Athens has seven hills in the city. The most famous one is the hill of Acropolis, where first settlements are found and famous temples from the classical period like Parthenon and Erechtheion are situated.
However, one other hill in the centre offers the best views of Athens. Mount Lycabettus is 277 meters high, placed only 15 minutes’ walk away from Syntagma square, the city’s central square.
The place we recommend you offers an entirely different panoramic, as you will have all the city under your feet with its 360° views. From the top, you can get a bird’s eye view of the hill of Acropolis and its temples. Also, the old agora that was the social and economic activities centre in the ancient Athens, the unstoppable port of Piraeus bustling with activity, and the Attic basin and even the nearby islands of Aegina Salamina if the day is clear.
The experience will be worthy, as you can climb Mount Lycabettus any time of the day, so much in the morning light as at sunset. The option to see all the city at your feet is something unique.
If you want to accompany the views with a coffee or a romantic dinner, a restaurant is open all day long, near the viewpoint.
You can take a 15 minutes’ walk from Syntagma Square to get to Mount Lycabettus, having the opportunity to cross Kolonaki, the most elegant neighbourhood of Athens and go up with the funicular placed in Aristippou street. Two-way tickets will cost 7 euros.
Another good option is to go up in a taxi, as they are very affordable in Athens.
Don’t miss the opportunity to admire Athens, its monuments and the Aegean Sea from Mount Lycabettus.
Doras Nt Istria
AthensTransportation: Syntagma metro L2 and metro L3.
On Greek tables, the one thing that is always present is a salad to accompany the main course. The best known of the salads and the one you will always find on any restaurant menu is the well-known Greek salad or xoriatiki. An unmistakable salad with a piece of feta cheese on top. But we would like to recommend you to try out another great salad from the Greek gastronomy, the Dakos salad. This salad originates from the island of Crete, and today it is a dish that can be found everywhere in Greece. The salad is prepared in many different ways today. The most traditional one consists of a slice of barley bread called paximadi. It’s moistened and garnished with crushed or grated ripe tomato, diced tomato and crumbled feta cheese; the tomato is flavoured with oregano, garnished with olives and dressed with extra virgin olive oil.
The type of bread used is a type of rye bread that is hard. It is exquisite in this salad because it is soaked in delicious Greek tomato juice. Nowadays, this bread is used in many Greek recipes, but in the past, during difficult times for Crete’s island, more humble times due to wars, this was the only bread that many families could afford.
We encourage you to try out a different kind of salad!
If you want to go shopping, without a doubt the best place is Ermou avenue. Every sizeable international chain of stores and firms can be found here, from shoe shops, cosmetic stores, jewellery, book stores, antique shops, and endless business always offering something for anyone.
It is in a perfect location, starting in Syntagma square, the heart of the city and ending in Thissio at the feet of Acropolis. Along Ermou street we leave both sides the centric and historic neighbourhoods of Plaka and Monastiraki and endless nearby allies full of cafeterias, restaurants, pastry shops, small local designer shops and handicraft shops.
As we walk, we will find architectonic jewels like the small and beautiful Byzantine church of Kapnikarea From the XIth century or the terraces in front of Athens’ cathedral in Mitropoleos street, parallel to Ermou.
Let’s recommend you a walk through the most centric avenue of Athens where you can do your shopping surrounded by some of the oldest and most historical places in Europe.
Syntagma L2 and L3
Monastiraki L1 and L3
The Hill of the Muses, the 147 m high Hill of Philoponus is located in Athens’s heart opposite the Acropolis. It is one of the most seen places, as anyone visiting the Acropolis can easily see it as it is right in front of it, but few climb it and enjoy the walk up to the mausoleum and the views found there.
The hill’s name is Pnyx, but it is better known as Philopapus because of the funerary monument built between 114 and 116 AD in honour of Julius Antiochus Philopapus Roman. He was the consul and last prince of Commagene’s kingdom, an Athenian citizen and a great benefactor to the city.
Postcard views! That’s what those who climb to the top will have. The best photos of the Acropolis and the Parthenon can be taken from the hill of Philopapus. They are opposite the city’s most important monuments at a similar height.
Not only are the views from the top worth the effort, but the entire walk starting from the street of Dionysius Areopagite is a route of paths that wind their way through the vegetation of the hill and is something to be appreciated especially during the summer days.
