Athens

Athens is the capital of and the largest city of Greece. As one of the world's oldest cities, its recorded history spans around 3,400 years.

 

Acropolis

The greatest and finest temple of ancient Athens, dedicated primarily to the city’s patron, the goddess Athena, towers over the centre of the modern city, on top of the sacred rock known as the Acropolis. The most celebrated legends of ancient Athens, the greatest religious festivals, the earliest worships and several decisive events in the city’s history are all connected to this sacred place. The monuments of the Acropolis stand in harmony with their natural setting. These unique masterpieces of ancient architecture combine different orders and styles of Classical art in a most innovative manner, and have influenced art and culture for many centuries. The Acropolis of the fifth century BC is the most accurate reflection of the splendor, power and wealth of Athens at its greatest peak, the Golden Age of Pericles.

The hill had started being inhabited as early as the Neolithic Era (4000/3500-3000 BC), while pottery findings from the Early and Middle Bronze Age have been excavated near the Erechtheion. A fortification wall was built around it in the 13th century BC and the citadel became the seat of the local king. This early fortification, known as the Cyclopean wall, has been partially preserved among the later monuments and its history can be traced fairly accurately. The Acropolis gained its sacred status for the first time ever in the 8th century BC, when the worship of Athena Polias was established in the area. Her temple stood at the northeastern side of the hill.

The sanctuary flourished under Peisistratos, during the middle of the 6th century BC, when the Panathinaia, the city’s greatest religious festival, was established and the first monuments of the Acropolis were erected, among them the so-called Old temple and the Hekatompedos, the predecessor of the Parthenon, both dedicated to goddess Athena. The temple of Artemis Brauronia and the first propylon also date back to this period. Numerous opulent votive offerings, such as marble korai and horsemen, as well as bronze and terracotta statuettes, were dedicated to the sanctuary. Several of these bear inscriptions that show the great importance of Athena’s worship in the Archaic Era. After the Athenians defeated the Persians at Marathon, in 490 BC, they began building a very large temple, the so-called Pre-Parthenon. This temple was never finished because the Persians invaded Attica in 480 BC, pillaged the Acropolis and set fire to its monuments. After the enemy retreated, the Athenians buried the surviving sculptures and votive offerings inside natural cavities of the sacred rock, thus forming artificial terraces. The Acropolis was also fortified with two new walls, the wall of Themistokles along the northern side and that of Kimon along the southern side. Several architectural elements of the ruined temples were incorporated in the northern wall and are still visible today from the Ancient Agora and the northern side of the city.

In the mid-5th century BC, when the Acropolis became the seat of the Athenian League and Athens became the greatest cultural centre of its time, Pericles initiated an ambitious construction project, which lasted the entire second half of the 5th century BC. Athenians and foreigners, free and enslaved alike, worked on this project, receiving a salary of one drachma per day. The most important buildings on the Acropolis today - that is, the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike -were erected during this period, under the supervision of the greatest architects, sculptors and artists of the time. The temples on the northern side of the Acropolis housed primarily the earlier Athenian types of worship and those of the Olympian gods, while the southern part of the Acropolis was dedicated to the worship of Athena in her many qualities: as Polias (patron of the city), Parthenos (virgin), Pallas, Promachos (goddess of war), Ergane (goddess of manual labor) and Nike (Victory). After the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC, and until the 1st century BC, no other important buildings were erected on the Acropolis. In 27 BC, a small temple dedicated to Roman emperor Augustus and Rome was built east of the Parthenon. In Roman times, although other Greek sanctuaries were pillaged and damaged, the Acropolis retained its prestige and continued to attract the opulent votive offerings of the faithful. After the invasion of the Herulians in the 3rd century AD, a new fortification wall was built, with two gates on the west side. One of these, the so-called Beule Gate, named after the 19th century French archaeologist who researched it, is preserved to this day.

