Athens is the historical capital of Europe, with a long history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the “Golden Age of Pericles”) – the culmination of Athens’ long, fascinating history – the city’s values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments - a rare historical palimpsest. In 1834, it became the capital of the modern Greek state and in two centuries since it has become an attractive modern metropolis with unrivalled charm.
The tour starts at the Temple of Olympian Zeus (6th c. B.C.), one of the largest in antiquity and close by Hadrian’s Arch (131 A.D.), which forms the symbolic entrance to the city. From there, walking along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street (on the south side of the Acropolis) you pass the Ancient Theatre of Dionysos (5th c. B.C.) where most of the works by Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylos and Aristophanes were performed. Continuing, you will reach the Ruins of the Asklepieion (5th c. B.C.) and the Stoa of Eumenes (2th c. B.C.) and from there the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, which was built in 161 A.D. and is nowadays the venue of the performances of the Athens Festival.
From there you climb up to the sacred rock of the Acropolis, the site of some of the most important masterpieces of worldwide architecture and art, the most renowned of which is the Parthenon Temple. Apart from this, also impressive are the Propylaea, the Temple of the Athene Nike and the Erechtheion, while you must not skip a visit to the Museum, located close to the Parthenon. Moreover, from the rock you have an impressive view of the city.
Only 300m away from the sacred rock of Acropolis stands the impressive new Acropolis Museum, one of the most important contemporary works of architecture in Athens. It is made of steel, glass and concrete and it houses 4,000 priceless finds from the Acropolis monuments that represent its history and function as the most important religious centre of ancient Athens.
Coming down from the Acropolis you arrive at the Areios Pagos, the most ancient law court of the world. Opposite it is Philopappou Hill, with its beautiful cobbled little roads and the Roman monument by the same name on its top, while close by is the Pnyx, where the citizens of ancient Athens used to assemble and exert their democratic rights.
Walking farther along the pedestrian road you arrive at the Ancient Agora, which was the commercial, political and religious centre of ancient Athens. A visit to the archaeological site will give you the opportunity to become acquainted with the workings of Classical Athenian democracy.
From there, via Ermou Street, you arrive at the Kerameikos, the largest cemetery of the ancient city, with impressive tomb sculptures and stelae. The Iridanos River, sacred in antiquity, runs through the archaeological site.
However, the tour of enchanting Athens does not restrict itself only to these unique archaeological sites.
Around neighborhoods of the historical center
The “core” of the historical center is the Plaka neighborhood (at the eastern side of the Acropolis), which has been inhabited without interruption since antiquity. When you walk through the narrow labyrinthine streets lined with houses and mansions from the time of the Turkish occupation and the Neoclassical period (19th c.), you will have the impression of travelling with a “time machine”. You will encounter ancient monuments, such as the Lysikrates Monument, erected by a wealthy donor of theatrical performances, the Roman Agora with the famed “Tower of the Winds” (1st c. B.C.) and Hadrian’s Library (132 A.D.), scores of bigger and smaller churches, true masterpieces of Byzantine art and architecture, as well as remnants of the Ottoman period (Fetihie Mosque, Tzistaraki Mosque, the Turkish Bath near the Tower of the Winds, the Muslim Seminary, et al.). There are also some interesting museums (Folk Art, Greek Children’s Art, Popular Musical Instruments, Frysira Art Gallery, etc.), lots of picturesque tavernas, cafés, bars, as well as shops selling souvenirs and traditional Greek products.
Continuing from Plaka you arrive at Monastiraki, a characteristic area of “old” Athens, with narrow streets and small buildings where the city’s traditional bazaar (Yousouroum) is held. Close to it is the Psyrri area, a traditional neighborhood which during the past few years has evolved into one of the most important “centres” of the town’s nightlife, with scores of bars, tavernas, ouzeris, clubs, etc.
However, the “heart” of the historical center is the traditional commercial neighborhood, with more than 2,500 shops of all kinds, which spreads out over the streets surrounding Ermou Street (the city’s best-known commercial street). The western “border” of the area is Athinas Street, where the foodstuff commerce is concentrated, reminding one strongly of the Middle East. Here are situated, among others, the neoclassical mansions of the Town Hall, the Municipal Market (where meat, fish and vegetables are sold) and spacious Kotzias Square.
