By Maria Gkika,
In recent years, tourism rates in Greece have skyrocketed. The scenic beaches, quality food, and warm weather make an enticing blend that attracts people from all over the world. History and culture lovers also seize the opportunity to visit Greece in order to admire the remains of the ancient cities. So, even if you only have a day to spend in the cosmopolitan capital before moving on to the islands, there are some must-see places that will make your time worthwhile.
First and foremost, the place to start is the Acropolis museum. Brand new and elegant in its construction, the museum provides all the necessary information about the Acropolis and the Parthenon. It has a wide collection of ancient findings and with the help of modern technology, we can better understand the original form of the monuments and statues inside. The highlight of the museum is the glass wall chamber on the third floor, where the Parthenon collection lies. The arrayed sculptural decoration of the Parthenon is marvelously placed right in front of the window facing the Acropolis. This creates a projection illusion to the eye, as the temple is where the decorations truly belong.
The next stop is the Parthenon itself. Getting up there is the most enjoyable way to experience the majesty of the temple and also admire the amazing view of the whole Lekanopedion of Attica beneath your feet. The most ideal time to be up there is close to the sunset. This is when you can appreciate the light of the falling sun as it shines its last rays onto the Pentelic marble. In the summertime, many events take place close to the area and in many instances, the archaeological sites are open to visitors without an entrance fee. Also look out for the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, a venue that hosts concerts and performances from the Roman era until today!
From there on it is the most convenient way to walk and get to know Athens by night. Thissio and Monastiraki are filled with excellent bars, cafes, and restaurants where you can enjoy drinks, food, and live music. If you choose to sit on a rooftop, you can also see the Parthenon clearly. If you are up for it, there is a well-known open-air cinema right by the street. Along the way, there are various quaint shops selling jewelry, mementos, and paintings at reasonable prices.
In Monastiraki, the most common modern bars are located around the Psiri area, which is also famous for its nightlife. You can also stop by the small Roman Agora, as well as visit the picturesque district of Plaka and the “secret” Anafiotika district. This is a neighborhood with distinctive island architecture, as it was built by former residents of Anafi Island who came to Athens to work. The area is about a few minutes’ walk from Monastiraki Square and has a lot of local restaurants that are always crowded. It is a pleasant place to wrap up the night!
All in all, even when the time you have is limited, there are many things to see in Athens and get a glimpse of this vibrant historical city. So, put on your comfortable shoes and prepare for a memorable day’s adventure!
- Explore collections, theacrpolismeuseum.gr, Available here