Quite a few potential real estate buyers are now now turning to auctions with the aspiration of buying a residence at less than the fair market value. Auction sales, however, are not always the great deal they appear. In fact, quite a few houses need considerable renovations if they are purchased through an public sale, thus the bidder must be cautious of an amazing deal. Ahead of investing in a residence in this manner, the prospective home buyer ought to check out a variety of auction sales to see the way they are managed. In addition, any real estate that’s getting taken into account has to be checked out many times and a survey needs to be performed before the public sale. Doing this guarantees the buyer is aware of precisely what is wrong regarding the home and just what will be required to make it livable. In addition to that, potential buyers should have a legal professional examine the public sale package. He or she can detect any future legal issues that may significantly boost the expense of the property. Properties offered at auction may be utilized by occupants. Potential buyers need to ensure this is not the scenario before they offer a bid plus they should make certain all of the keys are actually returned, as some homes are sold along with a tenant in situ. Potential buyers need to be conscious of this. As soon as the bid has been approved, an individual can’t escape from the contract without being forced to shell out a great deal. Therefore, auction sales may not be for the inexperienced, unless assistance is secured. In addition, the purchaser will need to have financing in position ahead of placing a bid. This is what’s called a mortgage promise, however the loan provider does not have to follow through with this assurance if and when they think the real estate property just isn’t actually worth the asking price. Customers need to be conscious of this also and show up with their 10 % deposit, the standard deposit required at public auctions. Lastly, find out exactly when the purchase must be complete. If it doesn’t go through, the bidder is left responsible and that is usually costly. If you wish to have extra resources, browse around these guys. When you go to my site, you’ll find additional information as well. A particular client inspected both sources and he said they were remarkable. You’re sure to claim the same as well.
For more than 3500 years Athens has been attracting visitors. Rich in history and home to one of the most famous buildings of the world – the Parthenon, which represents the golden age of Athens urban planning, it is impossible to compete with the impressive architecture of the city. Apart from being just a tourist spot, Athens is also home to more than half the population of Greece. Athens city breaks will surely help you know about this extremely beautiful city.
You are sure to fall in love with the jumbled and elegant skyline of neoclassical facades, whitewashed sugar-cube houses, the Plaka quarter – a colorful mixture of flea markets and antique shops, markets that have stalls piled with huge tubs of olive, fresh fish and well stocked tables laid out of the pavement tavernas.
The acropolis is one of the places visited most by tourists. It provides the best of classical architecture that you can find anywhere else in the world. You find the slender ionic columns of the Temple of Athena and the six female caryatids of the Erechtheion included in the satellite buildings. Theater had a great role in ancient Greece. The Roman theater of Herodes Atticus still stages summer shows for theater enthusiasts. After having a cultural feast at the Acropolis, you can visit the Benaki Museum where you can kindle your curiosities, and the National Archaeological Museum will keep you occupied for days. If you are looking to take a break from the hustle of the Athenian life, a peaceful walk along the 40 acres of the National Gardens is the best.
It is believed that modern Athens was born in 1834 and restored as the capital of the newly independent Greece. After the second world war, a massive expansion took place that was funded by American money. The Mediterranean climate was responsible for the high temperatures in the city. Pollution and excess traffic were some of the problems that Athens began to face. Visitors and philosophers felt that the architectural excellence were overshadowed by the urbanization. However, more than 3 million people visit this city each year and have a quick look at their favorite places.
Apart from the celebrated classical sites, the city also boasts of Byzanthine, the medieval and ninth century monuments and some of the famous museums in the world. You will also appreciate some of the areas that are immersed in surprisingly natural beauty. Though there is heavy traffic, the village like qualities are very evident in their cafes, markets, tavernas, and in the maze streets surrounding Plaka. Athens is also known for its fine restaurants and colorful and varied night life. The port at Piraeus and the metropolitan area are economic powerhouse and industrial areas of Greece. The Olympics in 2004 brought in many new developments that included an airport, new sports venues, extension of the metro system, up-gradation of hotels and renovation of many top museums.
Whenever a person is present in an automobile accident due to another driver, they may be entitled to payment for their own injuries. This means the vehicle driver who was liable might need to take care of all the costs coming from the car accident. In many instances, that is taken care of by the person’s insurance provider. Nonetheless, the victim of the car accident might find it isn’t always easy for them to actually get the correct amount of compensation.
Someone that has been injured in a vehicle accident may employ a lawyer or attorney to work with them. They will desire to work with a personal injury legal professional who generally deals with car wreck claims. The lawyer or attorney will examine all the evidence for the car accident to establish whether the person is entitled to payment and, if so, precisely how much they’re entitled to. This can change based on how critical a person’s injuries are. If the individual is entitled to a settlement, the next phase is for the legal professional to compare the quantity to the settlement made available by the insurance company. If the insurance carrier’s settlement offer isn’t adequate, the legal professional can start negotiations for a higher quantity.
Those who have been the victim of a car accident might meet with a personal injury attorney to be able to learn precisely what their particular alternatives are. In this way, they’re able to be sure they acquire a settlement deal that can handle their own bills.
During the rule of Solon the Lawgiver, when the Athens Agora was taking shape, its eastern side was entirely free of buildings. The Dromos cut across the area diagonally, serving as a boundary. But since the city was growing, the need for public buildings was also increasing, especially after the Persian wars. Then it was that a great rectangular colonnade was built around structures that very likely belonged to one of the Athens courthouses, as indicated by a ballot box with judges’ votes found there. During the Hellenistic period, Attalos of Pergamum donated to the city of Pallas Athena a magnificent, two-storey stoa, squaring off the Agora site and extending the business centre of the city east of the main road. These buildings were destroyed when the city was sacked by Sulla; but immediately afterwards, the Romans began a rapid reconstruction, an unerring measure taken by conquerors throughout history. On this side of the Agora, a library was built and then another stoa, beside that of Attalos. These and other structures were seen by Pausanias and Strabo when they came to Athens in the 2nd century AD.
Of the first long narrow stoa on the southeastern corner of the site, just a few vestiges remained because of the many changes the building underwent during the years after it was first built. Initially, the Stoa was on two levels along the Panathenaic Way, in order to compensate for the natural slope of the ground. It had eleven spaces for shops and a row of columns with Ionic capitals. It must have been a very busy spot, as shown by the figures of Herms, animals, and sundials carved on the first of the columns. The layabouts of antiquity also carved youthful profiles, some with lovely classical features and others created with the intent to ridicule.
The colonnade must have extended in front of the library beside it, of which nothing remains, because it was totally destroyed during the Herulian raid, but also because the wall put up afterward was built on top of the structures on this side of the Agora. Evidence of the inhabitants’ anxiety after the sack of the city are the pieces of columns lying like wounded giants, in the hurriedly built wall.
This was the 3rd century AD, when the Roman Empire was confronting the threat of fierce Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Vandals and others, who had set out in the north, followed the river roads of eastern Europe and joined together with the nomadic tribes of the Caucasus. From there they spilled over into the Roman possessions around the Black Sea and Asia Minor. The Goths, together with their cousins, the Herulians, built a powerful fleet and sailed down into the Aegean sowing devastation. They captured Lemnos and Skyros, and destroyed Corinth and Argos while other cities were desperately and vainly building fortifications. In the sack of Athens, the Herulians destroyed everything except for the temple of Hephaistos and the sanctuaries on the Acropolis. The entire Agora was covered with a layer of ash from the buildings burned at that time. Many keys have been found which had been thrown into wells at that period, an indication of the despair felt by the frantic inhabitants. But the barbarian occupation did not last long. Encouraged by the fiery speeches of the orator Dexippus, the residents of Athens remembered how their ancestors had dealt with the Persians, and as one man, two thousand Athenians managed to expel the invaders.
Immediately afterward, they built a wall using rubble from the ruined buildings. The perimeter of this wall greatly reduced the area which the Athenians would have to protect in any future attack. The fortifications started under the Propylaea, from the position of the present Beule gate, descended to the east side of the Panathenaic Way, crossed the southeastern stoa and the library, reached as far as the back wall of the Stoa of Attalos, turned east for some meters and then turned south again, to touch the Acropolis rock. The extent of this fortification shows that the number of residents had already – dropped sharply. The wall was 11-1/2 meters high and 3-1/2 m. wide, it had two faces and the space in between was filled with column drums, inscriptions, pedestals of votive statues and sculptures of all kinds. Traces of one fortress tower and parts of a water mill have been preserved. Three gates have been identified with certainty on the west side, along the Panathenaic Way. But the most impressive part of the remaining wall, with the built-in column drums and the pieces of marble from earlier buildings, is on the site where the library of Pantainos once stood.
This was the intellectual heart of Athens, built around the end of the lst century AD. A long inscription has been found informing us that Titus Flavius Pantainos dedicated the entire structure with all its buildings and library with all its books to Athena Polias and the emperor Trajan. This same inscription enabled scholars to conclude that the building had a courtyard with rooms and roofed areas, as well as some outdoor stow. Another inscription demonstrated the strict operating regulations of the institution, which forbade the borrowing of the books on oath. Strangely enough Pausanias did not mention this library at all, ever partial to the sanctuaries of the gods and to more ancient structures. He treated the huge building next door, the Stoa of Attalos, with the same indifference.
