Athens Feature


Grand Promenade

One of the most popular features created in Athens for the 2004 Olympics was the Grand Promenade, a pedestrian walkway created to beautify some of the traffic-choked streets much favored by tourists. Part of the city's Archaeological Unification Project, the promenade connects fabled ancient sites along a landscaped walkway paved with gneiss cobblestones from Naxos island and marble slabs from Tinos island. It stretches through several neighborhoods but is often accessed near the Acropolis since its pedestrian ribbon includes the roads around its southern end.

Start out at the Acropolis metro stop, surface and walk north, and then left, to find Dionyssiou Areopagitou, the famed road running below the hill. You'll soon pass the New Acropolis Museum on your left and the Theater of Dionysus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus on your right. You can begin your climb here up to the Beulé Gate entrance to the Acropolis but, instead, take the marble walkway up Filopappou Hill—its summit flaunts Cinerama views of the Acropolis. Head back down to Apostolou Pavlou to find some of the best café real estate in the world: pull up a seat and enjoy a meal with the Acropolis looming above you.

Further up the road is the Thission metro station, the Agion Asomaton Square, and Melidoni Street, which heads to the great ancient cemetery of Kerameikos. Here, Ermou Street connects with Piraeus Street, which leads to Technopolis and the Gazi district, Athens at its 21st-century hipster best.

The Grand Promenade provides easy pedestrian access to other major ancient sites, from the Temple of Hephaestus to the Ancient Agora. It also hurtles you through the centuries by depositing you in the buzzing neighborhoods of Makriyanni, Monastiraki, Thission, and Gazi with their brimming tavernas.

Speaking of which, keep the following restaurants and cafés in mind if you want to enjoy food-with-a-view, and not just any old view, but the Acropolis itself: Dionysos Zonars (built almost inside the archaeological site); Filistron mezedopoleio-restaurant (especially the rooftop on summer nights); Strofi restaurant (perfect for a summer post-performance dinner at the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus); Kuzina (for a wonderful view from its rooftop); and Orizontes (seen from another angle, this one from Lycabettus Hill). Last but not least, the café and restaurant of the New Acropolis Museum, with its huge glass windows and extensive verandas, is a definite must for spectacular photo ops of the ancient landmark.

Updated: 2014-01-14

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