In subsequent centuries the monuments of the Acropolis suffered damages from both natural causes and human intervention. After the establishment of Christianity, and especially from the 6th century AD onwards, the temples were converted into Christian churches. The Parthenon was dedicated to Parthenos Maria (the Virgin Mary), was later re-named Panagia Athiniotissa (Virgin of Athens) and served as the city’s cathedral in the 11th century. The Erechtheion was dedicated to the Sotiras (Saviour) or the Panagia, the temple of Athena Nike became a chapel and the Propylaia an episcopal residence. The Acropolis became the fortress of the medieval city. Under Frankish occupation (1204-1456), the Propylaia were converted into the residence for the Frankish ruler and during the Ottoman period (1456-1833) into the Turkish garrison headquarters. The Venetians under F. Morozini besieged the Acropolis in 1687 and on 26th September bombarded and destroyed the Parthenon, which then served as an arsenal. Lord Elgin caused further serious damage in 1801-1802, by looting the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion. The Acropolis was handed over to the Greeks in 1822, during the Greek War of Independence, and Odysseas Androutsos became its first Greek garrison commander.After the liberation of Greece, the monuments of the Acropolis came under the auspices of the newly-founded Greek state. Limited excavations took place in 1835 and 1837, while in 1885-1890 the site was systematically excavated under Panagiotis Kavvadias. In the early 20th century, N. Balanos headed the first large-scale restoration project. A Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments was established in 1975, with the aim of planning and undertaking large-scale conservation and restoration work on the Acropolis. The project, undertaken by the Acropolis Restoration Service and the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, is still in progress.

National Observatory

The National Observatory of Athens was built on the Hill of the Nymphs. It was designed by architect Theophilus Hansen and the money was donated by Georgios Sinas. The Observatory was inaugurated on 26th June 1842, the day of the solar eclipse. The architect loved the design so much that he wrote the inscription “Servare Intaminatum” (To remain untouched) on the building. Nowadays, the Institute of Geodynamics is also housed in the same building. The temple of Agia Marina (Saint Marina) is situated northwest of the Observatory, while the ruins of the earlier church, dedicated to the same Saint and dating back to the Dark Ages (8th-9th century AD), are still there today.Traces of the Sanctuary of Zeus were discovered on a panoramic spot close to the Observatory. Moreover, the kylistra or tsouliastra (slide), where the Athenians who had difficulties bearing children came to slide down, was discovered further down the hill.

Marathon

Marathon is an historical area of Attica, which is ideal for tourists. During their visit, they may tour the Marathon Tumulus and the archeological museum, which is dedicated to the Athenians who were killed in 490 BC, during the famous Battle of Marathon. They may also visit the archaeological site of Rhamnous, Marathon Lake and the Marathon Dam, which is located in a luscious green area. A tour of the wider Marathon area is very representative of Attica’s journey through the ages, as it combines historical monuments with natural beauty and elements that have bore witness to the long history of this area of the Greek capital.Marathon is situated on northeastern Attica, some 42 km (26 miles) from the center of Athens. The road runs through orchards, vineyards, olive groves and verdant mountainsides, which enchant all the visitors. Some of Attica’s hidden beauties are exposed in front of the travelers’ eyes. The area boasts magnificent beaches, where visitors can relax, while enjoying the sun and the crystal-clear waters. The most popular beach is Schinias, which was where the Rowing and Canoeing Center for the 2004 Athens Olympics was located. Another unforgettable tour is that of the artificial Marathon Lake, constructed on the confluence of the torrents Charadros and Varnavas. The project was completed very quickly and successfully (between 1925 and 1929). The Marathon Dam is also quite impressive, as it is distinguished for it construction and beauty, since it is encased in Penteli marble, making it unique internationally.As mentioned earlier, the area of Marathon is of historical significance.

It is where the famous Battle of Marathon took place, as described in the writings of the ancient historian Herodotus. The Greeks fought against the Persian army and triumphed due to the intelligence of General Miltiades. Following that victory, a soldier by the name of Pheidippides was sent to Athens to carry the news. He ran all the way and upon arriving in Athens, he collapsed, just before he was quoted as saying Nenikikamen (We won). He is considered the first Marathon runner. The Marathon Tumulus was erected next to the battlefield. It is a monument dedicated to the 192 Athenians who were killed in the battle. While staying in Marathon, it is worth visiting the archaeological site of Rhamnous, which is located nearby. Archaeological findings suggest that the area was inhabited in the Neolithic Era. It was named after ramnos, a type of shrub that grows in the area. In ancient time, Rhamnous was famous for its port and fortress. The ruins of two temples are located at this site. The first was the great temple dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess of divine retribution, which was the most important sanctuary for the specific deity throughout ancient Greece. The other was a small temple dedicated to Thetis, the goddess of Justice. Both temples were constructed in the 5th century BC. In the area, there are also ruins of the ancient theater and the fortress, as well as numerous burial relics. Apart from the sites, though, visitors may also enjoy the magnificent views of the Gulf of Evia and the verdant expanses of the area.

