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Panepistimiou (also called Venixelou), with several 19th-century neoclassical buildings, runs parallel with Stadiou. Either are a great way to walk from Syntagma Square to Omonia Square and catch some sights.
The first building you’ll pass is the former home of German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-90), who found the ancient palace of Troy and underneath the tombs at Mycenae. Up under roof you’ll see engraved ‘IIiou Melathron’ (palace on troy).
Further along you’ll find the Academy of Arts, the University and the National Library. Their sculpted, gilded facades mimis the classical style. Athena and Apollo stand atop the Ionic columns at the Academy, while Socrates and Plato sit at the entrance. The Library has nearly a million books and manuscripts, including amazing hand-illuminated Gospels of the 19th and 11th centuries.
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Athens is Europe's southern-most capital city and the gateway to Greece and the ancient world. Its renowned hallmark is the gleaming marble of the monuments of the Acropolis, which rise triumphantly above the city, proud survivors of the ravages of man and time.
People have dwelt on this rock for some 5,000 years — a lineage so ancient as to make all other European cities seem young by comparison.
Below, in the ancient Agora, or marketplace, Socrates held his dialogues, and the system of democracy e know today had its beginning, making Athens the cradle of Western civilization. It is this rich history that continues, to act as a magnet for travellers throughout the world. Modern Athens is far removed from the elegant splendour of its classical ruins.
The sprawl of steel and concrete retches up into the surrounding hills as far as the eye can see. (Remarkably for a city of this size, there are no skyscrapers and under a dozen tall buildings.) Aesthetics have fallen by the wayside during the 20th century, for a massive influx of rural Greeks and repatriated countrymen from Turkey has made a necessity of rapid (and frenzied) growth.
Today, metropolitan Athens, along with the adjoining city and port of Piraeus, is home to more than 4 million people, a figure that equals nearly half the population of the entire country.
It is fitting, too, that the venerable monuments of Athens, built by the ancient citizens, should still stand in the viable heart of their descendants. Historian Thomas William Rolleston wrote: "The elements which in the most remote times have entered into nation’s composition endure through all its history, and help to mould that history, and to stamp the character and genius of the people."
Athens has always been a world crossroads. Having dealt with invaders throughout its history, the city has coped well with the tourist bombardment of recent years (Greece receives around 10 million visitors a year!). Even those heading for the islands often spend at least a night or two in Athens, and for many, this is a destination in its own right. If the urban din gets too much, mountain villages, get- away islands and beaches are easily accessible.
Athens, a city very much on the move, absorbs effortlessly its waves of visitors, while straining its Hellenic ingenuity for greater commercial and in industrial prominence. Yet in the end, regardless of how modern it becomes or the extent of the progress it achieves, it will always uphold the splendid heritage evoked by its very name.
One of the oldest remaining cities on the face of the planet, Athens has stood at the center of the world for thousands of years as a leader in philosophy, history, culture, and mythology. From places such as the Acropolis—often credited as the birthplace of modern civilization—with the Parthenon, the Erectheon, and temples to Zeus, Agora, Athena, and Dionysus, to places such as the National Archeological Museum or the harbor of Piraeus, Athens is a symbol of what Europe has been over the millennia: the birthplace of the humanities.
Classical Athens is how most people prefer to remember the city, and it is the basis for the tourism that forms the major industry of this Greek city. It was the centre for arts, philosophy, science, math, and more. Plato’s Academy was based here, as was Aristotle’s Lyceum, and it was here that democracy was first born. In fact, many people call this the cradle of Western civilization, and the proof of that has been well-preserved over the years. In addition, the city was host to the first modern Olympic Games back in 1896, hearkening back to the times when the ancient games had been hosted in Olympia from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D.
Ringed by banks, deluxe hotels, generic fastfood eateries and travel agencies, Syntagma (Constitution) Square is the central reference point for the most visitors to Athens. It also makes a convenient rendezvous spot for Athenians working in the city centre. Orange trees, cypresses and palms somehow survive the fumes that are emitted by constant traffic swinging into Syntagma from eight major thoroughfares.
The Mitropolis, Athens’ cathedral, was completed in 1855 having been built from the remnants of over 70 demolished churches, including a zodiac calendar. On Good Friday evening, the famous candlelight procession takes place here.
The impressive interior, allegedly inspired by St Mark’s in Venice, is bedecked with splendid marble pulpit, floor and columns, huge candelabra, and religious paintings shining with silver revetment. Every inch is covered ic colourful geometric paintwork and mosaics. To the right of the entrance, a silver ossuary bears the sacred remains of Gregory V, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople; the ossuary on the lfet holds the relics of a 16th-century martyr.
The cathedral is open in the morning, and also from around 5pm to 7 or 8pm and can be found Pandrosou, which ends in the spacious Platia Mitropoleos.
Beside the Mitropolis cathedral is the tiny and lovely Agios Eleftherios, the ‘little Mitropolis’, which is affectionately known as Our Lady Quick-to-answer-Prayers. It was built 800 years ago from much earlier columns and beams.
Over the main door, a 4th-century BC pagan frieze has been nearly obliterated – stamped with the Latin cross by later Christians.
However, if you look carefully you can still see the wheels of the ship bearing Athena’s robe in the Panatheniac procession. This is all that’s left of the known artistic rendering of the famous ship.
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Do you know of anything else about the enviroment that makes you happy to come to Eleftheriou Venizelou? If it's a city or neighbourhood are there any climatic, or microclimatic features that you could tell others about. If the location is a building or place, then can you describe it maybe as "sun-lit", or "cold in the mornings". We'd love you to contribute - why not let us know in the drop box below
Graphic showing average weather in Eleftheriou Venizelou in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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