We can arrange for a half, full day, two or why not three-day tour of Athens and Attica. Only your interests and preferences are the limit. We can offer you pre-scheduled private tours or customize them to your needs and desires.
Essential Athens sightseeing is advisable to start at the Acropolis as early as 08:00 a.m.
The Acropolis of Athens
The highest point and citadel of the ancient city− boasts thousands of visitors every year. It is a high rocky outcrop above the city of Athens that hosts several ancient buildings of enormous architectural and historic significance. There stands the mighty Parthenon, there the elegant Erechtheion, there the graceful little temple of Athena Nike, all timeless tokens of the golden age of Periclean Athens. The rock offers commanding views of the city and the overall experience is one to be remembered over a lifetime.
Starting our walk at the southeastern point underneath the sacred rock we come across the Theatre of Dionysus where drama –the exclusive creation of the attic spirit− produced by the three great tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides as well as Aristophanes, the comedian, was represented in performance for the first time in the history of human art.
Right opposite the Theatre of Dionysus
rises the New Acropolis Museum, a masterpiece of modern architecture and a living ark of the Acropolis. It aspires to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. The top level of the museum is destined to display the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon arranged as it would appear on the actual temple with which, upon raising the gaze, the visitor can have dramatic and uninterrupted visual contact.
Our next trip will be on the sacred rock. As we start climbing, on the right we can marvel at the scintillating Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an Athenian magnate who built it in memory of his wife, Regilla. The Odeon has been perfectly remarbled and is used as a venue for performing arts where innumerable renowned artists have appeared over the decades. It is well worth attending a performance of your choice in a moonflooded summer night.
Now, we are making for the final ascent up to the entrance into the Rock. As we pass through the Propylaea –the monumental gateway to the Acropolis− we come out onto the summit where flabbergasted we stop and stare at the majestic Parthenon suspended before us in a sagging sky.
The most famous temple in the world; an icon of the West; admired as much for its architectural grace as for its representative power. It was a temple to the Patroness of Athens, Athena Parthenos −Athena the Maiden− and all at once the central repository of the Athenians’ lofty conceptions of themselves. It was the marble embodiment of their values, beliefs, myths and ideologies and it remains one of the principal legacies of Greek civilization to western civilization and our own. Realized under the general supervision of Pheidias during the Golden Age of Pericles, the most prominent statesman of the Athenian democracy, the temple constitutes the stateliest creation of the Periclean program on the Acropolis in classical times.
On the north side of the Acropolis stands the Erechtheion, a complex marble building of exceptional art which was dedicated to various deities and served multiple religious functions. The roof of its south porch was supported, instead of typical columns, by the Caryatids, elegantly draped maidens whose bold stance gives the impression that the task of bearing the weight of the porch roof is effortless. Finally, on the southwest of the Acropolis plateau right next to the Propylaea we must not miss the Temple of Athena Nike, a real gem in the stylish and elegant Ionic order dedicated to Athena as Goddess of Victory.
On a little lower level, northwest of the Acropolis there is another celebrated rock, Ares Rock or Areopagus. In classical times, it functioned as the Supreme Court for criminal and civil cases whilst Apostle Paul is said to have delivered there the famous speech to the Athenians.
At the southwest of the Acropolis
we can see another two hills of Athens. On the left, the wooded Philopappos Hill with the homonymous monument on top and on the right, the rocky Pnyx, the meeting place of the world’s earliest known democratic legislature, the Athenian ekklesia of the demos –the assembly of the people− where all matters of the democracy were discussed and voted upon.
To the north of the Acropolis
next to Monastiraki, lies the most celebrated forum of the ancient world: The Agora of Athens with the impressively reconstructed Stoa of Attalos is the place where ancient Greek democracy first came to life and provides a wonderful opportunity to examine the commercial, political, religious, and cultural life of the great city. Within the Agora limits, do not miss one the best preserved Doric temples, the so-called Thissio, a temple to Hephaestus, God of fire, metalwork and craftsmanship.
To the east we shall find the Roman equivalent of the Agora, the Forum Romanum with many significant archeological remnants the most impressive of which is the elegant Tower of the Winds, an octagonal marble edifice which was the first clock tower and weather station in history.
Whether you like hanging out watching people, shopping, eating, or wandering around, the Monastiraki and Plaka area with its island-like streets is great to be in or near. Monastiraki –little monastery− shows a lot that is Greek. It has not changed much in centuries in its shopping habits and tradesmen, its people and variety. It is the place where the Sunday flea market is held and a bounteous fair for the senses.
After all, who told you that Athens and Greek Islands are two worlds apart? With its whitewashed houses and its cobbled streets meandering up to the Acropolis, Plaka lends itself to pure island imagery and invites the rambler to explore and discover one of the most ancient continuously active neighborhoods in the world today. Ancient Greek and Roman monuments mix with neoclassical buildings of the nineteenth century, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques. Whether you take some distant view or a close look it all resembles a theatrical scenery. With a minimum of contact with the aspects of modern civilization, many people find unpleasant, you can choose some cozy café or a traditional taverna to enjoy Greek food and live Greek music.
Heading to the east we come by the impressive Hadrian’s Gate. It is a monumental arch considered to have been erected to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and to honor him for his many benefactions to the city. Behind the arch there rise the columns of Olympian Zeus, a colossal temple −the largest one in Greece− which owed its completion to Hadrian, the philhellene Roman emperor.
Making for the bustling city
we now arrive at Sintagma, the Constitution, where the Greek Parliament –Vouli− is located. Just outside the Parliament we can stop to watch the famous and highly stylized change of the Presidential Guard at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. In the area of Sintagma we can also visit the impeccably marbled Panathinaic Stadium where the first Olympic Games of the modern era took place.
While descending Panepistimiou Street we shall admire three of the most exquisite examples of nineteenth century neoclassical architecture: the Academy, the University −Panepistimio− and the National Library.
Optionally, our tour of daytime Athens may include visits to major museums of the Capital, such as the National Archeological Museum, the Benaki Museum or the Byzantine Museum as well as to Plato’s Academy near the district of Kolonos or the ancient cemetery of Keramikos near Thissio.
Many a word has been written about the Attic sky, the blue sea and the light shining on the rocky Attic landscape. The way to Sounion offers some of the best views of Attica and a superb opportunity for swimming or lying on the beach. As we leave the coastal suburbs of Athens we pass towns and settlements, neat harbors and beautiful beaches with golden sand and shimmering pebbles. We can drive you to the beach you like or recommend you the one that fits your preferences. In about one and a half hour we will arrive at Cape Sounion with the famous Doric Temple. The gleaming-white columns on the tip of the peninsula were erected by the Athenians to the God of the sea, earthquakes and horses, mighty Poseidon, and constituted the last marks of their civilized world.
Some additional places we can visit in Attica include the sanctuary of Artemis in Vravrona and Marathon.
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