Check Full VideoHERE
This is Athens, Greece, one of the world’s oldest cities, the cradle of Western civilization, and the birthplace of democracy. Athens is world famous for its amazing Ancient Greek monuments as well as heritage from Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times. No wonder, then, that Athens is among the world’s top tourist destinations. Hi guys, my name is Rok, and I’ve spent the last nine years traveling around Europe as a tour guide. I can’t wait to show you Things To Do In Athens, Greece. This is the highest point of Athens, with a popular viewing platform offering the best view of the city.
Thanks to a wonderful view of world famous Acropolis and an upscale restaurant this is also one of the most romantic places in Athens. Here is also a small 19th-century Greek Orthodox church and a coffee bar. If you take a stroll around the peak of the hill you will also see an open-air theater used for summer concerts. As Athens is full of myths and legends, this hill also has one. The legend has it that the Greek goddess of wisdom and patron of the city, Athena was carrying a huge piece of limestone to be used for the construction of the Acropolis.
When a Raven flew to her and told her bad news, Athena was startled, and she dropped the limestone from which this hill was created. To get up here you can walk up the path with stairs, but on hot and sweaty summer days funicular railway might be a better choice. Athens is not just about ancient monuments as it also has landmarks from the 1800s when Athens became the capital of the independent Greek state. Three buildings of the Academy, University, and National Library are known as the Athenian Trilogy and are considered to be among the most beautiful neoclassical examples in the world. It may come as a surprise, but the modern Greek state is actually quite young.
You see, in 1204, Athens was occupied by the Fourth Crusader Army, and that was the beginning of more than 600 years of occupation of Greece. In the 1400s, Ottomans took over the city, and they ruled Athens for 400 years.
The Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans ended in 1834 with the birth of the modern Greek state. Greece’s biggest city at the time, Thessaloniki, was still part of the Ottoman Empire, and also, due to historical reasons, Athens was declared a capital city. But at the time, Athens was a small city.
So, a modern city plan was laid out, and public buildings, including the Athenian Trilogy, were erected. The Academy is not open to the public, while you can take a quick peek inside the National library. and The University is open to the public. On the outskirts of Athens on the ancient Sacred Way stands this beautiful Byzantine monastery from the 11th century protected by a fortified enclosure.
It was founded on the site of the ancient Greek Sanctuary of Apollo, which had been destroyed in the 400s, and its ancient columns were re-used for the monastery. This is one of the finest examples of Byzantine art in Athens and a Unesco World Heritage Site thanks to its partially preserved interior with golden mosaics.
Its main feature is the large dome resting on eight pillars decorated with an imposing figure of Christ Almighty flanked by prophets. Mosaics are from the end of the 11th century, and they represent the universe, with the dome as heaven, and the floor as earth, while mosaics around the dome depict the life of Christ. The Monastery is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 8 am to 3:30 pm and can be reached by various bus lines. This was the greatest and the biggest ancient Greek temple in the world but only a fraction of the temple has survived. There isn’t much left but this mega temple with 104 massive columns was home of Zeus, head of the Olympian gods.
Construction began in 515 BC but because of its enormous scale, the temple was left unfinished for more than 600 years when it was finally completed by the Romans.
Inside was a statue of Zeus made from ivory and gold, that was the largest statue of the ancient world. Unfortunately only 100 years after its completion this temple was pillaged during a barbarian invasion. In centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the temple was taken apart piece by piece for building materials around the city. This sixteen gigantic columns is all that is left, and most of them are currently under restoration.
Fifteen of them are standing while one is on the ground where it fell during a storm in 1852. This is a very important square in modern Athens as its name translates to the square of Constitution. Here is a Parliament Building and below it is a monument of the Unknown Soldier representing all soldiers who gave lives in the long Greek fight for independence. The monument is guarded by the highly respected Presidential guard, an elite unit of the Greek Army famous for its uniforms with skirts. These soldiers hold a huge symbolic meaning to Greek people and they are performing one of the most impressive changing guards ceremonies in the world.
