Athens was first founded in 508 BC and these days is a massive city with plenty of its past history on view. However, it is also a modern, urban metropolis that is home to more than 3 million people. With such a gigantic city and so many years of history, how do you decide where to go and what to see? Here, we list the must-see attractions of Athens to kick start your first visit as a history buff.
1. Visit the Acropolis
Athens is well known for the Acropolis – a 5th-century BCE citadel on a hilltop overlooking the city. In fact, this historic hilltop consists of a complex of ancient buildings and ruins that just have to be seen. Meanwhile, these include the Parthenon, built by Ictinus, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles and the small temple Athena Nike.
In fact, the Acropolis has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO deems it the “greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.”
2. The Acropolis Museum
To get a better idea of the Acropolis and all it contains, visit the Acropolis Museum. This learned space was opened in 2009 in a modern building close to the ruins. Here, more than 4,000 excavated artifacts can be seen, including pottery, sculptures and friezes.
However, one of the highlights of the museum is a glass floor where you can walk above the ruins of an ancient neighborhood. Moreover, it is well worth your while to end your visit with a meal at the museum’s restaurant, with stunning views of the Parthenon and the city.
3. Other historic sights in Athens
A visit to The Plaka is a must for those interested in the history of Athens. Here, ancient ruins are dotted around a space known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods.” Meanwhile, the Plaka is found under the Acropolis and is the oldest part of the city. Here, you will see Hadrian’s Library, The Roman Agora, Olympieion, Kerameikos and more. However, there is so much to see here, put aside a full day so you don’t miss anything.
4. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens was founded in the 19th century. These days, it houses one of the most extensive collections of ancient Greek artifacts in the world. Here, visitors can explore the five permanent collections of the museum. Moreover, these relate to Sculpture, Metalwork, Prehistoric Antiquities, Vases and Minor Arts, and Egyptian and Cypriot Antiquities.
One fascinating exhibit is a 2,000-year-old analog “computer” discovered in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera. Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the artifact demonstrates remarkable engineering and astronomical precision.
Athens has many other fascinating sites to explore and if you enjoy these attractions, you will certainly be back for more.