The capital of Greece is the city of the Olympic Idea, the city of
culture, of science and commerce. A city with ancient monuments like Acropolis,
the inimitable ancient monument and landmark of Greece, museums, lively
tradition districts like Plaka and numerous sights. These are some of the
reasons that make Athens worth visiting. You may also visit this unique Athens guide map to find museums, hotels and more.
The Acropolis hill
This unique monument, which represents the ultimate in architectural and
artistic expression of the ancient Athenian spirit, occupies a rock 156m above
sea level, which is itself a natural fortress. During the Classical period
(450-330 BC) the most important temples were erected. It acquired its first
temple in the 8th c. BC. Building started on the Parthenon itself, dedicated to
Athena Parthenos, in the early 5th c BC only to be razed by the Persians in 480.
It was rebuilt during Pericles' rule in just ten years. The monumental
entrance to the summit of the holy rock, the Propylaia, designed by Mnesicles,
was under construction form 437 to 432 BC. The Erechtheion, dedicated to Athena
Polias, was completed twelve years later. Pheidias supervised these brilliant
architectural and artistic achievements of the 5th c BC, while the designs were
the work of Iktinos and Kalllikrates. The foundations of the temple of Athena
Nike, dedicated to Athena -Apteros Nike, were also laid at this time.
Temples of The Acropolis
Perhaps is the most important and characteristic monument of
the ancient Greek civilization and still remains its international symbol. It
was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens. It was built
between 447 and 432 BC, to plans of Iktinos and Kalikrates while Pheidias and
his pupils had charge of general constructional supervision and of the
decorative carvings. It was the first time that a peripheral temple in the Doric
style was decorated all round with a sculptured frieze 160 meters long,
illustrating the Panathenaean Procession (the most formal religious festival of
ancient Athens). The 92 metopes were also sculptured with reliefs representing a
battle with giants, a battle with amazons, battles with centaurs and scenes from
the Trojan War. The gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena, the work of
Pheidias was set up in the interior. When construction of the temple had been
completed, the pedimental sculptures were added. The two pediments of the temple
are decorated with mythological scenes: the east, above the building's main
entrance, shows the birth of Athena, and the west, the fight between Athena and
Poseidon for the name of the city of Athens.
It was build during the Peloponnesian War (420 BC) by
Philocles. The main temple was divided into two sections, dedicated to the
worship of the two principal gods of Attica, Athena and Poseidon - Erechteus,
from whom it got its name. Six female statues, the famous Karyatids, with
canisters on their heads as column capitals, support the roof of the temple.
Today five copies stand in their place. The originals are in the Acropolis
Museum (the sixth Caryatid can only be seen in London).
Temple of Apteros Nike:
It was constructed in ca. 420 BC, by architect
Kallikrates. The temple is built in Ionic order, and it is amphiprostyle with a
row of four columns in front of each of its narrow sides. The relief frieze on
the upper section of the walls depicts the conference of gods on the east side,
and scenes from battles on the other three. A marble parapet decorated with the
relief representation of Nike (Victories), protected the edge of the Bastion on
which the temple was erected. Athenians placed a statue of Nike without wings to
ensure that she would never "fly" away from their city. Today the statue can
be seen in the Acropolis Museum.
The monumental entrance to the Acropolis was designed by the
architect Mnesicles and constructed in 437-432 B.C. It consists of a central
structure with two wings. The colonnades along the west and east sides had a row
of Doric columns while two rows of Ionic columns divided the central corridor
into three parts. The walls of the north wing were decorated with painted panels
or wall paintings and that is why it was called the "Pinakotheke". The
ceiling of the Propylaia had coffers with painted decoration and a perforated
sima around the roof. The Shrine of Zeus Very little is left of this temple
dedicated to Zeus Polios, to whom sacrifices, the Bouphonia, were brought every
summer during the harvest season.
The Acropolis Museum
The museum was designed by the architect Panages
Kalkos and constructed between 1865 and 1874. In the 1950's it was extended
towards the east and the exhibition was rearranged by the archaeologist I.
Meliades. The museum contains mainly pedimental sculpture, reliefs and statues
found on the rock of the Acropolis, which formed part of the decoration of its
buildings or were dedicated to the goddess Athena. The collections of the museum
include: • Sculptural offerings of the Archaic period • Pediments of temples
dated to the Archaic period • Archaic Horsemen • Sculptures of the
"Severe" style • Pediments and metopes from the Parthenon • The
Parthenon frieze • The Erechtheion frieze • Parapets of the Athena Nike temple
• Frieze of the Athena Nike temple • The Caryatids • Clay figurines and vases
from the sanctuary of the Nymphs
Theatre of Herod Atticus (The Herodion):
Erected in 161BC by the Athenian orator and benefactor whose name it commemorates.
