Walking Tour of Athens, Greece
The site of the birth of Western Civilization and of the elements of Democracy is an incredibly historic look back for the visitor. The looks and sometimes feels like a huge archaeological dig. The crowning glory of all this history is the Acropolis, one of the most important tourist attractions in the world. The fact that it towers above the city center and can be seen from almost everywhere is a constant reminder of its world-wide significance.
This walking tour begins, appropriately enough, at the public entrance to the Acropolis. See it first for its influence and impact will be felt throughout your stay in Athens. Keep in mind that these buildings, although in various stages of ruin and decay, were constructed during the 5th century BC, over 2,500 years ago. It’s amazing that there is so much that remains to be seen.
Be awestruck by the beauty and symmetry of the Parthenon; wonder about the unusual design of the Erechtheion; try to imagine how the Propylea, the grand entrance to the complex, looked in the time of Pericles. Also check out the remarkably well-preserved Odeon of Herodes Atticus, still used today for special events, and the Theater of Dionyus, where so many Greek plays were performed.
Because of its location, high above the city, the Acropolis provides fantastic views of the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, Areopagus Hill, and Mount Lycabettus, to the northeast.
Exit by way of the Theater of Dionysus, in the southeastern corner of the complex, see the Chapel of St George along the way and emerge on Dionysiou Areopagitou, across from the New Acropolis Museum, which should now be open. Be sure to stop at the museum to see the originals of some of the relics from the site, removed to preserve them.
When finished at the museum, exit and turn right, then left on Vyronos which leads to Plaka Square, with its Lysicrates Monument. This square was a popular spot of Lord Byron, the famous English poet.
Continue north on Sezley, then Tripodon, and take a right on Flessa, and left on Nicodemou, then right on Apollonos. Head left at the fork to reach the Mitropolis (Athens’ Cathedral). Just before it on the right is the Panagia Gorgoepikous, a tiny church which dates to the 12th century. Check out the beautiful carvings inside.
After you have visited both churches, go west on Pandroson, then left on Mnisikleous, and right on Kyristou to the Tower of the Winds, an octagonal water clock and weather vane constructed in the 1st century BC.
Continue west from the Tower, through the Roman Agora, to reach the Ancient Agora. Wander through what was once the political center of the city. Be sure to walk along the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, which looks today as it might have looked in Athens’ heyday.
Exit the Agora the way you came in and turn left on Areos, past Hadrian’s Library and out to Monstiraki Square. Take a right on Ermou which becomes pedestrian-only and leads to Syntagma Square which is the location of Greece’s Parliament Building and its Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There is a Changing of the Guard Ceremony here at intervals throughout the day.
After watching, take a right on Leof Vas Amalias which passes by the National Gardens, on your left. If time permits, take the first major pathway into the Gardens, pass by the Zeppelou and exit at Irrodu Attikou. Across the street is the Presidential Palace, but turn right and ahead on your left is Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmara), built of white marble for the inaugural, modern Olympic Games in 1896 and was used again in 2004 when the games were held again in Athens.
Go left when leaving the stadium on Leof Vas Konstantinou, then right onto Leof Vas Olgas. In the open area to your left is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple ever constructed in Greece (only a few of its original columns still remain). Turn left on Amalias and check out Hadrian’s Arch, erected in 131 AD.
Take a right onto Dionysiou Areopagitou to return to the starting point of the walk.