Athens' glorious history dates back more than 3,000 years and makes it an emblem of Western Civilization at its pinnacle. In classical antiquity, the city was thriving and Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles were all born there. More than just a reminder of its illustrious history, Athens is today's vibrant capital city, housing some of the most significant tourist destinations in the nation. The Acropolis is one of the most magnificent ancient monuments in the entire world, and the city's world-class museums feature fascinating antiquities found at nearby sites. The sparkling Byzantine churches scattered around the city and the village-like suburbs north of the Acropolis are two further hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Athens might feel frantic and crowded in the summer, offering a very different vacation experience from the lovely Greek islands. However, in the spring and fall, the city is still pleasant and there are many fewer visitors. Using our list of the top tourist destinations in Athens, you can organize your sightseeing.
The Acropolis in Athens, with the Parthenon temple perched high on a rocky crag keeping watch over centuries of civilization, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Acropolis was the heart of the ancient city and served as a citadel due to its protected hilltop location. The temple is awe-inspiring with its enormous rows of Doric columns and exquisite sculptural decorations. Reliefs on the frieze on the eastern side show the goddess Athena's birth. It serves as a reminder of the splendor of ancient Athens. The Parthenon, the biggest temple from classical antiquity dating from 447 BC to 338 BC, is the most representative structure.
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Another of Athens' top attractions, the Acropolis Museum contains one of the most valuable collections of ancient Greek art in the world. The new facility was completed in 2007, below the Acropolis hilltop, and replaced the former museum on the hill. This huge facility is 25,000 square meters and features 14,000 square meters of exhibition space. The unique layout incorporates an ancient Athenian neighborhood. This is one of the best things to do in Athens when temperatures are soaring at midday.
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The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, founded in the 19th century, is the biggest antiquities museum in the world and the largest in Greece. A beautiful Neoclassical structure with 8,000 square meters of exhibition space serves as the museum's home. More than 11,000 items from five permanent collections are on display, providing a thorough overview of Greek civilization from early prehistory through the classical era and late antiquity.
Located between the northern slopes of the Acropolis and Ermoú Street, the picturesque district of Pláka is a tourist hotspot. The main attraction of this historic district is its charming village atmosphere. The narrow pedestrian streets and fun little squares of the Pláka district are lined with lovely pastel-painted houses, restaurants, and shops. Tucked away in quiet corners of the neighborhood are historic churches, such as the Metamórfosis Church to the southwest and the Kapnikaréa Church to the north. A leisurely stroll through the beautiful surroundings is the perfect thing to do when you've packed your ruins and museums. Anafiotika's winding medieval streets are also a delight to explore in the evening.
Adjacent to the Ancient Agora was the site of the Roman Agora. Although it all seems like a single site, these buildings were built later and construction eventually shifted to the site of the Ancient Agora. Wind Tower is One of the easily recognizable sights. At the edge of the Roman Agora is the Old Library of Hadrian, founded by Emperor Hadrian in AD 132.
Housed in a sleek, modern building with a marble and glass facade, the museum's permanent collection includes more than 3,000 objects. The collection represents ancient Greek art, ancient art from the Cyclades, and Cypriot art dating back from the fourth century BC. to the sixth century AD. Temporary exhibitions are held in the elegant 19th-century Stathatos Mansion, accessible from the main building via a passage from the atrium.
The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, dedicated to Zeus, also known as the Olympion, was the largest temple in ancient Greece. The Parthenon is better preserved, but the Temple of Zeus at Olympia was a more monumental structure than its time. The temple dates back to the 6th century BC but was not completed until the 2nd century AD by Emperor Hadrian. In front of the Olympieion, not far from the entrance, stands the Arch of Hadrian at the end of the Dionysiou Areopagitou. It is easy to imagine how impressive this temple would have been in its completed form. More than 100 massive marble columns once supported the magnificent sanctuary. The gigantic structure was a fitting temple to Zeus, the most powerful god of ancient Greece, known as the King of the Gods.
The largest building in ancient Athens, the Panathenaic Stadium can hold 60,000 spectators. Built during the time of Herodes Atticus around 335 BC, this venue hosted games of Panathenaic, where runners competed on a course. The 204-meter track was manned by his four double herms that the runners would spin in the race. Around AD 140, the stadium of Herodes Atticus was fitted with new marble seats. The building that visitors see today is a replica of the original stadium rebuilt for the 1896 Olympics. This modern Olympic stadium was constructed in the same manner as the Panathenaic Stadium, with 47 rows of seating and a rounded southeast edge. Concerts and other events are held here in the summer. Going to a show is a good way to spend an evening in Athens.
