Greece makes us think of ancient history or paradise beaches. But traveling to Athens is a trip to 2 cities, the ancient capital, full of world-famous monuments and ruins, and the top tourist attractions in Athens Greece are full of surprises. The Greeks have inhabited this region for more than 3000 years. Athens was, during the first millennium of the Christian era, the main city of ancient Greece and its fascinating history reached its climax in the fifth century, called the Pericles Century. During his government the values of this civilization extended beyond the city limits and universalized the heyday of political thought, art, philosophy, science and other disciplines that reached unprecedented intellectual fullness.
It also constituted one of the most important religious centers of ancient Greece, and proof of this is that they are in this city, and can still be visited:
- The Temple of Hephaestus
- The Parthenon
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus or Olympus, which was the largest temple in Greece and is currently in ruins
- The Greek capital continues to beat in the central neighborhoods of Plaka and Monastiraki, among others.
What to see on your trip to ancient Athens
In the city squares, you will find new bars, restaurants and cafes where you can savor the native delicacies.
The Acropolis of Athens is a limestone plateau located 156 meters above sea level. It contains in 270 meters in length and 85 in width, the most famous monuments of classical Greece and symbolizes the universal symbol of classical civilization. It was declared World Heritage Site in 1987 and is entered through a monumental gate called «Propylanes».
The Propylae are, in all likelihood, the most spectacular threshold of those who precede an architectural set of antiquity. Flanking this monumental entrance is going back in time to the 5th century BC. Between 437 BC and 431 BC, the monumental entrance on the old original structure was erected, within the set of works that integrated the new Pericles plan of the Acropolis of Athens.
The Parthenon of Athens
Erected between 447 and 438 BC in the Acropolis, and consecrated to the goddess Athena Parthenos, the Parthenon is one of the most important monuments of the ancient Greek civilization, in addition to the most representative building in all of Greece.
Erected over a temple of the 6th century BC, known as Hecatompedon, it was destroyed by the Persians. Pericles decided to dedicate it to the goddess Athena for freeing the Greek people from the Persians, building a great civic-sacred city in which the temple of the Parthenon was the protagonist.
It was built in white marble from the Pentélico Mount, and was to house the image of gold and ivory of Athena Parthenos, a colossal 12-meter high statue made by Phidias. With the Ottoman invasion, she was taken to Constantinople, where she disappeared. Currently a smaller Roman copy can be seen in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
With dimensions approximately 70 meters long and 30 meters wide, the Parthenon was surrounded by columns throughout its perimeter, 8 on the main facades and 17 on the sides. The frieze represented the procession of the Panateneas, the most important religious festival that was held in Athens, making it one of the top tourist places in Athens. Along the four faces of the building the scene was developed including more than 300 human figures, gods and beasts.
It was the center of the commercial, political, religious, administrative and social life of Athens and was the place where the Athenians met to exchange ideas and merchandise, to inform themselves, to dialogue, to criticize the government or, simply, to talk.
The translation of the word agora is “plaza”, since it was a wide and open place, and it is the one that has given rise to the word agoraphobia: it is the fear of open places.
The Temple of Hephaestus
Also called “Hefesteion”, consecrated to Hephaestus and Athena, this temple dominated the hill of the Agora, and is the best preserved temple of antiquity.
It is a Doric temple, built in marble, clearly influenced by the Parthenon. Inside, the statues of Athena and Hephaestus are framed by columns.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus
Also known as “Olimpeion” is located about 500 meters southeast of the Acropolis. It was once the largest known temple in the world, 96 meters long and 40 meters wide. Currently 16 columns are preserved, of which only 15 are standing. The sixteenth was shot down during a storm in 1852 and is still lying where it fell.
What to do in modern Athens
There is much to travel in this city that constantly transports you to another world
As there are so many beaches in the area, we present only the most famous. Actually a very popular area among tourists and where many Greeks have their own summer houses. It has numerous beaches of both sand and rocks. These beaches are located 20 minutes by tram or bus from the center of Athens.
- Vouliagmeni: 23 km from Athens is both very popular and organized. This beach offers everything you need to enjoy the day: tennis and volleyball courts, playgrounds for children, water sports and much more.
- Varkiza: it is a beautiful coastal city in the south of Athens, on the way to Sounion with a fine sandy beach, very popular for its water sports.
- Lagonisi: 40 km southeast of Athens, it offers exclusive spa services and luxurious changing rooms with hot and cold running water.
- Alimos: crowded during the summer by locals and tourists due to its proximity, only 11 kmts. Athens has many coffee shops, sports facilities, and games for children.
- Plaka neighborhood: central Ottoman reminiscent neighborhood, its surface roughly coincides with the area of the city, when it became the capital of modern Greece, in 1834.
Gastronomy of Greece in its Capital
Typically Mediterranean based on olive oil, Athens cuisine stands out not only for its flavor but also for its aromas of condiments and spices. The Greeks usually make several meals, starting with a light coffee-based breakfast accompanied by the Koulouri, which are bagels with sesame seeds.
The main meals are for the Athenians a serious matter. The first dish is usually the typical Greek salad based on cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives and onions, accompanied by a sheep cheese; although in other cases they opt for a plate of vegetable soup with an egg.