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Acropolis Athens

1. Acropolis and Parthenon:

The Acropolis of Athens is the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site. This grand composition of perfectly balanced massive structures creates a monumental landscape of unique beauty, consisting of a complete series of architectural masterpieces of the 5th century BC. It’s the most striking and complete ancient Greek monumental complex still existing in our times and is situated on a hill of average height (156m) that rises in the basin of Athens. Its overall dimensions are approximately 170 by 350m. The hill is rocky and steep on all sides except for the western side and has an extensive, nearly flat top. Strong fortification walls have surrounded the summit of the Acropolis for more than 3,300 years. The first fortification wall was built during the 13th century BC and surrounded the residence of the local Mycenaean ruler. In the 8th century BC, the Acropolis gradually acquired a religious character with the establishment of the cult of Athena, the city’s patron goddess. The sanctuary reached its peak in the archaic period (mid-6th century to early 5th century BC). In the 5th century BC, the Athenians, empowered by their victory over the Persians, carried out an ambitious building program under the leadership of the great statesman Perikles, comprising a large number of monuments including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the temple of Athena Nike. The monuments were developed by an exceptional group of architects (such as Iktinos, Kallikrates, Mnesikles) and sculptors (such as Pheidias, Alkamenes, Agorakritos), who transformed the rocky hill into a unique complex, which heralded the emergence of classical Greek thought and art.

2. Temple of Olympian Zeus:

The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympieion, is an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Construction of the temple began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. The original temple was intended to be one of the largest temples in the ancient world, with plans calling for it to have 104 columns. However, only a fraction of these columns were ever completed before construction was halted due to various political and financial issues. Today, only 15 of the original 104 columns remain standing, along with some of the temple’s foundations and architectural elements. Despite its incomplete state, the Temple of Olympian Zeus remains an impressive monument and a popular tourist attraction in Athens, offering visitors a glimpse into the grandeur of ancient Greek architecture and engineering.

Temple of Olympian Zeus
Kallimarmaro stadium

3. Panathenaic Stadium:

The Panathenaic Stadium or Kallimarmaro (which means beautiful marble) is one of the classical cultural and touristic attractions of Athens and the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. The stadium was originally built in the 4th century BC for the Panathenaic Games, a festival held in honor of the goddess Athena, the patron deity of Athens. It was rebuilt in marble by the Roman senator Herodes Atticus in 144 AD, giving it the distinctive white marble appearance that it is known for today. The Panathenaic Stadium was the site of athletic competitions and other events throughout ancient Greek and Roman times. It could seat up to 50,000 spectators and hosted various sporting events, including foot races, wrestling, and pentathlon competitions. In modern times, the stadium gained global attention as the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It was refurbished for the Games and has since hosted various Olympic events, including archery and the finish line for the marathon. Today, the Panathenaic Stadium is still used for special events and ceremonies, as well as a popular tourist attraction where visitors can experience the history and grandeur of ancient Greek athletics.

4. Ancient Agora:

The Ancient Agora of Athens is a historical site located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. In ancient times, the agora served as the political, commercial, and social hub of the city. It was essentially the heart of ancient Athens and played a central role in the city’s public life. The agora was a large open space surrounded by important public buildings, temples, and markets. It was where Athenian citizens gathered to conduct business, discuss politics, and engage in social activities. The word “agora” itself means “assembly” or “gathering place” in Greek. Some of the notable structures within the Ancient Agora include:

  1. Stoa of Attalos: This impressive colonnaded building was reconstructed in the 1950s and now houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora. It was originally built by King Attalos II of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC.
  2. Temple of Hephaestus: Also known as the Hephaisteion, this well-preserved Doric temple is dedicated to Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, and Athena Ergane, the goddess of crafts.
  3. Bouleuterion: This was the meeting place of the Athenian Boule, or council, where political decisions were made.
  4. Tholos: A circular building that served as the headquarters for the city’s executive committee, known as the prytaneis.
  5. Agora Altar: A monumental altar believed to have been used for sacrifices and ceremonies.
Ancient Agora
Plaka Athens

5. Plaka District:

Plaka is a historic neighborhood situated in the shadow of the Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece. It is one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods in the city, characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets, neoclassical architecture, and traditional Greek tavernas. Plaka is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and its blend of ancient and modern elements. It is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike, offering a wide range of attractions, including:

  1. Anafiotika: A charming neighborhood within Plaka, Anafiotika resembles a Cycladic village with its whitewashed houses and narrow alleys. It offers stunning views of the Acropolis.
  2. Byzantine Churches: Plaka is home to several Byzantine churches, including the Church of St. Nicholas Rangavas and the Church of the Holy Apostles.
  3. Museums: The neighborhood is dotted with small museums and galleries, such as the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments and the Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments.
  4. Shopping: Plaka is a shopper’s paradise, with numerous shops selling souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, and handicrafts.
  5. Dining and Entertainment: Plaka boasts a plethora of tavernas, cafes, and restaurants offering traditional Greek cuisine and live music performances.
  6. Ancient Sites: While exploring Plaka, visitors can also encounter ancient ruins, such as the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds.