Detailed Guide to the City of Athens Greece, The history of Athens begins more then 3000 years ago when during the prehistoric times its first inhabitants created their first settlement on the rock of Acropolis.
It took hundreds of years until the sacred rock of Acropolis find its glory during the golden age of Pericles 495 - 429 BC with the construction of most of its Monuments like the Parthenon by the famous architects Iktinos and Kallikrates and the Sculptor Phidias. During those thousands of years Athens went through times of Glory and times of decline . Finally became the Capital of Greece in 1834 mostly for its location and historical importance. Since then Athens grew to the city we know today, an important financial European capital that hosted the last Olympic games with a great success. The infrastructure of Athens has been developed very fast within the last 10 years with new highways, a new airport, new metro lines, a new tram line, a new railway the Proastiakos rail, huge shopping centres, stadiums and sport centres and the port of Piraeus has been developed to one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean. Due to this new infrastructure and the quick access by rail ,metro and car a kind of dis urbanisation has began in Athens as many Athenians prefer to live out side of the city centre in suburbs and areas that a few years ago were holiday resorts.
Location: Athens the capital of Greece since 1834 after Nafplion and Aegina ,situated at the basin of Attica. As we can see on a Greece map the Attica basin or (Lekanopedio Attikis) in Greek surrounded from the North west by the mount Aegaleo, the mountains of Parnitha and Penteli continue to the North, North east and the mount Hymettus closes the bow to the south East. The Saronic gulf finally surrounds the east coasts of Athens and Attica. If we look on a map of Greece Athens located almost in the middle of the Greek mainland between the regions of Sterea Hellas to the north and Peloponnesus to the South. West of the Attica peninsula is the island of Evia and further to the east the deep blue Aegean Sea with its beautiful Greek islands.
Historical centre: The historical centre of Athens is the most important area of the city for the thousand of tourists who are visiting the Greek capital in order to admire the shrine of Democracy the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the museums and the monuments and theatres from the glorious past of Athens. The Pedestrianisation of the historic centre that is surrounded from the triangle between Plaka, Dionysiou Areopagitou street and Keramikos includes almost all the magnificent sights of Athens. At Dionyssiou Areopagitou one can go walking from Syntagma square or by metro to the Acropolis station, a few meters away is the new Acropolis museum and opposite is the Ancient theatre of Dionysus, a little bit further is the Herodes Atticus Odeon and after that is the way on the Acropolis. The hills of Filopapos and Pnix are near by as well as the ancient Agora, the temple of Hephestus the oldest neighbourhoods of Athens Plaka, Anafiotika and Monastiraki on the north west slopes of the sacred rock. An amazing planning that give the opportunity to the visitor to see within a few hours the most important sights of Athens. But Athens has more attractions to offers as we can see in the article about the sights of Athens.
Sights: Plaka used to be called by the Greeks the neighbourhood of the gods, today Plaka is one of the main attractions for the tourists, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops all can be find here. Anafiotica is a must see area just over Plaka and under Acropolis to the east . Anafiotika is like a small island within Athens, builders from the small island of Anafi build their traditional white washed houses in the tiny winding streets and steps of this area when they were building the royal Palace. Today the Palace is the Greek Parliament and rights on its front is the Parliament square or Plateia Syntagmatos in Greek , the most central place of Athens. Next to the Parliament is the National Gardens and the Zapeion exhibition hall. Not far opposite Zapeion are the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Hadrian arch. The Panathinaikon stadium where the first Olympic games took place located a few minutes walk through the National Gardens or through Zapeion.
Architecture: Athens has many neoclassical buildings like the Athens Academy, the National Library, The Historical museum, the Archaeological museum and many others mainly at the streets of Panepistimiou, Stadiou, Athinas, Patission (28 October street), around Omonia square and in the area of Plaka where located the first university of Athens and many neoclassical houses .
Transport: Athens has very good transport services, the visitor can use the bus, trolley tram or the metro and of course taxi. Since the distances to most of the main sights of Athens are not far, walking is a good idea and a good way to get to know Athens. Of course you will not be able to see Athens within one or two days unless you want to get some pictures of the Acropolis and pack for the Greek islands, but Athens has a lot of attractions that someone will need at least one week or more. there are many museums in Athens like the National Archaeological museum of Athens one of the most important museums in the world, exhibition centres, shopping malls, theatres and concert halls and of course the famous nightlife of Athens equivalent with the nightlife of Paris and London. There are many places to visit in Athens that sometimes you can spend the whole day just strolling around. A place like that, is Monastiraki and its famous flea market with all kind of old and new stuff, a place that first was used by the rag and bone men of Athens as their main market place. Just across Ermou street from Monastiraki is the area of Psiri with numerous restaurants, bars , cafes and taverns with Greek live music both Monastiraki and Psiri is something like the Camden market in London. But do not forget the beaches of Athens. From the Lycabettus hill you can have an amazing panoramic view of Athens. The coastal road from Faliro to Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and further until Sounion is full of sandy beaches, yacht marinas, hotels, sport clubs, a worth seeing Riviera of Athens. From the port of Athens, Piraeus you can visit the beautiful Greek islands of the Aegean world famous for their nature, history and tourist attractions like Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Santorini, Mykonos and many others.
Shops: Athens is a paradise for shopping, all kind of shops are to be found in the most famous shopping areas of Athens the Ermou street, Aiolou street and in the area of Kolonaki. For books and music instruments the Solonos and Academias street. Many shops are on the two main streets that heading to the Parliament square Panepistimiou and Stadiou. But the most famous market place for the tourist is Monastiraki and the flea market. Worth of a visit is the Athens market at Athinas street and the small shops at Evrypidou street.
Eating out :For food in Athens you are in the right place, all kind of restaurants with local, international and ethnic cuisine, grill houses, Greek souvlaki shops, pizzerias, hamburger, you name it, are to be found everywhere in Athens.
Beaches: There are numerous beaches in Athens and in the peninsula of Attica. All of the beaches of Athens are well organised . Most popular are the beaches in Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Kavouri, Glyfada. Alimos is the nearest to the centre of Athens. All of those beaches are in the coast line of the south suburbs of Athens and you can get there by tram (until Voula) or by bus. On the east coast of Attica there are many sea resorts very popular among the Athenians with nice beaches, to name a few, Marathon, Rafina, Nea Makri, Agios Andreas, Porto Rafti, Loutsa and Sounio at the southernmost peak of Attica.
Finally not to forget Piraeus the port of Athens where all the ferries to the Greek islands departing from, with its beautiful marinas in Zea, Kastella and Mikrolimano, the wonderful coastal area of Peiraiki with the fish taverns and the amazing views to the Saronic gulf and its city centre with the City hall Theatre.