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
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
. 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 €.
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
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.
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
. 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
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
(Acropolis site and museum, Ancient Agora, Theatre of
Kerameikos, Olympieion, Roman Agora).
- 2103214172 - 2103210219 - 2109238724
Days of free
admission for all visitors
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
April 18th (International
May 18th (International Museums
June 5th (International Environment
Holy Spirit Day in June
August 15th: Religious day
The last weekend of September
every year (European Heritage Days)
October 28th (National holiday)
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.
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.
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.
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
||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.
Come to the heart of the city, to the neighborhood of the
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.
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
Athens an open
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.
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
During the large-scale excavations carried out with state-of- the-art
instruments for the long awaited Athens Metro
( Web Site:
), 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
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.
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
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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