WELCOME TO LEDA'S GREECE in October 2016

WELCOME TO LEDA'S GREECE in October 2016

Assumption - August 15th


On the 15th of August the Greeks celebrate the Virgin Mary

Assumption Festival
Tinos is the very special Aegean island where thousands and thousands of devout pilgrims make their way every summer to pay homage in a large, celebrated gathering called, The Assumption of the Virgin. On the 15th of August, a virtual army of believers descend upon this small, rocky Cycladic isle to receive blessings, make solemn promises or give personal offerings to the Icon of Virgin Mary. Tinos is a spiritual center of modern Greece, where pilgrims gather each August to worship the Virgin Mary. In the early 1800's a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to one of the local nuns and told her to dig in a particular location for a lost icon of herself. The icon of Virgin Evangelistria was discovered and is housed to this day in the Church of the Virgin. Every year thousands of pilgrims journey to kiss the icon, to ask for healing or in gratitude for miracles received. It is a moving spectacle when local worshippers carry the icon though the streets on Assumption Day-August 15th.  
From the harbor of Tinos, a wide cobbled street leads up to a mound on which the magnificent chruch called, the Church of the Panagia, or Church of the Megalochari. Here, perched on the top, the stately chuch sit imposingly, towering above the whole town and harbour. Built out of marble from quarries at Tinos and Paros, this is the very spot where the miraculous icon of the Panagia (Virgin Mary) was discovered hundreds of years ago.

The miracle-working of the Holy Icon of the Annunciation of Tinos has been known all over the world. Thousands of Christians who come from every part of the world to feel its miraculous influence and help them in the difficult moments of their lives. The impressive church of Megalohari itself, was built after an event in 1822, when a Sister by the name of Pelagia, who was a nun at Moni Kechrovouniou had a vision of Virgin Mary that revealed to her where an icon depicting Mary and an Archangel was to be found. Early the next year, the icon was finally discovered close to the ruins of a byzantine church which had been apparently buried in an underground vault for nearly 850 years. The actual crypt where the icon was found, is now called the Chapel of Evresis (Chapel of discovery). After this, Sister Pelagia herself was canonized and is now called, Agia Pelagia. 


Since the discovery of the icon, the sacred Church of the Megalochari has been internationally recognized as a place of pilgrimage, and also known as a philanthropic organization. During the actual ceremonies, the spiritual emotion and the mystical atmosphere is apparent among the masses of believers when the Great Feast of the Virgin takes place. For believers, it is a moving experience to take part in the gathering of the faithful. Even those who are not Christian and know very little about the workings of the actual Holy Icon find themselves touched by the events. From this experience, many foreigners who visit the island leave with fond memories of the Church of the Holy Virgin, which like a divine crown, adorns and watches over the town. 
VIRGIN MARY'S SNAKES

On the island Kefalonia (on the Ionian Sea), every year around the midle of August, one can see snakes crawling to a particular church. At the ruins of the old church steeple, in the villages of Markopoulo and Arginia, the miraculous snakes of Virgin Mary start appearing on August 6th. They remain at the church area until the night of August 15th when they disappear. The snakes are completely harmless for visitors. A cross on the head is their characteristic feature. 
The snakes crawl on the icon of the Virgin Mary, the church filled with people and the priest holding the service but the snakes have no fear, they are there around people's feet and looking to crawl on to the icon, as soon as the festivity is over they dissapear and regain their normal behaviour. 
A rather peculiar detail is that they never appear on any other period than between August 6-15th. According to legend, in the 16th century, during a raid from the Pirate Barbarossa, the nuns at the Convent prayed to the Virgin Mary to save them. They were transformed into snakes. Interestingly enough, there were only two times in history that the snakes did not appear: during the German occupation and in 1953, the year of the disastrous earthquake.

