Athens: Pretty Much Everything but the Acropolis in a Day

My first full day in Athens was to be interrupted mid day with a change of accommodation, so I decided to leave the Acropolis until the next day and do as many of the other main sites as I could.

First stop was a quick look at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens which was very close to my hotel.

20170620_07585120170620_07590120170620_07593820170620_08000620170620_080036

Next was my first major site, the Ancient Agora. It sits at the foot of the Acropolis and was once the centre of social and political activity. The site has a rebuilt Stoa of Attalos, which houses a small museum. I used the Rick Steves app to guide me through this site and found it really helpful. And kicked myself for forgetting to use it at the National Archaeological Museum the day before.

20170620_08165820170620_08201220170620_08224920170620_08241720170620_08340720170620_08404720170620_084307

The excavated part of the Agora contains extensive ruins of a once busy town centre. It is spectacularly overlooked by both the Acropolis and the Temple of Hephaestus.

IMGP8402IMGP8403IMGP8404IMGP8405IMGP8413

IMGP8446IMGP8447

The Temple of Hephaestus can be accessed from the Ancient Agora site, included in the ticket. I should say that there is a combined ticket available covering several of the ancient sites in Athens and is well worth purchasing if you are visiting a few. Starting at the Ancient Agora is a good idea to avoid the queues for tickets at the Acropolis ticket booth too. Last tip on tickets is that they are half price for students of overseas universities, so if you are one, take your student card with you. That applies to many of the sites all over Greece.

The temple is well preserved and quite an imposing site.

IMGP8417IMGP8419IMGP8431IMGP8433

Near the exit of the Agora is a lovely little church, the Church of the Holy Apostles. one of the oldest Byzantine churches in Athens. Remarkably preserved.

20170620_09484720170620_09510720170620_09511620170620_09513020170620_09513220170620_095152

Not far from the Ancient Agora is the Roman Agora, which was the centre of civil activity in Roman times. It has the Gate of Athena Archegetis at one end and Tower of the Winds at the other. The area is smaller than the Ancient Agora and takes less time to visit.

20170620_09595320170620_10003720170620_10010020170620_100457IMGP8449IMGP8454

From the Roman Agora it is another short walk to Hadrian’s Library. It was a centre of learning in Roman times. Another smallish site that doesn’t take too long to visit.

20170620_10273120170620_10290120170620_10345420170620_10351120170620_103550IMGP8465IMGP8467

On my way back to my hotel to move to my new accommodation I had a better look inside the Cathedral. It was quite beautiful.

20170620_10545820170620_10553120170620_10553420170620_105838

All of this accomplished by noon, I moved into my apartment for my final three nights in Greece. It was a beautiful, spacious, well lit and well equipped apartment in a great location in Plaka.

20170620_12024920170620_120320

My new apartment was just a short walk from my next destination, Hadrian’s Arch. It is a rather imposing arch that overlooks a busy city street. Old meets new.

20170620_132415IMGP8471

From there it was a short walk to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. A truly magnificent site with towering columns, under the watchful gaze of the Acropolis.

IMGP8476IMGP8477IMGP8487IMGP8490 20170620_13535520170620_133130

Another short walk away is the Panathenaic Stadium, the home of the modern Olympic Games. Made entirely of marble it is still used regularly and on the day I was there packing up was happening after a concert the night before.

IMGP8502IMGP8506IMGP8507IMGP8515IMGP8529

From there it was a simple stroll through the National Gardens to Syntagma Square to watch the changing of the guard, which happens every 60 minutes.

20170620_15130220170620_151418IMGP8532IMGP853320170620_153008IMGP854220170620_160146IMGP8534IMGP8538IMGP8541I probably should have stopped at this point, my legs had already had a big day but I decided I had one more site in me, and it was still only late afternoon. I walked from Syntagma, down past Monastiraki to Kerameikos, an ancient city and cemetery. It is an extensive site and you could spend hours there. It is also still being actively excavated. It seemed so Greek to me that there was a corner of the site bordered by a house and its back garden. Athens really is a living ancient city.

20170620_17383620170620_17392220170620_17464320170620_17484520170620_17502720170620_17504120170620_17532820170620_18114820170620_18124420170620_18141120170620_18162420170620_181726

Kerameikos also has a museum which highlights the history of burials in ancient Athens. It interested me to read that there came a time when the elaborate nature of burial sculpture was ordered to be toned down due to the cost. I figured it was austerity Ancient Greek style. History truly repeats.

Kerameikos is a site that would be lauded anywhere else in the world, but competing with the other ancient sites in Athens it gets many fewer tourists. Well worth a visit though.

From there I walked back around the Acropolis. It was early evening, street sellers had their stalls set up, early diners were seated at restaurants and it was just a lovely summer evening in Athens.

20170620_18460220170620_18465420170620_18475620170620_184910 I was heading in the direction of Filopappou Hill, so decided to keep walking and head up there for the sunset. I did so without having mapped out my plan ahead of time, and there are lots of paths to take on the hill so I pretty much just wandered until I found good vantage points. My legs weren’t enamoured with me at this stage. The Church of St. Demetrius Loumbardiaris is an early stop on the walk.

20170620_19004920170620_19020720170620_190217IMGP8543IMGP8544IMGP8545IMGP8549

With the sun still high in the sky and my energy levels flagging I decided not to wait for sunset but to head back. People were out walking in large numbers. I chanced upon some live music outside the Acropolis Museum and sat down for a while. Often it is the unscheduled stops that linger most. After that I found food, grilled haloumi and zucchini balls, and ended a very full day. Athens had not disappointed and with all of the amazing views of the Acropolis I had during the day I was very excited about visiting it the next morning.

20170620_19574720170620_20501220170620_205633

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: