When in Athens make sure you don’t miss these Athens highlights.
The Acropolis, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is one of the most significant and most visited monuments in the world. It was the original fortified ancient “high city” of Athens built on the Acropolis hill, a prominent rock plateau high above the city, with commanding views and an amazing array of ancient architecture dating back to the Classical period of Ancient Greece. The main buildings of the Acropolis are the Erectheion Temple, the Temple of Athena Nike and the famous Temple of Parthenon, dedicated to the Goddess Athena, protector of the ancient city of Athens. The external pillars of the Parthenon are slightly curved to give an optical illusion as being straight when viewed from every angle. Other sites to view are the Kerameikos, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, and the nearby Odeum of Herodes and Theatre of Dionysus. There is a museum behind the Parthenon preserving many of the artifacts from the site.
Ancient Agora is the green parkland next to the Acropolis Hill with a very beautiful view of the Parthenon. An Agora was an open place of assembly in ancient Greek times where free-born male citizens would gather for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later in Greek history, the agora served as a marketplace where merchants kept stalls or shops to sell their goods. There is the Temple of Hephaestus, the best preserved ancient Greek temple, the Attalos Stoa and the museum of the ancient Agora.
Odeum of Herodes is a Roman theatre addition to the Acropolis, built in the city around 167 AD and located on the side of the Acropolis hill easily viewed from the front of the Parthenon. Today, concerts are held here and is where the popular musician Yanni recorded his album ‘Yanni Live at the Acropolis’.
Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in the city at 277 m (908 feet) above sea level and is a popular tourist destination for the spectacular view of Athens, the Acropolis, the port of Piraeus and the island of Aegina. At the peak are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant. The hill borders the Kolonaki district and can be ascended by walking or by a funicular railway which climbs the hill from a lower terminus at Kolonaki, Aristippou street.
Syntagma Square is located at the centre of the city and is the business district of Athens. Many hotels, banks, shops, restaurants and airline offices are located in the area. The Parliament building faces the square where visitors can view the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament every hour on the hour. Many places of interest to visitors are located relatively close to the Syntagma Square. The districts of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki to the west, Kolonaki to the east and Omonia to the north.
Temple of Olympian Zeus, once the largest temple in Greece, is a Greco-Roman temple in the center of Athens, southeast of the Acropolis. Construction began in the 6th century BC, but was not completed until the reign of the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. Only ruins remain today as the temple would have been destroyed by earthquakes.
Three Island Cruise is a delightful day cruising the beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf. The cruise stops at Aegina (the first capital of Ancient Greece), Poros and Hydra. Passengers have free time for shopping, swimming or enjoy a drink at one of the many foreshore tavernas. This cruise is very popular and a highly recommended introduction to the Greek Islands.
Cape Sounion is the southern most point of Attica where the white marble pillars of the 5th Century BC Temple of Poseidon stand. Visitors are taken on a scenic drive along the coastal road past the popular beaches of the Athenian Riviera, set against a backdrop of breathtaking ocean views, offshore islands and rugged mountain terrain.
As you can see there is a lot to do in Athens – one visit will not be enough!