Athens

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The Golden City of Pericles

Adventurous and Glorious, Breathtaking and Sensational, Mysterious and Sophisticated Under the Wisdom of Goddess Athena

From the Golden Age of Pericles, Athens has marveled the world with its mysterious spirit. Often denoted as the cradle of Western Civilization, Athens is a 2,500-year-old mishmash of cultural and historical triumphs. Theatre, philosophy, architecture, science, historiography, political thought, the arts, reached their zenith in a period of intellectual consummation, unique in the history of the world. And above all, democracy and the Olympic Games were born in Greece. Captivating travellers with its timeless allure, the culture and history of Athens will definitely hypnotize you. No wonder why all roads lead to the enthralling city of Athens. This is Athens; exciting and thrilling, breathtaking and sensational, mysterious and sophisticated, adventurous and glorious, which stirs the spirit as only the cradle of Western civilization can. Whether in spring and autumn, summer or even winter, Athens enjoys soaring temperatures to unpredictable weather conditions, bright or rainy, which makes it a lovely city break. Named for Athena, goddess of peace and wisdom, the proud marble columns of Athens, once the most powerful city of ancient Greece, mirrors the fortitude of the goddess. Birthplace of democracy, theater and Western civilization, the cultural richness and the fascinating history is evident all around the city’s architecture. The imperious, honey-gold, strong and majestic columns of the Parthenon, the jewel of Athens, will give you a glimpse of the classical nobility of Greece. Homeland of gods and goddesses, scholars and philosophers, athletes and musicians, Athens has it all; from phantasmagorical ancient temples, world-class museums and cultural centers to boutique hotels, delicious gastronomic pleasures, thriving festivals and exhibitions, vibrant nightlife choices and endless shopping opportunities. The outskirts of Attica, however, are filled with emblematic monuments, national parks and a vast coastline for natural discoveries. Best of all, Athens has the Athenians. Their classical heritage, filotimo, aka a sense of personal honor, simplicity and perfection, diversity and natural beauty, the brightness of the Greek sun and the mild weather, creativity and the love for freedom, all under the rich tradition of music and poetry, will travel you to the genuine face of Athens. Enjoy a glass of wine on a rooftop overlooking the illuminated Parthenon, dive into the crystalline waters of Vouliagmeni and Sounio, lost your way in the labyrinthine alleys of Monastiraki, Plaka and Thissio, pay a visit to the Acropolis of Athens, proclaimed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, climb up to Lycabettus hill to admire the panoramic views over the city of Athens and drive to the southern suburbs to enjoy a glorious stretch of coast with dreamy views over the glittering blue Aegean. One thing is certain; the beauty of Athens is timeless. As you leave her behind, the feeling of nostalgia will overwhelm you, as Athens will call you back like an enchanting siren. Exciting and thrilling, breathtaking and sensational, mysterious and sophisticated, adventurous and glorious, Athens will be waiting for you, again and again! Are your ready to unveil the  mysteries of Athens?

Discover Athens

Best of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens, proclaimed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a universal symbol of the classical spirit of the Greek civilization. The finest sanctuaries of ancient Athens dominates the center of the modern city from the craggy rock known as the Acropolis. This sacred temple complex is connected to the most celebrated myths of ancient Athens, its religious festivals and sophisticated rituals. The monuments of the Acropolis stand in harmony with their natural setting, as unique masterpieces of classical architecture that have influenced art and culture for many centuries. The Acropolis, made on the 5th century BC, is the most accurate reflection of the wealth of Athens at its greatest glory, the Golden Age of Pericles. After the liberation of Greece, the monuments of the Acropolis were systematically excavated from P. Kavvadias and the restoration project was assigned to N. Balanos. The Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments on the Acropolis was established in 1975 for the conservation and restoration on the Acropolis. Work is still in progress. The most important monuments of the Acropolis include the Parthenon, the Erectheion, the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Brauronion, the Temple of Augustus and Rome, the Pedestal of Agrippa, the Beule Gate, the Acropolis Fortification Wall, the Chalkotheke and the Old Temple of Athena.

The Archaeological Museum of Athens

The Archaeological Museum of Athens is the most important museum of the world dedicated to ancient Greek art. The permanent collection of the museum includes items of the history of the country from the prehistoric times to the Minoan era, the Classical period, the Roman and Hellenistic times to the Byzantine Empire, the Venetian and Ottoman occupations and the Greek Revolution. Exhibits include gravestones, bronze objects, marble and stone statues and weapons. Of great interest is the golden mask of Agamemnon that was excavated from Heinrich Schliemann in Mycenae. The museum also includes the Ethnographic collection that exhibits traditional items of Greek folklore tradition, the Epigraphic collection that displays thousands of Greek inscriptions from the ancient times and an interesting library with rare manuscripts of science and philosophy. The Archaeological Museum of Athens is located at 44, Patision Avenue.

The Athens and Epidaurus Festival

One of the most exciting events of Athens arts calendar is the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival held between May and October. Famed for its diverse itinerary of dance, music and theatre staged in various venues, it is certain that one must attend at least one of the events of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

The Neighborhood of Anafiotika

The Neighborhood of Anafiotika is one of the most beautiful districts of Athens located on the northeast side of the Acropolis. It is no coincidence that the whole area resembles the typical architecture of the Cyclades. The people of Anafi were famous for their building skills. This is the reason that King Otto was impressed from the reputation of the people of Anafi as builders, and he brought them to the city of Athens in order to built his palace. The people of Anafi settled on the foothills of Acropolis and built many small houses in the traditional architecture of their island. Today, the neighborhood of Anafiotika is one of the most picturesque areas of Athens.

The Roman Agora of Athens

The Roman Agora of Athens is located on the north side of the Acropolis between Monastiraki and Plaka. The agora was constructed with a donation of Augustus and Julius Caesar in the 11th century BC. After the invasion of Herulae in 267, the city of Athens was restricted with the Roman fortification walls, when the administrative and commercial center was transferred from the Ancient Agora to the Roman Agora and the Hadrian Library. The most important monuments of the Roman Agora include the Gate of Athena Archegetis, the Tower of the Winds, the East Propylon, the Fethiye Djami, the Agoranomion and the Public Latrines.

The Riviera of Athens

If you really want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, it is highly recommended to enjoy the beautiful coastal drive around the southern suburbs of the Athenian Riviera from the Flisvos Marina right down to Cape Sounio. Whether you prefer to enjoy the crystalline waters of the Athenian coastline and walk along the picturesque pedestrian streets in the marinas or you want to dine in seaside restaurants and dance in the coastal avenue’s buzzing clubs, Athens has it for you. Often overshadowed from the glow of the Parthenon, the seaside area of Athens is yet a secret gem reserved for the ones eager to discover it. From the Sounio Natural Park with its pine trees, the Temple of Poseidon with its glorious sunset views and the Glyfada Golf Club to the Flisvos Marina with its luxurious yachts, the Vouliagmeni Lake with its thermal springs, the pristine beaches of Vouliagmeni and Sounio, the Miami-style clubs and bars of Glyfada and the windsurfing tangoes in Varkiza, the Athenian Riviera is full of surprises!

The Square of Monastiraki

The Square of Monastiraki is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Athens located in the old part of the city. Monastiraki is famous for the flea market that takes place on Sundays. Monastiraki was the site of one of the largest monasteries of Athens, namely the Great Monastery, which was demolished during archeological excavations of the 19th century. Only the church of Pantanassa, else known as little monastery aka monastiraki, can be seen today in the center of the square. Monastiraki Square offers panoramic views to the Acropolis of Athens.

Archaeological Sites

The Acropolis of Athens, proclaimed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is is a universal symbol of the classical spirit of the Greek civilization. The finest sanctuary of ancient Athens dominates the center of the modern city from the craggy rock known as the Acropolis. This sacred temple complex is connected to the most celebrated myths of ancient Athens, its religious festivals and sophisticated rituals. The monuments of the Acropolis stand in harmony with their natural setting, as unique masterpieces of classical architecture that have influenced art and culture for many centuries. The Acropolis, made on the 5th century BC, is the most accurate reflection of the wealth of Athens at its greatest glory, the Golden Age of Pericles. Pottery objects found close to the Erectheion show that the hill of Acropolis has been inhabited since the Neolithic era. In the 13th century BC, traces of a fortification wall show that the citadel was the center of a Mycenaean Kingdom. The Acropolis became a sacred zone in the 8th century BC, with the establishment of the worship of Athena Polias whose temple stood on the northeast part of the hill. When the greatest religious festival of Athens, the Panathenaia, was established, the temple of Athena Polia flourished in the mid 6th century BC. At the same period, the monumental building of the Acropolis, known as the Old Temple and the Hekatompedos, Parthenon’s predecessor, were erected. Following the win of the Athenians against the Persians at Marathon in 490 BC, the Athenians began the construction of a huge temple, the renowned Pre-Parthenon. In 480 BC, when the Persians invaded Attica, the temple was still unfinished and the Persians pillaged the monuments of the Acropolis. Then, the Athenians decided to bury the surviving sculptures inside natural cavities of the sacred rock, forming artificial terraces and fortifying the Acropolis with the Wall of Themistocles and Wall of Cimon. In the 5th century BC, the Acropolis became the seat of the Athenian League and Athens the greatest cultural center during the Golden Age of Pericles. It was then that Pericles initiated the ambitious building project that lasted the second half of the 5th century BC. Today, the most important monuments of the Acropolis that were erected under the supervision of great architects include the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erectheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. The temples of the north side housed the Athenian rituals dedicated to the Olympian Gods while the temples of the south side housed the rituals dedicated to the cult of Athena. Although other Greek temples were damaged and pillaged in the Roman Empire, the Acropolis retained its prestige. Following the establishment of Christianity in the 7th century AD, the temples were converted into Christian churches while the Parthenon served as the cathedral of the city in the 11th century AD. Under the Frankish occupation, the Acropolis became the fortress of the medieval city while it served as the Turkish headquarters in the Ottoman rule. However, the Parthenon was bombarded and destroyed from the Venetians in 1687 and Lord Elgin caused further damage (1801) by looting the sculptural decoration of the Athena Nike temple, the Erectheion and the Parthenon. In 1822, the Acropolis was given to the Greeks during the Greek War of Independence with Odysseys Androutsos being the first garrison commander. After the liberation of Greece, the monuments of the Acropolis were systematically excavated from P. Kavvadias and the restoration project was assigned to N. Balanos. The Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments on the Acropolis was established in 1975 for the conservation and restoration on the Acropolis. Work is still in progress. The most important monuments of the Acropolis include the Parthenon, the Erectheion, the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Brauronion, the Temple of Augustus and Rome, the Pedestal of Agrippa, the Beule Gate, the Acropolis Fortification Wall, the Chalkotheke and the Old Temple of Athena. Important findings are exhibited in the Acropolis Museum.

The Ancient Agora of Athens was the cultural and religious center of ancient Athens focused on the administrative, commercial, political and social activity and the seat of justice. The site was used in all period of the history of Athens. After numerous reconstructions, the ancient agora reached its final form in the 2nd century BC. Although the ancient agora was damaged and pillaged from the Romans, the Persians and the Slavs, it was developed as a residential area when Athens became the capital of the independent Greek State in 1834. Archaeological excavations from the Greek Archaeological Society and the German Archaeological Institute brought to light extensive traces of ancient buildings. However, systematic excavations with the financial aid of J. Rockefeller until 1941 further helped the archaeologists and historians. The most important monument of the Ancient Agora of Athens include the Stoa of Attalos, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Tholos and the Bouleuterion. Important findings are displayed in the museum of the ancient agora housed in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos.

The Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos is located on the northwest edge of the city of Athens. Kerameikos was one of the largest demes of ancient Athens and a settlement of potters and vase painters, the main production center of the famous Attic vases. The locations of Kerameikos located close to the riverbank suffered from the river, and the area was converted into the most important cemetery of ancient Athens. The earliest tombs of Kerameikos date back to the Early Bronze Area while the cemetery was continuously expanded from the Mycenaean period. The most important Athenian vases were found in the tombs of Kerameikos including the Dipylon Oinochoe with the earliest inscriptions of the Greek alphabet. Important finding are displayed in the small museum of Kerameikos. The ancient cemetery is located just off the metro station of Kerameikos.