Within the boundary of Athens’ historical centre also are the picturesque neighborhoods of Makriyianni (close to the Acropolis, where the new Acropolis Museum stands), Ano Petralona, Theseion (where you will find small interesting museums and scores of cafés, bars and restaurants), Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio, as well as the Gazi area, with the former Gas works, which now have been turned into a cultural centre of the Athens municipality (“Technopolis”).
Syntagma and Omonia are the main central squares of the town; they are linked by Stadiou Street and Panepistimiou Avenue, along which some of the town’s most beautiful Neoclassical buildings have been erected. Dominating Syntagma Square is 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 starts the beautiful National Garden (40 acres), south of which stands the impressive Zappeion Mansion (1874-1888). From there you can continue towards the Presidential Mansion (1897) and thence to the Panathenaikon (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, where the first Olympic Games in modern history were held (1896). From there, crossing the Mets neighborhood, the road leads you to the First Cemetery, the oldest one in Athens, basically an outdoor sculpture display with a wealth of wonderful monumental tombstones by some of the most important sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries.
From Omonia Square starts Patission Street, a busy street with interesting buildings, amongst which are the Neoclassical mansions of the Polytechnic School and the National Archaeological Museum, which ranks among the leading museums in the world and hosts rare art treasures from the Neolithic era up to the Roman period. Close to the museum is the Exarheia area, a charming and very lively neighborhood, traditional a meeting point and home to many students and artists. From Exarcheia, crossing the Neapoli neighborhood, you can climb the verdant Lycavittos Hill. From its top you have a view of the entire city, all the way to the sea. On the other side of the hill is the Kolonaki neighborhood, whose boundary is Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, one of the most grandiose streets of Athens with beautiful buildings, many museums (Cycladic Art, Benaki, Byzantine and Christian Museum, War Museum, National Gallery) and green areas. In Kolonaki, which is considered to be the most “aristocratic” area of the centre of Athens, you will find many shops selling expensive brands and high couture, modern restaurants, bars and cafés, while it is worthwhile to take a stroll through the central streets with their art déco, art nouveau and interbellum buildings.
Around Athens suburbs
The southern suburbs, located on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, a recreational and cultural park is being planned, comprising the existing sports facilities. They offer many opportunities to take a walk along the seaside, while you will also find many beautiful organized and free beaches, large shopping centers and nightclubs (especially during the summer). In the Maroussi suburb (north of the centre) are the facilities of the Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens, where the majority of the athletic events were held during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Kifissia (north of Maroussi) is also worth a visit, with its beautiful villas and impressive mansions.
Moreover, if you wish to leave the centre behind you, you may visit, amongst others, the neighboring town of Piraeus, Greece’s main port (which nowadays forms one big conglomerate with Athens), the Daphni Monastery (11 km. west), one of the most significant Byzantine monuments of the country (12th c.) with unique mosaics, the Kaisariani Monastery (5 km. east), which was founded in the 2nd century, the temple of Poseidon (5th c. B.C.) on Cape Sounion (58 km. south), following a wonderful route along the coast, the area of the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) with the Tomb of Marathon, the archaeological sites of Eleusina (23 km. west), of Amphiareion (48 km. northeast), of Vravron (38 km. east) and Ramnous (close to Marathon), as well as the wonderful surrounding mountain massifs of Parnitha, Penteli and Hymettos, all suitable for hiking.
In Athens and the wider Attica area, you will find hotel accommodation of high standard, modern means of transportation, a wide choice of opportunities for shopping, dining and nightlife, good service but above all the hospitality and warmth of its inhabitants. In a nutshell, Athens is a city that fascinates every visitor, during all seasons.
Tour in the Historic Center of Athens
It is the oldest district in Athens (it is also mentioned as "Gods' district") with outstanding scenery. The moment you start walking on its paved narrow lanes you get the feeling that you travel back in time. Nobody knows where the area took its name from. According to the most prevalent opinion, Plaka took its name from a large stone slab that was found in the area near to Aghios Georgios Alexandreias church, next to Dionysus ancient theater. You will be mesmerized by the beauty of the houses with neoclassic colors, the architecture, the well preserved gardens, the elegance and the atmosphere of the whole area. Even Plaka's air is different: Softer, clearer and full of scents, like a gift from gods. If you decide to walk around the area, make sure you have a map, because Plaka is like a labyrinth and you will probably get lost in its lanes. You will find souvenir shops in the central street of the district Adrianos Str., as well as in other streets.