It can seat 5.000 spectators but most of its marble seats, except for those in the front row, are modern
restorations. It hosts all the events of the Athens Festival, as well as a few
other concerts and performs throughout the summer.
Stoa of Eumenes: Constructed in the 2nd c BC, it took its name from the
king of Pergamon, Eumenes II, who paid for it. Only its foundations remain, but
Athenians used to stroll and discuss in the shade of this 163m long arcade.
Theatre of Dionysos: This theatre, which occupies the site of an earlier
sanctuary of Dionysos Eleuthereos, is considered to be the oldest yet
discovered. Of the original 5th c. BC structure, only the orchestra remains. The
movable stage and seats were of wood. It was here that the great dramas of the
Golden Age had their first performances. The stone seats were added in the 4th
c. BC. Measuring 100m in width, 90m in depth and possessing 78 rows of seats, of
which only two-thirds are extant, the theatre underwent many alterations before
it reached its final form.
Odeon of Pericles:
Completed in 443 BC. Its foundations have been only
partly excavated. This roofed building with columns was used as a concert hall.
National Archaelogical Museum
The Museum displays finds from all parts of the ancient Greek world, which date
from Neo-lithic times to the last years of the Roman Empire.
The Prehistoric collection (7000 - 1100 BC)
Includes prehistoric collection from Thessaly, mainly clay idols and ceramics. Exhibits from the
Cyclades islands with such statuettes as the marble figure of a naked woman, the
Flute and the Lyre-player and the frescoes from Milos. And last but not least
finds from the Mycenaean period treasures from royal tombs, including the gold
death masks, jewellery, weapons, ceramics and miniatures.
The collection from the Historic period
Sculpture, ceramics but also a
variety of miniature arts, coins and gold objects make up the main branch of
this period's art.
There is pottery, mostly Attic vases from the Protogeometric
and Geometric period, Orientalising pottery, Corinthian and Attic vases of the
Black Figured style and Attic vases of the Red Figure style.
Daedalic sculptures, bronze statues (male and female figures) of
the Classical and Hellenistic period as well as Roman sculptures, Portraits of
the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, relief and sarcophagi.
Metalwork and Miniature Arts
The Karapanos' collection forms the core of
the exhibits located in the east wing. There are finds from the oracle at Dodona
and three rooms with Roman sculptures and Egyptian works.
The finest and most rare specimens are contained in the
Heleni Sthathatos collection of necklaces, earrings etc.
Plaka is Athens best preserved 19th century neighbourhood, with charming narrow
streets, lively taverns, tourist shops, cafes and beautiful restored mansions.
Plaka is under the Acropolis. Plaka took its name because of the flat area;
another version is that the area took its name from a large plaque found in
A little quarter of white houses built on the slopes of the
Acropolis above Plaka. It took its name from the residents of Anafi, who came
form the island of Anafi to settled here in the 19th c. St Nikolas Rangavas
church is one of the most popular churches in Athens. It was built in the 11th
c. by the Rangave family, which gave Byzantium many emperors and patriarchs.
Tower of the winds:
It is called the Clock of Andronikos Kyrrhestes
(Horologion), after the architect from Syros who built it in the 1st c. BC. Its
eight sides are orientated to the eight points of the horizon, which correspond
to the eight winds whose names and symbols are carved out of the upper portion.
Lykabettos hill or the "hill of wolves" is situated in the centre of
Athens, at an altitude of 277m. You can follow the path and go all the way up
the hill on foot, or take the cable car from Kolonaki. There you'll see St.
Georges church, a beautiful small church built just right at the top of the hill
and enjoy the magnificent view of Athens. There is also a cafe where you can
have a coffee and relax.
Sounion - Temple of Poseidon
Cape Sounio on the southeastern of Attica (69km from Athens) is linked with one of the most beautiful classical monuments the temple of Poseidon. Temple of Poseidon is as the crown of the cape, surrounded by a double fortification wall with Doric propylaia and porticoes.
The Temple of Poseidon was built between 444 and 440 BC. It is believed that it is connected with Pericle's extensive construction program in Attica and was constructed by the same architect who designed the Temple of Hephaistos at the Ancient Agora in Athens. The temple has 6 Doric columns on short sides and 13 on long, from which only 15 still stand today.
The sculptural decoration of the temple, made of Parian marble, is preserved in a poor condition.
The frieze of the east side depicted Centauromachy, and the east pediment (of which only a seated female figure is preserved) probably depicted the fight between Poseidon and Athena for the domination of Attica.
The two ante of the east side and several of the columns of the east part of the temple are still preserved today, while the west is completely destroyed.