Athens is the ancient capital of Greece, which attracts tourists with its archaeological, natural, unique cultural sites. To get a complete picture of the country’s national heritage, you need to choose the main places to visit. We present you a description of the most interesting places with photos.
Athens – the center of Hellenistic culture
Hellenistic culture was formed in every city of ancient Hellas, but in Athens it developed the most. The main buildings were erected according to a strict layout. In the middle were the most important religious buildings. Unfortunately, many of them are only majestic ruins, but even now they remain unique objects for all time, which makes Athens the center of the development of Hellenistic culture.
Archaeological sites in Athens
Athens delights with its various architectural monuments. They are included in all tourist programs. The most interesting of the sights of Athens is the ancient Acropolis.
The first buildings on the rocky spur, 156 meters high, appeared long before the emergence of the Hellenic state. Later, in the 6th-5th centuries BC, it was built up with the famous Athenian religious sites. They were compactly arranged on an area of 5.1 hectares. No less interesting are the Athenian and Roman agora, the Temple of Zeus the Olympic and the Tower of the Winds.
The Acropolis is the most visited place by tourists. There are unique architectural objects. From most monuments remained only foundations, columns, porticos, able to tell about the former greatness. Some statues are on display in the British Museum and the Louvre. Guests can only see copies.
The Parthenon is the main temple built in honor of the goddess Athena Parthenos (the Virgin) in 447-438 BC. It is the main attraction of Athens and all of Greece. The great master Phidias took part in the decoration of the Parthenon. The restoration of the unique creation after the war with the Persians also took place according to his design.
The main decoration of the ancient structure, made of marble, was a sculpture of the patron goddess of gold and ivory. It has not survived to this day.
Temple of Nika Apteros
A small cult building of marble, built by the architect Callicrates (formerly he was involved in the construction of the Parthenon) in 427-424 BC, dedicated to the goddess conqueror. It is decorated with images of ancient Greek gods and scenes of war with the Persians. Inside is a figure of the divine patroness with a helmet in her hand holding a pomegranate, a fruit symbolizing peace.
It was lost during the wars, but you can see the Ionic porticoes with four columns under each and the restored north wall.
The oldest temple on the Acropolis, built in honor of the divine patroness of the city – Hecatompedon (translated from the Greek as one hundred feet). The inside of the structure is 32.8 meters (100 feet) long. It was erected in the 6th century BC. at the site of a royal palace dating back to the 14th century BC. Its pediments depict scenes from ancient Greek mythology.
Theater of Dionysus
Another attraction in Athens is the theater of Dionysus. It can be classified as one of the oldest theatrical structures in the world. The original structure, made of wood, dates from the 5th century B.C. About a hundred years later it was rebuilt and expanded. The stage and seats for the audience were now made of marble. During Roman rule, their appearance was repeatedly modified (including for gladiatorial fights). Currently, the reconstruction of the facility is being completed.
Herodotus Atticus’ Odion
The Herodotus Atticus Odion is a unique place in the capital of Hellas, where thousands of years of history and modern art are harmoniously intertwined. Maria Callas performed on the stage of the ancient theater building, built in 165, and Russian ballet stars toured.
Nowadays the theater is preserved almost unchanged, and you have the opportunity to see and appreciate the beauty of ancient Greek architecture.
Temple in honor of Zeus the Olympic
At 500 meters from the main temple complex is the largest temple of Greece, built in honor of Zeus the Olympic, which was built from 6 to 2 century BC. In the middle of the third century A.D. The majestic building was almost completely destroyed and has never been rebuilt. One corner with 17-meter columns and capitals has been preserved to this day. Two more are separately located and one is fallen.
The Athens Agora is the main square of the Greek capital, which is second only to the unique temple complex in its importance. It hosted secular and social events, sports and intellectual discussions. It was the site of the sanctuaries and altars of the patron gods: Zeus, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, and Apollo, and was the seat of the city government.
Today there are stores and stores, which are adjacent to the monuments of ancient architecture and retain the Greek national character. Tourists enjoy visiting the area, learning about the history of the city in the ancient Greek gallery and buying local souvenirs.
