps of famous philosophers, writers and artists. Not to mention that Athens has a rugged beauty that merits separate praise.
This busy city is made up of twelve hills, seven of which play a historical role in Athens’ rise. Acropolis and Lycavittos are the two most prominent as it is where most of the important historical landmarks such as the Parthenon, Temple of Athena, Theatre of Dionysius and Temple of Olympian Zeus is found. Being made up of seven hills though, Athens is a difficult place to tour if you’re planning to do it via foot. Unless you plan to isolate yourself to a particular section throughout your trip, let’s say in Acropolis, for example, then conquering it via foot would be fine. But if you want an overall tour of the area, trekking it just won’t do especially when there’s a time element involved. You can rely on their Metro train system which is quite effective and cheap to boot. One can take you to the city center for €6. For those traveling in groups, there are packages for three or more which can be purchased in the different stations. Buses and a suburban railway system will also do.
However if comfort and convenience is a priority, then taking an Athens taxi is the best mode of transportation whilst in the area. You can get one in advance prior to arriving so an itinerary can be planned for you. Getting a package in advance will also garner you discounts. Should you decide to get one from the airport though, you will be paying €30-35 for the single ride and you can negotiate for a taxi tour from there. Taxi tours in Athens is one of the easiest ways to go around in the area. Overall price will depend on what you and your driver will agree to. Be careful when flagging taxis. Some of them may take advantage that you’re a tourist and will not flag down their meters in hopes for getting a bulk price. There are also tariffs involved. Make sure that the Tariff is Tariff 1. Tariff 2 doubles the rate and is applicable after midnight. Make sure to read the driver well. If you think the rate is abnormally high, then check with an English-speaking local to confirm the price.
Make sure also that you’re getting taxis from a reliable company. Although canary yellow taxis are very common in Athens, you will have no hold if the driver tries to fraud you whereas a taxi that hails under a company will be more careful. As common practice, taxis follow two rates, one that applies inside the city limits including the airport and one that applies outside of it. The minimum fare of Rate 1 is €1 while the minimum fare of Rate 2 is €2.65. If you’re from the airport, the fare will start at €3.20 and if there’s heavy luggage involved then a minimum rate will be added to that too.
Taxi tours can be quite tricky but many attest that it’s all worth it considering you get to see the sights of Athens at your own time and pace.
The incredible city of Athens, home to the ancient Gods and what a city to explore. The history and myths of this land are truly amazing, but be warned, the heat can sour to well into the 30’s during the hottest months of June to August so make sure you carry plenty of water and cover yourself from the scorching heat whilst touring the magnificent ancient ruins of Athens.
Let’s start with the Acropolis site, as this is what most tourists visit Athens for. These magnificent buildings are said to date back to the 4th century BC. The Parthenon building was originally constructed as a Temple, it has since then been a church and then a mosque. This building is easy recognised by anyone around the world, its vast size is jaw dropping and no amount of pictures that you have seen will prepare you for the true enormity of this site. Also, there are the ruins of a great theatre, that had once been used in the Roman times for gladiator fighting, nowadays the theatre is still used but for the more gentile performances of Ballet and other concerts. After you have spent most of the day exploring the wonders of this ancient site and listening to the myths that surround it from the guides, you will probably need a good rest before you prepare yourself for more wonders, along with the many museums full of ancient relics. Children as well as adults will love the Children’s Museum and for those that love music, there is also a Music Museum, then a Greek Folk museum. Actually, there are quite a few museums and all of them are worth of a visit along with the art galleries. You can’t miss the day tour to Delphi, to marvel at the ancient sanctuary of Apollo or the magnificent monuments and bronzes in the museum. For those who want another cultural trip, visit Cape Sounion where the 5th century temple of Poseidon stands, then the famous theatre of Epidaurus in Argolis. There is so much to see you may be better off hiring a car so you can do the tours at your own leisure and cut down excursion costs.
Shopping and eating
You will have a great time shopping in Athens modern town, with a multitude of shops to choose from, but the best place to visit has to be the old town “La Plaka” with its narrow pedestrian streets and quaint shops. You can spend hours searching for your ideal gift or souvenir in any one of the shops, as they are crammed full of delightful items, like jewellery, paintings and copies of ancient relics and buildings. There is something for everyone; you won’t leave the old town without purchasing something. If your feet are tired then there are plenty of cafes for you rest up in and have a well earned drink, and more than enough restaurants in the old town that serve a variety of meals from moussaka and stuffed tomatoes to filled baguettes, snacks and delicious pastries. For those looking for more international foods then the modern city centre would be the place to find it, as well as most of the glitzy nightlife of the city.
