Hiking in Athens Greece

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So you thought that visiting Athens, Greece is all about historical monuments, museums and a dazzling nightlife? Well, think again. Athens has some natural surroundings that would astound you all within reach from your accommodation. In fact, everywhere you look there is a hill or mountain you can climb. Next time you’re in town, pack some hiking boots as well, they might come in handy. After all, this country is famous for its natural beauty.

If you open any map of the city, you will notice the mountainous regions surrounding Athens. Attika, where Athens is located, is made up of mountains, valleys and ridges. The city lies nestled in the central plain; also known as the Attica Basin. Four mountains look over Athens. To the west, lies Mount Aegaleon and to the east mount Hymettus. The other two mountains overshadow the northern suburbs of the city. Mount Penteli to the northeast and Mount Parnitha to the north. Of the four, Mount Parnitha is the tallest standing at over 1400 metres, which has also been declared a national park.

Mount Parnithais a breathtaking mountain range comprised of thick pine wood forest and wildlife. It is only 35 km out of the city and can be reached by car or public transport. It is one of the popular winter destinations for Athenians as well as visitors. In the summer, you can explore the mountain on bike and in the winter in boots or even skis. Its plentiful paths will lead you to its many caves, brooks and breathtaking views of the city below. Be prepared to meet a huge variety of flowers, bird species and foxes. If you are lucky, you might even meet some of the deer that call this place home.

Mount Pendeli, on the other hand, may be lacking in forest after some devastating fires stripped most of the mountain bare. However, it is a mountain of great historical importance; it is where the ancient Athenians mined the marble for the Parthenon. It is also home to the famous Davelis cave; a place few people dare visit. Shrouded in mystery and superstition, it is known for strange sightings, sounds and a creature that haunts deep within. Taking a trek up this mountain and be rewarded by the remains of its ancient past and panoramic view of the city, the mountain range and the sea.

Mind you, you do not have to go that far for a good hike. Right in the centre of the city lies Mount Lykabettus. This is basically a hill made of limestone that protrudes out of the heart of the concrete jungle. It has a rich green landscape at the base with a white top; a perfect contrast to the backdrop of the sparkling blue sky. The climb is quite challenging and few are willing to take the risk, but once on top, the view will astound you. Lay back and enjoy a coffee at the cafe as you watch the sunset behind the Acropolis.

Before you decide to make your way back to your room, take in the view a little more. Watch the Parthenon and the rest of the city light up. Look around you and notice the shadows of the mountains as they retire their glory for the night. Finally, walk through the many local neighborhoods and breathe in the faint floral scents of their blooming gardens.

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Athens Syntagma Square – Athens City Center

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The heart of present day Athens is fashionable Plateia Syntagmatos which lies below the imposing mass of the Old Royal Palace. Plateia Syntagmatos, which translated means Constitution Square, commemorates the constitution granted by Othon I in a proclamation from the balcony of the Palace on the night of 3rd September 1843.

The OLD ROYAL PALACE, which since 1935 has housed the Parliament, was designed as the residence of King Othon, at his own and his father’s expense, by the Bavarian architect Friedrich Garther and built between 1834 and 1842.

At the foot of the west facade of the Old Palace is a large square bounded on three sides by walls on which, in evocation of the ancient custom of hanging the victor’s shield in the temple, are set bronze shields flanked by the names of the many victories won by Hellenic arms since National Independence. Built into the center of the retaining wall is the TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, a relief impressive in its simplicity, which depicts a dying hoplite. This work is by the sculptors Constantinos Demetriades (1881-1943) and Phokion Rok (1886-1942), and was unveiled on 25th March (National Independence Day) 1932.

South of Plateia Syntagmatos lies Leophoros Amalias, which is so called after King Othon’s consort, who, with the horticulturist Friedrich Schmiedt, created the delectable retreat adjoining the Old Royal Palace that we know today as the NATIONAL GARDEN. The National Garden is open daily from sunrise to sunset and the shade of its multitudinous trees provides a cool and peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

On the east side of the Garden are the busts of Capodistrias and Jean-Gabriel Eynard, a great Swiss philhellene who donated large sums of money to the cause of Greek Independence. Both these busts are the work of the famous Pelopennesian loannis Kossos. Other busts in the National Garden are those of three leading Greek poets of the 19th century: Dionysius Solomos of Zante, who is considered the national poet; Aristotle Valaoritis, also a native of the Ionian Islands, and Jean Moreas, which was the nom-de-plume of loannis Papadiamantopoulos, an Athenian who lived the greater part of his life in Paris.

