10 Amazing Things To See In Athens

Having already written about the Plaka area of Athens (including Monastiraki Square, Ermou Street, the Ancient Agora and the Metropolitan Cathedral) and wanting to save the Acropolis for its own post, I decided to give you this Top Ten list of other places to see in Athens!!

1. Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

* The colossal and enormous Temple of Olympian Zeus, dedicated to the King of all Olympian gods, was once the largest temple in all of Greece. While the building of the temple started in the 6th Century BC, it wasn’t finished until 638 years later, in the 2nd Century AD. Talk about procrastination!!  

Temple of Olympian Zeus

* Sadly, the temple only enjoyed a Century of great patronage for the cult of Zeus as it was sacked by barbarians in the 3rd Century AD and never rebuilt. Later on its parts were quarried off to supply the other great works that were being built around Athens. At least we still have a few pillars standing to remind us of how grand this place once was. Talk about tough love!! 

Temple of Olympian Zeus

* Some of the random ruins in the area around the Temple of Zeus. This place looks very ideal for walking dogs and going on picnics!

2. Hadrian’s Arch

Hadrian Arch

* Looking rather plain next to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Constantine’s Arch in Rome, Hadrian’s Arch was built back in 131 AD, on what was then the major road in Ancient Athens, to honor the Roman Emperor Hadrian. While being a well-liked Emperor to his subjects in Europe, Hadrian was responsible for suppressing the Jewish Bar-Kokhba Revolt, which led to the Jews being kicked out of Palestine, their synagogues burned and practices prohibited, which in turn facilitated the Jewish Diaspora leaving the Jews to settle all over Europe, Northern Africa and the rest of the Middle East.

3. Panathinaikos Stadium

Panathinaikos Stadium

* The next stop on our city tour is the famous Panathinaikos Stadium, which has the distinction of being the site of the first modern Olympic Games hosted by Athens back in 1896.

Panathinaikos Stadium

* Built entirely of white marble (the only one in the world in fact), the Stadium is currently also used to host homecoming celebrations of victorious Greek athletes (especially that of its football team), as a venue for musical performances and most recently, as a host for the archery competition and the finish line of the marathon in the 2004 Olympic Games.

Panathinaikos Stadium

* One of the many “couple” pics taken by our splendid chaperone, Khamil. Here I am rocking my Greek colors and Monicca looking lovely as always.

4. The Hellenic Parliament and Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square

* This very-beige looking building, situated at the head of Athens’ main town square, Syntagma Square, is the home of the Hellenic Parliament, orParliament of Greece, and is thus the center of government for the whole country. This also makes it the most popular location for mass protests and rallies for them freedom loving Greeks.

5. The National Academy

National Academy of Athens

* One of the coolest-looking neoclassical buildings in all of Athens is the National Academy of Athens. With a lineage dating back to the Academy of Plato(established back in 347 BC, DAMN!), the Academy is the highest research establishment in Greece, with branches dedicated to the national sciences, letters and arts, and moral and political sciences.

6. The University of Athens

University of Athens

* This rather plain and official looking building is actually the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. I was very pleased to add the University of Athens hoodie to my awesome collection of "renowned Euro-university" Starbucks-wear.

7. The National Library

National Library of Greece

* The National Library of Greece, shown here with the winding staircase similar to the ones in snooty homes, is famous for cointaing the largest collection of ancient Greek manuscripts in the world, of which it has over 4,500. Other items of interest include a codex of the Gospel attributed to the Evangelist Matthewand a first edition publication of Homer’s epics. (Homer the poet not Homer Simpson, doh!)

8. Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House Athens

* The Old Parliament House housed (pun intended) the Greek Parliament from 1875 to 1932 and is now the National Historical Museum. The Museum contains items pertaining to the Ottoman reign, World War II, Greek revolution and rise of the modern Greek state. The epic statue on the square in front of the building is that of General Theodoros Kalokotronis, leader of Greek forces during its War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire (presently Turkey).

9. A Greek Rally

Greek Rally

* Being the birthplace of democracy and all that, Greece is also home to a people who really enjoy their freedoms of speech and assembly! Here’s a random Greek rally at the corner of some building.

10. The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

* A hour-long journey away from Athens, past the homes of the rich and famous along the gorgeous coastline of Attica lies Cape Sounion, home of the Temple of Poseidon (constructed in 444BC). Also famous for its romantic sunset amidst the beautiful scenery along with the actual temple dedicated to the Greek god of the sea, Sounion is one of the most popular day-excursions for tourists from Athens.

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

* Everything in Greece has a legend, and this one states that this is the spot where King Aegeus commited suicide by leaping off the cliff after mistakenly believing that his son, Theseus (the Minotaur killer), had perished on his quest. His death thus gave the sea its name, the Aegean Sea.

BONUS: Monastiraki Square’s hidden gems

Hadrian Library

* Finally back at Monastiraki to end the day with shopping, I came by this very cool looking column formation, which turned out to be the ruins of Hadrian’s Library! It’s precisely because of this that I fell in love with Athens. You can be walking around, admiring the scenery, walk past a random stone, and then find out later that the stone is apparently the legendary rock of so and so!!


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