Today a modern, busy city and the capital of Greece, Athens was the heart of the ancient Greek civilization. The city’s most fascinating attractions are its 5th century BC structures, such as the 3,000-year-old Acropolis with its magnificent ancient buildings like the Parthenon and its massive colonnades.
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Located in the heart of Athens, designed by architects Bernard Tschumi and Michael Photiadis, and opened in 2009, the Acropolis Museum has three levels of permanent collections in addition to the archaeological excavation at its foundations. The museum contains the most significant finds from the Acropolis and the surrounding foothills. The Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis on the ground floor houses exhibits from the sanctuaries and everyday objects used by Athenians at the time. The 27-foot-high Archaic Gallery on the first floor hosts majestic sculptures from the first Acropolis temples, while the Parthenon Gallery on the third floor contains relief sculptures from the Parthenon frieze. The massive figures of the two pediments portray the birth of the Athena as she emerges from the head of Zeus as well as the battle between Athena and Poseidon over Attica.
Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athens 117 42, Greece
2.Acropolis of Athens
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Located on a small hill in the heart of Athens, the Acropolis dominates the city landscape today as it did at the time it was constructed, more than 3,000 years ago. It is the most complete, and the most famous, monuments of ancient Greece. This ancient citadel stands on the flat top of the hill surrounded by rocky hill slopes. The citadel includes the remains of several buildings of enormous historic and architectural significance, the most important and the most famous being the Parthenon. The Acropolis is surrounded by strong fortification walls built in the 13th century BC, surrounding the residence of the Mycenaean ruler. From the 8th century BC, the Acropolis started acquiring a religious character. As the city became more powerful, more monuments were added, created by the best sculptors of its time. The Acropolis became a symbol of the emergence of the classic art and thought of ancient Greece, a cradle of democracy, theater, philosophy, and freedom of speech.
Athens 105 58, Greece
3.Ancient Agora of Athens
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The Ancient Agora, or the gathering place of classical Athens, is located northwest of the Acropolis between the hill of the Areopagus and the Agoraios Kolonos or Market Hill. The Agora's original use was as a gathering, commercial, assembly, or residential place. In today’s Athens, the Ancient Agora of Athens is an archaeological site beneath the northwest hillside of the Acropolis. The Agora of Athens continued to be used for more than 5,000 years, with the layers of building, destruction, and rebuilding still visible at the excavation site. It is difficult to comprehend the importance of the agora in ancient Greece from the ruins of today, but two witnesses of its glory still stand today: The Temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalos.
24 Adrianou, Athens 105 55, Greece
© Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture was originally used to house a collection of over 37,000 Islamic and Byzantine objects donated in 1931 by the Benaki family. The family also donated the family home to house the collection, an elegant neoclassical-style building near the National Garden and the Hellenic Parliament. Over 9,000 artifacts were added to the collection by the 1970s, enticing additional donations from other sources. The museum building was refurbished in 2000 and today focuses on Greek art from pre-history to modern times. The museum also has a rich, extensive collection of Asian art, hosts occasional exhibitions, and offers restoration and conservation workshops. A collection of Islamic art, Chinese porcelain, and toys that were once part of the original collection are now housed in separate museums.
Koumpari 1, Athens 106 74, Greece, Phone: +30-21-03-67-10-00
5.Byzantine and Christian Museum
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The Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, Greece, was founded in 1914 and is one of the most important museums of Byzantine art in the world. It houses over 25,000 pieces of art, including collections of frescoes, icons, pictures, scriptures, pottery, manuscripts, fabrics, and copies of original artifacts, covering the period from the 3rd century AD to the Late Middle Ages. The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens is one of the most important Greek institutions established to collect, preserve, study, and exhibit Byzantine and post-Byzantine cultural heritage in the Hellenic territory. The exhibition is divided into two main parts: Byzantium from the 4th to 15th centuries with 1,200 artifacts and the exhibition called From Byzantium to the Modern Era, with 1,500 artworks from the 15th to 20th centuries.
Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias 22, Athens 106 75, Greece, Phone: +30-21-07-23-15-70
6.First Cemetery of Athens
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The First Cemetery of Athens is both the official and the oldest cemetery of the city of Athens. Opened in 1837, it soon became a preferred cemetery for both Greeks and foreigners. The cemetery is located in central Athens, behind the Panathinaiko Stadium and Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is a lovely large green space shaded with mature pines and cypresses. There are three churches in the cemetery: The Church of Saint Theodores, a smaller one dedicated to Saint Lazarus, and the Catholic church of Saint Charles. One of the most prominent people buried in the cemetery is Heinrich Schliemann, whose tomb was designed by Ernst Ziller. Many of the tombs are pieces of art created by prominent sculptors. The cemetery also contains burial areas for Protestants and Jews, but segregation is not compulsory.
Logginou 3, Athens 116 36, Greece, Phone: +30-21-09-22-16-21
7.GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar
© GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar
Located in the iconic luxury 19th century Grande Bretagne hotel in the heart of Athens, GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar is a refined, elegant restaurant with absolutely breathtaking views of the Acropolis, the Hellenic Parliament, and Lycabettus Hill. Having a front row seat of the Acropolis from the open terrace is a perfect background for an early morning breakfast of hot pastries and freshly squeezed juice. The lunch menu is focused on Mediterranean delicacies such as yellow fin tuna tartar with sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger, followed by a decadent dessert such as velouté chocolate with crispy cacao pearls, gianduja cream, and lemon sauce. At night, when the bright lights of the city spread ahead, enjoy such chef’s specialties as lamb noisettes with couscous and dried fruit, pistachios, and glazed carrots. The two bars make excellent cocktails and have a nice wine selection.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, Vasileos Georgiou A 1, Athens 105 64, Greece, Phone: +30-21-03-33-00-00
8.Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art
© Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art
Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art promotes and studies the culture of ancient Aegean and Cyprus with a focus on Cycladic art of the third millennium BC. Founded in 1986, the museum houses the extensive collection of Cycladic and ancient Greek art belonging to Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris. Pieces from other collectors and institutions have since been added to the collection. The exhibits are divided into three main subjects: Cycladic art from 3200 to 2000 BC, ancient Greek art from 2000 BC to 395 AD, and ancient Cypriot art from 3900 BC to the 6th century AD. The building that houses the museum was built in the heart of Athens in 1985 and was designed by the renowned Greek architect, Ioannis Vikelas. The museum acquired a new wing in 1991 in the neoclassical Stathatos Mansion.
Neofitou Douka 4, Athens 106 74, Greece, Phone: +30-21-07-22-83-21
Visiting Greece, a cradle of democracy, art, theatre, and modern civilization, is or should be on everyone’s bucket list. Once you decide to go, make sure you choose a reputable and knowledgeable tour team to show you around and to make sure you do not miss anything in the short time you have. Greeking.me is run by educated locals who have one goal: to make your Greek experience authentic, original, effortless, and memorable. They avoid the usual tourist traps and take you to little-known spots with stories to tell. See Athens from the eyes of locals, whatever your interest is. History buffs can spend half day on a tour of Acropolis and the city with 2,500 years of history, or popular Mythology Tour of Acropolis, Acropolis Museum & Temple of Zeus. Food lovers should indulge in eating their way through Athens during an unforgettable gastronomic tour of local most popular eateries and tavernas. The Athens by night food tour & wine tasting allows you to explore the city at night when it really comes alive. Phone: +30 694 207 0899
10.Monastiraki Flea Market
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Monastiraki flea market, located around the Monastiraki Square in Athens, is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. It is especially lively on Sundays, particularly on busy, thriving Abyssinia Square. Just about anything is spread on the crowded stalls: Clothes, old books, coins, stamps, furniture, carpets, postcards, decorative objects, memorabilia, and much more. The prices vary widely and bargaining is practically obligatory and indeed part of the fun. One can find everything from junk to antiques and from plastic pearls to real jewelry and precious stones. Knowing the difference is the trick. Not unlike any such market the world over, it is still fun to browse in hope of finding hidden treasures.
Ifestou 2, Athens 105 55, Greece, Phone: +30-69-46-08-61-14
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The top of Lycabettus Hill is the highest spot in Athens at 900 feet above sea level. There is a circular path leading to the top, providing some nice exercise, but it is quite steep and it can be a challenge during hot summer months. If you do not want to get sweaty, you can hop on the funicular or cliff railway, but while it makes thinks easier, it is not as much fun since it runs through a tunnel in the hill. The best time to visit Lycabettus Hill is at sunset, when the view of the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Agora, and the Panathenaic Stadium are washed in the golden rays of the setting sun. While on top of the hill, it is worth visiting the small Greek church and the open-air amphitheater or grabbing a meal at the Orizontes restaurant.