The Hadrian Library stands on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. The library was constructed from the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD following the typical Roman Forum architectural style. However, the library was damaged and pillaged during the Herulian invasion in 267 AD, and it was repaired the following years from Roman Eparchus Herculius, while three Christian churches were built on the site in the Byzantine times. The Hadrian Library is located outside the metro station of Monastiraki.

The Hill of Filopappou, else known as the Hill of Museum, is located on the southwest side of the Acropolis. In 115 BC, a monument dedicated to exiled Roman Prince Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Filopappou was erected on top of the hill. Close to the monument, you will see a stone structure with iron gates, which is believed to be the prison of the great philosopher Socrates. Filopappou Hill offers spectacular views of Attica and the Saronic Gulf with best vantage points for photographing the Acropolis. Hiking lovers can follow the cobblestone path that leads to the Pnyx Hill, where the orators of antiquity used to gather and discuss political issues. Filopappou hill is accessible from the metro stations of Acropolis and Thissio.

The Monument of Lysicrates, else known as the Lamp of Diogenes, stands at the homonymous square in Plaka close to Acropolis metro station. The choragic monument was erected from Lysicrates commemorate his victory during the Dionysian Festival in 334 BC.

The Panathenaic Stadium, else known as Kallimarmaro, is one of the oldest stadiums of the world that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Initially, the stadium was constructed to host the Panathenaic Games in honor of Goddess Athens, the protector of the city. Although the first stadium had wooden seats, it was then remade with marble from the governor Lycurgus in 329 BC. In 140 BC, the Roman General Herodus Atticus renovated it obtaining a capacity of 50.000 seated people. George Averof was a major benefactor whose statue stands at the entrance of the stadium. Reconstructed from the traces of an ancient stadium from Anastasios Metaxas and Ernst Ziller, the Panathenaic Stadium is the sole stadium in the world built entirely from white marble of Pendeli Mount. It is also the place from which the Olympic Flame is delivered to all the Olympic Games. The stadium stands at the end of Herodus Atticus street.

The Roman Agora of Athens is located on the north side of the Acropolis between Monastiraki and Plaka. The agora was constructed with a donation of Augustus and Julius Caesar in the 11th century BC. After the invasion of Herulae in 267, the city of Athens was restricted with the Roman fortification walls, when the administrative and commercial center was transferred from the Ancient Agora to the Roman Agora and the Hadrian Library. The most important monuments of the Roman Agora include the Gate of Athena Archegetis, the Tower of the Winds, the East Propylon, the Fethiye Djami, the Agoranomion and the Public Latrines.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus, else known as the Columns of Olympian Zeus and Olympion, was the largest temple of Greece. The construction of the temple began in the 6th century BC and was completed in the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century BC. The 104 columns, with a height of 17 meters, were made with Pendeli marble. It once housed the chryselephantine (gold and ivory) statue of Zeus. However, the temple was damaged and pillaged in the 3rd century. Despite this, substantial columns and foundation remain visible today. The Temple of Olympian Zeus extends on the northeast side of the Acropolis between Vasilissis Olgas Avenue and Amalias Avenue.

The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio is one of the most important sanctuaries of Attica located on the southernmost tip of Attica. Mythology has it that Aegeus, the father of Theseus who travelled to Crete to kill the Minotaur, fell into the sea because of a misunderstanding. Theseus promised to Aegeus to put up white sails when he would come back from Crete, to let him know in advance that he is alive. However, Theseus did manage to kill the Minotaur and find his way out with the thread of Ariadne, and he took Ariadne with him back to Athens. After a stop at the island of Naxos to celebrate the victory of Theseus, Ariadne fall asleep on the shore and she did not enter to the boat, while Theseus forgot to put up the white sails. As King Aegeus was waiting to see the sails of the boat from Cape Sounio, he saw the black sails and he though that his son was dead. From his despair, he fell into the sea and gave his name to the Aegean Sea. The temple was first mentioned in Odyssey, as the place where Menelaus stopped in his return from Troy to bury his helmsman, Frontis. In the 6th century, the Athenian used to celebrate a quadrennial festival at Cape Sounio. This place was important to the Athenian, as it was the last point of land that the seafarers could see when they sailed away in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. This is the reason the Athenian built a temple dedicated to the god of sea, Poseidon. The temple was built in the archaic times while it was destroyed from the Romans in the Greco-Persian War. Although Pericles rebuilt the temple around 440 BC, there are only some columns still standing today. Important findings are exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum. Sounio is located 70 kilometers away from the center of Athens.

The Theatre of Dionysus is the first theater in the world that used to host festivals and rituals in honor of God Dionysus. The Athenian tradition of theatrical representations first began at the Theatre of Dionysus, which is regarded as the birthplace of Greek drama and the first sample of Greek theaters. During the 5th century BC, the theatre was used as a site for theatrical performances written from great tragic poets including Aeschylus and Sophocles. The original structure of the theatre was made of wood and rebuilt in stone. Today, most of the traces come from the Roman times. Over the last years, efforts have been made to renovate the ancient theatre of Dionysus. You can enjoy great views of the theater from the craggy slopes of the Acropolis.

The Theatre of Herodus Atticus, else known as Odeon of Herodus Atticus, is a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slopes of the Acropolis. The theatre was constructed from politician and philosopher Herodus Atticus (161 AD) in memory of his wife who died in 160 AD and it was used for cultural and musical events. However, the theatre was damaged from the Heruli German tribe in 267 AD. Today, you can attend the Athens Festival held from May to early October under the night sky with marvelous acoustics. Herodus Atticus Theatre is located on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street.

Churches and Monasteries

The Cathedral of Agia Triada is located at the center of Piraeus. The church founded in 1839 and entirely destroyed in 1944. However, the temple was established again in 1956. Agia Triada Church stands out for its impressive architecture and its imposing iconographies. The church is located at the junction of Ethniki Antistaseos Street and Vasileos Georgiou Street.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation is the metropolitan cathedral of the Archibishop of Athens and Greece. The construction of the cathedral began on December 25 of 1842 under the command of King Otto and Queen Amalia and lasted twenty years. The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation is located on Mitropeleos Street.

The Church of Agia Aikaterini is one of the most historical churches of Athens located in the district of Plaka. According to the inscription of the altar, the church was constructed at the place where the wife of Emperor Theodosius II founded the church of Agios Theodoros in the 5th century. The central part of the church has a byzantine architectural style while the narthex was added in the middle of the 20th century.

The Church of Agia Marina is an impressive church located on the Nymphs Hill in Thissio. The church was constructed on the foundations of an earlier Christian temple in 1922. The interior of the church is decorated with beautiful hagiographies made from Grekos and Soutsos. The cave church of Agia Marina operates as a baptistery. The church celebrates in honor of the saint on July 17. The National Observatory of Athens is located next to the Church of Agia Marina.

The Church of Agia Irini is beautiful church located on the junction of Aeolu Street and Athena Street. The church was constructed on the foundations of an earlier Christian temple in 1946. Agia Irini Church is an outstanding sample of ecclesiastical architecture and neoclassical style.

The Church of Agios Georgios stands on Lycabettus hill. The church was constructed in the 19th century. From the church, one can enjoy one of the most spectacular views to the entire city of Athens towards the harbour of Piraeus, the Saronic Gulf and Parnitha Mountain. The church of Agios Georgios is accessible by driving to the theater of Lycabettus and climbing up the stairs. Next to the church, you will find a cozy coffee shop.

The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is one of the oldest byzantine churches of Athens located on the commercial road of Ermou of the historical center of the city. The church was constructed on the foundations of an ancient temple in the 11th century. The interior of the church is decorated with beautiful wall paintings.

The Church of Agios Nikolaos Ragavas is an impressive church located in the district of Plaka. It is a simple four aisled basilica that was built in the 11th century and originally belonged to the Byzantine family Ragavis. Although the church suffered neglect in the Revolution of 1821, it was rebuilt with its initial materials in the 1980s. Tradition has it that the bell of the church was the first to ring following the liberation of Athens from the Germans on October 12, 1944. The church is located on Prytaneiou & Epiharmou Street at Anafiotika of Plaka.

The Monastery of Daphne is a byzantine monastery located on the northwest side of central Athens in the suburb of Haidari. Characterized as one of the greatest masterpieces of the Byzantine Empire, the monastery was founded on the foundations of the Temple of Apollo Daphnaios during the 11th century. The interior of the main church is decorated with superb mosaics of Classical Idealism and Byzantine Art depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin. Daphne Monastery has been included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.

The Monastery of Kaisariani stands on the north side of Mount Hymettus. The monastery was constructed in the 11th century and was dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin. The interior of the church is decorated with impressive wall paintings from the 18th century. The monastery of Kaisariani used to be famous for its library, which was moved to the Acropolis of Athens and destroyed in the Revolution of 1821.

The Monastery of Pendeli was the biggest and wealthiest monastery of Greece located on the east side of Mount Pendeli. The monastery was founded from Archibishop Timotheos Euripou in 1578. From its establishment until the end of the Ottoman occupation, the monastery was under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople followed from the Metropolitan Church of Athens. Pendeli Monastery served as a shelter for the Athenians in the epidemic plague of 1778 while it contributed to the efforts for the independence of the nation in the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Worships of hagiography and a permanent collection of the education in the years of the Ottoman Empire, which represents the scenes of the secret schools, are displayed within the monastery. On August 15 and 16, the monastery celebrates in honor of the Dormition of Virgin Mary. Pendeli Monastery is located 18 kilometers from the center of Athens.

Monuments

The Academy of Athens is the highest research establishment of Greece. It was established as an Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts with the Constitutional Decree in 1926, and now operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. The building was designed from Danish architect Theophil Frehiherr von Hansen, as part of his famous Trilogy of the neoclassical buildings of Athens, with the other being the Academy of Athens and the National Capodistrian University of Athens. Athens Academy is located on Panepistimiou Street and Akadimias Street in Central Athens.

The Athens Concert Hall “Megaron” is one of the most beautiful cultural centers of Europe located on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. Its superb acoustics has been acclaimed from renowned performers of the art and music world. Megaron Concert Hall has welcomed top classic artists, composers and music ensembles that have left their mark in the cultural scene of Greece.

The Monastiraki Square is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Athens located in the old part of the city. Monastiraki is famous for the flea market that takes place on Sundays. Monastiraki was the site of one of the largest monasteries of Athens, namely the Great Monastery, which was demolished during archeological excavations of the 19th century. Only the church of Pantanassa, else known as little monastery aka monastiraki, can be seen today in the center of the square. Monastiraki Square offers panoramic views to the Acropolis of Athens.

The Municipal Theater of Piraeus is the landmark of the harbour of Athens located on Korai Square. The theatre was constructed with the neoclassical architectural style from Ioannis Lazarimos in the 1890s. Inside the theatre, there is a horse-shoe shaped Italian hall comprising from the auditorium with balconies and boxes, which can accommodate up to 1.300 guests. Piraeus Municipal Theatre is considered as one of the few remaining examples of baroque art in Europe.

The National Library of Greece was inaugurated from Ioannis Kapodistrias and it was designed from Danish architect Theophil Frehiherr von Hansen, as part of his famous Trilogy of the neoclassical buildings of Athens with the other being the Academy of Athens and the National Capodistrian University of Athens. The library houses an extensive collection of books, maps, manuscripts and newspapers in Greek and other languages. The National Library of Greece is located on 32, Panepistimiou Street.

The Neighborhood of Anafiotika is one of the most beautiful districts of Athens located on the northeast side of the Acropolis. It is no coincidence that the whole area resembles the typical architecture of the Cyclades. The people of Anafi were famous for their building skills. This is the reason that King Otto was impressed from the reputation of the people of Anafi as builders, and he brought them to the city of Athens in order to built his palace. The people of Anafi settled on the foothills of Acropolis and built many small houses in the traditional architecture of their island.

