During our trip to Greece After two weeks we spend two days visiting the capital of the country. Athens is a city that does not have a very good reputation, but that we liked. Two days are a bit fair to discover everything the city offers. However, if you only have that time we bring you four itineraries in Athens with what to do and see in Athens in two days and discover this fascinating city.
Itinerary 1 through Athens (afternoon): from the Arch of Hadrian at sunset in Lycabettus
We start in the Adriano's Arch. The remains of this arch in honor of the emperor Hadrian marked the place where ancient Athens ended and the new neighborhood created by the Roman emperor himself began. The style of this arch is somewhat unusual, as it unites the elements of Greek and Roman architecture to reflect this union of two cultures. Today, it seems that someone has forgotten it before the zebra crossing that crosses a street with a lot of traffic, on the esplanade where the remains of the temple of Olympic Zeus.
The temple of Olympian Zeus began to be built in the s. VI a.C. but it was left incomplete for centuries until Emperor Hadrian (yes, again he) finished it in the second century. It is not surprising that it took so long to build, as it was the largest temple in the Greek and Roman world. An exaggeration, according to some. Today there are only a few Corinthian columns standing and others demolished, but its 17 meters high makes it clear that it must have been a very majestic temple in its time.
Here we can buy the ticket that will give us the right to visit the Acropolis, the agora, the theater of Dionysus, the Roman agora, the library of Hadrian and the Kerameikos (worth € 12 and is valid for 4 days). Buy here the ticket has the added value that the next day you will save the queues at the entrance of the Acropolis.
After the visit we will follow the route walking through the National Garden until the Syntagma Square. The famous change of the guard takes place every hour and 24 hours a day. The endurance and precision of the guards is admirable, especially with the heat of August.
Then we will go up to the Ayios Georgios church at the top of the Lycabettus (Lycabettus). You can climb on foot like us, although we ended up half dead, or take the funicular. The station is between Aristippou and Ploutarchou streets and costs € 5 each way or € 7.5 round trip. There you will enjoy an incredible sunset over the city of Athens.
Back we will have dinner at Plaka neighborhood, at Makalo restaurant (23 Nikis street). It is a small modern restaurant recommended by natives with a menu of current Greek cuisine. For example, the couscous with green apple was very tasty (€ 7.20).
Itinerary 2 through Athens (morning): Ancient Greece
We start at 8 am visiting the Acropolis (€ 12, opens at 8 and closes 40 minutes before 20:00). You can enter through the theater entrance that is near the subway station of the same name. If we already have the tickets we will avoid the line. We will visit the theater of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herod Attic, although we will not entertain much to be one of the first to arrive before the Parthenon. At 9 in the morning the invasion of the groups begins and at ten there are already many people. Then we will leave the Parthenon to go to agorathen to Roman agora Yet the Adriano's library.
The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is one of the main reasons to visit the capital of Greece, because it is the symbol of Greece in general and of all classical Greek civilization. It was in the 5th century BC. when Athens reached its great golden age and that allowed Pericles, leader of the Democratic Party, to beautify the sanctuary to Athena, the protective goddess of the city, located on top of the Acropolis. To do so, he commissioned the construction of several sacred buildings to the best architects and sculptors of the moment.
The monumental entrance that receives the visitor when climbing the stairs are the Propylanes, the work of Mnesicles, with its Doric columns that give way to the Acropolis esplanade. It really impresses and everyone is dumbfounded looking up. But to really enjoy it, you have to arrive at eight o'clock, just when they open, because from nine o'clock the stairs at the entrance are already crowded with tourist groups and lose a lot of charm.
Once this marble curtain is crossed, the top buildings are revealed. It was the great Phidias who directed the works of the new temple of Athena, with the help of the architects Ictino and Calícrates. This temple is the Parthenon, the Doric and Ionic building that dominates the top of the Acropolis for two thousand three hundred years and housed a huge statue of the goddess. It is a masterpiece of classical architecture.
Around it you can still see the remains of other important buildings such as the Erechtheion. This Ionian-style building was actually the most sacred area of the Acropolis, as there was worship of ancient kings and heroes of Athens, as well as the protector of the city, Hephaestus and Poseidon. Here you can see the Caryatids, the columns in the shape of women, although the authentic ones are in the Acropolis Museum and in the British Museum in London.
It is forbidden to enter any of the two buildings, but it does not matter, to contemplate their majesty sitting on a nearby rock or to walk around to see them from various angles is enough to enjoy them. Some will be disappointed to find parts of the Parthenon covered by scaffolding from the archaeological restoration team, but it seems good to me that they take care of it properly.
In addition to all that has been said, one must also spend time observing the theater of Dionysus, one of the greatest theaters of Antiquity, and the Odeon of Herod Attic, built centuries later during the Roman domination and where music concerts were held . They are on the north slope of the Acropolis to take advantage of the slope.
The enclosure includes information panels and reading them is the cheap and alternative option to hire a guided tour. However, hiring a professional guide will always be much more enjoyable and educational. I expected to find one available at the entrance, but we didn't see any and we were left without due to lack of foresight.
The agora of Athens
Next to the archaeological site of the Acropolis are the remains of the agora: the political and commercial center of ancient Athens. Here the laws were created and voted, and trials were held. You can still see some remains of the courts and the Bouleterion, where the Senate met. This place saw the birth of democracy and philosophers like Socrates or Plato walked around here. In addition, food and artisan products were also sold here. That is why the Hephaestion rises there, a temple dedicated to the gods of metallurgy and ceramics, which is very well preserved despite its millenary age. The other building that is still standing is the Átalo Stoa, restored in 1956 and which houses the Agora Museum. Here you can see vessels and sculptures found in the agora, but it is also very interesting to look at the models that reconstruct the place in different periods of its ancient history. It is also a perfect place to rest a little after the whole walk.