Introduction to Athens
Athens is the capital of Greece and the country’s cultural, political, and economical hub. Birthplace of renowned artists and philosophers throughout antiquity, ancient Greek democracy had a deep influence on the design of other political institutions around the world. There is no place quite like Athens to dive into Ancient Greece and learn about magnificent temples and imposing buildings that have remained standing for centuries.
Today, Athens is the hub for finance, politics, culture, and economics in Greece. Home to the famed Acropolis and Parthenon, it became the first city to host the modern-day Olympics in 1896, and in 2004 it became one of the few cities in the world to host it multiple times. The cultural and social life of Athens transpires amid breathtaking ancient landmarks, creating an eclectic atmosphere throughout the various neighborhoods, each with its own unique attractions and character.
What makes Athens so special?
The magnificent Acropolis, visible from almost every part of the city, is the hub around which Athens still revolves. This temple city, built in the 5th century BC, serves as a daily reminder to Greeks of their heritage and the city’s many transformations. All over the urban basin, rooftops and balconies angle toward the landmark, a block of milky marble atop a steep-sided hill. Pull up your own chair, settle in and allow time to appreciate the Acropolis’ many moods, as the light shifts, and the clouds cast their shifting shadows.
Layers of History
The cultural and social life of Athens plays out amid, around and in landmarks that are centuries old, if not millennia. The remnants of Ancient Greece get the most attention, of course, thanks to a little thing called democracy. Oh, and mythology, and drama, and philosophy. But don’t overlook the ‘later’ years: thousand-year-old Byzantine churches, for instance, which squat, unruffled in the middle of streets and attached to hillsides. Ottoman traces can be seen in architecture and in food. And the neoclassical style of the 19th century adds elegance all over the centre.
Beaches and Attractions for Kids
Beyond Athens, down the Attica peninsula, are more spectacular antiquities, such as the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the site of Ancient Eleusis, as well as very good beaches, such as those near historical Marathon. Sure, you could zip across, west to east, in less than an hour, but it’s far more fun to take a leisurely road trip to a thermally heated lake, say, or a monastery with dazzling Byzantine mosaics. If you’d rather not drive, most of these surprise sights (including great beaches) can be reached on public transport.
Flying to Athens with kids? There are plenty of things to do with them in this vacation! Don’t miss the Athens Zoo, The Sea Turtle Rescue Center, The Touch Museum, and city Tours by Train.
Athens has a lot to offer (not only impressive monuments), including an appetizing and varied Mediterranean cuisine. Colorful vegetables, juicy meat and tasty cheese are only three elements of a long list of varied delicacies prepared in the purest Greek style.
The local restaurants combine genuine Greek experience, expressing ancient architecture with modern serving.