Athens, during the golden age of Greek Civilization, was the dominant city-state in the region. Historians credit Greece, particularly Athens with developing the basic concepts of democracy. Some of the world’s most famous and respected philosophers, playwrights, and historians were Athenians. Thus, the city of Athens has a wealth of sights to attract the tourist. Here is my list of the best of this ancient city.
1. Acropolis – The focal point of ancient Athens and a treasure-trove of elegant and spectacular architecture is visible from almost everywhere in the city and is attractively lighted at night. The Parthenon is piece de resistance, but the Erechtheum and the Propylaea are also interesting. The area offers great views of the city and its other attractions below. Note also the Odean of Herodotus Atticus, a partially restored amphitheater which is still used today for performances. The Acropolis Museum contains some original pieces from the Acropolis, such as the "real" Karyatids.
2. Delphi – The major excursion from the city of Athens is to this site, the location of the famous Oracle of Delphi. The Temple of Apollo is one of the most important ruins on the property, which also contains a Greek Amphitheater and, further up the hill (actually Mount Parnassus), the remains of the stadium which was used for the Pythian Games, similar to the Olympics.
3. Plaka – This term refers to the part of the city just below the Acropolis. Its alleys and streets are crowded at all times of the day and night with residents and tourists alike. There are shops, hotels, and restaurants galore.
4. Syntagma Square – This is the main square of the city and is located directly in front of the Parliament Building, where a "changing of the guard" takes place daily.
5. Agora – This was the government center of ancient Athens. One can imagine that it bustled with activity during the regular work day. Very little remains of the structures which adorned the agora. However, excavations and restorations are ongoing. One of the most prominent buildings is the Temple of Hephaestus.
6. National Archaeological Museum – It contains the largest collection of Greek antiquities in the world. One of the highlights is the Mask of Agamemnon.
7. Olympic Stadium – The stadium which was used during the inauguration of the Modern Olympic Games, in 1876 is still a beautiful, though small, venue. It was used in 2004 for the opening ceremonies.
8. Temple of Olympian Zeus – During Roman times, this was the largest temple in Greece. Construction on the temple began in the 6th century BC, but it was not completed until the reign of Hadrian.
9. Temple of Poseidon – The remains of this temple are located at Cape Sounion, about 45 miles southeast of Athens at the tip of the Attica peninsula. It is a popular excursion from Athens, especially in the evening to observe the sun set over the Aegean Sea.
10. Lycabettus Hill – Accessed by a funicular, Mount Lycabettus rises from the city like a green monster. At the top is the Chapel of St George, a restaurant and a theater.