Syntagma Square - Parliament, Athens
At the heart of Plateia Syntagmatos or Syntagma (Constitution) Square stands the Vouli or Parliament Building. Formerly the throne of King Otto in the mid 19th century, it was abandoned by the royal family after sustaining much fire damage on separate occasions. It was then remodeled to house the Greek Parliament, which today remains as the seat of Hellenic power.
In front of the Vouli is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its Evzones (Greek soldiers) standing in permanent watch. The sculpture on the Tomb shows a fallen Greek soldier while the inscriptions on each side quote fragments from Pericles' Funeral Oration of 430 B.C.
The hourly ceremony / changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier is fascinating. I had to admire the two guards on duty - it was February, it was cold and those long socks don't go all the way up! - Take a close look!
Make sure you visit Syntagma on Sunday morning. Every Sunday at 11.00, the platoon that will be on guard in The Unknown Soldier, marches from their camp (behind the National Garden), to their posts. Full uniform, with the National Army band. It is amazing....
Syntagma square is a good place to have as a starting location especially if you want to meet up with other people, or just sit and wait for them to arrive from the metro, tram, bus or taxi.
You can also stop and grab a magazine, phone card, or fresh fruit from the local vendors.
If you want a cheap filtered coffee or fresh squeezed orange juice that won't cost and arm and a leg...stop in at Everest the greek rendetion of fast food.
It is located in the heart of Athens. At this historic square you can visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, the magnificent Parliament building and the changing of the guard, also called evzones.
This is the place where you can always find people walking, feeding the pigeons or just sitting on benches and cafés.
At the top, there's the Parliament building, formerly the King's Palace, built between 1836 and 1840 by King Otto of Bavaria, with the tomb of the unknown soldiers in front. The tomb's guarded by Evzones, the elite soldiers, who also guard the Palace.
When first built in 1843, today’s Parliament building (the Vouli) was designed as an imposing palace for imported and unwanted King Otto Wittlesbach, a 17 year old Bavarian prince and son of King Ludwig of Bavaria. King Ludwig ran out of money and the Bavarian state architect, Friedrich von Gartner, complained that the resulting structure, without his proposed but unaffordable decorative embellishment, looked like an army barracks. The building is a representative sample of the early period of Neoclassicism in Greece, and it is a work of strict geometry in its mass.
The Palace had 365 rooms and 1 bathroom whose water faucets produced a trickle of water, dead cockroaches and fauna. The whole of today’s Syntagma Square was the front lawn of the palace with which Otto's bride, Queen Amalia concerned herself with. Initially the Greek public was admitted into the gardens but the Queen felt this privilege was being abused and banned their entry. The ostentatious palace and luxuriant gardens stirred up resentment with the Greek populace. Further the Queen, in order to water the plants, diverted several reservoirs which supplied residents with drinking water. Otto was deposed in 1862 and King George I of Denmark replaced him.
The Palace was remodelled in 1910 to house the Hellenic Parliament.. Today, it still serves as the seat of the Hellenic Parliament and houses offices, the National Assembly Room, the office of the president of the Assembly, the Archives and other services.
Otherwise known as Constitution Square, Syntagma Square is a very significant area that you will probably encounter several times during your stay in Athens. The square has a long lasting history and even today you have a good chance of finding a demonstration of some sort in or near the square.
In the squares centre there are copies presented by Lord Bute, a court retainer of King Otto, of statues from a Naples museum. The 100 or so trees within the square include oleanders, orange trees and cypresses. The square is a conflicting mixture of bumper to bumper cars and shoulder to shoulder people on its lower perimeter and a more serene, wider, tree shaded, central expanse; the focus of which is a brown marble fountain just visible in the centre of the photo above left. Its turned on in the evenings mostly, probably to conserve water. The benches provide ample room to take a break in the shade however. There are 3 Metro entrances in the square.
