It was a long weekend, and I had no plans. I started browsing the web in the hope that I could find a cheap flight, which would be as near as miracle during the “high season”. To my surprise, the cheapest flight was to Athens. As it turned out, my journey didn’t end in the capital of Greece. The airport in Athens is connected convinently with many Greek Islands. My choice was Corfu, find out more about this green island here. Even though the trip to Athens wasn’t planned, I’d been thinking about it for a long time before. I wanted to confront the negative views of the Acropolis with reality, visit the famous Agora admire views of the city from the peaks of the surrounding hills.
What is it worth seeing in Athens?
The High City
Athens are famous mainly of Acropolis, the main tourist attraction. Acropolis is located on a 150- meter hill and its name derives from the words ” Acro “, which means high and ” polis” meaning the city. Acropolis is a sacred hill, the place of worship of ancient Greek Gods.
The most important point of the Acropolis is the famous Parthenon – an ancient temple dedicated to the patron of Athens – goddess Athena. In fact, in the pictures, this building seems much bigger than it’s in reality, while its simplicity and symmetry makes an amazing impression.
It’s made of white marble and surrounded by 46 columns. In ancient times, inside was 12-meter statue of the Athena Polias (Athena of the City), fully made of gold, one of the Ancient Wonders of the world. In 426 it was taken to Constantinople where it disappeared. Besides that, Parthenon had a pretty rough history. It served as barracks, ammunition depot, church, and it was even converted into mosque in the times of the Ottoman rule. It would seem that a tour to the Acropolis is limited to Parthenon. However, on site there’re other ancient monuments like: ancient theatre – Erechtheion, the Theatre of Dionysus and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Every year, the Acropolis is visited by millions of tourists. In order to avoid the crowds, it’s better to visit it early in the morning and wear anti-skidding footwear, as the rocks are polished by the crowds. Normal ticket costs 20€ (reduced ticket – 10 €). In offer is also a 5-day combined ticket which costs30 € and includes the most important archaeological sites and museums. More information you can find here.
An interesting view of the Acropolis you can admire from the Areopagus Hill from which you can also see the famous Agora.
On the ancient Agora
Agora used to be a marketplace and the center of political and social life of ancient Athens. This is where Socrates developed his philosophy. Saint Paul came here to convert the Athenians to Christianity. Here you can see the well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus, the market hall, Agora Museum and the Church of the Holy Apostles. Admission to Agora is free with Acropilis Pass or costs 4 € .
The atmosphere of old Athens can be felt in the district Plaka located under the Acropolis. There are many climatic taverns and cafés.
The most beautiful view of Athens is from the highest hill in Athens – Likavitos Hill – in translation Wolves’ Hill. At a height of more than 200 m, you can see the Acropolis, the characteristic Panathenaic Stadium, and even the coast with the port of Piraeus.
In addition to enjoying great views, you can visit Agios Georgios Chapel and cool off at the nearby restaurant. Getting to the top is easy, jump on the funicular (return ticket costs 7€).
At the flea market
The famous flea market is located in the Monastiraki area and you can see there also numerous works of street-art in the surrounding streets.
You can also visit Central Market, where you can buy local products, vegetables, fruit and excellent olives.
There is a secret tavern – Diporto in the back of the bazaar, a favorite place of local residents. You can recognise it by inconspicuous door on the corner of the building and a steep staircase to the basement. Inside you’ll find huge barrels of homemade, delicious wine. The menu is limited to just a few dishes, which are the specialty of the tavern, like: revythia – chickpeas soup, grilled sardines, Greek salad and home made bread.
An amazing impression is made by Panathenaic stadium which was built for the Olympics in 1896. It’s a reconstruction of an ancient stadium made entirely of the white marble.
The centre of Athens is located on the Syntagma Square near the Greek Parliament. At the front of the Parliament’s building, there’s a Tomb of an Unknown Soldier. Every day at a full hour, you can see an interesting “spectacle” – a guard change. The tomb of an Unknown Soldier is guarded by soldiers of an elite – Evzones, dressed in a traditional outfit, typical of mountain warriors in the war of independence.