(Photo by: Lucretious)
Caption: The Parthenon is the most recognized and well-preserved ruin in Acropolis.
7 Most Life-Changing Attractions in Athens
Greece, and Athens in particular, is one of the most popular European travel destinations, bar none! It’s really no wonder why: Athens is a modern city that remains lost in ancient times. No matter where you are in Athens, there are ruins ready to take viewers back several millennia to the times of gods, goddesses, and excessive riches and lifestyles far beyond our imaginations. Couple that with Athens’ incredible Mediterranean climate, gloriously blue Sea of Crete, and super-yummy food, and you’ve just planned a life-changing vacation sure to please the entire family. What attractions should you see? All of them! But here are seven that you cannot miss no matter what.
When people think of Greece, they think of the Acropolis. The Acropolis has to be the most popular and photographed attraction in Athens, and why shouldn’t it be? This primarily fifth-century-B.C. citadel is seated on flat bedrock above Athens, overlooking the modern-day city in all of its splendor and glory. The Acropolis changed the lives of the ancient Greeks, who built the citadel believing it to be blessed and securing them from the rest of the world. Today, it is home to a ton of ancient must-see ruins. What’s there? I’m going to break the key ones down for you, so keep reading!
I’ll start with the Acropolis’ biggie, the Parthenon. Of all of the monuments still standing in Acropolis, the Parthenon looks the best – probably because it was built to honor Athena, the Greek goddess of, well, just about everything! Even today, the Greeks consider the Parthenon to be the protector of Athens; they treasure Athena’s shrine. Aside from the Greeks’ love of the Parthenon, the world must take note, too. When it comes to historical monuments, the Parthenon is the biggest worldwide. Those who visit it are awed by the remains of this beautiful structure, especially when it’s lit at night.
The Propylaea Gate
If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting any ancient ruin site, you know that ancient civilizations were big on gates. Gates protected ancient cities, and the Proplylaea, “gateway” when translated, was built to protect the Acropolis. The ancient Greeks began building Propylaea in 437 B.C., but they never actually finished it. They built enough of it, however, to impress nations throughout the world. Both Berlin and Munich, Germany, have gateways in their cities inspired by the Acropolis’ Propylaea. Now that’s one life-changing gate, if you ask me.
The Erechtheion Temple
Athena was, and still is, big in Greece. And she didn’t just have the Parthenon built for her. Nope! The Erechtheion Temple, or what’s left of it, in Acropolis was also constructed to honor the favored Greek goddess. The Erechtheion Temple was also built in honor of Poseidon because he’s pretty big in Greece, too! Unlike Propylaea, the Erechtheion Temple was completed, with construction beginning in 421 B.C. and ending in 406 B.C. It’s truly life-changing to visit this tribute to the mythology so rich in ancient Greek culture. I want to be Athena; how about you?
The Temple of Athena Nike
No, I’m not talking athletic footwear here! When facing their archenemy the Spartans, the ancient Greeks turned to Athena, attached “nike” to her name, which means “victory,” and made her the goddess of victory. She was busy and had many, many roles, apparently! From 427 B.C. to 424 B.C., the ancient Greeks built this temple in honor of her, and the citizens worshiped her at the site, certain that Athena Nike would bring about a victorious outcome to the Peloponnesian War.
The Academy of Athens
Philosophy fans must visit the Academy of Athens while in Greece. Let’s face it – philosophy has changed all of our lives, and this neoclassic academy was built in the 19th century and inspired by the father of philosophy himself, Plato. After all, it was Plato who began Greek education as far back as 387 B.C. The Academy of Athens is a newer building but a must-see landmark that welcomes numerous visitors annually. It’s even been minted onto a commemorative coin already.
The National Garden
Perhaps the most life-changing attraction in Athens is the National Garden. I know. You just threw your hands up in the air in stunned shock and said aloud, “Are you kidding me, Theresa? A garden?” Well, here’s the thing. You’ve just hiked up Acropolis Hill and then traversed the Acropolis ruins; you’ve just visited the Academy of Athens, which is comprised of several buildings and research centers. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired! I can think of no better life-changing experience than relaxing in Athens’ cool and peaceful National Garden, a glorious oasis behind the Greek Parliament. And don’t worry – there are plenty of ancient ruins to see there, too!