| Attractions in Athens
|Acropolis and surrounding area
Not surprisingly the Acropolis (upper city) comes first for most
visitors to Athens. It dominates the citys skyline, and includes the
Acropolis museum and four other sacred buildings, all dating back to the
fifth century BC. The renowned Parthenon, to many a symbol of modern Western
civilization is the largest building here. Built entirely from marble, the
structure is particularly magnificent at sunset. The Temple of Athena Niki
and the Erchtheion Temple can also be found here. To reach the Acropolis
take the Monastiraki/Theseion metro.
The Agora (market) used to be the focus of Athens, not only as
a bustling market but also the site for all the administrative, political
and cultural buildings. Nowadays the Hephaisteion (Temple of Haephaistos),
one of the most well preserved temples in Greece, dominates it.
The Plaka Quarter is the area below the Acropolis situated to
the east of the Agora. It is heavily commercialized but nevertheless a
pleasant area of Athens to be discovered on foot. Here you can enjoy several
museums, busy tavernas and those all important souvenir shops!
Finally, if you climb up through the Plaka to the Anafiotika district
on the slopes of the Acropolis, you'll find yourself in a charming neighborhood
with many small 19th-century homes. This district can be compared to an
island village, as most of the homes were built by stonemasons from the
Cycladic island of Anafi, who came to Athens to work on the buildings
of the new capital of independent Greece.
|National Archeological Museum
The National Archeological Museum houses one of the finest collections of
ancient Greek artifacts in the world and is well worth a visit. Guided tours
in English are available but beware, during high season the crowds flock
This private collection includes treasures from the Neolithic era to the
20th century. The folk art collection is magnificent, as are the two entire
rooms from 18th-century northern Greek mansions, the ancient Greek bronzes,
gold cups, Fayum portraits, and rare early Christian textiles. A new wing
doubles the exhibition space of the original 20th-century neoclassical town
house that belonged to the wealthy Benaki family. The museum shop is excellent,
the cafe has a spectacular view over Athens, and new galleries will house
special exhibitions. A very pleasant place to spend several hours.
The Games will be formally opened in Athens -- and in fact in several other
cities in Greece as well as around Athens -- between August 13 and 29. with
the Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, also to be the site of the
Closing Ceremony on August 29. Between those two events there will be some
1,800 separate competitions (including preliminaries) with 301 medal events
in 28 separate sports. Approximately 20,000 athletes from some 200 countries
will be competing for the coveted gold, silver, and bronze medals.