Corner of Ploutarhiou & Aristippou Streets, Athens, Greece
12.National Archaeological Museum
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The National Archaeological Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world and is the largest museum in Greece. Originally, it was supposed to hold the finds from the 19th century archeological excavations in and around Athens. Instead, it became the central National Archaeological Museum with finds from all over Greece. The museum holds over 20,000 exhibits, offering a fascinating picture of Greek civilization from prehistory to the Late Antiquity. The museum occupies a huge 19th century neoclassical building designed by L. Lange and has more than 86,000 square feet of exhibition space housing five permanent collections: The Prehistoric Collection, with works of the great civilizations from the Aegean from the sixth millennium BC to 1050 AD; the Sculptures Collection, with Greek sculptures from the 7th to 5th centuries BC; the Vase and Minor Objects Collection; the Metallurgy Collection; and the only Near Eastern and Egyptian Antiquities Collection in Greece.
28is Oktovriou 44, Athens 106 82, Greece, Phone: +30-21-32-14-48-00
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Surrounded by so much history and spectacular archeological monuments, the Athens National Garden is a peaceful oasis welcomed by the locals and tourists as a spot to rest on a hot summer day. The garden’s main entrance is located only a few meters from Syntagma Square and the Hellenic Parliament. It covers over 15 acres of lush Mediterranean vegetation and was originally developed as a private royal garden in 1849 as per the instructions of Queen Amalia. The queen ordered the cultivation of 15,000 plants from all over the world, and many are still thriving. The garden is a magical place to explore, with massive fan palms, pergolas leading to the Zappion, hidden labyrinths, and romantic corners.
Leoforos Amalias 1, Athens 10557, Greece
14.Numismatic Museum of Athens
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The Numismatic Museum in Athens houses one of the largest collections of ancient and modern coins in the world. The museum is located in the Palace of Ilion, the mansion of the famed archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. The collection of coins was started by the government after Greece independence and was later enriched with donated, excavated, and purchased coins. The museum was established in 1838, about the same time as the National Archaeological Museum. The museum today has a collection of more than 600,000 objects – coins, medals, dies, standard masses, stamps, and other objects dating from the 14th century BC to today. Some of the most important objects are coins from the 6th century BC until the 5th century AD, such as coins from the Greek Poleis as well as the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Eleftheriou Venizelou 12, Athens 106 71, Greece, Phone: +30-21-03-63-20-57
15.Odeon of Herodes Atticus
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The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a magnificent stone theater located on the southwest side of the Acropolis Hill in Athens. The theatre was completed in 161 AD by the Athenian Herodes Atticus in memory of his departed wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. The Odeon of Herodes is considered one of the most beautiful ancient open air theaters in the world. Originally, it was steep-sloped with a stone front wall and a stunning Lebanese cedar roof and served as a venue for music concerts, with a capacity of 5,000. It was destroyed by the Heruli in 267 AD, but the stands for the audience and the stage were restored in 1950. Today, the Odeon is used as the main venue for the Athens International Art Festival.
Areopagitou Dionisiou, Athens 105 55, Greece
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The Panathenaic Stadium, also called Kallimarmaro or “beautiful marble,” is a multipurpose stadium in Athens, Greece, made entirely out of marble. It was originally a racecourse built in?330 BC by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos for the Panathenaic Games, and the Athenian Roman senator Herodes Atticus reconstructed it in marble in 144 AD. It had a capacity of 50,000 seats. After being excavated in 1869, the stadium hosted the Zappas Olympics in 1870 and in 1875 as well as the opening and closing of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The stadium was used for many different purposes in the 20th century and was the venue of the 2004 Olympic Games.
Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athens 116 35, Greece
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The first temple visitors see when they arrive to Athens is the Parthenon, perched high on Acropolis Hill and dominating the entire landscape. It is probably the most famous and most beautiful of all Greek ancient temples. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena Parthenos, the temple was built in the 5th century BC by the Athenian statesman Pericles, designed by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates, and supervised by the sculptor Phidias, who also created the great gold and ivory statue of Athena. The temple was completed in 438. The Parthenon has suffered a certain amount of damage over the centuries and has lost most of its sculptures, but most of its structure has remained intact to this day.
