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16380591 - the acropolis at night

Athens

 

A few words…

Athens, the capital city of Greece where democracy was born, has a huge history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the “Golden Age of Pericles”) the city lived glorious times. During this period the Parthenon was built, Philosophy, Drama, Arts developed and reached their peak point. Over the years, many conquerors occupied Athens. In 1834, Athens became the capital of Greece and the modern times, the city has become an attractive european metropolis.

The historical city of Athens starts at the temple of Olympian Zeus (6th c. B.C.), one of the largest ancient temple close to Hadrian’s Arch (131 A.D.), which represents the symbolic entrance to the city. Walking along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street you pass the ancient Theatre of Dionysos (5th c. B.C.) where most of the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylos and Aristophanes were performed. Continuing the tour, the visitor will reach the ruins of the Asklepieion (5th c. B.C.) and the Stoa of Eumenes (2th c. B.C.) and from there, will arrive at the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, which was built in 161 A.D.,and in which nowadays the performances of the Athens Festival take place.

From there, you climb up to the sacred rock of the Acropolis, where you will see the most significant masterpieces of worldwide architecture and art, such as the Parthenon temple. The Propylaea, the temple of the Athene Nike and the Erechtheion are also imposing. From the Acropolis you have an amazing view of the city.
The Museum of Acropolis, one of the most important contemporary works of architecture in Athens, is a must and situated 300m away from the sacred rock of the Acropolis, It houses a variety of priceless findings of the ancient periods.

Coming downhill from the Acropolis you arrive at Areios Pagos, the most ancient law court of the world. Opposite, is Philopappou Hill, with its beautiful cobbled little streets. Walking along the pedestrian road you arrive at the Ancient Agora, which was the commercial, political, public, military center of ancient Athens. From there, via Ermou Street, you arrive at Kerameikos, and at the museum of Keramikos, where you can find various tombstones and sculptures.

Plaka is the most famous neighborhood of the historic city center with its labyrinthian streets. The area has been inhabited since antiquity and was built around the ruins of Ancient Agora. Also, near there, you will come across the neighborhood of Anafiotika which is based on the traditional Cycladic architecture. You will admire ancient monuments, such the Lysikrates Monument, the Roman Agora with the famed “Tower of the Winds” (1st c. B.C.) and Hadrian’s Library (132 A.D.), a variety of big and small churches, true masterpieces of Byzantine art and architecture, as well as the remnants of the Ottoman period (Mosque, Tzistaraki Mosque, the Turkish Bath near the Tower of the Winds, the Muslim Seminary, etc).

If you continue from Plaka you arrive at Monastiraki, a characteristic area of narrow streets and small buildings where the city’s traditional flea market is situated. Close by is the Psyrri area, a traditional neighborhood which during the years has developed into one of the most busiest “centres” of the town’s nightlife, with bars, tavernas, ouzeris and clubs.
The commercial center is located across Ermou Street with endless shops of all kinds and brands. To the west is Athinas Street, where the food commerce is concentrated. In the area many neoclassical mansions such as the Town Hall, the Municipal Market (where you can find is a variety of meat, fish and vegetables) and the Kotzias Square are situated. Also, the historical city center embraces the picturesque neighborhoods of Makriyianni, Theseion, Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio, as well as the Gazi area, with the former Gas plant, which now has been converted into a cultural center of the Athens municipality.

Syntagma and Omonia are the main central squares of the town; they are linked via Stadiou Street and Panepistimiou Avenue. At the Syntagma Square dominates the Greek Parliament building and in front of it, the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzones in traditional costume. From this square the visitor can walk through the National Garden and the impressive Zappeion Mansion (1874-1888). The visitor can continue towards the Presidential Mansion (1897) and then to the Panathenaikon (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, where the first Olympic Games in modern history were held.

From Omonia Square starts Patission street, a huge avenue with intriguing buildings. Among them is the Neoclassical mansions of the Polytechnic School and the National Archaeological Museum that hosts art treasures from the Neolithic era to the Roman period. Ths museum ranks among the leading museums in the world. Also, another spot that has to be visited is Lycavittos Hill. From its top you will enjoy the breathtaking view of the entire city, all the way to the sea.

On the other side of the hill, is the Kolonaki neighborhood, one of the sophisticated neighborhoods of Athens, which you will find numerous shops, cafeterias, restaurants and high class brands. Vassilis Sophias Avenue that boarders Kolonaki neighborhood is one of the most grandiose streets of Athens with beautiful buildings, museums (Cycladic Art, Benaki, Byzantine and Christian Museum, War Museum, National Gallery) and green spots.

