Athens was first settled during the Neolithic Age (before 3000 BC) on the Acropolis because of its security. Athens got its name from a myth about Athena and Poseidon fighting to win the title of protector of this city. Athena sprung an olive tree from the ground where she struck her spear, and Poseidon made a spring of salt water rise from where he struck the ground with his trident. The olive tree withstood the waters, and Athena was judged the winner, and the city was named after her. The peak of Athens world power was in the 5th century BC. It was then overcome by the dominant growth of Rome, and then was attacked by the Slavs. In 1204, Crusaders occupied it and Athens was under Western rule until 1456 when the Turks captured it. Greece gained it’s independence from Turkey in the war of 1821-1832, and Athens became the capital of Greece in 1833. By this year, Athens was a small city of only about 4,000 people, located to the north of the Acropolis. Since then, Athens has grown to a modern city of about 5,000,000 people.
This is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is the temple where the first Olympic athletes competed. They walked through the archways into the competitive arena. To the left was the wall of shame where statues of athletes that had been caught cheating in the Olympic Games were placed in order to send a message to the athletes just before they entered the competition.
This stadium is also known as 'Kallimarmaron’ or beautiful marble. They believe that this stadium was constructed as early as 329 BC, one of the best stadiums of the period. During the middle ages the stadium was torn down and the marble was used for other buildings. The purpose of the stadiums was for the first modern Olympics. The building accomodated 45,000 people. It’s construction is still admired today. In 1997 The World Track and Field Championships were held there.
2004 Olympic Stadium
You can tour the stadium where the last summer Olympics took place. See where more than 11,099 athletes competed in the birthplace of the Olympic Games. That is the largest number of competitors ever and also the first time women ever competed in the Olympic Games in Athens
This is where the original settlement was because of strategic placement. It was high in the air, providing protection on three sides from invaders. The Acropolis became a worship place with many temples and shrines to honor the gods of their day.
Started in 437 BC by the architect Mnesicles, and finished in 432 BC. This is a grandeur entrance to the sacred grounds on the Acropolis. Propylon means a gate. This entrance was to prepare the people to worship the gods beyond the entrance.
Temple of Athena Nike
Building of this temple started in 427 BC by the architect Kallikrates and finished in 425-424 BC. This temple is rather small, but it is still beautiful. Athenians would pray here for victory against their enemies. The frieze around this temple depicted the battle of Plataiai, which is when the Greeks unfalteringly beat the Persians.
The construction of this temple began in 421 BC by an unknown architect and finished in 403 BC. Some speculate that it was Mnesicles who was the architect because it resembles his work. This temple was built to worship Athena, Poseidon, and Erechtheus. It also marked the spot where Poseidon’s trident hit the Acropolis, called Hephaestus. Other shrines include the sacred olive tree and a well containing sea water, representing the Erechtheian Sea. This temple was built to replace the Old Temple.
This building was started in 447 BC by the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates and finished in 438 BC. The temple was built to honor Athena. Cost of building this wonder was 469 silver talents. To put this into perspective, the gross annual income of Athens was 1000 silver talents, and its treasury consisted of 6000 silver talents. Inside the Parthenon was a 12 m gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena. The frieze around the Parthenon represents the Panathenaic procession, which was a celebration during classical times in Athens. This is the pinnacle of Greek buildings in the Acropolis and is the main temple that is honored on this sacred hill.
Theatre of Herodes Atticus
This theatre seats 5,000 people and is still used for events today. It was build between 161 and 174 AD by Herodes Atticus dedicated to the memory of his wife. Originally the theatre had a roof that gave the stadium better acoustics and allowed performances to take place no matter what the weather.
Museums Acropolis Museum
This museum only contains stone artifacts from the Acropolis. A list of the most important pieces on display here includes: The Parthenon frieze, the Erechtheion frieze, and the frieze from the Temple of Athena Nike, Moschophoros (statue of man with a calf on his shoulders), Peplos Kore (young woman wearing chiton and peplos), Kore with almond-shaped eyes (young woman wearing chiton and a short himation), Pediment of the Ancient Temple (Athena fighting a giant), Kritios boy (boy with long hair rolled up), relief of Mourning Athena (Athena is bending her head toward the stele in front of her), Metope from the Parthenon (a centaur is capturing a Lapith woman), Caryatids (statues of young women which held up the roof of the southern porch of the Erechtheion), and the Relief Parapet from the Nike Temple (a young Nike is shown with her wings semi spread out and she is bending down to adjust her sandals).
This museum contains many various artifacts from throughout Greece’s history, as well as some Egyptian history. Some pieces here cover prehistoric times (figurines, frescos, various metal works), sculptures (typical Greek sculptures), pottery and minor art (tablets, vases, urns), bronzes (metal figures), and Egyptian art (statues and sculptures).
Ancient Agora Temple of Hephestus & Stoa of Attalus Museum
This museum contains many different artifacts from the ancient market place (agora). Upstairs you will find miniature figures of how the Acropolis and Agora looked in ancient times. Around 65,000 artifacts are on display in this museum.
Located in Athens this magnificent hill overlooks the city. At the top of the steep climb to the top is the small church of St. George. More pictures of this can be seen on the website from when the 2003 may-semmers climbed to the top.
The National Gardens
"It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds.” ~ Henry Miller
The National Gardens are like New York City’s Central Park. It is the place in Athens where Athenians and tourists go to relax and enjoy the little bit of nature in the midst of all the concrete of the city. The gardens used to belong to a king but are now for everyone to enjoy. There are hundreds of trees from all over the world in the gardens as well as a botanical museum. Unfortuneately the gardens have been taken over by the hundreds of ducks and turtles that live there. Though it may be tempting to pick one of these animals up, don’t do it. They are the property of the state and you just might get arrested. Also in the park is the camp of the Evzones who guard the tomb of the unknown solider. Across the street was once the palace of the king but is now the home of the Prime Minister.
Down the street from the National Gardens is the Zappion built in 1878. Here you can see different forms of entertainment such as puppet shows in the summer at the large outdoor café. This is a popular spot in Athens when the weather is nice. It is mostly used as an exhibition hall and for official events so you might want to see what is scheduled to take place in the Zappion while we are there.
This is the old shopping district in Athens that is located under the Acropolis. This is a very popular and busy area in Athens. There is a large assortment of products to buy here.
This is one of the best places for shopping in the capital. They sell many things here but claim that the atmosphere is what is most exciting.
This area has the trendy more expensive shops of Athens.
Here you can find household items, clothes, and accessories. There is also a food market here.
One of the oldest parts of modern Athens filled with restaurants, cafés, nightclubs, and places to shop. Here you can get authentic Greek merchandise such as jewelry and other souvenirs.
Athens is filled with café’s where tourists and Athenians can sit under umbrellas and drink coffee. Athenians like to spend late nights out at restaurants and pubs which generally don’t close until the last customer is ready to leave. Most of the taverns have live music and many belly dancing. The bouzoukia clubs are where you can dance on the tables and break as many plates as you want as it is the most recognized Greek tradition (but you do have to pay for them).