Every day and every hour since 1868, chaining of the guard is done in a highly coordinated and very slow manner, apparently to protect soldiers blood circulation after 60 minutes of immobility. Uniforms also hold a special meaning, and on Sundays, the Guard is wearing their special uniforms in honor of the Greek War of Independence. The skirt of the Sunday white uniform has exactly 400 folds to represent 400 years of Ottoman occupation over the Greeks. The grand changing of guard ceremony with the military band is every Sunday at 11 am. This stadium hosted opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Since then this stadium hosts the Olympic flame handover ceremony when Olympic flame sets up its journey to the cities of Winter and Summer Olympic Games. Originally, this stadium was built in 6 century BC for religious and athletic festivals that took place every 4 years to honor the goddess Athena. It was rebuilt in marble by Romans in the year 144 with a capacity of 50,000 seats. After the rise of Christianity in the 4th century it was largely abandoned and forgotten until, in the 19th century it was excavated and rebuilt. Since this is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble, its rebuild was excessively expensive.
The refurbishment was mainly taken over by a great national benefactor of Greece, George Averoff and his marble statue can be found next to the Stadium’s main entrance. It is almost impossible not to visit a museum in Athens, and this is one of the world’s top archeological museums. This modern building located right beneath the Acropolis immediately became a new landmark of Athens. It is supported by more than 100 pillars as the building hovers over Roman and Byzantine ruins.
This museum houses every artifact found on the site of Acropolis and its slopes and its interior is split into three floors.
The most impressive artifacts on the first floor are five maidens that once held up the roof of one of the most sacred parts of the Acropolis. The top floor of the museum is designed on the same axis as the Parthenon and has the same dimensions. There is a display of the entire high-relief marble sculpture that used to run around the exterior wall of the temple. The glass paneling and elevation of the third floor offers amazing views of the ancient Acropolis, with the Parthenon always in plain sight. This is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Athens known for its flea market, small tourist shops, ancient monuments and streets full of traditional tavernas with Acropolis views.
If you are hungry head to Adrianou Street famous for its inviting taverns serving traditional Greek food with a view over the Ancient Agora. But the heart of this neighborhood is its Monastiraki square, one of the most popular meeting points thanks to its interchange Metro station between Lines 1 and 3. On the square stands an 18 century mosque from the Ottoman period that now hosts a Museum of Greek Folk Art. Right next to it is the much older Hadrian’s Library built by the Romans in the 1st century. But the neighborhood and square are named after a small orthodox monastery that used to stand here.
What is left of the monastery is one of the oldest Byzantine churches, dating to the 10th century. As the square was rising over the centuries about 1/3 of the church is now below ground.
This is also a starting point of the biggest Flea Market in Athens that happens every weekend and during the week there are numerous small shops perfect for souvenir shopping. Part of the Monastiraki neighborhood is also Ancient Agora that used to be the heart of Ancient Athens. Ancient Agora served as a central square right under the slopes of Acropolis.
This was the most important meeting place in Ancient Athens where among other social events, most important political functions were exercised. No wonder, then that this is considered to be the birthplace of democracy. Today, this is an archeological park with shady trees, winding paths and historical ruins. Here is also the Agora museum, housed in the reconstructed covered walkway that served as a marketplace.
Original building dates to 150 B.
C. but the current building was fully reconstructed in the 1950s. Agora also served as a marketplace and among its many temples, altars and shrines is also the best preserved temple in Greece. It was dedicated to the Greek god of craftsmen and metalworking. This temple was also used as a Greek Orthodox church for more than one thousand years, until 1834 and that is why it is so well preserved.
East of Ancient Greek Agora is also Roman Agora. Here you can find Tower of Winds that functioned as a timepiece and is considered to be the world’s first meteorological station. Later, this tower served as a bell-tower of the Greek Orthodox church. Under Ottoman rule it was buried to half and used by whirling dervishes. This is one of the most picturesque, interesting and the oldest neighborhoods in Athens.