Sightseeing in Plaka:
Filomousos Eteria Square. The central square of the area that took its name from Filomousos Eteria (Association of Muses’ Friends - Muses where the 9 goddesses of Arts) and was constructed in 1813. The aim of this Association was to promote Greek Studies and preserve Athens archeological treasures. The square is located in the intersection of Kydathinaeon, Farmaki, Olympian Zeus and Aggelos Gerontas streets and is full of coffee houses, restaurants and clubs with live music. There are also many souvenir shops.
Children Museum. It is located in Kydathinaeon Str. and is a children paradise. In the attic you can visit its renovated room full of old furniture, a radio and an old Athenian house stove. It is called the “grandfather's and grandmother's room" and the children visiting it can try on some old traditional costumes. There is also a gallery of children paintings and old toys, a playground, a library etc. If you have children, you should not miss visiting this museum. It is also worth to visit the neighboring Museum of Greek Children Art (9 Kodrou Str.), where apart from some educational events that the museum organizes, paintings and constructions of children aged 4-14 from all over Greece are exhibited. These paintings are often replaced with new ones.
Lysicrates Museum. In ancient Athens, all theater performances organized in Dionysus Theater, were subsidized by wealthy citizens who were called chorigoi (or sponsors). The sponsor of the best performance was awarded with a prize. When Lysicrates, a wealthy man, won this prize (334 B.C.), he decided to construct a monument to house his prize. This monument is still preserved (located in ancient Tripodes Str., and its paving is preserved in a room of a renovated building number 28). The monument's construction was just the beginning of a long lasting history of this creation. In 1658, Cappuccinos monastery was built there and in 1669 the monument was bought by Cappuccinos. Lord Byron stayed in this monastery during his second visit to Greece, while tomatoes were first planted in its garden.
Anafiotika. It is a beautiful island village on the foot of Acropolis Rock! It was constructed in the middle of the 19th century, when builders came to Athens from the Aegean island of Anafi. These builders were considered as the best in their art and came to Athens to construct the Palace of the first King of Greece, Othonas. Knowing that they would have to spend few years away from home and feeling nostalgic, they decided to reconstruct their village on the highest area of Plaka. So they built small white houses, with the same architectural style as the ones in their village. Anafiotika, which means the neighborhood of Anafiotes (people from Anafi), is a unique and beautiful must see area.
Athens University Museum: This building in Tholos Str. initially was the house of architect Kleanthis (1832-1833) and afterwards it housed Athens first University (1837-1842). Nowadays, it houses Athens University Museum.
Kanellopoulos Museum: It was built in 1976, after the donation of Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulos private collection to the Greek State. It is housed in the neoclassic house of Michalea family. Kanellopoulos collection includes archeological findings and works of art dating back to the prehistoric period until now.
Roman Agora - Byzantine Churches - Buildings of Ottoman Occupation Period - Monastiraki
One of the most typical areas in “old” Athens full of narrow lanes and small buildings, representing the Ottoman and Byzantine influence on the city. In the open-air stands and in the small shops, located on central streets (Andrianou, Ifaestou, Theseiou, Aghios Fillipos, Astiggos and Ermou), you can buy everything: shoes, clothes, old and new furniture, old books and magazines, souvenirs, jewelry, hats, bronze items, new and second hand records and cd’s, traditional Greek music instruments (bouzouki, cymbal etc). Shopping or just walking around Monastiraki is an amazing experience you do not want to miss. You will be amazed by the quality and quantity of products and you will definitely be tempted to buy something.
Sightseeing in Monastiraki:
Monastiraki Square. A historic square, where you can seeTzistaraki Mosque, Andrianos Library and Pantanassas Byzantine Church. Very interesting is also the reconstructed neoclassic metro station, one of the network’s oldest (1895). Next to it is a specially constructed area (300 sq. m) that houses Ancient Iridanos River bed.