Greek Calendar of holidays & festivals 2016

Holidays

Date Day Holiday
1 Jan Fri New Year's Day
6 Jan Wed Epiphany
14 Mar Mon Orthodox Ash Monday
25 Mar Fri Independence Day
29 Apr Fri Orthodox Good Friday
1 May Sun Labour Day
1 May Sun Orthodox Easter Sunday
2 May Mon Orthodox Easter Monday
3 May Tue Labour Day
(Replacement Day)
19 Jun Sun Orthodox Pentecost
20 Jun Mon Orthodox Whit Monday
15 Aug Mon Assumption Day
28 Oct Fri Ochi Day
25 Dec Sun Christmas Day
26 Dec Mon 2nd Day of Christmas


HERODION THEATER
The festival is the main cultural event during summer. The performances take place in several venues including the historic Atticus Theater. The Theater was built in the 2nd century AD and the Lykavitos Theater overlooking Athens. The highlight of the Festival are the performances of ancient Greek drama taking place in the splendid Epidaurus Theater near Athens, which was built in the 3rd century BC. Other summer festivals take place in the numerous open-air theaters of the Athens metropolitan area featuring concerts, theatrical plays and other performances. The Athens Festival aims at the preservation of the ancient heritage in conjunction with the promotion of Modern Greek achievements and international artistic trends. The Odeon was built in 161 A.D. by Herod Atticus in memory of his wife, Regilla. From June 7th to October 6th Performances start at 21:00 and at 20:30 in September. Every summer, since 1955 at the Herod Atticus Odeon, performances are held for the Athens Festival. Performances are staged from June through September in the ancient open-air theater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in Athens(Acropolis).
LYCABETTUS THEATER
Mid June-Late August. Various artistic performances are given during the summer season in the open-air theater on Lycabettus (Likavitos) Hill, in Athens. From May to September each year, there are performances of Greek dancing at the open-air theater on Philopappus Hill in Athens, presented by the Dora Stratou song and ballet group, which is well known throughout the world. Performance start at 21:00. The Lycabettus Theatre was erected in 1964. It was first used by the Greek Scene, Anna Synodinou Company. The theatre was restored and opened again in 1977. It is an outdoor amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 4,000, hosting part of the Athens Festival performances.

EPIDAURUS FESTIVAL

The Epidaurus Festival inaugurated in 1954.Soon established as a world renowned tradition of ancient Greek drama performance. The ancient theater at Epidaurus with 14,000 seats was built by the architect Polycleitos the Younger in the 3rd century B.C. The festival is held weekends only, from June 26th to August 27th. Performance starts at 21:00. Inagurated in 1954. The ancient theatre, built by Polykleitos the Younger in the 3rd century B.C., seats 14,000 people and is famous for its acoustics and its architectural beauty


THE ATHENS CONCERT HALL - MEGARON
Each autumn starts the concert season of the Athens Concert Hall, which is host to the world's greatest performances. These and other indoor concerts cater to a wide range of musical tastes. One cultural center able to house Concerts, Opera and Ballet with famous guest artists from all over the world. Athens boasts a lively theater scene with dozens of theatrical companies showcasing their productions ranging from conventional to avant-garde. Thousands of visitors are also drawn to art exhibitions in the National Gallery and in other venues. In addition, Athens is host to major sporting events such as the Athens Marathon Run, which features the original Marathon-Athens route, the acclaimed Rally Acropolis and sailing regattas taking place in the Saronic Gulf.
in THESSALONIKI
THE THESSALONIKI DEMETRIA FESTIVAL
As part of the broader program which accompanies the International Trade fair, there is an annual October series of theatrical, musical, ballet and operatic performances, given by Greek and foreign companies, as a revival of the tradition of Byzantine festive events in the capital of Macedonia.
FILM AND SONG FESTIVALAs part of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair in September, a Festival of Greek Popular Song is held in the Palais de Sports which is located inside the grounds of the Fair. As soon as the Fair is over, two interesting festivals of Greek and for eign films are organized. Both events take place in the theater of the Association of Macedonian Studies.

NAUPLIA INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL A festival with renowned classical music performed for one week during the month of June.