Attalos of Pergamum, who built this magnificent Stoa, came from an adventurous dynasty which, although its roots were of Asia Minor extraction, had become fully Hellenized. Its founder was a certain Philetairos from the Pontus in whom the Macedonian Lycimachos had such confidence as to entrust his treasury to him to be kept in the fortress at Pergamum. The person who gained most from the disputes between Lysimachos and Seleucos over the division of Alexander the Great’s enormous empire was this flexible Philetairos who found himself owner of all the goods entrusted to him. He founded the Attalid state which, between 283 and 129 BC developed into a centre of commerce and letters, largely due to the use of a new writing material derived from animal skins. It was, of course, not so new; from very ancient times, highly significant writings were recorded on a piece of thin leather called a diphthera. The Persians took this word and adapted it to their own language as defter, from which comes a Greek word meaning notebook. When, under the rule of the Ptolemies, Egypt prohibited the export of papyrus, the kingdom of Pergamum perfected the technique of making diphthera, to give it a finer texture, whiter colour and the possibility of writing on both sides. It also acquired a new name, pergamini or parchment.
The kings of Pergamum were great lovers of beauty. They adorned their capital with wonderful monuments, and superb sculptures. The “Dying Gaul” in the Capitol Museum in Rome, but above all the Altar of Pergamum in the Berlin Museum, bear witness to the high artistic standards of the period. The library of Pergamum, which was said to contain some 20,000 volumes, later was given by Mark Antony to the lovely Cleopatra to enrich the library at Alexandria. Finally, Attalos III, the last of his line, bequeathed this wealthy kingdom to the people of Rome by virtue of a controversial will, thus consolidating the Roman presence in Asia.
Two of the most significant scions of the Attalids, who alternated their rule of Pergamum, had studied in Athens. Each one, at the height of his glory, donated magnificent buildings to the city of their youth: the Stoa beside the Theatre of Dionysus, called Eumenes II, and the large Stoa in the Agora, Attalos II. Built in 150 BC at right angles to the slightly earlier Middle Stoa, the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos became the new commercial centre of Athens for the next four centuries.
To construct the enormous base, or crepidoma, on which the stoa rested, the remains of an older peristyle which may have belonged to one of the 5th century courthouses, had to be covered. The Stoa was built in two tiers; it was about 117 metres long and 20 m. wide. Its facade, which faced west. was adorned by 45 Doric columns, unfluted at the bottom, as was the custom in the Hellenistic years, while in the interior, covered area there were 22 columns supporting a roof, all of which were unfluted with Ionic capitals. The facade of the upper floor also had 45 little Ionic columns which were joined together with decorated marble slabs: parapets to protect the people. There was an inner colonnade on the upper floor, as well, corresponding to the one on the ground floor. On each of the two levels, there were 22 square rooms suitable for use as shops. Initially the stairs leading up to the second level were outside, on the two narrow sides of the Stoa, as we can see traces of them on the northern edge of the ground floor roofed area, where the vestiges of a large marble fountain were also found. The outer, southern stairway was replaced by an interior one when the library of Pantainos was built to create more space between the two buildings. It has been restored and is used today. Later, a road passed over the south side of the Stoa of Attalos leading to the Athens gate at the boundary of the Roman Agora, where the commercial centre of the city continued to be during the centuries that followed. But even when the ancient Agora was no longer regarded as the business centre, it never ceased to be the main meeting place for the residents. Strabo, who came to Athens in the 2nd century AD, called the Roman market “Eretria”, referring to the more ancient one by the same name his contemporary, Pausanias, used: “Kerameikos”.
During the barbarian invasion, the Stoa was burned as seen from marks on the south inner wall. During the subsequent fortification, the solid structure built by Attalos was deemed suitable for a city wall. Then the shop facades were built, rows of columns were torn down and fortification towers were added all along the former stoa, leaving the Agora outside the protected district. One part of the back wall was dug up in the 19th century, and after the regular excavations in 1953, the Stoa of Attalos was fully restored by the American School of Classical Studies. Today it houses a museum on its ground floor, and in the roofed outdoor area there are statues, votive sculptures, inscriptions and stelae which bring to life many details of the past life of the City.
In front of the outer colonnade of the Stoa of Attalos, in the middle of the facade, a large square base was erected for a monument depicting the king of Pergamum in a chariot. Some years after the Stoa was built, a bema (raised platform) was also put up, from which orators and Roman generals could address the citizens of Athens, another indication of how much traffic there was in the area. The large number of bases of honorary monuments on the opposite side of the Panathenaic Way proves the same thing. Right behind these monuments are the ruins of the Odeion, one of the most greatly altered buildings in the Agora, owing to the many reconstructions and additions.
From various sources in antiquity, we know that the open, triangular space in the Agora next to the Dromos, was the venue for rituals and presentations, before the theatre of Dionysus was built. There were ikria here, wooden platforms from which the spectators watched the action unfolding. A brief reference even exists to the fact that one could see by climbing up on the branches of a poplar tree growing nearby. Perhaps this previous usage, together with the existence of a playing area and a large open space, was the reason why Agrippa built the Odeion on this precise spot.
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was Augustus’ son-in-law and governor of the Eastern provinces of the Empire. Late in the 1st century BC, he offered the Athenians a magnificent building for performances or even for philosophical discussions, thus winning the coveted title of benefactor of the city together with an honorary monument at the entrance to the Acropolis. The design of the Odeion reflected the Roman taste for the grandiose; it utilised the natural incline of the ground in the best possible way, giving it plenty of space on the ground, with stoae, multiple levels and two entrances. The most impressive of these must have been in the south, right in front of the Middle Stoa.
Persons entering the Odeion from this side passed under two rows of Corinthian columns, then proceeded into the main hall with its very high ceiling projecting up above the building. From this point, one descended to the 1000-seat audience area, and from there to the semi-circular marble-tiled orchestra. Above the orchestra was the stage, behind which was the other, northern entrance with a small exterior gate.
The large dimensions of this hall must have been the reason why the roof collapsed a century after it was built. In the restoration which followed, a good many rows of benches were removed from the upper section, and the hall acquired perceptibly smaller dimensions. Now it had but one entrance, that of the north side, embellished with the statues of Giants and Tritons. After the barbarian raids, the building underwent another radical change of form, to house a gymnasium. Of its old facade, only four of the gigantic statues were kept, while behind it, a large flat area was levelled off to be used as a porticoed courtyard. Even farther back, rooms and more courtyards were built and equipped with bath facilities. The large number of these disparate areas can be explained by the custom of the ancients to have classrooms in their gymnasia. This custom provided the root for the modern Greek word gymnasio meaning secondary school.
Even though the Odeion was completely destroyed, the monumental 2nd century AD entrance remained, of which we can still see the bases and the statues of two proud representatives of the world of myth. One is a Giant with a snakish form and the other is a mature, strongly-built Triton with a fishtail instead of legs.
It has been ascertained that myths were generated at the dawn of human thought. Beginning with the superstitions of the early peoples up to the symbolism of the Platonists that expressed primitive totemism and interpreted metaphysical concerns, myth passed through various stages of evolution. But it always presupposed the distant past, because only then did events take on the dimension of hyperbole. A typical example was provided by the Romans whose own mythology was comparatively poor. In addition, they were practical and victorious army commanders and administrators who had no need of heroic models, nor were they generally renowned as being lovers of speech and poetry. But they adopted the Greek religion and liked to present mythological beings in their art.
Giants and Tritons were the remnants of Greek prehistory. The former were vanquished by the gods in a decisive battle for peace, because as children of the Earth – shown by their snakish tails – they represented natural phenomena such as storms, floods and disasters. One of these was Enceladus, who was buried under the island of Sicily and every time he moved, he created earthquakes. The Tritons were considered to be marine spirits and had a dual substance of both destruction and restitution; rather like a storm followed by calm. Although Triton appears as the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite in Greek mythology, he may very possibly be of foreign origin.
A gold Mycenean ring shows some creatures wearing a strange, scaly garment. There are Babylonian ring stones and Assyrian seal stones in the British Museum, depicting forms that are half human and half fish, while at Pasargadae in Persia, a gate has been found on the jamb of which there is a relief representation of such a dual-form being. Eusebius, a 4th century Christian chronicler, mentioned similar creatures who appeared, he said, during the years of the Babylonians. Eusebius found this information in the texts of Apollodoros, a 2nd century BC historian and philosopher who was interested in the genealogy of the gods before the Flood. Apollodoros’ main source was a “Babylonian History” written in Greek in the 4th century by a priest named Berosos from Bithynia. Having access to the cuneiform texts of the Chaldeans, Berosus learned that in the very ancient times, an amphibian creature named Oannes had arisen from the sea. This strange being civilized humanity with its superior wisdom. Other Oannes also appeared from time to time, always bearers of abundance and knowledge. The Sumerians worshipped this figure as a god named Enki, while the Babylonians called the same divinity Ea, i.e. god of the waters, and believed that his palace was in the city of Eridu on the Persian Gulf. It is strange to consider the fact that in western Africa there is a tribe called the Dongons, who believe that knowledge about the movement of the stars was imparted to them by wise amphibian creatures. Then of course there is the Gorgon or mermaid of more recent Greek folklore. So it would appear that the Triton of the ancients is a timeless being, with distant alien ancestors as well as more recent local descendants.
