Athens Sights

Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse "the glory that was Greece" in the form of the Acropolis looming

above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel the impact of the ancient settlement. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two craggy hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum illuminate the history of particular regions or periods.

Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki, the bazaar area near the foot of the Acropolis. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka (if possible by moonlight), an area of tranquil streets lined with renovated mansions, to get the flavor of the 19th century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika, a section of Plaka, thread past tiny churches and small, color-washed houses with wooden upper stories, recalling a Cycladic island village. In this maze of winding streets, vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas; dank cellars filled with wine vats; occasionally a court or diminutive garden, enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees and the flaming trumpet-shaped flowers of hibiscus bushes.

Makriyianni and Koukaki are prime real estate land. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Kerameikos, Gazi-Kerameikos, and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleio (similar to tapas bars), are now in the process of gentrification, although they still retain much of their original charm. The area around Syntagma Square, including the café scene at Ayias Irinis Square, and Omonia Square, form the commercial heart of the city. Athens is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otto, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet). Each of the city's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: Pangrati, Ambelokipi, and Ilisia are more residential in nature, densely populated, with some lively nightlife spots and star attractions like the Panathenaic Stadium and the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis).

In Kaisariani and Neos Kosmos, you can still see some old refugee apartment blocks next to gleaming modernist buildings like the Onassis Culture Centre.

Farther out, in the north, is wealthy, tree-lined Kifissia, once a summer resort for aristocratic Athenians. Just beyond the southern edge of the city is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic gulf views that is still connected to Central Athens by metro. And beyond Athens proper, in Attica to the south and southeast, lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife.

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Kolonaki 8

Plaka 7

Monastiraki 5

Syntagma 5

The Acropolis 5

Gazi-Kerameikos 4

Thissio 3

Makriyianni 3

Ilisia 1

Exarchia 1

Metaxourgeio 1

Rouf 1

Psirri 1

Anafiotika 1

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Archaeological Site/ Ruins 6

Arts/ Performance Venue 3

Building/ Architectural Site 3

Cemetery 1

Educational Institution 1

Garden/ Arboretum 1

Library/ Archive 2

Market/ Bazaar 2

Memorial/ Monument/ Tomb 2

Museum/ Gallery 20

Neighborhood/ Street 3

Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 3

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 2

Restaurant–Sight 2

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 2

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Athens Sights

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  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

You don't have to look far in Athens to encounter perfection. Towering above all—both physically and spiritually—is the Acropolis,...

Acropolis Museum

  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

Designed by the celebrated Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greek architect Michalis Fotiadis, the Acropolis Museum...

Ancient Agora

  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

The commercial hub of ancient Athens, the Agora was once lined with statues and expensive shops, the favorite strolling ground of fashionable...

Athinaion Politeia

  • Restaurant–Sight

For a fancy coffee (think espresso mixed with sambuca), sweet crêpes (such as banana and chocolate hazelnut) and improptu lunches (thanks...

B&M Theocharakis Foundation

  • Arts/Performance Venue

Founded in 2004, this private non-profit foundation focuses on the visual arts and music, with a special interest in modernism. The driving...

Benaki Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

Greece's oldest private museum received a spectacular addition in 2004, just before the Athens Olympics, with a hyper-modern new branch...

Benaki Museum Pireos Street Annexe

  • Museum/Gallery

The eye-knocking Benaki Museum Annexe is located at one of the busiest and most industrially developed points in the city. The minimalist...

Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

  • Museum/Gallery

Housed in a gleaming white neoclassical mansion with a sweeping view of the Kerameikos cemetary, this newest annex of the Benaki museum...

Byzantine & Christian Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

One of the few museums in Europe focusing exclusively on Byzantine art displays an outstanding collection of icons, mosaics, tapestries,...

Center of Folk Art and Tradition

  • Museum/Gallery

Exhibits in the neoclassical family mansion of folklorist Angeliki Hatzimichali (1895–1965) include detailed costumes, ceramic plates...


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