Plaka is among the most visited areas of Athens, and it is easy to see why. This neighborhood under the slopes of Acropolis feels like an old village and its pedestrian streets are one of the best places to wander around.
Plaka is full of narrow cobblestone pedestrian streets, archeological treasures, ancient monuments, beautiful neoclassical buildings, and small churches. It is lined with cafes, restaurants and shops. The lower part of the neighborhood is a souvenir paradise with all kinds of souvenir shops, Greek local products, and jewelry stores, while the upper part towards the slopes of Acropolis is full of charming taverns.
Part of the neighborhood stretches all the way to the slopes of Acropolis where you can find the most picturesque cluster of small whitewashed houses in Athens. This scenic tiny quarter is named after its founders, stone masons from the island Anafi. They were drawn to Athens by big construction projects in the mid 19th century when Athens experienced huge expansion after becoming the capital of the newly founded modern Greek state.
Stone masons settled here and built their homes in Greek Island style.Slopes of the Acropolis were the second most important religious center of ancient Athens.
Here are also an ancient Greek theater and a Roman theater that are a perfect place for a story about the creation of Athens. Legend has it that Athens was built by a legendary half-man, half-snake king Sikrops. Beautiful city ignited competition among Greek Gods that wanted to become its patrons. After much debate, two Gods stood out as the main contenders: Poseidon, god of the seas, and Athena, goddess of wisdom.
Contest between the two gods was held to determine who would win the honor.
First Poseidon stepped forward, and standing on a rock, he stuck it with his trident, causing a spring of water to gush out of the ground. His gift, the gift of water, meant that citizens were never to face drought. Thrilled by the idea, citizens ran to the water only to discover that it was salty, like the water of the seas. Next came Athena with her hand stretched out. When she opened it, it revealed a seed, which she planted in the ground.
At once, the seed took root and grew into a beautiful and tall olive tree. The citizens were happy, as an olive tree would mean food, oil, and firewood. They proclaimed Athena the winner, and the city was named after her, and to this day, there was always an olive tree on the Acropolis. This rocky hill is the most impressive landmark and symbol of Ancient Greece. World famous Acropolis was the most important religious center of ancient Athens.
It is a complex of marble temples commanded by its biggest temple, the Parthenon.
Parthenon was dedicated to Athena and was the most sacred place on Acropolis and also the most secure place in the city as it also served as a treasury. The decorative stonework was originally highly coloured and inside the temple was a huge statue of Athena. Parthenon and other important buildings of the Acropolis were built during the Golden Age of Athens in 5th century B.C.
Unfortunately, Acropolis is undergoing a long lasting renovation, and since 1975, scaffolding and cranes are part of its landscape. Over the centuries, natural disasters, wars and reconstructions damaged only ornamentation and art, but the temple structures remained intact all the way until the 17th century. At that time, Athens was part of the Ottoman Empire. Ottomans used Parthenon as a warehouse for gunpowder when facing attack from Venetians. One of the cannonballs hit the Parthenon, and after 2.
200 years the Acropolis with Parthenon was destroyed. When an independent modern Greek state was born in 1834, Athens became its capital city, and the Parthenon with Acropolis became the symbol of Greece, a symbol of democracy, Western civilisation and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. Athens has one of the richest heritage sites on the planet and a huge variety of experiences that make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
In summer you should also visit the beautiful and long Athenian Riviera famous for its beautiful coves and beaches. As Athens offers so many choices, I’ve made a list of my favorite Athens tours, day trips, and experiences that can be found in the description below this video.
But Athens is also famous for its delicious Greek cuisine. That is why I’ve prepared a special video dedicated only to Delicious Food In Athens. That upcoming video will show you the best street food and the best restaurant dishes you have to try in Athens and will be available in the top right corner.
If you like this video, please give it a thumbs up. You can share your questions or suggestions about Athens in the comments below.
And don’t forget to subscribe and turn on the notification bell to be notified about my new travel videos. Thanks for watching, and see you next time…