Greece is a much loved and demanded destination by tourism, of course, since it offers endless faces to meet. Full of history for civilizations that had their origins and development there, centuries of history and architecture, natural beauty, and gastronomy. A country that offers us everything and for all tastes.
Giving us a tour of its culture, we invite you to get to know part of it by visiting Athens (Αθήνα in Greek), the capital of Greece. Cradle of ancient civilization and democracy, Athens is a huge metropolis where you can find ancient ruins at every corner. It owes its name to Athena, a protective goddess born from the head of Zeus, whose history is confused with Greece itself. In addition, it is the main center of Greek economic, cultural, and political life.
To shape our tour, we can divide into several points to visit, since the city has many museums that are dedicated to archaeological remains, ancient art, Byzantine, Ottoman and Renaissance times to the present, there are so many that we could dedicate several days to it. just to visit them; however, if the time available requires you to make a choice, the obligatory stop is the very rich National Archaeological Museum, the world’s largest collection of finds from ancient Greece. From the Neolithic to the Cycladic, Classical and Mycenaean periods, housed in a grandiose Neoclassical building. You also have many Byzantine temples, ancient neighborhoods that are worth visiting which is the part of ancient Greece that we will focus on now.
We begin our tour with the Panathenaic Stadium, also known as “Kallimarmaron”, it could be defined as the “temple of the Olympic Games and sports”. Nestled between two hills surrounded by greenery, this gigantic Pentelic marble stadium, capable of holding up to 70,000 spectators, was built in the 4th century BC. as the venue for the Panathenaic Games, Millennia later, the stadium became the historic site of the first Olympic Games of the modern era.
Temple of Zeus
We continue very close with the Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the “Olympeion”, it is the largest Corinthian temple in the entire Peloponnese. In Hellenistic and Roman times, it was the largest temple in Greece, dating from the 6th century BC.
Located about 500 meters southeast of the Acropolis of Athens and about 700 meters from the center of Athens (Syntagma Square), it is reached through a typical Greek neighborhood. From this historical place you can see the Acropolis, and it is very close to Hadrian’s arch.
To the northwest left of the Temple of Zeus is Hadrian’s Gate. Built by the Romans, the impressive 18-meter-high arch separates the ancient Greek city, also known as the “City of Theseus”, from the new urban structure conceived by Hadrian and erected as a memorial to the emperor, built in 132 AD.
Leaving Hadrian’s Gate we will find the Acropolis of Athens to the south, facing the Parthenon. In fact, part of the magic of this wonderful museum is the game of perspectives and direct proportions with the view of the Acropolis. The main entrance is located on the Dionissiou Areopagitou pedestrian avenue, next to the Akropoli metro.
It is one of the most advisable places to visit during your stay in the city of Athens, a modern building of contemporary architecture with a concrete and glass structure that provides an unusual transparency towards the outside of the building. Its proportions are based on those of the Parthenon temple, and it is oriented towards it in such a way that from the main rooms to get a real view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
The Acropolis of Athens
The jewel of Athens and all of Greece, it constitutes one of the most important archaeological complexes of the city, the watchword of Athens in particular. The meaning of the word “akropoli” is city on high; It is located 156 meters above sea level. Conceived as a fortified enclosure and as a place of worship, the Acropolis houses some of the most representative buildings of ancient Greece and dates from the 5th century BC. in the time of Pericles, when the city-state of Athens established democracy as a form of government.
Next, we continue with other emblematic sites or monuments that you undoubtedly have to take a look at while in the Acropolis:
Parthenon. One of the world’s most iconic monuments, consistently at the top of must-see tourist attraction lists, the majestic Parthenon has dominated the city of Athens for thousands of years, Built in 432 B.C. It is the largest Doric temple ever completed, dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos, it is recognized by all as a symbol of the glory of ancient Greece and Athenian democracy: a true architectural masterpiece, an example of perfection that has withstood earthquakes and armed confrontations for millennia.