Contiguous to the National Garden is a large public park called ZAPPEION after the brothers Evangelos and Constantinos Zappas of Epirus, who donated it with its splendid exhibition hall to the Nation. On either side of the entrance to the exhibition hall stand statues of the donors, that of Evangelos by loannis Kossos; that of Constantinos by Georgios Vroutos. Among the many pieces of statuary by famous sculptors is the bust of loannis Varvakis by the master Leonidas Drossis. Varvakis is best known as the founder of the renowned boys’ school, the Lykeion Varvakeion, for the endowment of which he bequeathed his huge fortune. Other busts include those of Constantinos Paparrighopoulos, the greatest historian of Modern Greece, of Stephan Dragoumis, the most prominent political personality during the Macedonian struggle (1903-1909), and of George Souris, the leading satirical poet of his times.

A short distance from Plateia Syntagmatos, on the right of Odhos Panepistimiou, we come to a Renaissance edifice of Italian inspiration. This is the NUMISMATIC MUSEUM, which contains a rich collection of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, cameos and seal-stones. Built by the noted architect Erst Ziller in 1878, it was the private residence of the illustrious archaeologist Henry Schliemann.

Still keeping on the right-hand side we come to a five-storeyed building situated at the corner of this street and Odhos Omirou. Here are the premises of the ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, built entirely in marble. The classical motif of the magnificent bronze door with its richly painted and gilded surround and the ceiling coffered in a delicate blue and gold deserve the greatest admiration. Besides creating the first National Archaeological Museum the Society, which was founded in 1837, has excavated sites all over the country.

Immediately after the Archaeological Society’s premises stands the ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL. As the Latin inscription shows, the cathedral was begun in 1853, completed in 1887, and dedicated to St. Dionysius Areopagite. It is a three-naved basilica designed by Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), Bavarian Court architect and master-plan ner of modern Athens, and built under the direction of Lysander Kaftanzoglou (1811-1885), the outstanding Greek architect of the period.

Adjoining this edifice is the OPHTHALMIC HOSPITAL, a Byzantine-style construction designed by Theophil Hansen (1813-1891, the younger of two Danish brothers, both distinguished architects), in 1847, and completed by Lysander Kaftanzoglou four years later.

Just beyond the Ophthalmic Hospital is an ensemble of neo-Classical buildings: on the right the Academy, in the middle the University, and on the left the National Library. All three were gifts to the Nation from wealthy patriots; they are the most sumptuous monuments of Modern Greece.

The HELLENIC ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, a meticulously accurate reproduction of an edifice of the Classical period erected in the graceful Ionic order by Theophil Hansen at the expense of Baron Georgios Sinas, was begun in 1859 and completed in 1875.

The nine sculptured pediments and all the statues before the Academy are the work of the Athenian master Leonidas Drossis. The relief in the central pediment, which portrays The Birth of Athena, and the two gigantic statues of Apollo (right) and Athena (left) standing on tall columns, one on either side of the principal facade, are particularly impressive. The seated figures flanking the short flight of steps leading to the portico represent the philosophers Socrates (right) and Plato (left).

The portico consists of a double row of columns. The coffered ceiling is painted in bright blue and gold and the door opening into the vestibule has a surround of classical inspiration executed in brilliant color and gilding. A statue of the donor Baron Sinas stands on the right of the vestibule, while the interior of the Academy Hall is decorated with eight superb panels by the Oldenburg painter Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1916), depicting scenes from the Myth of Prometheus.

Visitors to the University will be surprised to see a statue of William Ewart Gladstone, standing on the right of the lawn surrounding the forecourt. The dedication on the plinth of this statue immortalizes the prominent part played by the great British statesman in the deliverance of Epirus and Thessaly from Turkish oppression, and their return to the Motherland in 1881.

The statues at the top of the steps leading to the entrance commemorate the great philologist Korais (1748-1833), ardent patriot and “father” of the Modern Greek literary language (right), and Capodistrias (1776-1831), first Head of State (1827-1831) and one of the major architects of modern Greece.

The UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS was founded in 1836, and was initially established in a large house which Schaubert and Cleanthes had built in Plaka (the old quarter of Athens) when they first came to Athens in 1831. This building, at the corner of Odhos Prytaneiou and Odhos Tholou, is still standing and is converted into a museum devoted to the earlier history of the University. The present University buildings were designed by Christian Hansen and the foundation stone laid by King Othon in 1839. The central building was ready for use in 1842, but owing to lack of funds, the buildings as a whole were not completed until 1850.

A colonnade with a handsome portico in Pentelic marble fronted by two Ionic columns with gilded capitals, and a coffered ceiling in blue and gold in harmony with the classical motif of a painted and gilded door surround, gives access to the interior of the main building.

On the upper part of the wall a fresco by the celebrated Austrian painter Karl Rahl (1812-1865) shows the resurgence of arts and sciences under King Othon. Statues of two national heroes, Patriarch Grigorios and the martyred poet Rhigas Pheraios, stand respectively at the right and left angles of the facade.

The NATIONAL LIBRARY, which is built of Pentelic marble on a foundation of poros, consists of a central building in the form of a Doric temple, with two wings. It was planned by Theophil Hansen in 1887 and the work executed under the supervision of Ernst Ziller, at the expense of the Valianos brothers of Cephalonia in 1901. A statue of one of these munificent benefactors, Panayis, stands outside the central building, and those of his two brothers Andreas and Maris inside the entrance hall. All three statues are the work of Georgios Bonanos.

The eminent philologist Andreas Moustoxidis on the island of Aegina formed the nucleus of the Library in 1827. The books were brought to Athens in 1833 and stored in the beautiful church of St. Eleutherius (the “Little Cathedral”). In 1842 they were removed to the first floor of the central building of the University – which had just been completed – where they remained until the National Library was inaugurated in 1903.

In recent years many fine nineteenth century buildings have been demolished and unimaginative concrete structures built on the sites, so that with the exception of the Ionian Bank of Greece on one corner of Odhos Pezmazoglou and the former buildings of the Arsakeion College for Girls (founded in 1836) on the other corner over the Doric portico, built at the expense of Apostolos Arsakis of Epirus in 1848, nothing remains of the splendid buildings that once lined both sides of this street of central Athens.

Continuing along Odhos Panepistimiou for a short distance, we turn right into Odhos Patission. A few hundred meters further down, on our right, stands a construction in the finest Pentelic marble, in which two educational institutions of University status are established: The POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Naval, Chemical and Mining Engineering, Architecture, and Topography) and the SUPERIOR SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Engraving, etc.). Two wings in the Doric order serve as propylaea to the central building of two storeys, the lower erected in the Doric order, the upper in Ionic. This edifice is the work of Lysander Kaftanzoglou, who built it between 1862 and 1880, and owes its name -METSOVION POLYTECHNEION- to the fact that the principal donors Nicholaos Stournaras, Michalis Tositsas and his widow Helen, were natives of Metsovo in Epirus.

Excellent Hospitals in Athens, Greece

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Greece has hospitals that belong to both the private and the public sector.  Athens  also has a balance mix of both private and public hospitals that are well equipped to cater to any kind of medical issues. The public hospitals in Greece are managed and controlled by The National Health Service.

The Diagnostic and Therapeutic  Centre  of  Athens , Hygeia has been functional since 1970.It is a private hospital founded by eminent Greek physicians to provide world class and modern care to its patients. The Hygeia Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center provides health and medical services throughout Greece and in some other countries too. There are 22 surgery clinics, 11 pathology clinics, 6 diagnostics centers, 8 rehabilitation centers and10 hospitals abroad.The hospital as an Organ Transplant Unit and an ICU that is equipped to deal with all kind of medical problems. The hospital also has ambulance services and their ICU is equipped with the requisite support and diagnostic facilities to ensure proper treatment to its patients. The hospital has the facility for Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) to help fight blood diseases. It was the first hospital in Greece to introduce the concept of one day surgery.

