One of the most important capitals of Europe that so far I was missing on my checked list. So why not?
I booked the tickets and landed successfully on 25 degrees in November weather. I was amazed wild the mild climate – as always since the cruel Brussels doesn’t leave much choice in between the 50 shades of grey.
I didn’t have much time but the prolongation of the weekend of 2 and half days so I decided to start my sightseeing immediately. My hotel was about outside of Athens in the Piraeus where the port is.
So, let us start!
I had difficulties in the beginning to navigate through the city as Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and survived many civilizations hence the architecture and logistics is quite obsolete. Even more, when I realized that everywhere I stepped was an actual archaeological site.
Athens is one of the cursed cities in the same time. What ever construction works started (to build the new building, the parking place, the new metro line) somehow the diggings always manage to be postponed due to archaeological discoveries. Indeed, classical and modern art are in conflict.
Last year, Greeks started to dig for the additional metro line. Soon the works stopped as the construction site became the excavation site ending with 20 people dead due to bacterial infection of the ancient dead bodies.
Nevertheless, I rushed my day towards the Acropolis. In old greek language it means ‘the highest point’ as it used to be the sacral place for the ancient Greeks.
This ancient citadel is on a rocky cliff above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.
The Parthenon and the other buildings were damaged seriously during the 1687 siege by the Venetians during the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded.
During the so-called Golden Age of Athens (460–430 BCE) the Acropolis continued to grow.
Nika means “victory” in Greek, and Athena was worshipped in hopes of a successful outcome in the long Peloponnesian War fought against the Spartans and their allies. The Spartans were the biggest enemies (smart to remember for possible future visits to Greece).
My visit to Acropolis finished. Some strange 40ish year old man captured me in his talks about the weather. As I didn’t want to be impolite, I continued my small talks but soon I realized the man is lonely as he was inviting me to see the sunset over one of the hills of Athens. Maybe next time! – I said. – And definitely come to visit Croatia!. – He promised to do so.
Ok, strolling down the hill, I visited Ancient Agora and Roman Forum. Yes, I blame Romans for destroying the Greek civilization as the Romans were everywhere. By following my bloggings through Europe – you can see that everything starts with Romans – almost every single post – east to west, north to south.
I finished the day visiting the Acropolis Museum just to get the rounded picture.
Sunset was reserved for the Temple of Olympian Zeus – also one of the favourites – a former colossal temple dating from 6th century BCE. Unfortunately, in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city.
The next day was reserved for museuming.
I started first with Archeological Museum.
Greece’s largest museum offers panoramic view of ancient Greek civilisation from history to late antiquity. In its galleries you can enjoy the tresures from the royal tombs at Mycenae, masterpieces of jewelry’s art and sculpture and large pottery collection.
The next museum of Epigraphical museum with inscriptions, mostly in Greek, but also in Latin and Hebrew.
To me, the most attaching stone with inscriptions – epigraph – was the one of emperor Diokletian (who comes from my Croatia) containing the dictation of prices and measures of the market products.
Also, the system of voting for government officials. The democracy in ancient Greece! 🙂
Walking around, I noticed the alleys of oranges. Many fruits were on the floor, smashed and not being used at all.
I also noticed this smashed and burned car. When I asked my Greek friend about it – he reminded me on recent timeswhen Athens and entire Greece faced heavy riots due to total economical collapse.
More or less that was it for that day. I got back to my hotel in the Old Port of Piraeus. The port is located 12 km from the city center but brings calm and relaxing spirit and makes you be there in the morning for the breakfast with the view.
Also great area with lods of bars and souvenir shops – typical tourist trap but lovely and vivid, is the neighbourhood called Plaka. Kinda in the shadow of Acropolis and its ancient temples – but beautiful enough to attract you for a good meal in the old greek taverna.
Asit is the oldest part of Athens, it is rich with people coming down to the cafes which are generally a little pricey if they are on the main roads (Kydatheneon, Adrianou) and around the squares, but in a way worth it for the view. If you sit in one of these cafes long enough you will see that everyone who comes to Greece walks down the streets of Plaka.
In the heart of this historic Greek town of Athens and its winding streets lie numerous churches of impressive architecture, dating back to 5th century. Most of the churches in Athens are well-preserved, decorated with rare frescoes and icons. A stroll around the center reveals the jewels of religious art and tradition.
A little bit more of wandering around with my Greek friend through Anafiotika: a scenic tiny neighborhood.
The first houses were built in the era of King Otto of Greece, 19th century, when workers from the island of Anafi came to Athens in order to work as construction workers in the refurbishment of the city.
As we are moving towards a bit modern times, let me show you the main shopping street called Ermou.
And the Syntagma square – main square of the city. The square is named after the Constitution that Otto, the first King of Greece, was obliged to grant after a popular and military uprising on 3 September 1843.
It is located in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace, housing the Greek Parliament since 1934.
Behinf the palace is the beautiful garden that makes the city scape completely different. When I entered this garden – I lost every single feeling that I am in chaotic and mediterranean Athens.
Not far away is the University of Athens and Library of Athens – the two beautiful buildings in neoclassical style.
There is a Monastiraki neighbourhood famous for grafittis. My local friend Antonis brought me there as well where we tasted sweet greek red wine.
Finishing with the great greek food and some souvenirs:)