Mini guide to Athens
The city of Athens offers a mixture of ancient and modern that is sometimes chaotic
and often spectacular. The ancient Greek culture is regarded as the cradle of
Western civilisation, making Greece, and especially Athens, a major drawcard for
students of archaeology and history. Additionally, Athens was awarded the 2004
Olympic Games. It will be the third time Athens has hosted the Olympic Games.
The city hosted the first modern day Olympic Games (1896); in 2004, the games
return to their birthplace, 108 years later.
Centrepiece of the city is the ancient Acropolis, presiding over the city as
it has done for several millennia. Atop this small hill is situated some of
the finest and most famous examples of ancient Greek architecture, including
the Parthenon, perfectly proportioned Propylaia gate and graceful Erechtheion
- dedicated to Athena, Goddess of Love. Other superb relics are dotted about
the city in various states of preservation including the ancient Theatre of
Dionysos, Hadrian's Roman Arch, the monument of Lysikrates, the few remains
of the enormous Temple of Zeus and also one of Athens' most famous landmarks,
the Panathenaic Stadium, used for the original Olympics in 1896.
There is much more on offer than ancient monuments, as befitting a major European
capital. The port of Piraeus, a half-hour from Athens, is the gateway to the
many other Greek Islands, which are a major attraction for vacationers. Apart
from this, mainland Greece offers many interesting destinations, readily accessible
by car. It is not unusual, however, for visitors to spend their entire vacation
in Athens, such is the variety on offer in this historic city.
Perhaps the best way to get around the city is on foot. Walking around Athens
can be a dream come true or a nightmare, usually a bit of both. The city is
surrounded by beautiful hills, yet the peaks can be obscured by pollution. At
times, the hustle and bustle of downtown will drive you crazy, yet within minutes
you can suddenly find yourself in a quiet, cobbled part of the Plaka. Guided
tours are available, but some may prefer just to wander off and see whatever
crosses their path.
Greece is a mountainous country, and there are many hills in and around Athens.
The city is located at the southern tip of mainland Greece, which in turn is
at the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Greece is surrounded on three sides
by the Aegean Sea, which is dotted with many islands, large and small.
Greece's antiquity dates back to 3000 BC. The evolution of powerful city-states,
especially Athens and Sparta, between 800 and 500 BC, produced the classical
age of Athens, and Greek civilisation. This glorious history is reflected in
the ruins and monuments that lie scattered all over the country.
Athens is readily accessible from all over Europe and other parts of the world.
By car from Corinth (to the southwest), the signs into Athens will direct you
into Omonia Square, from the west along Ayiou Konstantinou. Eleftherios Venizelos
International Airport at Spata (21kms east of Athens) is the main port of entry
via air. If arriving by ferry, Piraeus is Athens' main seaport, 11kms southwest
of central Athens.
Selection of hotels in this region:
Hotel Rio Athens
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking