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Athens welcomes you! September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.

Crowded, yet one of the most historically significant of all cities, the eight hills surrounding Athens encompass some of the world’s most important archeaological sites.

The Acropolis is the iconic heart of the city and is best visited early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. Its crowning glory is the Parthenon, the symbol of ancient Greece’s power. Temples to Athena, the patron Goddess of Athens, were here for hundreds of years before Pericles built what you see today in 432BC. The Parthenon is remarkably well preserved and is looking its best after some expensive sprucing up for the Olympics.

The old Plaka district underneath the Parthenon is fairly traffic-free and thus a pleasant place to wander around, stopping for lunch or dinner in one of the scores of restaurants along its narrow streets.

The market district of Monastiraki sells everything from lace to antiques. It also sells an awful lot of tat and fake designer gear. However, it’s a pleasant enough place to browse. Some good cafes and bars here, too.

Athens has more than 130 museums and if you’re only here for a few days you’ll never get round them all. Make time for the Benaki Museum, in the Syntagma area, a stunning private collection including gold jewellery from ancient Thebes and Byzantine artefacts.

However, you must not miss the National Archaeological Museum, near the Viktoria Metro station. This impressive building contains the world’s largest and finest collection of Greek antiquities, including the famous gold death mask of King Agamemnon.

The famous Grande Bretagne Hotel at Syntagma Square (www.grandebretagne.gr) is almost worth the Olympian-sized bill.

A chic, and cheaper, alternative is the boutique-style Periscope Hotel (www.periscope.gr) in fashionable Kolonaki area.

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