Tourist Places To Visit In Athens
Home to one of the world’s oldest civilisation, Athens is a city that has stood the test of time over 2 millennia and probably more. From the likes of Socrates and Pericles to the rule of Romans, Christians and later Ottomans, Athens has seen the rise and fall of many a dynasties. The city is today the beacon of untarnished history and monuments that speak of humankind’s grandeur - from the Acropolis to the Parthenon, to the Temple of Olympian. For travellers, Athens is a one-stop destination to know all things Greece, and here are some of the must-visit tourist places in the city of Athens.
Athens is renowned world over for the Acropolis. Acropolis is not the same as the Parthenon, as most tourists like to believe. Acropolis is the hill in the centre of the city that hosts three main temple ruins, including, of course, the Parthenon. Acropolis literally translates to ‘top of the city’ and has three temples at the top - the Parthenon, the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike. The rocky nature of the hill makes for a great hike up and once there, you are lost in the structures that date back to 300 and 400 BC. Also famous on Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum, located in the foothills, containing some ancient artefacts and collections from the temples.
National Archaeology Museum
National Archaeology Museum of Athens was founded way back in 1800s and has since served the purpose of preserving the history of Greek civilisation. It has some of the most impressive neo-classical columns and beams holding it aloft and is the largest antiquities museum in Greece. There are more than eleven thousand exhibits here and each set among the eleven thousand is from a classical era. You will find each of Greece’s turning points displayed here, the Neolithic age, the Cycladic era as well as the Mycenaean era. History buffs, this one is a keeper on your list.
Another museum in the galore that Athens offers, the Byzantine Museum, as its name suggests, displays the history of Greece through the Byzantine era. The museum is made in a converted 19th century palace and houses art, sculptures and artefacts from the Byzantine Empire, the one that rose after the fall of Roman Empire. You will find that art from that era is mostly orthodox Christian and has a close rapport with religion. Mosaics, detailed icons, miniatures and Christian pieces were highly valued.
Agora or the marketplace of the ancient Athens was the centre of the town and a trading place for Athenians in the olden days. The north wall of the Acropolis gives you the best view of the ruins of this marketplace. You can enter the Agora ruins from Adrianoú Street and enjoy touring the various nooks and crannies where public events were once held, stalls were opened, announcements made.
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Greeks have been orthodox Christians in the recent eras and it is hence no surprise where that belief comes from. Athens was a centre of religious upliftment in the area, as signified by the Church of the Holy Apostles which dates back to the 10th Century. It is the only monument standing tall in its entirety in Athens after all these years. It is endowed with a natural spring and the classic Byzantine architecture, with the four columns and conches giving the church a unique feel. The frescoes in the dome inside show Christ Pantocrator, Joh the Baptist and archangels. The church is located in the Agora part of Athens.
The temple of Olympian Zeus was once upon a time the largest temple in all of Greece. Today it is a partly ruined monument of Greek myth, religion as well as history. Temple of Olympian Zeus is as old as the 6th Century BC and was interestingly completed only by 2nd Century AD by Emperor Hadrian. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Zeus and is supported by a hundred strong columns. While visiting, do make sure to check out the ruins of Themistokles close by, along with the Roman baths.
Panathenaic Stadium & Olympic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium, with a capacity for sixty thousand, was Greece’s biggest stadium and was built way back in 335 BC. The famous Panathenaic Games were hosted here where runners had tracks to race. Later, a replica was built to host the Olympic Games in the year 1896 and that is what the tourists majorly see today. Head up to the Ardettos Hill to check out this beautiful stadium, still echoing with adrenaline and spirit.
When you are done visiting the history, myth, religion and architecture in Athens, come and relax in this cultural extravaganza that is the Plaka neighbourhood. Located in the foothills of Acroppolis hill, the Plaka quarters have cute white-washed houses and long steps cut into rock, quaint cafes with live Greek music and bougainvillea creeping walls and shops. There is a marked village ambiance in the area and it takes you away from the urbane vibe of Athens. Take your time strolling through the small streets, eat fresh salads and pastries at cafes or a taverna, drink some crisp wine or Greek coffee and feel alive like you never have before.