Tours in Greece
 

 

ATHENS GUIDE " THE CITY OF THE GODDESS ATHENA"

Photos by Nikolaos

The Unification of Archaeological Sites - probably one of the most ambitious plans of urban transformation ever conceived - is now well under way in Athens, the densely populated historic capital of Greece. The plan ...has been set up to undertake the creation of a large open museum, a project of crucial importance for the capital is aesthetic appearance and cultural role, a project which shall unify the rich heritage of the past and the city's everyday life.

It is a particularly ambitious and long-term project, the first phase of which shall nevertheless be completed before the landmark year 2004, the final aim being the possibility of an uninterrupted walk in space and historic time from the city's birth to the present day . So says Yiannis Kalantidis, the president-CEO of the Unification of Archaeological Sites of Athens SA, a company created by the Ministry of Environment, Regional Planning and Public Works, and the Ministry of Culture, and partly financed by the European Community. Although ideas for a vast archaeological park were proposed by visionary designers more than forty years ago, it was around the mid-1970s that most people realized that the modern city had been built hastily from the 1950s to almost the present time - over the remains of ancient Athens. The need to create homes and businesses for a fast growing population was then much more important than the preservation and showcasing of the city s glorious history. The Acropolis, Thission and the other important archaeological sites were suffocating, as very busy streets, on which endless lines of private cars and buses passed by, often in bumper-to-bumper traffic, surrounded them. Traffic jams are the norm and in an attempt to reduce the traffic, and the pollution created through this traffic, the government has instigated a law stating that you may use your car only on alternate days. Parking is a nightmare. Some walking through the center of the city is necessary in order to see some monuments and sights. The sights shown below are all with in walking distance.

The Parliament

Plaka-Monastiraki

Athens an open museum

Athens Metro

ACROPOLIS. The holy rock of Athens. The citadel and the sanctuary of the city in antiquity. Tel. 32.14.172. , 32.36. 665 . , 92.38.724. Open Daily 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. for Summer and 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. for winter. Closed on Holidays : January 1st. March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Taking Pictures : The use of cameras and video cameras is allowed. A special permit is required for the use of a tripod. Entrance fee 12 Euro (with the same ticket -valid for three days- you can visit other sites also, Keramikos, Ancient Agora, Temple of Zeus). Free for children under 6. and students from other countries, holders of the International Student Card (ISIC).  Akropolis

ANCIENT AGORA. The Ancient Agora Museum was founded in 1957, after the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos by the American School of Classical Studies(1953-56). The Stoa was originally built by Attalos II, king of Pergamon (159-138 BC.), as a token of his gratitude to the city of Athens. The Museum display consists of finds from the excavations of the ancient Agora. Adriannou str. 24 - Thission. Tel 32.10.185. Open daily 8:30 a.m. - 2:45 p.m.. Monday closed. Entrance fee 4 Euro. Co to Top

SOUTHERN SIDE OF THE ACROPOLIS. Sanctuary of Dionyssos, where one can see the most ancient theater of Greece. Tel. 32.24.625. Open daily 8:00 a.m. - 2:30p.m. Entrance fee 2 Euro.

  • KERAMIKOS CEMETERY AND DIPILO. The Kerameikos, the largest Cemetery of ancient Athens, was situated outside the city wall. From the 6c BC. the graves were marked with gravestones and statues which were most flamboyant in the age of Pericles. Iera Pili ke Dipilo  The Sacred Gate was built at the same time as Themistocles' wall (5c BC.) and marks the beginning of the Sacred Way to Eleusis . The Dipylon, which dates from the same period, was a double gate with a square tower at each corner and the main entrance to Athens. Hermes Str. 148. Tel. 34.63.552. Open daily 8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Closed on Monday. Entrance fee 2 Euro.

  • TEMPLE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS. (Olympieion) An impressive temple dedicated to the father of the Gods -Zeus . The biggest Temple of antiquity. 

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As early as the 6c BC. the Peisistratids had chosen this site for a colossal temple, but the work was interrupted when they fell from power and not resumed until the 2c BC. but construction was again halted some time later. The temple was not completed until AD 132 under Emperor Hadrian who also erected a colossal statue of Zeus. Of the 84 original marble columns only 15 remain.  Vas. Olgas Str. 1 Tel. 92.26.630. Open daily 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Entrance fee 2 Euro.
  • ROMAN  AGORA . The Agora, which extends over the north-west slopes of the Acropolis, was the heart of ancient Athens from the late 6th c. BC onwards. At the Mycenaean and Geometric periods, the site was used as a cemetery before it became an agora, a place for political gatherings and debate, for elections, religious occasions and trading activities, theatrical performances and athletic competitions. Open daily 8:30 a.m.  3:00 p.m. Closed on Monday. Entrance fee 4 . Co to Top

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  • ARIOS PAGOS / MARS HILL .The oldest court of ancient Athens. The place where the gospel was first preached in Athens by the Apostle of the Nations, St. Paul. Entrance free.

