What to See in Athens, Greece

This is a series of blog entries from SkySurf.Travel’s first travel hiree, Romanna.

Welcome to Athens!

Today I will show you the essential places in the capital of Greece.

So, let’s start from the Syntagma square. The name Syntagma means Constitution. The square has a long history, and it seems that every major event in Greece was either mourned or celebrated here. It has held some of the most significant political pep-rallies ever seen on the planet.

Syntagma square
Syntagma square

Syntagma Square is back and better than ever. Well, maybe not better than ever. It was probably at its best in the early 1900s when no cars and buses were whizzing around it, and when towering trees shaded it. But with the re-routing of the traffic, the opening of the new metro, and the removal of the wooden billboard covered walls, Syntagma looks better then it has in many years. At the top of the square are two stairways and an elevator leading to the Syntagma Metro Station, one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world, with its museum of artifacts found at the construction site. There is also the Parliament Building, formerly the King’s Palace, built between 1836 and 1840 by King Otto and financed by his father Ludwig I of Bavaria. 

Changing of the guard
Changing of the guard

Guarded by the elite soldiers Evzones, chosen for their height and strength, is the tomb of the unknown soldier and the Palace. They are like the guards at Buckingham Palace with the big furry hats and are treated the same way by tourists who come to take their pictures and see if they blink. Every so often they do a little march and dance to break the monotony of standing still all day. They occasionally do this small kick step with their slouchy shoes with the pom-poms. The pleated skirt, the foustanela, was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today it serves as the official uniform of the Evzones. Otto established it as the formal court dress in the middle of the 19th century. At 6 pm, you can see the changing of the guard while dodging pigeons. If you have children, they will probably enjoy feeding them with the nuts sold there. On Sunday at 11 is a big ceremony for the changing of the guard with a marching band and a whole troop of Evzones. Syntagma Square is the most famous in Athens if not all of Greece. No matter where you have to go to Athens if you can find Syntagma Square, you can find your way. 

National Library of Greece

The National Library of Greece is situated a 15-minute walk from the Syntagma square. The building itself is imposing and designed to mimic the ancient architecture. It is part of Hansen’s famous Athenian Neoclassical Trilogy of buildings that include the National University of Athens and the Academy of Athens.

National Library of Greece
National Library of Greece

It is a beautiful sight only spoiled by the view of dilapidated modern buildings across the street covered in graffiti. Established in 1888 was the library. Unfortunately, the historic building is no longer functioning as a library. Rendered from it were all the books. In the funds of this library were thousands of books in all languages ​​of the world.

The Plaka district

We continue our acquaintance with the sights of Athens in the old Plaka district with the village of ruins and the view from Parthenon. The Plaka is the most previous section of Athens. Most of the streets have been closed to automobile traffic, though you should still keep a watchful eye for a speeding motorcycle or delivery truck. First of all, you need to get your bearings. The Plaka is under the Acropolis and stretches almost to Syntagma.

Street musicians in Placa district
Street musicians in Placa district

There are two main pedestrian streets which intersect at what is generally considered the center of the Plaka: Kydathineon and Adrianou. The Plaka is full of street musicians, flower sellers, photographers, and people who sell beads or will write your name on a grain of rice. 

Outdoor cinema in Athens
Outdoor cinema in Athens

There is the Cine Paris in Plaka. The Cine Paris, the best outdoor movie theater in Athens. Of course, you haven’t come to Greece to go to the movies, but if you are not ready for a wild night out and want to sit back for entertainment, you are in for a treat. Almost all the movies are in English with Greek subtitles, and when you go inside, you will discover the theater is on the roof with a view of the Acropolis.

Whether you like hanging out watching people, shopping, eating, or wandering around, the Plaka is a great area to be in or near. From it, you can walk to all the desirable parts of central Athens. 

Temple of Zeus
Temple of Zeus

If to say a few words about The Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the height of its power. It is also the most elegant monument on the Acropolis in terms of both conception and execution, built between 447 and 438 BC. Conservation and restoration of the Parthenon took place in 1896-1900 and again in 1922-1933. 

The Parthenon
The Parthenon

– Romanna

Romanna’s trip to eight cities (five islands) in Europe cost a total of $815 (flights only).  To build your own cheap multicity itinerary, visit SkySurf.Travel.

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