Athens is the capital of Greece and is known as the birthplace of democracy. This incredible city is the oldest capital in Europe dating back to 3,000 B.C. It was back in 500 B.C that the rulers of Athens first allowed their citizens to participate in a vote on laws. This is where democracy that we know today stemmed from. More than 18 million visitors choose to spend their vacations in this remarkable city. Even though this was where democracy was created, Athens experienced all kinds of leadership including monarchical, socialism, communism and capitalism.
Every year, the European Union crowns a city as a capital of culture, Athens was the first city to receive this award back in 1985. This city more than deserves it. It was in Athens that the first public theater shows were performed. Today, the city is home to over 150 performing arts theaters which is more than New York’s Broadway and London’s West End combined.
Athena the Greek God of Wisdom who the city is ultimately named after, beat out Poseidon the God of the sea for the title of the city’s patron. The two Gods competed and offered gifts to the city. Poseidon offered a salt water spring while Athena offered the olive tree. The olive tree won the favor of the people and there you have it, Athens was born. Undeniably, the must-visit place in Athens is the Acropolis, no vacation or adventure to this historic capital is complete without it.
The best way to get around the ancient city of Athens is by walking or taking the well connected city metro. Weather wise, Athens can get quite hot, in fact, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe was taken in Athens, a whopping 118.40°F in 1977. Typically, the hottest month is July with temperatures hitting 91°F, while the coolest month is January with lows of 42°F.
When creating your custom itinerary on the Tripio app, ensure you carefully select your preferences. We, at Tripio have done all the research for you to ensure your next vacation is full of all the right attractions and adventures to suit you individually. The Tripio app will generate custom top 10 lists based on your preferences. We want to make sure you tick off your bucket list and maybe even find some more adventures and vacation destinations to add to your list.
Kicking off the top 10 strong is the Temple of Olympian Zeus.The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a white marble temple completed in 131 CE after 650 years of construction. It was dedicated to Zeus, god of thunder and lightning. The temple of Olympian Zeus is also known as the Olympieion. This magnificent structure was one of the largest temples of the ancient world. Each column stood over 56 feet high. The grandeur of this mega structure was short lived, unfortunately, it was attacked in 267 AD by the Barbarians and was never repaired. It stands today as ruins of its former glorious self.
The Temple of Hephaestus is the most well-preserved temple in Greece. It was built in 415 B.C to honor Hephaestus, the son of Zeus and Hera. Some locals believe that Hera alone must have produced Hephaestus as the son of Zeus couldn’t be the only ugly god. As cruel as it sounds, it was believed that Hephaestus, god of fire was the only Greek god to ever be considered physically ugly.
The Temple of Hephaestus is over 100 feet long and the view from this temple is almost as great as the view of it. If you’ve travelled all the way to Athens, you are going to want to take a photograph here. It is bound to make all your family and friends back home jealous. You can encourage them to add it to their custom itinerary on Tripio so that they can get the most out of their vacation too.
The Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes is also known as the Tower of Winds. It is an octagonal shaped tower that was built in 100 B.C. This 40 foot marble tower is considered to be the world’s first meteorological station. It was used as a large sundial. Though it’s unofficial, the locals refer to the tower as Aerides, which means Winds. Giving it the name of Tower of Winds.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an ancient amphitheater built in 161 A.D. It was built by the Roman Herodes Atticus in which the theatre gets its name. He dedicated it to the memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. This incredible ancient theatre has a capacity of 5,000 and still holds concerts to this day. What an experience that would be, to be able to watch a live performance here. Many years ago, this was where the first plays about the legends of the Greek gods were played out and have a large part to do with the longevity of these legends.
You can enter the theatre from the ground level for free, however if you want access from the top, you will need a ticket to the Acropolis. Check the link below to see what’s on and maybe you can book to see a live performance here where I’d say the atmosphere is magic. Add this one to your itinerary especially if you manage to snag tickets to a live show.
