Top historic sites in Athens

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium or Kallimarmaro is a multi-purpose stadium in Athens. One of the main historic attractions of Athens, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. A stadium was built on the site of a simple racecourse by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos c. 330 BC, primarily for the Panathenaic Games. It was rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus, an Athenian Roman senator, by 144 AD and ...
Founded: 144 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 Queen ...
Founded: 1842 | 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

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

Benaki Museum

The Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to the modern times, an extensive collection of Asian art, hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop. Although the museum initially housed a collection that included Islamic art, Chinese porcelain and exhibits on toys, its 2000 re-opening led to t ...
Founded: 1930 | 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.