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
This is a district only 8km from Athens that attracts many visitors during the summer months because of the beach. For many years I believed Kalamaki was a different district than Alimos (famous for the beach/marina side of it) but is actually the former name of Alimos. It’s part of the greater Athens area but also a separate municipality.
Kalamaki (small reed) was probably named (in 1927) after the long reed fields that used to be here in the early 20th century. Located in the south part of Attica region bordered by Vouliagmenis avenue to the east and Poseidonos avenue to the west. Near the sea is bordered with Paleo Faliro district. With about 40,000 inhabitants is a popular residential area but tourists may find interesting only the beach side part but I usually wall in Ano Kalamaki when visiting some relatives.
During the ancient era this was the area of Alimountos(fish village outside Athens) which was the birthplace of historian Thoukidides (460BC) but in reality people lived here since Neolithic times. It was named after the plant alimos(known as armyrithra now) that was popular in the area although I’ve read at the official site of Alimos municipality that it’s from the ancient greek word als which means sea, so the one near the sea. Before WWII there were only pasture fields but then rich Athenians started to build summer houses near the beach and it was only until after the 1960s when some business and stores started to rise. The marina of Alimos is the largest in Greece, can host more than a thousand yachts.
There are some big avenues so it doesn’t have the claustrophobic sense of other distrists where apartment building are very close to each other. Bying a house is expensive there, especially close to the beach. For the beach side you better take the tram from Syntagma (towards Voula and get off at Alimos beach) but for the other part metro stations of Ilioupoli and Alimos are better.
Pic 1 fountain in Ano Kalamaki
Pic 2 bust of Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), a charismatic greek leader/statesman in the early 20th century that was elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece (1910-20, 1928-32)
Pic 3 bust of Georgios Karaiskakis (1782-1827) a famous hero/greek commander during the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks
Pic 4 behind the bust of Karaiskakis are some trees that were donated from Mavromati Karditsas, the area where Karaiskakis was born.
Pic 5 Agios Panteleimon church in Ano Kalamaki, probably one of the ugliest churches I ever sawRelated 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
We arrived in Athens by lunch time, with flight to Santorini almost at midnight. Our tourist operator received us in the airport (VIP treatment because I was a friend of the Portuguese operator, and drove us to the beach of Glifada where time could pass without boring the kids. It was nice, and we had time to explore a little of the place. The beach seamed a little dirt and crowded, and the city showing a modern and functional look.
We decided to visit a huge church near the beach, but... bad luck: it was being used in religious ceremonies, and we didn't disturb. I kept the idea that it was as modern as everything around but... not sure.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Only 8 kilometers out of Athens, in mount Hymettos, this monastery is a good example of Byzantine art.
I read that a taxi costs about 15 €, and it is served by bus 224, but with the recent crises I can't guarantee it.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- 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
Kipseli district is crowded! The word "Kipseli" means beehive because of the style of the buildings one next to other when other districts that times had more space (in ourdays it's the same everywhere). I still remember my first school teacher telling us that is one of the most crowded districts in the world. I’m not sure about that but in Greece is the most densely populated area with more than 200.000 residents.
Kipseli is between Galatsi district(at the north) and Patision Av.(at the south). Pedion Areos park used to be one nice park in the past but for some strange reason it’s abandoned the last years although there are not a lot of parks in Athens. Try to avoid the park after the afternoon.
Some architectures say that the buildings of Kypseli were very modern when they made but that was back in the 1930's, with Bauhaus and art-deco elements. Amazing to believe that it was just an area where the Athenians were going for recreation! Later in the 60s it was an upscale area with modern clubs, cinemas and theatres so a lot of artists start to gather in the area. In the 80s the rich people moved to the north suburbs and the city centre (where Kypseli belongs) start to fail in just a residential area…
Unfortunatelly, in our days you can see dozens of apartments one next to the other making you looking for free space without hope of course. The rents are cheaper here so many foreign immigrants choose to stay here and that gives a multicolor feeling in the area. You can see many shops that belongs to Africans or Asians and their customers are from their countries also.
What you can do here is:
1.go down Fokionos Negri Street, a partly pedestrian long street with cafes and pubs so it’s great to visit the area during the afternoon in spring/summer when the young people give life till late in the area.
2.The municipal market of Kipseli built in the 1930s. It was closed the last 10 years and recently occupied by locals after the municipality announced plans to demolish it and build a parking lot! Some locals make announcements from time to time about art expressions and other cultural events in the old building. You can see the market on your left hand as you go down Fokionos Negri St.
3.Walk in the pedestrial street of Agias Zonias for some nice local cafes
4.Visit Pedion Tou Areos park. A nice but ind of isolated park that brings me back a lot of games we used to play as children.
5.Eat at the ethiopian restaurant Axum
6.Make your hair rasta in one of nigerian places
7.visit one of the numerous small theatres of the district, the perfomance is in greek of course
Metro hasn’t made till here yet (2 stations will be build in the future) but you can visit the area by buses N.022, N.035 or trolley buses N.2, N.4, N.9. All of them stop at Kispeli square and Fokionos Negri starts from there.
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:
- Theater Travel
- Museum Visits
About 40 km from the center of Athens in Spata, opened in 2000 Attica zoo is the only one in Athens host the 3rd larger bird collection in the world .A 32 acre zoo full of animal kingdom for everyone to discoverRelated to:
- Family 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
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