Athens, the capital and largest city of Greece, is known as the “cradle of Western civilization” and “the birthplace of democracy.”
We’ve visited Athens several times via a cruise ship call to nearby Piraeus, Greece’s main port, reaching the Acropolis by either tour bus or the metro line.
During this Golden Age of Athenian democracy, Pericles promoted the arts. Playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides flourished, as did Herodotus and Thucydides, as well as Hippocrates and Socrates.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theater on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. Built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, this theater had a capacity of 5,000 and was used for music concerts.
Today, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is the main venue for the Athens Festival between May and October each year. A number of international artists have performed at the venue including Sting during his 1996 Mercury Falling Tour, and Elton John during his Medusa Tour in 2000. The theater also hosted the 1973 Miss Universe pageant.
Visitors to the top of the Acropolis are rewarded with a terrific view of Temple of Hephaestus, the best-preserved of all ancient Greek temples. A Doric temple, it remains standing largely as built when completed in 415 BC.
The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is the world’s only stadium built entirely of marble. It was built with 50,000 seats by Athenian Roman senator Herodes Atticus in 144 AD. Abandoned in the 4th century, the stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the 1870 and 1875 Zappas Olympics.
It is also the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place.
Are you planning a visit to Athens? Learn before you go with these books:
Have you visited Athens?
What was your favorite view?
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