A crossroads of peoples and civilizations at the heart of the Mediterranean, it is no accident that the Greek capital is regarded as Europe’s most historic city.
The city’s history begins in the 13th century BC and it flourished in ancient times as an important economic and cultural centre, producing monuments of global stature and innumerable archaeological treasures.
Modern Athens is a major city buzzing with life, offering cultural events and activities at every season of the year. A destination which appeals to visitors not only because of its ancient buildings, but also its beautiful local neighbourhoods, its immaculately clean beaches – just a stone’s throw from the city centre – and its excellent cuisine and famous nightlife. Book flights to Athens with Aegean Airlines and discover the delightful multicultural capital of Greece!
Sightseeing in Athens
The symbol of the city, the Acropolis is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world. Towering above the city, at the top of the Sacred Rock, the ancient Doric temple known as the Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena, protector of the city. Constructed in the 5th century BC it is an architectural marvel, inspiring awe in thousands of visitors every day. Next to it stands the small Erechtheum, with its imposing Caryatids. The figures you see on the temple are replicas; five of the originals are in the Acropolis Museum, the sixth in the British Museum in London.
On the south-western side of the rock of the Acropolis you will come to the Herodion, the Roman Odeon, renowned for its architecture and acoustics, capacious enough to hold an audience of 5,000. Every summer it is used as a venue for musical and theatrical performances of international stature. Close by is the Theatre of Dionysus, the oldest theatre in the world, home to the ancient Greek drama and the cradle of dramatic art.
The Roman forum is in the Plaka district, and dates from the 1st century BC. Look out for the remains of the Library of Hadrian (132 AD), and the elegant clock tower of Andronicus Cyrrestus, known as the Tower of the Winds.
Address: Areos St., Monastiraki
The Roman forum is in the Plaka district, and dates from the 1st century BC. Look out for the remains of the Library of Hadrian (132 AD), and the elegant clock tower of Andronicus Cyrrestus, known as the Tower of the Winds. Address: Areos St., Monastiraki
At the edge of the city’s historic centre you will come across the Olympieio archaeological site, and the beautiful temple dedicated to Zeus, as well as the imposing Hadrian’s Gate, a marble triumphal arch which marked the boundary between the old and new cities.
The Panathenaic Stadium, or Kallimarmaro, lies between the Agra and Ardittos Hills. It was built in 330 BC by the orator Lycurgus, as a venue for the Great Panathenaia festival. The remains were unearthed in 1870 and the stadium was rebuilt, preserving its impressive horseshoe design. It was here in 1896 that the Olympic Games were revived for the modern age. Entrance: From V. Konstantinou Street
The jewel of the city, showcasing the best of the ancient art of Athens, the New Acropolis Museum welcomes visitors on a journey of 5,200 years, featuring 4,000 exhibits – before you even pass through the doors! Because from the courtyard in front of the museum you can look down through the glass floor and see part of the ancient neighbourhood which came to light during construction work on the museum. The tour of the museum reaches its climax in the glass wing of the top floor, which houses copies and original pieces from the decoration of the Parthenon, prompting a fascinating architectural dialogue between the ancient monument and the modern building. Address: 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou St., tel.: +30 210 900 0900, www.theacropolismuseum.gr
This is one of the most important museums of ancient art to be found anywhere in the world, with treasures from all the civilizations which flourished in the Greek world from the prehistoric era to the end of the Roman period. Address: 1 Tositsa St., tel.: +30 210 821 7724, www.culture.gr
This beautiful complex of buildings, with its gardens, elegant wings and the ancient Lyceum of Aristotle, is home to one of the world’s most important collections of Byzantine art. Its 15,000 exhibits include icons, sculptures, miniatures, frescoes, ceramics, fabrics, early printed works and manuscripts. Address: 22 V. Sophias St., tel.: +30 210 723 2178
The Benaki Museum collection includes 33,000 items, recording the history of the Greek world from ancient times to the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Of particular interest are the collections of games and toys, the childhood section, the exhibits illustrating Coptic and Chinese art, and the room featuring works by the great Greek painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika. Address: 1 Koubari St. and V. Sophias St., tel.: +30 210 367 1000, www.benaki.gr
Dedicated to the study and promotion of the ancient civilizations of the Aegean and Cyprus, with special emphasis on the art of the Cyclades in the 3rd millennium BC, this important museum is divided into three sections: Cycladic Civilization, Ancient Greek Art and Cypriot Civilization. Address: 4 N. Douka St., Kolonaki; Stathatou Building, 1 Irodotou St. and V. Sophias St., T. +30 210 722 8321-3, www.cycladic-m.gr
Plaka is the oldest neighbourhood in Athens, nestling at the feet of the Acropolis, its picturesque narrow streets cheek by jowl with ancient monuments, Turkish bathhouses, Byzantine churches, lovely little tavernas and flower-filled courtyards outside houses that resemble those of the Cyclades. Since ancient times, this has been the heart of the city.
One of the locals’ favourite spots, the hill takes its name from the monument erected there in the 2nd century AD to honour the ruler of Syria and public benefactor Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappus. The hill stands directly opposite the Acropolis and is the ideal place to see the majestic Parthenon from a new perspective.
The second most widely recognized landmark of the city, Lycavettos Hill offers a panoramic view of Athens extending from the mountains of Parnitha and Penteli to Piraeus and the Saronic Gulf. Its slopes are covered in beautiful pine woods, and at the summit you will find cafes and a restaurant. There are various paths leading up to the top, or you can take the cable car from the terminal on Ploutarchou Street in Kolonaki.