Athens, the city-museum
Did you know the Acropolis is also known as the Cecropia in honour of the first Athenian king, Cecrops, the legendary “snake-man”? Or that it became a city 3500 years ago? Furthermore, it is considered as the first democratic city in the world. You’ll have to go back several times to this cradle of civilization. It’s a never ending source of attractions for visitors from all over the world.
It’s almost certain that you won’t know what to visit first. A recommendation: get a good map, e.g., in the neighbourhood of Plaka. Anywhere is good to start. The Acropolis is usually the first must-see visit. There you can visit the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Theatre of Dionysus or Hadrian’s Arch. The latter, a triumphal arch, is a tribute to the people of Athens and is located southeast of the Acropolis. You can continue evoking classical Greece by going to the Ancient Agora Museum, centre of ancient social, political and cultural life. If you haven’t had enough, you still have the National Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum or the National Art Gallery, just to mention some of them.
In Athens you’ll also be able to attend the change of the guard at Constitution Square, with their traditional pompon uniforms and orchestra included. In the same square, also the seat of Parliament, the Greek Unknown Soldier lies buried.
In Athens, not even public transport will give you a break from art. The archaeological remains discovered while the metro was being built are on display there. In the Monastiraki station, just to mention one, a traveller has the opportunity to walk on remains from several historical periods. On the other hand, once above ground, the bus is also a cheap way to visit the city’s sights. The intercity lines join the capital with different localities, such as Marathon, Sounio or Vravrona.
The Athens Festival is held in the summer months, and has unique examples of theatre, dance, opera and concerts that, each time it’s held, bring classical scenarios up to date.
To quell any hunger pangs you might feel, the offer of local cuisine includes Gyros pita: pieces of lamb, pork or roasted veal cut in strips and accompanied by tomatoes wrapped in round bread. But don’t forget the yogurt sauces and selection of cheeses, among which is feta. The old industrial area in the western part of the city has now been converted into an attractive tourist area with restaurants and bars.
Well, nobody can doubt that Athens is, and will be, the city-museum par excellence, and also the cradle of civilization of the West.