Athens is a city full of magnificent architectural accomplishments and culture; with some of the most incredible structural feats as well as breathtaking views, Athens is a place that everyone should see in their lifetime. Thanks to ShoreTrips, the sponsor supplier for this article, you won’t miss a minute of ancient Athens.
Athens is not only the capitol of Greece, but also its largest city. It is also considered one of the oldest cities in the world, with a recorded history spanning over 3,400 years. The city’s port Piraeus is the biggest passenger port in Europe, and the second largest in the world. Athens draws visitors from all over due to its classical heritage and beauty, as well as the endless amount of sights, museums, and activities to experience. You can find pieces of history all through Athens in the monuments scattered throughout the city, many of which are well known around the globe and should not be missed on your Athens vacation. The Parthenon is one of the most well known of these monuments. Located on the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, and was completed in 438 BC, with decoration being completed in 432 BC. It is regarded as the finest example of Greek architecture, and although it has suffered much damage through the years it currently stands after years of reconstruction.
The Acropolis of Athens, where the Parthenon is located, is another site that must be explored whilst visiting the Grecian city. An ancient citadel containing the remains of many buildings of architectural and historical importance, the Acropolis of Athens is located on a rocky outcrop above the city. Though the Parthenon is the most renowned building found at the Acropolis, other significant structures include The Temple of Athena Nike, the earliest full ionic temple on the Acropolis, and The Erechtheion, which is home to the famous caryatids known as ‘Porch of the Maidens‘. The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as The Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus is another architectural and historical landmark in Athens that should not be missed when visiting. A monument of Greece, the Temple of Olympian Zeus is now only made up of 15 standing columns, with a 16th that lies on the ground after falling during a storm.
Another beautiful area in Athens that should not go without being seen is Plaka, the oldest historical neighborhood in the city. Found around the slopes of the Acropolis, Plaka has something to offer visitors and residents alike. Known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods” due to its proximity to the Acropolis site Plaka is visited by hundreds of thousands of people. Stroll through its winding streets and soak in the neoclassical architecture in the warm Athens sunlight. Inside Plaka you will find the Acropolis Museum, where you can view the artifacts found from the archaeological site. With nearly 4,000 exhibited objects over a space of 150,000 square feet, the museum was opened to the public in 2009.
Also in the historic neighborhood you will come across the Frissiras Museum which houses 3,000 paintings and works of art collected by lawyer Vlassis Frissiras. These works from Greek and other European artists range in style, and focus on the human form. The Athens University Museum is another great finding in Plaka, for the building itself was a structure of the Ottoman period, and collections found within include books, manuscripts, diplomas, and scientific instruments. The site was also home to the first University of the independent Greek State, hence the name. Not far from Plaka you come across Monastiraki, one of the principal shopping districts in Athens. Peruse clothing shops, specialty stores, and local boutiques in the flea market neighborhood. The Tzistarakis Mosque is also located in this district, and most definitely deserves a moment on your Athenian getaway. Built in 1759, this Ottoman Mosque now functions as an annex for the Museum of Greek Folk Art. The pottery collection from this museum remains within the annex of the Tzistarakis Mosque to this very day!
For one of the best views of Athens, take a trip up Mount Lycabettus. Located 908 ft. above sea level, Mount Lycabettus is a limestone hill with an open-air amphitheater located at its two peaks, where artists ranging from Ray Charles to Radiohead have performed. Mount Lycabettus even appears in many different legends, and some popular stories suggest that may once have been the refuge of wolves. Also found in the peaks of Mount Lycabettus is the 19th Century Chapel of St. George as well as a restaurant. Technopolis (Gazi) is a major cultural venue in Athens that is worth an afternoon during your vacation. A multicultural hub of activity, Gazi hosts an array of exhibitions, seminars, concerts, and other activities on its grounds. Eight of the buildings on the grounds are named after Greek poets, and there is even a museum dedicated to opera singer Maria Callas in one of the buildings!
Though the city is known for its historic architecture and culture, the cuisine in Athens is another reason to make the trip. With a plethora of restaurants ranging in style and flavor to choose from, you cannot go wrong with a meal in this ancient city. For something more upscale and fine dining, check out Funky Gourmet. Holding two Michelin stars, this restaurant creates carefully put together menus that are inspired by the products available locally and seasonally. With items like Sea urchin ‘pocket’ pasta and greek bottarga tartlet with white chocolate a meal at Funky Gourmet will be a Greek experience unlike any other. Atitamos is an option for something a bit more low-key, serving traditional greek and Mediterranean dishes; be sure to try the grilled mushrooms or the classic kabob. If you are in for a real thrill, Dinner in the Sky is the option for you! Lifted over 160 feet in the air, you are prepared a 5 course meal all while the table rotates, allowing you to see Athens in all of its nighttime splendor. The food is for a modern palette, with Greek influence, and meals are accompanied by Greek wines. It is a once in a lifetime experience, and definitely worth an evening on your Athens escape.
A center of Mediterranean commerce and culture for millennia, Athens is archaeological sightseeing at its best. ShoreTrips’ sharp and amusing guides escort you to its most prominent sights, offering anecdotes and context that would pique the interest of even those with little interest in history. We’re talking shore excursions to the Acropolis, Parthenon, Constitution Square, Temple of Zeus, and First Olympic Stadium.
If you have a problem with those crowded, big bus tours operated by the cruise lines and you’re a little thrifty, here’s the perfect tour for you. Visit the best of Athens along with a few others in a very comfortable van driven by an experienced, personable driver for just about what the big bus tours cost. And since it’s a ShoreTrips tour, you know it’s first class.
Athens is home to a wonderful Jewish community and many interesting Jewish sites. This tour takes you to the New and Old Synagogues, as well as the impressive Jewish Museum of Greece. Your driver is not a licensed guide, but he is so informative and personable that you’ll feel like he is!
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