If you are in need of a vacation and you are one those people that like to be kept on their toes, Athens should be your vacation destination. This is a city that does not wait for you; you either keep up or get left behind. The roads, the people, the animals, and just everyday life here is moving at a fast pace. Even though the city seems to always be going, there are many locations that allow you to slow down and take in the beauty and history of the city. Places that are worth a visit in Athens if you want to escape its fast paced way of living are its different museums and ruins and a place high in the sky that I will tell you about that allows you to see this remarkable city.
One place you must visit is the Acropolis. It is the crown jewel of Greece and arguably all of Europe. The temples located here are the most influential buildings in Western architecture. The Acropolis was constructed during the Golden Ages of Athens during the late 5th-century. The majority of the temples built were to honor the goddess Athena. If you are a person with time on your hands, you should visit each spot. But if time is of the essence, I recommend visiting the museum, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
The New Acropolis Museum is built over an early Christian settlement that you can see below the glass floors. Many of the sculptures are displayed inside the museum as they would be in their respective locations. All the stories you have heard about ancient Greek are given pictures once you visit this museum. The glass windows at the museum allow you to view the Acropolis from inside. The Parthenon is one of the structures you can glance at and then actually walk and see it.
The Parthenon was the embodiment of ancient Greek Classical art. It is a temple with 46 columns on the outside standing at the top of the Acropolis dedicated to Athena. The Parthenon is the most important structure on the Sacred Rock. This marble creation is a huge part of Greek history that should be visited if you come to Athens. After visiting this place during the day, I would suggest finding a spot in which you can see it at nighttime when the lights are shining on it. A good place to see this while enjoying a meal is at a restaurant in the center of Athens called Strofi. When the lights hit it as the sun is setting, it is easily one the best experiences you can have.
I suggest a visit to the four column temple resting on a rocky outcrop with a missing roof, the Temple of Athena Nike. I recommend a visit here solely because of the influence it has had in our culture today. One of the biggest clothing and athletic chains is based on this temple. It was coincidence that I happened to be wearing Nike apparel as I was learning about this temple. This temple was placed to protect the rock where it was most vulnerable to enemy attack. When visiting the Temple of Athena Nike or the Parthenon, I recommend going early because it will be crowded with tour groups and you will also miss some of the midday heat.
After you give a day to visiting the Acropolis, you must reserve a day to visiting the ruins and museums in Delphi. The only downfall about visiting Delphi is the 3-hour trip. But the trip is worth it and if you’re lucky, maybe you will receive a prophecy from the Oracle. The Oracle of Delphi is one of the most fascinating pieces of Greek history because of their believed ability of telling the future. There are countless stories and movies that involve the Oracle of Delphi, one being the movie 300, that you can relate to. The Temple of Apollo and the Theatre are the hot spots at this location.
The Temple of Apollo is used for marking the center of the world. Apollo was able to win dominion over the Oracle, which resulted in many rulers sending offerings to hear prophecies from the Oracle. The view from this temple allows you to look out into the city and see what Apollo was able to see daily. Like many of the temples found in Greece, they are located at a higher elevation than other things.
The theatre found here which is soon about to be reopened is a must see. This theatre will place you into ancient times if you allow your mind to wonder. If you were able to sit in the theatre, you could gaze at the entire sanctuary below and the valley beyond. The theatre is one of the best-preserved theatres of ancient Greece. While watching whatever is taking place at the theatre, you are able to take in the beautiful scenery that Delphi has to offer.
Even though I believe the sites to be much more of an experience than the museum, I would suggest viewing the museum before heading outside. Visiting the museum allows you to have an understanding of what you’re taking in if you have not studied much Greek history. The museum also has actual pieces from the different sites that had to be removed because they were falling apart. So you will be able to see authentic pieces from the different sites. If it is possible for you to have a tour guide, it is a good investment. Not only do they know more about the sites, they can offer you things that you cannot get if you just read if off the internet or visit the museum by yourself. If a woman guide named Penny is available; do not let her get away! She knows her stuff! Museums can be a struggle since they tend to blend together, but if you mix them with the ruins, they complete one another.
A must visit if you want to escape the everyday life of Athens is Lycabettus Hill. When you’re up on the hill, away from dog poop and urine smells, you can really see how beautiful and modernized a city Athens is. Out of all the spots I visited in Athens, I found this to be the most peaceful location in the city. It is not heavily filled with tourists and it is up high away from the sounds of the city. When you’re walking through the city filled with pee on about every sidewalk, you are not able to experience its true beauty since you are concerned with the smell. I keep mentioning urine and poop because I had an unfortunate incident while walking the streets. Coincidently enough, it happened as I was making my journey to Lycabettus Hill. My sandal managed to find some dog poop on the bottom of it which did not make for a pleasant walk for myself or group members. But once I was away from the city streets and enjoying a bird’s eye view of Athens, things were better.
Athens is a place that everyone should have the chance to visit once in their lifetime. Not only do you get to experience life in a different place; you are able to connect with ancient Greek history. The different stories that you hear or read about as a child, teenager, or adult all make more sense once you visit Athens. From its prolific historical sites to the pee on every sidewalk, Athens is a place filled with opportunity to encounter different things. So if you’re looking for a break from your normal life, or wanting to gather knowledge on Greek history, Athens is the place to visit!