Athens 105 58, Greece
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Located in the Gazi neighborhood, next to Keramikos and near the Acropolis, Technopolis is an industrial museum of the gas industry and an important cultural venue of Athens. The museum was opened in 1999 and occupies the 320,000 square feet of the city's former gasworks factory, founded in 1857. Technopolis is used for a range of exhibitions, music concerts, seminars, theater and performing arts, dance, plastic and applied arts, educational activities for children, and temporary exhibitions as well as the promotion of innovation and initiatives for the development of entrepreneurship. On the second floor of the Angelos Sikelianos building is the Maria Callas Museum, dedicated to the renowned Greek opera singer.
Pireos 100, Gazi, Athens 118 54, Greece
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19.Temple of Hephaestus
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Dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire, the Temple of Hephaestus was built in 450 BC at the western end of the city, on the Agoreos Koronos hill. A classic example of Dorian architecture, the Temple of Hephaestus is the best preserved temple of ancient Greece. The temple has six columns each on the west and east sides and 13 columns each on the south and north sides. Its magnificent friezes as well as many other decorations have been severely damaged by earthquakes and various invaders. The temple was constructed from Pentelic marble, and the sculptures are made of Parian marble. It was used for many purposes through the centuries, including as an Orthodox church and a burial place. Reconstruction of the temple and further excavation works are still ongoing.
24 Adrianou St., Ancient Agora of Athens, Athens 105 55, Greece
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20.Temple of Olympian Zeus
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The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a ruin of a huge former temple at the center of Athens. It was dedicated to Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Construction started in the 6th century BC under the Athenian tyrants, who wanted to build the biggest temple in the ancient world. Unfortunately for them, the temple wasn’t completed until 638 years later, in the 2nd century AD under the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The temple included 104 enormous columns and was known as the biggest temple in Greece with some of the largest statues in the ancient world. The temple fell into disuse after a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD, was never repaired, and was left to turn to rubble. It was even used to quarry stones for building materials. Nevertheless, parts of the temple are still standing, including 16 of its original columns, which continue to inspire awe and make it one of the most revered of all Greek temples.
Leoforos Vasilissis Olgas | Leoforos Amalias, Athens 105 57, Greece
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21.The Agora-Athens Central Market
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Operating since 1886, Athens’ public market is one of the most popular markets in town, equally used by locals shopping for food and tourists curious about the way of life of Athenians. The market is divided into a fish, vegetable, and meat market and stretches along both sides of Athinas Street. The market buzzes with activity every day, except Sunday, from dawn to late afternoon. Some of the historical shops in the meat market have been around since the 1970s. Colorful fish arrive at the fish market early morning before the day heats up. The surrounding narrow alleys have many quaint small shops offering traditional Greek products and delicacies.
Athinas 42, Athens 999-20, Greece
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Located in the shadow of the Acropolis, with cobblestone streets crossing the hillside, Plaka is a lively village-like neighborhood and one of the most popular tourist spots in Athens. Its quaint, colorful shops sell everything from jewelry, ceramics, and clothes to drinks, souvenirs, “antiques,” excellent coffee, and local food. Its many family-run taverns serve local traditional dishes and drinks, often accompanied by folk music and cheerful dancers, especially in the evening. Plaka is incredibly charming, noisy, crowded, and an absolute must for any visitor, offering the quintessential Greek vibe they are searching for. Some of the spots worth visiting are Cine Parks, which shows classic movies under the sky, the Tower of Winds archaeological site, and the Museum of Greek Folk Art.
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23.The Temple Of Poseidon at Sounion
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Perched on a rocky cliff of Cape Sounion, on the tip of Attica, is the sacred Temple of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea – the last sight ancient Athenian seafarers had of their homeland before crossing the Aegean. The temple was probably built by the architect who constructed the Theseion in the Ancient Agora of Athens. The sculptures were made of marble from Paros Island, depicting Theseus and the battles with centaurs and giants. Some sculptures are now located in the Layrio Museum and the kouroi from the temple yard are now in the National Archeological Museum of Athens. The temple is enveloped in legends and mysteries and is incredibly picturesque, especially when the sun is setting over the Aegean Sea, coloring the ancient marble rocks in all shades of dusk.
