Hello my dear readers,
Another Wednesday is here, are you ready for another travel? Prepare your luggage, we’re ready to set off and discover Athens, the Greece’s capital.
Athens is one of those cities that we all heard about, often even during our school time. Athens is a city of great historical and cultural interest, and certainly deserves at least a visit. Its history is well known, was so named in honor of the goddess Athena who, according to legend, swore to protect it and make it really very rich and powerful.
If you like classical culture, Athens is an outdoor museum, where you’ll see archaeological sites in every corner.
Athens, beside history and art is also sea, beaches, entertainment and gastronomy, a city, well worth to be discovered.
This wonderful land is looking forward to welcoming you and taking you among its monuments, its fascinating streets and every corner of it.
Despite being a big city, it is possible to visit Athens comfortably on foot, as the historic center and all the main attractions are concentrated in a relatively small space.
UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the Acropolis is usually the first thing that everyone visits after arriving in the city. It is in fact, the greatest architectural complex of ancient Greece which, despite the vicissitudes of the millennia, just to name one, the Venetians in war against the Turks bombed the Acropolis in 1687, it still stands today to give visitors from all over the world an absolutely unforgettable experience. Especially in the early evening, when the Acropolis and the city all around is flooded with the colors of the sunset.
As you go up on the hill, you will come across two theaters, including the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, recently restored and suitable for hosting concerts and shows. Once at the top you will find yourself in front of an incomparable sight of the city, with its vast of white houses that does not seem to have an end. The panorama is “interrupted” by the port of Piraeus, starting point for the Aegean Sea and the scene of great naval battles.
Descending from the hill you will see the theater of Dionysus and what is left of the Temple of Zeus, the one that was one of the greatest in Greece. To date, only 15 of the original 104 white marble columns have remained.
At Acropolis’ foot is the Agora, an area of about 12 hectares which was the political, administrative and social heart of Athens throughout antiquity. For millennia this place, famous, among other things, for the condemnation to death of Socrates, lived an interminable descending parable that has begun with the political-military decline of the city and stopped only in the nineteenth century when the area began to repopulate.
If the Agora is the heart of ancient Athens, Syntagma Square (Constitution Square) is the heart of the modern one. Here are the Parliament Building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, constantly guarded by the Evzones, the Greek guards who every day offers a show with the spectacular changing of the guard.
The “intensive-tourist” Athens continues to the Plaka, one of the oldest and most characteristic neighborhoods of the city. Most of the streets are closed to traffic and it is here, not far from the Acropolis and Syntagma Square, that most of the Athenian nightlife is concentrated. Bars, restaurants, taverns, souvenir shops where it is nice to “get lost” and spend pleasant hours of shopping, live music, good food and, of course, a visit to some of the city’s main monuments. For example, the two Byzantine churches of St. Nicholas Rangabas and St. Nicodemus, as well as the Museum of Greek folk art which houses traditional costumes, embroidery, ceramics and other antique wooden and silver utensils.
Nearby Plaka is Monastiraki, a district famous for its flea market. This is where the popular soul of Athens is located, especially on weekends when the stalls progressively invade the streets to the detriment of the shops.
In Monastiraki there are the two cathedrals, Mikri Metropoli, the small one and Megali Metropoli, the large one, the true Cathedral of Athens, and there is also the Tzistarakis mosque, today a branch of the Museum of folk art, symbol of the centuries-old Ottoman domination of the city and entire Greece.
Who is visiting Athens can be really happy to find out that the most beautiful things are still almost free. One of the peculiarities of the city, in fact, is that of being surrounded by hills that represent as many panoramic points within easy reach on foot. Apart from the Acropolis, there are six others: Aeropago, Filoppapo, Pnice, Muse, Nymphs and Lycabettus. Lycabettus, with its 272 meters above sea level, is the highest peak in the city and, as well as on foot, can also be reached by a comfortable funicular that starts from Kolonaki, an elegant residential area not far from Syntagma square. At the top there is a chapel dedicated to Saint George, a theater and a restaurant. Most of all, however, there is a breathtaking view, especially in the evening. The climb to Mount Lycabettus is by far one of the best ways to spend a morning or late afternoon in the city, but if you choose to climb on foot it is best to avoid the hottest hours of the day.
