The Great Archaeological Walk of Athens
In Attica the past “converses” with the present, world heritage monuments meet modern lifestyle, and walking around the public space is a unique experience for the visitor. In Attica the traces of ancient Greek civilisation are to be found not only in the museum displays. You see them everywhere around you, scattered as they are across Attica’s mainland and islands.
Here you will enjoy one of the most beautiful urban walks in the world, the great archaeological walk of Athens, which connects the most significant monuments and archaeological sites of the city: the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Pnyx, the Areopagus, the Stoa of Attalus, the Temple of Hephaestus, Kerameikos Cemetery and others.
In the historical centre of Athens, around the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis, the “Great Walk” is the enchanting route that includes the paved streets Dionyssiou Areopagitou, Makrygianni, Apostolou Pavlou, Adrianou and Ermou. It is a walk of culture and recreation for the citizens and visitors of Attica, crossing historical districts of Athens that boast a unique atmosphere and beauty.
It is one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods of Athens city centre. It begins in Dionyssiou Areopagitou street and extends as far as Syggrou Avenue, in the area of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It hosts the new Acropolis Museum and features a multitude of impressive neoclassical buildings and interwar apartment buildings, true architectural masterpieces. Next to elegant wine bars and luxurious hotels, you will find stunning two-storey neoclassical residences and low-height houses with red tile roofs that create an exceptionally interesting contrast.
Further to the north, we reach the historical neighbourhood of Plaka, in the shadow of the Acropolis. Walking this part of the city is in itself a truly unique experience. The steps lead you to some of the most important archaeological sites of Athens: the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora with the Stoa of Attalus and the Areopagus, Hadrian’s Library, the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes and others. The eye meets Byzantine monuments and churches, old Athenian houses, neoclassical residences and mansions. Strolling along the oldest district of Athens is a time travel that takes you back a hundred years ago, when almost the entire city looked like today’s Plaka.
Between Plaka and the Acropolis we come across the neighbourhood of Anafiotika at the foothills of the Sacred Rock that brings an air of… the Cyclades islands into Attica. The district was constructed and inhabited in the 1840s by builders and craftsmen from Anafi and other islands of the Cyclades, who came to Athens to work in the rebuilding of the capital city. Tiered whitewashed front yards, light blue window shutters and narrow alleys give this neighbourhood in the centre of Athens a unique island-like atmosphere and offer visitors an extraordinary experience.
Philopappos Hill or Hill of the Muses is situated opposite the Acropolis and communicates with the surrounding hills of the Pnyx and the Nymphs, where the National Observatory of Athens is located, through a network of paths. It is not only a green lung and important natural reserve in the centre of Athens, but also rich in archaeological finds. The hill hosts the most significant work of landscape architecture in modern Athens, the «Acropolis-Philopappos Project” by architect Dimitris Pikionis, which has been designated a monument of world architectural heritage.
Overall, the project features the development of two paths: one that ascends to the Sacred Rock and the other that descends the hill, creating two viewpoints overlooking the Parthenon: the church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris and the “Andiro”, the raised terrace on Philoppapos Hill, where the route ends. Stone-paved routes, pedestrian walkways and paths, resting places, viewpoints and green spaces featuring indigenous plants compose a modern version of Attica’s stunning landscape.
The project of unifying and highlighting the archaeological sites of Athens is still in progress and the Great Walk is being extended, with more routes that connect historical districts, archaeological treasures and modern markets. The city centre is being revamped, becoming more attractive, combining sightseeing, shopping and entertainment for the visitors of Attica. With the development and operation of business “clusters”, theme markets are delimited and jointly offer everything the visitor of Attica looks for in a modern metropolis.
The areas that are thus being highlighted are: Kolonaki (clothing and shoes retailers, jewellery, brand fashion stores, restaurants and bars, museums, architecture), Omonoia (specialty food & gastronomy stores, historical and cultural spaces, iconic buildings of the city), Plaka & Monastiraki (folk art stores, tavernas and recreation, historical and cultural spaces), Exarchia (books & music, gastronomy and entertainment, significant academic foundations, cultural spaces), the Commercial Triangle (leather goods & shoes retailers, restaurants, historical buildings and monuments, cultural spaces), Patission Street/Kypseli (clothing & shoes stores, eateries, entertainment, academic foundations, important cultural spaces).
In the near future, Attica will boast the most beautiful urban walk in Europe, with a total length of 6.8 kilometres, and the historical centre of Athens will soon be an oasis of culture, urban landscape and recreation!