To list every significant site to visit while in Athens would be a very strategic project. The city of Athens has many revealed layers of history dating back to Ancient Greek and the Roman times, and up to modern day history.
To make things simpler, I have listed popular archaeological and historical sites that I have recommended to others in the past. Since these sites are also on the tourist routes, they can easily be visited by public transportation, Hop on Hop off Bus, or any city tour.
The Acropolis and Museum
Located strategically on top of a hill for all of Athens to see, the Acropolis is the largest of its structural type in all of Greece. It was built and dedicated to Goddess Athena; and one can appreciate the Ancient Greeks affection, and worship for her through the grandeur of the Acropolis.
The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. They are considered universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization, and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.
The Acropolis Museum is an important part of the Acropolis archaeological sight, and will round out your visit. Inside is an excellent collection of Acropolis artifacts, as well as a transparent floor over an open archaeological site.
Please visit the Acropolis Museum’s official website for current information.
* Please wear sturdy shoes with good traction. The grounds of the Acropolis are marble, and may be slippery. I had to walk very slowly around the Parthenon with my sandals, as I had slipped a couple of times.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Dedicated to the head of Olympian Gods, Zeus, this once massive temple was considered the largest in Greece. It took over 600 years to complete, spanning into the 2nd Century BC, Roman Empire ‘Hadrian’s’ reign.
Over the centuries, the Temple of Olympian Zeus fell to ruins, and was quarried for building materials. What remains today are sixteen of the original massive columns.
If walls could talk then there would be 3,000 years of stories within the district of Plaka. This neighborhood of Athens is considered the oldest, and it has been the longest running inhabited area of the city. It is believed to be the area that was developed from the ancient Agora of Athens.
Plaka is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Athens, because it has so many layers. Yes, it is considered touristy with many souvenir stores, cafes, and visitors, but it is also filled with vibrant energy. Plaka is a wonderful and safe section of the city to spend a day to shop, eat, and people watch.
National Archaeology Museum
The archaeology museum in Athens is home to the largest collection of Ancient Greek masterpieces, artwork, and sculptures in the world. If you plan on visiting only one museum in Greece, I recommend the National Archaeology Museum. It is the best of the best.
👩🏻💻 For more information→ National Archaeology Museum in Athens | Discovering Greece
The National Gardens, also known as the Old Royal Gardens was completed in 1840, and was commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838. These gardens were opened to the public in the early 1920s, and is a bit of serenity within the bustling city of Athens.
The National Gardens is quite large, and beautiful with shade trees, garden florals, duck ponds, a playground, a café, and ruins. It is open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. The National Gardens are located behind Syntagma Square, which is the main Metro stop coming from the airport.
Please visit the National Gardens website for current information.
After the Greek Civilization came the Romans, and they dominated many regions along the Eastern Hemisphere. I have visited Roman ruins from Jordan (Middle East), all the way into Scotland. The Roman civilization was heavily influenced by the Greeks, and there is a similarity with their Gods, Goddesses, mythology, architecture, etc.
The crossover between Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman cultures became the Greco-Roman civilization. This is the reason that you will see a heavy Roman influence in Greece, especially in Athens. The Roman era is just another ancient civilization layer that Athens has to offer us as visitors.
You will find Roman ruins around many of the tourist areas such as Plaka, Syntagma, and the Acropolis. Wherever you will find Ancient Greek ruins, more than likely you will find Roman ruins as well.
If you are wanting to indulge more into the Roman culture while in Athens, I suggest to do research of famous Roman sights, such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Roman Baths, Hadrian’s gate, plus many more. Delegate a day, wear comfortable shoes, and map out these sights. You will have a very fulfilling day.
Parliament – Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards is one of the best crowd pleasing shows around the world. In many countries that have public viewings of the Guard Changing, it is a spectacular free show. The city of Athens is known as having one of the best Changing of the Guards in the world, and should not be missed.
There are hourly changing of the guards in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Parliament daily. The Evzones stand guard in a still fashion, then do a short performance when it comes time to change.
The Official Changing of the Guards in Athens is done on Sunday in Syntagma Square at 11:00 AM.
This historic and well known stadium dates back to the 6th Century. Over the course of time, it was reconstructed in full marble by Herodes Atticus in approximately 138 AD. It became the only stadium in the world that was made of full marble.
Then several centuries later this glorious marble stadium was not used as its intended purpose, and was abandoned and filled with a wheat filled. It was not until centuries later in the 1800s that this stadium was excavated after Greece won its independence.
The Panathenaic Stadium is one of Athens most treasured and visited sites. This was the site of modern day Olympics, and it began here in 1896 with fourteen competing countries.
Please visit the Panathenaic Stadium’s website for current visiting information.
The Arch of Hadrian
Hadrian’s Arch, also known as Hadrian’s Gate, was constructed during the Roman era to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s arrival into Athens. The Arch of Hadrian is in remarkable condition considering that it was never fully buried (preserved) for over nineteen centuries.
The location of the Arch is close to Syntagma Square and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
What is life but a grand adventure…
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