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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.
Across the upper, east side of the square is Greece’s Parliament (Vouli), which was the royal palace until 1935. Sentries (evzones) in traditional uniform quard a memorial to the nation’s unknown soldier which stands in the forecourt. You can watch a formal changing of this Republican Guard qt 10.45am on Sunday morning. Be advised, though, it’s best to arrive early for a view.
To the south lies the Zappion, a national exhibition hall and, in summer, an open-air stage.
Two broad avenues link Syntagma to Athens’ other main square, Omonia (a 15-minute walk away). Along Stadiou, a principal shopping street, the National Historical Museum is in the old Parliament building on Platia Kolokotroni. Its displays from the Greek War of independence include the helmet and sword allegedly used by the poet Lord Byron.
Two blocks on is Klafthmonos (Sobbing Square), so-named because King Otto’s subjects came here to register complaints. Just below the square is the lovely 12th-century Byzantine church of Agii Theodori (Saint Theodore), which has tiny stairs wrapped around miniature pulpit.
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Bronze shields on the marble retaining walls commemorates modern Greek military victories. There’s also an engraved epitaph from Pericles’ funeral oration (430 BC), honoring the Athenians killed in the first year of the Pelopontombs lie underneath Building occupies and upper corner of the sprawling National Garden (Ethnikos Kipos).
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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Graphic showing average weather in Syntagma Square in Celcius and Centimeters (Change to Farenheit and Inches)
|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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