Athens, June 2018

Athens, June 2018

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

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