Plaka

The neighborhood of the Gods, as Greeks and foreigners alike have named it, singing its praises. Located on the northeastern slopes of the Acropolis rock, Plaka was the center of Athens since antiquity.
Plaka holds it's fascination as it manages to preserve the sense and the aroma of a more romantic and carefree era, despite the growth of the city during the last decades. The area directly below the Acropolis, the neighborhood of Plaka is Athen's  oldest and most picturesque neighborhood. Lying under the shadows of the Acropolis walls, its winding narrow streets, some only fit for one person at a time to get through, Plaka has been restored to its former glory. As soon as you start walking around Plaka 's stone-paved, narrow streets, you will have the feeling that you are traveling back in time.

The charm of its pastel hued walls and wrought iron balconies, geranium spilling onto stone steps, small churches every where, each with their own congregation, and taverns and souvenir shops vying for the visitors attention. The higher reaches of Plaka is called Anafiotika, a white washed 19th century village clinging to the north-eastern slopes of the rock. You will be delighted by the beauty of the neo-classical colors of its houses, their architecture, their lovingly tended little gardens, the elegance, and the total atmosphere of the area. When you decide to take a walk around it be sure to bring a map along, because Plaka is a labyrinth and you may get the feeling that you are lost in its maze of narrow streets and alley ways. No need for alarm though. It is easy to orientate yourself: uphill is the Acropolis and downhill are Syntagma and Monastiraki. 
The origin of the area's name is not really known thus allowing various theories to have developed. According to the most recent one, Plaka owes its name to a large stone slab (plaka in Greek) found in the area of the church of Ayios Georgios of Alexandria. near the ancient theater of Dionysos.Most buildings of Plaka are old aristocratic residencies. During the 19th century the area attracted many affluent Athenian families, which left behind marvellous neoclassical mansions. Today, most of them are restored accommodating museums, restaurants or shops.





PHILOMOUSOU ETAIRIAS SQUAREPlaka's central square was named after the Philomousos Etairia (Friends of the Muses namely the 9 patron goddesses of the Arts) which was founded in 1813. Its aim was to encourage Greek-oriented studies and the preservation of the archaeological treasures of Athens. The square is full of cafes, restaurants, bars and night clubs. Walking in Plaka, one can partake of the light and zesty spirit in the air day and night, as well as select one from its numerous hang-outs for a cup of coffee or a drink with a view to the Acropolis. A variety of souvenir-, clothing- and jewelry-shops are also there to complement the busy and cheerful setting. The area is ideal for an outdoor lunch or dinner, offering a plethora of traditional taverns and posh restaurants which will surely satisfy all those eager for the fine Mediterranean tastes of the Greek cuisine. Furthermore, visitors of Plaka can enjoy special nights of authentic local entertainment thanks to live Greek folk or popular music groups performing at many of the restaurants.




ROMAN AGORAJust outside the eastern side of the Roman Agora you will come across the octagonal monument, Andronikos Kyristes' clock. Built during the 1st century BC, housed an hydraulic clock. Each of its eight sides was decorated with representations of the eight winds. That is why the monument was nicknamed Aerides (winds) 

The Monument of Lysikrates - In ancient Athens the staging of theatrical performances in the theater of Dionysos was sponsored by wealthy citizens called choregoi. The choregos who sponsored the best performance of the year was presented with a prize by the city. When wealthy Lysikrates won the prize (334 BC) he decided to build a monument to house it where it remains to this day. Its construction by Lysikrates was only the beginning of the monument's long and eventful story. In 1658 a Capuchin monastery was founded here by French friars of that order and in 1669 the monument was bought by them. It was in this monastery that Lord Byron stayed during his second visit to Greece. It was in its gardens that in 1818 the first tomato plant in Greece grew after Father Francis brought the seeds from abroad. In 1829 a foreign traveler in Greece was granted permission by the friars to take the monument with him but fortunately it proved too heavy. Later, Lord Elgin put his mind to the same task but was again stopped, this time by the monks.

