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Top Attractions

Top Attractions of Athens

The centre of Greek civilisation, Athens is a city of classical beauty. Athens houses archaeological sites, iconic landmarks and historic monuments which are breath-taking attractions. It preserves the remains of ancient Greece and carries an account of Classical Period. The 3,000 year old history of Athens is rich and vibrant. The city glorified by Plato and Socrates, two of the world’s greatest philosophers, Athens itself is a museum. Full of ancient temples and buildings of tourist interest, Athens the capital of Greece, overwhelms the visitors with the embodiments of Greek myth. Here are the top attractions of the Greek capital city:

The Acropolis

The AcropolisPreserving the classical antiquity of Greece is the Acropolis, an iconic landmark of historical significance in Athens. Since the Neolithic period in 650 B.C. the Acropolis has been a religious complex of beautiful temples including the Parthenon, the Temple of Nike and the Erechtheion. Perched on the Acropolis Hill (Sacred Rock), this citadel of Athens was a dedicated place of worship to Athena the goddess of knowledge, during the Classical period. Supposed to be the foundation of the Greek Civilisation, the Acropolis stores the ruins of classical Greece dating back to the fourth century BC. Built by Pericles, the Parthenon is the finest surviving edifice of Doric architecture which was flourished in the classical Greece. Another wonder in ruins is the Erechtheion. Exhibiting an awesome collection of sculptures and artefacts reflective of the ancient Greece is the Acropolis Museum, one the biggest drawcards of Athens.

The Parthenon

The ParthenonThe paragon of Doric architecture in Greece. The Parthenon is the largest Greek monument in ruins, braving the odds of time. One of the most photographed highlights of the Acropolis the historical site in Athens, the Parthenon is an outstanding memento of religious life of the ancient Greek. Pericles, with the help of Pheidias a local sculptor, erected this awe-inspiring temple in Doric style as a memorial of his victory over the Persians in 500BC. The Parthenon, dedicated to the worship of Athena the Greek goddess of knowledge, features rare sculptures from the Classical Period.

The Agora

The AgoraThe centre of social, civic, commercial, administrative and political activities in Athens during the Classical Period of Greece. The remains and ruins of the Agora are clustered just below the Acropolis. The hub of philosophical discussions during the days of Socrates and Plato, the Agora was the city’s bustling marketplace from 600 BC to 600 AD. This archaeological site of classical Greek heritage is littered with the remains of several ancient statues and buildings. The Temple of Thission or Hephaistos dating back to 500BC is the well-preserved architecture. With the Eleutheriosm, the Stoa of Zeus, the Temple of Apollo, the Eleutherios, the Patroos and the Monument of Eponymous Heroes, the Odeon of Agrippa and the Tholos in the Agora, there is a lot to see and learn. The Agora boasts a museum where there are numerous archaeological finds from the 5,000 year old Athenian history on a display.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian ZeusThe millennial old architectural ruins in Athens. Formerly the glorious and grandiose Greek architecture, the Temple of Olympian Zeus speaks of the Classical Period. Once grander than the Parthenon itself, this landmark of Athens is a must visit in the checklist of tourist attractions. The temple housed an altar for an ivory gold statue of Zeus the most furious of all Greek deities. Constructed in 515 BC, it was destroyed in the fourth century AD. The perimeter of the temple included as many as 104 Corinthian columns made of Pentelic marble. Each column is 17 metres in height. A few of the columns are standing tall still, bearing a testimony to the vastness of the sanctuary and the history of Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD.

National Archeological Museum

National Archeological MuseumHome to sculptural and architectural specimens of the Athenian heritage and history. The magnificent neoclassic building of the National Archeological Museum in Athens dates back to 1889. one of the largest and most popular museums in the world, it houses the tall Kouros statues, the Cycladic idols and many other classical sculptures of aesthetic beauty. The gold mask of Agamemnon of 3,600 years is the most eye-catching of the exhibits. The museum has a particular section dedicated to the exhibition of artefacts, jewellery, pottery, utensils and weapons from the ancient Egypt. In the vast collection of the museum are the treasures excavated from Mycenae, the 4,000 year old Greek figurines and the frescoes from Santorini’s volcanic island. The classical beauty of Greece and the history of Athens remain unknown without a visit to the National Archaeological Museum.

