The capital of Greece took its name from the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. This is where democracy was born. This is where that marvel of architecture, the Parthenon, was created. This is where art became inseparable from life, and this is where Pericles gave the funerary speech, that monument of the spoken word.
Athens is the symbol of freedom, art, and democracy in the conscience of the civilized world. In Athens memory never fades. Wherever you stand, wherever you turn, the city's long and rich history will be alive in front of you. In the center of town are two hills, the Acropolis with the monuments from the Age of Pericles, and Lycabettus with the picturesque chapel of Saint George. Athens today is a modern city, alive and on the go.
Athens once the capital of the ancient world and the center of civilization, today is a modern cosmopolitan capital bustling with life. It is crowned by the 2500 years old Parthenon proudly resting on the peak on the beautiful hill of Acropolis - the most celebrated antiquity and a noble relic of the Athens city's legacy.
Athens has become an indisputable symbol of humanity and has been imprinted in everyone's conscience as the city of thought and philosophy, the center of cultural development and artistic achievement.
In the past, Athens represented a "necessary" pilgrimage for all scholars. Today this cosmopolitan center welcomes millions of visitors annually, who flock its streets, restaurants, shops, resorts, and beaches, in an attempt to take part in its history, admire its countless monuments, experience its vitality, bake in its sun, and enjoy its traditional hospitality. A mere wander around the city takes one across Byzantine churches, ultra-modern buildings, green parks, museums, and archaeological sites.
Athens is the ideal destination for a city break, with the fine Mediterranean climate, plenty of sunshine and a fascinating multitude of things to do and places to visit. The old Plaka area with its maze of streets full of lively tavernas and bars by night, the traditional flea market at nearby Monastiraki and the change of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Parliament Square, is a must for all visitors. Kolonaki Square with its smart fashionable boutiques and coffee shops, the Hill of Lycabettus for breathtaking views of the city and romantic sunsets, is a sensation.
Athens is also a city famous for its culinary pleasures, offering everything from traditional Greek cuisine and entertainment at 'bouzouki tavernas', to gastronomic delights at elegant restaurants serving international cuisine in Glyfada and Pendeli to fresh seafood restaurants in Piraeus.
As the bright sun begins to set, the city's lifestyle switches to a unique nightlife rhythm. With its traditional taverns, with Greek dancers, and a cuisine that is made even more unique by the setting, whether one dines in deluxe restaurants, or to the sounds of modern night-clubs and traditional bouzouki-restaurants the city is alive and fun never stops till daylight.
Athens is well known for its vibrant nightlife. The city offers entertainment to suit all tastes; from fashionable discos, bars and clubs playing the latest sounds of pop and rock, to sophisticated classical concerts and opera at the Megaro Mousikis, to casino outings at the Mont Parnes casino.
Culture of Athens
There are few places in the world with so rich and diverse an artistic and cultural history as Greece. In terms of archeology, there are artifacts that are 200,000 years old, while architecturally Greece boasts Minoan and Dorian ruins dating back almost four millennia. Greece is also where drama originated, so there are plenty of ancient theatres to pick your way through:
Museums: Greece is bursting at the seams with museums. Almost every single city, town, village, historical site, settlement and hole in the hedge has an archeological museum which details the archeological and historical significance of its surroundings. (New Acropolis Museum)
Historical Sites: There is certainly no shortage of these in Greece. Every city has its own specialties, like the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora in Athens, the Oracle at Delphi, the Palace of the Grand Masters in Rhodes Town, and so on. There are far too many to list here. It is suggested you get hold of a tourist map from the Greek Tourist Organization (EOT) which sets out all the ancient, Byzantine and medieval sites throughout the country. But some of the major historical sites you should make a special effort to see are listed below:
- The Acropolis, Athens.
- The Ancient Agora, Athens.
- The Byzantine monument of Nea Moni on Chios.
- The Polycrates Wall and Eupalinos Tunnel at Pithagorio, Samos.
- The Oracle at Delphi.
- The Minoan palace city of Knossos, Crete.
- The ruins of Gortyn, Crete.
- Minoan ruined city at Phestos, Crete.
- Arch of Galerius, Thessaloniki.
- The White Tower, Thessaloniki.
- Dafni Monastery, Greece's largest Byzantine monastery.
- Meteora Monasteries, perched on mountain outcrops, in Kalabaka.