ARCH OF HADRIAN A bit off Plaka towards the main avenue of Amalias, one find the Arch of Hadrian. After the construction of the temple of Zeus the Athenians honored Hadrian by building, in AD 131 an arched gateway in the north-west corner of the enclosure of the temple. The arch, built of Pentelic marble (Penteli is one of the mountains surrounding the basin of Athens), bears two inscriptions. The one on the side facing the Acropolis (west facade) reads: This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus while the other the side facing the sanctuary an the extension of the city by Hadrian reads: This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus.  If you were to take a walk in Plaka on the east side, you enter Anafiotika a very picturesque neighborhood built in the Cycladic architectural style! There you find the churches of St.George of the Rock and St.Simeon. To your right is Mnisikleos St. which ends at the Acropolis. It is one of the narrowest streets in Plaka and is stepped at many places, and full of small inviting, charming taverns. Today Plaka attracts many visitors from every part of the world. That vivid multinational crowd,strolling down it's narrows alleys, adds to the place's fascination. Plaka can hold you captive for many hours and even days. Countless shops line your way offering souvenirs and popular art items ,giving you the chance to take a small part of Athens back home.

Monastiraki - Next to Plaka is Monastiraki. Monastiraki Square lies at the end of Pandrosou St. According to one account it owes its name to the church of the Virgin Mary which is a monastic estate of the Kaisariani Monastery whose medieval name was the Great Monastery. 

Monastiraki begins at Monastiraki Square, goes down to St.Philippe square, and along Ermou St. toThissio, and Pireos St. and peters out in the surrounding narrow side streets. At its center lies Abyssinia Square which is the place where the Sunday bazaar has been held since 1910. Monastiraki had always been the bazaar, decked out in its gaudy colors. Everyone here talks to you about art. Of course, there are shops with real antiques. Leaving that aside, it is relaxing to walk through Monastiraki even if you do not buy anything.Today Monastiraki is a true fair for the one who strolls through it.

Discover Athens: [Syntagma, Lycabettus, Plaka, Acropolis, Psirri, The suburbs, Coastal areas, Outskirts of Athens, Pireaus]



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Lycabettus Hill, Kolonaki...



Lycabettus hill (909 ft high), sits right in the center of the city and offers an unforgettable view of the city from its peak. On top, you will find there the tiny Chapel of St. George (Ai Yorgis) and a restaurant. It is one of the most attractive points of Athens, especially by night, when below the large lighted city extends its beauty. You can climb it throughout the year and enjoy the superb view that it offers. You can reach the hill either on foot following the stairs, or by car taking the road that leads to the theater of Lycabettus. But the most romantic way to reach Lycabettus, is with the funicular railway thats starts from Kolonaki and goes all the way to the top (275 m.). 
During antiquity the hill was called Aychesmos Lycabettus. During the times of Pausanias, Aychesmos Lycabettus had a statue of Zeus Aychesmios at its summit. Lycabettus hill is mentioned in Aristophanes' "Clouds" and in Plato's "Critias". During the Middle ages there was a chapel to the Prophet Elijah at its summit.There is a chapel to St. George which was built after 1835. On its northwest side is a cave with the small church of St. Isidore. During the summer, the Lycabettus theater hosts various theatrical performances and concerts. It is a spacious theater with 5,000 seats and occupies one of the most inspiring and idyllic sites in Athens. The funicular railway that goes to the top of Lycabetus is in the Kolonaki area. 