In Pausanias’ book Boeotica, there is a very interesting reference to Tanagra. The men of the region, he said, managed to catch a Triton by trickery and beheaded it because it was annoying their wives. The traveller described the headless body, which he claimed to have seen displayed in the city, and, in fact, described an amphibian, unpleasantly anthropomorphic being. The Triton of the Odeion was a beautified version of this mythic creature which has so captured the human imagination.
In front of the gigantic statues at the entrance to the Odeion there was a large temple of Ares. Today nothing of this building has been preserved other than its outline – distinguishable from the rest of the site because it is covered with gravel – a few slabs with relief shields, and some scattered parts of columns and capitals. Many of the latter bear the characteristic notches made by Roman masons, even though the rock was cut in the 5th century, showing once more that the temple had been initially built somewhere else, and was brought here bit by bit and rebuilt together with its later altar during Roman rule. The citizens of classical Athens were not particularly interested in erecting a temple to Ares, the violent, strongly built, and not exceptionally intelligent, god of war; especially when their city was protected by Promachos Athena, she of organised defence and cool strategy. But the Romans held Ares (Mars) in high esteem as the divine leader of their legions. The prevailing opinion of scholars as to the initial position of the temple of Ares in the Athens Agora is that it was originally situated in Acharnes, where there is known to have been a sanctuary of the god. A cult of this kind would have been absolutely logical there, given that this Attic Deme was situated at the border which had to be guarded against enemy raids, and the war-loving Ares, pugnacious and always ready for a fight, was the most appropriate protector of the borders. One should also point out the mingling of two extreme states in the erotic relationship between warlike Ares and the tender goddess Aphrodite. The union of these two totally different divinities generated the all-powerful Eros, who could calm even his fierce father, and Harmony who brought the equilibrium into this contradictory world.
Pausanias gives us only one fleeting mention of the temple of Ares, because, when he passed by the site, he was mainly interested in the statues in and around it. Some of these statues have been identified in the truncated sculptures found nearby and now exhibited in the Agora Museum. Others have been lost forever: such as the 6th century statues of the tyrannicides Harmodios and Aristogeiton. These statues were booty which Xerxes took to Persia where they remained until Alexander the Great regained them and sent them back to Athens. The tyrannicides were considered worthy of respect as symbols of Democracy; they were also the first mortals to be honoured by having statues erected to them, a privilege hitherto reserved only for gods and demigods. The statues had been placed on this side of the Agora because this was probably where Hipparchos was killed. His death was decisive in bringing down the tyranny instituted by his father, Peisistratos. Thucydides told us that this bold action took place on the day of the Panathenaia, when the tyrant was supervising the preparations for the procession. We also know that the celebrants’ point of departure was the Altar of the Twelve Gods, the city’s main crossroads.
This significant Altar had been built in about 520 BC on the northern edge of the Agora, the apex of the imaginary triangle which constitutes its area. Within a walled enclosure, it had become established as the place where the underprivileged, the persecuted and even badly treated slaves sought sanctuary. Perhaps this was why Pausanias wrote that he saw an Altar of Mercy: an obvious reference to sanctuary, which led -most archaeologists to conclude that these two names referred to the same altar. Of the structure itself there are no significant traces, because the train line passed right over it. This railroad line is for visitors the northernmost boundary of the Agora, even though there were in antiquity, important buildings on the other side, which have not yet been fully excavated and studied.
Greece is not only popular in the world for being one of the oldest countries, but is also popular for its diversified beauty. Visitors from all over the world flock to the country because of the various features it offers. Whichever field or sphere you consider, Greece sets itself better. Well, everything in Greece is thus, very properly handled and organized.
Athens holds a separate specialty and uniqueness in assessment to very unique and other attractive cities located in Greece. The capital of Greece is Athens which is also the largest city of the nation. The city offers an assortment of unique features, outstanding in its class, and considered to be very beautiful that enables it to attract vacationers. The implausible loveliness of the city is the primary reason for visit of a large number of tourists.
Although, Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, but the amenities are fully developed and is very well organized. The city is very old and has seen a lot of changes being taken in the world. Thus, the city is well made for its people.
There are plenty of places in the city of Athens that would make every one realize it.
In all parts of the world, Athens is recognized as the motherland of investigations based on the Archaeological field. The city is rich in architectures and memorial. From new creations of arts to enormous historical monuments, Athens has all. This is why the archaeological investigations can be carried on here very easily. Amongst all the cultures that existed till date, the Greek culture was totally up to date and one of the oldest cultures known till now. This is the key reason that Athens is said to be so special, because along with attractive features it also reflects the strong culture of its civilization.
The city of Athens is wealthy in both architectural monuments and modern day to day amenities. The city has a very well managed network of connection throughout with easily available means of transportation. There are parks and greenery all around the city, which helps in keeping the atmosphere clean and clear.
There are plenty means of connecting Athens with the major cities of the world. Thus, reaching Athens is very easy and one can reach here very easily and at ease. The city also offers excellent provision of housing that may differ in range so that it enables one to choose as according to the opportune of their budget.
Number of Tourist visiting every year
From different corners of the world, 6 million travelers visit Athens every year.
Athens is highly prominent for being amongst the oldest cities of the world. This is what makes it rich in culture and tradition. The city also holds the background of being a part of the world’s most powerful kingdom. This city offers different kinds of amenities for large number of people and enjoys stable economy.
The signs of development in the country are beyond comparison.
Very old history is associated with the city of Athens. The city is said to be around 3400 years old, as per mentioned in the documents about the city. Human dwelling in the city is said to be around in between 11th to 7th millennium B.C., and this reality clearly indicates how old the city really is. In the beginning of 19th century, the city of Athens was declared as the capital city of Greece.
From that time onwards, it incepted to be one of the largest and most fashionable cities of Greece.
A hot summer Mediterranean type of climate is experienced by this city. From mid-October to mid-April, the city experiences rainfall. The rainfall is not very high in Athens and the prime reason of this is Athens being in the rain shadow region.
Today, it is estimated that the city of Athens is a home of about 3,686,371 people.
All together, the people of Athens experience 26 festivals in a year.
Athens was named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, which is certainly fitting for the birthplace itself. Evidence of its ancient heyday is everywhere, in the remnants of monuments, statuary and sacred sites that are still revered as survivors of one of history’s most important eras.
A Poseidon adventure in art
In Greek mythology, Poseidon is the god of sea, so it is only fitting that the astoundingly wrought bronze statue of him was raised from the bottom of the Aegean Sea, where it lay for centuries after a shipwreck off the Cape of Artemision. The two-meter tall figure stands with arms extended and leaning forward on its left leg. The right hand once held a trident, and the unknown sculptor clearly was a master in accurately duplicating the complicated balancing act that goes into the seemingly simple motion of throwing a spear.
This work of art is one of the many stunning bronzes at the National Archeological Museum in Athens. The museum’s collection – which includes pieces that date all the way back to the prehistoric period – offers the best collection of Greek art in the world. Renovations closed the museum for a year and half, but it was reopened just in time for the 2004 Olympic Games.
At 260 feet above the city, the Acropolis (“high city”) is not only the highest point in Athens, but for many people it is the high point of any visit to Greece. It is the oldest known settlement in Greece and was a sacred site for ancient Athenians.
During the period of 448 to 420 B.C., the distinguished Athenian statesman Pericles commissioned the construction of four new monuments on the Acropolis at the site of former ruins. The Athenian sculptor Phidias presided over the construction and interior design. The Ionic Erechtheum includes the Porch of Caryatids, with its column in the shape of monumental female figures that identify remains a mystery. The Ionic Temples of Athena Nike, dedicated to the cult of Athena as the goddess of victory, was built during the Peloponnesian War, its frieze depicts the Greek victory over the Persians in the battle of Plataea. The Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis with rows of both Doric and Ionic columns, replaced an earlier version destroyed by the Persians. And of course, the Acropolis remains home to what’s left of the Parthenon.
The Parthenon, designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, took 15 years to complete. It was the closest to Pericles’ heart: Among various friezes depicting life among gods, the large statue of Athena represented his homage to the goddess and to the greatness of Athens.
Even in A.D. 131, savvy developers like the Roman Emperor Hadrian recognized the importance of signage. “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus,” reads the inscription on Hadrian’s arch, situated at the foot of the Acropolis and once the marker between Hadrianopolis and the Athens city limits. The side facing the Acropolis and ancient Athens reads, ” This is Athens, the city of Theseus.”