Another market square in the center of Athens was created during Roman rule. She performed a similar function. Here the social and cultural life of the Greek capital concentrated after its destruction in 267. To this day, the fragments of several columns and gates attract thousands of tourists.
Tower of the Winds
Near the square is one of the most interesting sights of the Greek capital, the Tower of the Winds. This 12-meter octagonal structure, not more than 8 meters in diameter, is the first meteorological station. The building is decorated in an allegorical style. Each facet is decorated with an image of the wind in the form of a flying man. The figures symbolize the sides of the world.
The tower was built in the middle of the first century B.C., but even today it remains an outstanding architectural landmark.
Excursions to places of interest in Athens
After admiring the ancient ruins, you want to go out to the people. This is best done in the ancient quarter of Plaka. It is as if it connects the past and the present, as there is still a narrow, winding street that cuts through the neighborhood almost all the way through. Historians claim that she is the same age as the Roman emperors.
The historic quarter holds the charm of antiquity, the cost of real estate is the highest in the city, there are numerous cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, clubs.
According to a strict rule, so as not to distort the appearance of facades, all modern communications are hidden underground.
The structure was intended for the Panathenaic Games, with a frequency of once every four years. Built in the 4th century in the shape of an ellipse, it could easily seat 50,000 spectators. The authorities of the Roman Empire turned the arena into a place for gladiatorial fights. The stadium was rebuilt for the first Olympic Games in 1896.
National Archaeological Museum
Despite the fact that much of the city can be considered an open-air museum, the most valuable finds are kept in the exhibition halls.
The collections feature artifacts from different eras and are divided into sections:
- Neolithic and Bronze Age;
- Cycladic art;
- mycenaean collection;
- statatos collection;
- library of archaeology.
The first museum was opened in 1829, changed sites several times, is now located in the Exarchia area, the number of exhibits reached 20 thousand. Among the values of the collection golden mask of Agamemnon, ancient frescoes of Tira, painted vases and vessels for oil and wine.
Interesting exhibits are on display in Athens’ museums:
- Cycladic art;
- of Greek national art;
- musical folk instruments;
It is close to the Agora and the Plaka neighborhood. Famous for its bazaar, which offers a huge range of goods, from exotic fruits to jewelry. This is where you will certainly find nice little things and souvenirs for all members of the family.
In addition to archaeological creations attracts the attention of the amazing nature. The Likavittos Mountain, which is about 300 meters high, is an interesting addition to the urban ensemble. The rock monolith rises in the middle of the city, and from its top there is an amazingly beautiful view.
Currently on the mountain laid out a park, cut down in the early 19th century, and on top of it is the church of St. George, which was built in the 11-12 centuries. In the summer, open-air performances are given on the slopes of Likavittos.
Field trips from Athens
A one-day boat trip to the three islands of Aegina, Hydra and Poros is very popular with tourists. The program includes local sightseeing, a photo shoot, lunch, and an entertainment program.
Daphnion Monastery, 11 km from the city, is an example of Byzantine architecture. Founded in the 6th century on the site of the sanctuary of Apollo of Daphne.
Holidays with children in Athens
Families with children are more comfortable to stay in special hotels. Greeks are very sensitive to babies and try to create a comfortable environment for them. Develop a children’s menu, held themed parties and entertainment with animators, equipped with children’s playgrounds and mini-zoo.
It is most convenient to combine beach and sightseeing holidays, children are happy to visit the city’s zoo and dolphinarium, with delight ride the water rides and slides of water parks Water Fun, Sofitel Athens Airport, Divani Caravel.
The best time to visit Athens is from May to September, the peak is July-August, and the velvet season starts in mid-September.
Video overview of the sights of Athens
The city with a history of 9,000 years is dynamic and amazing. It beautifully combines evidence of ancient grandeur with modern science and technology. Athens was the cradle of such phenomena as theater, democracy, major literary genres, oratory, law, and democracy.
Excursion programs offer a whole list of things to see in Athens. The top five are ancient temples and architectural complexes. Many of them are well preserved, thanks to the careful attitude to the monuments of antiquity. Most of them are on UNESCO heritage lists.