Athens is definitely a city that does not sleep and for which the night is just a different screen in which it shows all its beauty and dynamism. In fact, it can be said that the true heart of the city lies in the famous Syntagma square, known stage of political demonstrations, but above all, a space where people meet the city, a space full of life, where we always found found lots of people and the ideal place for a break in one of the many terraces and kiosks that line in the center of the square.
Next to Syntagma Square is the Greek parliament, a solemn building, which is not notable for its architecture, but rather for the varied works and small sculptures that adorn it at the base. Right in the middle of this whole set is one of the main tourist references of the city: The soldiers guarding the parliament, or in the correct designation, Evzones (Read more here). In fact it is impossible for anyone to be indifferent to the historical costume of these soldiers, a costume that has its origin in the historical Greek mountain divisions that fought against the Ottomans. One of the most interesting moments is the exchange of soldiers, but unfortunately we were not able to see it, but the change of position between the two guards happens 10 minutes before the hour, 24 hours a day. It definitely worths visiting this place!
The transport system in Athens is very good, and from Syntagma square you can easily get to any other place in the city using the metro (24h ticket costs € 4) or even the taxi, which we used frequently with values around 5/6 €. From here we have chosen to visit a monument that is a true tribute to sport in its purest form: The old Panathenaic stadium. When we get to the stadium, the well-preserved stone structure that was the location for the first editions of the Olympic Games, at that time more focused on the athletic events and called Panathenaic Games, is fully visible. The entrance ticket costs € 8, however, it is entirely possible to see the monument well through the entrance grids without acquiring the ticket.
Between the stadium and Syntagma square are the national gardens, a very interesting park for those who, like us, want to escape from the heat and enjoy the fresh air of nature. The park has a considerable size, it is free and there are many green spaces for picnics. In fact, we saw huge families enjoying the green spaces and enjoying the day with their children.
Our day ended with a visit to the temple of Zeus, located near the Pnathenaic stadium, a mere 5 min walk . On this route is also the Zappeion building, a building of neoclassical style that is surrounded by magnificent gardens and fountains of water, that surely deserves a detour for better observation. Upon arriving at the temple, the ticket is € 7, leaving the ruins in the center of a large open space where there were old houses and other smaller temples. It is well worth the visit, since this, along with the acropolis, is one of the biggest structures that remain of the Greek civilization in the whole city.
We ended this small virtual tour of our stay in Athens. In the next post we will talk about the island of Crete, our destination after we visited this magnificent city.