Choosing among so many stunning historic countries and cities can be a tough task. In your quest, you’ll probably want to see the ancient ruins, impressive landmarks, and historic sites. Considering all of these aspects that history buffs have on their list, the place that will satisfy all your wishes is Athens.
This ancient city situated in Greece is renowned for its history and influences that made a massive impact on today’s world. Only a few places can measure with Athens’s classical history, relics, and riches. If you are ready to get to know this breathtaking city, here are a few things that you need to know.
Getting to Know Athens
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was the heart of Ancient Greece and in 1834 it became the capital city of the modern Greek state.
The city dates from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. Around 3000 BC, the first settlement was situated on the rock of Acropolis.
The Greek myth originated from Athens so the origins of Greek immortals are linked to this place.
Athens is considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization. The reason why is that many artistic and intellectual ideas came from there.
Here are some other interesting facts about Athens that you should know:
- Athens is Europe’s oldest capital.
- Athens has been submitted to almost every form of government: monarchy, democracy, socialism, capitalism, and communism.
- Athens is the birthplace of democracy. It was established around 500 BC.
- Athens has 148 theater stages – the largest number of theatrical stages in the world.
- Athens hasn’t been the only capital of Greece. From 1821–1834 it was Nafplio.
- Athens is the home to a variety of architectural styles – Greco-Roman, Neoclassical, modern, to name a few.
- Athens was the first city which was named the European Capital of Culture
Getting Around Athens
Getting to Athens is quite simple since many airlines have direct flights to this city. This is due to its high tourism rates.
The best time to travel to Athens is autumn or late spring. The crowds aren’t that hectic then so you will feel more comfortable roaming around the city. The peak season is in July and August.
When you get to the city you can go on foot – the best option for exploring the city center – or you can use the bus or metro. For those who are interested in using public transportation, you should know that it is more economical to buy a 3-day pass or a 5-day pass.
Must-see Places in Athens
A history lover like yourself simply can’t go back home if you haven’t visited the following sites.
This incredible place is situated on the top of the mountain. Being one of the most famous ancient archaeological sites in the world, you can’t miss the visit to the Acropolis.
The ancient citadel contains:
- the Propylaea – The entrance to the citadel.
- the Parthenon – The temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and the largest Doric temple in Greece.
- the Theatre of Dionysos – The oldest stone theatre in the world and the birthplace of Greek drama.
- the Odeion of Herodes Atticus – The stone Roman theater in the southwest slope.
- the Erechtheion – The temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon.
- the Temple of Athena Nike – The earliest fully Ionic temple in this citadel dedicated to the goddess Athena Nike.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Olympieio or the Temple of Olympian Zeus was dedicated to Zeus – the ruler of the Olympian gods. It used to be one of the most magnificent temples in Greece but the time has its influence and it lost its full glory.
Only about one-fifth of the columns managed to stand against the time, but the monument still has its beauty and historic importance.
Temple of Hephaestus
Even the bad guy from Greek mythology has its temple. Visit the temple of Hephaestus, Aphrodite’s notorious lover and the god of fire, blacksmiths, metallurgy, and volcanoes.
The temple is well-preserved so you can enjoy the stunning structure.
In Ancient Greece, Agora was the political, religious, and commercial center. Great minds and citizens would gather around in this place and discuss relevant matters, politics, and culture.
The importance of Ancient Agora isn’t in its leftover ruins but its role in the ancient society.
Hadrian’s Gate or the Arch of Hadrian is a triumphal arch located between the temple of Olympian Zeus and the rock of the Acropolis.
The construction of the Arch begun in 131 BC. The temple was built as a celebration of the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was also a way to thank him for his contribution to this city.
Museums You Should Visit
Besides visiting these admirable monuments and temples, you can see much more if you go to some of Athens’s famous museums.
The Acropolis Museum
If you want to get more information about the Acropolis head to the Acropolis Museum. There you can find ancient relics and sacred artifacts.
The National Archaeological Museum
This museum archives archaeological relics from 500 BCS to the Roman Empire. There are more than 11,000 exhibits including the bronze statue of Zeus and the gold funeral Mask of Agamemnon.
The Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture will give you the chance to get an overview of Greek history throughout the ages. The stunning neoclassical building used to be a Benaki family mansion. The collection is dedicated to Emmanuel Benakis and was cultivated by his son Antonis Benakis.
Walking around the ancient city known for philosophy, mythology, science, art, theatre, and democracy will fill your desires for history. You simply can’t help but get smitten by all the wonders you see and experience. The ancient temples and impressive structures will make a lasting impression on you and fill your thirst for knowledge.
Erica Sunarjo is an ambitious freelancer who works as a professional writer, editor, and translator. She has a Master’s degree in Marketing and Social Media. Her hobbies are traveling and reading. As a knowledge seeker and persistent learner, she writes thought-provoking articles on various subjects. One of her current collaborations is with The Word Point translator community where she is an active member of the medical translation services team.