Like all the surrounding monuments and the Athens infrastructure itself, Hadrian’s Arch has undergone a major facelift. The 60-foot high archway, constructed of Pentelic marble, upheld by columns with Corthinian capitals and topped by a series of Corinthians columns, lost a bit of structural stability in the mid-18th century, when 8 of its columns were removed.
Restorers shored up the arch, cleaned away centuries of pollution and repaired its cracks, just in time for the 2004 Olympic Games.
The Evzones were once the elite soldiers of the Greek army. Today they are the presidential guards, a ceremonial unit that maintains watch over The Parliament, The Presidential Mansion and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The soldiers wear a traditional and highly photogenic uniform comprising a scarlet cap with a long black tassel, a cotton tunic, black knee tassels above white stockings, red clogs with black pompons and a woolen kilt called a fustanella. The fustanella has 400 pleats, one for each year that the Greeks were on the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. Bearing leather cartridge belts and rifles with a bayonet, the soldiers maintain strict physical discipline as they stand at attention and resist tourists’ attempts to distract them.
A changing of guard is performed daily before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but on Sundays, the complete ceremony – involving an army band and dozens of soldiers – is conducted.
Alice in Wonderland
Imagine Alice in Wonderland’s tumble into a magical world, and you will have an idea what this-off-beaten-path attraction in the Village of Paiania is like. Far larger than a rabbit hole, Koutouki Cave is a natural wonder that will awe you with its colors and formations. In 1926, a goat disappeared from its herd where it was grazing on the slope of Mount Ymittos. A search turned up a small crevice, and a brave soul descended by rope into the abyss below. The goat had not survived the fall, but its intended rescuer returned with a story of a beautiful underground chamber.
The vertical cave consists of a 38.5 meter shaft that opens onto a large cavern with a diameter of about 60 meters. Guided tours take visitors in through a man-made entrance and lead them on a path through stalactites and stalagmites formed by mineral deposits from water seeping through the limestone of the mountain. The tour ends with a light show accompanied by classical music. It’s just a short taxi ride from Athens to nearby Paiania.
The history of Athens is virtually the history of Greece, for this immortal city was for centuries the heart of the Hellenic world and the acknowledged leader of its civilization. Though in common with all Greek cities, its origins are too remote to be anything more than a matter for conjecture. The Cyclopean wall that runs round the rock of the Acropolis, the neolithic remains, traces of Bronze Age habitation and a number of pre-Hellenic place-names prove that Athens was occupied by man from the very earliest times.
Athens was perhaps the largest of the independent Attic communities with its king residing on the Acropolis, probably in the palace named after Erechtheus, whose memory is perpetuated in the magnificent temple of the Erechtheion. A tribe of their Ionian kinsmen from Marathon, from whom later generations of Athenians were proud to claim descent, invaded the city and rapidly became predominant. Under the rule of Cecrops, the first known king of Athens, and that of his successors, Pandion, Erechtheus, Aegeus and Theseus, Athens increased in size and importance, slowly absorbing the smaller communities of Attica, until in the reign of Theseus (c. 1300 BC) they were all united under his leadership.
About 1100 BC, the Dorians invaded the Peloponnese and swept all before them; it seemed that no army could withstand them, and Athens was in mortal danger. Its citizens sprang to arms, though with a presentiment of certain defeat in their hearts. It had been prophesied that the Athenians could only ensure victory by the death of their king. King Codrus then decided to sacrifice himself to save his people. Making his way disguised into the Dorian camp he provoked a quarrel in which he was killed. When the invaders discovered that it was Codrus they had slain they despaired of success and retreated; Athens was saved.
Since no one was thought worthy to succeed this heroic king, the monarchy yielded to government by the nobles, who appropriated all power. They chose three archons, or executive officials, from among their ranks to represent the king and share the royal power. This change was affected by the devolution of the military powers of the king to the polemarch, who then became the supreme military commander; the first archon, who later became the chief state official, was the civil governor, while the archon basileus, who was a descendant of Codrus, retained the title of king and had control of the religious rites of the state. Although first hereditary and limited to the royal clan, the tenure of the archonship was later reduced to a period of ten years and all noblemen were eligible for office.
This reform, however, did not satisfy the masses that resented the concentration of all state authority in the hands of the aristocracy and clamored for a written constitution. In 594 BC the nobles bestowed full power to remodel the new state on one of their number, the celebrated Solon, trusted by noblemen and peasant alike. For the first time in the history of the world the people were given a measure of participation in government, the grant of political rights and a constitution. Later the office of archon was made annual and elective and to the existing three offices, military, civil and religious, were added the six thesmothetae whose sole duty was to record judicial decisions. In spite of these concessions discontent was rife, and a number of popular revolts exposed the state to constant danger.
In 546 BC, Peisistratus, a distinguished and daring statesman seized power and made himself dictator. Under his autocratic rule Athens enjoyed great prosperity. He stimulated commerce and industry, and by fostering agriculture laid the basis for the development of Athens’ chief export, the olive. Through his vigorous foreign policy, for the first time, Athens emerged as an Aegean Power. Posterity is indebted to this devoted lover of the arts since he ordered the preparation of the first authorized version of Homer’s sublime epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. He also embellished the city with monuments whose splendor was later surpassed only by those of the Golden Age of Pericles.
Peisistratus died in 527 BC. Though a dictator, he had been an enlightened and benevolent ruler. He had cared for the interests of the common man and curbed the power of the nobles; but his sons, especially the elder, Hippias, were brutal tyrants who exercised their power solely in their own interests. They excited the hatred of the Athenians to such a degree that in 514 BC a conspiracy was organized and the leaders, two patricians, Harmodios and Aristogeiton, killed the younger brother, Hipparchus. Hippias was driven into exile and the civic liberties of the state were restored.
The resounding victories over the Persians at Marathon, in 490 BC, and particularly the glorious Battle of Salamis, in 480 BC, in which Themistocles proved himself a naval commander of genius, laid the foundations of Athenian supremacy over the Hellenic city-states. A statesman of uncommon foresight, Themistocles added diplomatic triumphs to his victories. By protracting the parleys with Sparta he gained the time necessary to complete the rebuilding of the city’s fortifications, which had been destroyed by the Persians during their second invasion.
Themistocles’ policies were continued by his successor, Cimon. Athenian domination over the states of Asia Minor was consolidated and no enemy ship now dared appear in the waters of the Mediterranean. Besides being a brilliant strategist Cimon was also a great lover of art. He embellished the city, and commissioned his intimate friend, the eminent painter Polygnotus of Thasos, to execute vast frescoes recording the glorious deeds of the Athenians.
The year 460 BC saw the eclipse of Cimon and the rise of his political rival, Pericles, who controlled the affairs of the state, including the earlier period of the Peloponnesian war, until his death in 429 BC. An aristocrat but at the same time leader of the democratic party, he was a fervent advocate and champion of people’s rights. During the years of his administration Athens reached the summit of her grandeur, and the most brilliant century of Greek history is known as the Age of Pericles. Athens was now mistress of a superb fleet of three hundred sail and an army of thirty thousand perfectly armed and disciplined soldiers, with fortifications extending to the port of Peiraeus; she was impregnable to attack from land or sea, while her commercial prosperity and the tribute of the Delian League amassed in the treasury made her the richest city in all Hellas.
If the material prosperity of Athens was great during this period, her attainments in every field of culture were incomparable. A galaxy of architects, sculptors and painters and their gifted assistants adorned the city with a dazzling array of temples, public buildings and other works of art. Nor were Athenian achievements in literature less noteworthy. In this period the Attic drama produced many immortal masterpieces. It is also to Periclean Athens that the scientific thought of Europe in logic, ethics, rhetoric and history owes its origin. Supreme in the arts of war and peace, Athens was the most illustrious city of antiquity and seemed destined to endure for ever, but the inconstant gods were envious of happiness that matched their own.
The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 431 was the first of a series of misfortunes to fall upon the city. Two years after the beginning of this internecine and intermittent struggle between Athens and Sparta for the hegemony of Greece, Athens suffered irreparable loss in the untimely death of Pericles during the dreadful plague that ravaged the city. Twelve years later the treachery of Pericles’ nephew, Alcibiades, was the cause of an even greater calamity.
Idol of the masses, Alcibiades was a gifted but completely unscrupulous demagogue who served his native city only when it suited him. Against the opposition of more experienced generals he succeeded in persuading his fellow citizens to embark upon the Sicilian Expedition (415) and was appointed one of the commanders. Shortly after the fleet had set sail he was recalled to stand trial on a charge of sacrilege, but fled to the Spartans, to whom he betrayed Athenian plans for the invasion of Sicily.
The crushing defeat of her fleet before Syracuse with the loss of forty thousand men and two hundred and forty ships, struck a crippling blow at the naval prestige of Athens and in 404 after twenty-seven years of war, utter exhaustion and starvation forced her to capitulate to her rival, Sparta.
