The Parthenon is the emblem of the city of Athens. It is very impressive when you arrive there, although you'll already have seen it a thousand times on the TV or on postcards you´ve been sent, but it´s not the same as being there in front of such a famous monument. It is registered as a world heritage by UNESCO, and it´s now being renovated. It´s a bit annoying because you can not enter inside the temple, it was damaged so much by people that they are now trying to preserve it as much as they can . I recommend you arrive early in the morning so that you can enter straight away. There is a pass available for all the ancient sites, which you can buy the day before, and arrive at 8 when it opens to avoid the tour groups. The temple was built for the goddess Athena, it was a large statue in the center, about 12 meters, of which nothing remains. The Parthenon replaced an older temple destroyed by an invasion. It's a shame that there are not many ornaments of the temple remaining, most were taken away by the English and can be seen in the British Museum in London ...
This colossal temple is the largest in Greece and it took over 700 years to complete. Originally it had 104 Corinthian columns that reach 17 meters high, of which only 15 remain. The credit for its completion goes to Adriano who placed a giant gold and ivory statue of Zeus inside. The Arch of Hadrian, that functioned as a gate to the enclosure, connects to the road that passes by the Lysicrates monument and also passes along the way of Tripods. It is here that the winners of the ancient theater competitions dedicated their trophies to Dionysus. The Marble Arch served as a border between the old city and the Roman city. This is clear from the inscriptions on top. On one side it says "This is the old Athens, city of Theseus" and on the other "This is the city of Hadrian, which is no longer that of Theseus". Just so that it is clear.
The Erechtheion is an Ionic masterpiece that was built 421-406 BC and it's the most famous temple - the famous tribune of the Caryatids. It's a polychrome portico with 6 columns (originally) with female figures, all the figures are copies, 5 of the originals are in the Acropolis Museum and the last is in the British Museum, London. The realization of this porch was a currency for the time to be used in place of columns the "caryatids".
Plaka is probably the most popular neighborhood in Athens, as well as one of the oldest. And, given its location just below the Acropolis, it's also the one that attracts the most tourists. The neighborhood consists of a cluster small streets full of restaurants and souvenir shops and is divided into two sections (High Plaka and Anafiotika) by Adrianou Street, one of the oldest streets in the city. The origin of the name is unclear, but there are two more or less accepted ideas: one states that the name derives from the Albanian word "pliakou," meaning old. The second version references a large stone plaque which was once located between the Adrianou, Tripodon and Lysicratous streets.
Plaka is small and very easy to cross on foot. I liked the neighborhood because of the historic streets and monuments, though the crowds of tourists are a bit overwhelming. It's not the best place to eat. The prices aren't exorbitant but the quality and authenticity of the food just didn't seem very good. If you do want to eat, make sure to pick a restaurant frequented by locals.
Piraeus is the port in Athens. It is an essential part of the city, even though it's quite far from downtown. It has shipyards, factories manufacturing agricultural machinery, glass, textiles, and chemicals. As you head towards Athens, the movement in the streets is relentless. If you walk along the waterfront near the famous blue-domed Orthodox Church, you'll see a number of important and beautifully-maintained public buildings. Of course, there is an intense amount of small boat docks for small ships and large passenger ships and is wher you catch the ferry to the nearby islands.
Syntagma Square is located in the center of Athens and where you can catch the metro lines 2 and 3 to explore the city. It's also where the Greek Parliament, home of the famous changing of the guards, is located. It's a real spectacle, with Greek soldiers in original uniforms marching in almost slow motion across the square. It only takes 20 minutes and is really worth seeing up close. Just like the guards in London, these ones don't even blink at the hordes of tourists scrambling to get a photo with them.
Located on the southwest slopes of the Acropolis in Athens, this grand building is also known as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus or Herodeon. Dating back to 161 BC, it was built by Herod Atticus in honor of his wife Grid who had died the previous year. The theater functioned as a setting for musical performances and plays. It can host up to 5,000 people. Herod Atticus, a wealthy man from a family of money, devoted much of his money to public buildings and popular new projects, and was still able to keep his fortune throughout his life. There are rumors that the theater was built in honor of the wife who Herod had actually killed himself. Before the renovation, theater, like most of Athens monuments, was in ruins. Specifically, what remained of the theater was a huge stone wall, part of the "curtain" of the Theater. The stage had to be renovated, as well as the seating. The renovations were all done in marble, the original material. Nowadays, the theater is used annually during a festival that is celebrated here as one of the most important in Greece. You can only visit the theater from the outside. It is prohibited to enter the inside. You can see it all from outside the gates without paying an entry fee. But if you want to see it from another perspective, definitely the best option, you have to pay the Acropolis general admission of 12€, however, it is free for EU students with the international student card.