Syntagma Square

Syntagma SquareThe thriving heart of contemporary Athens housing the gigantic parliament building. Syntagma Square is an open space accommodating some of the most renowned of Athens’ luxury hotels. The square is the main hub of public transportation with easy access to the city’s major attractions and upscale shopping centres. Syntagma Square looks most beautiful during holiday events. Built as a royal palace during the regime of King Otto in 1840, the Parliament is a mammoth edifice in the square. Syntagma Square also houses the Benaki Museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Museum of Cycladi Art. Tourists flock to the square and gather there to photograph the changing of the guard in front of the parliament building. It is a great photographic ceremony.

Lykavittos Hill

Lykavittos HillIf Syntagma Square is the place to see how life goes on at a fast pace in Athens, Lykavittos Hill is an escape from the madding crowd in the Greek capital city. The highest point in the centre of Athens, Lykavittos Hill offers panoramic views of the entire city. Climbing the peak takes an hour. From the height at an altitude of 295 metres, it is a pleasure to photograph the city’s significant landmarks like the Olympic Stadium and the Acropolis. A pedestrian path from the hill, lined with trees, leads to the Mediterranean coast. The visitors are entertained with a concert or performance at an open air theatre on the hilltop in the months of summer. The white chapel of St George, a visit for pilgrims on religious holidays, is another attraction of the Hill. The area around Lykavittos Hill houses a restaurant and a cafe for momentary refreshment of the visitors. From Lykavittos Hill, the scenic view of the city during sunset is mesmerising. This landmark of Athens is easily accessible by cable car from Ploutarchou and Aristippou streets in Kolonaki.

The Benaki Museum

The Benaki MuseumA museum of Athens where the Greek history of 8,000 years seems to be alive. Built in 1930, the Benaki Museum houses an amazing collectio of artefacts from the prehistorica era to the modern period of Greece. Occasional exhibitions and workshops make the museum a visit round the year. The collection is rich in Paleolithic and Neolithic relics from the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. Rare manuscripts, historic weapons, prehistoric paintings and Byzantine coins are on a display. The Childhood and Toy Department storing fifteen thousand historic games from across the globe, the Chinese Art Department exhibiting 4,000 year old ceramics and the Coptic Art Department displaying rare Egyptian textiles are the visitworthy sections of Benaki Museum, located at 1 Koumbari Street & Vas in Sofias Avenue. The visitors can take in breaths of relaxation on the terrace garden where there is a restaurant offering bites of culinary refreshment.

The National Garden

The National GardenNext to a visit to the archaeological sites and architectural landmarks of Athens is an escape to the greenery of the National Garden. The place to be in the swing of nature far from the hustle and bustle of the city. Designed in the 19th century style of garden landscaping, the garden is Queen Amalia’s brainchild. It was once a place for recreation for the royal family. The National Garden has a zoo, a botanical museum, a playground and small lakes. Mesmerising is the sight of geese and swans floating on the crystal clear water of lakes, surrounded by lush and lavish green. A peaceful walk on strolling paths through the green is what draws visitors to the National Garden in the vicinity of Syntagma Square.

The Byzantine Museum

The Byzantine MuseumThe place to read the history and see the glory of Byzantine art from the 4th century to the 19th century. Housed in a Florentine-style building, the museum offers rare glimpses of the Byzantine as well as post-Byzantine sculpture, paintings, manuscripts, mosaics, lithographs, woodcarvings, coins, bronze engravings and prints. Founded at the Academy of Athens in 1914, the museum was transferred, in 1930, to Llissia Manson, the Duchess of Piacenza’s winter residence. Artefacts and ornaments from different parts of the Byzantine Empire like Asia Minor, Coptic Egypt, Easter Trace, Black Sea and Donubian Principalities. The largest part of the collection in the museum consists of 4,000 artefacts, of which the most stunning are oil lamps decorated with the Roman scenes, from Asia Minor, Attica, North Africa and Corinth. The museum hosts special workshops and educational programmes to familiarise schoolchildren with the art and history of the Byzantine era.

Athens Overview