Plateia Syntagmatos (Constitution Square) is the heart of modern Athens, where you'll find hotels, offices, banks, restaurants and cafes. What is most interesting in the square though are the Athenians themselves.
View map (click back button after viewing or close map window to return to this page)
Syntagma square is the centre of Athens where you can go to everywhere in Athens.
You can find metro, bus station, tram station, McDonalds it is like the main point of something.
Streets and squares near Syntagma.
Syntagma is the main square to sit and people watch for even a short coffee at local greek fast food resturant "Everest". They offer a nice filtered coffee for cheap and you'll find many nationalities at one of there 20 or so outside tables.
Walking up one block from the metro station there you can find the Tram that will take you all the way to the Beaches at Glyfada. Only for about the sum of
E0.60 euros. It takes anywhere from 30-40 minutes to get there but it's worth the ride to see part of the Athens scenery and neighborhoods.
Ermou the main fashion street of Downtown Athens is also home to many side street resturants and coffee shops. Sit down and slip you drink slow because it's gonna cost you some bucks.
If you know how to get to your hotel from Syntagma ,you can always get directions from someone back to Syntagma.
Now since the Olympics I find that more people are speaking English. But still a nice Efharisto (thank you) is a welcoming way to be a tourist
In 1843, the current House of Parliament (also known as Vouli) was built. It used to be the palace for the imported and very impopular King Otto Wittlesback. He was 17 years old, German and son of Ludwig von Bayern.
Due to a lack of money of the king, architect Friedrich von Gartner, started to complain that the building wasn´t as beautiful as he planned it to be. He had planned lots of decorations on the walls and the roof. But because of this reason the palace stayed the way it is now: a straight, solemn building.
The palace had 365 rooms and only one bathroom. This was covered by weeds and cockroaches, so it wasn´t really a nice place to live in. The palace was abandoned soon.
In 1910 the building was adapted to become the House of Parliament for the new Greek government. Today it still has this function: it shelters the National Meetinghall, the archives and lots of services and offices.
In front of the Parliament you´ll find the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.
Syntagma Square, also known as the Square of the Constitution, is the heart of Athens. You can´t miss it while you´re on a trip through the city. There are three subway-entrances, the major shopping street Odos Ermou passes the square and on of the biggest attractions of the city, the changing of the guards, is at the top of Syntagma.
The top of Syntagma Square is dominated by the Parliament. The big building covers the full width of the square. In front you´ll see the changing of the guards.
In the middle piece of the square, there is a the nice, quiet part of Syntagma. Trees, grass, lots of benches, made of beautiful white marble and a nice gentil fountain, gives you a peacefull feeling in the middle of such a chaotic city.
And at the bottom of Syntagma the chaos of Athens starts. Cars drives madly across eachother, thousands of people moves like ants through the streets, banks and McDonald´s are trying to get full attention by the neon-lightning, and the Odos Ermou, full of modern shops is right there, pulling people in.
Syntagma is the perfect start for your tour through Athens. Culture, peacefullness and chaos at one point, together in harmony, that is Athens...
This noclassical building was built between 1834-1838 as the palace of the first kings. The monument of the unknown Soldier, with the two guards, called "Evzoni", who are the presidential guards. The change of the guard is every hour and it is very famous
At the renovated Syntagma square you'll also find the zero point, i.e. the point from which all distances in Greece are counted. Contrary to other cities, it is not a painting or something like that, but a column. You are in the very center of Athens! In the square have a drink at the brand new café and watch passers-by...
Syntagma is undoubtedly one of the top must see activities. Named after the constitution that the people of Athens demanded demonstrating in front of the palace on September 3rd 1843, Syntagma is the very heart of the city.The dominant building of the square is of course the Greek Parliament. This imposing structure is the most prominent neoclassical building of Athens and it was built in the period 1836-1842 to house the royal palace and residence of Greece's first king,Otto. Yet,since 1924 it houses the Greek parliament. Don't miss to visit the parliament's precious exhibits that include the first Greek constitution and many valuable paintings but also a large library.