The appeal of Athens really is all tied up in its ancient history and ruined monuments. The monuments of Athens Greece certainly seem all the more impressive if you can use a little imagination to picture. Dedicated to the King of the Gods, the ancient ruined Temple of Olympian Zeus is one such structure and was constructed over a period spanning some eight centuries. The Acropolis of Athens forms another magnificent monument in Athens to history. This enormous flat-topped rock covers an area of more than 7.5 acres of land, crowning the city from its elevated setting and being clearly visible from afar. Both the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus, amongst the many remains of landmarks on the Acropolis, really do stand out from the crowd. Sightseers across the world who come to visit these historical monuments in Athens Greece may also like to check out Hadrian’s Arch, the Ramnous Archaeological Site and the Hellenic Parliament building, where the Changing of the Guard ceremony each hour is worth looking out for, as is the heavily guarded Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Read here some the important monuments in Athens:
List of Monuments in Athens City
1. Acropolis of Athens
Whilst everyone has heard of this one of the major monuments in Athens and landmark that sits authoritatively above the city. There is some misunderstanding about what the Acropolis actually is. The definition of Acropolis is a high, fortified citadel. Therefore, the entire complex on the hillside that can be apprehended on the winding pathway up to the Parthenon- the majestic temple dedicated to the worship of the goddess Athena- is part of the Acropolis. This means that we should take our good time on our ascending journey, admiring the harmonious theatres of Herodion and Dionysus, the Erechtheion, the sanctuary of Zeus Polieus and the smaller temple remains to Athena Nike.
Once you have ascended to the top amongst the Parthenon, you’ll find views of Athens and the surrounding Attica landscape that surpass all others. Its historic perspective makes it one of the ancient monuments in Athens. It’s advisable not to climb to the summit in the midday sun as it can be tiresome, and to really allow yourself to feel the atmospheric energy of the site, which still commands attention over 2,500 years after it’s conception.
2. Ancient Agora of Athens
This is a huge and famous monument in Athens that mustn’t be missed. The central hub of the urban culture is in the marketplace, as in today’s time and this is precisely what the Ancient Agora was all about. A huge marketplace that served as the epicenter of cultural life, providing places for trade, games, education, debate, worship, and gatherings. Including the Temple of Hephaestus, the Altar of the twelve gods, the Odeon of Agrippa, the Library of Pantainos and the Bema speakers platform nowadays, we can see the remnants of the places where such activities held. The site is also well managed with many varieties of local trees and flowers. As the site is fairly open, it can get quite hot in the summer season months, so it’s good advice to bring a hat and water. There’s also a museum located inside the Stoa of Attalos.
3. Hadrian’s Library
This historical site and iconic monuments in Athens is located just to the side of Monastiraki square. During the height of the Roman Empire, it is a strong reminder of the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s reign in Athens. Although you’ll no longer be able to find books in there, you will see the sites of where once stood the scroll room on the east side, with reading rooms and lecture halls at the west. The library is conducted in a typical Roman forum style design. As time went on, there have been three Byzantine churches at the site, with remains still viewable. There is also a small museum.
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4. Temple of Olympian Zeus
Between the neighborhoods of Acropolis and Syntagma, and across the main avenue, you will first see the site of Hadrian’s Arch, standing like a majestic portal through the trees and into the fields surrounding the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is one of the popular monuments in Athens. Although it was originally in production for hundreds of years, it was finally finished by Emperor Hadrian during the Roman occupation of the city. At its zenith, it was composed of 104 huge columns, but the site now stands with just 16. It also once housed a great statue in reverence to Zeus, the Greek god, and head of the Olympians. Now the site can be admired whilst standing in the great green field and feeling the breeze of the same winds that would have cooled ancient revelers on a warm day.
5. Kerameikos Cemetery
Located in downtown Athens, a short walk away from larger attractions such as the Acropolis, Kerameikos cemetery is a must-visit historical site. The area was named after the potters who originally lived there thousands of years ago, yet the ancient site was only discovered in 1861 when archeologists were excavating around the area. The site includes the remains of a city wall built in 479 BC and the ruins of a road that once was used in the Panathenaic Procession.
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6. Aristotle’s Lyceum
When passing the National Gardens, next to the Byzantine museum and heading past the Greek Parliament, you will find the Lyceum of Aristotle. A list of the most visited monuments in Athens is incomplete without it. The great philosopher of ancient times, that fundamentally influenced Western thought, subsequent scholars of Christianity and was the teacher of Alexander the Great. Although the Lykeio or Lyceum is the equivalent of high school in modern Greek society, for Aristotle it was a place of life education and training for a select few. It once composed of a library, a teaching area, a public lecture square and a gymnasium for sporting training. Although a lot was destroyed by the Roman invasion of Athens, and what remains are largely ruined excavations, it’s worth bringing your imagination and seeing through into a tranquil grove off the main road, that once harbored the greatest minds of the city.
7. Roman Agora
Many centuries ago, shoppers may have rubbed shoulders with the likes of Julius Caesar and Augustus since they helped fund the Roman Agora. It had a purely commercial character, contrary to the Ancient Agora which it replaced. This ancient Greek monument is Athens was built during the waning years of the first century BC when Greece was part of the Roman Empire. The 12-meter Tower of Wind, just east of the Roman market, features reliefs of the eight winds with a sundial underneath each.