Though her defeat deprived Athens of the leadership of Hellas, she retained her cultural eminence. The plays of Euripides and Aristophanes, the sculpture of Praxiteles and Scopas, the paintings of Zeuxis and the philosophical works of Plato mark this period as one of particular brilliance in the history of arts.
During the Corinthian War (395 BC) there was a revival of the Athenian naval power under Conon, whose squadron utterly routed the Spartan ships at the historic battle of Cnidus (394 BC). Following his triumphant return Conon ordered the rebuilding of the Long Walls (393 BC), which Athens had been compelled to demolish by the victorious Spartans at the end of the Peloponnesian War.
These walls completed the city’s chain of giant defenses. A roadway 8 kms in length and 170 m. wide, protected on either side by walls 18 m. high and 3 m. thick, secured communication between the city and the port of Peiraeus with its adjoining harbors. To the south was a had already been removed for the adornment of the new city on the Bosporus, and she was the object of further depredation in AD 523 when the great church of St. Sophia was erected. Under Byzantium the Parthenon and other glorious temples were converted into Christian churches, and in AD 529 Constantinople ordered the closing of the celebrated philosophical schools and the confiscation of their libraries; Athens was but a name.
After the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 the Burgundian Count Otto de la Roche was granted the lordship of Athens, later raised to a duchy by Louis IX, and established his court on the Acropolis. On the death of Guy II, last duke of the House of de la Roche, the duchy passed to his cousin, Gautier de Brienne, the last French duke of Athens. Three years later (1311) he perished at the battle of Copais where a fearsome army of Catalan adventurers, known as the Grand Company, slaughtered the flower of Frankish chivalry. The Catalans terrorized the country for seventy years until they were overcome by another horde of Spanish mercenaries, the Navarrese Company.
In 1388 the Florentine Nerio Acciajuoli, Castellan of Corinth and Lord of Thebes, whom the Navarrese had elected as their leader, seized Athens and installed himself in the ducal court of the Acropolis. The house of the Acciajuoli lasted until 1456 when the last duke, Franco, was forced to yield to the Turks.
In 1684 when Venice declared war against the Turks, Doge Francesco Morosini was appointed to command the expedition. Ably seconded by a Swedish general, Count Otto Koenigsmark, he drove the enemy out of the Peloponnese and then marched against their garrison in Athens. In Morosini’s bombardment of the Acropolis, then held in force by the enemy, severe damage was done to the monuments there.
In 1821 the great revolution against Turkish occupation, which had lasted for almost four centuries, spread third wall, the Phaleric, which extended to the coastal town of Phaleron and protected the bay connecting it with Peiraeus. These massive walls rendered Athens an impregnable fortress, making it impossible for an invader to cut her off from her trade and food supplies.
From 338 BC the orator Lycurgus was archon. During his tenure of office he further embellished the city and restored those ancient monuments that had suffered either at the hands of man or from the ravages of time. In this same period, from the tribune of the hallowed rock of the Pnyx, resounded the voice of the great orator, Demosthenes, whose name will forever be linked with the last splendors of the immortal city.
Alexander the Great treated Athens with marked favor and granted her a considerable measure of autonomy. Though she had lost her supremacy in science and scholarship to Alexandria, Athens was still considered the natural home of philosophy, while in the theatre Menander’s New Comedy made Athenian life known throughout the civilized world.
After being sacked by Sulla in 86 BC for her part in supporting Mithridates the Great against Rome, she became part of the new Roman province of Achaea in 27 BC. Her only importance now lay in her philosophical schools which were frequented by such young Romans as Cicero, Herodes Atticus and Horace.
Athens was later restored to favor as a free and sovereign city and regarded as the cultural center of the Roman world; Hadrian and later Antonines lavishly endowed her with many new buildings. During the reign of the Emperor Hadrian a whole new city, Novae Athenae, to which the Arch of Hadrian was the gateway, rose around the Olympieion.
With the foundation of Constantinople Athens sank into the obscurity of a provincial Byzantine town and is rarely mentioned in the chronicles of the period. Pheidias’ statue of Athena Promachos and other works of art throughout Greece. A year later, in 1822, the intrepid Odysseus Androutsos, one of the principal figures of the War of Independence (1821-1833) succeeded by a surprise attack in capturing the Acropolis. In 1826 the Turks under Reschid Pasha again besieged it. An attempt by the French philhellene Colonel Baron Fabvier to relieve the heroic defense force was defeated, and the garrison commander Gouras killed. Further attempts to relieve the Acropolis proved no more successful than the first, instructions were therefore sent to the garrison to surrender.
On 24th May 1827, the Turks having accorded them the honors of war, the remnants of the gallant defenders marched out with flying colors.
The Acropolis remained in the hands of the enemy until 12th April 1833 when, in the name of Greece, Colonel Baligand took formal possession from the Turkish commander. On 13th December of the same year King Othon, the first King of Greece, entered the city. One year later, on 18th September 1834, Athens was officially proclaimed the Capital city of the Kingdom.
Athens, Greece is an astonishingly beautiful city steeped in history and culture. Tourists flock to Athens all year round, because of the sheer number of tourist attractions to see and experiences to be had in this ancient city. Athens is warm and dry all year round, although it’s typically cooler in the winter, which means that tourists can be found in Athens every month of the year.
There are so many sights to see, places of cultural and historical significance, gardens, museums, and more, that discussing them all in one article is nearly impossible. This article will discuss a few of the most famous sites in Athens, for you to be properly acquainted with them before you embark on a trip to the city of Athens, Greece.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a vast theatre made of stone. It dates back to Ancient Greece and it has a seating capacity of 5,000 – 6,000 people. It was built by Herod Atticus and dedicated to his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilli. It is one of the primary venues of the Athens Festival and often houses concerts, events and shows. It is located on the Southern Slope of the Acropolis. It’s a remarkable sight, especially in the evening during a concert or an event, when floodlights illuminate the entire structure.
Constitution Square, also known as Syntagma Square, houses the Parliament Building. The Memorial to the Unknown Soldier can found within this square is guarded by Evzones, guards similar to those at Buckingham Palace. You can watch the Change of Guards here every night at 6 PM.
The National Library
The National Library is a beautiful example of neo-classical architecture. It is part of the Danish architect Theophil Feiherr von Hansen’s Trilogy, which includes the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. The National Library has in its possession 4,500 Greek manuscripts and is a must-visit for scholars, book lovers and history buffs alike. It is located at the right-hand side of the University of Athens, on Panepistimiou Street.
The Academy of Arts
Situated next to the University of Athens, the Academy is also part of Hansen’s Trilogy of neo-classical structures. The building features Ionic columns and sculptures of Plato, Socrates, Apollo and Athena.
The National Garden
Formerly known as the Royal Garden, the National Garden is home to several species of plants and flowers. It is located behind Parliament House, and a gate connects it to the Zappeion, a building that was used as a fencing hall in the first modern Olympics. The National Garden is an ideal place to visit if you feel the need to get in touch with nature while remaining within the city proper.
In Ancient Agora, you can find a number of ancient ruins such as the Odeon of Agrippa, massive statues of Tritons and Giants, the Church of the Holy Apostles, the Thesion, the Royal Stoa, and the famous Altar of the Twelve Gods.
Need a little pick me up before you continue with your tour of Athens, Greece? Grab a frappe (an iced coffee drink many Greeks are fond of) and relax in a sidewalk café on Thiseo. Thiseo is filled with quaint coffee shops, eating-places and resting areas; making it an ideal stopover on a busy tour.
Temple of Poseidon
Located in Cape Sounion in Attica, the Temple of Poseidon overlooks the beautiful waters of the Saronic Gulf. Although the famed sunset at the Temple of Poseidon is every bit as breathtaking as they say, if you want to beat the tourist rush, visit early in the morning. The cool air and tranquil atmosphere at the Temple of Poseidon during an early morning visit is balm to the senses.
Acropolis and the Parthenon
You can’t visit Athens without dropping by the Parthenon. Located on Acropolis, the Parthenon was a temple for the goddess of wisdom, Athena. The Parthenon was built in the Doric architectural style, and some say it’s the finest example of Doric architecture ever made. Only 15 Corinthian columns from the original 104 remain standing; one other column fell down in 1852. Nevertheless, the majestic beauty of each column is guaranteed to make any viewer breathless. The Parthenon can be seen from a distance, especially in the evening, when the entire structure is illuminated by floodlights. Acropolis Hill also boasts a spectacular view of the city of Athens.
Lycabettus Hill or Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in the city. You can find the Chapel of St George and an open-air theater on its peak. It features a breathtaking view of the city of Athens.
Plaka and Monastiraki
If you want to give yourself a break from sight-seeing, shop for unique souvenirs in Plaka and Monastiraki. Stroll down Ermou, a pedestrians-only street, and browse through the wares of queer little stores that sell everything from vegetable molders to statue replicas to funky shirts to handmade silk roses. You can also find well-known stores such as Armani, D & G and Gucci, along Ermou. Before you embark on a shopping spree in Plaka or Monastiraki, make sure you eat a big meal beforehand and wear comfortable shoes, as you may find yourself staying at the shops for far longer than you think! On a side note, Plaka was built on the site of the residential areas of Ancient Athens.