The Temple of Athena Nike is located on the Acropolis. The Acropolis is the hill that houses the incredible historical landmarks such as the Parthenon, temple of Athena Nike, the theater of Dionysus and more. The Temple of Athena Nike was built in 420 B.C and stood as a symbol of victory. The Greeks had defeated the Persians about 50 years earlier and attributed this momentous victory to Athena Nike. Athena the goddess of Athens and Nike meaning victory.
You can purchase your ticket to the Acropolis at the bottom of the hill, the ticket will include all attractions on the Acropolis itself like the temple of Athena Nike and the Parthenon. There is a lift for wheelchair access however, the ground is uneven and you will still have to tackle a few hills. If you are walking up as most people do, the walk will take you up more than 500 feet of elevation.
Coming in mid-way on our Tripio top 10 is Philopappos Hill. Philopappos Hill is a large hill situated in the heart of Athens and it stands at over 480 feet high. It takes about 2 hours to explore the hill completely. It offers fantastic views of the Acropolis so don’t forget your camera. At the top of the hill, there is a monument that is dedicated to Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos. He was the Prince of Commagene (modern day Turkey) and was very influential in Athens and to the people of Greece. He was so important that it was the citizens of Athens who built the monument in his honor shortly after his death in 116 AD. Gaius Julius was exiled from his home country and was such a blessing to the people of Athens that they viewed him as a god in human flesh.
Take a lovely stroll to the top of this hill and enjoy the view over Athens. The view is pretty incredible in the day but somewhat magical and romantic at night. What vacation is complete without a little evening stroll especially in one of the most ancient cities in the world.
Pan is theGreek god of shepherds and the Sanctuary of Pan was built in the 3rd century B.C. It is a shrine built into the side of the hill and was a sacred place for the local pagan community. After it was abandoned, it became the shrine of Caesarea Philippi. The true dedication of the shrine wasn’t uncovered until modern day when archeologists excavated the area. You cannot enter the shrine but you can see it from a pedestrian road in the Thisio area. It is a true testament that the belief of people can be so strong, they’d risk building a secret shrine in the heart of Athens.
Areopagus Hill is also known as Mars hill due to its out of this world appearance. The Areopagus is a prominent protruding rock that translates to “Hill of Ares”. Ares of course is the Greek god of war. It is named so because it was on this rock that Ares stood trial. It was also believed that those that worshipped Ares and committed atrocities such as murder used to take shelter under this rock.
Today, you can visit the rock by taking a short walk up the hill which stands 377 feet high. It is a fairly easy walk to the top but do be cautious as the rocks have been worn down so much by visitors that they have become fairly slippery so it is best to be wearing shoes with good grip. Some people will travel far and wide in order to follow in the footsteps of the gods. This one should be on your travel itinerary even if you aren’t a fan of Greek mythology, for the incredible view alone.
The Archaeological Site of Eleusis is the remains of a once great fortress that protected Athens and its surrounding region, Attica. It was established in 2,000 B.C during the Mycenaean period. Its location on the hill was merely a strategic one. An annual festival is held on this ancient site honoring Persephone, Queen of the underworld. The cave that is on-site is said to be the very spot where Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken directly to the underworld. Therefore, this site is believed to be the gateway to the underworld.
Blasting the competition out of the water, coming in at number 1 on our top 10 is of course the Parthenon. The Parthenon is the number one attraction in Athens. It is often also referred to as the Acropolis. The Parthenon is the large temple dedicated to the goddess Athena whilst the Acropolis is the hill in which the Parthenon sits upon. The Acropolis contains a collection of historical landmarks.
The temple is an incredible sight and is arguably the most recognizable attraction in Greece, let alone in Athens. It was built in 447 B.C out of marble. This temple was not only dedicated to the goddess Athena whom the city is named after but it also stood as a symbol of wealth and power of the Greek Empire. Tickets can be purchased at the bottom of the hill. Ensure to ask about the wheelchair lift. Be aware that the ground is uneven and you will need to scale some hills.The hike up to the top takes you up more than 500 feet in elevation.So be sure to take breaks along the way up and enjoy the view. Don’t forget that the Tripio app can generate your custom top 10, why not plan your epic travels to Athens now and get these ticked off your bucket list.
-Gemma Winchester, Tripio Guru
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