The sacred rock of the Acropolis and its most recognized monument, the Parthenon, have withstood the test of time. Natives have often commented on its commanding presence that is instilled in their daily life. But nothing compares to witnessing its grandeur up close and in person. The archeological park, known as the Unification of Archaeological Sites, (4.7 km or 3 miles wide) that surrounds the Acropolis, encompasses some of the world’s most ancient treasures.
The New Acropolis Museum
Years in the making, this museum and its creative use of natural Greek light is the new gem of Athens and has been heralded as a masterpiece in itself. The permanent collections present finds and artifacts from the sacred hill of the Acropolis, while smaller «vignette» temporary exhibits offer insight on the whole. The cafe and museum shops are quite popular and are a must to visit as well.
National Archaeological Museum
One of the richest museums of ancient Greek art in the world, its collections span cultures that flourished in Greece from the prehistoric age and beyond. A bronze statue of Poseidon is here as are frescoes from ancient Thira. A comprehensive museum that is often overlooked.
Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament
The Greek Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every vacation portfolio should not be without a photo alongside the tall, commanding Presidential Guards, known as evzones or tsoliades. Worth the wait is to witness the changing of the guards, a ten-minute ceremonial procedure that takes place every hour on the hour. The foustanela or skirt that is part of their uniform is made up of 400 pleats, each one symbolizing a year that Greece was under Turkish rule.
This must-see monument opposite Zappeion Gardens on Vassilisis Konstantinou Avenue is the stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. The stadium, first built in 330 B.C., is made of white marble from the mountain Penteli and has a seating capacity of 45,000 for the concerts and events.
At a height of 277 metres (approximately 1,000) feet Lycabettus Hill is perhaps the best spot in which to get an aerial view of the city. Visible from here is the Acropolis, the port of Pireaus, and the island of Aigina. If a mini-trek up is not appealing, take the cable car to the top (and back down). The entrance is on the corner of Aristippou and Ploutarchou streets. If you decide to walk down the forest path you will encounter Dexameni Square in Kolonaki, where you can grab a bite to eat.
Ancient Agora, Monastiraki
Its befitting that this monument the center of commercial and business life in ancient times would later give rise to the buzzing shopping district that surrounds it today. Of course, Monastiraki does not compare to the milieu of the Ancient Agora, but it still continues to inspire those who live, work and visit the area.
With its undisputable charm, this area is one of the most frequented by visitors and natives alike. Plaka’s winding pathways carry thousands of years of history. Walk amongst the buildings whose facades are dressed in 19th century neoclassical design and architecture. Dine at one or several of its restaurants. And explore the ancient monuments, contemporary museums and traditional souvenir shops throughout.