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Welcome to Athens, the historical capital of Europe with a long rich history and modern vibrations. Let’s take a historic walk and explore charming old-style neighborhoods, oases away from the hustle and bustle of the city center such as Makrygianni, Plaka, Thiseio, Kerameikos, Monastiraki and Psyrri. In every step around this area you will come across different archaeological monuments, museums and art galleries. Besides that, enjoy the excellent weather, yummy food, vivid nightlife and the open Greek leisured lifestyle!
Stroll around Plaka, one of the most alluring and cosy districts in Athens. Renowned among the Athenians as the Neighborhood of the Gods, Plaka will cast a spell on you with its winding streets and nicely restored old houses of a neoclassical flair and coffee shops, tavernas and tiny mezedopolia (small tavernas serving traditional tid-bits (meze). Relax and enjoy your beverage or a meal with the right touch of romance and nostalgia of the past. You will be overwhelmed by the plethora of folk art items, works of art, traditional products, clothing and handmade articles found in souvenir shops all around.
You will also encounter significant monuments and sites covering antiquity, as well as the city’s Roman and Ottoman past. The district is a real cultural mosaic: Small churches and mosques, a hammam, the Roman Agora, and the first university of Greece.
Our tour starts at the Temple of Olympian Zeus (6th c. BC) - one of the largest in antiquity- and Hadrian’s Arch or Hadrian’s Gate (131 AD), the entrance to the old city. Admire this beautiful triumphal arch that was built over the line of an ancient road leading from the Acropolis and the Athenian Agora area to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and take your time to read the inscription on the western side of the arch (facing the Acropolis): “This is Athens, the former city of Theseus” and on the eastern side (facing the Olympieion): “This is the city of Hadrian, and not of Theseus”.
From this point walk along Dionysiou Areopagitou street, the pedestrian walkway created to connect the most significant archaeological sites surrounding the sacred rock of the Acropolis. Make a stop at the ruins of the Asklepieion (5th c. B.C.), take a look at the Stoa of Eumenes (2th c. BC) and finally enter the Odeion of Herodes Atticus (161 AD), which is nowadays the main venue for the summer Athens Festival’s performances, under the shadow of the Acropolis and the Athenian stars!
Put on your most comfortable shoes and climb up to the sacred hill of the Acropolis, the greatest and finest sanctuary of ancient Athens, dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena. The Acropolis is definitely Greece’s most famous attraction, a landmark in the history of humanity and on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
While you ‘re at it, head towards the north slope and admire cavities of varying size in the limestone rock of the Acropolis. The Sacred Caves offered refuge to the cults of the twelve gods and heroes of Ancient Athens. Take the time to ‘invade’ the remote regions of the caves and enjoy a journey back in time.
For a holistic understanding of the whole site, follow up with a tour to the impressive Acropolis Museum, housing more than 3,000 famous artefacts from the Acropolis.
On your way out of the Acropolis, you will come across a high, slippery limestone rock, known as the Mars Hill (Areios Pagos), the most ancient law court of the world. Opposite it lies Philopappou Hill, renowned in antiquity as the Hill of the Muses, with its strikingly beautiful cobbled little roads and the Roman monument of Philopappos (2nd c. AD) on the top of the hill.
This summit affords extraordinary views of the Parthenon and the Athenian skyline. Close by, hidden among the pine trees, is the Pnyx, where the citizens of ancient Athens used to assemble and exert their democratic rights and where Pericles and Themistocles delivered their orations. Walking further along the pedestrian road (the name of the street changes to Apostolou Pavlou), you will reach the picturesque square of Thiseio, one of the liveliest corners of the city, filled with cafes and restaurants open day and night. Turning right to Adrianos Street, you will enter the Ancient Agora, the heart of public life in ancient times: Literally the birthplace of democracy.
Pay a visit to the temple of Hephaestus (460 - 420 BC) and the Stoa of Attalos that used to be the major commercial building of ancient Athens. Continue towards Ermou Street and wander around Kerameikos, the vast cemetery of the ancient city; see the impressive tomb sculptures and stelae.
While walking through the historical area of Plaka, in the northeast side of the Acropolis Hill, you will come upon a tiny, scenic little neighborhood in the foothills of the Acropolis that will give you the impression of being on a Greek island, particularly one in the Cyclades.
Welcome to Anafiotika, a little hidden gem built in the early 19th century, when master builders from Anafi Island (hence the name) came to Athens to refurbish the King’s Palace. With whitewashed cubic houses – typical examples of Cycladic architecture - blooming bougainvillea flowers, shade trees, narrow alleyways and many stray cats, you will feel like strolling around an island in the heart of the city!
Keep in mind that most of the original village was destroyed in 1950 for archaeological research so today only about 45 houses remain. Despite the tourists that find their way to the Anafiotika, there are no souvenir shops or tavernas. Enjoy the tranquility!