The ancient city of Athens was first inhabited around 7,000 years ago and has been a major city of the eastern Mediterranean ever since. Named after the goddess Athena, Athens is still synonymous with civilization, culture and beauty.
Most modern democracies can trace their roots to the ancient Greeks and the writings of Solon in 594 BC established what is now judged as one of the world’s earliest constitutions.
Many of the monuments that dominate Athens, are instantly recognisable to any visitor, including the magnificent Parthenon, also known as the temple of Athena. The Acropolis dominates contemporary Athens, the word actually means ‘high city.’ The Acropolis itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the whole area should certainly be explored by anyone visiting this beautiful city. Many of these monuments date back to the time of Pericles in the fifth century. The influence of Pericles cannot be denied; he was the most important statesman of his epoch and it was thanks to his efforts that the Parthenon was erected. Visitors to the Acropolis can enter from Dionysiou Areopagitou close to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. There is an alternative entrance from Theorias and yet a further entrance close to the Kanellopoulos Museum.
The Odeon of Herodes Aitticus is also known as the ‘Herodeon and is at the base of the Acropolis. This beautiful open-air auditorium is still a venue for live music and theatre. If possible go and enjoy any of the wonderful plays by the Greek classical writers, including those by the humourist Aristophanes. Masked actors in the style of the ancient Greeks perform some of the plays.
A useful route for any tourist who wishes to visit Athenian antiquities is the Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street that manages to link all of the major Athenian archaeological sites. Many of the hotels in Athens are close to this part of the city so if sightseeing becomes too exhausting then tourists can always retire to the comfort of their hotel.
Anyone that seeks a short introduction to the sometimes-baffling world of the Ancient Greeks and Athenian civilisation will benefit from a trip to the ‘Foundation for the Hellenic World.’ Situated just two kilometres from the centre of the capital, visitors can take a virtual trip around the Agora that was so beloved of the ancient Greeks, and also take a trip on a three D Kivtos Time Machine.
Visiting Athens can become very tiring, especially under the blue skies and scorching heat of the high summer months. The spring, when temperatures, settle around the balmy mid 20s Centigrade is a far easier time for anyone to start exploring this fascinating city. Early autumn is also recommended; late September and October are considered the best months as most of the local tourists will have departed for their homes making Athens far easier to navigate.
Athens is a vibrant and bustling modern city despite having its roots steeped in antiquity. It’s relatively easy to take a metro from the airport right into the centre. The transport system also encompasses trams, buses and of course the taxis with their incessant horn blowing.
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