During the comfortable climb to the top, you will come across the beautiful church of San Dimitrio Lombardaris, which contains excellent frescoes inside depicting Jesus Christ’s life. A detour leads to the prison of the philosopher Socrates and the main path leads to the Sanctuary of the Muses, the nymphs who inspired artists, cut into the rock face just below the top of the hill.
With this pleasant walk along the hill of Philoponus, you will learn part of Athens’ history reaching the top to contemplate from a privileged place one of the greatest legacies left by Greek culture. These temples were erected on the top of the Acropolis, highlighting the Parthenon dedicated to the city’s patron saint, the goddess of wisdom Athena.
Subway: Thissio L1 and Akropolis L2
The Greek philosopher Plato founded a school called Academia in the 5th century BC. The name is due to its location in the gardens dedicated to Academos, a Greek mythology hero.
At least during its founder’s time, the Academy became an important centre of influence, both morally, cognitively and politically. The school had a long history and was active until 529 when Emperor Justinian closed it for religious reasons.
In this place, where young people learned and developed different philosophical theories and where Plato himself taught his pupils, today it is possible to look at what this place, from which so many ideas have emerged, was like. The most famous school in the world, founded by one of the most influential and prominent philosophers, is still accessible.
Now located in a public park, the ruins of the buildings that once comprised it remains. In the last century, excavation work managed to find the remains of the school. On both sides of Cratylus Street are important monuments. The geometrical period of the Sacred House, the Gymnasium (1st century BC-1st century AD), the vaulted Proto-Helladic House and the Peristyle Building (4th century BC), which is perhaps the only important building that belonged to Plato’s Academy.
Today, it is a treat to stroll through the park of this archaeological site full of children playing and families from the neighbourhood, sit on one of the benches, and contemplate how the young thinkers were educated there is a unique experience.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the unknown places in Athens and at the same time, one of the most influential in the history of Western thought!A place to take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle and think about the past.
Eteokleous 26, AthensSubway Larissa L2
DISCOVER THE URBAN ART OF EXARCHIA
Exarchia is the student quarter in Athens and has played an essential role in Athens’ social and political life, which is also known as the quarter of the anarchists. Many intellectuals and artists live here, and it is considered a centre of art where art performances and music concerts take place around the main square. Many live music venues, nightlife and restaurants fill the neighbourhood with nightlife.
But there is something that has been developing so that it has become internationally famous. That is its urban art, especially the graffiti that occupies the walls of the buildings.
Located right in the city centre, behind the National Archaeological Museum and the Polytechnic University of Athens, Athens’ streets are lined with real works of art on the walls. Many of them have a strong political message of resistance and even criticism of the system. Still, we can also find works that speak metaphorically about the human condition, philosophy, and even the city’s mythology and history.
Exarchia’s street art promotes diversity, independence, freedom of expression, social awareness and a culture of resistance.
Articles in art magazines and documentaries talk about this phenomenon that is developing in Athens and speaks of the city’s pulse, of the fact that, despite being hit by the severe economic crisis, Athens is still alive and has a rich and active cultural life.
We propose you to discover what you won’t see in any of the city’s guidebooks but which speaks of what contemporary artists are experiencing these days. Moreover, photographing these impressive art murals will allow you to try one of the many restaurants in the area.
Go ahead and wander the streets of Athens’ liveliest neighbourhood!
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE ACADEMY OF ATHENS (NEOCLASSICAL TRILOGY)
Any visit to Athens must include the famous neoclassical triad on Panepistimio Street. This triad is made up of the former National Library, the University and the Academy. The latter, the Academy, is known as the National Academy of Greece, founded in 1926 and Athens’s most important monuments.
The name refers to the famous school founded by the philosopher Plato, but it is important not to confuse it. This 20th century Academy is neither built on the former site of Plato’s Academy nor does it have the same purpose. It was founded to govern different research centres divided into three orders: Natural Sciences, Arts and Letters, and Moral and Political Sciences.
The main building was designed as part of the Pan-Epistimius trilogy by the Danish architect Theophil Hansen in 1859 and completed in 1885.
The main façade has the same composition as the Propylaea of the Acropolis. In other words, they are a copy of the main entrance gates which the Athenians used to pass through in the 5th century BC to pay homage to the goddess Athena at the Parthenon. Today, the Acropolis’ propylaea still bear the traces of the passing of the centuries.
Nevertheless, we can get an idea of precisely what they were like by visiting the Academy and admiring the beauty of its façade.
