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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Athens


Athens





The capital and largest city of Greece, Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.


The city that now hosts more than 4,5 million people, was constructed around the Acropolis walls. Today it is the political, social, cultural, financial and commercial centre of Greece. Cheap flights make it affordable and easy to reach Athens for vacation or business.

The core of the historical centre is the Plaka neighborhood (at the eastern side of the Acropolis), which has been inhabited since antiquity. Stroll through the narrow labyrinthine streets lined with houses and mansions from the time of the Turkish occupation and the Neoclassical period (19th c.), where you will discover endless picturesque tavernas, caf├ęs, bars, as well as shops selling souvenirs and traditional Greek products.

Continuing from Plaka you arrive at Monastiraki, a characteristic area of “old” Athens, with narrow streets and small buildings where the city’s traditional bazaar (Yousouroum) is held. Close to it is the Psyrri area, a traditional neighborhood which during the past few years has evolved into one of the most important “centres” of the town’s nightlife, with scores of bars, tavernas, ouzeris, clubs, etc.  

Plaka
No matter how you feel about fish, meat and vegetables you won't find a more lively place than the Central market on Athinas Street. Whatever time of day you arrive, a walk through the market will probably change how you feel about shopping and may make you wish you had an apartment with a kitchen so you could join in. The restaurants in the meat market can't be beaten for good food at a cheap price at any time of the day or night. And if that is not enough the Market is also the beginning of Athens Chinatown and Eolou Street, the pedestrian shopping district. 

A must do excursion out of the city is the Temple of Poseidon, God of the Sea, which boasts not only the carved grafitti of Lord Byron but one of the best sunsets after Santorini. Less than an hour away from Athens, o
n a hill overlooking the sea at the very tip of the Attiki Peninsula on a spot that could not be more perfect for an ancient site of worship. The best time to visit is in the late afternoon, take in meal or a drink and  watch the sunset at one of Greece's most romantic locations.




                                                                 Athens’s Top 5:
       
  1. The Parthenon.  The temple on the Acropolis, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decorations of the Parthenon continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments
  2. The Temple of Hephaestus. Also known as the Hephaisteion or earlier as the Theseion, is the best-preserved ancient Greek temple; it remains standing largely as built. It is a Doric peripteral temple, and is located at the north-west side of the Agora of Athens, on top of the Agoraios Kolonos hill. From the 7th century until 1834, it served as the Greek Orthodox church of St. George Akamates.
  3. The Temple of Olympian Zeus. Also known as the Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus, is a colossal ruined temple that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 638 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world. The temple's glory was short-lived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged in a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD. It was probably never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter. In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the temple was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city. Despite this, substantial remains remain visible today and it continues to be a major tourist attraction.
  4. The National Archaeological Museum. Houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. The first national archaeological museum in Greece was established by prime minister of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias in Aigina in 1829. Since then the archaeological collection has been moved to a number of exhibition places until 1858, when an international architectural competition was announced for the location and the architectural design of the new museum. The current location was proposed and the construction of the museum's building began in 1866 and was completed in 1889 using funds from the Greek Government, the Greek Archaeological Society and the society of Mycenae.
  5. Zappeion Hall. A building in the National Gardens of Athens, generally used for meetings and ceremonies, both official and private. In 1869, the Greek Parliament allocated 80,000 square metres (860,000 sq ft) of public land between the Palace Gardens and the ancient Temple of Olympian Zeus, and also passed a law on 30 November 1869, "for the building works of the Olympic Games", as the Zappeion was the first building to be erected specifically for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world. The Zappeion was used during the 1896 Summer Olympics as the main fencing hall. A decade later, at the 1906 Summer Olympics, it was used as the Olympic Village. A number of historical events have taken place at the Zappeion, including the signing of the documents formalizing Greece's accession to the European Union on 1 January 1981, which took place in the building's marble-clad, peristyle main atrium. The Zappeion is currently being used as a Conference and Exhibition Center for both public and private purposes.


    Zappeion Hall

References: http://www.greece-athens.com/
                    http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/main_cities/athens 
                    http://www.athensguide.com

1 comment:

  1. Well, although its problems it must be a wonderful city.

    ReplyDelete