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Walks in Athens



Athens, the cradle of western civilization, has been inhabited continuously since the end of the 4th century BC. Periods of prosperity have alternated with darker chapters in its history but there is no doubt that the most glorious era was the 5th century BC, the famous Golden Age of Athenian democracy.

Modern visitors are fortunate to see the whole of this remarkable history unfolding before their eyes. The project to link up the six main archaeological sites of the city now provides the opportunity to enjoy walking along a traffic-free routes taking in Dionysiou Areopagitou, Apostolou Pavlou and Ermou Streets. The itineraries Athens Info Guides suggests will make a number of detours, taking in Byzantine churches, Ottoman bathhouses, neoclassical mansions and 19the century buildings.

Athens Info Guide strongly advises you to buy the map of Athens you can find on another page of our site. It will make your walks so much easier.

If you are ready, let Athens Info Guide show you the city!

Walk 1Walk 1
Neoclassical Athens

Time: 1 hour.

Itinerary: You start at the parliament building (Syntagma Square) and walk down Panepistimiou Street where you can admire the neo-classical buildings. Then, after passing through the Stoa tou Vivliou, an arcade of bookshops, you arrive at the Stock Exchange, the temple of modern Athens, before concluding your walk at the Byzantine chapel o Agii Theodori behind Klafthmonos Square.

Character: The classical age left such an emphatic mark on the history of the city that, even centuries later when Athens became the capital of the modern Greek state, the Greek and foreign architects drew their inspiration from the glory of classical times in designing the monumental public buildings of the modern city. The imposing neoclassical architecture is a living bond between the past and the present.

Highlights: The parliament building, the Iliou Melathron, Catholic Cathedral, Ophthalmology Clinic, Academy, University, Library, Arsakeio, Byzantine church of Agii Theodori. Top

From Syntagma Square to Klafthmonos Square

Syntagma SquareArrange to meet in front of the Parliament on Syntagma Square Location map where you are at the very heart of Athens. The building is open to visitors, at least, a small part is: the imposing Eleftherios Venizelos gallery which has been laid out as an exhibition space. If an exhibition is on, you can go in merely by showing an ID card and, while you are in the building, you might be able to sneak a look into the debating chamber. If you are interested in rare books or old copies of the Government Gazette, you can visit the library that is open to the public.

Leaving the parliament building behind you, walk down Panepistimiou Street or, more correctly, Eleftheriou Venizelou Street. Although all Atheneans still refer to this busy thoroughfare by its old name, it officially now bares the name of the famous Greek politician.

The Palace of TroyAlmost every building along this street has its own history but there are some which have been landmarks in the architectural evolution of the city. One such building is the Iliou Melathron (Palace of Troy) Location map, the private residence of the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann designed by the architect Ziller. The building can be visited if only to admire the wall paintings inspired by scenes from Pompeii.

After crossing Omirou Street, you’ll find the large marble-faced Catholic Cathedral of Agios Dionysios Location map at your right. It received its final form, a combination of Renaissance, early Christian and neoclassical features, from the Greek architect Lysandros Kaftantzoglou. Note the beautiful stained glass made in workshops in Munich, Germany. You can best sample the atmosphere of devotion if you visit the second service, held in Latin, at 11:00 on Sunday.

The Eye-clinic on Panepistimiou StreetThe next building interrupts the neoclassical dominance on this side of Panepistimiou Street. It is the Ofthalmaitreio or Ophthalmology Clinic, better know as the Eye-clinic, also designed by Lysandros Kaftantzoglou. With its austere stone façade adorned with ceramic decorative features and its arched openings, it represents a unique attempt to create a neo-Byzantine style, an attempt that found no followers however.

On the other side of the street (17,Panepistimiou), you’ll see a modern multi-story building in marble and glass. This is home to the Athens’ largest bookshop, Eleftheroudakis. It has a floor dedicated to travel books and a well organized foreign language section as well as a café on the 6th floor which, when the blinds are not down, offers a superb view of Panepistimiou Street.

The next highlight is the neoclassical trilogy: the Academy, the University and the National Library, representing the ambitious attempts by the 19th century architects to endow the city with monumental new buildings. The first is the Academy Location map, erected in two phases (1859-1863 & 1868-1885) with funds donated by the benefactor Simon Sina and to plans drawn up by the Danish architect Theofilos Hansen. The Academy is regarded as the finest of Hansen’s buildings in Greece.

The Univeristy of AthensNext you come to the University Location map, a severely symmetrical structure built between 1839 and 1864 to plans by Christian Hansen. Note the wall paintings on the façade (by the Bavarian Rahl and the Pole Lebietski) representing the birth of the sciences in Greece.

Finally you come to the National Library Location map built to plans by Theofilos Hansen under the general supervision of Ernst Ziller. Completed at the beginning of the 20th century, it is remarkable for the majestic double stairway at the entrance. This is the most important library in Greece. Be sure to have a look at the interior, at least at the reading room with its solid wood paneling.

Right opposite of the trilogy is the building known as the Yellow House, a simple neoclassical structure which stands out against the dark glass background of a modern building and reveals a totally different aspect of the architecture of the period. This is the residence of the Soutsos-Rallis family and the building is one of the oldest on Panepistimiou Street. It was completed in 1842 or 1843 and it is a fine example of bourgeois architecture.

A little further you will come to the Arsakeio complex, the first important project undertaken by Lysandros Kaftantzoglou. By the entrance on Pesmazoglou Street, you come into one of the city’s finest shopping arcades, the Stoa tou Vivliou, entirely dedicated to the book trade. All major Greek publishers have premises here while there is a specially designed gallery on the basement level for exhibitions, presentations and events, all associated with books. The Stoa tou Vivliou has two cafes, one on the ground floor and one on the spacious terrace. The latter serves meals and remains open and noisy till late in the evening.

Head down Pesmazoglou Street, cross Stadiou Street and you’ll arrive at Sofokleous Street. In front of you there is the Athens Stock Exchange, at the entrance of which you will find groups of investors eagerly discussing the day’s developments.

Agii TheodoriJust before reaching the Stock Exchange, taking Aristeidou Street below Stadiou Street, you come to a little square Location map with fast foods shops. In the centre of the square you will notice a small Byzantine church set below the level of the street. This is the Church of Agii Theodori dating from the 11the century, as you can see from the tablet set into the western wall above the entrance. The walls are constructed in the typical pattern of the Byzantine period, the style which was imitated on a completely different scale, in the Eye-Clinic you saw earlier. This low church with its elegant dome, is one of the few remains of a period when Athens was just a small provincial town far from the capital Constantinople. Top


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Guided walks in Athens







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