This fascinating museum offers an interesting insight into Byzantine Greek history. Housed in a 19th-century palace built for Duchesse de Plaisance, wife of Charles-François Lebrun of France, the museum houses a priceless collection of Byzantine art. Religious art was highly valued during this period. Byzantine artists created masterpieces of elaborate, glittering mosaics and gilded icons. With more than 25,000 artifacts on display, the Byzantine Museum is a treasure trove of Byzantine-era religious artifacts, as well as early Christian, medieval, and post-Byzantine works. The collection includes sculptures, paintings, icons, textiles, and mosaics. Highlights include architectural fragments of early Christian basilicas and Byzantine churches, as well as a replica of the painted fountain at Dafni Abbey. The museum's courtyard contains a fine fragment of a 5th-century mosaic floor.
The Church of Panagia Kapnikarea adorns a small square on the pedestrian street of busy Ermou Street. The church is a fine example of 11th-century Byzantine architecture and a stark contrast to the modern architecture that surrounds it. It was saved from demolition in the 19th century by the intervention of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Such cross churches were typical when they were built. In the 12th century, the church was enlarged, adding a graceful entrance portico and a four-gabled narthex (added to the west end).
On the site of ancient Agora, the Church of the Holy Apostles was the only building that survived when the entire Athens area was demolished to excavate the Agora archaeological site. Built in the 10th century, the church stands on the Nymphaion (sacred spring). The exterior is notable for its ash wood masonry and decorative Kufic (an Arabic script) inscription. Typical of Byzantine architecture, the church has a dome supported by four columns, and the crests and roof have semicircular pegs. The interior of the dome is decorated with original frescoes representing Christ the Pantocrator (King of All), John the Baptist, the lovely little cherubim, and archangels.
Located next to the Greek Parliament, the National Park is a large green space behind the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the site of the Zappeion. If you've had enough sun on your day of sightseeing, this is a quiet, shaded place to relax and cool off. It is also a free attraction in Athens. It was built in the 1870s and used for events. Inside the main entrance is an impressive circular open-air lobby with columns.
Set in a verdant setting on Philopappou Hill, this small 12th-century Byzantine chapel offers the opportunity for an enchanting spiritual experience. The building was built at the Diateichisma gate due to the ancient belief that the god guarded the gates. Inside, the church is in the form of a domed church with a single nave, and the walls are decorated with frescoes dating from 1732. The church was restored in the 1960s by architect D. Pikionis. Another highlight of visiting Philopappou Hill is the ability to take in breathtaking views of the Parthenon from here.
What is special about Athens?
Greece is one of the most touristy countries around the world. The weather is great, they have over 6000 islands and a huge amount of history. It was in Greece that learning was invented and philosophers were born. It is famous for its vegan restaurants, where people eat cheese, figs, and grapes, and where children play the lyre. Is the hometown of Plato, one of the most famous ancient figures and the founder of the first academy. A city where statues of ancient gods are still in place.
What are the best things to see in Athens?
The best things to explore while in Athens are its vegan restaurants, the Church of Demetrius Loumbardiaris, National Gardens, the Zappeion, Church of the Holy Apostles, Byzantine Museum, Panaghia Kapnikarea Chruch, Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Roman Agora and Hadrian's library, Panathenaic Stadium, and Olympic Stadium, Acropolis Museum and visit the neighboring cities.
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What is the best time to visit Athens?
The best time to visit Athens is between March and May and September to November. The weather during these spring and fall months is pleasant and sunshine is guaranteed. Not to mention that the crowds are less and hotel and airfare deals are easier to find than in the summer.
How many days are enough to visit Athens?
Well, 2-3 days are enough for you to explore Athens. It's long enough to see the main attractions and will make city lovers want to come back for more.
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Is Athens worth visiting?
Athens is now definitely one of the best cities to visit in Greece. Today it is worth visiting Athens for its ancient treasures and modern delights. Trendy bars and cafes have blossomed. Great new hotels have been built. And it has some great museums.