Kolonaki The Chic Square of Athens is Kolonaki, officially known as Philikis Etaireias Square. Some of the most fashionable stores in Athens are located on Kolonaki square and the surrounding streets, along with many pastry-shops, cafeterias and bistros which are crowded all day long. Most favorite caffes are Jackson Hall, Prytaneio by the square. Also a wonderful shopping market. One of the things you must do when you are in Athens is have a cup of coffee in one of the coffee shops in Kolonaki Square. To have spent a few hours eating, drinking and just chatting in one of this square's coffee shops, is a prerequisite for trendy Athenians and foreign visitors alike. Kolonaki also offers some of the best shopping in town, some of the best organised and biggest kiosks (periptera) in the city and some very interesting walks around its busy streets. Kolonaki is s officially known as Filliki Eterias Square. A filliki eteria is nominally a "friendly society" but in this case refers to the secret society founded in Odessa, Russia, 1814, during the Ottoman domination of Greece. Its founders were 4 wealthy Greeks of the diaspora whose goal was to seek Greek Independence from the Turks "by any means possible". The four main streets leading from the square: Skoufa, Anagnostopoulou, Xanthos and Tsakaloff are named after these men. Kolonaki contains chic international boutiques and coffee shops, where Athens 'Elite' like to see and be seen. Kolonaki Square is the rich section of Athens. 




The shops of Kolonaki have the latest fashions from all over Europe and the rest of the planet. Anything you can find in New York is available in Kolonaki. The Gennadios Library is on Soudias St., and specializes in Greek publications after 1453. The excellent Museum of Cycladic Art is housed on Neophytou Douka St. The most famous shopping street is Ermou, off Syntagma, the main square, and opposite the Parliament building. This pedestrian-only street shouldn't be missed if shopping is among your travel objectives. It's always been Athens' busiest shopping street and is packed with clothing, accessory and quality souvenir shops.
On, past the small Byzantine church of Kapnikarea, one nears Monastiraki and the Flea Market. Best on Sundays, it is still a fascinating area with anything from souvenirs in all their myriad form, marble chess sets, copper pans, ceramic pots, to junk and antiques. Old coins and stamps, furniture which has seen better days in some old neo- classic mansion, baskets and junk, piled haphazardly between office furniture, all go to make this area one of the most fascinating in the city. 
Kolonaki is the first word that a good shopper should know. This fashionable neighborhood at the foot of Lykavittos Hill has always been the more "chic" place to shop in Athens. When you need a break from shopping, there are plenty of trendy coffee shops and restaurants around Kolonaki Square.
Most shops have hours as follows: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday 9 am-3 pm; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9 am-2:30 pm and 5-8:30 pm. All department stores and supermarkets and many larger shops now stay open through the day and some stay open until 6 pm on Saturdays. Times change during Easter/Christmas and major holiday seasons. Many shops in the Plaka area are open daily 9 am-9 pm.










Discover Athens: [Syntagma, Lycabettus, Plaka, Acropolis, Psirri, The suburbs, Coastal areas, Outskirts of Athens, Pireaus]




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Acropolis




The Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the height of its power. It is also the finest monument on the Acropolis in terms of both conception and execution. Built between 447 and 438 BC, as part of the greater Periklean building project, this so-called Periklean Parthenon (Parthenon III) replaced an earlier marble temple (Parthenon II), begun after the victory at the battle of Marathon at approximately 490 BC and destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. This temple had replaced the very first Parthenon (Parthenon I) of c. 570 BC. The Periklean Parthenon was designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, while the sculptor Pheidias supervised the entire building program and conceived the temple's sculptural decoration and chryselephantine statue of Athena. The Parthenon is a double peripteral Doric temple with several unique and innovative architectural features. The temple proper is divided into pronaos, cella and opisthodomos, with a separate room at the west end, and is surrounded by a pteron with eight columns on each of the short sides and seventeen columns on the long ones.


The elegant building known as the Erechtheion, on the north side of the sacred rock of the Acropolis, was erected in 421-406 BC as a replacement of an earlier temple dedicated to Athena Polias, the so-called “Old temple”. The name “Erechtheion”, mentioned only by Pausanias (1, 26, 5), derives from Erechtheus, the mythical king of Athens, who was worshipped there. Other texts refer to the building simply as “temple” or “old temple”. The building owes its unusual shape to the irregularity of the terrain  there is a three-metre difference in height between the eastern and western parts - and the multiple cults it was designed to accommodate. The eastern part of the building was dedicated to Athena Polias, while the western part served the cult of Poseidon-Erechtheus and held the altars of Hephaistus and Voutos, brother of Erechtheus. This is where, according to the myth, Athena's sacred snake lived. The sanctuary also contained the grave of Kekrops and the traces of the dispute between Athena and Poseidon for the possession of the city of Athens. The temple was made of Pentelic marble, the frieze of Eleusinian grey stone with white relief figures attached to it and the foundations of Piraeus stone.

