A Half Day in Athens! What to do?

A Half Day in Athens! What to do?

Many travellers come and go in Athens, having only a few hours to spend in our wonderful city, as they stop to change flights, or attend a business meeting for a day.

Most of them wait in the airport for their next flight or stay at a nearby hotel waiting to be transferred to the office and then back again. However, even if the amount of free time in Athens is less than a day, there is a perfect way to spend it instead of waiting in a hall or staying at a hotel.

Though half a day in Athens will not fit any proper tour to the most significant sites, there is still the possibility of getting a glimpse of the trademark of our city; The magnificent Parthenon located on the Acropolis' rock. To get there from the airport, just get on the metro and get off at the "Acropolis" station. From the port of Piraeus, jump on the train, get off at Omonoia station and change for line 2 of the metro. It is only a couple of stops away and the view is definitely worth the trouble.

At the "Acropolis" metro station you can admire the impressive ancient findings brought to light by excavations during he construction of the Metro. Once exiting the station the first view of the Acropolis unfolds.

On your left lies the Dionysius Areopagitou Street, a pleasant paved road, with beautiful neoclassical houses of the 19th and 20th century.

Follow the paved paths created by the Unification of the Archaeological Sites, a project that unites all the beauty of ancient monuments located around the Acropolis, creating the largest archaeological park in Europe. Follow the signs – going uphill – that lead to top of the Acropolis (a little bit of climbing is mandatory, nonetheless pleasant!). Shortly before reaching the top, on the right hand side, marvel at the Ancient Theater of Dionysus, the oldest of the major theaters of the world and the birthplace of the ancient drama.

Also on the right is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built in the 2nd B.C. by the Roman Patrician Herodes Atticus. The theater has impressive acoustics and is therefore used for drama enacting, concerts and dance festivals regularly.

Pass the Conservatory and go a little further down, to see on your left the Philopappou Hill, with the beautiful church of Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris, restored in 1955 by the Greek architect Dimitris Pikionis. On your right, the road leads to the Acropolis. Explore this wonderful area and its monuments. Admire the Propylea, the Parthenon Temple, the Erechtheio and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Acropolis is the center of the historical part of Athens; the city that worshiped goddess Athena and it is from the goddess of wisdom that its name derives. The myth behind the name is well known. Two gods, Poseidon and Athena, both claimed the protection of the city and none retreated, thus they summoned on the Acropolis the first king of Athens, Kekropas, and asked him to choose one of the gifts they offered. Poseidon made a fountain of water on the Acropolis and Athena made an olive tree. Kekropas chose the olive tree, so Poseidon left defeated. Athena became the protector of this beautiful city. Later, King Erechtheus, to further honor the goddess, gave the city its current name.

Acropolis is the center of the historical part of Athens; the city that worshiped goddess Athena and it is from the goddess of wisdom that its name derives. However there is only one site that inspires awe around the globe; Parthenon, the temple of Athena.

Phidias, the greatest sculptor of antiquity, created numerous statues of Athena. One of these was made of gold and ivory, and was placed inside the Parthenon.The height of the statue with its base reached a startling 15 meters. Athena was standing upright, commanding and lively. In her right hand she held the winged victory, which had a height of 1,80 meters, and was made of gold and ivory. In her left hand there were a spear and a shield. Between these two there was a snake depicting Erichthonios.

In the inner part of the shield, the painter Polygnotos had painted a scene of the first giants and around it there was the scene of the war of Theseus against the Amazons. In one of their warriors Phidias had given the form of Pericles, Athens' governor. The skeleton was a huge wooden mast thrust into the ground. In the 5th century B.C., the Christians transferred the statue in Istanbul. Since then its whereabouts remain unknown but there are many speculations. It seems that the base of the statue suffered radical repairs, probably after a major fire.

It takes only one site, a glorious temple, to travel back in Ancient times and lose yourself for a while in the rich Greek history. On the way back to Athens International Airport or Piraeus Port, make a quick stop at one of the rooftop cafes close to the Monastiraki metro station and enjoy delicious Greek coffee accompanied by the magnificent view of the Acropolis and Parthenon.

Bon Voyage!


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