  • PHILOPAPPOS HILL . A beautiful hill opposite the Acropolis with the nicest view of the Parthenon (The temple of the Goddess Athena / Do not miss it ). The grave monument of Philoppapos decorates the top of the hill. Entrance free.

  • PNYX HILL. During much of the fifth century, Pnyx Hill was used as the meeting place of the ekklesia, or Athenian Assembly. Located about a quarter mile (500m) southwest of the Agora, the slope of the Pnyx was used as a natural theater. At the base of this semi-circular terrace, a speaker's platform (or bema) was set up facing the sea, and seats for approximately 6,000 citizens were placed in front of the platform, facing in towards the Agora. A retaining wall was set up to support the pnyx on the north face; the meeting area could be reached by two stairways, each 3.9 meters in width.  It was at the Pnyx that famous speakers such as Demosthenes, Aristides, Themistocles, and Pericles addressed the assembly, and is considered one of the birthplaces of democracy.

  • PANATHINAIKON STADIUM . The stadium stands on the site of the ancient stadium laid out under Lycurgus in the 4c BC. and rebuilt by Herod Atticus in AD. 144. It fell into ruin and was turned into a wheat field. In 1896 it was rebuilt on its original plan for the modern Olympic Games. From the top of the white marble terraces which can accommodate 70.000 spectators, there is a view of the National Garden and the Acropolis. Entrance free.

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ADRIAN'S GATE . An impressive Roman monument of the city. It was built in 131 AD. with Pentelic marble to honour the Roman Emperor Adrian. It marked the border between the old city and the new city of Athens. Free entrance.

Opening Hours for Archaeological Sites, Museums and Monuments

October 15th - March 31st: Daily: 08.00-15.00
April 1st - October14th: Daily: 08.00 - 19.30

Holidays closed: December 25th to 26th, January 1st, March 25th, Good Friday (until 12.00), Easter Sunday, May 1st

The ticket ( 12 euro /per person) is valid for the Archaeological Sites of Athens
(Acropolis site and museum, Ancient Agora, Theatre of Dionysos
Kerameikos, Olympieion, Roman Agora).

Telephone: +30 - 2103214172  - 2103210219 - 2109238724

Days of free admission for all visitors

    Sundays in the period between November 1st and March 31st
    The first Sunday of every month, except for July, August and September
    when the first Sunday is holiday, then the second is the free
    January 6th (Epiphany)

    Shrove Monday in March
    March 6th (in memory of Melina Merkoure)
    April 18th (International Monuments Day)
    Easter Monday
    May 18th (International Museums Day)
    June 5th (International Environment Day)
    Holy Spirit Day in June
    August 15th: Religious day
    The last weekend of September every year (European Heritage Days)
    October 28th (National holiday)

THE GREEK PARLIAMENT. The plain, neoclassical building which is the Parliament of the Greeks today, was built between 1834-1838 as the palace of the first kings. In front is the monument of the Unknown Soldier, with the two guards, called Evzoni. who are the presidential guards. Every Sunday there is a parade and a band playing the National Anthem at 10:45 a.m.

SYNTAGMA SQUARE. Here beats the heart of the modern city. The Parliament at the east of the square reminds us the deviation of its name. In 1843, the Greeks, received their first constitution from King Otho, after numerous and persistent demonstrations. NATIONAL GARDEN. The green lung in the center of the city. Beautiful and rare flowers, trees and bushes as well as little ponds decorate the garden, which is open all day long. PANEPISTIMIOU STREET (EL. VENIZELOU). El. Venizelou street, which is known as Panepistimiou street, is one of the central roads of Athens. Beautiful neoclassical buildings decorate it: Iliou Melathron, meaning the palace of Troy. This was the house of Erik Schlieman.

The Academy, the highest spiritual institution of the country with the statues of Socrates and Plato, Athena and Apollo. "The University"," the National Library" with thousands of manuscripts and books," the Bank of Greece" etc. These buildings are typical copies of ancient Greek architecture and will help you to imagine how Athens looked 2500 years ago.