The Observatory of Thissio is a neoclassical building located on the hill of the Nymphs. It was the first astronomical observations of the classical Greek period, which was designed from Danish architect Theophil Frehiherr von Hansen and was funded from the generous donations of George Sinas, the ambassador of Greece in Vienna. Inside the observatory, one can visit the Geoastrophysics Museum that contains many historical books and a collection of scientific instruments of the 19th century.

The Planetarium of Athens is the largest and most technologically advanced digital planetarium of the world. The 280 seat planetarium offers 3D virtual trips to the galaxy and other high-tech shows. Athens Planetarium is part of the Eugenides Foundation, a educational and progressive institution. It is located at 387, Leoforos Sygrou.

The Syntagma Square, translated into the Constitution Square, is the central square of Athens. It was named after the Constitution that the first King of Greece, Otto, was obliged to grant after the military uprising in September 3, 1843. The Parliament Building was originally the Royal Palace of King Otto, the first king of Greece, and the square was known as the Palace Square. However, it was named Syntagma (Constitution) Square after Otto was obliged to grant constitution after the military uprising in September 3, 1843. The main attraction of Syntagma is the House of Parliament that was constructed in 1942 as the Royal Palace. Evzones, the members of the presidential guard who are dressed in traditional uniforms, stand vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the parliament. The hourly changing of the guard ceremony is a must see. Syntagma Square is the starting point of Ermou Street, the mot commercial and shopping street of Athens, which leads towards Monastiraki Square.

The National Capodistrian University of Athens is the oldest higher education institution of the Modern Greek State. It was designed from Danish architect Theophil Frehiherr von Hansen, as part of his famous Trilogy of the neoclassical buildings of Athens with the other being the Academy of Athens and the National Library of Greece. The University of Athens is located on

The Zappeion is one of the most important neoclassical buildings of Athens located in the National Gardens of Athens. Zappeion was the world’s first building that was constructed exclusively for the Olympic Games. Zappas instructed the design of the building to the Danish architect Theophil Frehiherr von Hansen which was completed on November of 1874. Today, Zappeion is one of the main exhibition halls of Athens used for public and private ceremonies and exhibitions.

Museums

The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings from the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was designed from Bernard Tschumi and opened to the public of June of 2009. Acropolis Museum has awarded from the Award of Excellence and Sustainability from the International Association of Lighting Designers, the Keck Award for the innovative program of the conservation and restoration of the Caryatids from the International Institute for Conservation and the Honor Award for Architecture from the American Institute of Architects. The museum is located on the southeastern slopes of the Acropolis hill only 280 meters from the Parthenon offering panoramic views to the Acropolis. The entrance of the museum is on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street adjacent to the Acropolis Metro Station.

The Archaeological Museum of Athens is the most important museum of the world dedicated to ancient Greek art. The permanent collection of the museum includes items of the history of the country from the prehistoric times to the Minoan era, the Classical period, the Roman and Hellenistic times to the Byzantine Empire, the Venetian and Ottoman occupations and the Greek Revolution. Exhibits include gravestones, bronze objects, marble and stone statues and weapons. Of great interest is the golden mask of Agamemnon that was excavated from Heinrich Schliemann in Mycenae. The museum also includes the Ethnographic collection that exhibits traditional items of Greek folklore tradition, the Epigraphic collection that displays thousands of Greek inscriptions from the ancient times and an interesting library with rare manuscripts of science and philosophy. The Archaeological Museum of Athens is located at 44, Patision Avenue.

The Averof Naval Museum is the most impressive warship of Greece that served as a flagship of the Royal Hellenic Navy during the 20th century. Widely known as a battleship, Averof is an armored cruiser, the sole ship of this type still in existence. The ship was constructed at the Orlando Shipyards in Italy, partially funded from Georgios Averof, a major Greek benefactor, while it was launched in 1911. Averof took part in the two Balkan Wars and the two World Wars as the leader ship of the Hellenic Navy. It is worth mentioning that Averof defeated the Turkish fleet that would navigate in the Aegean during the First Balkan War whilst it sailed to Constantinople in the end of the First World War and showed the Greek flag. In 1984, the Navy restored the ship as a museum. Today, Averof is anchored to Trocadero Marina in Paleo Faliro as a functioning floating museum in order to maintain and promote the Greek naval tradition.

The Benaki Museum is the largest independent museum in Greece. The main collections are housed in the family mansion of Benakis in the center of Athens. The museum was established from Antonios Benakis in 1930. The museum houses impressive Greek works of art from the prehistoric times to the modern era ranging from periodic exhibition in a state-of-the-art restoration building. Although the museum initially housed a collection focused on Chinese porcelain and Islamic art, its re-opening led to the creation of satellite museums that focus on different aspects of the Greek culture. The Benaki Museum is located at Vasilissis Sofias Avenue and Koubari Street.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens is one of the most important public institutions of Greece and one of the most important museums in the world for Byzantine Art. The museum was established in order to collect and preserve the Byzantine cultural heritage in the Hellenic territory. Its collections include 25.000 works of art including icons, ceramic, paintings, ecclesiastical textiles, sculptures and mosaics. The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens is located on 22, Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.

The Cartoon Museum of Athens is located in at 22, Liosion Avenue. Its collections constitute from the permanent exhibition of cartoons, mainly comic strips, caricatures and sketches from Greek and foreigners cartoonists. Of great interest are the comic strips of Grammatopoulos, the caricatures of Satanas from the 20th century and the cover of Phanos magazine from Phokion Dimitriades.

The Cycladic Art Museum is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building in the center of Athens. The museum was established in 1986 with the intention of maintaining and preserving precious works of the Cycladic Art that belonged to Nikolaos and Dolly Goulandris. The collections of the museum consist of four floors with permanent exhibition from the Cycladic Civilization, the Greek Bronze Era and the Roman Period.

The Folklore Art Museum of Athens works under the provision of the Ministry of Culture. It was established as a museum of Greek handicrafts at the Tsisdarakis Mosque in 1918 until it was renamed to the national museum of decorative arts in 1959. Its exhibitions include an extensive collection of folklore art pieces housed in the Tsisdarakis Mosque in Monastiraki Square, the Public Baths at Kyrristou Street in Plaka and the building at 8, Thespidos Street in Plaka.

The Frissiras Art Museum is a contemporary art museum located in Plaka. The museum was established from Vlassis Frissiras, an art collecting lawyer, in 2000. Its permanent collection consists of 3.000 paintings and sculptures from Greek and European artists. The Frissiras Museum is located at 3-7, Monis Asteriou Street in Plaka.

The Goulandris Natural History Museum is located in the suburb of Kifisia. The museum was founded from Angelos and Niki Goulandris in 1965 with the intention of promoting interest in the natural sceneries and the natural habitats and species of Greece. Its exhibitions consists from large collections of birds, reptiles, insects, mammals and minerals fro0m the rich natural wildlife of the Greek territory. The botanical collections include a large number of plants while the laboratories of the museum carry out scientific research in the areas of botany, ecology, geology, paleontology and zoology. The Goulandris Natural museum functions also as an educational institution for all levels of education with activities including seminars, lectures, and educational programs.

The Industrial Gas Museum was established in 2013 with the intention of protecting and promoting the old Athens Gasworks Plant, an industrial heritage monument that used to supply energy and lighting in the metropolitan area of Athens for 130 years. The museum includes a path with stops in specific areas of the factory where one will have the opportunity to admire old machinery and mechanical equipment and the work conditions of the gas production line. The Industrial Gas Museum is located at 100, Piraeus Avenue in Gazi.

The Islamic Art Museum of Athens is housed in a neoclassical building in the center of Athens. Its collections of Islamic Art come from India, Persia, Mesopotamia, the Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Sicily and Spain. The exhibits consist from more than 8.000 works of art including ceramics, metalwork, textiles, gold, funerary steles and weaponry. The Islamic Art Museum of Athens is located in the area of the archaeological site of Kerameikos.

The Jewelry Museum of Elias Lalaounis is a private museum that was established from the famous Greek jewelry designer Elias Lalaounis. Its collections count over 4.000 jewels and ornaments dedicated to the art of jewelry making and history from the 1940s. The Jewelry Museum of Elias Lalaounis is located at 12, Kalisperi Street in Acropolis.

The Jewish Museum of Greece is located in central Athens. The museum was established in 1977 with the intention of preserving the culture of the Greek Jewish community. Its collections hosts about 8.000 items showing the long presence of Jews in Greece for more than two thousands years. The Jewish Museum of Greece is located on 39, Nikis Street near Syntagma Square.

The Hellenic Maritime Museum is located on Akti Themistokleous in Freatida of Piraeus. Its exhibits include models of ancient and modern ships, painting of great Greek painters, guns and weaponry, maps and nautical instruments, and flags. Inside the museum, there is an interesting library with more than 10 thousands volumes of archival material.

The Hellenic Motor Museum is a unique building dedicated to the evolutions of cars. Its exhibits display more than one hundred cars from the 19th and 20th century. The Hellenic Motor Museum is housed in the three last floors of the Athenian Capital at Patision Avenue.

The Marathon Run Museum presents the history of the Olympic Marathon from 1896 to 2000. With more than three thousands exhibits, the museum is unique in the sports collections of the world. Of great interest is the medal of the first winner of the Olympic Marathon, namely Spyros Louis, and a replica of the cap that he was awarded at the Panathenaic Stadium in 1986.

The Municipal Gallery of Athens is housed in a neoclassical building at Avdi Square in Metaxourgio. The rich collection of the museum includes more than three thousands works of art from the 19th century.

The Museum of the Ancient Agora is housed in the Stoa of Attalos, originally constructed as a gift of the king of Pergamon, Attalos II, to Athens in the 2nd century BC. The museum displays archaeological finds from the excavations of the area that date back to the Neolithic times to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The Museum of the Ancient Agora is located on 24, Adrianou Street in the center of Athens.

The Museum of Folklore Musical Instruments is dedicated to the Greek folklore music. Its collections comprise from more than one thousands musical instruments that date back from the 18th century up until today. The Museum of Folklore Musical Instruments is located 1, Diogenous Street in Plaka.

The Museum of the History of Greek Costumes is located on 7, Dimokritou Street in Kolonaki. The museum was established from the Lyceum Association of Greek Women, a non-profit organization that aims to preserve and promote the Greek folklore tradition, in 1988. The museum exhibits more than 25 thousand items including women and men costumes for all occasions.

The Museum of Telecommunications is housed in a private building of the Greek telecommunications company OTE. The museum was established with the intention of exhibiting and presenting the history and evolution of telecommunication in Greece.

The National Art Gallery is one of the most important art museum of Greece devoted to Greek and European art from the 14th century to the 20th century. The national galley was established in 1878. Alexandros Soutsos, an art lover, bequeathed his collections to the Greek government aspiring the creation of an art museum. The galley exhibits an extensive collection of European artists. Of great interest is the collection of the Renaissance paintings. The National Gallery is currently closed for expansion works. It will open its doors for visitors in the end of 2015.

The National Historical Museum is housed in the building of the Old Parliament House. The museum displays the collection of the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece, the oldest collection of its kind in Greece, which contains historical items from the period of the capture of Constantinopolis from the Ottomans in 1453 to the Second World War. The National Historical Museum is located at 13, Stadiou Street.

The Numismatic Museum of Athens is one of the oldest public museums of Greece. It was established in order to protect the national cultural heritage displaying one of the greatest collections of ancient and modern coins in the world. The museum is housed in the mansion of archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, known as Iliou Melathron aka the Palace of Ilion/Troy. The Numismatic Museum of Athens is located on 12, Panepistimiou Street.

The Planetarium of Athens is the largest and most technologically advanced digital planetarium of the world. The 280 seat planetarium offers 3D virtual trips to the galaxy and other high-tech shows. Athens Planetarium is part of the Eugenides Foundation, a educational and progressive institution. It is located at 387, Leoforos Sygrou.