Top See & Do

The Acropolis Museum: It was built in 2009 and hosts a wide variety of collections in three levels. On the ground floor, there are findings from the sanctuaries on the slopes of Acropolis. The “Archaic Gallery” on the first floor houses sculptures and offerings. Finally, on the third floor is the “Parthenon Gallery”
The National Archaeological Museum: The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is devoted to ancient Greek art and is one of the largest archaeological museum in Greece. It was founded at the end of the 19th century in order to host antiquities from all over Greece, displaying the historical, cultural and artistic value of all these antiquities.
The Museum of Cycladic Art: It was founded in 1986, and is dedicated to promote ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus with emphasis on Cycladic Art of the 3rd millennium BC.
The Benaki Museum: It operates since 1974 and hosts a wide variety of collections such as historical archives, oil paintings, ceramics, textiles, wood carvings and many other.
The Byzantine Museum: It exhibits mostly religious artefacts of the Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval, and post -Byzantine period.
The Museum of Contemporary Art: Contains a wide variety of collections like paintings, installations, photography, video, new media architecture, and industrial design.
The War Museum: It was established in 1975 and covers the war history of all ages, exhibiting weapon artifacts of the Greek army but also from Ancient China and Ancient Japan.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus: It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atiicus, and was used for music concerts with a capacity of 5.000 spectators. Since 1950 it hosts the Athens Festival with Greek and international performances.
The tomb of the Unknown Soldier: A monument dedicated to the services of an unidentified soldier. It is guarded by the Evzones (unit of the Greek army) of the Presidential Guard.
Old Parliament House: It housed the Greek Parliament between 1875 and 1932. Nowadays hosts the National Historical Museum.

Gastronomy-Beverages
One of the places that you will find an array of restaurants or fast foods is Syntagma Square. The visitor can have his meal while enjoying the Athens cityscape. Also, in Kolonaki, you will find stylish restaurants, international bistros, and many other places to eat and relax. In Plaka, Thission, Psirri and Monastiraki, there are many places to enjoy traditional greek food with ouzo. The majority of them are outdoors and in others you can find traditional Greek music. In Kerameikos and Gazi neighborhoods there are many chic, modern and ethnic restaurants.

If you want to taste fresh fish of the day don’t miss to visit Piraeus, a place with many tavernas. Last but not least, in Glyfada, you can find Biftekoupoli, a “town” of restaurants with meat-based menus.

Enjoy the range of restaurants and the traditional Greek cuisine that is famous worldwide.

Shopping
The city of Athens has more than 2.500 shops that sell different kinds of products, like local herbs, jewelry etc. Since many of the streets have been turned into pedestrian areas you can walk arroun the area and find coffee houses, small bars and modern restaurants.
These shops are located mainly in Syntagma and Kolonaki areas, they have a wide collection of ancient Greek jewel replicas and also famous traditional and modern pieces.
If you want to see various jewel designs you can visit the Ilias Lalaounis Museum of Jewelry. Its collections present Greek jewelry history that is influenced by the art and architecture of different civilizations. In Syntagma area there are fur merchants that offer coats, jackets and hats. Also, in some markets, you will find souvenirs and handmade objects, copper utensils, clay items and ceramics. Woolen and cotton pullovers of excellent quality and leather clothing and shoes can be found in Ermou St. and Kolonaki Square. Last but not least, visitors can find a variety of antiques in shops of Kolonaki, Syntagma and Monastiraki areas.

Going out
Athens is well known for its vibrant nightlife. The options are plenty and they cover all tastes and lifestyles. In general, nightlife in clubs and bars starts late, mostly after midnight. The Greeks are known for their love-of-life lifestyle; the most famous areas for entertainment are: Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki. Traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka. In Psirri the visitors will find some of Athens’ hottest clubs and bars. They play all types of music from Greek, rock and ethnic to Latin, pop and jazz.

Another, place with vibrant nightlife many clubs and cafeterias is Gazi. It is one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Athens nightlife. Plaka – Monastiraki, also are very renowned neighborhoods and very popular to the visitors. There you can find many cafeterias, bars and traditional places to enjoy Greek culture during the whole year. If you want to experience the traditional way of having fun, we recommend spending your night at a Greek club with live Greek music. They are situated along Syggrou Avenue, Iera Odos and Pireos Street in Gazi.