Avissinia Square (Giousouroum). It is Monastiraki's central square. Here you can find literally everything: rare antique furniture or antique models as well as every kind of second hand items. You can also find old closets, bookshelves, frames, mirrors, secretaires, tables, gramophone records and music instruments. If you want to buy something it is better to visit these markets early in the morning. If you just want to walk around the area, noon is the perfect time of the day. You can also have a glass of Greek wine or Ouzo, accompanied with Greek mezes (Greek tapas), in one of the small restaurants of the square.
Andrianos Str. A typical Athens street, extending from Andrianos Library to “Theseion” metro station. The neoclassic one or two storey buildings house antique shops and shops with traditional items, while on Sunday many outdoor dealers gather to sell their products. There are also many coffee houses and small beautiful restaurants with unique view of Ancient Agora archeological site.
THE TRADITIONAL SHOPPING CENTER
It is the area between Metropoleos, Athina and Stadiou Streets and is considered to be the “heart” of Athens, the historic center as well as its traditional shopping center. On its narrow or wide labyrinthine streets you can find more than 2.500 shops which sell different kind of products. At the same time because many of its streets have been turned into pedestrian areas it is a very quiet place with many coffee houses, small bars and modern restaurants.
Mitropoleos Street. It connects Syntagma Square with Monastiraki Square and is of neoclassic style. Mitropoleos Square, where Athens Metropolitan Church dominates, is ideal for relaxing in its coffee houses while on the scenic Dimopratiriou Square you can also find many taverns with traditional Greek food.
Ermou Street: It took its name from Hermes - god of trade - and is one of the first streets designed by Kleanthis and Schaubert. It was considered to be women fashion center for more than 60 years (from the end of 19th century until the beginning of the 1960's). Nowadays, it is still one of the best spots for shopping. The shops in Lekka street, between Perikleous and Kolokotroni streets, as well as the nearby arcades have a great variety of silver items: candlesticks, bowls, vases and jewels. Many of these are Greek handmade artworks. There are also many low cost cloth and shoe shops in the scenic Evaggelistria and Aghios Markos streets. The first part of Ermou street (from Syntagma Square to Athena Street) dominates Kapnikarea Byzantine Church , while in its last part (from Theseion to Piraeus Street) dominates Kerameikos archeological site.
Athena Street: A central commercial street, which connects Omonia Square to Monastiraki Square, was one of the first streets constructed in modern Athens. Most of the day, it is a very busy place as it has a great food market. During working hours it is full of people and the smell of food, fruits, spices and dry cones is spread out everywhere, representing the charm of Eastern bazaars. Constructed on the foot of Acropolis Rock, it includes many remarkable architectural monuments of the 19th and of the first decades of 20th century. The last few years it has become the center of conjectural events, since there are more than ten art venues around the area.
Athens City Hall (63 Athenas Str.): It was built in 1874 and is of strict neoclassic style. Initially, it was a two storey building but in 1937 due to Municipality needs one more level was added causing the alteration of its original structural elements. Its interior is decorated with paintings of remarkable Greek painters of the 19th century. You can also see frescos of mythological and historic depictions (1937-1940), created by F. Kontoglou, while in the City Council room there is a huge oil fresco (1877) that depicts Apostle Pavlos teaching Christianity to Athenians. In the reception room (1st floor) there are small figures of all mayors made of terra cotta. Close to the City Hall is the small Theater Square.
Kotzia Square (National Resistance): It is located in front of the City Hall and it was formerly known as People’s Square or Ludwich Square. In its south side dominates Melas Mansion (created by E. Ziller in 1887), with an impressive facade and two prominent towers on each corner. Its central room is covered by a glass roof and has perimetric arched rows of Doric and Ionic style. Initially, this building was B. Melas house but nowadays is the Cultural Center of the National Bank of Greece. On the east side of the square is the G. Stavros Mansion of cinquecento style, which now houses the offices of the National Bank of Greece. On its NE side archeologists found part of Acharniki Gate of Themistokleio Walls which is now exhibited in a specially constructed area.
