Grand Promenade (incl. Acropolis)

Enjoy the ancient landscape in the tranquil setting of the biggest pedestrian zone in Europe.
Acropolis Archaeological park Sightseeing Walk
Average Cost: 0€ / with entrance to Acropolis: 20€ (Reduced: 10€)

The three-kilometre pedestrian zone that has been established in the central roads of Vas. Olgas Str, D. Areopagitou Str, Ap. Pavlou Str, Adrianou Str. and a section of Ermou Str is the biggest in Europe and leads to the major archaeological sites of Athens.

Think Athens suggests a short version of it, covering the majority of the most significant archaeological sites. This walk – preferred by many Athenians on Sundays – will truly make you forget that you are in the centre of Athens.

Below is a map that presents a recommended route for your walk, as well as short descriptions of the main sights that you will come across.

Grand Promenade_short version

Start from the Acropolis Museum (metro station: Acropoilis – line 2), an architectural masterpiece and a must-see museum (see: “Museums and Exhibitions“).
Acropolis museum_cropped

– Walk on Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street: Pittoresque pedestrian street, next to Acropolis.
Dionyssiou Aeropagitou Street is one of the most impressive pedestrian streets of Athens with amazing view to the Parthenon and other significant monuments of the city. The street took its name from Dionyssios Areopagitis, a judje of the Areios Pagos and the first bishop of Athens. The neoclassical buildings of this street are just extraordinary. Walking down Dionyssiou Areopaghitou Street, you have the Acropolis at your right hand.

Photo: by the Greek National Tourism Organisation

dionysiou_areopagitou_510_338

– Pass by the ancient open Theatre of Dionyssos: The plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylos and Aristophanes were first performed here!
Enter the archaeological area on the southern slope of the Acropolis (entrance at Dionyssiou Areopagitou Str) and head upwards. On the slope to your right is the most ancient theatre of the world, the Theatre of Dionysos. The most famous ancient Greek poets, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles saw premiere performances of their plays in this theatre of 17,000 people capacity in the 5th century BC. Initially the auditorium and  the proscenium were made of wood. In the 4th century BC they were reconstructed using marble.
Theatre of Dionysos

– Stop at  Odeion of Herodes Atticus: Stone theatre with with capacity of 5,000 people, built in 161 AD and used as a venue for music concerts – still in use.
Approach the Odeion of Herodes Atticus from Dionyssiou Areopaghitou Street. You will see signs on the street, at your right hand. You cannot enter it, as it is open to the public only when there is a concert. But you can view it from the square just outside the theatre.
The Odeion of Herodes Atticus was built by Herodes Tiberius Claudius Atticus, a wealthy teacher and philosopher. Herodes Atticus constructed the Odeion in memory of his wife Regilla. Ancient Greeks used to organise events in the Odeion. Nowadays, it is a venue for concerts of the Athens Festival.

Photo on the right: by Eirini Cheimoniti
Irodeion Odeion_my phone

– Acropolis: The symbol of Athens and a cornerstone of of western civilizations.
If you continue walking on the little path on the hill with the trees just outside the square of The Odeion of Herodes Atticus, you will find yourself at the entrance of Acropolis.

Photo: by www.airpano.com

Acropolis_night_airpano

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization. Acropolis forms the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.

A symbol of enduring achievements of the human spirit, Acropolis  (from the Greek words ἄκρον – akron, “edge, extremity” – and πόλις  – polis, “city”) is home to four masterpieces of classical Greek art, built about 2,500 years ago: Parthenon, Propylaea, Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Admission:
Ticket price: 20€
Reduced ticket: 10€ for non-EU students, Europeans over 65 and accompanying parents of elementary school students.
Free entrance for under 18, EU students, students at schools of tourist guides, journalists, members of Societies of Friends of Museums and Archaeological Sites of Greece, members of the ICOM-ICOMOS, escorts of blind people or of people with mobility difficulties, free admission card holders, official guests of the Greek government, tourist guides, teachers at school/university visits.

Special ticket package price: 30€
Reduced special ticket package price: 15€ for non-EU students, Europeans over 65 and accompanying parents of elementary school students.
Valid for 5 days.
This ticket allows you to enter the following places: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis.

Free admission days:
– 6th March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
– 5th June (International Environment Day)
– 18th April (International Monuments Day)
– 18 May (International Museums Day)
– The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
– Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
– 28 October

Opening hours:
April – October: 08.00-20.00 (last admission: 19.30).
November – March: 08.00-17.00 (last admission: 16.30).

