Historical Pathways around Athens

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Let’s take a historic walk and explore charming old-style neighborhoods, oases away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, such as Makrygianni, Plaka, Thiseio, Kerameikos, Monastiraki, and Psyrri. In every step around this area, you will come across different archaeological monuments, museums, and art galleries. Besides that, enjoy the excellent weather, yummy food, vivid nightlife, and the open, Greek leisured lifestyle!

Makrygianni Neighborhood

Our tour starts at the Temple of Olympian Zeus (6th c.BC), -one of the largest in antiquity- and Hadrian’s Arch or Hadrian’s Gate (131 AD), the entrance to the old city. Admire this beautiful triumphal arch that was built over the line of an ancient road leading from the Acropolis and the Athenian Agora area to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and take your time to read the inscription on the western side of the arch (facing the Acropolis): “This is Athens, the former city of Theseus” and on the eastern side (facing the Olympieion): “This is the city of Hadrian, and not of Theseus”. From th is point walk along Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, the pedestrian walkway created to connect the most significant archaeological sites surrounding the sacred rock of the Acropolis. Give yourself the chance to visit the Theater of Dionysos, one of the world’s oldest theaters, where the great plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus and Aristophanes were performed during the golden age of Greek drama, as well as the ruins of the Asklepieion (5th c. B.C.). Take a look at the Stoa of Eu menes (2th c. BC) before you enter the Odeion of Herodes Atticus (161 AD), which is nowadays the main venue for the summer Athens Festival’s performances, under the shadow of the Acropolis and the Athenian stars!

The sacred rock of the Acropolis

Put on your most comfortable shoes and climb up to the sacred hill of the Acropolis, the greatest and finest sanctuary of ancient Athens, dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena. The Acropolis is definitely Greece’s most famous attraction, a landmark in the history of humanity and on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For a holistic understanding of the whole site, follow up with a tour to the impressive Acropolis Museum, housing more than 3,000 famous artefacts from the Acropolis. If you need a break, pay a visit to the Acropolis Museum’s cafe and restaurant and enjoy your coffee or taste Greek local dishes taking in the panoramic views of the Parthenon Temple!

Towards Thiseio the Ancient Agora & Kerameikos

On your way out of the Acropolis, you will come across a high, slippery limestone rock, known as the Mars Hill (Areios Pagos), the most ancient law court of the world. Opposite it lies Philopappou Hill, renowned in antiquity as the Hill of the Muses, with its strikingly beautiful cobbled little roads and the Roman monument of Philopappos (2nd c. AD) on the top of the hill. This summit affords extraordinary views of the Parthenon and the Athenian skyline. Close by, hidden among the pine trees, is the Pnyx, where the citizens of ancient Athens used to assemble and exert their democratic rights and where Pericles and Themistocles delivered their orations. Walking further along the pedestrian road (the name of the street changes to Apostolou Pavlou), you will reach the picturesque square of Thiseio, one of the liveliest corners of the city, filled with cafes and restaurants open day and night. Turning right to Adrianos Street, you will enter the Ancient Agora, the heart of public life in ancient times: Literally the birthplace of democracy. Pay a visit to the Temple of Hephaestus (460 – 420 BC) and the Stoa of Attalos that used to be the major commercial building of ancient Athens. Continue towards Ermou Street and wander around Kerameikos, the vast cemetery of the ancient city; see the impressive tomb sculptures and stelae. In the center of the archeological site, discover the two most famous Gates of ancient Athens: Dipylon and Iera Pyli. Pay particular attention to the river bed of Iridanos River!

Plaka

Stroll around Plaka, one of the most alluring and cosy districts in Athens. Renowned among the Athenians as the Neighborhood of the Gods, Plaka will cast a spell on you with its winding streets and nicely restored old houses of a neoclassical flair and coffee shops, tavernas and tiny mezedopolia (small tavernas serving traditional tid-bits (meze). Relax and enjoy your beverage or a meal with the right touch of romance and nostalgia of the past. You will be overwhelmed by the plethora of folk art items, works of art, traditional products, clothing and handmade articles found in souvenir shops all around. You will also encounter significant monuments and sites covering antiquity, as well as the city’s Roman and Ottoman past. The district is a real cultural mosaic: Small churches and mosques, a hammam, the Roman Agora, and the first university of Greece. Take a picture by the Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora and walk along Tripodon Street, which has held the same name since antiquity. Finally, run against the Monument of Lysicrates that stands to remind of the glorious past of the street!

From the Parliament to Monastiraki

Begin your stroll from Syntagma Square, where you can watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek Parliament. After your souvenir photo next to the immovable statuette guards, take Ermou Street, one of the busiest shopping spots in Athens, towards Monastiraki. Treat yourselves to fashion items, apparel, electronics and books. In the middle of the street you will come across one of the most prominent Byzantine monuments in Athens, the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Turn left at Mitropoleos Street and enjoy a leisurely walk amongst restaurants and shops and end up at Mitropoleos square with the majestic Cathedral (Mitropolis) of Athens and the historic and elegant Agios Eleftherios Church. From here, walk straight to Pandrossou Street. This is a narrow pedestrian street where you can discover all sorts of souvenir shops and a large number of stores preserving their tradition in sandal making and other leather articles. Several workshops situated on Adrianou, Normanou and Theklas streets are willing to create your personalized order of ancient Greek-style sandals. Lots of superstars have chosen to wear Greek sandals over time. The Beatles, Jackie Kennedy, Barbra Streisand, Rudolf Nureyev, Anthony Quinn, Sophia Loren, are just some of the members of the jet set who have made Greek leather sandals famous worldwide. Will you be able to resist buying your own pair of sandals? Continue straight ahead and reach the lively Monastiraki Square. Shopping or just walking around this area of the city is an amazing experience that you do not want to miss. You will be amazed by the quality and quantity of products and you will definitely be tempted to buy something. In the tavernas around the area taste the world famous Greek souvlaki or gyros pita with a view of the reconstructed neoclassic metro station. Cross the square, and continue onward to Ifaistou Street where every Sunday there is a flea market that spreads over side streets and sidewalks. Stroll through the quaint alleys and find all sorts of treasures, as Monastiraki is certainly THE vintage lovers’ paradise! Within minutes, you will find yourself at Avissynias Square, a favourite hangout for the young crowd of the city. Relax and have a coffee or a glass of Greek wine and ouzo with mezedes on the rooftop cafes and bars, and try out imaginative cocktails with great views of the Acropolis. A few blocks ahead, turn left at Kinetou Street which will lead you to Adrianou Street in front of the Ancient Agora.

Anafiotika

While walking through Plaka you will come upon a tiny, scenic little neighborhood in the foothills of the Acropolis that will give you the impression of being on a Greek island, particularly one in the Cyclades. Welcome to Anafiotika, a little hidden gem built in the early 19th century, when master builders from Anafi Island (hence the name) came to Athens to refurbish the King’s Palace.

Psyrri

Psyrri is the district companion to Monastiraki with a strong arty and bohemian flair. It is known for its vibrant nightlife with trendy cafés, ouzo bars, live music tavernas and restaurants offering Greek Mediterranean flavours. The district combines old and new points of interests full of secret corners and surprises! Discover its hidden alleys, street art and alternative art spaces and indulge yourself in the fascinating atmosphere! Shopping here is an exciting experience with sophisticated or fun fashion suggestions by talented young designers. Artisans’ workshops that sell sandals, suitcases, lampshades, old vinyls and second-hand
books create a picturesque image!