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ATHENS: EXPLORE THE CITY
Athens is the capital of Greece, with a long history, dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th Century BC (the “Golden Age of Pericles”) – the culmination of Athens’ long, fascinating history – the city’s values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments – a rare historical palimpsest. In 1834, it became the capital of the modern Greek state and in two centuries since it has become an attractive modern metropolis with unrivaled charm.
Traces of a centuries-old and important history is etched in every corner of Athens: findings from the Prehistoric and Archaic Periods, unique works from Classical, Hellenistic, Medieval and Byzantine monuments, creations from folk art cultures, traces from the passing eons of other civilizations and different religions, that coexist with current creations, constructions and modern works of art. Educational excursions, theatrical productions, festivals, pilgrimages, visits to archaeological sites, monuments and museums, excursions to study the natural environment, folk art and culture, these are just a few of the many things Athens has to offer in the cultural tourism sector.
Athens is a people-friendly city, an urban scene of pedestrian boulevards and squares filled with benches and interesting neighborhoods to explore. Athens is a city than never sleeps, inhabited by hospitable and outgoing people willing to guide you through their city.
One of the authentic cultural elements of a region is gastronomy. The distinctiveness of the “kitchen taste” (gustation) is many times associated with the quality characteristics of its society, while “revealing” information concerning its cultural and economic history. Greek gastronomy has recorded a history of around 4,000 years, with especial characteristics based on pure and unique quality goods produced on Greek land. Talented chefs and successful restaurateurs from the world’s best have entered the kitchens in Athens and changed the Greek food setting into one that can compete with many European metropolises. The result is hundreds of excellent restaurants with chefs, menus and waiting staff that impress even the well-traveled gourmand.
A large part of the town’s historic center has been converted into a 3-kilometre pedestrian zone leading to the major archaeological sites reconstructing – to a large degree – the ancient landscape. One can start the tour from the temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch, continue by walking along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street, the ancient Theatre of Dionysos, the ruins of the Asklepieion and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, nowadays the venue of the performances of the Athens Festival. From there one visits the sacred rock of the Acropolis, the site of some of the most important masterpieces of worldwide architecture and art, the most renowned of which is the Parthenon temple.
Also impressive are the Propylaea, the temple of the Athene Nike and the Erechtheion. Only 300m away from the sacred rock of Acropolis stands the impressive Acropolis Museum, one of the most important contemporary works of architecture in Athens. It is made of steel, glass and concrete and it houses 4,000 priceless finds from the Acropolis monuments that represent its history and function as the most important religious center of ancient Athens. Coming down from the Acropolis you arrive at the Areios Pagos and Philopappou Hill, the Pnyx, the Ancient Agora.