The Railway Museum of Athens was founded from the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) in 1978. The museum has an extensive collection of items related to the history of rail transport in Greece. The Railway Museum of Athens is located at 4, Siokou Street.

The Spathario Museum of Shadow Theatre is located in the suburb of Marousi. The museum was named after Sotiris Spatharis, the renowned shadow player of Greece. His son established the unique museum of shadow theatre in the world. Its collections include dolls, figures, books, and forms of shadow theatre. The museum is located at Kastalias Square in Marousi.

The Tactual Museum of Athens is one of the five tactual museums of the world that was established from the Lighthouse of the Blind Association in 1984. All the statues, sculpture and vessels are original sized replicas of the authentic works from numerous archaeological museums of Greece. The museum is located at 17, Athinas Street.

The Vorres Art Museum is a cultural foundation that was established in 1983, with the purpose of promoting Greek art and culture through a broad spectrum of activities, from the organization of exhibitions in Greece and abroad, to educational programs for children.

The War Museum of Athens is the museum of the Greek Armed Forces that was established in 1975 with the intention of preserving war moments, documenting the war history of the country and presenting the struggles for freedom of the Greek nation. The War Museum of Athens is located at 2, Rizari Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.

Natural Beauties

The Cave of Davelis is a huge cave located on the southwest side of Pendeli Mountain. In antiquity, the cave was used as a place of worship of God Pan and the Nymphs while it was used from Christian Orthodox hermits during the Middle Ages. Christos Natsios, else known as Davelis, was an infamous brigand of the 19th century that used the cave as a hideout. Legend has it that there was a maze of tunnels that could take him to other parts of the wider area of Athens. Inside the cave, there is a cavernous double Byzantine church that is dedicated to Agios Spyridonas and Agios Nikolaos built in the 12th century. The entrance of the cave is one of the most famous rock climbing routes in Greece. Keep in mind that you will need a car to access the cave, as there is no public transportation to the cave.

The Lake of Beletsi is an artificial lake located at an altitude of 600 meters on the eastern foothills of Parnitha Mountain. The lake serves as an important area for migratory birds. Beletsi Lake is an ideal place for day excursions.

The Lake of Marathon is an artificial lake located 45 kilometers away from Athens. The lake was created to serve as the primary water reservoir that supplied the city of Athens with water until 1959. It is worth noting that Marathon Lake and the National Park of Schinias are two of the ten remaining wetlands of Attica with prominent importance due to the diversity of species accommodated. Marathon Lake is an ideal destination for day excursions.

The Lake of Vouliagmeni is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Athens located 25 kilometer away from the center of the city. The composition of the lake’s water consists of ammonium, calcium, chloride, iodine, lithium, natrium and potassium making it slightly radioactive. All these elements provide relief from ailments including dermatological diseases, lumbago, headaches, neuralgia, arthritis and gynecological diseases. The water level of the lake is 50 centimeters above the sea level, which constantly overflows and is being replenished from hot springs beneath it. The temperature of the water ranges from 22 to 27 degrees of Celsius all year round. The lake used to be a large cavern that collapsed following an earthquake. Vouliagmeni Lake is an ideal destination for day excursions.

The Mountain of Pendelikon is a mountain range of Attica located on the northeast side of Athens. The highest point is the peak of Pyrgari at an altitude of 1.109 meters. Even since antiquity, Pendelikon was famous for its flawless white marble that was used for the construction of the Acropolis; it is worth noting that the ancient quarry of Pendelikon is protected from the Greek law, as it is used exclusively for the Acropolis Restoration Project. All the Attic architectural and sculptural marvels of the classical period were crafted with the Pendelic marble. The marble was also used for the construction of the Panathenaic Stadium, the location of the first Modern Olympic Games (1986). Although the extensive fires of 2009 caused incalculable ecological damages, many associations and authorities have managed to provide all the necessary information to develop forest protection and restoration plans. From the top, one will have a spectacular view of Athens and the Euboean Gulf. Worth visiting sights include the Pendeli Monastery, once the biggest and wealthiest monastery of Greece, the Palace of the Duchess of Plaisance, an impressive mansion of the 19th century that resembles a gothic castle and houses the byzantine and Christian museum, and the Cave of Davelis, one of the most famous climbing fields of Greece.

The Mountain of Hymettus is a mountain range of Attica located on the east side of Athens. The highest point of the mountain is Evzonas lying at an altitude of 1.206 meters; however, it is inaccessible for hikers due to the radar installations. Although the devastating fire of 2007 caused incalculable ecological damages, many associations and authorities have managed to provide all the necessary information to develop forest protection and restoration plans. The view of Athens from Hymettus is quite spectacular. Hymettus Mountain, along with Pendeli Mountain, was also known for its marble mines that were used for the construction of monuments in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Worth visiting sights include the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Kynigos (north peak) for its panoramic view to Athens, the Monastery of Asteriou (north of Papagou suburb) that has been designated as a historical monument, the Monastery of Kaisariani that serves as an ideal starting point for a hiking trip, and the Cave of Panos (southeast side) for its unique sculptures and its unique rocky engravings. Hymettus Mountain is an ideal destination for biking and hiking enthusiasts who crave for a breath of fresh air.

The National Garden of Athens is a peaceful verdant refugee in the center of Athens. The park used to be the garden of the Royal Palace that was commissioned from Queen Amalia in 1938 and it was designed from the German agronomist Fridrich Schmidt. The garden encloses traces of ancient ruins, tambours and Corinthian capitals of columns while the busts of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, and Dionisios Solomos, the writer of the Greek National Anthem, can be found on the south and east sides of the garden. Inside the park, there is a botanical museum, a children playground and a charming cafeteria. Today, the National Garden of Athens is open for visitors from sunrise to sunset. It is located behind the Greek Parliament House continuing to the area of the Zappeion across from the Panathenaic Stadium. The main entrance is located on Leoforos Amalias while you can also enter from the gate on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, the gate on Herodou Attikou Street and the gate of the Zappeion.

The Parnitha National Park is the highest mountain of Athens and one of the most exciting national parks of Greece. Parnitha was first inhabited in the Mycenaean period, and it constituted a key point of Attica’s defense, as it was the most fortified mountain in ancient Greece. It is a densely forested mountain range with an elevation of 1.413 meters (Karavola Summit) that was declared as a National Park in 1961. Although the extensive fires of 2009 caused incalculable ecological damages, many associations and authorities have managed to provide all the necessary information to develop forest protection and restoration plans. On the base of the mountain, there is a cable car that transfers visitors to the casino Mont Parnes with panoramic views of the city. The funicular station is the starting point for sign posted hiking trails. Parnitha National Park has two shelters namely Flabouri and Mpafi. Worth visiting sights include the Beletsi Lake (east mountainside), the beautiful monasteries of Agia Triada and Moni Kleiston, the Mont Parnes Casino, the Spileo Panos (Cave of God Pan) and the traces of Fili Fortress. The national park of Parnitha is an ideal destination for lovers of mountain biking, hiking and mountaineering and off roading.

Promenades and Neighborhoods

Acropolis is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of Athens crowned from the marble temples of the sacred rock. Its architectural glory and its historical significance make Acropolis one of the favorite spots for promenades. The most beautiful aspect of Acropolis is the long pedestrian street that passes in front of the Acropolis, the Herodus Atticus Theatre, the New Acropolis Museum and the Hadrian Arch. The charming neighborhood of Plaka is found in a walking distance from Acropolis. Worth visiting sights include the New Acropolis Museum, the Lalaounis Jewelry Museum and the neoclassical buildings of Plaka. Acropolis is easily accessible by metro at the Acropolis Station.

Akadimias Avenue is one of the most popular avenues that runs parallel to Panepistimiou Street from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to Kanigos Square. Athens National Library, the University of Athens, the Cultural Center of Athens and the Lyrical Theatre of Athens are located on Akadimias along with many elegant restaurants, shopping boutiques and sophisticated cafeterias.

Exarhia is one of the liveliest neighborhoods of central Athens located between Omonia and Panepistimiou Avenue. In the 19760s, this area used to be the cultural center of the city. The main feature of Exarhia is the arty and bohemian bars, alternative culture hangouts with many artisan bookshops and traditional taverns, known as mezedopolia, with live Greek music. Worth visiting sights include the National Archaeological Museum on Patision Avenue, which is the largest museum of the country that offers a panoramic experience of the Greek civilization.

Gazi is a lively neighborhood of central Athens. The area is known as an industrial region, as it took its name from the local gas factory that used to operate in Gazi. With the intention of protecting and promoting the industrial heritage of the area, the Industrial Gas Museum was established in order to showcase the factory that used to supply energy and lighting in the metropolitan area of Athens for 130 years. Gazi is also famous for its vibrant nightclubs and its elegant restaurants. The entire area has an authentic atmosphere of an old Athenian town embellished with stone houses and neoclassical features. Tehnopolis, the former gas factory, is one of the main cultural centers of the city that hosts numerous concerts and special events. Gazi is easily accessible from the Kerameikos Metro Station.

Glyfada is one of the most elegant districts of Athens located on the southern area of the city. This neighborhood is one of the favorite Athenian districts for summer. In fact, Glyfada is considered to be one of the most popular suburbs of Athens distinguished for its vibrant nightlife, its luxurious hotels, its cosmopolitan cafeterias, its shopping amenities and its beautiful beaches. If you are a golf enthusiast, you will be thrilled from the Glyfada Golf Course. Generally, the southern suburbs of Athens are an ideal place for a walk by the seaside. The majority of the most popular beaches of Athens are located in the wider area. Washed by the sea on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, the southern suburbs are ideal to have lunch and dinner by the seaside, enjoy your favorite watersports and walk at the numerous marinas. First stop before Glyfada would be the Flisvos Marina in Faliro; it is a mega-yacht destination that infuses a cosmopolitan atmosphere to the area ideal for leisurely strolls and carefree bike rides. Voula lies just two miles from Glyfada, home to the biggest beach clubs of the Athenian Riviera. It is worth noting that the beach of Voula has been awarded with a blue flag. To the east, one will find the beautiful bay of Vouliagmeni. Trademarks of this area are its beautiful beaches, its picturesque harbour with panoramic views of the Saronic Gulf, its bustling nightlife and its elegant cafes. Vouliagmeni Lake is the most attractive monument of the area and one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Athens that stands out for its mineral waters with healing properties for arthritis and rheumatism. Beyond Vouliagmeni lies the little resort of Varkiza with impressive coves and outstanding seascapes. Favored from windsurfing enthusiasts, you will be thrilled from the windsurfing infrastructure and the wind conditions of Varkiza in the summer. The picturesque seaside taverns of this neighborhood are known for their delicious seafood. If you continue the coastal road, passing by the resorts of Lagonisi and Saronida, you will end at the southeastern tip of Attica namely Cape Sounio. Watching the sun setting from the impressive Temple of Poseidon will be an unforgettable experience.

Kifisia is one of the greenest neighborhoods of Athens located on the north side of the city. Homeland of Herodus Atticus, Kifisia has a long history that served as a retreat for philosophers during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. During the Ottoman period, half of the inhabitants of the neighborhood were Christians while the other half were Muslims. The headquarters of the British and the Germans in the Second World War were located in this area. Kifisia was constructed with primary influence from the architectural style of the British garden cities at the end of the 1920s. Filled with cobblestone roads, lush greenery, beautiful parks and neoclassical buildings, Kifisia is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful districts of the city. Kifisia stands out for its elegant shopping boutiques, its luxurious hotels, its fancy restaurants and its charming cafeterias. Worth visiting sights include the open air cinemas of Cine Boboniera and Cine Chloe, the Pendeli Mountain for hiking excursions, the Goulandris Natural History Museum and the Kifisia Flower Exhibition that takes place in April and May. Kifisia is the starting point of the electric railway.