Getting Around in Athens Greece
Travelling in Greece and taking in the sights can be an extremely rewarding. It can also be quite exhausting. When visiting Athens, you have quite a few options as far as getting around is concerned. You can rent a car or a moped, or you can take the bus. However, rental vehicles are expensive, and taking a bus can prove to be inconvenient, what with all the waiting around at bus stops and having to walk the remainder of the distance to the destination where you’re headed. Taxi tours in Athens are a comfortable, inexpensive and entirely novel way of getting around Athens. Athens Taxi, in particular, offers half-day and whole-day tours in Athens, and they also offer tours from Athens to Mycenae and Epidavros. Athens Taxi can also provide a personal guide for you and your group. If you prefer walking tours, Athens Taxi can also arrange for a personal guide to accompany you and to point out the landmarks and provide mini-history lessons and interesting facts.
Athens is probably one of the most provocative cities in the world. Visitors and locals alike either worship it or ignore it, love or hate it. Everyone says how chaotic the city is, but at the same time there is order in chaos. Some only every see the airport in Athens, while on the way to the islands. Others just want to be in an Athens café all day drinking frappé and in an Athens taverna all night drinking ouzo and listening to rembetika, the Greek blues. Some praise it as the mythical and glorious birthplace of Western civilization, others criticize it for being an unorganized and polluted city. With such mixed reviews of this ancient city, one can only really only do one thing: and that is to visit it and see for oneself.
Nothing beats walking along Athenian streets with the ever-present Acropolis hovering over the city like a secret from the past. The Acropolis and the Parthenon temple stand symbolically above the modern city as a message of Athenian glory and decline. This is the essence of Athens. This is what makes Athens a most exasperating and exhilarating city for those who live there and those to travel there.
Athens sits in the Attica Basin and is enclosed by the mountains of Ymittos, Pendeli and Parnitha, and the Saronic Gulf is to the south-west. Because of its geographical position, Athens enjoyed excellent weather all year round, with mild to chilly winters and hot, dry summers. It is close to one of Europe’s busiest ports, Piraeus and boasts a state-of-the-art airport, the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.
Athens is a sprawling modern city that enjoyed an excellent make-over to get ready for the 2004 Olympic Games. It has varied architecture, from ancient ruins, to Neo-classical, to contemporary features. Athens has so many different characteristics it is difficult to describe it. In the historic neighbourhoods of Plaka, Thission and Psirri you can see dilapidated and forgotten buildings next to beautifully renovated and preserved mansions. In the commercial areas you can see big department stores next to small, family-owned shops. In the past, Athens was the political, social and cultural centre of the world, today Athens is the political, social, administrative, cultural and financial centre of Greece.
It’s not surprising that Athens is a city with so many aspects and contradictions. When a city as ancient as this one has been through so many periods and civilizations it retains a mark from each era and that adds to the complete puzzle of the modern city. In fact, people have inhabited Athens since the Neolithic Age. Athens rose to its most glorious period during the fifth century. This period of Classical Greece was when democracy, philosophy, architecture and culture was born. But then Athens went through a period of decline as other, more powerful civilizations emerged and claimed it – the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans. But in 1834, Athens became the capital of the modern Greek state. And modern history began.
Modern Athens is busy, cosmopolitan, and very European. It is also quite easy to navigate. Everything begins in Syntagma (or Constitution) Square. Here are the buildings of the parliament and the ministries. A good landmark to note is the M of the McDonald’s at Syntagma as most Athenians will use this as a central meeting point. Standing with your back to Syntagma, the Acropolis and the old town of Plaka, Monastiraki and Thisseion are straight ahead and a little to the left. Lykavittos Hill is the highest peak behind you to the right, but before that is the stylish Kolonaki neighbourhood. The Panathinaiko Stadium, which was the home to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, is to your left. To your right the city is organized along three parallel roads, Stadiou, Panepistimiou and Akadimias.
Not far from the city centre are the southern seaside neighbourhoods of Faliro, Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni and to the north are the classy, upper-class neighbourhoods of Marousi, Melissia, Vrilissia and Kifissia.
Apart from the city’s famous historical gems – the Acropolis, the Agora, temples to the gods, arches to Roman conquerors – the city is just as famous for its night-life. Athenians boast that they have the best night-life in the world and that they are the best party goers. In fact, as far as entertainment goes, this city has everything from classical music concerts to bouzoukia clubs. If it’s clubbing you desire, you will head to the Glyfada Strip, which is south and seaside; if it is rock you will head to Exarcheia; for traditional Greek music the historic neighbourhoods of Plaka and Psirri are the place to be. In other suburbs you will find Cuban clubs and funky bars that play electronica music. If it is high culture you desire then a concert at the Athens Concert Hall is for you. Athens has something for everyone.
Athenians are also great eaters and as far as food goes you will find everything from greasy-but-tasty take-out to high cuisine. In Plaka you will find all the traditional fare, including moussaka, souvlaki, Greek salads and feta topped with plentiful olive oil and oregano. You will also find restaurants that prepare foods according to ancient Greek recipes, such as those described by the ancient culinary expert, Archestratus. You will also find everything in international cuisine from Japanese and Thai restaurants to Mexican and Cuban.
Most travellers arrive in Athens hoping to see the ancient, glorious city, but soon find themselves enchanted by the modern city and all its achievements. Museums are numerous and scattered around the city showing off the age-old history of Greece, but it is also the contemporary art museums that are especially interesting to view. Athens blends the past and present together like no other city.
After the 2004 Olympic Games, Athens has become a much friendlier city, especially for pedestrians as numerous roads have been pedestrianized, including the area around the Acropolis from Dionysiou Areopagitoy Street through to Thission and Keramikos. The old town of Plaka is also largely blocked off from traffic and the busy shopping street of Ermou is also for pedestrians only.
When you arrive in Athens by air you will land at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, which is south-east of the city centre and easily accessible via taxi, bus transfer or the Athens Metro. You can choose to stay in the midst of all the Athenian chaos or stay further out of the city, while still remaining in the Attica periphery. The southern neighbourhoods with their endless beaches are a particularly good choice, because there you can enjoy a resort-style holiday with easy access to the best part of this bustling, historic city.
One approaches the site of the ancient Agora today by descending a wide stairway to the right of the temple. At the edge of the plateau, the American School of Classical Studies which conducted the excavations has put up a chart assisting visitors to find their way around the site.
Some of the first public buildings from Solon’s rule were constructed on the west side of the Agora thereby creating the nucleus of Athens’ administrative centre. The Bouleuterion (Council House) was built first together with the adjacent Prytaniko; the first sewage ducts were installed and the boundaries of the site were marked with inscribed stelae. During the 6th century, buildings had been erected on top of pre-historic graves, and were covered over in turn by subsequent structures.
The first building we meet, to the left at the bottom of the steps, is the raised floor of the Tholos. In the 6th century a rectangular edifice with an internal colonnaded courtyard was built on this site and used as a refectory by the assembly members. It was called the Prytaniko to distinguish it from the initial Prytaneion which must have been still in use when the old agora was situated on the slope of the Acropolis. The Prytaniko was destroyed during the Persian wars and replaced by the Tholos, which then became the official Prytaneion. This circular structure was absolutely dependent on the adjacent Bouleuterion, the seat of the Assembly of the Five Hundred. The annually elected members were always divided into groups of 50 representatives from each tribe and in this form they presided on a rotating basis for a period of 36-39 days. This period was called the “prytaneia”, during which the members had the right to free meals at the Prytaneion, where they performed their duties. About one-third of them remained there continuously, even at night, in the event that some emergency decision had to be made. Every day near sunset, the prytaneis drew lots from among themselves to choose the epistatis (supervisor), who was the supreme archon for 24 hours, as he held the state seal and the keys to the state archives.
The Prytaneion was in essence the administrative seat of the Republic of Athens because the prytaneis had full control over military, political and financial matters. They even had the right to express criticism of the newly elected officials. They received ambassadors from other cities, studied the reports of the strategoi (military leaders), assigned contracts for public works and organised the sales of property seized from penalized citizens. The weights and measures of the state were kept in the Prytaneion; another duty exercised by the prytaneis was to keep close check on the measures of weight used in the market to prevent profiteering. They also had the power to arrest dishonest tax collectors and to take judicial decisions to impose fines of up to 500 drachmas. But the most significant task of the prytaneis was to prepare the bills to be passed; first the bills went to the Boule for drafting and then to the Assembly of the Deme for final approval.
The enormous weight attached by the Athenians to the duties of the prytaneis can be seen in Socrates’ defence, in which the philosopher cited his earlier refusal to pass a death sentence, by withdrawing from the Tholos while he was serving his term as prytanis during the rule of the Thirty Tyrants. In this way, Socrates believed that he had performed an act of resistance to oppressive power, even though he knew that his punishment for refusing to perform his duty would be exemplary. He himself proposed, with a large measure of irony, that the most appropriate sentence for the charges against him would be to oblige him to eat forever in the Prytaneion, near the citizens who already enjoyed this privilege.