The Propylaia of the Athenian Acropolis were built on the west side of the hill, where the gate of the Mycenaean fortification once stood. The first propylon, or gate, was constructed in the age of Peisistratos (mid-sixth century BC), after the Acropolis had become a sanctuary dedicated to Athena. A new propylon, built in 510-480 BC, was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC and repaired after the end of the Persian Wars, during the fortification of the Acropolis by Themistokles and Kimon.
The monumental Propylaia admired by modern visitors were part of the great Periklean building program. They were erected in 437-432 BC, after the completion of the Parthenon, by architect Mnesikles. The original building plan was particularly daring both in architectural and artistic terms, but was never completed.

The temple of Athena Nike stands at the southeast edge of the sacred rock atop a bastion, which in Mycenaean times protected the entrance to the Acropolis. The Classical temple, designed by architect Kallikrates and built in 426-421 BC, succeeded earlier temples also dedicated to Athena Nike. The first one of these, a mid-sixth century BC wooden temple was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. The eschara, the altar believed to have supported the cult statue of the goddess, dates to this period. Under Kimon, c. 468 BC, a small temple of tufa was erected around the base of the statue and a new altar was built outside the temple. The foundations of these early temples and altars are preserved inside the bastion under the floor of the Classical structure. Pausanias (1, 22, 4) refers to this temple as that of the Apteros Nike, or Wingless Victory, and mentions that the cult statue of the goddess had no wings so that she would never leave Athens. 
Apart from the cult of Athena Nike other, earlier cults were also practiced on this site. On the west side of the bastion was a Mycenaean double-apsed shrine and on the east side, the pre-Classical shrines of the Graces and of Hekate Epipyrgidia. The construction of the Classical temple of Athena Nike was part of the Periklean building project. Several inscriptions, mostly decrees of the city of Athens, provide information on this particular part of the project.







Photos copyright: Leda Avouri

Athens (Attica)


Attica is situated in the geographical center of Greece and is washed by the Euboean, Saronic and Corinthian Gulfs. Attica borders Sterea Ellada/Central Greece to the north and the Saronic Gulf to the south. The peninsula ends to the south at Cape Sounion. The position of Athens in the basin is defined by Mt. Parnitha and Mt. Penteli whose great masses command the north. Mt. Hymettus dominates the east, while to the west are the numerous low hills of Egaleo and Korydallos. Athens has developed and spread out in the Attica basin to the point that it has become one with the port of Piraeus, while the suburbs have spilled outside the basin itself. Athens the capital of Greece took its name from the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. This is where democracy was born. This is where that marvel of architecture, the Parthenon was created. This is where art became inseparable from life and this is where Pericles gave the funerary speech, that monument of the spoken word. Athens is the symbol of freedom, art, and democracy in the conscience of the civilized world. In Athens memory never fades. Wherever you stand, wherever you turn, the city's long and rich history will be alive in front of you. In the centre of town are two hills, the Acropolis with the monuments from the Age of Pericles, and Lycabettus with the picturesque chapel of Ai Giorgis.




In Athens you will see historical monuments. The perfection of Architecture itself! It is a symbol of culture, science, and civilization. The Olympic Stadium, the world's nicest marble stadium. The Greek Parliament, the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier,Pnyx, Socrates' prison,Ancient Agora/Stoa of Attalos (right), etc. Keramikos, Museum, Holy Gate, Thission. See the panoramic view of Athens and spectacular sunrises from Lycabettus hill from where all islands are visible. It is absolutely spledid! See the temple of Olympic Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the University and its library as well as Aristotle's Lyceum! Athens today is a modern city, alive and on the go. Modern but romantic as well, with busy streets and squares, shop windows a riot of colours, as well as little alleys in quiet, peaceful neighbourhoods such as Plaka and Metz.


