A Day in Athens, Greece Tour (Travel Blog 2021)
We are a travel couple and we are traveling the world! In this travel blog we are in Athens, Greece. We will tell you everything you can do in one day. We suggest saving the Acropolis for it's own day, in our last blog we explored the Acropolis and that alone took 4 hours! We still won't be able to see all that Athens has in one day, but we fit in as much as possible. In this blog we check out the Anafiotika and Kolonaki areas, Panathenaic Stadium, and we'll end the day at the Lycabettus Hill.
The Areopagus is both a small rocky hill, adjacent to the Acropolis, and a Council with certain judicial functions which met there. The word Areopagus means "Hill of Ares," god of war. (Ares was called Mars by the Romans, therefore, "Mars' Hill.") This hill is associated with the spread of Christianity into Greece. Paul spoke of an altar he had seen, with the inscription, "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." It was a god they had no knowledge of, all they knew was that this God had very devout believers who were called Christians. And yet they worshiped this altar they had no idea what God it was. Paul took the liberty to share with them who His God is and many sneered at his teachings, but there were some Among them like Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, who is said to be Athen’s first Bishop.
In the shadows of the Acropolis is the area of Anafiotika. In 1841, King Otto I encouraged workers to come and help transform the new capital of independent Greece into a modern metropolis and refurbish his palace. Carpenters from the island of Anafi came and took over this area building houses and taking advantage of an Ottoman law that said if you could build a structure between sunset and sunrise, the property became yours. They called it Anafiotika, (“little Anafi”) after their island. The neighbourhood was built with white-washed houses built of stone, flat roofs and brightly painted shutters and doors, so you get the feel of being in an island village. There are narrow alleyways that often end in dead ends. As you explore this area, be respectful as these are the homes of locals.
You can see Hadrian's Arch right from a main road! This arch-shaped marble gateway is named for the Roman emperor Hadrian for all of his contributions to the city around 131 AD. It was built after he had become an Athenian citizen. It was built to split the old city of Athens from the new.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
At the time we visited, this area was under construction and we could not go into the site, but we could still see the temple from outside the gates. This was named because this temple was dedicated to Zeus, who was the head of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC. It was finished in the time of Emperor Hadrian, more than 600 years after it was started. It had 104 columns and was known as being the largest temple in Greece.
Changing of the Guards
An experience you don't want to miss is the changing of the guards. We saw online that it only happens at 11:00 am on Sundays, but it actually happens every hour in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near Syntagma Square.
During normal times there may some live music and more of a show, but we still got the full experience. The guards are known for not being able to move until it is time to change to the next set of soldiers. They are also famous for the attire they wear. They dress like the soldiers (klepts) who fought off the Ottomans when they occupied the Greece. The kilts are said to have 400 pleats; one for every year of Ottoman occupation of Greece. They also have pom-poms on their shoes and march in a very dramatic way.
It is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. The stadium was built on the site of a racecourse in 330 BC, primarily for the Panathenaic Games. It was rebuilt in marble in 144 AD and had a capacity of 50,000 seats. After the rise of Christianity in the 4th century it was largely abandoned. The stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the Olympics in 1870 and 1875. After being redone it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896 and was the venue for 4 of the 9 sports.
The name kolonaki literally means little column. There is a single column in the main square that defined this area before it became as popular as it is today. There are museums, churches, and shops. Cafes, bars and restaurants are here. So much to do! We did stop for dinner here, we ended up paying more for dinner than we would have wanted to, so be sure to do your research before hand on dining options!
This is an incredible spot for sunset! You get a view of the entire city of Athens! You can see the water, the mountains, the Acropolis and many of the other ancient sites from on top of this hill! It gets pretty crowded so be sure to get up there early!
Stories say this was once a refuge for wolves. That is why it is named Lycabettus or the hill that is walked with wolves. According to mythology this hill was created when Athena dropped a limestone mountain she was carrying. There is a cable car that you can take to the viewing area but that is in a closed tunnel so you will not get the same views as hiking up.
You can see more of the sights and landmarks of Athens in our travel vlog "One Day in Athens Greece 2021 Travel Vlog (Anafiotika, Panathenaic Stadium, Kolonaki, Lycabettus)" on YouTube. Out now!
Thanks for reading our blog on One Day in Athens!
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