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The heritage of history and hope characterize this distinctive people. The cradle of Democracy shows vitality and renews itself with the pretension of becoming the most cultural and artistic capital of Europe.
Places to visit
Chaos and civilization coexist naturally in the capital of Greece, a city that has experienced troubled times in the economic chapter, but that today is recovering, opening new cultural, artistic, gastronomic spaces, etc. All thanks to the creative capacity of the Greek people. We believe that there is no other better way to begin or end a visit to Athens than the Parthenon complex, where everything was born. Here you will find the Acropolis Museum, with 4000 works that refer back to the time of the gods; and the National Archaeological Museum, where the most important antiques can be seen. One of the most interesting museum is the Museum of Cycladic Art, exhibiting a particular collection of semi-abstract figures from the third millennium BC, contrasting with the contemporary art of the building next door. Close to it is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, whose construction dates back to the 7th century BC, being completed 650 years later. Also near the Acropolis is the Ancient Agora, considered one of the noblest areas, where Socrates professed his philosophy and Saint Paul preached the new gospel. The capital's heartland is Syntagma Square, where the Parliament stands and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located. A few blocks away is Radio Athènes, serving as an exhibition space and bookstore; and about 10 minutes away on foot, is the Plaka Neighbourhood, the oldest area with urban occupation. The Monastiraki neighbourhood joins buildings from various eras, such as the Monastery of the 17th century that gives the square its name; the Church of the 10th century; the mosque of the 18th century; a library donated by the Roman emperor in the 1st century and, finally, the metro station from the last century. The Kolonaki neighbourhood, which is located on the southern slopes of Lycabettus hill, is famous for designer boutiques and designer shops, gardens and sumptuous buildings. The National Opera and the National Library are part of a new Renzo Piano project, which includes squares and gardens, spaces for yoga classes, among other activities.
What to eat?
The Greek Mediterranean diet has many Turkish influences but, above all, it includes fresh ingredients, starting with grilled fish and seafood, seasonal fruit, olive oil, cheeses, especially Feta, and yoghurts. Among the meats, the most consumed are chicken, kid, rabbit, pork and poultry. The moussaka (lasagne) stands out immediately when one thinks of traditional dishes of this cuisine. And what does always come to the table? Salads as starters, many olives, honey and dried fruit in puff pastry and several desserts and pastries. In the street it is normal to eat kebab (nicknamed Gyros) and Souvlaki (grilled meat), served on pita bread, although the Greeks have their own bread: round and with sesame seeds. A normal day can start with Spanakopita, a filo pastry with spinach and cold coffee, called 'freddo'. Baklava, a cake made of honey and nuts, is one of the best known desserts; and the 'ouzo' is the alcoholic beverage made with anise that accompanies everything.
In addition to being the largest in Greece, Athens is one of the few cities in the ancient world still inhabited. Founded six thousand years ago, it has always been the political and economic centre of the country. The hill of Lykavittos is the highest and surrounds Athens, reaching an altitude of 277 meters, which can be reached by cable car. From there you can see an unforgettable sunset over the Acropolis and the Saronic Gulf. The origin of the name of the Plaka Neighbourhood comes from the term "piaka", which means "old" and it was used by the Albanian soldiers at the service of the Turks in the 16th century. The Kallimarmaro Stadium (1869-1870) recreates the old Panathenaik Stadium built in 330 BC, where the games were held and to which the Olympics returned in 1896, in a space constructed of white and U-shaped marble. It has a capacity of 80 thousand people, but there are no longer any events there. The country is made up by 6000 islands and islets scattered over the Aegean and Ionian seas; but only 227 are inhabited. Blue is important for the Greeks who paint furniture, windows, doors and domes of churches of this colour to keep evil away. They call it kyanos colour, which gave rise to the words 'cyan' and 'cyanide'. Having in mind the evil eye, the Greek eye is the reason for a cultural and secular battle with Turkey, leading to the choosing of the name Eye of the East.
On visits to monuments such as the Acropolis, for example, comfortable and non-slip footwear is advised because you will walk a lot and much of the floor is in marble and it is slippery. You can start the city tour by tourist bus, which has five routes and tickets are valid for 48 consecutive hours, from the first use.
The port of Piraeus is the largest in Greece and one of the largest in the Mediterranean, being the starting point for the islands and where one arrives by car, taxi or even by subway. If you go to Athens, take the opportunity to go on a cruise to the islands. The offerings are varied and you will not regret it.
In 2004, when the metro network was enlarged with new stations, ancient treasures were discovered and are now in full view and free of charge at the same stations. Use the metro to get around Athens and enjoy the treasures now exposed in these underground museums!
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