Varvakeios Public (Central) Market: A rectangular building (1886) with a huge covered yard. In its interior and exterior parts there are overall 73 food shops (meat market, fish market, vegetables market and groceries). It is covered by glass and metallic roof and the sunlight comes from symmetrical windows built on roof. Inside the market you can also find small restaurants with fresh food, which gather many Athenians especially after midnight. There is a small grove opposite Varvakeios.
Euripides Str.: A beautiful street, that reminds you countries of the East and extends from Kounoundourou Square to Kafthmonos Square. Alongside, there are many shops with spices, pastries, dry cones and coffee. Some of these shops sell products brought from the East.
Aeolou Str. It is partially pedestrian and extends from Panepistimiou Str. to Roman Agora (Plaka). In its intersection with Sofokleous Str. is the recently-constructed Administration Building of the National Bank of Greece (2002), one of the most important buildings of modern architecture in Athens. It was designed by Greek architects under the directory of famous architect M. Botta. In its ground floor you can see a restored part of ancient Acharniki Str. In 10 Sofokleous Str. is the Athens Stock Exchange building with a classic facade (you can also see four Doric style columns). On your way to Plaka you will see two beautiful churches: Panagia Chrisospiliotissa (1863-on the corner of the homonym street) and Aghia Irini (1847-Athenaidos Str.), both designed by L. Laftantzoglou. A small square with coffee houses and flower shops surround Aghia Irini, which was modern Athens' first Metropolitan Church.
Stadiou Str. A central street. One of the first streets constructed in modern Athens. It was first constructed on the bed of an ancient river, but when it started taking the form of a street it was called Feidiou Str. and some years after Akakion Str. Its present name came from the fact that initially it was designed to reach Panathinaiko Stadium. This plan was never implemented.
National Printing –House Building: It is located between Santarosa and Arsaki Streets and is one of the first public buildings constructed in modern Athens (1834). It is of strict neoclassic style and until 1905 it housed the “National Printing – House”.
Kafthmonos Square: A spacious square with many remarkable buildings (Athens City Museum, former Naval Ministry building, Foreign Affairs Ministry Building, Aghioi Theodoroi Byzantine Church,etc) and many coffee houses. In its center stands an impressionistic bronze statue that symbolizes “National Reconciliation” created by B. Doropoulos in 1988.
“Atticon-Apollon” Building: An impressive mansion that houses two of the oldest cinema halls in Athens that were recently renovated.
Karitsi Square: A small square that took its name from the church, built the middle of it. This elegant church (designed by L. Kaytantzoglou) was built on the ruins of an older church, where in January 1833 Athenians chose an assembly to be sent to Nafplio to welcome the newly arrived King Othona. On the opposite side is the neoclassic building of “Parnassos”.
O.T.E Mansion: It is an excellent sample of Athenian modernism, with elements of older architectural styles. It was designed by the remarkable Greek architect An. Metaksa (1931).
Kolokotroni Square: A small square located in front of National History Museum. In its middle is the impressive bronze equestrian statue of our national hero Th. Kolokotronis. On the opposite side (8 Stadiou Str.) is Douila house, one of the oldest buildings in modern Athens, designed by Chr. Hansen, which unfortunately nowadays is abandoned.
National History Museum: This impressive neoclassic building was constructed during 1858 to 1871 according to the designs of Fr. Boulanger, which was later modified by the Greek architect P. Kalko. Until 1935 the building housed the Greek Parliament and that is why it is called Palia Vouli (Former Parliament). Since 1961 it has been housing collections of National Historic Museum (for the Museum’s collections ).
A scenic neoclassic Athenian neighborhood, located between Athenas, Ermou and Euripides streets. It is a very busy area especially during night. In its narrow lanes there are many coffee houses, small bars, clubs, restaurants, taverns with live Greek music, theaters, galleries, art venues and antique shops.
After the liberation (1833), many veterans and emigrants came here from the provinces, and created small workshops, industries that in some extent exist until today. In the beginning of the 90’s series of interventions in the area made it as one of the most popular entertainment and residential districts. Very remarkable are also the area churches, such as Aghioi Anargiroi, Aghios Dimitrios, Aghios Grigorios (Armenian Church) etc. The central spot (from where you can start your tour) is Iroon Square.