It is said that a visit to the Parthenon in Athens is essential. This amazing monument in Athens and the historic ruin was built in 447 BC. The temple was built in homage to Athena and the original saw the Parthenon as a solid building rather than the airy ruins that are left today. A visit to the whole Acropolis area is one of the more expensive things to do in Athens and the hike up the hill demands serious commitment (as well as sensible shoes and plenty of water). However, once you reach the top you’ll be delighted that you made the journey. You can’t help but feel inspired and moved by the weight of so much beauty and history while enjoying striking views down to the sea.
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9. Temple of Athena Nike
The Temple of Athena Nike is a smaller temple dedicated to the goddess of victory. This historic monument in Athens is set on the Acropolis and was built in 420 BC. The elegant columns with fluted grooves in homage to the feminine elements of the goddess, built-in the Ionic order. A continuous frieze around the Temple depicts victorious narratives. It was designed by the architect Kallikrates and is a beautiful example of designs from the High Classical Period.
There’s something indescribably graceful about the monuments in Athens. It has been standing in a prominent spot on the Acropolis since 420 BC. Athena was the goddess of war and wisdom. Monastiraki is the Greek word for victory. Ancient Greeks prayed for victory in a war against Sparta here at this temple. The temple was destroyed in the 17th century during a war between the Venetians and the Turks but was rebuilt.
11. The Erechtheion
The Erechtheion also is known as or Erechtheum was built between 421 and 407 BC. It is nestled on the northern side of the Acropolis in Athens. The temple was built by architect Mnesicles and it’s named after a shrine dedicated to Athenian hero Erichthonius. On its creation, it was dedicated to both the Goddess Athena Polias and the God Poseidon Erechtheus, who believed defender of the city. The temple is one of the most famous monuments in Athens thanks to its southern porch which features six caryatids – sculpted female figures that serve as columns.
12. Plato’s Academy
Plato’s Academy is counted in one of the top monuments in Athens. A little further out than the city center, but an absolute must for a scholar of philosophy, is the Academy of Plato. Take the metro to Metaxourgeio or the suburban railway to the stop ‘Athens’ and either walk or take a bus line 51 to Palaio Terma and the Academy of Plato. Again, the Roman empire didn’t take kindly to the site and it was razed, leaving little of the buildings and gymnasium left. Nonetheless, it’s still worth it for both the bright and restorative park away from the bustle of the city, the museum there and to truly see the birthplace of organized Western philosophy.
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13. Theatre of Dionysus
Won’t want to miss the Theatre of Dionysus Travelers who are mad about theatre. This is one of the oldest theatres in Greece. Most famous ancient Greek comedies and tragedies performed on the stage here. The theatre is used to be a temple built in the sixth century BC and is dedicated to Dionysus, the god of merriment and wine. The theatre could seat 17,000 people out into a cliff on the Acropolis. It has been continuously remodeled over the centuries. It is counted in one of the famous ancient Greek monuments in Athens. Usually credited as the birthplace of European theatre and the best views of the Theatre of Dionysus can be seen from higher up on the Acropolis.
14. Museum of Cycladic Art
What started out in the 1960s as two people acquiring artifacts associated with Greece’s Cyclades Islands resulted in a world-class collection of Cycladic art. The Museum of Cycladic Art opened in 1986 featuring more than 3,000 artifacts and figures created between 3300 and 1100 BC on the Aegean Sea archipelago. Some of the marble figurines are lifelike in size. The statues feature nude people in an abstract or simple style and are said to have influenced 20th-century artists such as Modigliani and Brancusi. Some artifacts are in groups such as heroes and gods to better give a picture of ancient Greek civilization.
15. Byzantine and Christian Museum
The glories of Greek Orthodox Christianity await visitors to the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. The museum is chock full of more than 25,000 artifacts relating to Grecian artifacts from approximately the third to the 20th centuries. It is one of the most popular monuments in Athens. The exhibits include artifacts from regions where Hellenism took root and covers the Byzantium, post-Byzantium, medieval and early Christian periods. Including collections of pottery, manuscripts, fabrics, and frescoes some of its holdings are rare. It has one of the largest collections of Byzantine art in the world. The museum has a collection of marble and limestone slabs and icons.
16. Philopappos Hill
Philopappos Hill isn’t far behind, the Acropolis may be the most famous hill in Athens. It also has an ancient history. Ancient Greeks believed the nine muses lived there and eventually named the hill after a monument to Philopappos, a Roman senator who is considered a benefactor of Athens. At 147 meters (482 feet) high, it offers great views of the Acropolis and the rest of Athens. To the south, the Aegean Sea can be seen on a clear day. Philopappos is buried in a marble tomb in 115 AD at the highest point on the hill.
Anafiotika is one of the top monuments in Athens that is worth visiting. Ruins aren’t the only things to explore in Athens. Below the Acropolis, this picturesque slice of Athens can be found. In the 1860s, Anafiotika was built by workers from the Cyclade island of Anafi on the order of King Otto I. Many of the houses were destroyed in the 1950s for archeological digs, but 45 of the original houses remain. The houses feature Cycladic style architecture, reminiscent of that found on the Greek Islands. The modest houses are still inhabited and many are decorated with colorful bougainvillea.
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