Athens Tourist Attractions
Acropolis is the most important and perhaps the most recognizable historical
edifice in the Western world. It is situated in Athens, Greece's capital, and
visible from almost any spot in the city. On the Acropolis sits many temples,
the most imposing is the Parthenon, the paragon of Doric-style construction.
Before its destruction, it housed the giant statue of Athena. Pericles,
Athenian leader during the 5th century BC, commissioned its construction.
However, the Parthenon is not the only historical attraction in Athens. Even on the Acropolis, there are other temples and structures that give a glimpse of the glory and splendor of Athens during the ancient times. The Propylaea is the monumental gateway to the Acropolis. Upon entering it you will come upon the Temple of Athena Nike, dedicated to the goddess of victory bearing the temple's name. Beside the Parthenon is another popular structure, Erectheion, celebrated for the Caryatids, the sculpted maidens who took the place of the columns. The Caryatids of Erectheion has been copied by many other structures, both during the antiquity and in modern times.
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is a paradise for museum buffs and truly enriching even for those who are not. Originally, the museum was meant to house artifacts coming from Athens only, but now contains finds from archaeological sites all over Greece. The extensive assemblage includes a Prehistoric Collection, artifacts used by civilizations during the Neolithic, Cycladic and Mycenaean periods; a Sculptures Collection, featuring intricate Greek sculptures during the seventh to fifth century BC; the Metallurgy Collection, works of art of the ancient Greeks as metal was discovered; the Vase and Minor Objects collection, a remarkable collection of Greek pottery; and the Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection, featuring works from 5000 BC up to the Roman invasion.
The historical neighborhood of Plaka is also a famous attraction in Athens, although overcrowded with tourists during the summer. This settlement is nestled at the foot of the Acropolis and houses the village of Afiotika, a charming community of white-washed Cycladic-style houses with narrow streets. Despite its historical appeal, there are now department stores, gift shops, restaurants and taverns in Plaka.
Piraeus, the port of Athens, may seem like an unlikely tourist attraction for a place that is always bustling with activity. But Piraeus has an appeal of its own. The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus features an interesting collection of artifacts like the huge bronze statues of Athena and Artemis. The best seafoods in the city can also be found on the port's seaside taverns. Although quite costly, the experience and the food are truly fascinating.
The heart of modern Athens is the Syntagma Square (also known as the Constitution Square) located in front of the Greek Parliament. Political demonstrations and student rallies are frequently held here. On the lighter side, almost all public transportations lead to Syntagma Square. The most luxury hotels in Athens can also be found here. A popular event much anticipated by tourists is the changing of the guard ceremony, done in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is even more interesting because the guards wear the traditional Greek pleated skirt and pompom-toed shoes.