Top Cultural Highlights in Athens
Athens is a stunning but sprawling city which is often overlooked in favour of the islands. However, spend some time in this ancient city and you’ll fall in love with its food architecture and people. Athens does have a gay scene but it’s a little more underground and clandestine than in other major European cities. However, the delights of this city lie in its awe-inspiring cultural attractions which simply cannot be missed!
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis is the crowning glory of Athens. This ancient city is a collection of structures and fortifications – the most famous of which is The Parthenon. The Acropolis is known as the home of democracy, though the 30 euro entry ticket isn’t exactly an egalitarian notion. Make sure you also visit the Acropolis Museum, hosting a fantastic collection of Greek art.
The museum gives a rich insight into the Byzantine period of Greek history. For over a thousand years this Eastern Empire ruled over these lands and left behind a range of masterpieces from mosaics to statues.
Head up the winding slopes of Lykavittos Hill for stunning vistas of Athens. The walk takes about 30 minutes and is achievable for anybody of moderate fitness – there is, however, a funicular railway if you’d rather sit back and just enjoy the view.
Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square
The soldiers of the Presidential Guard stand guarding the imposing building 24 hours a day. The changing of the guard takes place daily at 11 am in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
This colossal structure stands at the centre of Athens and is dedicated to the Olympian Zeus. Built in the 6th century BC it’s only the ruins which stand erect today. The Temple is located near Hadrian’s Arch and also the Olympic Stadium and the three together make an excellent half-day sightseeing combination.
Panathenaic Stadium & Olympic Stadium
The oldest ancient building in Athens is a wonder to behold. Constructed in 335 BC it was the home of the Panathenaic Games and rebuilt in 1896 for the modern Olympics. It seats a staggering 60,000 spectators in its 47 tiers and it is the only stadium in the world which is built entirely of marble.
The National Art Gallery
This is one of Greece’s premier art galleries and mainly features contemporary work from popular Greek artists. Works by Theodors Vrizakis, Nikiforos Litras, Konstantinos Parthenis, Nikolaos Kounelakis and Giannis Tsarouchis all feature in the gallery.
The National Park of Athens
The park is a protected area compromising beds of flowers, ponds, a small zoo, some ancient ruins and vegetation. You can seek some shade here on a hot summers day and grab a beer from the park’s cafe.