Athens is perhaps the most symbolic capital in the world. The history of Athens unfolds around the Aornos Stone [meaning the Stone over which birds don’t fly] on the Acropolis and flows into neighbourhoods and urban networks like a rushing river of centuries, colours and people. Athens’ charm is precisely its diversity, carved out through the passing of time.
The old dream comes true
In 1833 the architects Kleanthis and Schaubert envisioned a walkway that would unify the archaeological sites of Athens. They wanted to offer the pedestrian a panorama of ancient Athens and, why not, the feeling that time has stopped in the golden age. The dream of the two pioneering architects has now been realized.
The single walkway through Dionysiou Areopagitou, Apostolou Pavlou and Ermou streets is the most significant intervention in the urban body of Athens with a huge cultural impact. Ancient Athens appears in all its glory and eagerly enters the third millennium AD.
Athens emerges in all its glory
The pedestrian can walk through about 700 hectares of ecumenical history. The Acropolis is undoubtedly the jewel in this crown and its beauty has pervaded the centuries.
To its south-west, overlooking the city all the way to Salamina Island is the Pnyx or Hill of the Nymphs. In ancient times the entire hill was a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus. The altars located here refer to him as Zeus Agoraios and as Zeus Hypsistos. Here too lie the foundations of Meton’s helioscopion (a tower used by ancient Greek astronomers as observatory). And of course there is the Athens Observatory, a building of outstanding beauty completed in 1890 for the observation and recording of celestial events.
Between the Hill of the Nymphs and the Hill of the Muses, in other words Philopappos Hill, there stood in ancient times one of the most populous districts in Athens, Koili. Philopappos Hill with the picturesque little church of Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris and Pikionis’ cobbled streets provides a place of refuge in the heart of the city.
The Ancient Agora lies to the north-west of the acropolis. Findings from here verify human presence and activity from as far back as 3500 BC. Use of the area was never suspended, reaching of course its zenith in classical times expressed in buildings such as the Temple of Hephaestus. To find oneself in the heart of the Agora and to see the Acropolis from the middle of Panathinaion Street is the dream of a lifetime for many people the world over.
The Theatre of Dionysus, an enormous piece of architecture for its time, was founded by the Peisistratid family in the 6th century BC. With a seating capacity of fifteen thousand, it was the pride of the Athenian people who, in the presence of the statue of Dionysus, watched from the tiers remarkable performances and ritualistic sacrifices.
Kerameikos, the ancient Athenians’ sacred burial ground, Hadrian’s Library and the Olympieion, this splendid temple to Olympian Zeus, which according to Vitruvius, was built by Deucalion himself, can also be seen within this glorious scenic view that is completed by the Acropolis Museum.
All these archaeological treasures are now unified by one walkway!