It is also worth visiting the Marathon Archaeological Museum. It is a small museum that hosts significant findings from the neighboring areas, dating back to various historical eras. The most important of those are the Neolithic Era findings from the cave of Pan in Oinoe, the tombstones and the votive inscriptions of the Marathon temples.

The New Acropolis Museum

The monuments of the Acropolis have withstood the ravages of past centuries, both in ancient times and in the Middle Ages. Up until the 17th century, foreign travelers visiting the monuments depicted the classical buildings as being intact. This remained the case until the middle of the same century, when the Propylaia was blown up while being used as a gunpowder store. Thirty years later, the Ottoman occupiers dismantled the neighboring Temple of Athena Nike to use its materials to strengthen the fortification of the Acropolis. The most difficult year, however, for the Acropolis, was 1687, when many of the building’s architectural elements were blown up and fell in heaps around the scared rock of the Acropolis, due to the bombing by the Venetian forces. Foreign visitors to the Acropolis would search through the rubble and take parts of the fallen sculptures as souvenirs. It was in the 19th century that Lord Elgin removed intact architectural sculptures from the frieze, the metopes and the pediments of the Parthenon.In 1833, the Turkish garrison withdrew from the Acropolis. Immediately after the founding of the Greek State, discussions about the construction of an Acropolis Museum on the rock of the Acropolis began. In 1863, it was decided that the Museum be constructed on a site to the southeast of the Parthenon and foundations were laid on 30 December 1865.According to the Museum’s construction the height of the building was not to surpass the height of the Parthenon stylobate. With only 800 square meters of floor space, the building was rapidly proven to be inadequate to house the findings from the large excavations on the Acropolis that began in 1886. A second museum was announced in 1888, the so-called Little Museum. During the years 1946-1947, the second Museum was demolished and the original was sizably extended.By the 1970s, the Museum could not deal satisfactorily with the large numbers of visitors passing through its doors. The inadequacy of the space frequently caused problems and downgraded the aesthetic result that the showcasing of the masterpieces from the Sacred Rock sought to achieve.

The need for a new Acropolis Museum was firstly voiced by Prime Minister Constantinos Karamanlis in September 1976. He also selected the site upon which the Museum was finally built, decades later. With his penetrating vision, Constantinos Karamanlis defined the need and established the means for a new Museum, equipped with all the technical facilities for the conservation of the invaluable Greek artifacts, and where eventually the Parthenon sculptures will be reunited.For these reasons, two architectural tenders were conducted in 1976 and 1979, but without success. In 1989, Melina Mercouri, who as Greek Minister of Culture inextricably identified her policies with the claim for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, initiated an international architectural tender. The results of this tender were annulled following the discovery of a large urban settlement on the Makriyianni site, dating back to Archaic and Early Christian Athens. This discovery now needed to be integrated into the New Museum that was to be built on this site.In the year 2000, the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum announced an invitation to a new tender, which was conducted in accordance with the Directives of the European Union. This tender was the one that bore fruit and the first prize for design was awarded to Bernard Tschumi with Michael Photiadis.Today, the new Acropolis Museum occupies a total area of 25,000 square meters, with exhibition space over 14,000 square meters, ten times more than that of the old museum on the Acropolis hill. The new Museum offers all the proper amenities for an international museum of the 21st century.

