After an overwhelmingly gorgeous week in the Greek Cyclades, it was time to immerse myself into the true historic island of Greece before leaving the country. Starting from the city of Athens, it was time to see Greece in a totally new light. I had 3 full days to explore the city however on the very first day I realized I could see all the highlights in one day if planned well in advance.
Only after setting my foot in the city I realized, once you’re in Athens, you can’t escape it. There are rich slices of history to be devoured at almost every turn. And the best way to explore the archeological finds and enjoy most of the cities site is by foot. So all I did was grabbed a city map on my first day in Athens and headed straight to Syntagma Square.
From here walking down the Arditto Street I reached straight to the Panathenaic Stadium.
Built 6 centuries ago, this stadium was stage of the first modern Olympic games and has had many reconstructions during centuries. Also known as the oldest stadium in the world, which is still used for sporting events.
All I could say is, the Panathenaic Stadium which is an effort of stacks of marble slabs, wooden scaffolding, stone masons, laborers and sturdy horse-drawn carts carrying materials to and from 350 different mines, with a total of 550 people is a ‘Miracle In Marble’ in todays time.
Making my way to spend the evening at Syntagma Square I stopped by the Parliament building. Visiting the Parliament Building (or the Presidential building), will take you to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial dedicated to all Greek soldiers who died serving their country. The memorial is protected 24 hours.
Walking opposite of the Parliament and past the fountain, there is the most thriving shopping area of Athens.
Greece is where western civilization began and everywhere you turn, you will find ruins that are thousands of years old. Greek civilization was admired for its preeminent philosophers, scientists and politicians and you can’t write about Athens without paying tribute to it.
3,400 years of culture is undoubtedly a good reason for visiting, especially as many of the most spectacular temples of the classical era are still standing, such as the resplendent Parthenon. But the more I was to explore I realized there’s much more to Athens than Doric-columned delights.
Next day I purchased a combination ticket and got to all the main sites to see everything in one day. Starting with the Hadrian’s Library, on the way to the Temple of Zeus, it was impossible to miss Hadrian’s Arch.
The arch, which was a tribute to the Roman Emperor Hadrian, for having contributed many things to the welfare of the city, was a sight. Especially at night when you can have the city view right through the arch.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. It was ravaged by barbarian invasion before completion but it still stands to this day.
It was absolutely incredible how well preserved this 2,431 year-old Temple of Hephaestus is!!
Ended todays tour with the evening view of the Acropolis.
Only on arriving here I realized that the Parthenon is the building, and the acropolis is the hill that it’s on. Here’s a better picture of the acropolis.
Arriving here I spent 2 hours here just taking in the incredible ancient architecture. The acropolis has the most incredible views of Athens!!
Some of the sights I passed on my way to Acropolis were the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, under the rock of Acropolis, the Stoa of Attalos, and the Roman Agora.
Viewing the Acropolis of Athens I couldn’t name it less than the pearl of the city, the small town built on the hill of the city. While exploring the Acropolis I could still see remains of the Parthenon, a magnificent temple built in 432 before Christ dedicated to the goddess Athena, all built in marble.
The name itself means ‘city on a hill’ and dates from the 5th century BC. Dominated by its main temple, the Parthenon, the Acropolis can be seen from all around the city of Athens.
On my way back after sighting history up-close it was time to end the day visiting the Acropolis Museum.
Founded in 2003, the museum currently has more than 4000 exhibited pieces of art.
It is an incredible journey throughout the history of Greek Gods. One of the vast museums I have visited, staying longer here will allow you to explore deeper and more historic stories.
Next day I spent time in the city’s most picturesque neighborhood Plaka that hides surprises at every corner, from shops with traditional products to typical restaurants. Weaving through, eventually finding the history fall away to posh cafes, this street had beautiful architecture reminiscent of the Greek Islands.
Explore, get lost, stay there a whole day, you’ll love it.
Being the last day with some free time in hand, I spent it exploring the Monastiraki neighborhood. It’s a very lively square with bars, outdoor cafes, restaurants, tucked away artsy cafes, eclectic shops and souvenir shops. I was lucky to experience the flea market held here on the weekends. And what better luck to catch the view from ‘A for Athens’ cocktail bar, with acropolis in the background!
For a girl who loves travel more than anything, who spends her days dreaming of all the ancient sites she wants to visit, Athens genuinely battered it right!
Night view of the Acropolis from one of the rooftop restaurants
History! History! History! Let your historic souls come alive in Athens
Dreaming and living the wanderlust life at my early 20's, I have always thrived on my long bucket list. Yes a list that counts up to more than 75 odd countries, I have been lucky enough to witness the magic of 20 awe-inspiring countries already and it still keeps me yearning for more.
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