A City Guide to Athens

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Named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom,  Athens , capital of Greece, reached its zenith in the fifth century BC with the construction of many classical buildings some of which survive even today and are on the UNESCO World Heritage List including the Acropolis, standing proudly in the heart of the  city . A visit to  Athens  is an enriching experience. Listed here are just some of the attractions you can see on your next visit to  Athens .

Agorá (Market):In its heyday, Agora was the centre of city life – today it hosts ruins from different periods. It was here that ordinary people, stall holders, and merchants mingled with public figures, officials, philosophers and politicians. The main attraction here is Hephaisteion (Temple of Haephaistos), one of the best-preserved ancient temples in Greece, and dating to the fifth century BC. Also visit the Museo tis Agoras (Museum of Agorá) that houses an amazing range of everyday artefacts found in the area. It is housed in the Stoa of Attalos.

Acropolis: This UNESCO World Heritage Site dominates the city and the skyline. Acropolis refers to the rocky outcrop that formed the original settlement in  Athens . The site includes the Acropolis Museum and four sacred buildings, dating to the fifth century BC. Ascend the steep summit to the Propylaea, a monumental gateway, which serves as the entrance to the site. To the left, you will see the Temple of Athena Nike. The original temple was destroyed in the 17th century by the Turkish forces but has now been carefully restored. The Parthenon, the largest building on the Acropolis, is built entirely from marble and was intended as a sanctuary for Athena and once housed a statue of the goddess.

Delphi:According to Greek mythology, Delphi is located at the point where the two eagles released to the East and West by God Zeus met, thereby marking the centre of the world. Delphi is the sanctuary of Apollo and the seat of his oracle. The ancient site is in ruins but still attracts thousands of visitors who throng here to see its remains. The site also houses the impressive Delphi Museum which exhibits various statues and offerings from the sanctuary of Delphi. The UNESCO World Heritage Site houses the Temple of Apollo, the Sacred Way, an amphitheatre, and a stadium.

National Archaeological Museum: The museum is housed in a late 19th century building and houses one of the finest collections of ancient Greek artefact including the fascinating Mycenaen Collection comprising beautifully crafted gold work dating from between the 16th and 11th centuries BC, and the Bronze Collection.

Tourism is one of the main industries in Greece and continues to flourish even in the uncertain economic times. Every year,  Athens  attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe. There are several accommodation options available to cater to their accommodation needs from bed and breakfasts to resorts to private Greece villas.

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Take a Stroll at Athens Greece

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A  city  that was built by gods for gods with a long glorious history, and a  city  that has been worshipped by its people is nothing less than  Athens , Greece.  Athens  is said to be the birthplace of democracy and civilization. The place where many great philosophers were born and where the culture began. In such a city you can wonder in its alleys and feel the ancient spirit. Did you know that Acropolis is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the modern world? The better way to discover all secret paths of  Athens  is to take some  Athens  private tours and live this lifetime experience.

Whatever your taste is,  Athens , Greece has something special that will draw you back time and time again. When in  Athens  you have to do lots of activities such as visiting the archaeological monuments, the famous sites, and taking a stroll to Plaka, Monastiraki, Thisseion and Psyrri. Have the opportunity to admire the neoclassical buildings in the small alleys the well-preserved architecture in many beautiful buildings. Athens   city  truly has something for everyone.

Take a private walking tour around ancient sites of Acropolis museum, Plaka, Monastiraki and Philopappos hill. In  Athens   city , you will admire The Greek Parliament, the  Athens  Academy and University and so many interesting sites. Do not miss also visiting the museums which hosts unique treasures of greek cultural inheritance such as the Museum of Acropolis, the Archaeological Museum etc. The exhibits in greek museums are always interesting and have something to add to your knowledge. This information from the past may be sound strange but is the truth and the history of Greeks can’t be learn by once.

The sun in  Athens   city  is shining all year around so you don’t have to worry about the climate, which is considered one of the best in Europe. So, embark on a journey full of positive energy and joy for the upcoming sun and the very interesting thing you will see and visit. Ask locals for some traditional taverns with local folklore dancers and local wine.