Kolonaki is one of the most cosmopolitan neighborhoods of Athens located between Syntagma Square and Lycabettus Hill. Kolonaki stands out for its elegant restaurants, its sophisticated cafeterias and its luxury shopping boutiques. Kolonaki Square, else known as Filikis Etaireias Square, is the central square of the district with numerous cafeterias and restaurants. Patriarhou Ioakeim Street is the central street of Kolonaki while Skoufa Street is one of the main streets of Kolonaki with interesting neoclassical buildings, shopping boutiques and cozy cafeterias. Further down Skoufa, you will found the pedestrian street of Voukourestiou that connects Lycabettus Hill with Syntagma zone.

Monastiraki is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Athens located in the old part of the city. If you walk to Ermou Street till the end, you will find Monastiraki Square. Famous for the flea market that takes place on Sundays, Monastiraki is a distinctive area of ancient Athens with labyrinthine streets, Ottoman and Byzantine buildings with street sellers and outdoor shops that you will find anything you might need from shoes and old books to furniture and jewelry. It is highly advisable to relax in one of the cafeterias to enjoy the panoramic views to the Acropolis. In Avissinias Square, you will find a wide range of old furniture, rare antiques and musical instruments in the bustle of the bazaar. Adrianou Street is one of the most distinctive streets of Athens with street sellers and fashionable cafeterias that offer unique view to Ancient Agora. A central commercial road is Athinas Street that connects Omonia and Monastiraki Squares. This street was one of the first main roads constructed in modern Athens and had numerous architectural examples of the 19th century. Athens Town Hall, located on Athinas Street, is a strictly neoclassical style building that was constructed in 1934. In its vicinity, you will find the tiny attractive Theatrou Square. Just opposite the Town Hall, you will find Kotzia Square with the impressive facades of Melas Mansion that houses the Cultural Center of the National Bank of Greece. Varvakios Municipal Market, the central market of the city, is also found on Athinas Square with its fish, meat and vegetable markets. Aiolou Street is a semi-pedestrian zone that connects Panepistimiou Avenue with the Roman Agora in Plaka. The Administration Building of the National Bank of Greece, one of the most important modern architectural sights of Athens, is located at the junction of Aiolou and Sophocleous Streets. Further down Aiolou Street, one will find Chrisospiliotissis Street that leads to the Square of Agia Irini with its cozy cocktail bars. Klafthomnos Square with the Museum of the City of Athens, Karytsi Square that serves as one of the most popular entertainment spots, and Kolokotroni Square with the National Historical Museum and the endless nightlife bars and clubs are found in a close proximity from the Square of Agia Irini.

Panepistimiou Avenue is one of the main roads of the center of Athens starching across the main squares of the city namely Omonia and Syntagma Squares. Shopping arcades, interesting museums and historical building stretch along Panepistimiou Avenue. Close to Panepistimiou, you will find the neighborhood of Exarhia, one of the liveliest neighborhoods of central Athens. The main feature of Exarhia is the arty and bohemian bars, alternative culture hangouts with many artisan bookshops and traditional taverns, known as mezedopolia, with live Greek music. Worth visiting sights include the National Archaeological Museum on Patision Avenue, which is the largest museum of the country that offers a panoramic experience of the Greek civilization.

Plaka is one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city distinguished for its authentic character and its traditional layout. Although the largest part of Plaka consists from neoclassical houses of the 19th century, the most beautiful district of Plaka is the settlement of Anafiotika with the beautiful Cycladic houses that lead to the Acropolis. The people of Anafi were famous for their building skills. This is the reason that King Otto was impressed from the reputation of the people of Anafi as builders, and he brought them to the city of Athens in order to built his palace. The people of Anafi settled on the foothills of Acropolis and built many small houses in the traditional architecture of their island. Plaka was the center of ancient Athens. Today, one can visit numerous archaeological sites in Plaka including the ancient Agora, the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the Tower of the Winds and the Herodus Atticus Theatre.

Psiri is one of the neoclassical neighborhoods of central Athens. Northwest of Monastiraki, you will find the old neighborhood of Psiri with its neoclassical buildings and its narrow alleys. The entire area is encompassed from the streets of Athinas, Ermou and Evripidou. It is a really busy district, especially in the night with a multitude of cafeteria, bars, clubs, ouzeries and live Greek music taverns. Following the liberation of Greece, freedom fighters from the provinces settled in Psiri and opened workshops and cottage industries that have given a distinctive character in the area. Today, Psiri is a popular nightlife spot. Iroon Square is an ideal place to start your walk.

Syntagma Square is the central square of Athens. It was named after the Constitution that the first King of Greece, Otto, was obliged to grant after the military uprising in September 3, 1843. The Parliament Building was originally the Royal Palace of King Otto, the first king of Greece, and the square was known as the Palace Square. However, it was named Syntagma (Constitution) Square after Otto was obliged to grant constitution after the military uprising in September 3, 1843. The main attraction of Syntagma is the House of Parliament that was constructed in 1942 as the Royal Palace. Evzones, the members of the presidential guard who are dressed in traditional uniforms, stand vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the parliament. The hourly changing of the guard ceremony is a must see. Hotel Grand Bretagne is one of the most beautiful buildings of the central square of Athens that was destinged as a private residence from Danish architect Theophil Frehiherr von Hansen. Syntagma Square is the starting point of Ermou Street, the mot commercial and shopping street of Athens, which was named after Hermes, the protector of trade. On the west side of Syntagma Square, you will find Mitropoleos Street with its neoclassical houses and its beautiful cafeterias that connects the squares of Syntagma and Monastiraki. Dimopratiriou Square is the most charming spot of Mitropoleos. Must visit is the Metropolis Cathedral. On the south side of Mitropoleos Street, you will find the neighborhood of Plaka. Although the largest part of Plaka consists from neoclassical houses of the 19th century, the most beautiful district of Plaka is the settlement of Anafiotika with the beautiful Cycladic houses that lead to the Acropolis. Worth visiting the National Garden of Athens that is located behind the Parliament House if you are looking for a breath of fresh air. Zappeion Mansion, one of the most attractive neoclassical building of Athens, is also a must visit.

Thissio is a traditional neighborhood with a multitude of neoclassical houses and stately buildings located in the historical center of Athens. Due to its beautiful views to the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora, Thissio is one of the favorite places to enjoy your coffee. Iraklidon Street is the central pedestrian zone of Thissio with its beautiful neoclassical buildings. Nearby, you will find Eptahalkou Street with its traditional taverns. Must visit is the National Observatory of Thissio, on Nymfon Hill, which offers spectacular views of the Acropolis, the Lycabettus Hill and the ancient Agora. In the summer, it is also worth visiting the open air cinema of Cine Thissio.

Piraeus is the main port of Athens, the biggest port of Greece and one of the leading ports of the Mediterranean located on the southern side of the city. As Piraeus is washed on all sides by the sea, the way of life is linked to the water since the prehistoric times. Architect Hippodamus designed the urban planning of Piraeus (5th century BC) whose plans were used as guidelines for the reconstruction of the city in 1834. Piraeus was transformed into a prototype harbour becoming the main harbour of ancient Greece. Seeking to develop the fortified port of the city of Athens, Themistocles built the wall of Piraeus from 493 to 479 BC, which was completed from the Long Walls Building that was constructed from Pericles. In the Middle Ages, Piraeus was named Porto Leone after a giant stone lion that was guarding the entrance of the port. Today, Piraeus is the main port of Athens, the biggest port of Greece and one of the leading ports of the Mediterranean. The sights of Piraeus include the central port that acts as the major harbour for countless ferries that serve the Greek islands. On Vasiliades Coast, the new building of the Ministry of Shipping has been erected while the ancient Walls of Piraeus are still preserved in the Freatida area. Pasalimani, else known as Zea marina, serves as a main anchorage for cruise ships and impressive yachts. In this area, one can visit the numerous seaside bars, restaurants and taverns, the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus that presents the rise and fall of the ancient city and the Theater of Zea. Another museum worth visiting is the Hellenic Maritime Museum is located on Akti Themistokleous in Freatida. It is the largest museum of its kind in Greece exhibiting over 3.000 years of the Greek naval history. One of the most beautiful places of Piraeus is Mikrolimano, a tiny harbour with fishing boats that holds the reigns of maybe-the-best place to taste fish and seafood in Athens. Within a short distance, one can visit the Peace and Friendship Stadium sports arena. Kastella is the most elegant neighborhood of Piraeus with neoclassical mansions built on the hill of Prophet Elias. The view from the top is quite spectacular. Every Sunday morning, one will be able to also visit the Piraeus Flea Market at Ippodameas Square. Other monuments worth visiting is the Karaiskakis Stadium, the Veakeio Theatre, the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus and the Cathedral of Agia Triada.

Sunset Spots

Spot: Church of Agios Georgios, Lycabettus Hill

Spot: Hill of Filopappou, Southwest Side of the Acropolis

Spot: Hill of Prophet Elias, Neighborhood of Pireaus

Spot: Mountain of Pendeli, Northern Suburbs of Athens

Spot: Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounio

Excursions

Boat Trip: The rocky and volcanic Argosaronic Islands, just a few miles away from the capital of Greece, compose one of the most endearing island destinations blessed with natural beauty sceneries, historical monuments, picturesque villages with distinctive architecture and pristine beaches. Famous for its pistachio nuts and one of the finest temples in Greece, Aegina will thrill you with its picturesque atmosphere while the verdurous vegetation of Agistri will offer you dives into crystalline waters and an ultimate escape from real life. Holding the reigns of the biggest island, Salamina is still intertwined with the glorious battle that dates back more than two thousands years ago. If you are travelling with your significant other, you will definitely want to stay forever on Hydra that stands out for its neoclassical nobility and the pleasurable romance whereas the aristocratic allure and the luscious aromas of Spetses will definitely take your breath away! Of course, no one could ever forget the spectacular fjord of Poros, an ideal destination for sailing adventures, and the walking trails that lead to the sleeping volcano of Methana.

Road Trip: The Parnitha National Park is the highest mountain of Athens and one of the most exciting national parks of Greece. Parnitha was first inhabited in the Mycenaean period, and it constituted a key point of Attica’s defense, as it was the most fortified mountain in ancient Greece. It is a densely forested mountain range with an elevation of 1.413 meters (Karavola Summit) that was declared as a National Park in 1961. Although the extensive fires of 2009 caused incalculable ecological damages, many associations and authorities have managed to provide all the necessary information to develop forest protection and restoration plans. On the base of the mountain, there is a cable car that transfers visitors to the casino Mont Parnes with panoramic views of the city. The funicular station is the starting point for sign posted hiking trails. Parnitha National Park has two shelters namely Flabouri and Mpafi. Worth visiting sights include the Beletsi Lake (east mountainside), the beautiful monasteries of Agia Triada and Moni Kleiston, the Mont Parnes Casino, the Spileo Panos (Cave of God Pan) and the traces of Fili Fortress. The national park of Parnitha is an ideal destination for lovers of mountain biking, hiking and mountaineering and off roading.

Road Trip: The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio is one of the most important sanctuaries of Attica located on the southernmost tip of Attica. Mythology has it that Aegeus, the father of Theseus who travelled to Crete to kill the Minotaur, fell into the sea because of a misunderstanding. Theseus promised to Aegeus to put up white sails when he would come back from Crete, to let him know in advance that he is alive. However, Theseus did manage to kill the Minotaur and find his way out with the thread of Ariadne, and he took Ariadne with him back to Athens. After a stop at the island of Naxos to celebrate the victory of Theseus, Ariadne fall asleep on the shore and she did not enter to the boat, while Theseus forgot to put up the white sails. As King Aegeus was waiting to see the sails of the boat from Cape Sounio, he saw the black sails and he though that his son was dead. From his despair, he fell into the sea and gave his name to the Aegean Sea. The temple was first mentioned in Odyssey, as the place where Menelaus stopped in his return from Troy to bury his helmsman, Frontis. In the 6th century, the Athenian used to celebrate a quadrennial festival at Cape Sounio. This place was important to the Athenian, as it was the last point of land that the seafarers could see when they sailed away in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. This is the reason the Athenian built a temple dedicated to the god of sea, Poseidon. The temple was built in the archaic times while it was destroyed from the Romans in the Greco-Persian War. Although Pericles rebuilt the temple around 440 BC, there are only some columns still standing today. Important findings are exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum. Sounio is located 70 kilometers away from the center of Athens.