Oh, the monuments in Athens! In the majestic Agora of Athens, always under the watchful eye of the Acróplolis, rises the Hephaestion, a beautiful, marble temple with Doric columns. It is located in the Agora, as I said before. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Agora of Athens used to be the main center of political activity, the social capital. Strolling through the Agora is a joy because it's like traveling back in time when things were very different: Gods, laws, philosophers, great temples, mythology was alive. The Hephaestion is also known as Theseion and this is why it is believed that the bones of the legendary Greek hero Theseus lie in it. But we are left with the common name, Hephaestion, where people worshiped Hephaestus, the god of fire and the forge, as well as the god of artisans, blacksmiths, metals, sculptors and metallurgy, and Athena. As you can see, its structure is well preserved. Actually, it is one monuments which has been the most preserved over the years. We also show an overview of the Agora and of the Acropolis seen from this beautiful temple. ENJOY.
From this small crag, for some a simple rock, you have one of the best views of the sprawling city of Athens. You can see the hills of Licabetos, Filopappos or Ardeto, the dwindling green areas of the city, the Far Piraeus. From here you have an idea of the enormity of the city that grows outward from the four cardinal points, and it is also a good way to yourself in the city because you can locate Plaka, the Olympic Stadium, Syntagma and Omonia squares, the Temple of Zeus or the ancient Agora. It was believed that the god Ares was tried and executed here, by the intervention of Halhirrotios, son of Poseidon, because he believed that Ares had violated his own daughter so he was sentenced to spend his days on top of this hill. The legend says that Orestes was tried for the murder of his mother Clytemnestra here. What used to be a place of mythological and earthly judgments, now is a great alternative to view the city from above.
We had to return another day as the museum has very different opening hours. Before going, make sure to check that it will be open. I liked it a great deal, however, if you don't bother with an audio guide or a guide, you may not understand everything. All the explanations of the sculptures, and paintings were in Greek or English. I recommended a visit. It's huge - if you go, go with time to spare because it takes a while to visit - there are endless rooms.
Opened in 2001, this new airport was created to accommodate the passengers ve came to attend the Olympic Games in 2004, since the airport that was there before it was too small for such an event. Modern, the airport offers numerous services. The only bad thing is that it is quite far from the city center. You can go via train, which takes about 40 minutes and costs 6 euros. There are also some buses which depart from Syntagma Square, which are a bit cheaper, 3.20 euros, but take longer of course. First, there is an area of shopping and duty free, but once you get past security, there is no more food or drink outlets so be careful. A good initiative, offering free internet inside, there are many people ve want to use it, but it helps to pass the time if your flight is delayed!
Athens, of all the cities I've seen, is the one I found most surprising. The mixture of East and West together with absolute chaos, makes the city of Athens a perfect place to get lost. My last two visits I stayed at Hostel Zeus on Sofokleous Street, a street that crosses Athens Street perpendicularly, which is in the center, about 3 minutes from Omonia Square, 2 to the market and 10 to Monastiraki. The hotel itself is kind of shoddy, but it's well known with interrailers so there is a great atmosphere. Also one of the people working there is cool and we hit it off. Athens Street has a lot of vitaliy and is a pleasure to walk through there. There's always something happenning. On this street, just before crossing the Monastiraki Square, there are a few places that are open all night, and it's a good place to end the party. They call themselves cafes, not pubs, but they are open up onto terraces and it's a great place. I've already made some memories there. Across the street you find Monastiraki, a place that seems to stand still in time with an awesome, picturesque deck. From there, the options include: Getting lost in the famous Plaka with a great ambience especially at dinnertime, or getting lost in the Psiri neighborhood, or if you want to go shopping, there is Ermou Street, the most commercial in Athens. I liked, after climbing to the Acropolis, having an expensive drink in one of the taverns and cafes behind Monastiraki metro stop overlooking the Acropolis and the Agora. It was very relaxing and the Greeks are very friendly. A small anecdote that happened the first time we visited; we were in a bar after having just arrived in the center, we each ordered a water because Athens is very hot in the summer. The waiter charged us .70 euros. We were amazed, we thought didn't know it was going to be that cheap. In the next cafe after just getting there, they gave us a jug of water without asking. The water was free there. They always bill the drinks that you ordered on the side, which is a ripoff.