The seated sculptures in front of the entrance staircase are two of the most influential philosophers of ancient Greece: Socrates and Plato. The curiosity here is that the other great exponent of Greek thought, Aristotle, is missing. Still, he was not considered for his representation as he was not an Athenian but was born in Stagira, Macedonia.
Finally, keep in mind that the sculptures we see on the large columns that adorn the Academy entrance represent the gods’ Apollo and Athena. They were chosen because one is the god of the arts, depicted with his lyre, and Athena was the goddess of wisdom, concepts related to the Academy’s values.
We encourage you to discover the details behind each sculpture and each character that always has a hidden message; a meaning beyond the apparent.
CERAMIC NEIGHBORHOOD AND GAZI
The Ceramic Quarter is the potters’ quarter of ancient Athens. According to the ancient historian, Herodotus ¨keramos¨ means fired earth. Themistocles, an Athenian politician and general, had a wall built around the city’s centre, the agora during the end of the Median Wars. Thus the Ceramic Quarter was divided into two parts, the Inner and Outer Ceramic Quarter. The outer part was used as a cemetery for soldiers who had died for their country. In contrast, the inner part was occupied by potters who took advantage of a small river flowing through the area to obtain clay left by rising and falling river.
The Gazi neighbourhood is a new neighbourhood that was renovated after the last Olympics held in Athens and is notable for the Technopolis. This old gas factory has been renovated and converted into a large cultural centre where music and theatre festivals are organised.
We suggest starting our walk from Thissio Square, behind the centrally located Monastiraki. From there begins the last section of Ermou Street, a stretch that runs between gardens and trees to pass by what remains today of the old Ceramic Quarter and its impressive cemetery. From the promenade, there is a panoramic view of the site. You can see the remains of the craftsmen’s houses and the tombstones with statues of the nobles and soldiers buried there. It is unnecessary to enter if you are not particularly interested in the archaeological site, as the outside views are quite rewarding.
It is marvellous to see how one of the main gates of the ancient city led to one of the roads that led to Eleusis, the place of worship of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone, where the celebration of the sacred ceremonies took place. Even today, you can still see how the modern Iera Odos Street continues its route along the old road.
We continue our walk until we reach the modern district of Gazi, on the other side of Piraeus Street, to enter one of the most modern squares of the city. We will visit one of the former industrial areas, which has been restored for artistic and leisure purposes.
There we can finish our walk with lunch or dinner in one of the many restaurants serving different gastronomy types. The tall chimneys of Technopolis are illuminated at night, and the atmosphere becomes a place of nightlife with plenty to offer.
The most modern Athens can be seen from there, buildings like the Bios, a former industrial structure of the Bauhaus where you can see alternative art exhibitions and its terrace with the best views of the Acropolis at night.
Theatres, cinemas, exhibition halls, old neoclassical palaces converted into multi-purpose spaces. All this and more can be found in the little streets around the Gazi and Ceramic Quarter, a part of Athens where renewal changes the urban landscape every day.
THISSIO SUBWAY L1
KERAMIKOS SUBWAY L3
AT THE TERRACES OF ANAFIOTIKA’S TAVERNS
To take a break without losing the essence of Athens, what better way to do so than at the base of the Acropolis. Perhaps the best way to do so is in one of those typical Greek taverns among the narrow streets and stairways of one of the city’s most unique and picturesque neighbourhoods.
Anafiotika is a neighbourhood that lies above the Plaka district with its narrow streets, houses and churches climbing up the slopes of the Acropolis hill.
It was built in the 19th century by a population of labourers who came to Athens from Anafi, one of the Cycladic islands, to participate in King Otho’s Royal Palace. It was long thought that the houses built on the rocky slopes of the Acropolis damaged the image of the sacred site, but today it is one of the most picturesque and characterful neighbourhoods in Athens.
This group of workers arrived from a Cycladic island meant that the construction style resembled the architecture so characteristic of the Aegean islands. Narrow streets with cobblestone floors, single-storey white houses adorned with potted plants make it look like a typical island village.
Some of the streets are pure stairs to access the streets above the rock. On these stairs, you will find the most picturesque and romantic taverns of the city, especially at night when their tables are decorated with candles, where you can sit and enjoy typical Greek drinks and relax and watch the world go by.
You can’t miss the opportunity to sit on one of these terraces, in one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods, to feel how the people and the gods mingle in the little streets full of whitewashed houses.
Subway: Monastiraki L1
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