The Greek theater of Dionysus. Nestled on the southern slope of the Acropolis, the Theater of Dionysus was the scene of the representation of the works of the great Greek authors of antiquity, built in the 6th century BC. Very close to the theater was the Sanctuary of Asclepius, God of Medicine in Greek mythology; likewise, there was a cave consecrated to Artemis, she was the virgin deity of wild Nature. During Christianity, the cave was transformed into a Byzantine chapel, called Panagia Spiliotissa (The Virgin of the Cave), which still presents a primitive and genuine appearance today.
Herodion, Odeon of Herod Atticus. It is the most sublime of the ancient Greek theaters that are currently preserved in Athens. The works for its construction began in the year 161. Under the tutelage of Herod Atticus, pro-Roman Greek orator and politician, in honor of his deceased wife, it had a capacity to accommodate approximately five thousand spectators. It is located on the southern slope of the Acropolis, as if it sprung from the bowels of the rock.
The Temple of Athena Nike. Also known as Victorious Athena. It was erected as a commemorative monument of the victory of the Athenians in the naval battle of Salamis (448 BC), belonging to the Greco-Persian Wars during the 5th century BC. where Persians faced a large number of city-states of Greece, commanded by Sparta and Athens.
Propylaea from the Acropolis. The most spectacular threshold of all those that precede an architectural complex of Antiquity. This monumental entrance takes us back to the 5th century BC. More specifically to the years between 437 B.C. and 431 B.C. It served as a fortress, archiepiscopal residence, palace during the occupation of the Franks and even as an arsenal for the Turks, suffering the explosion of the powder magazine.
Erechtheion of the Acropolis. The beautiful building, carved in Pentelic marble, built between 421 and 406 B.C. Dedicated to the Gods Athena and Poseidon. Of the three porticoes that open the entrance to the enclosure, the one on the south side stands out, where the Caryatids, statues in the shape of a woman that served as columns (these are replicas, the originals are in the Acropolis Museum).
The Roman Agora
Located between Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhood and always under the Acropolis of Athens, the Roman Agora. It began to see the light between the years 19 and 11 B.C. Under the mandate of Emperor Augustus and Hadrian, they would give a new impetus to the place, expanding its dimensions and providing it with new infrastructures, as well as a series of monuments and buildings with which the forum would reach its maximum splendor.
In the Roman Agora we can also find:
- Tower of the winds, with an octagonal plan, it was a multifunctional water clock, since it also served as a weathervane. Each of the eight walls represents a direction of the wind, which was indicated by the weathervane according to the will of Aeolus, the Greek god who stirred the air. It was built in the 1st century B.C.
- Athena Arquegueti Gate. One of the most photogenic monuments in Athens. Built in 11 B.C. through the patronage of Augusto and Julio Cesar. The gate consists of four columns of imposing size made of the best marble from Mount Pendelis in Athens. It should not be forgotten that the goddess Athena was the protector of the ancient city of Athens.
- Library of Hadrian. Part of the legacy that the Roman emperor Hadrian left in his wake, it was built as a multifunctional building in the year 132. Inside it was a considerable collection of books from the emperor’s collection, in addition, it served as a reading room and as a meeting place.
The Ancient Agora
The Agora was the sociopolitical heart of ancient Athens, as well as the main business center. Agora means market, the commercial activity was bustling flooding the “Panathenaic Way” main entrance and commercial artery that crossed the enclosure from the Acropolis to the Kerameikos and you must walk in your view. Here the notables of the city met, who decided on the laws that should govern the future of society, as well as any other decision that directly affected the political life of citizens. Made up of numerous public buildings, among which the Agora Mint, the Bouleuthereion or Council House, the Tholos (Council headquarters) and the prison where the philosopher Socrates was tried and executed in the year 399 B.C. The temple of Theseus, which gives its name to the Thissio neighborhood, is currently known as Hefesteion or Temple of Hephaestus.
Visit the Museum of the Agora of Athens that is located in the Stoa or Portico of Attalus, since it is undoubtedly quite a surprise for those who appreciate history and archeology. Also, be sure to visit the beautiful Byzantine church of Agii Apostoli, inside the Agora archaeological site, a jewel of Byzantine art.
As you can see Athens has a large treasure to deliver to humanity and we at EVB put it into your hands, visit us and make your reservations and leave space for you to later jump to one of the most coveted Greek islands by tourists: Santorini, to enjoy the villages, beaches and gastronomy.