Most people taking pictures of Hadrian’s Arch may not recognize the bust inside the small garden (where Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian streets starts).
It’s the bust of Melina Mercouri(1920-1994) the famous greek actress/singer that starred in some iconic greek films, don’t miss the drama film Stella (1955) and the comedy Never On Sunday (1960) if you haven’t seen them yet.
Her second husband was the American film director Zules Dassin that was her mentor for many years. But Melina Merkouri was also known as a political activist and later (1981) became the first female Minister for Culture in Greece, actually she managed to hold on that position until 1989 and the again 1993-94. Her biggest dream was the return to Athens of the Parthenon marbles, they were removed by lord Elgin in 1811-12 and they are now at the British Museum. For this purpose she fought hard for the construction of the New Acropolis Museum that we all can enjoy now but unfortunately the marbles are still away from home. She was also the one that had the idea of a long pedestrian street that will promote the ancient greek culture, in our days we can walk along Dionisiou Areopagitou but she wasn’t there when the pedestrian street completed.
We knew how much she loved smoking so it was no surprise that she died from lung cancer on 6 march 1994. She was buried at the First Cemetery of Athens. Pic 4 was taken there showing the memorial over her grave, her husband lies next to her.
Pic 5 was taken at Acropolis metro station (platform with direction to Anthoupoli), it’s a large impressive photo showing Melina in front of ParthenonRelated to:
- Historical Travel
Patision and Gladstonos streets
Walking from Omonoia along Patision (officially 28th October street but no one really use this) on the way to Archeological museum you’ll see on your right the pedestrian street Gladstonos. In between the two café/bakeries is a statue and behind it another monument. What are they, just another uknown figure for the average tourist? Do even the locals know anything about this Lieutenant? Do they just needed a free spot to put the monument or this corner was important for some reason?
This was the spot where the fascist organization ESPO (National-Socialist Patriotic Organisation) had its offices during the Axis occupation in Greece (1941-1944) with main target to enlist Greeks to fight along with the germans at the front!
Of course at the same time many resistance organizations were founded. PEAN (Panhellenic Union of Fighting Youths) was one of them. It was founded by the air force Lieutenant Kostas Perrikos and carried out active resistamce, usually in the form of bombings.
So, this was the place where on September 23, 1942 ESPO bombed the building of ESPO, not an easy acchivement in the heart of the occupied Athens. Members of the destruction squad were K.Perrikos, A.Mytilinaios, Sp.Galatis and I.Bimba. They managed to wound severely 6 Germans and 40 ESPO members including Sp.Sterodimas who was the founder of ESPO and died after a while. This act caused the destruction of ESPO and any german attempt to recruit greeks into german army stopped but brought also a revenge. On 11.11.1942 they arrested several PEAN’S members and executed many of them including K.Perrikos but also 5 others (Dimitris Lois, Thanos Skouras, Dionysis Papadopoulos, Giannis Katevatis) all of them executed at the beginning of 1943. Just behind the bust of Perrikos is another monument with reliefs about some of those. What I didnt know was that Ioulia Bimba (she was the one that was holding the bomb in a luggage in a near by bus stop for 3 hours predating she was waiting for the bus) was executed too but not in Greece, she was transferred in a concentration camp in Germany first where she was decapitated.Related to:
- Historical Travel
walking tour in Athens during the Nazi occupation!
Most European countries celebrate the liberation from the Nazis but in Greece we focus at the beginning of the war (October 28, 1940 when we said no to Mussolini and the Greco-Italian War started (lasted till 1941 when Germany occupied Greece and it was only until October 12, 1944 when they finally left.
And today (October 12, 2014, 70 years after the withdrawal of the conquerors), something unique took place in Athens. A walking tour organized in the center, the tour guide was the historian Menelaos Charalampidis that took us to specific corners in the corner focusing on the tragic events of the Nazi occupation that lasted 4 years and costed the life of thousands.
-We started at Propylaia (in front of the University) where a small intro speech gave us some basic facts of the situation (1 out 11 greeks died during WWII)
- then we walked to Massalias street where was the morgue back then. That was the place were carriages were bringing the corpses of those who had died from starvation, about 45,000 people because the first years 1941-42 Athens was like hell, with no imports (so no bread, no olive oil), destroyed transportation, no gas, hundreds of companies and factories were closed except those that were taken and used by the Nazi to support their targets.
