Top historic sites in Athens

Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the 5th century BC, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age tha ...
Founded: c. 495-429 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Areopagus

The Areopagus is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis. In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders of the city, similar to the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership was restricted to those who had held high public office, in this case that of Archon. In 594 BC, the Areopagus agreed to hand over its functions to Solon for reform. He in ...
Founded: 6th century BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Parthenon

The Parthenon is a former temple, on the Athenian Acropolis, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenit ...
Founded: 447 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major theatre in Athens, built at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis. Dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine, the theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people with excellent acoustics, making it an ideal location for ancient Athens" biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It was the first theatre ever built, cut into the southern cliff face of the Acro ...
Founded: 6th century BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The temple as seen today was built between 421 and 406 BCE. It may have been built in honor of the legendary king Erechtheus, who is said to have been buried nearby. Erechtheus was mentioned in Homer"s Iliad as a great king and ruler of Athens during the Archaic Period ...
Founded: 421-406 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Propylaea

A propylaea means an monumental gateway in ancient Greek architecture. Entrance into the Acropolis was controlled by the Propylaea. Though it was not built as a fortified structure, it was important that people not ritually clean be denied access to the sanctuary. It was one of several public works commissioned by the Athenian leader Pericles in order to rebuild the Acropolis hill at the conclusion of the Persian W ...
Founded: 437 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped theater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of expensive cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with ...
Founded: 161 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis of Athens was named after the Greek goddess. Built around 420 BCE, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. It was a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea. In contrast to the Acropolis proper, a walled sanctuary entered through the Propylaea, the Victory Sanctuary w ...
Founded: 420 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Asclepeion

To the west of the Dionysos theatre and quite close to the cliff of the Acropolis lies the Asklepieion, the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios dated to 420 BC. Functioning pretty much as hospitals, the asklepieia were of immense importance in ancient Greece, the most popular being the Asklepieion of Epidaurus. Besides the usual facilities for sheltering the pilgrims, the core structures of the Athenian complex we ...
Founded: 420 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, focuses on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies over the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres.
Founded: 2009 | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a former colossal temple at the centre Athens. It was dedicated to Olympian Zeus, a name originating from his position as head of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC (around 520 BC) during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in t ...
Founded: 520 BC | Location: Athens, Greece

Arch of Hadrian

The Arch of Hadrian is a monumental gateway resembling – in some respects – a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It has been proposed that the arch was built to celebrate the adventus (arrival) of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and to honor him for his many benefactions ...
Founded: 131-132 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Zappeion

The Zappeion is a palace-like building in the National Gardens of Athens in the heart of Athens. It is generally used for meetings and ceremonies, both official and private. The cornerstone was laid in 1874. Designed by Danish architect Theophil Hansen, it was finally opened in 1888. Zappeion was used during the 1896 Summer Olympics as the main fencing hall. A decade later, at the 1906 Intercalated Games, it w ...
Founded: 1874-1888 | Location: Athens, Greece

Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus is a well-preserved Greek temple located at the north-west side of the Agora of Athens; it remains standing largely as built. It was dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire and Athena, goddess of pottery and crafts. According to the archeologists, the temple was built around 450 BCE. at the western edge of the city, on top of Agoreos Koronos hill, and it is a classical example of Dor ...
Founded: 450 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Classical Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora (central public space in ancient Greek city-states), located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill. The Agora"s initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering pla ...
Founded: 5th century BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the greatest museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. The current location was proposed and the construction of the museum"s building began in 1866 and was c ...
Founded: 1866-1889 | Location: Athens, Greece

Kerameikos

Kerameikos was the potters" quarter of the city, from which the English word 'ceramic' is derived, and was also the site of an important cemetery and numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city towards Eleusis. The earliest tombs at the Kerameikos date from the Early Bronze Age (2700-2000 BC), and the cemetery appears to have continuously expanded from the sub-Mycenaean period (110 ...
Founded: 2700 BCE | Location: Athens, Greece

Philopappos Monument

The Philopappos Monument is an ancient Greek mausoleum and monument dedicated to Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos or Philopappus, (65–116 AD), a prince from the Kingdom of Commagene. It is located on Mouseion Hill in Athens, southwest of the Acropolis. The monument was built on the same site where Musaios or Musaeus, a 6th-century BC priestly poet and mystical seer, was held to have been buried ...
Founded: c. 116 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Hadrian's Library

Hadrian"s Library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. The building followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style, having only one entrance with a propylon of Corinthian order, a high surrounding wall with protruding niches (oikoi, exedrae) at its long sides, an inner courtyard surrounded by columns and a decorative oblong pool in the middle.The ...
Founded: 132 AD | Location: Athens, Greece

Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation construction began on Christmas Day, 1842 with the laying of the cornerstone by King Otto and Queen Amalia. Workers used marble from 72 demolished churches to build the Cathedral"s immense walls. Three architects and 20 years later, it was complete. On May 21, 1862, the completed Cathedral was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God by the King and Quee ...
Founded: 1842 | Location: Athens, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.