Athens is the capital of Greece. It was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire. The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple. The Acropolis Museum, along with the National Archaeological Museum, preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry and more from Ancient Greece.
Dedicated to Zeus, the Olympieion was the largest temple in ancient Greece. Though the Parthenon is better preserved, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was an even more monumental structure in its day. The temple dates to the sixth century BC but was not completed until the second century AD by the Emperor Hadrian. It’s easy to imagine the grand impression this temple made in its complete form. More than a hundred enormous marble columns once supported the grandiose sanctuary. Only 15 columns remain standing, and another surviving column lies on the ground, but the ruins’ monumental presence gives a sense of the massive size of the original building.
Centuries ago, shoppers may have rubbed shoulders with the likes of Julius Caesar and Augustus since they helped fund the Roman Agora. In contrary to the Ancient Agora which it replaced, it had a purely commercial character. The Roman Agora was built during the waning years of the first century BC when Greece was part of the Roman Empire. The new agora featured a large open space surrounded by colonnades and columns; shops were inside these borders. The 12-meter (40-foot) Tower of Wind, just east of the Roman market, features reliefs of the eight winds with a sundial underneath each.
Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square:
For many tourists, watching the Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square is an exciting and memorable experience. The Soldiers of the Presidential Guard stand in front of the Hellenic Parliament on Syntagma Square 24 hours a day, year-round. The guards wear traditional costumes complete with pleated skirts, leg tassels, and pompom shoes. The Changing of the Guards takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument at 11am daily. This monument honors anonymous soldiers who died fighting for the country. The monument features a marble relief that imitates a warrior grave stele of ancient times.
Theatre of Dionysus
Travelers who are mad about theatre won’t want to miss the Theatre of Dionysus, the oldest theatre in Greece. Many of the most famous ancient Greek comedies and tragedies debuted on the stage here. The theatre, originally a temple built in the sixth century BC, is dedicated to Dionysus, the god of merriment and wine. Cut into a cliff on the Acropolis, the theatre could seat 17,000 people. It has been continuously remodeled over the centuries. The best views of the Theatre of Dionysus, usually credited as the birthplace of European theatre, can be seen from higher up on the Acropolis.