-Next stop was at Solonos and Asklipioy intersection we learnt about the demonstration that 400 university students did on march 24, 1942 (from Eksarcheia to Kolonaki through Solonos street) to commemorate the liberation from the turks (1821). It was the fist demonstration during the occupation, it evolved into a mass protest and of course was hitten by the Italian police.
-Then we walked back to Stadiou 15 where OTE(Greek Telecomunication) Building stands. Here one of the first strikes during the WWII took place on april 12, 1942. Strikes were banned of course and those who participated knew they’re facing death penalty! But the strike gave strength to many others and strikes begun at the banks etc
-Back to Panepistimiou avenue we stopped in front of the Bank of Greece. It was here where the hugest demonstration in occupied Greece took place on july 22, 1943. Organized by EAM (National Liberation Front) which was the main movement of the greek resistance with mainly left and communist people. Almost 100,000 people took place at the demonstration (they were against the Bulgarian outspread to the south, something the germans wanted) and was the corner of Omirou and Panepistimou streets were protested got killed (later we also saw photos of that). At one side of the bank is a memorial for some of those who got killed that day.
-Then we walked to Santarosa and Panepistimiou, the general area was the black market during the occupation, Nazis had approved and used several casino in the area and were the places where traitors and nazi were exchanging information, and gold.
-next stop was at Patision and Gladstonos where on September 23, 1942 a partisan organization bombed the building of a fascist organization that was trying to enlist Greeks to fight along with the germans at the front!
-last stop was at Korai street, at the building were thousands greeks were hold, tortured and died by the Nazis.
It was an amazing yet sad tour and no matter we were more than 500 people we all enjoyed it. They said that they will try to make it again next year. The tour ended at the Law University were we watched some old shorts films and photos (photography wasn’t allowed during the occupation) that gave extra light of what we heard on the tour. At the end another historian (professor Mpournova) gave us extra information from her archive (including Red Cross’ files from that time) about the daily life in Athens during the occupation.Related to:
- Historical Travel
beach near the center?!
I know, those who come to Greece will end up sooner or later on some island and will enjoy the sea. But for those who just returned from an island and already miss it or for those who dont have time to visit an island there are many beaches at Attika region. Some of them are very close the center of the city, only 30' away by tram from Syntagma square!!!
At the south check Alimos (free entrance), Elliniko(free entrance), Asteria Glyfadas, Boula, Voulagmeni plaz, Limanaki Vouliagmenis, Kavouri, Yabanaki(activities for kids), Freatida
On the east coast you can visit some other beaches, Artemida(Loutsa) can be reached with bus 305 from Nomismatokopio metro station, while for Porto Rafti and Nea Makri you need a long distance bus from Pedion Areos.
If you have a car you may drive a bit further to the west where the beaches of Porto Germeno, Psatha and Alepohori will please you (and they are almost empty during the week)Related to:
Surviving the strikes
Some tips on how to minimise the impact of any strikes during your stay.
Firstly try to stay informed. Most strikes are announced well in advance.
If you are staying in a Hotel ask the reception desk. The staff will surely know.
You can save a whole day’s heartache.
Avoid central spots like Omonia and Syntagma. The riots usually take place in the front yard of the Parliament building. It has also been the scene of occasional clashes with police when a small minority gets physical.
Have in mind that the whole city is not in turmoil because a few blocks away people are working and have their businesses as usual with people serenely sipping coffee and reading the paper in the street cafes.
If you come to the Metro station and the shutters are rolled down, you can use the bus or tram alternatively.
It is very rare for the entire public transport network to be closed at the same time.
Athens is a city best seen on foot so take a guidebook and head for the small back streets which can reveal delights which you would never discover on a planned tour.
If there are riots in Athens take the train and get down to Piraeus that day. Either visit the city or take a ferry to the nearest island in the Saronic Gulf.Related to:
- Road Trip
Free Phone Calls from Athens
There is a free phone service at “The Mall” shopping centre.
You can get there if you take the metro and get off at Nerantziotisa Station.