Last but not least is  Athens  nightlife. Your choices here are innumerable as long as you want to entertain yourselves by numerous ways in this vibrant city. Bars, clubs, traditional taverns and the famous “bouzoukia” are always there to entertain you.

All in all,  Athens  is a divine  city  with lots of choices and places to have fun making your trip memorable.

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Breathtaking Historical Athens

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The history of  Athens  dates back over five millennia and one can therefore imagine the rich culture, art and civilization that it must possess. Tourists like to visit  Athens  for its range of absorbing museums, to explore ruined temples and relish the exquisite Greek cuisine.

On an  Athens  tour one must explore the splendid Parthenon, considered perhaps, to be the finest of all Greek temples. The adjoining area too has a collection of temples which can be explored. Another captivating temple is the Temple of Olympian Zeus built by the Romans.

Being an ancient  city ,  Athens  naturally is home to a number of renowned museums. You would require almost a day to view the famous collection of ancient Greek artifacts on a visit to the National Archaeological Museum. The Theatre Museum and the Numismatic Museum are worth a shot for their fascinating displays.

You will be surprised by the rich cultural life that  Athens  is proud of. You must on a visit to  Athens  see productions of ancient plays in their original settings. It is an experience by itself to explore the many shops and classy restaurants of Kolonaki. A taste of Greek coffee on the streets of Plaka will impress you. One historical site which one must not miss is ‘The Acropolis Hill’ or also called the ‘Sacred Rock’. The area is home to three important temples: the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the temple of Nike in honor of the goddess Athena. These and many other  Athens  sites you can take pleasure in while enjoying the hospitality of  Athens  hotels.

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Athens – Church of Agioi Theodoroi

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Crossing Odos Dragatsaniou, in the end stands the attractive medieval church of Agioi Theodoroi (St. Theodore), built on the site of a church founded in the ninth century, but in its present form dating from between 1050 and 1075. This small cruciform church with its high narrow dome, multiple roofs that lend it an air of rhythmic grace, narrow mullioned windows and decorated central door surmounted by arches, is a precious gem of eleventh century Byzantine architecture.

The earliest form of Byzantine churches was that of the basilica, a long rectangle divided by two or four ranges of columns into three or five naves. Later, during the 11th and 12th centuries, the plan changed to that of a Greek cross within a square, dominated by a dome constructed in brick and often combined with one or more subsidiary domes. The exterior walls consist of square-cut stone with thin brick surrounds and are enriched by bands of decoration, carving and the use of color. Few of these churches were large. Apart from St. Theodore, typical examples are the churches of Kapnikarea and St. Eleutherios.

The glory of the Byzantine church lies not so much in the architecture as to the ethereal beauty of its mosaics or frescoes. From the center of the principal dome Christ looks down upon the faithful and below Him are the Apostles. The Virgin appears in the half dome, while around the sanctuary are symbolic figures and emblems connected with the Eucharist. On the West wall opposite the chancel is the Last Judgement. Colored marble and similar material in the lower walls add to the resplendent beauty of the interior.

The liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church requires separation of the altar from the laity. The altar is placed in a chancel screened from the congregation by the iconostasis, i.e. the screen dividing the sanctuary from the church proper. This is adorned with pictures of Christ, the Virgin, and Saints, and generally has three doors, the curtains of which are lowered while Mass is being celebrated. The chancel is flanked by the Prothesis, where the bread and wine for the Eucharist are prepared, and by the Diakonikon, or vestry.

In St. Theodore one can also notice the influence of the East on Byzantine art, which was prominent in the period from the mid-9th to mid-11th centuries, when Byzantine artists used a variety of Oriental motifs in their designs. It is probable that the design of pseudo-kufic characters (the script perfected during the 7th century by calligraphers in the city of Kafa, in present-day Iraq) that decorate the terracotta panel below the windows of the facade was inspired by the work of Arab craftsmen.

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One M&T Plaza

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Many talk extensively about New York and how it has evolved to be the most commercialized metropolis in the United States. The State of New York includes Buffalo, the silent sibling who has contributed to the state’s growth in an almost invisible way. Among the many things in Buffalo that attract tourists to get a glimpse of a more laid-back atmosphere in cacophonic New York, the One M&T Plaza stands tall in the city center. It’s not an exceptionally tall building, nor is it an architectural marvel. But then, why is it so popular among the many who visit Buffalo?