Activities

Archaeology: If you are visiting Athens, it is a must to discover Acropolis! We highly advise to grasp the opportunity to have an intriguing insight into a secret side of the Acropolis Hill, a tour off-the-beaten-track. Discover secret pathways of history to sneak a look at the hidden parts of the time trail laid on the sacred rock since almost 3,500 BC. Dig deep into the history layers and unravel the unexpected and the unseen. The Secret Acropolis tour by Greeking.me unveils secrets of centuries; walking around the sacred rock, travellers will have the opportunity to discover Propylaea and the lost gallery of the Ancient World that hosted works of famous artists of the ancient era. From the secret cults of goddess Athena to spicy stories about Pericles’ wife, your walk in Acropolis will unfold secret facts, gossip and rumors of the sacred rock. Find out about women with special privileges in Ancient Athens and get to know a stellar cast of famous figures that walked the very ground you stand on. Brace yourself and give into an unforgettable journey!

Bicycling: The city of Athens is an ideal place for cycling lovers. Dionysiou Areopagitou Street to the neighborhoods of Plaka, Anafiotika and Thissio, Tatoi Royal Palaces in Parnitha, Sygrou Grove in Kifisia, the Olympian Stadium in Marousi, the Park of Antonis Tritsis in Ilion, the Flisvos Marina in Paleo Faliro, Marathon Lake in Marathonas, Parnitha National Park, the seaside road of Poseidonos Avenue, the seaside route from the district of Kavouri to Vouliagmeni and the National Gardens of Athens are some of the most interesting bicycling locations of Athens. There are numerous bicycle rentals in the city of Athens.

Climbing: The wild topography and rocky terrain of Athens makes it an ideal Athens for the lovers of rock climbing. There are eight climbing fields of all degrees of difficulty on Mount Hymettus. The most famous fields include the calcareous rock landscapes of Kareas on the western slopes of the mountain, the ten routes of Stroma, the climbing field of Korakovouni and Sesi, one of the most beautiful climbing fields of Hymettus, with three climbing fields. The climbing field of Varibobi on Parnitha National Park is another popular field that stands out for it excellent quality of limestone and the diversity of its routes. Pendeli Mount also offers amazing rock climbing opportunities with more than 40 routes and panoramic views of Athens. Davelis Cave is one of the favored climbing fields of rock climbers.

Diving: The varied coastline of Attica offers numerous exciting explorations for diving enthusiasts. Koundouros Reef in Kea, Apollonia II and Avantis Shipwrecks, Devil Hole in Vouliagmeni, Makronisos Island, Simos Wreck in Saronida, Dikastika Reef in Marathonas, Kyra Leni Shipwreck on Patroclos Isle and Fleves Isle in Vouliagmeni are some of the most interesting diving spots. One will find diving centers at the areas of Anavissos, Lagonisi and Lavrio.

Golf: Blessed from perfect climate conditions and lots of sunshine, Greece is an ideal destination for golf enthusiasts. Although golf in Greece is not so popular, there are numerous sites dedicated golfers can practice their swings. One of the most popular golf sites of the country is the Golf Club of Glyfada.

Hiking and Mountaineering: Athens hosts numerous paths ideal for lovers of hiking. Parnitha National Park offers numerous opportunities for lovers of hiking to explore the dense vegetation and the rocky ridges of the mountainside. There are 75 hiking trails and two Mountain Refugees. Mount Hymettus is another ideal destination for hiking excursion with many sign posted trail that pass through the verdant pine forest, impressive caves and historical monasteries. Schinias National Forest is yet another destination for natural and hiking explorations, which was made famous from the historical battle between the Greeks and the Persians in 490 BC while Sounio has an inspiring seaside hiking alternative. Discover more information from the Official Website of Athens and the Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing.

Kitesurfing: Athens is known for its ideal conditions for lovers of kitesurfing. The beaches of Anavissos, Loutsa, Oropos and Schinias are ideal for practicing kitesurfing with numerous kitesurfing schools.

Mountain Biking: The rich natural diversity of Athens is highly suitable for mountain and road biking. Parnitha National Park stands out for its sign posted trails satisfying the demands of all the levels of your fitness. Exciting trails from rural roads to specially designed cycling routes are available in various parts of Attica.

Skydiving: Are you eager to experience the thrill of free flying in the beautiful land of Attica? Live the unique experience of a real take-off, touch the clouds and stimulate your adrenaline! The perfect climate conditions of Greece are ideal for paragliding experiences, since the drier the climate the better for the development of the sport. The flying sites of Attica include the areas of Kandili and Megara. For more information regarding paragliding in Greece, contact the Hellenic Aeronautical and Airports Federation.

Thermal Springs: Vouliagmeni Lake is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Athens located 25 kilometers away from the center of the city. The composition of the lake’s water consists of ammonium, calcium, chloride, iodine, lithium, natrium and potassium making it slightly radioactive. All these elements provide relief from ailments including dermatological diseases, lumbago, headaches, neuralgia, arthritis and gynecological diseases. The water level of the lake is 50 centimeters above the sea level, which constantly overflows and is being replenished from hot springs beneath it. The temperature of the water ranges from 22 to 27 degrees of Celsius all year round. The lake used to be a large cavern that collapsed following an earthquake. Vouliagmeni Lake is an ideal destination for day excursions.

Windsurfing: Athens is known for its ideal conditions for lovers of windsurfing. The beaches of Loutsa and Schinias are ideal for practicing kitesurfing with numerous kitesurfing schools.

Coffee Corners, Gastronomic Delights and Cocktail Inspirations

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Coffee Corners 

A For Athens: Cafeteria, Monastiraki Square

Amaryllis: Brunch & Coffee, Kifisia

Apolis: Coffee and Pastries, Petroupoli

Café Lycabettus: Coffee and Pastries, Kolonaki

Menta Cafe: Brunch & Coffee, Kifisia

Moorings: Coffee and Pastries, Vouliagmeni

New Acropolis Museum: Coffee, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street

Numismatic Museum Cafeteria: Coffee, Panepistimiou Avenue

Piree: Coffee, Piraeus

Six Dogs: Sto Vathos Kipos: Coffee, Monastiraki

Tailor Made: Cafeteria, Square of Agia Irini

Terra Petra: Coffee and Pastries, Petroupoli

Vive Mar: Coffee and Pastries, Voula

Yiasemi: Coffee and Pastries, Plaka

Waffle House: Ice Cream, Vouliagmeni

Gastronomic Delights

Abreuvoir: French Cuisine, Kolonaki

Aleria: Mediterranean Cuisine, Metaxourgio

Avissinia Cafe: Greek Cuisine, Monastiraki

Base Grill: Grill and Meat, Peristeri

Cookoovaya:  Mediterranean Cuisine, Downtown Athens

Cosa Nostra: Greek Cuisine, Monastiraki

Daphne’s: Greek Cuisine, Plaka

Delfinia: Seafood, Glyfada

Dioskouri: Ouzo and Meze, Monastiraki

Diporto: Ouzo and Meze, Downtown Athens

Dourabei: Seafood, Piraeus

Elaias Gi: Greek Cuisine, Kifisia

Freud Oriental: Sushi, Kolonaki

Funky Gourmet: International Cuisine, Kerameikos

Grand Bretagne Roof Garden: Mediterranean Cuisine, Location

Hytra: Mediterranean Cuisine, Sygrou Avenue

Jimmy and the Fish: Seafood, Mikrolimano

Mavro Provato: Grill and Meat, Pangrati

Nobu Mathuhisa: Sushi, Vouliagmeni

Papaioannou: Seafood, Pireaus

Platanos: Greek Cuisine, Plaka

Psaras: Seafood, Plaka

Rembetiki Istoria: Greek Cuisine, Ippokratous Street

Rozalia: Ouzo and Meze, Exarhia

Spondi: French Cuisine, Pangrati

Strofi: Greek Cuisine, Makrigianni

Ta Vrahia Tis Peraikis: Seafood, Piraeus

Thanassis: Souvlaki, Monastiraki

To Athinaikon: Ouzo and Meze, Mitropoleos Street

Vasilenas: Greek Cuisine, Piraeus

Vezene: Greek Cuisine, Downtown Athens

Cocktail Inspirations

A For Athens: Cocktails and Drinks, Location

Aegli Garden: Cocktails and Drinks, Zappeion

Akrotiri: Cocktails and Drinks, Alimos

Balthazar: Cocktails and Drinks, Kolonaki

Bios: Cocktails and Drinks, Piraeus Avenue

Brettos: Cocktails and Drinks, Plaka

Couleur Locale: Cocktails and Drinks, Monastiraki

Gazarte: Cocktails and Drinks, Location

Island Restaurant Club: Cocktails and Drinks, Location

Loukoumi: Cocktails and Drinks, Abyssinia Square, Monastiraki

Momix: Cocktails and Drinks, Gazi

Nixon: Cocktails and Drinks, Kerameikos

Perivoli T’Ouranou: Rebetiko Music Live Stage, Lisikratous Street

Rembetiki Istoria: Rebetiko Music Live Stage, Ippokratous Street

Rock n’ Roll: Rock Music, Kolonaki

Six d.o.g.s : House and Techno Music, Monastiraki

Skyfall: Cocktails and Drinks, Mets

Sto Vathos Kipos: Cocktails and Drinks, Location

Tailor Made: Cocktails and Drinks, Agia Irini Square

The Art Foundation TAF: Cocktails and Drinks, Monastiraki

To Treno Sto Rouf: Cocktails and Drinks, Rouf

Events & Festivals

Every February, Dionysia Wine Festival , the official wine festival of Athens, takes place at the Zappeion Megaron in the National Gardens of Athens.

Every March, the Athens Animation Festival takes place in Athens.

Every May, the Athens Book Festival takes place at the Zappeion Megaron in the National Gardens of Athens. Publishers and book lovers gather for the annual celebration of books.

Every May, the International Jazz and Blues Festival takes place at the theatre of Lycabettus. The festival hosts musical concerts from international jazz artists.

The European Music Day is celebrated in Athens with numerous musical events for a period of five days. The European Music Day is May 21.

Every May, the Athens Photo FesEvery June, the Art Athina Fair takes place at the Helexpo Center in Faliro. The fair showcases a broad spectrum of art from national and international galleries.

Every June, the Athens Pride Festival takes place in Athens.

The Rockwave Festival is one of the most popular musical events of Greece that is held on an annual basis in Athens. The festival welcomes international bands and musicians every June.

Every summer, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival takes place in numerous archaeological sites and cultural venues of the country. The festival hosts musical and theatrical events for a period of four months. Herodus Atticus Theatre and Epidaurus Theatre are two of the most impressive venues of Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

Every August, the Moon Festival takes place in several archaeological sites of Greece. The Acropolis, the Herodus Atticus Theatre and the Roman Agora amongst others are open for visitors with free admission after sunset.

Every September, the Athens International Film Festival takes place in Athens.

Every September, the Athens Bike Festival takes place in Athens.

Every September, the International Street Theatre Festival takes place in Athens. The festival is held in collaboration with the Organization for Culture, Sports and Youth of the Athens Municipality under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. The areas of the festival include Ermou Street, Monastiraki Square, Thission and Apostolou Pavlou Street.

Every October/November, the Athens Authentic Marathon takes place in Athens. The Classic Marathon commemorates the famous run of Phidippides run in 490 BC, who run from Marathon to announce the victory of the battle of the Greeks against the Persians. The 42-kilometer race begins in the town of Marathon and ends at the Panathenaic Stadium.

Every October, the Athens Fashion Week takes place in the Tehnopolis Arts Complex in Gazi.

Every October, the International Festival of Digital Arts and New Media takes place in Athens.

Every November, the Athens International Motor Show takes place at Ellinikon Airport.