Hellenic Parliament

The history of the neoclassical building which today houses the Hellenic Parliament is intertwined with that of the Greek capital. When Athens was chosen as the capital of the newly-founded Greek state, a palace was built on the corner of Amalias and Vassilisis Sofias streets for King Otto of Bavaria. The choice of the location and the construction of the palace were assigned to the architect Gaertner. It was a strategic location, which underlined the absolute power of the King.The neoclassical building, which was also the King’s palace, was designed respecting the archeological heritage of Athens. It is a building with simple architectural lines and decoration. Its main characteristics are the Doric order columns adorning its entrances. It is a massive square building covering an area of 6994 square meters, with four exterior wings – each with three floors, a middle wing with two floors, and two courtyards - the Meridian courtyard and the North courtyard - without any superfluous decorative elements.The palace was made up of a ground floor, two more floors and a basement. The building was designed so as to allow access from all sides. Each entrance served a different purpose. The floors communicated with a number of staircases, which were placed in every wing of the building. Each floor or wing catered to the housing needs of the different operations of the building. The storage areas were in the basement. The Secretariat and the Palace Cashier were housed on the ground floor, along with their auxiliary areas, the palace chapel, the vault and the kitchens. The first floor housed the reception areas and the chambers for the royals. These chambers successively communicated with one another, and were the most luxurious rooms of the building. The chambers of the heirs, the chamberlain and the palace personnel were housed on the second floor. The murals and paintings adorning the walls and ceilings of the building are impressive. The Hellenic Parliament was moved to the Old Palace in 1935. Since then, it has been renovated on numerous occasions so as to accommodate the contemporary needs of the Members of Parliament.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was erected in the forecourt of the Old Palace in 1932. Since then it has been the focal point of national celebrations as well as being one of the most popular attractions of the city. This is mainly due to the particularly impressive Changing of the Guard taking place every hour, which includes a brief ceremony. During this ceremony, the members of the elite Presidential Guard, known as Evzones or Tsoliades, present their guns and entertain the crowds with their special gait. The people who gather to watch take photos with the Evzones, who are dressed in traditional military uniforms, the white fustanella (a kilt-like garment) and tsarouhia (traditional shoes with pompoms).

National Art Gallery

The National Art Gallery/Alexandros Soutzos Museum, the most important institution in Greece devoted to the subject of the history of Greek and Western European art, has been operating in their present form since 1976. However, the actual founding of the institution dates back to 1900, when the relevant decree was issued and George Iakovides (1900-1918) was appointed curator. Nevertheless, since 1834 – in the context of the new social structure of the newly-founded Greek state on the Western European model – the Law on Technological Collections provided for the establishment of a Museum of paintings and engravings in Athens.The Art Gallery gives priority to the showcasing of post-war Greek art. The initial nucleus of paintings, which had already been collected in the early years of the new state, under governor Kapodistrias, was enriched with donations, particularly with western European works of art, which belonged to wealthy Greeks of the Diaspora. A large number of paintings donated by Alexandros Soutzos were added to the 117 works that the museum numbered in 1878. These included paintings by Caravaggio, Andreas Pavias, Stefano Zagarolo, Nicholas Gyzis, Nikiforos Lytras and Konstantinos Volanakis.

Today, the National Gallery has a collection of 9,500 paintings, sculptures and engravings, as well as miniatures and furniture.Apart from the important donations that kept flowing in, including those of George Averof, Aikaterini Rodokanaki, Gregorios Maraslis, Antonis Benakis, Theodoros Rallis, Nikiforos Lytras, the French state (owing to the initiative of the Milliex couple), Yannoulis Halepas, Sofia Partheni, Nikos Chatzikyriakos-Ghika and Giannis Moralis, the collection of the Gallery was also enriched in the times of Zacharias Papantoniou and Marinos Kalligas, wit purchases of significant works of art. These included Domenicos Theotokopoulos’ (El Greco) “The Concert of the Angels”, Lorenzo Veneziano’s “Crucifixion”, the “Virgin” of the 16th century School of Northern Italy, and a rare collection of engravings from the 16th to the 20th century. In 1977, the splendid Evripidis Koutlidis collection was also added to the National Art Gallery, and the two collections, which complement each other, represent an overall view of the 19th-century Greek art.Today, the National Art Gallery also houses a specialized library on the History of Art. It also has a fully-equipped photo workshop, a state-of-the-art conservation-restoration workshop, a wood restoration and carpentry workshop, and a workshop that undertakes the conservation of paper. Finally, the ground floor of the main building includes a gallery with 19th and 20th-century sculptures. Apart from the permanent exhibitions, the National Art Gallery also hosts temporary exhibitions and other related artistic events.