Standing just 317 feet tall and housing 21 floors, the One M&T Plaza was built in 1966 and is the current home to the M&T bank’s corporate headquarters. The building was designed by Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, the same people who designed the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. This is probably one reason for its immense popularity. During holidays, the building’s top band is illuminated, creating a very celebratory mood around the place. On normal days, this band is simply illuminated in white. Hockey season sees the building colored in blue and gold, cheering on the Buffalo Sabers.

The land space used to build the One M&T Plaza was the highest real estate transaction ever made during that time in Buffalo. Its construction required an entire city block to be demolished. The One M&T Plaza has a promenade facing the Main Street and hosts various lunchtime concerts in summer. A farmer’s market can be found between the plaza and Lafayette Square, mostly during late spring, summer and early autumn. The One M&T Plaza is located nearby to everything in central Buffalo.

If you are in Buffalo for business, you’d most likely to have to pay a visit to the One M&T Plaza’s promenade for a business lunch. Whether you are traveling for leisure or business, choose a Buffalo hotel with a good reputation to avoid hassles. Try the Millennium Airport Hotel Buffalo for a difference, as they offer modern amenities,excellent services and very cozy accommodations for all their guests.

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Things to Do in Athens

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There is an abundance of places to go and things to do in the  city  of  Athens , Greece. You should have no trouble filling your time in  Athens  with wonderful memories and beautiful snapshots. Here are some places to get you started:

Make sure that you see the Acropolis and the Parthenon. This is known as one of the many wonders of the ancient world. Not only is this a great place to spend your time, but also your money. There is a ticket you can purchase that allows you to see the other major archaeological sites as well.

Traveling overseas is an expensive thing to do, even if you budget wisely, but that doesn’t mean that you need to limit the sightseeing that you do to bare minimum.

In an ideal world you will make time to visit the Theater of Herod Atticus, Theater of Dionysious, and the Ancient Agoraare during your vacation in  Athens  since each of these places will have its own merits that you will want to uncover.

Make sure that you set aside ample time to explore these areas so that you do not feel too rushed.

The National Archeological Museum in  Athens  is only a short walk from Syntagma. It will likely take you a half hour to an hour to comfortably complete the walk. It may seem like a long walk, but when you get there you will find that it was more than worth your effort to get there.

There is no better museum on the planet to see a collection of ancient Greek sculpture. Jewelery, pottery, and items found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikithera are also on exhibit at the National Archeological Museum.

Even if you are not a history buff or the slightest bit interested in history, you will have a difficult time not finding just about everything in the National Archeological Museum fascinating.

For those of you that already can’t get enough of history, you will probably want to camp out here and never leave. There is such a vast array of exhibits at the National Archeological Museum that you can’t help but get carried away and want to spend all day there.

Regardless of how you feel about shopping, no trip to  Athens  is complete without a trip to the Angora-Athens Market. Completely regardless of your tastes and preferences of fish, meat, and vegetables you will find that the most likely place around is the Central market on Athinas Street.

Make a stop at the market whenever it fits into your day. Early in the morning trucks unload and you can join most of the Athenian shoppers around midday.

During this time you will get to feel like you are a native to  Athens . Make sure that you ask the locals about their favorite foods at this market. They shop here all the time and can point you in the direction of some foods and finds that you would not have an opportunity to try any other time.

Even if it is something that you are not entirely comfortable with, try to give new foods that you find at this market a try if you want to have a real Greek experience during your stay in  Athens .

If you are able to, you may seriously wish to consider taking some time to climb Mount Lycabettus. If you choose to put in the effort a breathtaking view and outstanding cafe will await you. If you are not able to make the trek but do want to see the top of the mountain you can take a train close to the top of the mountain. Many visitors say that walking down the mountain is a lot of fun, even if the climb up the mountain was difficult.

You will likely walk through a neighborhood or two on your way down the mountain. Each of these tiny neighborhoods have their own townspeople with aspects of their Greek culture that is unique to their neighborhood.

If you have been fascinated by Greek ways up until this point in your trip you may want to consider trying to spend some extra time on your stroll down the wonderful Mount Lycabettus.