The Tholos with its characteristic round shape was built after 470 BC. It had a simple entrance to the east and its ceramic tiled roof was supported by six poros stone columns, the bases of three of which have been found. The floor was earthen and the thick walls were built of stone. On the north side of the building was a small room that served as a kitchen; next to it traces have been found of a makeshift roasting pit. During the Roman years, the Tholos acquired an a outer gate, the floor was paved with marble slabs and the initial pyramidal roof-with a shape that made the Athenians call the building “skias”, i.e. sunshade -was replaced by a flatter one. Whatever remains on this site today is from the Roman era.
The classification of the population of Athens into ten tribes from Denies drawn at random was, as pointed out earlier, one of the more inventive measures taken by the reformer Kleisthenis in the 6th century. The members of every tribe elected fifty delegates annually to the Boule or Assembly of the Five Hundred thus weakening the power of the oligarchic families. Herodotus was the first to use the term isonomia (equality in law), denoting the fact that all male citizens of the tribe took part in the draw with an equal possibility of being elected. The same person could not be elected two years in succession. The members of the Boule took a strict oath before entering the Bouleuterion and wore myrtle wreaths as an indication of their office. During their term as bouleutis (member of the Assembly) they were relieved of all military obligations, and occupied a position of honour at theatrical performances and feasts. At the daily sessions of the Boule, decisions were made by raising the hand, and the members were remunerated with five obols for each time they attended. The election of the ten military leaders, one from each tribe, was also held there. This was an extremely important office for the running of the city and the colonies.
Elections to annual offices were held by a draw, and there had to be at least two candidates for each office. The usual system was to use as many black and white pebbles as there were candidates. As the name of a citizen was drawn from one container, the vote fell into the other. White meant election, black rejection. Among the various artefacts found in the region were small square clay tiles, cut in such a way that two pieces could be put together to make one complete piece; these might be evidence of another manner of election.
Any request by a citizen for settlement of a private matter of debt to the state had to be in writing and had to be checked by three secretaries elected by the Boule. There were also secondary state officials to ensure full transparency in the handling of public funds.
Apart from being a legislative body, the Boule also had executive powers. It could decide to call an emergency meeting of Athenians to ostracise a politician who showed dictatorial tendencies. If such an action was decided upon, an open space in the Agora was enclosed on the predetermined day, leaving ten openings to be used as entrances, one for each tribe. The citizens would present themselves at the entrance corresponding to their tribe and would hand over the potsherd (ostrako) on which they had written the name of the public person they believed to be dangerous. Then they would enter the fenced area where they remained until the end of the voting. The used potsherds were considered to be worthless after they had been counted, and for this reason, many of them were found under the main road through the Agora where they had been dumped as an under layer for the dirt road.
The primary use of this part of the Agora can be seen from the tablets found in the area, recording the written decisions of the all-powerful Boule. We can read the names of citizens penalized by the confiscation and sale of their possessions, together with tablets containing a detailed inventory of each of these men’s assets. Mention was made of the fact that these assets were sold off by responsible clerks and the sales tax was paid, about 1% of the total value of the goods seized. In the Agora Museum one can see such charts of state buying and selling. But votes were also found containing favourable mention of Assembly members who honoured their tribe during their prytaneia, as well as friendship treaties with neighbouring cities. From ancient texts we know that in the Bouleuterion there was a column bearing an inscription to the effect that any citizen who killed a traitor would not be punished. We still have the incised vote against the tyranny of the Archon Phrynichos in the 4th century. A clay water clock was found nearby in which the flow of water from one container to the other determined the time permitted for speeches. Some letters can still be discerned from the inscription telling us that this utensil was the property of the tribe of Antiochis, to which Socrates belonged. Another indication of its use was the marking of two XXs which means a period of about six minutes. That was all the time the speakers had.
The ruins of the Athenian Bouleuterion rest on top of other, older buildings. One of them was the prehistoric sanctuary of Gaia, the Mother of the Gods, together with the traces of a structure from the early 6th century which was probably the first rudimentary council chamber under Solon. A little later, the Old Bouleuterion was constructed, a square building with graduated wooden seats on three sides and a large entrance on the side facing the Prytaniko. The Persians destroyed this building when they invaded Attica, but it was later restored and continued to function until the end of the 5th century. This can be concluded from Xenophon’s Hellenica in which he described a dramatic meeting during the grim years of the Thirty Tyrants. In about 400 the New Bouleuterion began being built, right behind the old one, which very likely became the archives, taking the name Metroon, temple of the Mother of the Gods. There the votes of the Boule were kept, written on papyrus and ready for the first discussion.
In building the New Bouleuterion, part of the rock of the Agoraios Kolonos had to be cut. The edifice was smaller than its predecessor, with its back to the side of the hill and its seats turned eastwards. The early wooden benches may have been replaced later by stone ones. It was then that the roofed courtyard was built to the south of the building, creating an impressive entrance to the chamber. A two-tier marble gate, with two Ionic columns on the top part and four on the bottom, was part of the plan for the site. This gate rested on the southeastern corner of the Old Bouleuterion on which were found the remains of a fountain and the bases of votive statues. The problem of supplying water to the site obliged the masons to hew two cisterns out of the rock for rainwater; they were connected underground to a similar structure near the Tholos.
In the second century BC, the Old Bouleuterion was rebuilt. The old building was torn down and covered over by four rooms in a row, incorporating the sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods. This area was then exclusively turned over to the Athenian’s registry office. The largest of these rooms had two stories and an inner colonnaded courtyard with an altar; an upper room looked out onto it. Perhaps these were the reading rooms of the archives. An elegant Ionian portico of which only the foundation remains, adorned the entire facade of this grouping which is generally called the Metroon.
The civic buildings ended here, leaving a space vacant to permit an unhindered view of the temple of Hephaistos. Almost no trace remains of the stairs leading up to the temple entrance, but we can still see a group of semi- circular poros stone seats carved in the 5th century. These benches were carefully built, but we do not know what their function was. It might have been a meeting place for the citizens alongside the central stairway leading to the sanctuaries of the Agoraios Kolonos.
During the early years when the Agora was taking shape, and the buildings were still few and scattered, another sanctuary had been built some distance from the old temple of the Mother of the Gods, and dedicated to Patrons Apollo. The god was worshipped here in his attribute as father of Ion; his mother was the local princess Kreousa, and as a consequence, Apollo was considered to be father of all Athenians. Initially put up in the 6th century, the little temple was rebuilt in the 4th, with four Ionic columns on its facade and an additional small room on its north side, entrance to which was through the cella. Pausanias mentioned the cult statue in this temple, a work by the sculptor Euphranor; it was found nearby and can be seen today in the restored stoa of Attalos. The god was portrayed in a standing position wearing women’s clothes, as was the practice of musicians in antiquity, and possibly holding his lyre.
Incorporated into the temple of Patroos Apollo was most of a 4th century building identified as the sanctuary of Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria. Archaeologists drew this conclusion because of an inscription on an altar which, although found some distance away, fits perfectly in the temple’s altar space. The protectors of the clans were worshipped together with their forefather Apollo, perhaps this was where the feasts of the Apatoureia in the month of Pyanepsion, i.e. our October, were held. This significant Athenian feast was a distant memory from the time when the clans were still very important because the strength of the group lay in the bonds of kinship. The Apatoureia was initially the official recognition of newborn boys by their relatives, and for this reason, the feast was held nine months after Gamelion, the traditional month of weddings.
On the first day, all the members of the clan would gather together from the various demes in which they were living, to enjoy a meal together. On the second day animals offered by the infants’ fathers were sacrificed. The priest who performed the sacrifice had the prerogative of taking a leg, a side and an ear from the slaughtered animal together with half a drachma. The third day of the feast was the most important and was called koureotis showing clearly that some of the child’s hair was cut. One cannot help thinking that some of the details from the Apatoureia are similar to our baptism today. It seems that each tribe had its own day for recognising its new members, but this day was always in the month of Pyanepsion. These boys participated in the same feast when they became 18 years old and were registered officially in the city rolls. The formal part of the puberty feast was exactly the same as that for infants, except that the priest was given an additional silver drachma. Knowing the enormous significance attached by the Athenians to the title of free citizen, one can understand how important was this sanctuary to the Phratrioi (clan) gods.
Right next to the cluster of temples of Patroos Apollo and the Phratrioi gods, a large building, initially almost 50 metres long, has been revealed resting on three steps. It was the portico of Zeus Eleuthereus, which took its name from the statue of the protector god of that supreme value, Freedom (eleutheria).