Kerameikos area surrounds the homonym archeological site . Typical area streets are Aghion Asomaton (where the Islamic Art Museum is, Melidoni Str. (where Beth-Shalom Hebrew synagogue and “Modern Ceramics Museum” are) and Salamina Str. The last few years this area has been elevated as a vivid night life spot, with many small restaurants, bars and places with live music.
This area surrounds the old Gkazi (gas) Factory and its former name was Gkazochory (Gas Village). It is located in the west side of Athens and possesses the place of the third square according to Kleanthis-Schaubert design. It still preserves some of the traditional Athenian neighborhood’s style. Its old neoclassic buildings house coffee houses, bars and luxurious restaurants, which became very popular with the Athenians the last few years.
The Gas Factory (Gkazi). It was built in 1857 and worked as factory until 1983, supplying gas to the city. There were also many wood factories, foundries, machine factories, garages, restaurants, barber shops, surgeries, etc in the area, creating an autonomous industrial “town”. The factory has been announced as preserved, as it is one of its kind in Europe. The buildings have a simple neoclassic stone architecture, coated facets and wooden roofs with attic windows and are covered with Byzantine or French tiles and iron plates. Nowadays, it is an industrial park and is also used as cultural center by Athens Municipality (“Technopolis”).
It is a traditional district of Athens' city center, constructed by the architect Chr. Hansen. it took its name from the silk textiles factory (Metaxi), which operated in the area until 1875 (the factory is still preserved in Gr. Alexander Str., between Mileros and Giatrakos Streets). Achileos Str. divides the area into two parts, the old one (towards Piraeus Str.) and the new one (towards Lenorman Str.). The new part has lost its initial style due to reconstructions, while the old one still keeps samples of its old architecture. Many small coffee houses and restaurants are located in Metaxourgeio area, offering traditional Eastern beverages, pastries and food.
Marmarini Krini (Marble Faucet). It is in Metaxourgeio Square and dates back to the 19th century. It was transferred there from Dimoprateiou Square.
Iasonos and Giatrakou Streets. From Karaiskaki Square go down Achileos Str., enter Iasonos Str. until Agisilaos Str. where the small theaters housing in traditional buildings of the area are located. Then turn right to Akadimiou-Giatrakou Str. and continue towards Achileos Str. Pay attention to the small neoclassic houses (one or two storey) with their baluster balconies and the fine front doors. In the intersection of Giatrakou and Germanikou Streets there is a small, scenic square (Avdi Square) with many coffee houses, bars and a playground.
Peloponnese Train Station. Walking down Diligianni Str. from Karaiskaki Square you reach this particularly atmospheric building, built in 1912-1913 with a mixture of neoclassic, central European and Art Nouveau architectural elements. This station (which serves trains traveling up to Peloponnese) is a "miniature" of Constantinople Station and has 19th century European architecture elements. On its opposite side (connected with an airlift) is Larissis Railway Station (its trains travel to central and north Greece), built in 1908 initially of neoclassic style, which underwent many alterations.
If you like walking around, you can visit Kolonos area, a folk Athenian neighborhood outside its historic center. Even though it is not of any particular architecture style, it has unique image and still preserves its old atmosphere. From Peloponnese train station follow Ioanninon Str., which leads to Ippios Kolonos Hill and then (turning to Evripou Str.) to Skouze Hill. Around these small lush green hills, there is a zone of private houses with gardens as well as beautiful blocks of flats which pass the feeling of old Athenian neighborhoods to our days (nearby metro station is “Sepolia”).
A residential area which extends from Dionisiou Aeropagitou Str. up to the foot of Filopappou Hill. Its neoclassic houses as well as more modern houses (after war constructions) give to the area unique beauty and make it one of the most beautiful districts in Athens. Mitsaeon, Parthenonos, Webster, Kavalloti, Kallisperi, R. Gkali, Mouson and other streets have typical for the area features.
Acropolis Research Center (2-4 Makrigianni Str.). This impressive building, which combines in its exterior elements of Byzantine stone construction and neoclassic decorations, was constructed in 1834 by the German architect W. von Weiller. Initially, it was a military hospital and afterwards it became police squads’ center. Since 1987 it has been housing the “Acropolis Research Center”. The New Acropolis Museum is constructed next to it.
