From hilltop temples to ancient marketplaces and world-beating museums, Athens is a city-sized historical theme park. Here are the must-visit sights for both first- and second-timers.
A trip to Greece is not complete without a visit to the capital city. There are few cities with as much history as Athens; after all, it is the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Where else can you walk the same streets and paths as some of the greatest philosophers, leaders and minds that have ever lived? Everywhere you look you’ll find traces of the past and a history lesson, even in the Subway stations. To get the most out of your visit to Athens, you must see these famous attractions.
You simply cannot go to Athens without visiting the Acropolis. Beckoning you from its rocky plinth that towers over the city, the Acropolis is home to the most iconic surviving structures of Ancient Greece: the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, the theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, to name a few. If, for nothing else, come for the views of rooftops, temples and mountains – they’ll be imprinted on your memory forever.
As you’re discovering the city of Athens, you’ll notice that much of what we know about the Ancient Greeks was learnt through the surviving pottery. The ancient site of Kerameikos (where we get the word “ceramic” from) is where the potters lived and worked, and it is one of the largest, most interesting archaeological sites in the city – not just for the pottery, but because it later became an important burial site. There is a small but informative museum on the premises that’s worth a visit.
The Ancient Agora of Athens was the busiest and most important gathering place for the Athenian people. It served as a commercial, social and administrative centre as well as a courthouse. It is beautifully maintained and surrounded by lush green shrubs, trees and plants. Walk around the gardens, and you’ll stumble across marble statues of the gods and magnificent classical architecture. The museum holds artefacts that range in age from the Neolithic period to the 19th century.
This is a rewrite of an article originally written by James Taylor.
You’ll need somewhere to lay your head during your Athenian adventure – check out the best hotels in the Greek capital, or pick one of the best boutique options, available now with Culture Trip. There won’t be a dull moment with all the impressive historical sites throughout Athens – you can even head to the beach after a morning of walking around ruins – and be sure to try all the gyros and souvlaki you can get your hands on at the best authentic Greek restaurants.
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