The establishment of Athens as a city dates back to mythological times. The city’s history is still evident throughout Athens in the form of many Ancient, Roman, Byzantine and modern monuments. Today’s capital integrates the ancient and medieval history into the contemporary era. Monuments can be found all around the city center, side by side with contemporary constructions such as buildings, roads and train stations.
The Parthenon, a global symbol of Greece, has been standing on the “sacred rock” of Athens, the Acropolis, for thousands of years. The Parthenon along with all the other monuments of the Acropolis, are unique pieces of art, reflecting the Classical period and the Golden Age of ancient Athens during the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.
THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
Designed by Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Michalis Photiadis, the sparkling new museum, has already become the city’s top attraction since its opening in June 2009 and is expected to become one of the most visited and “must see” museums worldwide. The museum, which exhibits approximately 4.000 artefacts, allows the sculptures to be viewed in natural light through special glass installations along with climate-control measures that protect them from sunlight. The most impressive part of the museum is its top floor, where visitors are able to view the frieze as well as the Parthenon itself outside the windows.
ODEON OF HERODES ATTICUS
At the footsteps of the Acropolis, the Odeon was built in 161 A.D. under Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes. Ever since and through the ages, audiences have had the chance to enjoy world-class concerts, plays and ballets within its surroundings. The natural setting of Herodeion, with its marvelous arcades, the Parthenon as a backdrop and the moon up in the sky will certainly fascinate you.
The Ancient Agora, which means “market” in modern Greek, is located at the footsteps of the Acropolis and in ancient times, served as the commercial as well as political, cultural and religious centre of the city.
Academy was a suburb of Athens, named after the hero Academos or Ecademos. The site was continuously inhabited from the prehistoric period until the 6th century A.D. During the 6th century B.C., one of the three famous Gymnasiums of Athens was founded here. In 387 B.C., Plato founded his philosophical school, which became very famous due to the Neoplatonists, and remained in use until 526 A.D., when it was finally closed down by emperor Justinian.
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF ATHENS
The visit to National Archaeological Museum is a must. One of the richest collections of ancient Greek art in the world, the exhibits represent all the cultures that flourished in Greece, from prehistoric times to the period of Turkish occupation. Frescoes from prehistoric Thera and sculptures from the classical period, such as the bronze statue of Poseidon, are some of the museum’s highlights.
The museum hosts over 25,000 artifacts divided into collections that date from the 3rd to the 20th century A.D.
MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART
An extensive and unique private collection of prehistoric art from the Cycladic islands, as well as ancient Greek and Byzantine art.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ATHENS
Features some of Greece’s and Europe’s finest paintings and works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The space hosts 30.000 items illustrating the spirit of the Greek world through a spectacular historical panorama, covering several time-periods from the Prehistoric, Ancient and Roman eras to the Byzantine and the contemporary Hellenic period.
STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION CULTURAL CENTER (SNFCC)
The new SNFCC is Greece’s largest cultural, educational and recreational urban complex, and globally, one of the most sustainable building complexes of its size. It promises to move its citizenry forward into the 21st century, through education, sustainability and culture. The Center includes new facilities for the National Library of Greece with a signi cant book collection, and for the Greek National Opera, one of the most modern opera houses in the world. Surrounding the buildings is the Stavros Niarchos Park, replete with Mediterranean planting, waterways, a Great Lawn for festivals and concerts, bike paths and children’s playgrounds.
THE FIRST CEMETERY OF ATHENS
It is the of cial cemetery of the City of Athens and the first one to be built. It opened in 1837 and soon be- came the main Athenian cemetery, where a number of famous Greek and foreign personalities have been interred. The cemetery is located behind the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens. The cemetery includes the tomb of Heinrich Schliemann, designed by Ernst Ziller, and a sculpture named I Koimomeni (the Sleeping Girl), by the sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas. The cemetery is under the Municipality of Athens and it is declared a historical monument.
Originally built in the 4th century B.C. for the athletic competitions of the Great Panathinaia (ancient Greek festivities), the “Kallimarmaron” Stadium (meaning “beautiful marble”) was the venue of the first modern Olympic Games, in 1896.
The official Athens visitor’s page is at http://www.thisisathens.org
We have also prepared a map with points of interest for you.