It is the extension of Makrigianni area and has unique charm especially in the part adjacent to Filopappos Hill (Panaetoliou and Arakynthou Streets).
It was named after a neighboring ancient temple . It is a traditional district with many neoclassic houses and public mansions, which gives it unique charm. From the homonym square (in Apostolos Pavlos Square), which is full of coffee houses, you have an amazing view of Acropolis and Ancient Agora’s area.
Heraklidon Street. It is the central pedestrian street of the area, with impressive neoclassic buildings. In this street, as in its parallel Akamados Street, there are many coffee houses and bars that stay open all day. In Eptachalkou Str. you can also find many traditional taverns with Mediterranean food.
D. Aeginitou Str. It connects Apostolos Pavlos Str. with the National Observatory. From there you can have unique view of Acropolis, Lycabetus Hill, Ancient Agora and other parts of Athens.
National Observatory. It is the oldest research institution in Greece and the Balkans, as it was built in 1842. The Observatory’s building, on top of Nympheon Hill (it took its name from the homonym sanctuary which was there) and opposite Acropolis and Ancient Agora, was designed by Th. Hansen and is a neoclassic building of rare beauty. It has cross-in-square style and is positioned towards the four points of the horizon.
Aghia Marina Square. A scenic and quiet square, in the center of which dominates the homonym church (19th century). In its SW corner is the initial church, carved in rock, with prominent, later dome and remarkable frescos of the 13th century.
Theseion Park. It is the SW part of Ancient Agora’s archeological site. Trees were planted there in 1862 and in 1931 the Municipality added beautifying plants. For many years it was the gathering spot of Athenians for Easter celebrations.
Hat-Factory (66 Herakleidon Str.). A remarkable industrial building made of stone and covered with tiled roof. It was a hat-factory for many years and nowadays it is a preserved monument. Nowadays, it operates as a venue for many activities (“Melina Merkouri” Cultural Center).
Vassilissis Sofias Avenue
One of the most impressive avenues in Athens, starting from Syntagma Square and ending up in Abelokipous area. Its former name was Kifissias, because it connected Athens with the traditional homonym suburb. Even though it has lost part of its character as a classic avenue, it is still one of the most charming routes in the city, as along its way there are many beautiful buildings, museums and lush green areas.
It is Athens’ central square. It took its name from the event of the 3rd of September 1843, when in the area in front of the Palace (today's Parliament), the people and the garrison of Athens rebelled asking King Othonas to establish a Constitution. Syntagma Square and Omonia Square are the two reference points of the city. So do not be surprised when hearing the word Syntagma every time you ask for directions. Plaka, Acropolis, the Metropolitan Church, the National Garden, Ermou Str. and Kolonaki are all close to Syntagma Square. Some of the most modern coffee houses and small restaurants are located in this area. This square never sleeps. In square's kiosks you can find everything you need, from aspirins to souvenirs as well as newspapers and foreign magazines.
The Parliament. It dominates in Syntagma Square. It was built as the Palace of Othonas, the first king of Greece. Its construction lasted from 1836 until 1842. The second king, Georgios the 1st also stayed in this Palace. During his reign, two massive fires destroyed the building in such extent that it was inappropriate for royal use. The government of 1924 was the one that decided the Greek Parliament should be housed there. The reconstruction works were finished in 1934 and its interior was designed by the architect A. Kriezi. The Parliament houses national treasures such as the first Constitution of Greece and many valuable paintings. It is also worth to visit its great library.
Monument to the Unknown Soldier. It was built during the period from 1929 to 1932 in front of the Greek Parliament. It is a bas-relief depicting a dead soldier (by the sculptor K. Dimitriadi) and has an inscription with an extract from Pericles Epitaph written on it. The greatest fights of the Greek army since 1821 are depicted on the marble wall surrounding it. The monument is guarded 24 hours by two selected guards, called Evzones, who wear traditional Greek costumes. It is also the place where Greek officials and visitors place garlands in big celebrations. The ritual, during which the guards change positions, happens every hour and is a unique event which attracts many people especially on Sunday mornings, when the guards are escorted by a military band and a large Evzones force.
