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On foot - Ancient Athens

Updated: 2014-06-10 / (visitgreece.gr)

Ancient Athens

The longest pedestrian street (3km long) in Europe is in Athens, created by turning central roads into pedestrian streets (Vassilissis Olgas, D. Aeropagitou, Ap. Pavlou, Hedrian and part of Ermou Str). It is a unified street that passes through the most remarkable sites in Athens (archaeological grove). The part from Dionisiou Aeropagitou Str. (opposite Hedrian’s Arch) up to the intersection of Ermou Str. and Pireos Str. (Keramikos area) extends a vast archaeological area alienated from the modern city activities. Walking through archaeological sites is an unforgettable experience.


According to the traveler Pausanias, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was built by Deucalion, a mythical ancestor of Greeks. During tyranny period (around 515 B.C.) Peisistratus Junior, grandson of the homonym tyrant, tried to replace the old temple with a new more impressive one. When tyranny was abrogated all construction works stopped. The new temple construction was later given to Roman architect Decimus Cossutius, by the king of Syria Adiochos Epifanis the 4th. When Adiochos died (163 B.C.) the temple was once more abandoned and left without roof or gables. The temple’s construction, one of the largest of ancient world, was finished in 131 B.C. by the Roman Emperor Hedrian.

Ilissos River bed. Take a walk to the only preserved part of Ilissos River basin (behind Olympion), also called sacred Muses River, to see the studded ruins of ancient temples. In a nearby location stands the famous rock of Kalliroi Spring and next to it is Aghia Fotini church built in 1872 on the ruins of an older church and on the foundations of Ekati’s sanctuary. Remarkable monuments of classic Roman and Byzantine periods (Delphinios Apollonas Temple, Kronos and Rea Temple, a Byzantine district with workshops, Leonidis basilica, etc) are preserved in a nearby area.

Hedrian's Arch

After constructing Zeus Temple, Athenians honored Hedrian by building (in 131 B.C.) an arched gate on the north-western corner of the temple’s fencing. The arch’s epistyle carved from Penteli marble bears two inscriptions. The first one facing Acropolis and the old town (west side) says: "This is Athens, city of Thiseas”. The second one facing the sanctuary and the city from Hedrian’s side (east side) says: “This is the Hedrian’s city and not Thiseas’ ”.

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