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Secret Italy – City Breaks On the Road Less Travelled

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You probably already know the top five cities of Italy: Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice and Naples. But if you’re looking for a different side of Italy, city breaks in the less visited areas may be just the ticket.

Ranging in size, these places offer a great glimpse into authentic Italian life, perhaps unlike the hurried pace and bustling crowds you’ll find in Rome, Florence or Milan. Here are five other places to consider visiting in Italy – city breaks on the road less travelled!

Turin

Also known as Torino, the home of the Fiat automobile plant and the Shroud of Turin is an interesting yet often overlooked area in Italy. City breaks in the Piedmont region can be wonderfully relaxing here, nestled between the foothills of the Alps and the Po River. It’s an excellent base to stay in between exploring the nearby hills and vineyards.

With its Baroque architecture (extending to its elegant bars and cafes), arcaded shopping promenades and smaller museums of Italy, Turin offers a relaxed ambience. You can wander around Piazza Castello and Palazzo Reale, which feature lovely fountains and are ringed by grand buildings. Then, take a walk through Il Quadrilatero – a maze of meandering back streets with wonderful markets and charming churches. You’ll also want to visit the Borgo Mediovale, a recreation of a medieval village by the river, complete with a castle.

Perugia

Umbria is one of the country’s more overlooked areas, often overshadowed by its more popular neighbour, Tuscany. But if you’re looking for an interesting place to relax without forgoing sophistication in Italy, city breaks in Perugia – Umbria’s largest city, located almost at the very centre of the country – are ideal.

A lively walled medieval hill city with historic buildings, busy squares, and modern shops, Perugia is home to a university as well as an Italian language centre catering to foreigners. From here you can also explore other Umbrian attractions such as Assisi, Spello, and Gubbio.

Brescia

For many visitors, the Lombardy region usually means Milan, but if you’re looking for something a little quieter, you may want to go east to the small city of Brescia – often overlooked in the excitement over the country’s fashion centre. Located between Lakes Garda and Iseo, Brescia is the gateway to the Valcamonica – a UNESCO site with the largest collection of prehistoric rock art in Europe. This is also the place where the annual Mille Miglia car race begins and ends. Places to see in Brescia include the castle, Roman ruins, Renaissance squares, and a medieval city centre named Piazza della Vittoria – where the famous car race starts.

Padua

Also overshadowed by a more popular neighbour, Padua is a wonderful place to spend a more laidback holiday. This small walled city located between Verona and Venice boasts Europe’s first Botanical Gardens – the Orto Botanico – and is also the home of many frescoes by Giotto.

Lecce

Because of its wealth of Baroque monuments, Lecce is often called the Florence of the south. For those visiting southern Puglia, making Lecce your base offers the advantage of a mild climate, accommodations that is inexpensive compared to other cities, and a -charmingly compact city centre.

There’s definitely more to see than the top four big cities in Italy; the less-visited areas will definitely give you a more complete view of the country in all its beauty.

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Athens Concert Hall

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Usually people who visit Athens are more impressed with the antiquities and the famous monuments like the Acropolis and the Parthenon and don’t get me wrong I am impressed too… how couldn’t I be, but there are more things to Athens than people think so, theatres, cinemas, shopping malls and the Concert Hall of Athens which is not too far from the center of town and boats state-of-the-art technology and acoustics.

It was designed by a consortium of foreign and Greek consultants to correspond to the stringent demands of contemporary audiences and performers and can be considered one of the finest in the world.

Apart from the main hall Filon tis Mousikis – Friends of Music- which seats an audience of 2.000 it contains a smaller hall seating 500 people, a music library, recording studios, a restaurant and a foyer in which exhibitions of various kinds are held. It also houses an ultramodern conference centre.

The Megaro schedules concerts of all kinds from classical music of all periods to jazz and folk preformed by world class soloists, groups orchestras, operas and ballet companies throughout the year, except in summer.

It started operating in 1991 and it is an important cultural center of the whole Europe. Its superb acoustics have been acclaimed both by the public and by renowned performers of the music and art world.

The Athens Concert Hall has welcomed top class artists, music ensembles, composers, conductors and performers in an artistic trajectory that has left its mark in the country’s culture scene.