Holidays:
– 1 January: closed
–  6 January: 08.00-15.00
– Shrove Monday: 08.00-15.00
– 25 March: closed
– Good Friday: closed until 12:00
– Holy Saturday: 08.00-15.00
– 1 May: closed
– Easter Sunday: closed
– Easter Monday: 08.00-15.00
– Holy Spirit Day: 08.00-20.00
– 15 August: 08.00 – 20.00
– 28 October: 08.00-15.00
– 25 December: closed
– 26 December: closed

What’s up there:
There is evidence that Acropolis was inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC. However, the rocky hill was transformed into a unique monument of thought and the arts, dedicated primarily to the goddess Athena, in the fifth century BC. Actually in the second half of the fifth century BC, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position among the other city-states of the ancient world. In the ages that followed, the Athenian statesman Pericles assigned the construction of below four monuments to an exceptional group of artists, guided by the sculptor Pheidias:
– the Parthenon, built by Iktinos and Kallikrates,
– the Erechtheion,
– the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles and
– the small temple of Athena Nike.

Unlike other Greek sanctuaries of Ancient Greece, Acropolis was built on a master plan with the buildings related to one another.

Hundreds of people worked to complete the construction of the monuments in the record timings targeted. It is said that philosopher Socrates – a young man working as stonemason at that time – was one of them.

Below are the main sights you will see on Acropolis hill (source: Greek National Tourism Organization):

Acropolis map

Below numbers refer to the respective numbers on the above plan.

7.1: The Propylaea is the monumental entrance to the Acropolis. It was designed by the Athenian architect, Mnesikles and was constructed in 437-432 B.C. It consists of a central building and two lateral wings, one to the north and one to the south. The Propylaea also served as the control gate for the entrance to the sanctuary; criminals or other ritually unclean people who would claim the protection of the gods would be denied the access in front of Propylaea. The Brandenburg Gate of Berlin and the Propylaea in Munich are copies of the central portion of the Propylaea.

7.2: The Temple of the Athena Nike, south of the Propylaea and built around 420 BC, was a creation of the architectKallikrates. The site had ceremonial roots that date back to the Bronze Age. “Nike”, which in Greek means “victory”, implies that here the Goddess Athena was worshiped as the Goddess of victory in wisdom and war. In fact Athenians built this temple in hope for victory against Sparta at the Peloponnesian war. In the cella of the temple was a cult statue of the Goddess, holding a helmet – symbol of war – in one hand and a branch of pomegranate tree – symbol of peace – in the other. In Ancient Greece deities of victory (“nike”) were usually depicted with wings. Here the statue of Athena Nike had no wings and thus it is known as “Wingless Victory“. Story is that Athenians made the statue without wings, so that Victory could not leave Athens.

7.3: The Parthenon is one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments and a symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization. Its was built in the golden age of Pericles, with its construction starting in 447 BC and its decoration being completed in 432 BC. The architects behind this architectural masterpiece were Iktinos and Kallikrates, while supervisor of the whole construction was the famous sculptor Pheidias. The latter was also the creator of the chryselephantine statue of Athena, which stood in the cella of the temple. The statue was the destination point of the great procession of theGreat Panathenaic Festival, the greatest festival of Athens in honour of the Goddess Athena.
Parthenon is a Doric peripteral temple with 8 columns on each end and 17 columns on each side. Despite the obvious geometrical structure, there is not one single straight line in the architectural form of the Parthenon, in a sense resembling the rhythm and pulse of a living organism. The floor and the roof bulge in the middle up to 10 cm. Even the columns bulge, giving the impression of being swollen from the tension (“entasis” in Greek) put by the weight of the roof.
The Parthenon had an external frieze, running around the entablature above the columns. This frieze contained ninety-two metopes. Those preserved depict the Gigantomachy (war of giants), the Centauromachy (battle of centaurs), the Amazonomachy (battle of Amazons) and the Trojan War. Currently some of the metopes are in the Acropolis museum, some belong to the Parthenon marbles and are kept in the British museum, while one is in the Louvre.
Parthenon also had an inner frieze running around the exterior walls of the cella, which is the inside structure of the Parthenon. This frieze, depicting the procession of the Great Panathenaic Festival, is the most characteristic feature in the architecture and decoration of the temple. The sculpture of this frieze depicted for first time common people as individuals participating in the Panathenaic Festival. This indicates that for first time in history every citizen of a city was recognized as a significant entity with an important role for the city.
Lastly, the Parthenon had two pediments, one on the east and one on the west side. The east pediment depicts the birth of the Goddess Athena from the head of her father, Zeus. The west pediment depicts the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the honor of becoming the patron of the city.
Originally the whole entablature was highly coloured.