Dionysia Wine Festival is the official wine festival of Athens that takes place at the Zappeion Megaron in the National Gardens of Athens.

History & Mythology

Mythology

According to mythology, the goddess of peace and wisdom, Athena, and the god of the sea, Poseidon, had an argument over the name of the newly build city. It was decided, then, to name the city after each of them depending on who would give the most precious gift to the citizens; Poseidon struck his trident on a rock and the sea began to flow while Athena struck her spear on the ground and it turned into an olive tree. The citizens of the city decided that the olive tree was decided the most valuable gift for them, and the city was named Athens in honor of Goddess Athena. The olive tree was a symbol of wisdom, peace and triumph for the Ancient Greece while it was used as a crown for the Olympic champions. It is worth mentioning that olive trees have been thriving in Greece for over 10.000 years according to Homer.

History

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world that has been inhabited continuously for over seven thousands years. As Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BC and thrived into its cultural achievements in the 5th century, ancient Athens laid the foundations of western civilization. According to mythology, the goddess of peace and wisdom, Athena, and the god of the sea, Poseidon, had an argument over the name of the newly build city. It was decided, then, to name the city after each of them depending on who would give the most precious gift to the citizens; Poseidon struck his trident on a rock and the sea began to flow while Athena struck her spear on the ground and it turned into an olive tree. The citizens of the city decided that the olive tree was decided the most valuable gift for them, and the city was named Athens in honor of Goddess Athena. Archaeological excavations show that the first settlement of Athens was situated on the sacred rock of the Acropolis in the Neolithic times. Acropolis offered a strategically geographical position towards the land and the sea, and it was used as a military fortress. By 1412 BC, the settlement became an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and evolved into a religious center dedicated to goddess Athena. However, Athens experienced an economic decline in the Bronze Age. It is believed that the city of Athens was founded from King Theseus who united the numerous settlements of Attica into one state. Several burials in the area of Kerameikos demonstrate that Athens served as one of the leading trade centers of the region in 900 BC. Ancient Athens regained the power over Attica in the 7th century, gradually becoming the artistic and cultural center of Greece. Athens was ruled from aristocrats and military generals for over a century, where the hierarchy of every citizen depended on his wealth. During the 8th century BC, Solon, one of the greatest law makers of ancient Greece, opened the path to democracy abolishing injustice to the less fortunate by declaring all Athenians equal by law known as Eupatridae. At the same time, the Oracle of Delphi, the most powerful in ancient Greece, declared the Acropolis as the province of the Olympian Gods. Following the Persian Wars (400 to 479 BC), ancient Athens developed as the leading city state of Greece that reached its heyday which is also known as the Golden Age of Pericles, the man who dominated the political scene of the city, or the Classical Athens. During that time, Athens experienced great development in trading products all over the Mediterranean, while it also took advantage of the Treasury of the Delian League in order to build the Acropolis. This was also the time that Pericles formed a new regime known as democracy, where every citizen had the right to express his opinions in public spaces and vote for public affairs. The economic wealth of Athens brought a cultural prosperity and new philosophical ideas were born from great philosophers including Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. Political gathering used to be held in the Ancient Agora of Athens. Theatre emerged in the Golden Age of Pericles, which was originally part of religious ceremonies that eventually gained an educational character. Although Athens fell under the domination of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great after the Peloponnesian War (431 to 404 BC), Athens remained the cultural center of the country. Following several attacks from the Roman Empire that was ruling the western Mediterranean, the Macedonians were dominated from the Romans known as the period of the Roman Athens. Nevertheless, ancient Athens did not suffer as the Romans admired and respected the city for its culture, its philosophy and its arts. At the same time, the Roman Peace, officially known as the Pax Romana period was established until the 3rd century AD, when Greece was invaded from the Goths. In 324 AD, Emperor Constantine I moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to the Byzantium naming it Constantinople. The Roman Empire was divided into the Byzantine Empire at the east and the Roman Empire at the west until the Roman Empire experienced its downfall ceding its power to the Byzantium. Athens remained the center of Greek education and culture until 529 BC when Emperor Justinian banned teaching classical philosophy. However, the conversion of the Empire to Christianity ended the role of the city as a center of pagan learning. By 529 AD, the city entered the period of Byzantine Athens where the Parthenon and the Erectheion were transformed into churches. According to Apostle Paul, Athens had already accepted Christianity since the 3rd century AD. After the conquest of the Byzantine Empire in the fourth crusade, the duchy of Athens was established in Greece entering the period of Latin Athens from 1200 until 1458. Athens remained the most influential ecclesiastical center of the duchy, although several states were conquered from the Franks, the Catalans, the Florentines and the Venetians. In 1456, Athens was captured from the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. At that time, the Acropolis became the headquarters of the Turks. Following the Greek War of Independence in 1821, Athens experienced a period or reorganization under the domination of King Otto, the first monarch of the new state of Greece. In 1832, the prince of Bavaria, Otto, was proclaimed as proclaimed as the king of Greece whose task was to conduct a detailed archaeological and topographical survey of Athens, which was chosen as the Greek capital for its historical significance. Some of the most important buildings that represent the finest legacy of this period include the University of Athens, the National Gardens of Athens, the Zappeion Hall, the Old Parliament Building and the New Royal Palace. Athens experienced another explosive growth after the disastrous war with Turkey in 1921, when more than one million Greek refugees from Asia Minor resettled in Greece, which was based upon religious identity involving the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece. During the Second World War, Athens was occupied from the Germans and experienced dreadful privations. The Great Famine of Greece was a period of mass starvation where hundreds of citizens died. Following the liberation of Athens (1944), there were a series of clashes fought in Athens between the communist forces and the British army supported from the Greek government. After the Second World War, Athens experienced a development and entered the European Union in 1981.

Travel & Transport

By Air: Athens has an international airport with scheduled flights from national and international destinations all around the world. The website of Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport can provide you with further information. Book your tickets with AirTickets.com!

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Airport Pickups: Book a trusted local driver to pick you up and introduce you to your next destination, pre-order travel essentials, and get all your questions answered before or during the trip with Welcome Pickups! Book your driver for Athens now!

By Train: Train routes operate from London to Greece via Paris, Munich, Zagreb, Belgrade, Thessaloniki and Larissa. The journey from London lasts two nights. Another route operates from Paris to Italy through the high speed train TGV. From the harbors of Italy, you can take an overnight cruise ferry to Greece.

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Mysterious Greece Tips

A for Athens Riviera

If you really want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, it is highly recommended to enjoy the beautiful coastal drive around the southern suburbs of the Athenian Riviera from the Flisvos Marina right down to Cape Sounio. Whether you prefer to enjoy the crystalline waters of the Athenian coastline and walk along the picturesque pedestrian streets in the marinas or you want to dine in seaside restaurants and dance in the coastal avenue’s buzzing clubs, Athens has it for you. Often overshadowed from the glow of the Parthenon, the seaside area of Athens is yet a secret gem reserved for the ones eager to discover it. From the Sounio Natural Park with its pine trees, the Temple of Poseidon with its glorious sunset views and the Glyfada Golf Club to the Flisvos Marina with its luxurious yachts, the Vouliagmeni Lake with its thermal springs, the pristine beaches of Vouliagmeni and Sounio, the Miami-style clubs and bars of Glyfada and the windsurfing tangoes in Varkiza, the Athenian Riviera is full of surprises!

Admire the Athenian Skyline

Day or night, it is a must to admire the Athenian skyline from above. At Lycabettus Hill, you will have the opportunity to appreciate the vast landscape fo the illuminated monuments from not that high above; the Acropolis, Hymettus and Parnitha Mountains, the Argosaronic Gulf! The majority of Athens hotels, restaurants and hills will offer you a breathtaking view of the cradle of western civilization!

An Excursion to the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio

The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio is one of the most important sanctuaries of Greece located on the southernmost tip of Attica. Mythology has it that Aegeus, the father of Theseus who travelled to Crete to kill the Minotaur, fell into the sea because of a misunderstanding. Theseus promised to Aegeus to put up white sails when he would come back from Crete, to let him know in advance that he is alive. However, Theseus did manage to kill the Minotaur and find his way out with the thread of Ariadne, and he took Ariadne with him back to Athens. After a stop at the island of Naxos to celebrate the victory of Theseus, Ariadne fall asleep on the shore and she did not enter to the boat, while Theseus forgot to put up the white sails. As King Aegeus was waiting to see the sails of the boat from Cape Sounio, he saw the black sails and he though that his son was dead. From his despair, he fell into the sea and gave his name to the Aegean Sea. The temple was first mentioned in Odyssey, as the place where Menelaus stopped in his return from Troy to bury his helmsman, Frontis. In the 6th century, the Athenian used to celebrate a quadrennial festival at Cape Sounio. This place was important to the Athenian, as it was the last point of land that the seafarers could see when they sailed away in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. This is the reason the Athenian built a temple dedicated to the god of sea, Poseidon. The temple was built in the archaic times while it was destroyed from the Romans in the Greco-Persian War. Although Pericles rebuilt the temple around 440 BC, there are only some columns still standing today. Important findings are exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum. Sounio is located 70 kilometers away from the center of Athens.

As Green As It Gets

If you are looking for a calm day in verdant sceneries away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Athens has it for you! Take the chance to enjoy a green day by visiting the National Gardens of Athens, the Botanical Garden of Athens, the Tatoi Royal Gardens, the Marathon Lake and Hymettus and Parnitha Mountains!

Athenian Nightlife: Dancing on the Beats of Music

Whether jamming to post grunge in Gazi or dirty dancing on the tables at the live music stages known as bouzoukia, the Athenians know how to party like no one else! Athens boasts one of the most happening nightlife scenes in Europe from the urban chic bars in Monastiraki, Psiri and Syntagma and the bohemian atmosphere of Exarhia to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Metaxourgio and Gazi to the c0smopolitan breeze of Kolonaki. As a city that never sleeps, Athens overflows with buzzing bars and clubs, live music stages and beach bar lounges.

Attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival

One of the most exciting events of Athens arts calendar is the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival held between May and October. Famed for its diverse itinerary of dance, music and theatre staged in various venues, it is certain that one must attend at least one of the events of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

Conference, Incentive, Meeting or Exhibition? Athens Has It All!

With a constant global rising demand, Athens has become a leading meeting destination in Europe. Athens is an ideal MICE destination that has managed to combine state-of-the-art infrastructure, excellent conference facilities, world-class cultural attractions, easy accessibility from all over the world with world-class cultural attractions, luxury and modern amenities and diverse entertainment options. Find more information from the Athens Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

Crystalline Beaches Just 30 Minutes from the Center of Athens

Just thirty minutes from the Acropolis, Athens boasts some of the best seaside destinations in the world. The entire coastline from Glyfada to Cape Sounio is endowed with organized beaches and secluded coves reserved for the ones who wan to enjoy a day under the sun. The choices are unlimited. Vibrant beach bars, excellent restaurants and energetic water sports facilities create an irresistible proposal. Kavouri, Lagonisi, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni and Sounio are the trademark of the summer scene of the southern coast of Athens. The endless indented coastline of Attica awaits the traveller to cast their spells. Limanakia in Vouliagmeni, Karavokolones and Legrena in Cape Sounio, Thymari in Palea Fokea, Pasalimani in Lavrio and Anavissos just before Sounio, Vouliagmeni Lake and Varkiza beaches are the most famous beaches of the southeast side of Attica. Agia Marina, Agios Spiridonas and Erotospilia in Porto Rafti, Kakia Thalassa in Keratea, Schinias in Marathonas and Mati, Agios Nikolaos in Anavissos, Porto Germeno and Psatha in West Attica, Mavro Lithari in Saronida and Zoumberi in Nea Makri are just some other options for swimming in the prefecture of Attica. Keep in mind that Attica enjoys the usual Mediterranean climate where summer is a distinct hot and dry period! So make sure to bring bathing suits, beach towels, hats and sunscreens with you!

Day Trips to …

If you want to steal off relaxing moments from the busy city rhythm of Athens, Attica has it for you! Amongst the earliest surviving remains of Attica is the Temple of Brauronian Artemis that dates back to the Mycenaean times. Located just one hour outside of the city, it is really worth visiting it for its impressive temples. As an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Daphne Monastery is one of the greatest masterpieces of the Byzantine Empire located on the northwest side of central Athens in the suburb of Haidari. The interior of the main church is decorated with superb mosaics of Classical Idealism and Byzantine Art depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin. The Attica Zoological Park is just another option for a day trip located in the suburb of Spata. It is the sole zoological park of Greece. Its bird collection is regarded as the third largest in the world with more than 300 species from the continents of Asia, Africa and America while the World of Reptiles has an astonishing collection of boas, crocodiles and pythons. A recreation of the African Savannahs ecosystems accommodates pygmy hippos, zebra, giraffes, antelopes, alligators, jaguars, snow leopards and lamas. As a member of the European Associations of Zoos and Aquaria, the Attica Zoological Park is committed to the environmental conservation and protection of endangered species. Well worth your visit is Marathon with its archaeological site and its museum. Considered as one of the most beautiful areas of Attica, the road to Marathon passes through olive groves, vineyards and wild vegetation as well as the manmade Marathon Lake with its impressive marble coating. The most famous beach of the region is Schinias. Marathon is known all over the world for the famous Marathon battle between the Persians and the Greeks. When 100.000 troops from the Persian fleet disembarked in Marathon (490 BC), the military genius Miltiades won the battle with just 1..000 Greek troops. Following the victory, Phidippides, an Athenian soldier, was sent to bring the good news to the city; he used a single word ‘nenikikamen’ (we have won) until he collapsed. The modern marathon covers the distance Phidippides ran. There, one can also visit the Tomb of Marathon that was set up in commemoration of the lost lives of the 192 Athenian soldiers of the famous battle. Important findings are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Marathon. Located just 23 kilometers away from Athens, Eleusina was once one of the most important worshipping centers of Ancient Greece. Eleusina was renowned for the Eleusinian Mysteries that involved intense mysticism. During your trip, you will have the opportunity to visit the archeological site of Eleusina and admire the traces of the ceremonial chamber, known as the Iero Mysterion, the sacred courtyard, the great Propylaea and ploutoneio. Important findings are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Eleusina. And if you want to sail your winds, then head to the Argosaronic Islands!

Driving Explorations

The drive from Glyfada to Sounio is an inspiring coastal drive with winding roads overlooking the Saronic Gulf. The scenery has coarse drama and stirring physicality with the constant hypnotic sweep to the Aegean Sea!

Enjoy your Cocktail at A For Athens

A for Athens is probably one of the best places to enjoy your cocktail with panoramic views of the Acropolis! A for Athens is located in Monastiraki.

Evzones: Observe the Presidential Guard

Evzones, else known as Tsoliades, are a special unit of the Hellenic Army who guard the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square in front of the Hellenic Parliament. Through the centuries, Evzones have become symbols of bravery and courage for the Greek people. The Presidential Guard, as it is now called, was constituted in 1868 and the duties of the guards are of ceremonial nature. The uniform of the Presidential Guard has a historical meaning as it refers to the uniform of the Kleftes and Amartoloi, the groups of the Greek warriors who fought against the Ottoman during the War of Independence in 1821. The changing of the guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square is a must experience. Every Sunday, at 11 a.m., the Evzones guards, soldiers chosen for their height, physical condition and psychological state, dressed in ceremonial outfit with pleated skirts and pom-pom shoes, perform an elaborately choreographed ceremony.

Find More Information About Athens

If you want to discover the secret gems of Athens, it is highly recommended to be advised from the website of ThisIsAthens.Org. The online Athenian brochure of the Ministry of Tourism can provide you with further information.

Fresh Fish by the Sea

Enjoying the bounty of the Greek seas is definitely a must experience! An incredible variety o fresh fish and seafood go straight from the fishing nets into the grills of seafood restaurants. Mikrolimano harbour in Piraeus is one of the most famous places to enjoy fresh fish in Athens!

Get Advice from the Insiders

If you are one of the travellers who want to experience Athens like a local, let an Athenian to take you to his own spots! This is My Athens is a beautiful initiative of the official tourism outlet of Athens where Athenian will guide you through the city; an insider’s view of Athens!

Hiking Higher than Highest

If you want an escape from the hustle and bustle of Athens, Parnitha National Park has it for you! Its highest point culminates at an altitude of 1.400 meters with many wild gorges and a variety of hiking trails. Casino Mont Parnes is also located at the crest of the mountain. Hop into the cable car of Parnitha to enjoy panoramic views of the city of Athens!

In and Around Athens

Athens has an extensive integrated public transport network of buses, metro, trolley and tram. Find more information from the Athens Urban Transport Organization , the Trainose Train Company, the Athens Tram Service, the Athens Tram Service and the Athens Metro.

Just for Museum Lovers

With more than 50 museums, Athens is definitely an ideal destination for museum lovers. Don’t leave the city without visiting the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum.

Lycabettus Views

Mount Lycabettus is the highest point of Athens located at an altitude of 277 meters above the sea level. From the church of Agios Georgios, one can enjoy spectacular views of the entire city of Athens to the Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Syntagma Square, the Acropolis and Piraeus. Lycabettus hill can be accessed through the funicular railway that climbs up the hill from Kolonaki at Aristippou Street.

Mobile Apps Made It Easy

As the use of smartphones is considerably growing, the creation of mobile application made it easy for Athens. Download the following: AthensBook, a definitive smart city guide that provides accurate information of a wide range of entertainment and utility categories, Athens Transit, an app with information for the public transportation of Athens, ParkAround, a unique app that enable you to find parking spots in Athens, Taxibeat, a taxi app where you get to choose your taxi driver, and TFA Tickets, the official app for public transportation of Athens, Athens Metro, the official metro app.

Monster Hand, Jackpot or Ace High?

Are you interested in playing your favorite cards game? Do not worry Syros has it for you! Casino Mont Parnes is the place for you!

Observing Like An Olympian God

Wondering where you can enjoy the most beautiful views of Athens? Grab a paper and a pencil and write down the following places; Chapel of Agios Georgios at Lycabettus Hill, Acropolis Museum at Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Prophet Elias hill in Kastella of Piraeus, the National Observatory of Athens at Thissio and the Astronomical Station of Pendeli.

On the Footsteps of the Grand Promenade

The Grand Promenade, a 3 kilometers pedestrian walkway, skirts the foot of the Acropolis linking the monuments of the Athenian history as a part of the city’s Archaeological Unification Project. Start out at the metro station of Acropolis on Makrigianni street whose platforms are embellished with replicas of the Parthenon friezes. On the north side, you will find Dionysiou Areopagitou Street with the New Acropolis Museum. Opposite is the Theatre of Dionysus, the first theater in the world where plays of Aristophanes, Euripides and Sophocles were first performed, and the Odeon of Herodus Atticus; if you want to visit this marvel, you will have to attend one of the events of the Athens Festival. Then, follow the marble walkway to Philopappou and the Hill of Museum; there, you will the Pnyx, the first democratic assembly in the world, where Pericles and Themistocles delivered their orations. Philopappou hill affords spectacular views of the Athenian skyline, especially at night. Go back downhill to Apostolou Pavlou Street, with the cozy cafeterias of Thissio and the open air cinema of Cine Thissio. From Thission metro station and Agion Asomaton Square, one can follow Melidoni Street to head to the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos. Here, Ermou Street connects with Pireaus Street that leads to the district of Gazi. The Grand Promenade provides easy pedestrian access to all the ancient sites from the Temple of Hephaestus to the Ancient Agora.

Promenades at the Historical Center of Athens

Put on comfy shoes to discover the past and present of Athens. Plaka, Monastiraki, Thissio, Anafiotika and Makrigianni; these districts, each with a unique charm, are worth exploring hinging below the sacred rock of the Acropolis that make up the Historic Center of Athens.

Rebetika: The Greek Underground Music

One of the most renowned Greek music styles is the Rebetiko, which was spread through Greek refugees coming from Asia Minor who settled in the city of Thessaloniki and the district of Piraeus in Athens. Rebetiko spread after the destruction of Smyrna from the Turks from refugees who used this type of songs to express their poverty, hunger, pain and betrayal. These were Greeks who had lost everything and have never lived in Greece expressing their feelings through a music style with Byzantine and Smyrna influences. If you want to listen to rebetiko songs, then head to Rembetiki Istoria, Perivoli T’Ouranou and Stoa Athanaton at the center of Athens.

Run in the Sun: Athens Classic Marathon

Attracting more than 8.o00 runners, the Athens Authentic Marathon is one of the most important international sporting events. Steeped in history, the Athens Classical Marathon started 2.500 years ago at the very first marathon and continues its legacy ever since. Legend says that the first marathon was run from the Greek soldier Phidippides who had to deliver the news that the Persians were beaten from the Greeks in the famous battle of Marathon. Phidippides proclaimed nenikikamen, aka we have won, before collapsing on the steps of the Senate. The marathon was established as one of the sports of the first Olympic Games in 1896 but the standard distance of 42.195 kilometers did not become official until the 1921 Olympics.

Thermal Springs at Vouliagmeni Lake

Vouliagmeni Lake is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Athens located 25 kilometer away from the center of the city. The composition of the lake’s water consists of ammonium, calcium, chloride, iodine, lithium, natrium and potassium making it slightly radioactive. All these elements provide relief from ailments including dermatological diseases, lumbago, headaches, neuralgia, arthritis and gynecological diseases. The water level of the lake is 50 centimeters above the sea level, which constantly overflows and is being replenished from hot springs beneath it. The temperature of the water ranges from 22 to 27 degrees of Celsius all year round. The lake used to be a large cavern that collapsed following an earthquake. Vouliagmeni Lake is an ideal destination for day excursions.

Under the Moonlight of August

The full moon of August is very special for Greece, as some archaeological sites remain open at night giving visitors the unique opportunity to experience these sacred sanctuaries bathed in moonlight. Music performances are also held at some sites.

Watching Movies Under the Bright Stars of the Sky

The open air cinema of Thissio offers a relaxed vista under the bright stars of the sky with panoramic views of the Acropolis. The cinema operates from June until September.

Weekend Escape to the Argosaronic Islands

The rocky and volcanic Argosaronic Islands, just a few miles away from the capital of the country, compose one of the most endearing island destinations blessed with natural beauty sceneries, historical monuments, picturesque villages with distinctive architecture and pristine beaches. Famous for its pistachio nuts and one of the finest temples in Greece, Aegina will thrill you with its picturesque atmosphere while the verdurous vegetation of Agistri will offer you dives into crystalline waters and an ultimate escape from real life. Holding the reigns of the biggest island, Salamina is still intertwined with the glorious battle that dates back more than two thousands years ago. If you are travelling with your significant other, you will definitely want to stay forever on Hydra that stands out for its neoclassical nobility and the pleasurable romance whereas aristocratic allure and the luscious aromas of Spetses will definitely take your breath away! Of course, no one could ever forget the spectacular fjord of Poros, an ideal destination for sailing adventures, and the walking trails that lead to the sleeping volcano of Methana.

Photo Credits

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Note: All the images are copyrighted from their owners. Please see Terms & Conditions. You can find the original images at the following links:

Academy of Athens: Stavros Markopoulos by Flickr

Herodus Atticus Theatre: Shutterstock

Monastiraki Square: Shutterstock

National Gardens of Athens: Shutterstock

Old Parliament: Shutterstock

Panathenaic Stadium: Shutterstock

Parthenon by Moonlight: Shutterstock

Parthenon Temple: Shutterstock

Piraeus Train Station: Shutterstock

Plaka District: Shutterstock

Plaka Roofs: Shutterstock

Poseidon Temple in Sounio: Shutterstock

Roman Agora of Athens: Shutterstock

Temple of Zeus: Shutterstock

View of Acropolis: Shutterstock

Tatoi Royal Palaces: Spiros by Flickr

Vouliagmeni Lake: Shutterstock