Sounio

Cape Sounio is located on the southernmost tip of Attica (65 km/40 mi from Athens). It is a majestic location of extreme archaeological interest as the ancient temple of god Poseidon, one of the most significant sanctuaries of ancient Greece, lies there. The road to Sounio travels along the coastal avenue, on the Saronic Gulf. It is a scenic route, as it passes some of the most popular beaches of Attica. Upon arriving at Sounio, visitors are enchanted by the view of the ancient temple, which was built on the most ideal location. It stands atop a hill, at an altitude of 60m /200 ft above the sea surface, and resembles an artificial link, connecting the sky, the earth and the sea. The ancient Greeks worshipped the god of the sea, Poseidon, at this location. The temple was built between 450 and 440 BC, during an era that has gone down in history as the Golden Age of Pericles. It is a magnificent temple, which had 34 Doric order columns. Only 15 of those still stand today. The temple was made of marble from the quarry of Agrileza and does not have an inner colonnade. As evidence by the findings around the sanctuary, it was erected over the ruins of an earlier temple, which was also dedicated to god Poseidon. It is believed that the architect who built it was the same one who built the temple of Hephaestus in Thysio. Unfortunately, though, his name remains a mystery.

According to Greek mythology, Cape Sounio is the spot where Aegeus, the king of Athens, committed suicide, by leaping off the cliff. Legend has it that Aegeus was anxiously waiting at Sounio to see the ship of his son Theseus returning from Crete. Theseus had gone to the palace of King Minos in Crete to confront the Minotaur. With the help of Ariadne, he managed to beat the beast. Upon returning, though, he forgot to hoist the white sails, which would signify his victory. When Aegeus saw the black sails, he thought that the Minotaur had devoured his son. Unable to withstand such pain, he leaped to his death and drowned, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea. Sounio is famous for its magnificent sunset. It is commonly accepted that at that location visitors enjoy the most marvelous sunset in Attica. The impressive crimson color of the sky gives the temple a splendid glow, while the sea takes on a unique orange and lavender hue, looking as mysterious as ever.

Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square is one of the two central squares of the Greek capital, the other being Omonia Square. Syntagma, as the Athenians call the wider area surrounding the square, is the heart of the city. The Hellenic Parliament is located there, while all of the city’s central roads start from that point (including Amalias, Vassilisis Sofias, Panepistimiou, Stadiou, Ermou and Mitropoleos). Other nearby attractions include the National Garden, Zappeio Mansion and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. It is also the starting point for locals and tourists traveling to other parts of the capital. The Square has been renovated on numerous occasions. A few years ago, during the construction of the metro, it had been converted into a huge construction site. As soon as the works were completed, though, Syntagma Square regained its old glory.

Omonia Square

Omonia Square is the second most popular square of the Greek capital after Syntagma Square. It resembles a miniature of Athens, as it combines quaintness, worldliness, brightness, charm and shoppers. It is located at the intersection of six main Athenian roads and a few smaller ones. That is why it has always been the most frequented and busiest part of Athens. While walking around Omonia Square, visitors feel like they are participating in a multicultural celebration. People from every corner of the globe mingle together and coexist harmoniously. There are street vendors selling goods from their countries of original, hurried pedestrians, shoppers and tourists, who observe everything with interest. The busy pace of city life is evident at this square more that anywhere else in the city. The trademark of this historic Square was that it was round. Although it changed significantly through the years, it had always kept this round shape. Besides, it is in the heart of the city and has always been the intersection of many big and smaller roads. During the last renovation, though, just before the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the powers that be managed to turn the circle into a square. This changed the lives of Athenians, as the traffic routes were significantly altered. The reason for this change was on the one hand to aesthetically redevelop the area and improve the citizens’ quality of life, and the other hand, to limit the traffic congestion.

Klathmonos Square

This is yet another central Athenian square, located between Syntagma and Omonia. It is a spacious square of particular architectural interest, as it is surrounded by impressive, historical neoclassical buildings, such as the Vouros Mansion, the building of the former Ministry for the Marine and the building housing the Ministry for the Interior. An impressionistic bronze statue has been placed in the middle of the Square, symbolizing the National Reconciliation. It is worth noting that the Vouros Mansion, a building dating back to 1833, was used as the temporary palace for King Otto, between 1836 and 1842, while today it houses the City of Athens Museum. It includes notable collections of paintings and engravings, representing the contemporary history of the Greek capital, from the beginning of the 18th century to the 20th century. Moreover, it also displays furniture that belonged to the first King of Greece, Otto.

Stadiou Street, one of the main roads of the city and one of the first roads that was constructed in Athens, runs along Klathmonos Square. Initially it was named Fidiou Street and was later renamed Akakion Street. Its current name, Stadiou, stems from the fact that in the initial plans it was supposed to run all the way to Panathinaiko Stadium, but the plan was never put into effect.

