Athens Travel Blog

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Athens. The city with the most glorious history in the world, a city worshipped by gods and people, a magical city. The enchanting capital of Greece has always been a birthplace for civilization. It is the city where democracy was born and most of the wise men of ancient times. The most important civilization of ancient world flourished in Athens and relives through some of the world's most formidable edifices.
Athens is situated in the prefecture of Attica and extends to the peninsula that reaches up to Central Greece.
It is surrounded by mountains Ymmytos, Pendeli and Parnitha, northwards and eastwards, and the Saronic gulf southwards and westwards. The sun is shining over Athens all year round. The climate is one of the best in Europe, with mild winters and very hot summers, ideal for tourism. It is located just a few kilometers from the port of Piraeus, the central commercial port of the capital, and the shores of southern Attica.
Who hasn't heard of the Acropolis? The Acropolis hill (acro - edge, polis - city), so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important site of the city and constitutes one of the most recognizable monuments of the world.
It is the most significant reference point of ancient Greek culture, as well as the symbol of the city of Athens itself as it represent the apogee of artistic development in the 5th century BC. During Perikles' Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architectural masterpieces of the period were erected on its ground.
The Propylaea are the monumental entrances to the sacred area dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of the city. Built by the architect Mnesicles with Pentelic marble, their design was avant-garde. To the south-west of the Propylaea, on a rampart protecting the main entrance to the Acropolis, is the Ionian temple of Apteros Nike, which is now being restored.
The first habitation remains on the Acropolis date from the Neolithic period.
Over the centuries, the rocky hill was continuously used either as a cult place or as a residential area or both. The inscriptions on the numerous and precious offerings to the sanctuary of Athena (marble korai, bronze and clay statuettes and vases) indicate that the cult of the city's patron goddess was established as early as the Archaic period (650-480 B.C.).
National Achaeological Museum. Along with the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Musuem, and London's British Museum, this is one of the great world museums. Although the focus is narrower than at its rivals--the Greek world, naturally--there is perhaps as great or greater a concentration of "A-list" pieces of great world art in Athens' NAM than in anyh other musuem in the world. From the Cycladic "Harp player" to the gold "mask of Agamemnon" to the bronze Zeus/Poseidon, this collection rewards even the casually intitated with an incredible collection of outstanding pieces and a lifetime of study for scholars of Greek art.
Although a visitor will be tempted to rush to the museum early in a visit to Greece, my advice is to wait until the end and make it a capstone of one's experience. I have taken students to Greece since 2000 and few have left the NAM with anything short of awe and astonishment. Do not miss this Athenian gem and world treasure on your visit to Greece.

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photo by: Johnpro