Leoforos Athinon - Souniou | Cape Sounio, Sounio 195 00, Greece
24.Theatre of Dionysus
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The Theatre of Dionysus is located on the southern slopes of the Acropolis Hill in Athens. Dedicated to Dionysus, the Greek god of drama, it was the main theater of the Athenians in classical Greece and is believed to have been the world’s first theater. It was used as a theater from the 6th century BC and could seat up to 17,000 people. Its original wooden seats were later replaced with stone, with marble seats in the first row reserved for Athenian dignitaries. The theater still retains its original spirit and it is easy to imagine some of the tragedies by Aristophanes, Sophocles, or Aeschylus being performed on its stage.
Mitseon 25, Athens 117 42, Greece, Phone: +30-21-03-22-46-25
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25.Tower of the Winds
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The Tower of the Winds is an octagonal marble clocktower located in the Roman Agora in Athens and once served as a horologion or "timepiece." Since the tower features a sundial, a water clock, and a wind vane, it is considered the first known meteorological station in the world. It was built in around 50 BC by Andronicus of Cyrrhus, or in the 2nd century BC, depending on who you ask, but its restoration was completed in 2016 by the Athens Ephorate of Antiquities. Each of the tower’s eight sides faces one point on the compass and features a frieze showing one of the eight ancient Greek gods of the wind. There are eight vertical sundials beneath the friezes, casting a shadow on hour lines. The interior of the tower used to contain a complex internal water clock driven by water that flowed down from a well under the Acropolis.
Aiolou, Athens 105 55, Greece, Phone: +30-21-03-21-97-76
25 Best Things to Do in Athens, Greece
- Acropolis Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Yorgos Gaitis - Fotolia.com
- Acropolis of Athens, Photo: Courtesy of Pierre Violet - Fotolia.com
- Ancient Agora of Athens, Photo: Courtesy of Kristina Charles - Fotolia.com
- Benaki Museum, Photo: Benaki Museum
- Byzantine and Christian Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Pierre Violet - Fotolia.com
- First Cemetery of Athens, Photo: Courtesy of olga_voronova - Fotolia.com
- GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar, Photo: GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar
- Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, Photo: Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art
- Greeking.me, Photo: neirfy/stock.adobe.com
- Monastiraki Flea Market, Photo: Courtesy of viperagp - Fotolia.com
- Mount Lycabettus, Photo: Courtesy of luluandisabelle - Fotolia.com
- National Archaeological Museum, Photo: Courtesy of costas1962 - Fotolia.com
- National Garden, Photo: Courtesy of gorelovs - Fotolia.com
- Numismatic Museum of Athens, Photo: Courtesy of Haris Andronos - Fotolia.com
- Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Photo: Courtesy of waldorf27 - Fotolia.com
- Panathenaic Stadium, Photo: Courtesy of gatsi - Fotolia.com
- Parthenon, Photo: Courtesy of mrvisual - Fotolia.com
- Technopolis, Photo: Courtesy of milangonda - Fotolia.com
- Temple of Hephaestus, Photo: Courtesy of anastasios71 - Fotolia.com
- Temple of Olympian Zeus, Photo: Courtesy of starush - Fotolia.com
- The Agora-Athens Central Market, Photo: Courtesy of Luciana Oluvres - Fotolia.com
- Plaka, Photo: Courtesy of anastasios71 - Fotolia.com
- The Temple Of Poseidon at Sounion, Photo: Courtesy of WitR - Fotolia.com
- Theatre of Dionysus, Photo: Courtesy of Svetlana - Fotolia.com
- Tower of the Winds, Photo: Courtesy of anshar73 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of neirfy - Fotolia.com
Hadrian's Library was built in 132 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian on the north slope of the Acropolis Hill in Athens and is one of the largest of his constructions. The library also had lecture and music rooms and was designed as a classical Roman forum, with a pool in the courtyard bordered by 100 imposing columns. The library was severely damaged in 267 AD during the invasion of the Heruli. The west wall has been restored, but little else remains standing. The remains of three churches that were built at this site in the 7th and 12th centuries during Byzantine times are also preserved.
Areos 3, Athens 105 55, Greece