Athens, Greece is the first place I am visiting on my trip to Europe this summer. (For more info on this trip, visit the Travel page!) I cannot contain my excitement about going to Greece! I remember studying about Athens, Greece in middle school and thinking, “I’ll never go there.” (Not because I didn’t want to, but just because it seemed so out of reach.) I am starting to feel butterflies of excitement about this trip. Am I dreaming?!
I decided to write in detail about all the many places I’m visiting in Europe this summer. (28 days to go!) I want to be educated on the places I’m going so I can get as much as possible out of the trip.
Here are my must see places in Athens, Greece:
1. The Acropolis (Of course!)
The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock that rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level in the city of Athens. In Greek, the word acropolis means “high city.” There are many important historical sites on top of the Acropolis. Most people only think of the Pantheon, but there is much more. The Acropolis was the state sanctuary and fortified citadel of the ancient city of Athens. Athens was named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, war, skill, and the arts. By the mid 8th century B.C., the Acropolis had developed into the sanctuary of the goddess Athena. In 480 B.C., the Acropolis was captured and it’s buildings were destroyed by the Persians in 480 B.C. The Athenians and other Greeks were eventually victorious over their eastern enemies, however, but the Acropolis still laid in ruins. By the second half of the 5th century B.C., the Pikes convinced the Athenians to reconstruct the most famous buildings on the Acropolis – The Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, and the temple of Athena.
On the actual Acropolis, there is the Parthenon, the largest and most well known temple in the world, the Erechtheion, Athena Nike Temple, Brauroneion, Pandroseion or the Padrosion, are all temples on The Acropolis. Other buildings include the Propylaia, the Altar of Athena, the Chalkotheke, the Arrephorion, Zeus Polieus Sanctuary, and the Acropolis museum, which is not an original building.
I’ve read that if you see the Acropolis in the summer, it is best to go in the morning or late afternoon due to the heat. (Just a reminder to myself ;))
2. The National Archeological Museum
The National Archeological Museum has a world-class display of endless artifacts. The most dramatic ones are the tall, archaic statues of godlike young men. The Egyptian antiquities collection is upstairs and in the back as well.
3. Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon is built on a site set back from the sheer cliffs and with its magnificent view of the Aegean Sea and islands. It was located for worship of the god of the sea. In ancient times, mariners would see the brilliant white marble columns of the Temple of Poseidon and know they were close to home. From my research, I’ve read that this is most beautiful around sunrise or sunset.
4. The Agora
These ruins, located in the heart of modern Athens, were once the site of the marketplace in ancient times, a political, cultural and economic center of the ancient world.
This is where Paul delivered his famous sermon about the identity of the “Unknown God” (Acts 17: 15-34).
6. Lycabettus Hill
This is the highest point in Athens, Greece and provides a great overlook of the city.
7. Panathinaiko Stadium
This is the sight of the first modern day Olympics in 1896. It was reconstructed from the remains of the ancient Greek stadium.
8. Temple of Olympian Zeus
A colossal ruined temple in the centre of the Greek capital Athens that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods.
9. Odeum of Herodes Atticus
A stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla.
An old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture.
11. Hadrian’s Arch
This is a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, Greece, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It has been proposed that the arch was built to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Next on the list is Delphi, Greece!
I realize that I only have about two days in Athens, Greece. I may not get to see all of these things, but I can dream, right?
Have you been to Greece? Do you have any suggestions for things to do/see in Athens, Greece?