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 Islands Information

Place: Athens
Athens Ancient History in a Modern City
by Lee Bennett

Athens Ancient History in a Modern City Athens is a huge metropolis of over 4 million people, around 40% of the Greek population. It is a busy bustling city, where present day apartment blocks, live side by side with the relics and ruins of one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world. An appealing and heady mix of southern European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures, as well as the fiery but friendly Greek temperament, this is a city where every day is lived to its fullest!

Food is a major highlight in Athens, with the accent firmly on lamb, seafood and salads. The Mediterranean's virtually invented the healthy diet, which is now used as a model by many western dieticians. The portions are good, the prices are cheap and the ouzo (Greek spirit) flows freely at every restaurant.

The main reason that most tourists go to Athens of course is the history. There is over 3,000 years of history contained in the relics and buildings of Athens and

Temperatures in Athens can be unbearably hot in the summer reaching over 40 degrees and a crowded city full of traffic and tourists is not the place to be. There is very little in the way of park land in the city. So if you do travel in summer and are in need of a break, then a day trip to one of the islands, some of which are in easy reach, is the only real option. Spring and fall are a better bet, when the climate is more temperate and the streets and historical sights are less busy.

Athens is probably the greatest repository of ancient artifacts and buildings in the western world and these alone are worth a week of anybodies holiday. But they are far from all that Athens has to offer.

Athens must see

The Acropolis: Not one, but several temples including the Parthenon, surely the most famous of the Athens landmarks. Built in the 5th century BC the temple is dedicated to Athena. Although still standing, it has suffered a great deal of damage. Not the least of which occurred during the Turkish occupation, when it was used to store weapons and explosives which then, surprisingly, blew up!

The Parliament Building: An impressive building which until it burned down in 1910 was a royal residence. It was restored and opened in 1935 as the home of the National Assembly. It was built by King Otto in1835.

Rockwave Festival: A large and growing rock festival that lasts for three days every summer featuring around 20 bands over the course of the event. Different music styles are being incorporated from trance to rock.

National Archaeological Museum: This would be worth visiting just for the grandeur of the building itself. But it also holds one of the best archeological museums to be found anywhere. Among the huge collection of ancient Greek artifacts is what may be the first ever computer.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus: The huge size of the original temple can be appreciated from the massive remaining columns. Originally there were 114 of them. The temple was built from 515BC onwards and destroyed in the 4th century AD. Prior to its destruction it contained an immense statue of Zeus made from ivory and gold.

The Olympic Stadium: The stadium holds 75,000 people and was the heart of the 2004 Athens games with a hugely impressive glass and steel roof weighing 17,000 tons held in place (hopefully securely!) by 2 massive arches.

Agora: A huge architectural park filled with statues and ruins of temples and buildings including the, very well preserved 2nd century Temple of Hephaistos. The Stoa Attalou a 2nd century BC building, a new build by Greek standards, contains a collection of ancient artifacts.

The Greeks are a good-natured, lively and occasionally fiery race, who will always give help when they can. Most people in Athens speak at least a little English and most street signs are in both languages. The city on the whole is not expensive and a good holiday can be had for a very reasonable price, especially when compared to northern Europe. There is so much to see in Athens and one of the best ways to make sure you dont miss anything is to book an organized tour.It's best to choose one by recommendation, or through your hotel. The transport system is very good with buses, trains and underground courtesy on the recent games and you should have no problem getting around. A visit to Greece should be an essential part of a trip to Europe The people, the history and the food make a wonderful destination that shouldnt be missed.

About the Author

Lee Bennett