A walk around the Acropolis

The Acropolis, the most famous attraction in Greece, is a landmark in the history of humanity, and a designated World Heritage landmark. This symbol of Ancient Athens and the civilisation that thrived here in the fifth century BC constitutes an architectural masterpiece of the era.

The lives of the ancient Athenians centred around the Acropolis, the focus of their sports, arts, politics, gastronomy, and commercial and religious life. The greatest philosophers and orators of the age lived, taught and created here.

Today, we’ll walk in the footsteps of these renowned figures, past inspiring archaeological discoveries, and along the stone paths and hills they once walked. Welcome to the Acropolis of Athens.

Route | Estimated time: 5-7 hours

Our visit to the Acropolis and environs will begin at the Thission electric subway station, past the antique bazaar and the crowded cafés and restaurants, immersed in colours, sounds and aromas. After five minutes we reach the entrance of the archaeological site of the ancient agora, the marketplace. Here we admire the Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hyphaestus.

We return to Thission and follow Agion Asomaton Street, turning left at Apostolou Pavlou Street. Walking past the tall trees and tables of the local cafés, we soon reach the Herakleidon Street plateau. This area, a magnet for the young and the hip, buzzes with life. If you’re into modern art, a visit to the Herakleidon Museum is a ‘must’.

We continue our stroll up Apostolou Pavlou Street, and above us to our left we can see the Sacred Rock, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Parthenon. A few steps further and we see the “Thission” Summer Cinema, a picturesque throw-back to the past and a summer entertainment spot for modern-day Athenians. Just above the cinema we see the Church of St. Marina and the dome of the Athens Observatory.

Continuing, we pass the cinema and at Eginitou Street, we find the entrance to the archaeological site of Pnyka, the birthplace of democracy. Admission is free, so be sure to stop by.

After Pnyka, we follow the path to the left, towards Philopappos hill, where the stunning Church of St. Dimitrios the Bombardier greets us. We continue up the path, walking through the dense grove until we reach Socrates’ Prison, the cave where, legend has it, the philosopher drank his fatal dose of hemlock.

Leaving Socrates’ Prison, we continue up the hill to our final destination, the Monument of Philopappos, where we’re met with an awe-inspiring panoramic view of Athens. Spread before us is the capital of Greece, from the sea to the northern districts, and from the western districts to Mount Hymettus at the east. In summer, one can see Athens’ most spectacular sunsets from here.

We now walk in the opposite direction, towards the Church of the Bombardier, taking the stone-paved street to the right of the church. We cross the main pedestrian street towards the entrance to the Acropolis and head straight for the Areopagus. Climbing the steps we come to the top of the rock dedicated to the god Ares, the seat of the Supreme Court of Ancient Athens. From here we have another panoramic view of Athens, with the sites we visited earlier visible below.

We are now ready to start our climb up the Acropolis Hill. We leave Areopagus behind us, buy a ticket at the entrance of the archaeological site and step into the distant past. Slowly climbing the marble stairs, we pass through the Propylaia and the Erectheion, and finally find ourselves gazing at the Parthenon. Though our walk is nearing its best point, the magic of the past has not yet been entirely revealed.

We now move down the hill to the Herod Atticus Odeon, not only a modern cultural venue, but also a place of paramount historical, architectural and artistic importance. Leaving the Odeon, we take the Dionysiou Areopagiti pedestrian street to the left, and see significant neoclassical buildings such as the Meropeion Foundation, the Elias Lalaounis jewellery museum on Karyatidon Street, and the consulates of many countries.

We arrive at the New Acropolis Museum, housing one of the world’s important modern collections. The museum also affords a chance to shop for gifts, or enjoy a coffee or a meal. As we leave the museum, just to our left we see the majestic Weiller Building, with its rugged stone masonry, built in a German, neo-Romantic style.

Our last stop, directly across from the entrance of the New Acropolis Museum, is the archaeological site of the Theatre of Dionysus, where ancient Greek theatre was taught during celebrations of the Great Dionysia. Since such a beautiful walk should always end with a beautiful memory; select one of the many cafés here on Dionyssiou Areopagiti or Makrygianni Street to relax and ponder what you’ve just seen. The Acropolis Metro Station is just a step away, so have a pleasant trip back.

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