Kotzia Square (National Resistance Square)

Kotzia Square is located in front of the Athens City Hall. Initially it was named the People’s Square and later on Louis Square. Apart from the imposing City Hall, the Square is also surrounded by other historical monuments, which are considered architectural jewels of the city. The Melas Mansion, designed by the famous architect Ernest Chiller, rises on the southern side. Its main characteristic is its impressive façade and the two protruding turrets on its sides. The main hall is covered by a glass roof, while there are Doric and Ionic order arches along the sides. This magnificent building was the residence of Vasilis Melas, while today it houses the National Bank Cultural Center. A part of the Acharnian Gate of the Themistoklean Wall was discovered and is displayed in a specially designed area on the northeastern part of the Square. Athinas Street runs along Kotzia Square. It is a very busy and commercial road of the city. Many shops, especially food stores, are located along the street, between Omonia Square and Monastiraki Square. The Varvakeios Central Market is also located on this street, housed in a building of unique architectural interest.

Monastiraki Square

Monastiraki Square is one of the busiest in the city. It is surrounded by the some of the most commercial roads of the so-called Old City and is particularly popular. The heart of the city’s most typical district beats at this Square. Monastiraki resembles a city within a city. It is as time has stopped on the narrow alleys of this beautiful neighborhood, reminiscing the good old times. So, although the area follows the contemporary pace of city life, it has preserved its old charm, offering visitors a plethora of thrills. The historical Monastiraki Square, which was recently renovated and regained its lost charm, is located on the entrance of the metro station. Some of the more picturesque Athenian streets extend around it. Andrianou, Pandrosou, Ifestou, Agiou Filippou, Ermou and many others are some of the busiest and most popular streets, where visitors have a wide selection of merchandise to choose from. The Tzistaraki Mosque is also located at this Square. These days it houses the Museum of Traditional Ceramic Art. Another attraction is the Byzantine church of Pantanassa, dating back to the 10th century.

 

Avyssinias Square

Avyssinias Square, known to the older generation as giousouroum, from the traditional flea market that used to take place there every Sunday, is one of the busiest parts of the city. Visitors can find almost anything there: old, new and used. There are antiques, furniture, paintings, home appliances, musical instruments, clothes, shoes and anything one can imagine. The flea market may not take place anymore; however, Avissinias Square is still synonymous to it. That is why the merchants nearly always succumb to the bargaining of the customers for lower prices. Apart from the commercial traffic, there are a number of traditional cafes and tavernas around the Square, serving scrumptious Greek cuisine delicacies.

 

Exarheia Square

Exarheia Square is the main square of one of the oldest Athenian neighborhoods. Exarheia has always been a hangout for youths and artists. It is an area with a unique aesthetic attitude and charm, attracting the interest of Athenians, as well as tourists. The areas around the Square are the busiest, with many cafes, bars, theaters and cinemas. In the summertime, two open-air movie theaters attract many cinema lovers. Over the last few years, a series of renovations has contributed to redeveloping the area. Moreover, the many significant neoclassical, eclectic and modernistic buildings provide a unique and appealing look to Exarheia. It is worth strolling along the pedestrian walkway of Themistokleous Street, which starts from the Square and ends at Kallidromiou Street, as well as the rest of the pedestrian walkways (such as Valtetsiou, Methonis and Eresou), which lead to quiet and quaint neighborhoods, with traditional tavernas and cafes, bringing to life images of a bygone era.

Kolonaki Square

Kolonaki Square is situated at the most privileged part of the city. It is located in the centre of the capital’s most aristocratic district. The busiest commercial roads of the city, such as Patriarchou Ioakeim, Tsakalof, Anagnostopoulou, Kanari, Skoufa and Milioni, are located nearby. Some of the most expensive shops can be found in Kolonaki, including haute couture stores owned by famous Greek fashion designers, luxurious restaurants, cafes and bars. Spending a few hours in one of the popular hangouts in Kolonaki, while sipping coffee or enjoying a meal, is a must for every Athenians, but also for every visitor to the Greek capital. It is worth noting that the area was named after the ancient column (kolonaki), located in the centre of the Square. Until the beginning of the 1880s, it was sparsely inhabited. With the passage of time, though, it became an overpopulated area, which, due to its location, at the foot of Lycabettus Hill, attracts many Athenians, while it is also quite popular among tourists.