“Great Britannia” Hotel. A luxurious hotel, constructed in 1842 as a private residence. It was designed by Th. Hansen and in 1874 it was reconstructed as a hotel. In 1958, due to the high touristic needs, it was reconstructed again and new floors were added to it. In 2003 it was fully restored. This hotel has been connected with the greatest moments of Modern Greek History, while many famous personalities have stayed here when visiting Athens. Visit its interior areas where you can find coffee houses, bars and a luxurious restaurant with unique atmosphere.
Ancient Water Reservoir. In the NE side of the square (a covered open-air space) was found and is exhibited part of the ancient cemetery and the Peisistrateios water reservoir.
Filellinon Street. A remarkable street extending from Stadiou Str. In the intersection of Xenofontos and Souri Streets you can see the neoclassic houses, Sotiras Lycodimus Church and Aghios Pavlos Anglican Church (1843), designed by Ch. Hansen with Gothic elements and in a shape of cross.
Amalias Avenue. It is a wide avenue that leads from Andrianos Gate to Syntagma Square. The fact that it is next to the National Garden as well as its impressive neoclassic houses give it unique atmosphere. As you walk up the street towards Syntagma Square, pay attention to the view with the Parliament and Lycabetus Hill in the background.
It opens in the morning until sunset and is considered to be an oasis in the center of Athens. The National Garden extends over 160 sq. m and there you can find 500 different species of plants, bushes and trees from all over the world. Its plantation was accomplished during the period from 1838 to 1860 and it was the Palace garden. It has four entrances: from Vassilissis Sofias Av., Herodes Atticus Str., Vassilissis Amalias Av., while its forth entrance connects National Garden with Zappeio Park. Walk around its pathways, listen to the birds singing and sit on a bench to rest. In the National Garden you can also see a lake with ducks, a small zoo, Botanic Museum, a small traditional coffee house, children library, playground, some ancient monuments and busts of famous personalities of modern Greece.
Zappeio Mansion. This impressive mansion was designed by Th. Hansen and constructed the period from 1874 to 1888. The last few years, in this "Conventions and Exhibitions Mansion" many important episodes of Modern Greek History took place: European summits, election results and important political announcements. At the same time, many exhibitions and concerts are hosted here. In front of Zappeio Mansion are the statues of Zappa cousins who financed its construction, while the homonym garden extends around them. Many Athenians go to Zappeio Park especially on Sundays. Right next to it operates a luxurious coffee place and a summer cinema.
PANATHENAIKO (KALLIMARMARO) STADIUM
This really impressive site, built from white marble in a shape of horseshoe, is located opposite of the National Garden. The first stadium, constructed in the same location, was made of wood (330 B.C.). The marble construction, the exact replica of which is today’s stadium, was built by Herodes Atticus. It was the place of sports games, which were organized during Panathenaea celebration. Today’s Stadium, which can seat 60.000 spectators, was built the period from 1869 to 1870 and hosted the first Olympic Games organized in modern history (1896). Around the stadium is the lush green Ardittou Hill, popular area for walking.
It is a forest in the center of the city! According to mythology, goddess Athena wanted her temple in Acropolis to be as close to the sky as possible. One stormy night she went to Penteli Mountain and took a massive rock which she wanted to put on top of the already existing one. As she was carrying the rock two black birds came close to her and told her some bad news on a case she had to take care of immediately. On her furry and hurry she dropped the rock right in the middle of Athens. This rock that has 278 m height still exists in Athens. In antiquity the hill was wooded and Zeus temple was on its top. After the liberation of Athens from the Turks, Lycabetus was left treeless. Its reforestation began in 1880 and was finished in 1915.
The view of the city. Do not miss the view of Acropolis and the rest of the city extending up to the sea. Lycabetus has always been romantics’ favorite place. It is not just the view that one can enjoy, but also the walk on the narrow lanes up to the hill top.
Lycabetus Theater. This open-air theatre was built in the period of 1964-65 by architect T. Zenetos on the ruins of an old quarry. This theater was constructed on the initiative of A. Sinodinou (Greek actress) in order to perform ancient tragedies. The theatre can seat 3.000 spectators. On cultural events during summer period it gathers many music and theater lovers.