Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years.
A center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, and in particular the Romans. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments.
Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the so-called "architectural trilogy of Athens", consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Academy of Athens. Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.
We had visited Athens about 15 years ago and were not writing our travel blog at that time. Being such an important and ancient city, we wanted to visit it again to take lots of photos and include it in our next travel blog.
We chose the Anthenaeum Continental as it offered the best value for large suites and offered complimentary transportation to the major sites we wanted to visit.
ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. It was in the fifth century BC that the construction of the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike took place.
The Parthenon is a former temple, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece.
The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization, and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments.
Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon served a practical purpose as the city treasury. For a time, it served as the treasury. In the final decade of the sixth century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s.
From 1800 to 1803, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures with the alleged permission of the Ottoman Empire. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed. Since 1983, the Greek government has been committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece.
Temple of Athena
Theater of Dionysos
The Theatre of Dionysus was built at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis. Dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine, the theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people with excellent acoustics, making it an ideal location for ancient Athens' biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It was the first theatre ever built, cut into the southern cliff face of the Acropolis, and supposedly the birthplace of Greek tragedy.
Other photos at the Acropolis
After touring the Acropolis, a stop at the nearby Acropolis Museum is a must.
The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies over the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square meters.
Just a short walk from the Acropolis is Ancient Agora.
The agora was a central public space in ancient Greek city-states. The literal meaning of the word is "gathering place" or "assembly". The agora was the center of the athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city. The Ancient Agora of Athens is the best-known example.
The Roman Agora is located just to the north of the Acropolis and to the east of the Ancient Agora.
Hadrian's Library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. The building followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style, having only one entrance, a high surrounding wall, an inner courtyard surrounded by columns and a decorative oblong pool in the middle. The library was on the eastern side where rolls of papyrus books were kept. Adjoining halls were used as reading rooms, and the corners served as lecture halls.
The Hellenic Parliament is the parliament of Greece, located in the Old Royal Palace, overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens. The Parliament is the supreme democratic institution that represents the citizens through an elected body of Members of Parliament.
It is a unicameral legislature of 300 members, elected for a four-year term. During 1844–63 and 1927–35 the parliament was bicameral with an upper house, the Senate, and a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies.
The Changing of the Guard occurs each day at precisely 12:00 pm and is quite a unique performance to watch.
KING GEORGE HOTEL
The King George Hotel is a five-star boutique hotel across the street from the Hellenic Parliament.
The National Gardens are adjacent to the Hellenic Parliament
TEMPLE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a monument of Greece and a former colossal temple at the center of Athens. It was dedicated to Olympian Zeus, a name originating from his position as head of the Olympian gods.
Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, some 638 years after the project had begun. During the Roman period the temple -that included 104 colossal columns- was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world.
The temple's glory was short-lived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged during a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD, just about a century after its completion. It was probably never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter. In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city. Despite this, a substantial part of the temple remains today, notably sixteen of the original gigantic columns, and it continues to be part of a very important archaeological site of Greece.
The Panathenaic Stadium Is a multi-purpose stadium. One of the main historic attractions of Athens, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.
A stadium was built on the site of a simple racecourse c. 330 BC, primarily for the Panathenaic Games. It was rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus, an Athenian Roman senator, by 144 AD and had a capacity of 50,000 seats. After the rise of Christianity in the 4th century it was largely abandoned. The stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the Zappas Olympics in 1870 and 1875. After being refurbished, it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and was the venue for 4 of the 9 contested sports. It was used for various purposes in the 20th century and was once again used as an Olympic venue in 2004. It is the finishing point for the annual Athens Classic Marathon. It is also the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place.
Mount Lycabettus is 908 feet above sea level. Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant. It has a spectacular 360 degree view of Athens. The hill is a tourist destination and can be ascended by the Lycabettus Funicular, a funicular railway which climbs the hill from a lower terminus at Kolonaki.
CONGRESS AND EXHIBITION HALL
The Philopappos Monument is an ancient Greek mausoleum and monument dedicated to Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos, a prince from the Kingdom of Commagene. It is located on Mouseion Hill of the Acropolis.
Philopappos died in 116, and his death caused great grief to his sister Julia Balbilla, citizens of Athens and possibly to the imperial family. As a dedication to honor the memory of Philopappos, Balbilla with the citizens of Athens erected a tomb structure on Muse Hill near the Acropolis.
His marble tomb monument is still known as the Philopappos Monument, and the hill is today known as Philopappos Hill. The location of this tomb, opposite the Acropolis and within formal boundaries of the city, shows the high position Philopappos had within Athenian society.
As seen from our hotel
ATHENS WAR MUSEUM
VARIOUS AND UNIQUE PHOTOS