Parthenon_side view_plan

7.4: The Erechtheion (420 – 406 BC) is the temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. It was built in the place of the old temple, destroyed by Persian invaders. According to the religious beliefs of Ancient Athenians, this was the place where thesacred olive tree spouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear during her rivalry with Poseidon for the city. The maidens supporting the roof of the southern balcony of the temple are the so called Caryatids. The ones in Acropolis are copies. Five of the six original Maidens are displayed in the Acropolis Museum, while the sixth one is displayed in the British Museum.

4: The Theatre of Dionyssos (part of the walk “Grande Promenade – short version”) is the most ancient theatre of the world with a capacity of 17,000 people. The most famous ancient Greek poets, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, andSophocles saw in this theatre premiere performances of their plays in the 5th century BC.

5: The Stoa of Eumenus, built by the King of Pergamum, Eumenes II in the 2nd century BC, is the stoa between the theatre of Dionyssos and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus. It was used as a shelter and promenade for the audience of the theatre.

6: When you are on Acropolis Hill, you can see from above the interior of Odeion of Herodes Atticus (part of the walk “Grande Promenade – short version”). Still in use, this stone theatre with capacity of 5,000 people was built in 161 AD and was used as avenue for music concerts. You cannot enter it, as it is open to the public only when there is a concert. The Odeion of Herodes Atticus was built by Herodes Tiberius Claudius Atticus, a teacher and philosopher, who inherited a fortune from his father. Herodes Atticus constructed the Odeion in memory of his wife Regilla. Ancient Greeks organised events in the Odeion. Nowadays, it is a venue for concerts of the Athens Festival.

Areios Pagos: The most ancient law court in the world
Coming down from Acropolis, just a few meters away, you arrive at Areios Pagos hill, the most ancient law court in the world. When the weather is good, young people climb the hill in the evening and stay for the whole night, singing and enjoying the outstanding view of the city.

Areopagus_from_the_Acropolis


Pnyx: the official meeting place of the Athenian democratic assembly.
Getting back to Dionyssiou Aeropagitou Street, turn left at the intersection of Dionyssiou Aeropagitou Street with Apostolou Pavlou Street. Walk straight ahead on the hill and head to the Hill of Nymphs. Soon you will see Pnyx, the assembly of the Athenians with a capacity of an estimated 10,000 people. The Pnyx was in use since the 6th century BC.
The “ekklisia” (= assembly) was one of the earliest known democratic legislatures. Following the principle of “isegoria” (= equal speech), each citizen had the right to take the speech on the stepping stone used as the speakers platform – called “vima” – and debate matters of policy. The other two main principles of Athenian democracy were “isonomia” (equality under the law), and “isopolitia” (= equality of vote and equal opportunity to assume political office).
Quite close to Pnyx you will see the impressive building of the National Observatory of Athens, easily recognized from its dome. The little church below the Observatory is the Agia Marina of Pnyx.

Photos: by Malucos Pela Historia blogspot (left) and by www.kanaliena.gr (right).

Pnyx_simulation     National Observatory & Agia Marina


Apostolou Pavlou street towards Adrianou street: Coffee, food and relaxation by the archaeological sights
Walk down Otrineon Street and head into Apostolou Pavlou Street, honoring with its name the first man who preached Christianity to the Athenians. Enjoy your walk on this street, viewing the people sitting under the sun at the cafes of Thission neighbourhood, next to the antiquities.
Continue walking and turn right into Agion Asomaton Street. Turn right into Adrianou street, where you have on your right hand the Ancient Agora of Athens and on your left hand picturesque cafes and restaurants. From Adrianou street it’s easy to view the Temple of Hephaestus (Thission), the best-preserved temple of Greek antiquity and the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, where the Museum of Ancient Agora is housed.

Temple of Hephaestus:                                            Stoa of Attalos:
Temple of Hephaestos_Thission    StoaAttalou

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