Kyanous Stavros is a privately owned hospital and diagnostic centre. The centrally located hospital was set up in the year 1963 and is one of the finest hospitals in  Athens . The hospital has the latest technology and is in the process of continually modernizing its operations and departments. It is a multidisciplinary hospital that has 24 hours emergency room that caters to the requirements of foreigners and tourists. There are ambulances services available that are equipped to provide safe and quick transportation throughout Greece if required. The hospital has a range of accommodation facilities to suit the requirements and pockets of a variety of patients. The hospital accepts the majority of insurance companies whether private or public. The hospital provides treatment to all the citizens who might approach it regardless of the fact whether they have insurance or not.

One of the prominent hospitals in  Athens  is the General Hospital of Attica KAT. The hospital with its modern medical and technological equipment and a well trained staff is a reliable health care centre. The hospital address is 2 Nikis street in Kifissia and it is easily accessible through the Electric Railway or the Underground Metro. The hospital has a pathology division, an orthopedics department that caters to all kinds of orthopedic problems, a general surgery division and also specialized surgeries department.

IASO General is a hospital with state of art facilities and services. The hospital has an ICU that is world class and is known to be amongst the best in the country. It has a Coronary Care Unit and was the first in the country to have a dedicated unit for diagnosis and treatment of heart ailments. IASO General is also equipped with an up-to-date accident and emergency department. There are 10 highly sophisticated surgical units and an angina pectoris unit in the hospital. It also has internal medicine, surgery and diagnostic divisions. The surgeries department has facilities for thoracic, plastic, cardiac, orthopedic and general surgeries. The address for the hospital is 264 Mesogeion Ave. 155 62 Holargos and the contact no is 210 650 2000.

Helena Venizelou founded Marika Eliadi Maternity Hospital in 1926. At that time there was an acute shortage for good hospitals and trained staff for maternal care in the city. The hospital was set up with an aim to provide advanced natal care not only to entire  Athens  but to the entire country. Now the hospital provides specialized maternity care and also other services that cover secondary and tertian health requirements. The hospital also has an internal medicine department, endocrinology department, cardiology department and a hepato-gastroenterology unit.

If you need medical help, the next time you are in  Athens . Take a look at these facilities.

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Philadelphia- the New Athens

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A city not only known as the city of American freedom or the birthplace of America but also known for the revolutionary role it has played since centuries. Welcome to Philadelphia, a life-size city in Pennsylvania and the birthplace of America. Philadelphia is often referred as the New Athens, the name first suggested for the work done by the famous native of the city Benjamin Franklin. Rightly so as Benjamin Franklin was responsible for the country’s first insurance company, the city’s first public library and the first fire department; Franklin also played a great role in establishing the city’s Postal system as well as inventing new conveniences such as bifocal lenses and the Franklin stove.

Philadelphia or “Philly” best known for its role in the American Revolutionary War saw the convening of the Continental Congress as well as the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Shortly after the nation’s inception took place in Philadelphia, it was named the nation’s capital between 1790 and 1800 before it was relocated to its present Washington D.C. Philly is now a big metropolitan which accommodates around 6.2 million inhabitants from almost all nationalities.

One of the unique factors about Philadelphia is that it is the most walkable city in the US and this factor is well used for the better part of it. Signs like “Walk! Philadelphia” well compliments the cities uniqueness and at the same time guide visitors toward shopping, dining, gallery perusing, cultural enjoyment, local must-sees and public transportation should it need to be taken. The city has two very walkable shopping districts as well as the walkable Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is home to many museums, including the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art that was made famous in the Rocky series of movies.

Its geographic location makes Philadelphia accessible by all modes of transport. The Philadelphia International airport is a busy one and you can find regular flights to almost all the locations. You can even enjoy the road trip to Philadelphia. Moreover as a visitor you can find hotels for every budget and if by any chance you are on a tight budget you can definitely find a suitable place in the Philadelphia districts. There is a place for every budget in Philadelphia. Some of the regular facilities offered by the hotels in Philadelphia include air conditioned rooms, car rentals, airport pick and drop facilities, swimming pools, health clubs, spas, restaurants etc. The city provides a unique nightlife to all and that definitely means that you can take a ballet in the nation’s oldest grand opera house as well as knock back a Pabst and a shot of swill for three bucks. In all Philadelphia makes a great city for all and if you haven’t taken a note of that you better mark it in your next holiday destination.

