Crowned by the Acropolis, Athens is the center of any visit to Greece. Architecture spans through much of the history of mankind. Ancient temples, old churches and modern stadiums dot this massive city. At the same time economic woes and poverty are easily seen throughout the city. Guides unfairly stereotype the Greeks and areas of the city, when most Athenians are otherwise quite nice and helpful. That being said, like most urban environments it is always good to keep an eye on your belongings.
The most prominent landmark in Athens is the Acropolis. The history of this mound stretches 3000 years, starting as the birthplace of the city. A grand temple to Athena, the namesake of the city, has always crowded the city. The Parthenon now is more or less a hollowed grave of the grandeur it may have once been. For the first time in decades, the Acropolis is mostly free from construction. Much of the Parthenon has been rebuilt, aside from one side which will be completed in the next few years.
Around the Acropolis lie many more temples and excellent views of how massive the city truly is. Below the Acropolis lie an Odeion which is still in use today for performances and ruins of theaters and other relics. Across from the entrance is also the famous Acropolis museum which holds the friezes that once lined the Parthenon. Many remain missing as they were taken by the British. If you are quite smart, you can find a nice small whitewashed village on one of the sides of the Acropolis.
As of the Olympics, the sites of Athens have all been connected via pedestrian walkways. Following so, would take eager travelers to the Ancient Agora which holds the Temple of Hephaestus, the best preserved temple in Athens. Atlas Stoa is also here which is a reconstructed market building which holds a museum and provides a good taste of what life may have been like in the Agora.
The Temple of Zeus is likely just as imposing as the Acropolis. The massive columns are other worldly, albeit much of the temple remains lost. It was one of the largest temples in the world when completed.
Outside of Athens’ marvels, the city could easily be seen as a rundown developing world metropolis. Therein, lies its underground magestic. Exarchia is one such an example. A gritty alternative undertone hides a lively music scene and colorful streets. You can feel the revolution in the air, but Exarchia is very much a place of conversation rather than anarchy.
Athens is an incredible city with a long lasting history. A visit should entail an experience, over the basic recommended tour. Experiencing the company, food and vibrant districts will truly bring the city’s long history alive.