There is a conundrum with many historically significant cities. Guidebooks tend to send you off to every site with any potential historical significance, but leave out any mention of the modern attractions of the city. In the case of
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One particularly good spot is in the Plaka neighborhood. A nineteenth century quarter, Plaka has a mix of Turkish and Greek influences. From Plaka, you can head to the shopping bazaars found throughout the city. The bazaars in Athinas and Eolou are a bit touristy, but no excessively. With a mideastern feel, you can sit down and drink tea with local shop owners while they hock their wares.
From there, the city is wide open. If you dare, grab a taxi and tell the driver you just want to see the real city. It will be the ride of your life.
The city of Athens has a history that dates back about three thousand four hundred years. The city of Athens has a population of about seven hundred and forty five thousand five hundred and fourteen. The city covers the area of about fifteen square miles.
Athens is a cosmopolitan city and nowadays it is at the center for finance, economics, industry, culture and also politics. Research has revealed that Athens is the thirty-second richest city within the world. Traditionally Athens was known as a city-state that was powerful.
The heritage that dates back to the classical era is actually still evident within the city and this era is represented by a number of different works of art and ancient monuments and this includes the Parthenon, which is very famous. Even nowadays the city is still home to vast array of Byzantine monuments and Roman monuments. There is also an array of Ottoman monuments and these represent the long history of the city. If you have an interest in monuments and culture then book online and get cheap tickets so you can enjoy what the city has to offer whilst saving money.
The city of Athens is able to enjoy a climate that can be described as subtropical Mediterranean. The southern part of Athens tends to experience a semi arid climate that means that it tends to have hot weather. This city is able to enjoy lots sunshine all through the year and it averages at two thousand eight hundred and eighty four hours per year. Most of the rain falls between the middle of October and the middle of April. There is not a lot of rainfall during the summer months and any rain that does fall during these months tends to be in the form of thunderstorms or showers. It’s worth booking cheap airline tickets and making the most of the nice weather that this city has on offer.
For many years now the city of Athens has been very popular with tourists and this is assisted by the fact that the city is easy to get to from any where in the world and it is possible to get cheap flights. Over the last decade the infrastructure within the city and the social amenities have great improved. The city of Athens hosted the Olympic Games in 2004 and this was part of the reason why the city made such a massive improvements in its facilities. The Greek government worked within the European Union in order to undertake major projects such as the state of the art international airport that is known as Eleftherios Venizelos and also the expansion of the Metro System in Athens. The city of Athens is home to about one hundred and forty eight theatrical stages and this is more than any other city within the world.
Whatever your taste is,
Take a private walking tour around ancient sites of Acropolis museum, Plaka, Monastiraki and Philopappos hill. In
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The archaeological promenade, a 2.5 miles long, treeline walkway now connects the Acropolis to the city’s major ancient sites making the visit to these places infinitely a much more pleasant experience.
While for most visitors
How to reach
Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines operate direct flights from several countries. The cost of flights to Greece is highest from July and August when most Europeans take their holidays. For the rest of the year, prices vary according to demand.
Cruise ships disembark passengers at the
There are several options available including Greece villas, hotels and guesthouses. The peak months are July and August and so if you are visiting during this period, it is advisable to book accommodation in advance.
Athens is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and this means that there are ample places to see and visit in the city. The home of famous philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato has many things to offer visitors.
Acropolis is the considered to be one of the biggest attractions in the city. It is the site where ancient Athens was situated and home to temples dedicated in the honor of Athena, the patron goddess of the city. The main buildings in this ancient city were designed by Pericles, and most of them were constructed between the years 460 BC and 430 BC. The most popular attractions are Parthenon, Erechtheion, the Temple of Nike and Propylea. At the very foothills of the Acropolis is Plaka, where you can visit numerous museums. The Jewish Museum, the Greek Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Greek and European Paintings are located here.
You should not miss a chance to visit the ancient agora in the city. Marketplaces played an important role in ancient Greece, and when visiting modern-day Athens, you will have a chance to see the ruins of the ancient marketplace in the city. There is an entrance fee levied, but it is worth it. You can also visit the Ancient Agora Museum to see the exhibits and also admire the marvelous architecture of the building.
If you are not a fan of history, then modern-day Athens will not disappoint you. The main square in the city is known as Syntagma Square and this where all the hot spots of the city are located. Here you will find restaurants, shops, hotels and bars situated around a huge water fountain. To the north and south of the square are some great gardens that house a number of cafes where you can sit down to sip a cool drink or take a quick bite. The square is also close to the Greek parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Kolonaki District is located close to Syntagma Square where you can visit designer stores and boutiques to purchase branded labels. The District also has posh eating places. It is considered to be one of the richest suburbs of the city.
If you are in Athens, you should not miss a trip to the local flea market situated at Monastiraki. You can get good bargains and souvenirs to take home. Finally, take the metro to get some information about this city. While the metro was being constructed, many ancient artifacts were found which are now displayed in some of the stations.