Free Promotional VoIP calls are offered from a telecoms company to most countries of the world.
Spot the red phone boxes by the entrance of the Mall but I recommend doing this on weekdays. It can be very difficult to call on Saturdays!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Free Internet in Athens!!
A large part of central Athens is covered by a public WiFi network. These areas are around Thissio metro station, Kotzia Square and Syntagma.
People gather at the nearby benches of these areas with their laptops and you can see lots of them especially in summer. If it is winter, then access is much fasterRelated to:
- Budget Travel
This is a place where culture and tecnology go on together. Inside you have a multimedial museum with several exibitions and some virtual reality theaters.
The area is really big, when I was there there were two exibitions: one about the development of mathematic and the other one about the born of democracy. Then there is a virtual reality theater with interactive exibitions. I watched the life in agora in the stereostophic projection and it was pretty funny. Then you also have a 3D glasses show which lasts 20 minuts and I chosed the life in Olimpia during the games.
The ticket that allows you to visit exibitions, the 3D show and the stereostophic projection costs 15 euro and it also include free internet access.
To go here take the metro untill Kalithea station, then get out on Pireus side exit on Thessalonikis street and go straight untill you find a big road (Pireos) then cross the road and go left. If like me you get lost, take a taxi at the metro station it was about 2 euro to take me to the theater.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Theater Travel
The War Museum
The War Museum is probably not on top of everyones list of things to see while in Athens. It was not on the top of mine either, in fact it was the last attraction that I visited while touring the city. Still I think anyone who is fascinated with Greek history might find this museum to be an interesting stop. It traces the military history of the region from antiquity to the Second World War. Like alot of such museums there is a great deal of propaganda being dished out here. Because of the role of military affairs in Ancient Greece's history, the exhibits from that periods work as an archeological display as well. Unbiased historians might be prone to bite their tongues while reading the commentary for some of the 20th century history exhibits especially while reading about the wars with Turkey.
Outside the museum there is a large display of military hardware, especially cannons from various eras. Overall I was surprised by the quality of the displays and thought that the museum was somewhat undervisited.
The War Museum is located at Vassilissis Sophias Av. and Rizari 2, 106 75.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Explore ancient coins in the Numismatic Museum
This museum is situated at the historical center of the city and found in 1834. in the residence of the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. There are more than half a million coins from ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium and other old civilizations. The residence of Schliemann is great to see, with compositions on the walls and ceilings painted by a slovenian painter, while the mosaic floors were the work of italian craftsmen.
Opening hours: tue-sun 8.30 - 15.00
Tickets: full 3 euro
reduced 2 euro
12, El. Venizelou st.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Visit the most ethereal of temples
Overlooking the sea the temple of Nemessis in Ramnous is a unique place! The archaeological site of Ramnous includes the remains of two temples. The Great one was dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess of devine justice, while the Little one was dedicated to Themis, the goddess of human justice.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Museum of National Resistance
The National Resistance from 1940 to 1944 is perhaps the most important event in the Modern Greek history and is dedicated to the Greek Resistance against the Axis occupation during World War II. The museum hosts all kind of material like typewriters uniforms photographs and all kinds of documents that existed at that time
It is located in Leoforos Marinou Antipa & Sofokli Venizelou in the area of Ilioupoli
Opened 10:00 – 14:00 (winter schedule)Related to:
- Museum Visits
Athens Postal and philatelic museum
The museum shows the history of Greek post office through time with collections of rare stamps, seals paintings, mailboxes, horns, telephones.The building is located right next to the Kalimarmaro Stadium
Open from 8:00 to 14:00 from Monday to FridayRelated to:
- Museum Visits
the turn of the century
When you visit the history of Athens museum you can admire some old photos of Athens city, how it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Marvelious!. Hotel Grande Bretagne at Syntagma squaire, aiolou street, the acropolis, omonia squaire!
Thiseio flea market
This is definitely a must-do for the fans of oriental markets. You will see lots of gipsies, locals and other "exotic" people, offering a wide range of goods on this market. It is easily reachable by metro. The goods vary from souvenirs and ancient coins to lyngerie and wonderbras. Bear in mind that you can negotiate on the price and many articles start from 1 euro. Enjoy this flea market!
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