ATHENS – Meander through 3000 Years of History

Athens (Αθήνα) is the beating heart of Greece today, but for a splendid moment 2500 years ago it lit the light of western thought that has been burning brightly for centuries across the globe. Democracy, Logic, the worth of the “individual” human, were among some of the most cherished concepts born in Classical Athens, and our guide to Athens here emphasizes this historical significance of the city.

Introduction

Athens, the capital of Greece, is a large modern city which houses about 40% of the Greek population. 4.5 million inhabitants out of Greece’s total of 11 million call Athens their first residence. As such it is a busy city with lively streets, a full cultural calendar, and a healthy nightlife.

The city is the busiest transportation hub in Greece, so most likely Athens will be your first experience of the country, either as a short stop on your way to a Greek island, or as your final destination in itself. Either way, it can be a rich experience, and an especially unique one if you are interested in ancient history and culture.

Top Destinations in Athens

We have chosen four venues here as the best to see in Athens because they offer a unique experience, the likes of which you can never match in any other city on this earth.

You can see beautiful architecture and city planning in other world cities, and more fashionable districts in other country capitals.

You can find more luxurious hotels, beautiful gardens, exciting amusement parks, exotic beaches, cleaner streets, wilder parties, or exuberant shopping elsewhere.

You can also find “best of Athens” lists better driven to promote sales by travel agents all over the internet.

But you will never be engulfed by the birth and purity of western civilization as you can in the Athenian streets. To be in Athens is to be engulfed in 3000 years of  history. That’s why our choices here have a vivid, ancient hue.

The Agora, the Acropolis and the two major museums offer a glimpse into a civilization that flourished in ancient times and which changed the world with it’s cultural output.

Things to See and Do in Athens

Besides the above must-see ancient sites and museums, Athens offers a number of venues that showcase different parts of it’s 4000 year old history.

  • Museum of Cycladic Art
  • Keramikos Archaeological site and museum
  • Hadrian’s Library
  • Roman Agora
  • Panathenaiko Stadium
  • The Olympeion
  • Piraeus Archaeological Museum
  • Sounio
  • Lavrion Ancient Silver Mines & Lavrion Museum

All of the above, with the exception of Pireas Museum, Sounio, and Lavrion are located around the historic center of Athens, and within reasonable walking distance from each other. You can easily visit them all in a couple of days.

But there are other things that you can do while in Athens:

History and Significance of Athens

Why is Athens important?

The ideas that were developed in ancient Athens are widely considered the foundation of western civilization.

Democracy, Theatre, Rational Thought, Logic, Philosophy, History, Trial by jury, the Olympics, Classical Art & Architecture, along with the foundation of modern medicine and scientific thought are a few of the most important achievements of ancient Greece.

Practicalities

Day Trips from Athens

While Athens itself can fill a complete itinerary of exciting venues and things activities by itself, there are several trips worth taking around the capital. Around Attica you will find plenty of little towns and seaside resorts for day-trips, and of course a host of archaeological sites to keep you busy.

Map of  Athens

Click here to see Athens with our place marks on Google Maps, and to get directions in a new window.

Athens Metro Map

The map of Athens metro for printing
Map of Athens Metro to print.

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