It has ancient treasures of the Acropolis of Athens arranged harmoniously and with different atmospheres created by light from the windows, according to the time of day. It's built on stilts in the Athenian archaeological site and it's a pleasure to stop here for hours, if the public allows it - given the beauty of the place.
I thought back for a moment to 1896 and imagined participating in the Olympics, but the stadium is much smaller than any now as then everyone stood up and cheered the winners. I was impressed with the simplicity of the stadium and of course, the symbol of the Olympics, the five Olympic rings. At the entrance you can see four stones carved with all the Olympics history from 1896 to the present. Some interesting information. The I Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens between 6 and April 15, 1896 and King George I of Greece opened it. 241 athletes participated male (no female participation) from 14 countries, competing in 9 sports and 43 specialties. The first 9 Olympic sports were athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, tennis, shooting, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling. Every four years, athletes from all countries came together to compete against each other. Only the great wars of the twentieth century has prevented the realization of the Olympic Games, but on completion of these, the tradition went on. Greece hosted the Olympics back in 2004. And hopefully 2016 Madrid!! Spainnn!!
The Tower of the Winds, also known as Horologion, is a beautiful, well preserved tower located in the old part of the Roman Agora at the bottom part of the Acropolis. The eight facades have the winds blowing in every direction carved on them. The tower is 12 meters high and 8 in diameter. If you didn't pay the entry fee for the Agora and the other ancient sites, you can still view the Tower from a distance through bars that protect it from vandalism at night. However, it is a very beautiful monument that is worth admiring close-up. The different winds include Boreas, Zephyr, Skiron, and Euros. Each side is embodied by the wind that blows there. Inside the tower, there is a water run clock. The water came from the hill of the Acropolis toward the tower. Information located on each side of the tower allow you to read the time like on sundials. The tower inspired others to build wind towers, as in Livorno or Sebastopol.
The Greek Parliament, or Vouli to the Greeks, is located in the Parliamentary building in Syntagma Square in Athens. In technical aspects, the Hellenic Parliament is a unicameral legislature of 300 members, elected for a term of 4 years. The building itself was built in 1843 but was only used for parliamentary purposes from 1929 onward. The main chamber of Parliament has marble and various gold ornaments, and on the second floor there is a chamber that is smaller but almost identical which should be used for the Senate. As the Senate has not existed in Greece for decades, the room no longer has an official role and is used for party meetings. The building has two main entrances: the west entrance which leads directly to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the east entrance which is the official entrance.
Museum of the Ancient Agora is located in the Stoa of Attalos and was restored by the American School of Classical Studies between 1953 and 1956 in order to accommodate the objects found in the excavations of the Ancient Agora of Athens. In 1957, the Greek State took over the administration and security of both the museum and the archaeological site. The best feature of the museum is that the exhibits are directly related to the functions of the Athenian democracy, reflecting the role of Ancient Agora as the heart of the city's public life. The museum also contains objects from the fifth to second centuries BC like the 5th-century clepsydra (water clock) or the 5th century ostraca. Other valuable pieces are kneeling athlete (530 BC), a bronze head of Nike (425 BC), a statue of Apollo (330 BC), and a monumental female figure which stands in front of the Royal Stoa (330 BC). Access to the museum is free having paid the entrance to the Old Agora.
For most people considering what to do in Athens, thoughts turn to the city's amazingly rich ancient history. Of course, among the major things to see in Athens is the Acropolis, the most important site in ancient Greece, and the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. But while these two monuments may be the best-known Athens attractions, they are not the only places to visit in Athens for history enthusiasts.
Next to the Parthenon is the Temple of Caryatid, a portico with six columns, each decorated with female figures. Another of the ancient attractions in Athens is the Temple of Zeus, a temple that was built in marble columns 17 metres tall. Anyone with an interest in the fascinating world of ancient Greece will be spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Athens: there's also the Panathenaic Stadium, the Theater of Dionysus, and the Adrian Library ... all with rich history.
In the city center you can find Syntagma Square, home to the Greek Parliament and many others museums and parks. Here you can attend the famous changing of the guard or visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and enjoy plenty of more modern Athens activities after taking the time to look at the city's history. Know that there are different areas of the city and each one has its own charm. Plaka, known as the Neighborhood of the Gods, is the oldest and has narrow streets stocked you can find souvenir shops. If splashing the cash is on your list of stuff to do in Athens, then Monastiraki is one of the main shopping areas of the city with streets full of shops.
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