Technopolis - Municipal Enterprise for the Protection and Promotion of the Athens Gazi Industrial Archaeological Park

The City of Athens Technopolis, an industrial museum with an unparalleled architectural design as it is among the most interesting in the world, is a multipurpose cultural venue. The center has assisted in redeveloping an historical Athenian district and creating yet another popular attraction for Athens’ cultural identity. It is housed in the city’s former gasworks factory, on a site known as Gazi spanning some 3 hectares, next to the Kerameikos area and close to the Acropolis. The factory was gradually transformed into an educational center and host venue for various events, enabling visitors to stroll through a site brimming with images, knowledge and feelings. The charm of a bygone area, conveyed through smoke-stacks, enormous cauldrons (gasometers), chimneys and ovens, conspires with reverence to establish the site as a factory for the protection and production of art. Etymologically, the word “gas”, derived from the ancient German galist, and later geist, means spirit. It opened its doors in 1999, and is dedicated to the memory of the unforgettable Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. As a tribute to Greek poetry, eight of the buildings on the site bear the names of great Greek poets: Andreas Embirikos (Hall D1), Angelos Sikelianos (D4), Yiannis Ritsos (Athina Municipal Radio 9.84 FM amphitheatre), Kostis Palamas (D10), Takis Papatsonis (D6), Constantine Kavafy (D7) and Kostas Varnalis (A8). Its trademark is the innovative “Millennium Sphere” sculpture, by artists Nikos and Yiorgos Papoutsidis, which portrays the globe surrounded by olive branches, symbolizing the wish and hope that peace and compassion will prevail throughout the world. Address: 100 Pireos Street, 11854 Athens Tel: +30 210 3461589, +30 210 3467322 Fax: +30 210 3413228 Email: info@athens-technopolis.gr

Varvakeios Central Market

The central market of Athens, Varvakeios, is located within walking distance from the Athens City Hall. It is justifiably considered the liveliest part of the city. It is housed in a rectangular 19th-century building, constructed of glass and metal. It has a sheltered courtyard and is the city’s main meat, fish and vegetable market. A total of 73 shops, stocking all kinds of food, can be found in Varvakeios Market. Customers can purchase almost anything, from meat and fish, to vegetables, fruit, canned goods, spices, cheese and dairy products, detergents and general household items. People gather from dusk to buy the freshest and best produce. The prices at this market are a gauge for the prices of goods throughout the country. Therefore, it is not by chance that all the opinion polls and market research for prices, produce stock and commercial traffic are conducted in this market. Especially during the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons, the daily news reports in Varvakeios Market, as well as the discussions with merchants and customers, contribute to the final pricing of goods.The traffic never stops at Varvakeios Market, as people come and go on a 24-hour basis. Apart from the shops that close at night, there are many small traditional restaurants, serving homemade food, as well as fresh meat and fish dishes, that stay open all night. These are very popular among Athenians, especially when it comes to after-hours dining.

National Garden and Zappeio Mansion

The National Garden is a peaceful green oasis in the heart of Athens. It is located behind the Hellenic Parliament building and was created around the same time as the Old Palace, the building which today houses the Parliament. The idea for the garden belonged to Queen Amalia, who oversaw its construction. She imported 15,000 trees from Italy, which were planted in an area spanning 16 hectares. The Royal Garden, as it was known then, was the meeting place for the aristocracy of the time. The Queen often strolled through the garden, admiring her achievement. Many courtiers, ministers, the prime ministers and the elite of the previous century used to gather there. Today, the National Garden remains a small yet significant verdant oasis, providing a breath of fresh air to the Athenians. Entry to the Garden is free of charge. The Queen’s trees have grown immensely in the Attica soil and have beceek capital, the other being Omonia Square. Syntagma, as the Athenians call the wider area surrounding the square, is the heart of the city. The Hellenic Parliament is located there, while all of the city’s central roads start from that point (including Amalias, Vassilisis Sofias, Panepistimiou, Stadiou, Ermou and Mitropoleos). Other nearby attractions include the National Garden, Zappeio Mansion and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. It is also the starting point for locals and tourists traveling to other parts of the capital. The Square has been renovated on numerous occasions. A few years ago, during the construction of the metro, it had been converted into a huge construction site. As soon as the works were completed, though, Syntagma Square regained its old glory.

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