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An Archaeological Tour of Athens

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

While the islands of Greece are more orientated towards sun, sea and sand type holidays, the city of Athens is a treasure trove of archaeological riches that will satisfy both those with a serious fascination and those with a more casual interest.

The Acropolis

Any archaeological tour of Athens must start with the Acropolis. As if its status was not exalted enough already, in 2007 the Acropolis was declared to be the ‘preeminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list’. The Acropolis is a great place to visit whether you are interested in archaeology or not, but those who are will be overjoyed by the profusion of evidence from times gone by.

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens

If the Acropolis whet your appetite then head over to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. This covers the period extending from pre-history through to late-antiquity and has collections from Asia Minor and Egypt as well as an extensive collection of Greek artefacts. Since the museum is so large visitors will be best advised to examine the information available and selecting specific areas of interest rather than try to see everything. If you have no specific tastes then the museum does reward those who simply stroll around and the helpful staff are always on hand to offer advice. The museum is a five minute signposted walk from Viktoria metro station.

The Kerameikos

The Kerameikos area of the city, roughly northwest of the Acropolis, is also very interesting from a historical perspective. It is where the ceramic pots of the ancient city were made, indeed, the name is the etymological root of the word ‘ceramic’. The area also contains the Dipylon Gate and is archaeologically very rich. Visitors should be aware, though, that much of what you can see in the area has been reconstructed. This is a very good way of getting a feel of what the ancient city would have looked like but do not mistake it for original material.

Plaka

Finally, Plaka is an area where archaeology almost seems to come to life. The area hugs the slopes of the Acropolis where houses of various styles have stood since the most ancient times. To maintain the areas charm while balancing this with the needs of local residents, the city authorities have taken the step of banning cars from the area. Many people, while agreeing with this step, were quite amused since cars would be incapable of travelling through most of the streets in the area. Unfortunately the ‘picturesque’ area has become a real tourist hotspot and so visitors may want to think about visiting outside peak times at evenings and not in summer.

This is just a brief sample of the archaeological delights Athens has to offer. If you are interested in seeing more then the staff at the National Archaeological museum or guides around the Acropolis will be more than glad to help.

Photo of Acropolis of Athens, Greece, by jon crel

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer will joce

Will Joce is a recent graduate from the London School of Economics who has a morbid fear of working in an office. As well as travelling and writing he has worked in the UK Parliament and as a press monitor. Refusing to follow advice and get a real job he will soon be beginning a Masters degree at St Petersburg State University

5 responses to “An Archaeological Tour of Athens”

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  1. Ed says:
    June 27th, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    This is a really interesting article, especially the way it comes at the city from a specific angle. I’m not very interested in archaeology but if I’m in Athens any time I will be sure to check these places out

  2. offtoeurope says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 7:18 am

    When I visit Athens I love staying in the Plaka area: it’s close to everything and has great views of the Acropolis and a great feel to it. As mentioned in the article, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is a must see destination.

  3. Thomas Thomas says:
    June 29th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    The article is good, but the photo isn’ t of Acropolis but of the Poseidon Temple at Cape Sunion, some 70 kilometres from Athens. The tample has a great view at the Aegean and there is the site where the (mythological) Aegeas, father of Theseus, fell in the see which took his name (I hope the myth of Theseus is Known).
    Another great archaeological site in Athens is the Thesion and the Ancient Market, just down the Acropolis. Thesion is the most intact ancient temple in Greece.

  4. Islands Of Greece says:
    July 13th, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for sharing such a great post. It is a unique place to visit.You may find very attractive places like quaint churches, pebble strewn paths, archaeological paradise, pristine beaches.The temple of Apollo on the Hill of Kolona is very beautiful. There are beasutiful sandy beaches like Agia Maria and Perdika Beach in Aegina.The Barracuda Bar is very famous and most visited place. For more details refer http://www.journeyidea.com/mystery-islands-of-greece-part-ii/

  5. Jon says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 12:45 am

    As the person who took this photograph I should point out that it is neither the acropolis at Athens nor at Cape Sunion, but the Acropolis at Lindos (on Rhodes), and is so labelled on my Flickr site.It perhaps reveals the problems with searching on tags and not reading the photograph title or caption…


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