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The Old Temple of Athena Polias

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Farther along the Sacred Way we notice the foundations of an ancient temple in front of the Erechtheion. On account of its length of 100 Attic feet, this edifice was wrongly believed for centuries to be the Hecatompedon, until identified as the Old Temple of Athena Polias (Athena of the City). This is the most ancient building uncovered on the Acropolis; it was originally a simple sanctuary dating from the remotest times. The modest Doric temple of limestone was restored in the sixth century BC by Peisistratus, who embellished it by adding a colonnade and pediments depicting a Battle of the Giants, while its opisthodomos served as the Athenian Treasury.

In this heap of stones, enclosed by a railing, we can distinguish two bases in poros for the support of wooden pillars belonging to the Mycenaean megaron (palace) of the first King of   Athens . This was the center of the public life of the citadel and extended as far as the north wall of the Erechtheion. A flight of rock-cut steps built in Pelasgic times connected the megaron and the Acropolis with the lower city. Later, in historical times, on these Mycenaean vestiges was raised the above mentioned Temple of Athena Polias, a rectangle of 32.80 m. long, that is 100 feet, whence its name of “Hecatompedon” (temple of a hundred feet). This temple was rebuilt after it was destructed during the persian invasion but it appears that after the completion of the Erechtheion it became useless and an encumbrance, and was finally destroyed in 406 BC.

Opposite the ruins of the Old Temple of Athena Polias and close to the seventh column of the Parthenon, there is an inscription which reads: This spot was consecrated, after being indicated by an oracle, to the Fruitful Earth. Exactly on this spot was a statue of Earth beseeching Zeus to send rain. Nearby is a circular base, which formerly bore the statues of Conon and his son Timotheus and farther along is the base of a statue dedicated to Hermolycos, son of Deitrephes.

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Take a Stroll at Athens Greece

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A  city  that was built by gods for gods with a long glorious history, and a  city  that has been worshipped by its people is nothing less than  Athens , Greece.  Athens  is said to be the birthplace of democracy and civilization. The place where many great philosophers were born and where the culture began. In such a city you can wonder in its alleys and feel the ancient spirit. Did you know that Acropolis is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the modern world? The better way to discover all secret paths of  Athens  is to take some  Athens  private tours and live this lifetime experience.

Whatever your taste is,  Athens , Greece has something special that will draw you back time and time again. When in  Athens  you have to do lots of activities such as visiting the archaeological monuments, the famous sites, and taking a stroll to Plaka, Monastiraki, Thisseion and Psyrri. Have the opportunity to admire the neoclassical buildings in the small alleys the well-preserved architecture in many beautiful buildings. Athens   city  truly has something for everyone.

Take a private walking tour around ancient sites of Acropolis museum, Plaka, Monastiraki and Philopappos hill. In  Athens   city , you will admire The Greek Parliament, the  Athens  Academy and University and so many interesting sites. Do not miss also visiting the museums which hosts unique treasures of greek cultural inheritance such as the Museum of Acropolis, the Archaeological Museum etc. The exhibits in greek museums are always interesting and have something to add to your knowledge. This information from the past may be sound strange but is the truth and the history of Greeks can’t be learn by once.

The sun in  Athens   city  is shining all year around so you don’t have to worry about the climate, which is considered one of the best in Europe. So, embark on a journey full of positive energy and joy for the upcoming sun and the very interesting thing you will see and visit. Ask locals for some traditional taverns with local folklore dancers and local wine.

Last but not least is  Athens  nightlife. Your choices here are innumerable as long as you want to entertain yourselves by numerous ways in this vibrant city. Bars, clubs, traditional taverns and the famous “bouzoukia” are always there to entertain you.

All in all,  Athens  is a divine  city  with lots of choices and places to have fun making your trip memorable.

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Secret Italy – City Breaks On the Road Less Travelled

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You probably already know the top five cities of Italy: Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice and Naples. But if you’re looking for a different side of Italy, city breaks in the less visited areas may be just the ticket.

Ranging in size, these places offer a great glimpse into authentic Italian life, perhaps unlike the hurried pace and bustling crowds you’ll find in Rome, Florence or Milan. Here are five other places to consider visiting in Italy – city breaks on the road less travelled!

Turin

Also known as Torino, the home of the Fiat automobile plant and the Shroud of Turin is an interesting yet often overlooked area in Italy. City breaks in the Piedmont region can be wonderfully relaxing here, nestled between the foothills of the Alps and the Po River. It’s an excellent base to stay in between exploring the nearby hills and vineyards.