Athens is a lively city, full of important sites and now a low-cost destination that is attractive to many tourists. Although it has undergone several changes over time, it remains one of the most prestigious places that history has known. Philosophy, art, politics, democracy, everything was born from the capital of Greece.
Athens has a Mediterranean climate and can be visited the entire year. Winters are therefore mild and moderately rainy, summers warm and sunny. However, it may happen that in winter, more precisely from December to mid-March, some cold air raids from the Balkan peninsula can bring cold and rain, sometimes even snow.
Athens in the summer is the hottest European capital with temperatures that can reach 40° C, while from November to February the sky is often cloudy with the maximum peaks of precipitation, which however are not abundant.
The best time to go to Athens from the weather point of view is from mid-April to the end of May and from mid-September to October, and from the economic point of view end of summer or January, February when is less crowded.
Athens is a fascinating city full of attractions, suitable for couples, families, groups of friends and solo travelers. Every neighborhood has its own personality, so it’s good to know them to choose where to sleep in Athens. Some, such as the Plaka or Kolonaki, are particularly suitable for a romantic holiday, while others like Psiri or Exarhia, are more suited to young travelers. Due to its central location and numerous transports, Syntagma is a very popular choice among tourists, including families with small children.
The good news is that the hotels in Athens are much cheaper than in other European capitals and there is a wide choice of facilities both in the medium-low price range and in the high price range.
It could be the right occasion to treat yourself to a stay in a luxury hotel! Whatever the budget of your holiday, you can find a hotel in Athens for a dream vacation.
Ok, and now you will ask: what are the typical dishes of Greek and Athenian cuisine?
Temples, theaters, museums, the Greek capital is able to satisfy the most refined intellectual appetites. But for the real appetite? Don’t worry, Athens, with its 4000 years of culinary tradition, with its genuine and decisive flavors, its spices, will offer you healthy and tasty dishes at affordable prices.
Definitely the most famous Greek dish, available both in restaurants and street vendors, Souvlàki is a skewer of slow-cooked pork, chicken or lamb. In the capital it is also known as Kalamaki, try it and you will not be disappointed.
The Moussaka is the Greek cousin of eggplant parmigiana. Maybe it will have less tomato sauce, but you won’t miss it, thanks to the addition of cinnamon, onions, minced meat, and above all the final layer of cream!
The similarities with Italian cuisine continue as pastitsio is very reminiscent of baked pasta: several layers of pasta with minced meat, tomato sauce, and finally a sprinkling of cheese. Lunch is served!
Stifado is a succulent stew prepared mainly with beef, rabbit or lamb. Spices, olive oil and wine give it a strong and intense flavor, also suitable for those who do not like to eat too spicy. Recommended for those with a strong stomach, and for those who are not afraid of having an onion-like breath.
Could we miss the well-known Greek salad? Of course not. The original name is Choriatiki Salata and is the perfect combination of taste and lightness. Traditionally it is served as a side dish to the Moussaka, but don’t worry, nobody will look at you badly if you decide to combine it with other main courses.
The Tiropita is the traditional Greek cheese cake. An exquisite specialty based on feta, eggs and chopped fresh mint, including sheets of filo pastry combined with yogurt, obviously Greek yogurt. The queen of every self-respecting Greek breakfast.
Sweet of Turkish origin, famous for having bewitched countless sultans, the Greek Baklava is presented as an infinity of layers of phyllo dough arranged one above the other, garnished with honey and dried fruit. Do you worry about sugar levels? You are in Athens, so the diet can rest in Hades!
If you have the chance go for it. Athens has a lot to offer 😉
Thank you all for reading.
Join me next time and I’ll share with you how I like to use rosemary.
And if you are a hopeless traveler like me, you may enjoy my previous posts and discover little by little our magnificent world.
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Photo credit: Google Images, Pixabay, edited by Popsicle Society