    PLAKA. Come to the heart of the city, to the neighborhood of the Olympic Gods, come to Plaka. 5' walk from Syndagma. At the foot of the Acropolis, there spreads out, the most alive part of the city, an open exhibition of the history of the Athens and a panorama of people, monuments and tastes too. Narrow small roads, numerous taverns, restaurants, coffee shops, small picturesque squares and beautiful interesting corners. Walk through it- get to know it - feel it. Being in Plaka, you cannot but come upon some monument, witness of the past. You cannot but have at every corner an opportunity to do your shopping, to buy something for the ones you love and care about. Plaka is a place of contrasts. It can be vivid and tranquiller, it can be crowdie and quiet, noisy and calm. It all depends on the place you pick up to enjoy a cold glass of beer or ice coffee. After dark Plaka comes alive. The taverns with their cavernous rooms decorated with barrels and their trellis covered terraces are illuminated with multicolored lights: savoring the Greek cuisine with glasses of retsina, listening to the bouzouki  music and the latest singers and dancing the modern sirtaki.

    MONASTIRAKI. This was the centre of the Turkish town with the bazaar and the shops as well as the main mosques and administrative buildings. Now it is popular commercial district incorporating the Athens flea market. Start from Syntagma Square. Go west down Odos Ermou, a busy shopping street lined with boutiques selling feminine apparel, dress materials and ready - to - wear clothes, furs and shoes, leather goods and jewelers. Some columns from the Adrian's library are in site, a mosque which has been turned into a library and a beautiful small church (Kapnikarea built on 11 C) are some of the interesting monuments of this place.

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  • ATHINAS STREET. A central road of Athens connecting Omonia square with Monastiraki. Its here that one can feel the oriental character of the city. The main market of the city, the little shops, with their peculiar merchandises make this busy, noisy street very attractive. Co to Top

The restoration of Plaka, and then Thission, Psyrri and the other old neighborhoods in the centre of Athens started in the early 1990s. A vast network of pedestrian streets, together with financial incentives given to the owners of properties to renovate their homes completely changed the face of these areas. They have now become favorite spots for a quiet stroll during the day or at night. Athenians and tourists alike gather at the multitude of nice, tiny restaurants in Psyrri, or climb up to the northern side of the Acropolis, through the picturesque streets of Plaka, lined with beautifully restored private homes. The so-called historic triangle of Athens, the old commercial part of the city, has also improved dramatically. Ermou, the principal commercial street, as well as many other narrower side streets have been freed from traffic and turned over to pedestrians, giving new life to this lovely part of downtown Athens, which for years had declined progressively. Co to Top

Athens Metro
During the large-scale excavations carried out with state-of- the-art instruments for the long awaited Athens Metro
( Web Site:  http://www.ametro.gr/  ), more incredibly interesting ancient monuments and artifacts have surfaced. The Metro, although only partly finished, has greatly improved the life of Athenian commuters. But besides providing stress-free transportation, it has also created several underground museums at most of the new stations.

At Syntagma, for example, one can admire the stunning cross-section of the ground, illustrating the various eras that once flourished in Athens. There are also cases of ancient objects found during the work on the station. Many people also are drawn particularly to the turn-of-the-century photographs of Syntagma square, which speak louder than words about the changes the capital of Greece has undergone in its most recent past. At the newer Acropolis station, visitors can admire a different permanent exhibit: copies of the Parthenon s eastern frieze, wonderfully depicting goddess Athena's creation, together with many other of the most important Parthenon sculptures that enrich the British Museum of London.
The station pays homage to the late Melina Mercouri, the well-known actress who - as Minister of Culture - had made it her life s goal to get these so-called Elgin Marbles back to Athens. Melina is shown sitting in front of the Parthenon in a large photograph...

It is not only the works of the various ancient creators and craftsmen that adorn the various stations of the Athens Metro. The compositions of modern, well-known Greek artists may also be admired. Yannis Moralis work can be seen at Panepistimiou station, Zongolopoulos flying umbrellas hang at an atrium on the Syntagma stop, Chryssa s creation is at Evangelismos, while at Dafni, Dimitris Mytaras bas-reliefs inspired by the 4th century BC depiction of the fighter Dexileos cover an area 3 x 11 meters and dominate the station. These are just an example of the many important artworks that can be admired at the Metro stops, which have created small underground art museums in various parts of the city, forcing even commuters who would never consider going to an art gallery or museum to get a glimpse of what they have been missing. On the other hand, these new well designed stations make Athenians appreciate their city again, restoring the pride which was almost lost after all they had to endure on their way to work.

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