And here the history of the Agora was repeated with the ruins of early buildings being covered over by later ones. The Portico of Zeus was built in the 5th century as its foundation dates from then; it was trapezoidal in shape with wings extending out at both ends. It should be noted that this is one of the first applications of this architectural plan which became very popular in subsequent centuries. Especially during the Hellenistic years, lateral projecting wings became a particularly popular feature of buildings, as the long facades were seen to be recessed, creating a variety of lines pleasing to the eye. In the Stoa of Zeus Eleuthereas an outer colonnade surrounded all the facade and the wings, giving the impression that the latter were little temples incorporated into the edifice. There were pediments on the wing facades, and at the corners of the roof, were statues portraying Victory. One of these, found at the southern corner of the portico in fairly good condition, is a lively young figure flying against the wind with her light garment billowing in harmonious folds. Pausanias saw a statue of Zeus Eleuthereus in front of the main part of this portico. The round shape of the base of this statue caused archaeologists to suppose that the archaic altar of the god might have been used subsequently as the most suitable pedestal for the cult statue.
In the inner covered area an Ionic colonnade, parallel to the outer Doric one, separated the portico and its wings into two parts while supporting the roof at the same time. Some square bases of these columns have been preserved, within which some little trees have now sprouted. At the time of Pericles, the building had a stone facing on its western wall, and a bench was built around the interior to accommodate passers-by. Here Pausanias spoke of the painted decoration on the middle and side walls, also works by Euphranor. The ancient traveller was particularly impressed by the representation of Theseus with the Deme and Democracy. The Greeks liked the human figures representing their ideals; on this spot, the founder of Athens was depicted attesting to the values of the City.
During the Roman years, the back of the Portico changed its appearance, as the natural rock was once again hewn out to make way for two additional rooms. Nobody knows for sure what these later extensions were used for; perhaps it was a place for some contemporary cult. The modern visitor can see only the ground plan of the portico and the south wing together with very few parts of the original columns. The north side was also sacrificed for the needs of the electric railway. For this reason, the visitor who reaches the fence at the tracks and wants to continue walking on the archaeological site, must turn around and go back toward the statue of Hadrian.
When Pausanias came to the Agora, he reported having seen a statue of the emperor Hadrian in front of the Portico of Zeus. This statue, which was discovered by excavations to be lying on top of a drainage duct, where it had been placed as a covering slab during the Byzantine period, was reerected on a new base near where it was found, even though it is headless and rather battered.
Poplius Aelius Hadrian, emperor of the Roman world from 117 to 138 AD, became ruler of the vast empire when it extended from the Caspian Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. He was a clear-sighted military man who fortified the outposts of the empire to protect its citizens from enemies; he was also highly educated, and as such was a patron of the arts and letters. Poet and mystic, he was the preeminent philHellene. This is why he is always presented with a short beard like the Greek philosophers. He respected local customs and laws everywhere, particularly in Greece where he was initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries and in fact built a bridge on the road to Eleusis so that the faithful would have easier access to the sanctuary of Demeter.
Athens was Hadrian’s favourite city, which is why he gave the order that a great library be built near the Agora, and that an aquaduct be constructed, the reservoir for which was high up on Lycabettus Hill and is still used today. He also erected a triumphal gate near the temple of Olympian Zeus, which was completed only after being in a semi-finished state for centuries. But the love of this great Roman for Athens was shown most clearly by his founding of the Attic Panhellenio. This was a congress to join all Greeks together, both from mainland Hellas and from the diaspora. The condition for participation was the proven authenticity of the delegates’ descent. Hadrian’s initiative was intended to help Hellenes with alien customs to regain their cultural identity by recognising the forgotten values of their forefathers. Standing humbly before the breadth of Attic knowledge, Hadrian wanted to be portrayed in official statues dressed in an imperial cuirass upon which was always the same scene: two winged Victories flanking the goddess Athena, with her sacred animals the snake and the owl right and left, while she herself was standing on the back of the Roman she-wolf which suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of ancient Rome. This scene portrayed most eloquently the definition of “the victor who was vanquished by the defeated”, i.e. this special relation created between Rome and Hellenism.
Behind the statue of Hadrian is a large base for an altar dedicated to Zeus Agoraios. The quality of the masonry and the fine decoration indicate that this work was done during the classical age in Athens, although there are marks of stone fittings characteristic of the Roman period. These masons’ marks placed to assist the correct positioning of architectural members, might possibly be evidence that the altar was initially located at some other spot and was brought to its present site to adorn the Agora during Roman times.
In front of the altar of Zeus Agoraios facing the Bouleuterion, the visitor can see what remains of a very significant structure in ancient Athens. It is the base of a monument entitled Eponymous Heroes, mentioned by Pausanias, and about which Aristotle has given us a fair amount of information. This was the place where the announcements made by the City to the citizens were posted, a site very likely chosen for its proximity to the Metroon and the Boule.
The monument of the Eponymous Heroes had a long narrow pedestal on top of which stood ten bronze statues of honoured heroes who were especially associated with local myths. At each end of this base there were believed to have been bronze cauldrons, an indication of worship because each hero represented the tribe which had taken its name from him. Around the pedestal was a stone fence consisting of vertical stakes with a hole at the top to support horizontal wooden boards. Under each statue, officials would hang wooden slates with the announcements of concern to the members of the corresponding tribe. Thus the Athenian citizen could stand in front of the statue of his tribe’s hero . and read the information which interested him. Here was recorded: the names of citizens who had to present themselves for some service, the names of young people whose turn had come for military service and announcements of court rulings. Also posted there were the drafts of laws, so that the citizens would learn about them in good time and be able to vote dispassionately at the meetings of the Assembly of the Deme. Even though the administrators obliged the citizens to participate in public affairs, it was the latter who had the responsibility of informing the interested parties. Aristotle tells us that on this monument were also written the names of citizens who had distinguished themselves for the public benefit either in battle or in the performance of their duties; they were models to be emulated.
Right behind the statue of Hadrian and all along the length of the buildings on the west side of the Agora, passed the drainage duct, an important and highly functional work. This arrangement for rainwater runoff proved to be vital in Attica, with its seasons of sudden rain, which in no time fills the dry river beds. Just how important it was became clear after the gradual abandonment of the area in the post Byzantine years. When the city became smaller and its Agora declined, nobody looked after clearing the drainage ducts which gradually filled with soil and mud, spilling out over the site and covering the abandoned buildings and sanctuaries. The slope of the ground shows that, as early as prehistoric times, there was a natural ditch between the Acropolis and the Pnyx which gathered the rainwater and channeled it into the Eridanos stream north of the site on which the Agora was subsequently built. In the early 6th century BC stones were laid on the floor of this water-carved ditch.
But it wasn’t until a century later, i.e. early in the 5th century, that the Agora acquired an effective drainage system. The old duct on the south side met up with another which descended from the inhabited area, the hill on which the observatory is now located, and together the waters flowed into the central channel running in a straight line along all the western side until it joined up with the Eridanos. The duct was built on three sides, and was covered on top with large slabs; it was also used for the wastes from the public buildings. The careful construction with the polygonal rocks explains how it was kept in such excellent condition. Its functionality has been proved over time as the central duct in the Agora is still used to drain the area on rainy days.
The place at which the three central drainage ducts meet, still covered at quite a few spots by large slabs, is near the Tholos, at the point where the western and southern sides of the site come together. The careful visitor can see one of the official boundaries of the Agora in a nearby ditch lower than the present ground height. It is a square rock with a rough surface and smooth edges with an inscription telling us of its use, according to the custom of the times. In the angular script of 500 BC, this boundary stone informs the passer-by: “I am the limit of the agora”.
How simple was this declaration and how significant! For this was not just the demarcation line of an area, but at the same time it was a barrier to entry by those who did not meet the conditions for access to a sacred place. We know that entrance to the Agora was prohibited to any citizens who had been convicted or who owed fines and, of course, to those who had been ostracised. The fact that the base of a water basin was found very close to this boundary point, may indicate that people entering this venerable area of the city went through some sort of simulated cleansing.
Right in front of this stone boundary, at the ground level of the Roman years, there is a small grouping of three rooms identified by the archaeologists as civic offices. The officials in these offices supervised the unhindered move t ment of goods in the market, as confirmed by the sculptured examples of the ceramic tiles which were found there. Any citizen who doubted the quality and size of a tile he had bought, could compare his with the official samples showing the correct dimensions. This was the city’s market control service.
Access to the civic offices was from the north side of the largest room where there were steps and the bases of columns, testifying to the existence of a gate. The room at the entrance was connected by an interior door to the adjoining room, which in turn opened onto the third one. The latter, although it was the smallest of all, had a minimal toilet with underground drainage linked to the central drain. The strange layout of these rooms, which decreased in size from east to west, was interpreted as the need to leave more free space at the entrance to the Agora. Moreover, the civic offices were added in the second century AD when the Agora was full of buildings, thus giving it its final form.
This may have been the last time the city’s architects observed the original order in positioning buildings according to their use. Observing the diagram of the entire site, we note that the west side was dedicated to religion with its various sanctuaries, the south to justice with the courthouse of Heliaia and at the point of access to these significant functions, the administrative buildings were constructed.