During the summer, the entertainment moves to Poseidon Avenue and the coastal towns of Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni. Kolonaki is a destination for those that want to have a pleasant dining or for working professionals that want to enjoy a cocktail after job.

Exarchia is a place mostly for artists and college students with a bohemian style. The Strefi Hill is where the visitor will find most of the bars and clubs mainly with rock music.

In the city of Athens you will find the way of nightlife that appeals to you. There are numerous clubs and bars with modern, Latin, rock, music. So, go out and enjoy.

Strongly Suggested for Vacations related to:

Religious
Greek people are and will be awed by religion. They always believed in a supreme divine power regardless of how many the gods were. Since its arrival, Christianity  has been the basis of the usual life in Greece. You can find numerous public and private churches in all over Greece that, with through the centuries, have become some of the most significant monuments in the country.
The conversion to Christianity of the ancient Athenians began during the era of Paul the Apostle (first century AC). Several ancient temples were first converted into Christian churches, and from the fifth century on, some Christian basilicas were built, the remains of which can be found throughout Attica.
The majority of the churches and monasteries from the Byzantine era were built in the Renaissance of the Letters. The Kapnikarea, the Pantanassa, Agios Nikolaos Ragavas, Agioi Theodoroi, Agios Elefterios, Agioi Assomatoi, and the Monasteries of Daphni, Kaisariani and Asteriou still stand dominant and intact throughout the centuries.

Family
There are many spots around Athens that provide entertainment for kids as well for the entire family. The National Garden a place where you can find an agreeable retreat, flowers, ponds, a small zoo and children’s playgrounds. You can spend hours wandering around, enjoying the shade and having a quick snack or meze at a nearby café. A few km away from the city center of Athens, in the Rendi area is Greece’s largest adventure and amusement park, Allou Fun Park. In the northern suburb of Marousi is Fantasy Land, the biggest amusement park for children in Athens. Also, in the south there is an amazing water park, Copa Copana with many amenities and activities for the children to enjoy.

Beaches
Even though Athens is mainly known for the monuments and the sightseeing, it has a wide variety of beautiful beaches in the southern and north eastern side of Attica peninsula. All the coastline from Glyfada to Cape Sounion have well organized beaches. Some of them are: Vouliagmeni, one of the best organized beaches with a wide variety of amenities and facilities, Varkiza, one of the less crowded beaches, also with beach facilities like bars, volley ball courts and play area for Kids, Schinias beach is located 45km of the city center with azure waters and many facilities.

Golf
One well-established facility that is anticipating a major expansion is the Glyfada Golf Course near Athens. This pine-studded course with a view of the Saronic Gulf islands is open all year-round, closing only on Christmas and Easter.

Sports
The city of Athens provides many sporting facilities and also, has a tradition of sports. There is a wide variety of outdoors sports that you can participate in Athens- yachting, beach volleyball, trekking and water skiing. Furthermore, in Athens are hosted two annual sporting events: the Athens Fun Run and Athens Cycle Tour. In those events participate thousands of people of all ages that promote the fair play. But the most important events that Athens hosted was the Olympic and Paraloympic Games in 2004.

The splendid summer weather is perfect for sea and sun sport enthusiasts with clear waters just a few minutes away from the center of Athens. Also, during fall and winter there are many sports that offered such as trekking and hiking horseback riding, on mountain trails and mountain biking.

Watersports
There are plenty of watersports like water skiing available in Athens.Almost all the beaches are organized and therefore are suitable for water skiing. One of the most popular beach for this sport is the Vouliagmeni beach. Someone can also choose the beaches at Varkiza.

Diving
There are several diving centers in Attica peninsula, which provide a wide range of high-tech equipment and very well trained professionals. Almost all centres operate during the whole year.

Sail & Windsurf
Windsurfing is a spectacular and demandin sport. It is an Olympic event and also a professional sport since 1985. The weather conditions in Greece are perfect for it and as a result the popularity of the sport has increased amazingly.

Many European and World competitions take place in various parts of the country during the summer. The majority of the beaches in Attica give the opportunity to practice windsurf. Some of them are: Varkiza, Anavyssos, Lavrio, Loutsa, Schinias (Marathonas) Rafina, and Galazia Akti (Marathonas).

Education
Athens is a spectacular destination for educational purposes. In the archaeological area there are numerous monuments and museums that reveal the history of Ancient Greece. Some of them are the Parthenon towering over the city from its vantage point on the plateau of the Acropolis, the museum of the Acropolis, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum, the Byzantine Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the War Museum, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Old Parliament House.