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Of all Europe’s capitals, Athens is probably the one that has changed the most in recent years. But even though Athens has become a modern metropolis, it still retains a good deal of its old small town feel. Here antiquity meets the future, and the ancient monuments form a classical backdrop to a new and trendier Athens – and it is precisely these great contrasts that make the city such a fascinating place to explore.
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Do and see
Discover the right places in the Anafiotika district, at the feet of the Acropolis, and you will find it still has a village feel in the midst of the city. In Exarchia, there is still a somewhat in-your-face anarchic atmosphere around the Technical University.
The Acropolis and its surroundings
The Parthenon, the temple of Athena, is the major attraction. There is also the Erechteion, whose columns are statues of the female Caryatids, though the original statues have been replaced by copies due to air pollution. On the southern slopes of the Acropolis lies the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a Roman theatre with room for as many as 5.000 spectators. It is used during the annual Athens Festival for world-class ballet and music performances. The Dionysus Theatre lies beside Herodes Atticus, and almost all the tragedies and comedies of Ancient Greece were written for this theatre.
National Archaeological Museum
The museum houses Ancient Greece’s most spectacular pieces. One room contains Schliemann’s finds from Mycenae. The famous frescoes from Santorini are on display. There is also a fine collection of idols from the Cyclades and ceramics.
Agora used to be both a marketplace and a political centre. The Agora is dominated by the Stoa of Attalus and the Theseion, or Hephaisteion, dedicated to the God of metalworking and also to Theseus, one of the heroes of Greek mythology.
Benaki is a history museum with many objects from the Stone Age up to the War of Independence against the Turks. In the annex there are often very interesting exhibitions.
Mount Lycabettus
Mount Lycabettus (in Greek: Lykavittos, Λυκαβηττός) lies right in the centre of Athens, rising 277 meters (908 feet) above sea level. Getting yourself up to this altitude gives you an exquisite view over the Aegean sea and the ships in Piraeus. When the sky is clear, you can see all the way to the mountains in Peloponessos. Apart from the view, there is also a café/restaurant, a 19th century Chapel and an amphi theatre up there.
The Acropolis Museum
Well worth visiting and at the foot of the Acropolis lies the new Acropolis Museum. Brief presentations by Museum Archaeologists-Hosts are held in Greek and English every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The museum restaurant offers panoramic views of the Acropolis and a 700 square meter public terrace commanding a breathtaking view of the historic hills of Athens.
Temple of Hephaestus
Temple of Hephaestus is a well-preserved ancient Greek temple built for worshiping the God Hephaestus. This could be one of the most complete temples, not only in Greece, but in Europe.
Erechtheion is said to have been a great king during the Archaic Period, and legend says that he is buried nearby. The temple is built on a slope so there is a 3 meter difference between the north/west side and the south/east side.
Athens International Airport
Athens International Airport is located at Spata, 33 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Athens. A taxi ride to the centre will cost a flat rate between 5 am and midnight. The fixed fares include the basic fare, VAT, extra luggage charges and road tolls. The Metro goes to the centre. The journey to Syntagma takes 27 minutes. There are airport buses to Syntagma (X95) and Pireaus port (X96). Travel time to Syntagma takes around 1 hour, to Pireaus port around 1,5 hours. There is no direct metro connection to Piraeus from the airport.
Public Transport
The Metro stations are well worth seeing, and are kept spotlessly clean. At the Syntagma and Acropolis stations you will find a large collection of antiquities on display. There is a tram from the centre (Syntagma) running along the coast to Glyfada (50 minutes) and Voula (60 minutes). Buses, trolley buses and the Metro run until around midnight. The tram runs between 5.30 am and 1 am and until 2.30 am on Friday and Saturday. Airport buses all run on a 24 hour schedule. The airport bus tickets are not valid on other public transport services but only for a single journey. Ferries out to the island leave from the harbour in Piraeus or from Rafina.
There are lots of taxis, but it is normal to share a taxi, so do not be surprised if the driver picks up additional passengers along the road who are going in the same direction. The drivers have taximeters and fixed prices.
Stamps can be bought in most tobacconists and kiosks selling postcards.
Mpakakos Georgios:
230 volts
Country code: +30 Area code: 210
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