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Athens

Athens: Birthplace of democracy, capital of Greece, Megalopolis?

The cradle of western civilization, Athens is a bustling city that attracts visitors with, among other things, its legendary classical temples; its museums displaying timeless works of art; the flower-filled balconies and Mediterranean streets of the Plaka district; and its crowded, lively taverns.

Attractions


The modern city of Athens surrounds the Acropolis. On a rocky outcrop stands the magnificent Ionic temple of Athena Nike, while the Parthenon prominently occupies the highest part of the plateau. The incarnation of Greek genius, the largest ancient Doric temple was dedicated to Athena Parthenos ("virgin") and built by architects Ictinos and Callicrates between 447 and 438 BC. On the north side, on the very site where the goddess defied Poseidon in their conflict over ownership of the city, is the Erechtheion, of Ionic style, famous for its portico of the Caryatids.

Of the several theatres of Ancient Athens, the Dionysus still remains. Located south of the Acropolis, this is where the words of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes once resounded. To the west, the restored Theatre of Herodes Atticus (a Roman theatre from the year 161) still presents concerts and shows. East of the Plaka, near the National Garden, visitors can admire the 15 remaining columns of the Olympeion, a monumental temple dedicated to Zeus.

The Plaka district, built under Turkish occupation, is the most popular and lively in Athens. Along its sinewy streets, Byzantine churches, taverns, bistro terraces, small, white houses and souvenir shops stand side by side. Farther north, the Plaka leads to Syntagma Square, the largest in the capital.

If you can only visit one museum during your trip to Athens, it should be the National Archaeological Museum, founded in 1874. Located in the northern part of town in a beautiful neoclassical building, it showcases impressive collections of marble, bronze and ceramic works, as well as treasures of all kinds. North of the National Garden are the Benaki Museum, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art and, farther east, the Byzantine Museum, whose collection of icons is one of the most stunning in the world.

Athens - New and Improved

Athens hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 2004 for the second time in modern history. The city went under massive renovations and upgrades. Feel the energy of the Games the moment you arrive in Athens at the new and improved airport. New highways, metro system and streetcars (or Trams) were built, making travelling in and around the city easier and more comfortable than ever before. New pedestrian streets link Psiri, Monastiraka, Plaka and Kolonaki for easier access and better commuting. Renovations were done to many hotels and additional lighting installed to highlight historical and archaeological buildings that represent the true legacy of Greece. Feel the excitement of the Olympic Sports Complex where chants and applause from the Olympic Games can still be heard. Be sure to visit Psiri, the new hot spot for shopping, dining and entertainment. Plenty of concerts, international shows, theatres and discos make for a lively nightlife. Embrace the opportunity to explore the wonderful attractions of Athens!

Nightlife

The Plaka, located south of Syntagma Square, is the old Turkish quarter of Athens and all that existed when Athens was declared the capital of Greece. The main streets of Kydathineon and Adrianou are packed with countless shops, tavernas, restaurants, discos and bars for all to enjoy. For those who find the Plaka too touristy at night, Psiri is a great alternative. Close to Monastiraki Square, this area is for people who want to see what it is like to be young and hip and to "chill out" in the city that never sleeps.

FALIRO

An elegant seaside suburb of Athens that welcomes many tourists year-round. Plenty of beaches line the coast along with marinas, tavernas and cafés. Entertainment is plentiful with many discos and cultural activities. Faliro is a short 6-kms from Athens. Trams and buses are readily available, as are excursions to major attractions.

GLYFADA

A large and fashionable beach resort town that is often referred to as the "Athenian Riviera". Glyfada is only 15 kms from Central Athens, near the popular beach town of Vouliagmeni. It is quite lively with greek tavernas, marinas and a bustling night life. The main square offers every amenity possible. During the summer months, Glyfada becomes populated with tourists. Excursions to major attractions are available.

VOULIAGMENI

A beautiful and picturesque peninsula surrounded by sandy beaches and sunny skies. This exclusive, attractive suburb of Athens is the ideal place to relax or play, while still less than an hour away from the ancient wonders of Athens.

Shopping

Syntagma (Constitution) Square offers upscale shopping in the Kolonaki area, while Monastiraki, the city's market square (flea market on Sundays) is a shopping destination for tourists and Greeks alike! Be sure to go olive shopping near Omonia Square, the commercial heart of the city, to sample various varieties of Greece's famous olives.

Going Out


In Greece, the aperitif is taken around 8 or 9 p.m., so in Athens, it is not rare to see people walking into restaurants around 10 p.m. Highly convivial, its regional cuisine is rich in products of the land. Elegant, expensive restaurants are found in the city's western section, towards Kifissia, while in the Plaka, taverns provide both cuisine and folklore. Everywhere in Athens, you will find many cafés that still have an old-fashioned look, as well as bars and nightclubs that attract all types of indivuals: young and old, artists and business people. Folklore-lovers shouldn't miss the Philopappos Theatre, between May and September. Another must-see from June to September is the Athens festival.

Where on earth


The political, economic and cultural heart of Greece, Athens is located in the southern region of the country. Founded deep in a valley, 7 km (4 mi) from the port of Piraeus, the city developed around the omnipresent hill of Acropolis.
Ulysses Travel Guides
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