It is very easy to reach the Concert Hall of Athens since there is a metro station named after it which is only a few meters away. It is really easy to find it if you have a Metro Map. Buses and taxis are also available in the area.

As far as accommodation is concerned, there are many Concert Hall Hotels, meaning hotels close to “Megaro Mousikis” to choose from. Athens Hotels are among the best of Greece.

I went there many times for several performances and I even got the chance to see a classical concert dedicated to Antonin Dvorak, a famous musician. The Concert Hall of Athens really impressed me so I thought that I should really share this with you. Don’t miss an excellent opportunity to visit a place like this one!

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in a City Center

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Some people say that city center is the best place to live. One has an easy access to all the amenities of life. Additionally, city centers are the places where all the business, educational, official and trade activity centers are located. The commuting time is nothing as compared to those living in the suburbs. There are, however, some big disadvantages of living in the city center as well. Following lines would give you a great comparison in this regard.

Advantages

The biggest advantage of living in a city-center is the easy access to all the business, trade and educational offices. City-centers are planned in such a manner that they become the hub of everything related to commercial, official or educational fields. Most universities and colleges are located in the city-center and students from suburbs have to commute long distances to reach their alma maters. Similarly, professionals have to take public or private transport to reach the city-center. Monthly fares of public transports, despite all the discounts, are quite expensive these days.

On the contrary, people living in the city-center do not have to incur any transportation costs. In most cases, all the famous buildings, business centers and universities are located within a walking distance. There are no expenditures in transportation costs and time wasted in travelling. Additionally, one can save money on dining costs as one can simply head back to home to eat during lunch breaks. People from the suburbs are unfortunate in this regard. They have to eat lunch from the push carts or restaurants and this entails some big spending, even if the rates are affordable. Monthly expenditures on food bills are enough to cause a big dent in your monthly budget.

Disadvantages

There are also many disadvantages of living in a city-center. First of all, there is no sense of privacy as the city centre remains active till late night. Secondly, the house rents are sky high in the city-center. Everyone wants to live there and homeowners take full advantage of this phenomenon. Another disadvantage of living in a city-center is the lack of suburban activities and neighbourhood attitude that is prevalent in the suburbs. There are hardly any parks and open spaces where one can breathe fresh air. In most cases, the environment is polluted because of thousands of cars that throng the roads and alleys. Similarly, the proportion of trees and shrubs is far less than a typical suburb that is usually green and pollution free.

The sense of community is also lacking in the city-center as people remain busy in their own affairs and do not pay any attention to their neighbours and friends. Another down point of living in the city center is the higher prices of commodities. As compared to suburbs, that are usually located close to farmer markets; city centers are cramped places with high property rents. Shops often pass on that high price to their customers.

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Piraeus Port – Athens, Greece

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The port of  Athens , Piraeus was the greatest port of the ancient world and remains one of the busiest in the Mediterranean. In a country that derives most of its livelihood from the sea, Piraeus is the true capital, while  Athens  is a sprawling suburb full of bureaucrats. Still, it’s hard to find much charm in the tall buildings and dusty streets, although Zea Marina and Mikrolimano with their yachts, brightly-lit tavernas and bars are a handsome sight.

Themistocles founded the port of Piraeus in the 5th century BC when Phaliron,  Athens ‘ ancient port, could no longer meet the growing needs of the  city . The Miletian geometer Hippodamos laid it out in a straight grid of streets that have hardly changed. The centre of action was always the huge central agora, where the world’s first commercial fairs and trade expositions were held. All religions were tolerated, and women were allowed, for the first time, to work outside the home.

As Piraeus was crucial to  Athens ‘ power, the conquering Spartans destroyed the Long Walls linking  city  and port in 404, at the end of the Peloponnesian War. After the 100-year Macedonian occupation and a period of peace, Sulla decimated the city to prevent any anti-Roman resistance, and for 1,900 years Piraeus dwindled away into an insignificant village with a population as low as 20, even losing its name to become Porto Leone. Since the selection of  Athens  as the capital of independent Greece, Piraeus has regained its former glory as the reigning port of a seagoing nation, but much of it dates from after 1941, when German bombers blew the port sky-high.

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