A prominent city-state of the ancient world, Athens fell in decline in the Middle-ages and the Ottoman period. However, after the War of Independence, it rose again as the capital of the modern Greek State.
Today, Athens is a densely populated metropolis, lively and exciting, day and night. Full of historic and cultural sites, it’s a great destination for fun-loving tourists and cultured travelers alike.
And though its sheer vastness can discourage first-time visitors, there are many different ways to enjoy the Greek capital’s beauty and diversity.
The Acropolis and the rest
Every city has places a traveler absolutely has to visit. In Athens, it’s the Parthenon, the National Archaeological and the Acropolis Museums, and every point of interest within the historic center. The Temples of Zeus and Hephaestus, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Ancient Agora, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and many more.
Also Plaka and Monastiraki, the scenic areas around the Acropolis. Plaka is the oldest neighborhood of Athens and home to many small museums, churches, and monuments. Monastiraki is the old flea market, centered around a church, a mosque, and a Roman library, proud remnants of the city’s rich heritage.
Athens through the ages
There’s more to the Greek capital than its ancient ruins, though. As the visitor walks around the narrow streets of Plaka, they find themselves hopping across historical periods. Their marks are evident everywhere, on the landmarks, the artifacts, and, most of all, the architecture.
In and around the city’s historic center, buildings paint a vivid picture of how Athens regained its glory. For instance, magnificent architectural works like Hansen’s Athenian Trilogy, the Zappeion Hall, and the Greek Parliament.
Others spotlight different aspects of the greater history of Greece. For example, the Prosfygika Housing Complex, the Old Gasworks, the School of Architecture, the Pallis Manor, and the First Cemetery.
Off the historic center
But skipping the essentials can be equally fascinating. On the West, there’s Plato’s Academy and the beautiful Botanical Garden. Down South, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is the city’s latest gem.
Southwest, in Piraeus, visitors can enjoy the picturesque ports, the historical sites, and the excellent seafood. To the Southeast, they can follow the endless Athens Riviera to Cape Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon.
Up North, there’s Kifissia, the city’s posh lively suburb, full of old-time villas and manors, homes of significant historical figures. On the Northwest, lies the vast Tatoi estate that surrounds the old summer palace and the royal tombs.
Not unexpectedly, Athens has a lot more to offer travelers than the Acropolis and Syntagma Square. All it takes is an open mind and a less conventional approach to sightseeing.
So, are you up for it?