With its Baroque architecture (extending to its elegant bars and cafes), arcaded shopping promenades and smaller museums of Italy, Turin offers a relaxed ambience. You can wander around Piazza Castello and Palazzo Reale, which feature lovely fountains and are ringed by grand buildings. Then, take a walk through Il Quadrilatero – a maze of meandering back streets with wonderful markets and charming churches. You’ll also want to visit the Borgo Mediovale, a recreation of a medieval village by the river, complete with a castle.

Perugia

Umbria is one of the country’s more overlooked areas, often overshadowed by its more popular neighbour, Tuscany. But if you’re looking for an interesting place to relax without forgoing sophistication in Italy, city breaks in Perugia – Umbria’s largest city, located almost at the very centre of the country – are ideal.

A lively walled medieval hill city with historic buildings, busy squares, and modern shops, Perugia is home to a university as well as an Italian language centre catering to foreigners. From here you can also explore other Umbrian attractions such as Assisi, Spello, and Gubbio.

Brescia

For many visitors, the Lombardy region usually means Milan, but if you’re looking for something a little quieter, you may want to go east to the small city of Brescia – often overlooked in the excitement over the country’s fashion centre. Located between Lakes Garda and Iseo, Brescia is the gateway to the Valcamonica – a UNESCO site with the largest collection of prehistoric rock art in Europe. This is also the place where the annual Mille Miglia car race begins and ends. Places to see in Brescia include the castle, Roman ruins, Renaissance squares, and a medieval city centre named Piazza della Vittoria – where the famous car race starts.

Padua

Also overshadowed by a more popular neighbour, Padua is a wonderful place to spend a more laidback holiday. This small walled city located between Verona and Venice boasts Europe’s first Botanical Gardens – the Orto Botanico – and is also the home of many frescoes by Giotto.

Lecce

Because of its wealth of Baroque monuments, Lecce is often called the Florence of the south. For those visiting southern Puglia, making Lecce your base offers the advantage of a mild climate, accommodations that is inexpensive compared to other cities, and a -charmingly compact city centre.

There’s definitely more to see than the top four big cities in Italy; the less-visited areas will definitely give you a more complete view of the country in all its beauty.

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A Trip To Historic City Athens

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If we speak of the oldest city with documented history and available evidence of their work, we will probably find no one older than the Greek civilization. There are numerous stories about the various aspects of the country. The capital of the country, Athens, happens to be one of the most glorious cities in the world. It has been established such that it was worshiped by men and Gods alike. It can be said that modern civilization took birth in Greece and Athens played an important part in it.

Athens has been the place of birth of some of the finest minds in the history of mankind. It is actually the birthplace of democracy and sowed the seed of the civilization that we see today. The Acropolis of Athens is one of the most notable structures that has passed through the generations of human beings and still reminds us of the glory and ascension of Athens and Greece. It was proposed as one of the seven modern wonders of earth as well.

A trip to Athens or Greece is nothing less than a trip to the pages of history. The ancient architectures are still present, many of them partially demolished, but still bearing the message from the past. The major construction, such as the Parthenon, which happens to be one of the iconic constructions of Athens, speaks of the rich history and culture of the city. The most interesting part about visiting Greece is that there is no specific attraction within the country. When you are in Athens, you will be able expecting various archaeological and historical museums which will speak about the history of the place and also about the various aspects of their art, culture and lifestyle. What really sets Athens apart from the rest of the world is that, even though there are museums and various other places to visit within the city, the city as a whole is living museums in itself. Numerous constructions and various designs can be found all across the city. They have their own story to tell and add to the pages of history of Athens. Make sure you plan your trip long enough to soak up all of it, or as much as it is possible.

Athens has played an important role not in the medieval times; the city has contribution to the modern world as well. One of the most remarkable of all contributions is the Olympic Games. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in the year 1896. Let us not forget the fact that the English that we speak and the alphabets that we write have major contribution from Greece. It is in fact the Greek alphabets that are in use in English in the modern times. Even the word “alphabet” is combination of the words “alpha” and “beta”, the first two Greek letters. It simply shows ho greatly the Greek civilization influenced the development of the western civilization, art and culture.

