Sunday, July 15, 2007

Athens sightseeing walks and places to see in Athens

Athens walks and sightseeing

Athens is one of the main gates of tourism in Greece, thousands of visitors will stay a couple of days in Athens Greece before their trip to the Greek islands or the Greek mainland and Athens has many places of great historic value to visit especially the Acropolis and its environs. Therefore a map of Athens is one of the most needed items to have. First I suggest that you download for free the map of Athens from Greek National Tourism Organization GNTO here.and then open it and I will try to guide you through the roads of Athens and the most important places to visit. This will be a free tour of Athens in an interactive manner.Alternativelly you can watch as well this nice video with map and pictures of the various monuments and landmarks of Athens plus amazing music background.

Usually visitors to Athens arrive at Athens airport and then begin their visit by taking the bus to Syntagma Square or Monastiraki. When you have downloaded the map, identify Syntagma Square which can be the start of our tour around the centre of Athens. Directly opposite the square is the building of the Greek Parliament at Amalias Avenue and next to it is the National Gardens. I am sure you will want to visit the Acropolis and this is easily reached from Amalias Avenue. Thus, facing the Parliament building turn right and follow Amalias Avenue, on your left you will see the National Gardens and then, the Zappeion Exhibition Hall and The Temple of Olympian Zeus. A few metres further you will pass the Hadrian Arch. A few metres down from this turn right at Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. This is one of the best pedestrianised streets of Athens. Following the map continue on this road and you should be able to see ahead of you, on your right, the Rock of Acropolis and the Ancient Theatre of Dionyssus

A little further along is the theatre of Herodes Atticus and the entrance for the Acropolis starts from the road a few meters further on the right. Follow this road up hill to the top and soon you will have reached the Acropolis Propylea. From this lofty position you can experience a wide and panoramic view of Athens. Looking south east you can see the Mount of Penteli and Hymettus and to the south west you can see the south coast of the Athens Riviera. Looking westward is the Philopapou Hill and, far in the distance, is the Saronic Gulf and the Port of Piraeus. Looking north and northwestwards, starting from Areios Pagos you can locate Thission, the Athens Observatory, Monastiraki and, in the distance the northern-northwest suburbs of Athens are the slopes of Mount Aegaleo and Parnitha. 

If after your tour of the Acropolis you want to visit the famous area of Plaka and the flea market of Monastiraki, follow the circular Theorias Street, which you can see on the map, and descend the steps that make up Dioskouron Street. On your left you will see the Hephaestus Temple and the Stoa of Attalus. At the end of the steps, on your right, is the Roman Agora. From here turn left and take the first street on the right and you will have arrived at the heart of Monastiraki. You can take a break here for refreshment at the cafes of Adrianou Street before continuing your journey into the flea market at Pandrosou Street. Alternatively, if you feel that you have walked enough for now, you can return to Syntagma Square by following the streets of Ermou or Metropoleos northwards.

If you want to visit Omonia Square from Monastiraki just follow Athinas Street until the end. It is only about a 10 minute walk passing alongside the public fish and meat markets of Athens as well as the Athens City Hall. However, there are not many great things to say about Omonia Square other than it is here that you can find cheaper accommodation and it still central enough to reach all the famous sites easily by foot. For example, if you wish to visit the Archeological Museum of Athens, you need to cross Omonia Square and turn left into Patission Street. Continue for around 5 minutes on foot, past the Greek Polytechnic and the Archeological Museum is next door.

A tour of Plaka can start, again, from Syntagma Square. Follow, according to the map, Filelinon Street and turn right at the pedestrianised Kydathineon Street. At the Square of Filomousos Etairias is the centre of Plaka with many restaurants, cafes and shops. Whilst there it is worth taking a tour of the small winding roads of Anafiotika. You will feel that suddenly you have left Athens and you have landed on a Cycladic Island. The reason for this different kind of architecture is that when the first king of Greece after the Greek revolution of independence, Otto of Bavaria ,build his palace (today the Greek Parliament building) many builders came from the small island of Anafi. They settled under the east slopes of the Acropolis and build there own houses there. This place today is called Anafotika.
For you tours in Athens the best way is to use the Athens Metro ,you can get here an Athens metro map


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