The sunshine of Attica and its pleasant climate give to the visitors the opportunity to enjoy a trip to Athens during all seasons. Besides a planned program of visits to specific places, one always has the opportunity to get away to the countryside, to the mountains or the sea. The distances are not so far and the changes in the weather, even in winter, hold pleasant surprises in store: a heavy rain is often followed by brilliant sunshine! In Sounion, the sanctuaries of Poseidon and Athena, in Vravrona the sanctuary of Artemis, in Rhamnous that of Nemesis, in Marathon the famous victory of the Greeks against the Persians, in Eleusis (Elefsina) the sanctuary of Demeter, as well as Byzantine monuments such as Kaisariani and Daphni monasteries. 


The morphology of the land is characterized by a constant alteration between low mountains and small plains. The picturesque peculiarities of the Attic coast makes it look like a long piece of lace. Bays and small rocky or sandy coves dot the area and during the summer are filled with Athenians and foreigners enjoying their beauty. Of the plains, it is worth mentioning those of Eleusis and Athens, as well as the Mesogeia which are fertile and systematically cultivated.


The heart of the modern capital houses the most important buildings, which are connected to the Greek culture and history. As "the modern city center", we can define the area which includes the Lycabettus Hill, the elegant square of Kolonaki and the main streets which connect the Syntagma and Omonia Squares, as well as the nearby neighborhoods like Exarcheia. Piraeus is still the largest harbor in the country and facilitates communications in the area. Among a lot of small and higher hills, is the one that glorified not only Athens, but the whole Greek world and became the symbol of the western civilization: the rock of Acropolis.


Most of the places you'll want to get to are all within a couple of miles of each other, and navigating is fairly easy with a good map, available for free at the Greek Tourist Organization. If you can't see the Acropolis, you can get your bearings by looking for Lykavitos Hill--that's the other hill in Athens, the one without the Parthenon sitting on top of it. Otherwise, just travel from square to square: Kolonaki Square, Syntagma Square, and countless others--they are the lily pads, you are the frog. For gewgaws, you can while away your days in the Plaka district, which curls around the eastern side of the Acropolis. Besides the tourist traps, this district is home to a few hidden gems where you can buy some truly unique momentos, and an astounding number of cafes/bars for your drinking pleasure. Most visitors seem to prefer this area for their nightly carousals. Plaka also has the highest concentration of restaurants, hotels, Internet cafes, and other services for the weary traveler. Abutting Plaka's northwest border is Monistiraki, home of the famous Monistiraki Flea Market. Psiri, just north of Monistiraki, is the hottest new party neighborhood in Athens, though you would never know it in the daytime, when it's like a ghost town. But when the sun sets, Psiri blossoms like a nocturnal party flower, awaft with aromas from some of the finest restaurants in Athens, and positively cluttered with cool bars and clubs. You might be something of a novelty at these establishments--it seems the tourist contingent hasn't discovered Psiri yet. Kolonaki, a 15- to 20-minute walk east of Psiri, is the most classically European neighborhood, with the prettiest buildings and streets in town. This is a nice, relaxing area to while away siesta (approximately 2 till 6pm) as the rest of the city sleeps, and it's one of the most popular areas to dance the night away, too.


If you haven't the cash or time to travel to any of the Greek islands, despair not: Take the 30-minute bus ride to Glyfada, on the outskirts of the city.  
Along with a string of beaches, this area boasts some of the hottest clubs in Athens, serving up everything from traditional Greek rebetika music to techno. One of the great things about Athens is its even distribution of party spots.





Discover Athens: [SyntagmaLycabettus, Plaka, Acropolis, Psirri, The suburbs, Coastal areas, Outskirts of Athens, Pireaus]




 Click for photos of Attica


Saronic Gulf Island