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Welcome to Athens

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Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, and the capital city of Greece. It is a city that is made up of ancient monuments that dates back to the fifth century BC and is home to almost 4 million residents. It is in many ways the birthplace of Western Civilisation due to its political and cultural achievements in the 4th and 5th centuries; it has been the home to many great thinkers, such as Plato and Socrates. Athens has so much to offer travellers that one could spend a month there and still not see everything. The city itself can be a little difficult to negotiate without a car, especially the great hill that leads to the Acropolis. You can book your car hire in Athens with Car Rentals Network now using our online comparison and booking system.

 

Athens - The Facts

 

  • The origins of Athens date back to 3000BC - it is one of the oldest cities in the world

  • The very first Olympic Games were held in Olympia in 776BC but Athens had to wait to host the modern version (as we now know them) of the Olympic Games in 1896

  • Athens was built on 7 hills, much like Rome, Istanbul or...Sheffield. The tallest of these 7 hills in Athens is Lykavittos at 277m. You can take a pleasant stroll up its many, many steps or ascend in style by using the funicular railway

  • Athens was the first cultural capital of Europe, a title it claimed in 1985

  • The famous Parthenon temple was built in 438BC and over the years as had many uses, as well as being an ancient temple it was once used as a mosque and for ammunition storage

 

Athens - A short Guide

 

Athens is a huge city, made up of age old stone monuments that mingle effortlessly with a contemporary nightlife that includes the modern tavernas and stylish bars of the newly generated Psirri and Gazi districts, the alternative bars in Exarhia and the up-market lounge-bars of Kolonaki. The most inspiring of all the attractions in Athens, is the Acropolis. It sits above the concrete jungle that is modern Athens, and is home to 3 impressive temples from the 5th century BC. The parthenon is incredible, supported by more than 40 columns - the building is considered to be classical architecture’s most influential building.

 

Elsewhere the Agora, which was once the city’s main marketplace as well as the cultural heart of Athens, is now a grazing land made up of Olive trees and fallen columns. It’s a romantic spot to visit and walk, taking in the overgrown land amongst the remnants of what was once one of the busiest spots in the city. In ancient times, you could come here to listen to the likes of Socrates and St. Paul make their public speeches. There’s also a museum near the entrance which is a nice place to browse ancient finds that have been found in the area.

 

If you’re a museum buff, then the National Archaeological Museum is a must see. It displays the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek art such as the Poseidon of Cape Artemision, Agamemnon’s golden death mask and some amazing examples of intricately crafted Greek jewellery and weaponry. Elsewhere there is the Benaki Museum which is housed in a neo-classical building that comes complete with a roof terrace so you can have a scenic coffee break in-between taking in the centuries worth of Greek Art as well as jewellery, costumes and furniture. Must see’s here include the 2nd Century BC Thessaly Treasure - a horde of gold jewellery set with precious stones, and two early El Greco paintings. There’s a fascinating museum in the Kerameikos cemetery which has a plethora of interesting artefacts, whilst the cemetery itself is home to the Dipylon Gate.

 

If you’d like to see the city from a different perspective, then you should head to the peak of Mount Lycabettus, which is the highest point in Athens. At the top you’ll find a whitewashed church and a restaurant and cafe - which you’ll need if you decide to climb to the peak by foot - navigating through pinewoods and sub-tropical vegetation. But the main attraction at the top of Mount Lycabettus is the incredible view out over Athens. There’s also the Lycabettus Theatre that in the past has seen such diverse acts as the Scorpions, Groove Armada and Patti Smith grace its stage. This is possibly one of the most unique music venues in the world - each show is accompanied by a magical light show which dazzles amongst the ancient ruins. Afterwards, a night time stroll down the slops taking in the incredible nighttime views is a rewarding venture.

 

If you plan on doing a lot of walking whilst in Athens, then it’s a good idea to visit the city during the slightly milder months of autumn or spring when the sun isn’t as tiring as in the summer. That way, you’ll find exploring the monuments that are spread all over the city a little easier. If you’re planning on doing a little shopping when in the city, then you’ll be rewarded with a mix of high street favourites like Zara and Marks and Spencer in the pedestrian only Ermou, and designer stores such as Armani and Versace that line the luxury streets of Kolonaki. There are some fantastic restaurants in Athens, from fine seafood at Varoulko to Orizontes whose main draw is in the fact that it’s perched atop Mount Lycabettus - offering incredible views over Athens - utterly perfect for a romantic dinner with a loved on.

 

If you’re travelling directly to Athens, then you’ll no doubt fly directly to the Athens International Airport. It’s located 30 kilometres out of the city centre near Spata, it’s is modern and comes complete with everything you might expect of such a large airport - including restaurants, cafe’s, rental kisoks and shops. It’s a very busy airport with millions of people passing through its doors each year, so if you are planning on a car rental for your trip, then it’s advisable to book in advance using our car rental comparison tool. That way you can avoid the queues as well as getting the cheapest car rental deals in Athens.

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