Antelope-Travel Home     Online Reservations     Antelope Travel is a member of IATA     Antelope Travel is licensed by the Greek National Tourism Organization     Travel Agency in Greece
160 1 3 4 2

General info about Athens in Greece

Information on Athens, Greece - Vacations and Holiday Honeymoon Packages in Athens | Antelope Travel



Athens  Athens  Athens  Herodion 

Athens


Athens, the home of modern civilisation, the place where modern thought started, an outrageously fast-paced mix of modern and ancient, traditional and contemporary, quaint and cultured. Athens is an amazing city to visit, and for most people travelling to Greece, it is that starting point, and end of most Greek journeys. Travellers wanting to arrive at their island paradise often overlook Athens, or it visited as a stopover, but it should not be missed as destination, no matter what its critics say.
There has been a settlement on Athens for over three thousand years. From the start, it was a city-state to be reckoned with, surviving invasions and wars. The Golden Age came about in 477BC, when Athens truly established itself. Under the ruling of Pericles, the Parthenon was built, and the famous and infamous lived, philosophers, writers and artists who's names are still known today. Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Herodotus, Aristophanes all lived in this time. It was during this time that the Olympic Games began, and modern democratic thought became prevalent.

The Romans in 31BC overtook Athens. For a while, Athens remained a seat of education, learning and culture. The Emperor Justinian closed the schools of philosophy in 529AD and the city began to decline. From this time on the city was invaded by numerous invaders, from the Ottomans to the Venetians, all interested in their share of the once great nation. The War of Independence from 1821-1827 saw fierce fighting in the streets, and finally in 1834, King Otho oversaw the rebuilding and reformation of this once great city. There have been many turbulent years in between, but this long history has lead Athens into it being one of the leading cities of Europe.

Modern Athens is a sprawling web built around the Parthenon, sitting high on a hill in the centre of the city. This universally known temple looks out over Athens and is seen from all over the city, acting as a beacon for all. The city is a mix of many architectural styles, from the utilitarian concrete structures built in the 1920s to the neoclassical mansions that are dotted about. No single street in Athens is the same, which all adds to its charm.

Athen's fast pace amazes most visitors. It doesn't appear to stop, as motorbikes fly past and people take to the streets at a lightning fast pace. The Plaka, situated on the North West face of the Parthenon is a gathering place for tourists, with its narrow streets, shops, bars and restaurants; it winds like a maze until you reach the boundaries of the Parthenon grounds. Monastiraki is the market area, wonderful for finding a bargain and the shops appear to go on for miles. Omonia, to the North of the Plaka, is where many hotels are located, walking distance from the National Archaeological Museum, a must for any visitor. Psiri is Athens answer to New York's Meat Packing district where Rebetiko bars abound. Kolonaki, near Syntagma Square, is known for its wide streets and expensive shops.

Syntagma Square is where most tours of Athens start, a large square leading up to the parliament house, sided by luxury hotels and office blocks. The Evzones guard parliament house. The in traditional dress of a blue skirt and pom-pom shoes make an incongruous, if not slightly humorous site for tourists. Like the Swiss Guards at the Vatican, their unusual costume covers a fierce fighting spirit. The Evzones are soldiers that hail from a village in Northern Greece, and the Macedonian fighters defended the mountain parts of Greece, never once giving up, so fierce and proud their spirit.

Near Syntama square is the Temple of Zeus, the largest of the temples in the city, its sheer size only hinted at with the 15 remaining columns. The site is open daily and tours are available giving more information on the site. It is a good place to start a tour of ancient Athens as streets nearby lead up the entry of the Parthenon.

No visit to Athens is complete without a visit to the Parthenon. It takes at least half a day to look over the ruins and take in the enormity of the site. There is more to this amazing place than the iconic Acropolis, the temple that sits on the hill, as around it are many other temples, amphitheatres and structures to explore, and the Museum on the grounds is very good.

Part of the Acropolis's charm is that its history. From its start as a temple, to it's conversion to a mosque during the Ottoman Era, to its near destruction when a stockpile of gunpowder blew up, to the pillaging of the friezes and metopes by Lord Elgin in the 1800s, the history of this building is amazing. One of the most contentious issues about the building is the fact that the sculptures that once adorned the top of the temple reside in the British Museum on London. For the last century, the Greek Government has requested the return of the Parthenon Marbles, a demand that the British Government flatly refuse. Some of the sculptures that escaped the pillaging of Lord Elgin are found in the Acropolis museum. To see the original marbles, one must go to the British Museum, where they are on display to the public, free of charge. Hopefully, one day, they will be in their rightful place in Athens.

Just down from the Parthenon is the Ancient Agora, the old Turkish market that has been uncovered by archaeologist. Dotted around Athens there are a number of other ancient sites there for exploration, and maps and tours are available for those wanting to find out more. There are also plenty of churches and cathedrals to be discovered in the central area.

Mount Lycabettus is the other main site on the horizon. A crag in the distance it is the place where the goddess Athena first dropped from the sky to settle the city. Known as the "Hill of Wolves" there isn't a beast in sight here now, but the mountain does afford some of the best views of Athens. The Chapel of St George that is perched on the top of the mountain is flood lit at night, and like the Parthenon, is visible around Athens. There is also an amphitheatre on top of the mountain where performances are held over the summer.

The National Archaeological Museum is the other must see attraction in Athens. The museum found to the North of the Plaka holds many of Greece's most important archaeological finds. It is also a wonderful place to spend half a day, especially when the Athenian temperatures get unbearable.
The Olympics have gone a long way to regenerate Athens. The work done to modernise the city for the 2004 Olympics has totally revamped what was once run down and in need of repair. The new, modern, efficient Venizelos airport has replaced the old site that was once the most maligned air terminal in Europe. The old airport site went on to house the new Olympic venues. Even the underground system was refurbished to a new, modern reliable system. These improvements have left Athens a far more tourist friendly destination.

Athens does prove its critics wrong, but for those who are sceptical, it is all a matter of perspective. It is more than the crowded, busy, smoggy city that its countless detractors will lay testament. Those looking for the incredible, the ancient, the sublime and the cultured will not be disappointed. Athens gives up its best to those with a sense of adventure and curiosity, who come to discover the delights of the blended mix of old and new.

© Antelope Travel  |  Greece Vacations |  Greece Honeymoon |  Greece Tours |  Greece Cruises |  Greece Small Cruises |  Greece Weddings |  Greece Travel |  Greece Customized Trips |  Greece Escorted Tours |  Winter Travel Greece |  Greece Last Minute Holidays |  Greece Special Offers |  Egypt Vacations |  Turkey Vacations |  Italy Vacations |  Sitemap |  Privacy Policy |  Terms of Use |  Greek Islands Vacations |