The city of democracy
Widely known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, Athens is a City established among seven historic hills and surrounded by remarkable mountains. It presents a confusing blend of historical and modern features that consist of the large city center, the urban district and the metropolitan area. The city is famous for its archaeological ruins and monuments. However, Athens is not just about ancient ruins. This bustling city is also an important center for culture, nightlife and sports. Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece, it dominates the Attica region and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3.400 years.
The Acropolis of Athens is the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site. This grand composition of perfectly balanced massive structures creates a monumental landscape of unique beauty consisting of a complete series of masterpieces of the 5th century BC. The Acropolis rises 150 meters into the sky, above the city of Athens and has a surface area of approximately 3 hectares. The four main buildings in the original plan for the Acropolis were the Propylaia, the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The Propylaia was the ornate entranceway into the temple complex, while the Parthenon was the central attraction.
The New Acropolis Museum stands at the foot of the Acropolis, only 280 meters from Parthenon and has the largest collection of Greek architecture and ancient sculptures. The museum has five floors and a showcase of 4.000 artefacts, ten times more than the old museum, over an area of 14.000 square meters.
The Panathenaic Stadium (or Kallimarmaro) is a one of the main historic attractions of Athens and it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. The stadium was initially built for the Olympic Games and had a capacity of 50.000 seats.
Syntagma Square is the most important square, and one of the major points of interest of modern Athens. From a historical and social point of view, it is at the epicenter of commercial activity and Greek politics. It is located in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace, housing the Greek Parliament since 1934. The most famous aspect of it is the changing of the guards by Evzones in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier is a war memorial located in Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Old Royal Palace. It is a cenotaph dedicated to the Greek soldiers killed during war. It was sculpted between 1930 and 1932. The tomb is guarded by the Evzones of the Presidential Guard.
The National Garden provides a green oasis for afternoon trips. The Royal Garden has a private garden for the Royal Palace, which is now the Parliament Building. The Public Garden was established in 1923. It’s a quiet and peaceful place with a gorgeous green canopy of trees and vibrant plant life. Statues decorate the gardens as well as flowerbeds and small ruins of antiquity.
The Old Royal Palace is the first royal palace of modern Greece, completed in 1843. It has housed the Hellenic Parliament since 1934. The Old Palace is situated at the heart of modern Athens, facing onto Syntagma Square.
The Hellenic Parliament Building (known as Voulí ton Ellínon – literally Parliament of the Hellenes) is the parliament of Greece, located in the Old Royal Palace, overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens. The Parliament is the supreme democratic institution that represents the citizens through an elected body of Members of Parliament It is a unicameral legislature of 300 members, elected for a four-year term. During 1844–1863 and 1927–1935, the parliament was bicameral with an upper house, the Senate, and a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, which retained the name Vouli. Several important Greek statesmen have served as Speakers of the Hellenic Parliament.
The Arch of Hadrian is an ancient monumental arched gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch. This arch-shaped marble gateway with Corinthian columns was built to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and to honor him for his benefactions to the city. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is known as the largest temple in Greece. The massive ancient complex took many centuries to complete. The building originally began in 515 BC and finally completed in 131 AD, under Emperor Hadrian and it was dedicated to Zeus Olympios. The temple that stands today is mostly a reminder of Greek history, because only 15 of 104 huge columns remain. The columns, 17 meters height each, once surrounded a cellar where two large statues were placed.
Plaka District, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Athens, which resides under Acropolis and spreads out to Syntagma. This district is almost like an island within the city, and it’s the perfect way to experience authentic Greek culture. The area is quite private and boasts truly unique scenery with several cafes, ancient trees, green leaf canopies and stone walkways. The area is well-known for its food, boutique shops and cafes.
Monastiraki is a flea market district in the old town of Athens, and it is one of the principal shopping districts of the City. The area is the center of clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, and specialty stores, and is a major tourist attraction in Athens. It is named after Monastiraki Square, which in turn is named for the Church of the Pantanassa that is located within the square.