I have to admit that visiting the city of Athens wasn’t on my Top 10 cities to visit list. On a quick previous visit a few years ago I remembered it as being hot, dusty and very, very busy. This time, however, I decided to give this city a look from a different angle. If I had to share the vibe of the city with a friend, how would I describe it? Even better, how could I describe Athens, Greece in 7 photos?
As with our other “7 Photos” series of Mykonos and Santorini, picking just 7 photos to evoke a feeling of a place as diverse as Athens was difficult. Athens is in many ways a living, breathing museum. Struggling with economic difficulties, this multicultural melting pot is clearly trying hard to pull herself through the hard times and emerge even better than before. There is so much more I could add, but for now – here’s what Athens means to me.
Athens, Greece is…
As the capital and largest city of Greece, Athens holds nearly 700,000 of the country’s population in just a 15 square mile area. The metropolitan area surrounding Greece is home to another 3.75 million people. That’s a lot of traffic. In 317 BC, Demetrius of Phalerum made one of the first complete and recorded city censuses. He concluded there were 21,000 free men, 400,000 slaves, and 10,000 residents from other areas. Athens has always been a popular city!
It’s possible to spend hours in Athens admiring things from the past. Whether it’s the ancient past of the Acropolis to the not-so-long-ago past of the numerous antique shops lining the streets, the choices in Athens are practically endless. The past and present exist side by side in Athens – just take a stroll off the beaten tourist track and see what you’ll discover.
Only by visiting in person is it possible to get a feel for the immense grandeur that is the Parthenon. Built under the rule of Pericles in the 5th century, this hilltop monument to the long standing ability of Greek architectural styles is considered to be the most visited ancient site in the world. Nearly a million people a year climb the path to see these sacred temples and admire the sweeping views across the city of Athens.
There is certain lively vibe in Athens. It’s hip shopping areas, bustling metro system, malls, nightclubs and bars cater to the younger Athenians, while the historic areas deal with the throngs of tourists shuffling through every day. It’s impossible to pass through a square in downtown Athens and not be impressed with the level of activity going on around you. A perfect spot for people watching!
From stencils to sprays to completely free-hand, street artists in Athens have certainly created an entertaining scene. The level of talent is superb. You’ll be amazed and impressed as plain concrete walls are transformed into a living canvas. Local tours are available to find the hidden masterpieces, but it’s possible to find quite a bit of quality street art just by wandering around on your own.
Locals say you can buy ANYTHING at the Athens Central Market…and after spending several hours wandering up and down the streets, there is little doubt they are right. Vegetables, fruits, olives, antiques, and fish are all on display. The meat market is not for the faint of heart (or stomach), but you’ll get to pick the freshest cuts at very reasonable prices. Local street markets appear in the neighborhoods most weekends and here you’ll find everything from small electronics to drool-worthy homemade Greek pastries.
Athens – the cradle of Greek mythology. Named for Athena, the daughter of Zeus, the city of Athens holds reign over the classic stories we all remember as school children. The Parthenon was originally built as a temple to the goddess after her mythical defeat of Poseidon. Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, skill and war. Her symbols are the olive tree and the owl.
We hope you’ve enjoyed Athens, Greece in 7 Photos. If cities aren’t your thing, then be sure to check out the gorgeous Greek Islands of Mykonos and Santorini – where the blue water will soothe your senses!