While planning a trip to Athens, remember that not all that seems old happens to be old in this city. The medieval style and the contemporary designs were very much in use till much later in time. Even when the new city of Athens was built, the contemporary architectural style was followed.

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Athens – Church of Agioi Theodoroi

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Crossing Odos Dragatsaniou, in the end stands the attractive medieval church of Agioi Theodoroi (St. Theodore), built on the site of a church founded in the ninth century, but in its present form dating from between 1050 and 1075. This small cruciform church with its high narrow dome, multiple roofs that lend it an air of rhythmic grace, narrow mullioned windows and decorated central door surmounted by arches, is a precious gem of eleventh century Byzantine architecture.

The earliest form of Byzantine churches was that of the basilica, a long rectangle divided by two or four ranges of columns into three or five naves. Later, during the 11th and 12th centuries, the plan changed to that of a Greek cross within a square, dominated by a dome constructed in brick and often combined with one or more subsidiary domes. The exterior walls consist of square-cut stone with thin brick surrounds and are enriched by bands of decoration, carving and the use of color. Few of these churches were large. Apart from St. Theodore, typical examples are the churches of Kapnikarea and St. Eleutherios.

The glory of the Byzantine church lies not so much in the architecture as to the ethereal beauty of its mosaics or frescoes. From the center of the principal dome Christ looks down upon the faithful and below Him are the Apostles. The Virgin appears in the half dome, while around the sanctuary are symbolic figures and emblems connected with the Eucharist. On the West wall opposite the chancel is the Last Judgement. Colored marble and similar material in the lower walls add to the resplendent beauty of the interior.

The liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church requires separation of the altar from the laity. The altar is placed in a chancel screened from the congregation by the iconostasis, i.e. the screen dividing the sanctuary from the church proper. This is adorned with pictures of Christ, the Virgin, and Saints, and generally has three doors, the curtains of which are lowered while Mass is being celebrated. The chancel is flanked by the Prothesis, where the bread and wine for the Eucharist are prepared, and by the Diakonikon, or vestry.

In St. Theodore one can also notice the influence of the East on Byzantine art, which was prominent in the period from the mid-9th to mid-11th centuries, when Byzantine artists used a variety of Oriental motifs in their designs. It is probable that the design of pseudo-kufic characters (the script perfected during the 7th century by calligraphers in the city of Kafa, in present-day Iraq) that decorate the terracotta panel below the windows of the facade was inspired by the work of Arab craftsmen.

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Athens Hotel Guide

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 Athens  is a  city  which arguably has one of the richest histories in the world. It was the home and center of the world empire of Greece, and is still the capital of the country today. If you are looking for a lively  city  rich in culture and history, there are few places better to visit than  Athens .

 Athens  is a  city  riddled with mythology. The city is very ancient, and was the center of learning and Greek culture. Many of the concepts and ideas formulated in ancient Greece are what we today call “western civilization.” Today the city is home to nearly three and a half million people.

 Athens  is named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and the best time to visit is during the late summer or fall. Winter is also a good time to visit, as there will be few tourists and the weather will be good with the exception of a bit of rain.

 Athens  is a  city  full of parks, gardens, and cafes. While the hustle of the  city  might remind you of New York, you will find that  Athens  has a charm of its own. There are many landmarks for tourists to see, and you don’t have to travel far to see all of them.

The first place you may want to visit is the Acropolis, the ancient part of  Athens  field with beautiful temples. You will be able to fully appreciate ancient Greek architecture after viewing the Acropolis with your own eyes.

The Agora market is another area of  Athens  you will need to visit. In antiquity this was the center of the commercial and political activity in the city. This was once the place where Socrates gave his speeches, and is also the place where St. Paul searched for potential adherents to Christianity.

When it comes to dining, Athenians love to eat out. You will find a lot of fresh produce while touring the city, and there are plenty of places to eat traditional Greek cuisine. You will want to try the country salad and eggplant mixed with mince meat.

 Athens  is no longer the cheap  city  it used to be. Frugal backpackers can expect to spend 40 euros per day by hiking and staying in hostels. Having your own room and eating at hotels will cost you about 80 euros a day, and if you really want to enjoy yourself you can expect to spend up to 120 euros daily. No matter what budget you’re on, traveling to  Athens  is the trip of a lifetime.

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