A visit to Athens is way more than a tour of Greece’s historic capital. It’s a walk through over 3,400 years of world history, where the roots of democracy, western civilization & philosophy, political science, theatre and more can be found. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, boasting one of the longest recorded histories as well.
With an entire city built upon ancient history and culture, there are a lot of major sites to visit. Here are some of the most famous sites within Athens, which should be included on all tours through this ancient capital.
A Walk Through Ancient Civilization
The Acropolis & Parthenon
Athens’ most famous site, the Acropolis is an ancient citadel located high above the city, home to a number of ancient remains, buildings and monuments that were a pivotal part of this ancient civilization. One of the most famous sites at the Acropolis is the Parthenon. An ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Athena (the patron goddess of the city), this Classical piece of architecture dates back to 438 BC and is an icon of both western civilization and Ancient Greece. No visit to Athens is complete without paying a visit to this world-renowned monument.
Temple of Olympian Zeus & Ancient Agora
Another of Athens’ major tourist destinations, the Temple of Olympian Zeus has roots dating back to the 6th century BC. Dedicated to Zeus, the king of all Olympian gods, this ancient site was demolished and reconstructed over a series of centuries. Though standing in ruins today, its grandeur is still apparent to all tourists paying a visit to this ancient Olympian icon.
The Ancient Agora was once a public gathering place for people of all interests and backgrounds in Athens, as well as a central locale for the Athenian government. Dating back to the 6th century BC, this assembly spot was the heart of public Athens, sitting in the center of town and connecting the region’s main roads. Throughout its history, it remained a meeting point for government, military and religious affairs, as well as a theatre location and burial site. Once home to ancient temples, courts, monuments and altars, this ancient site is another must visit for all those touring Athens.
To get a more in depth look into ancient Greek civilization, visit any number of the informative and interesting museums within Athens. Two of the most notable visits are the new Acropolis Museum that is home to the ruins, relics and archaeological findings discovered around the ancient Acropolis, and the National Archaeological Museum which houses the largest collection of Greek antiquities in the world.
Athens was not only an important site for ancient Greek civilization, but also a crucial city for modern civilization as well.
A town square located in central Athens, Syntagma Square was the most important location for commercial activities in Athens during the 19th century. Surrounded by the Greek Parliament & National Gardens, this square is still used today as a public park, site of protests, celebrations and public gatherings, and meeting point for both locals and tourists. A real taste of modern Athens, this is a great place to relax and soak in the capital city scenery.
Athens’ most famous neighborhood, Plaka is close to almost all the ancient sites and filled with beautiful architecture. Home to a number of notable museums and traditional style houses, this modern part of Athens is a great place for walking tours.
Things to know while Visiting Athens:
➤Though one of the world’s oldest cities, Athens also enjoys some of the world’s modern touches as well. With an easy-to-navigate underground metro and fantastic cafés, restaurants and nightlife as well, there’s plenty to do here beyond historical/cultural tourism.
➤The best time to visit Athens would be early summer or early fall; mid-late summer in Athens can get too crowded!
➤And lastly, for the best touring experiences, book a top tour guide in Athens well in advance to show you the historical, cultural and local sides of their world-famous city.
Photo Credits: The Acropolis by Richard MartinCC BY, Temple of Olympian Zeus by Aleksandr ZykovCC BY, The Ancient Agora (Athens) by LenDog64CC BY, Athens Archeology Museum by VasenkaPhotography, Syntagma Square 1900 by MB-ECC BY, Athens - Plaka district with Panagia Gorgoepikoos by swifantCC BY, National Observatory of Athens by Pedro SzekelyCC BY-SA