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On Foot - From Syntagma Up to Omonia Square

Syntagma Square

PANEPISTIMIOU AVENUE (ELEFTHERIOU BENIZELOU)
One of the oldest streets initially designed as boulevard (former name Voulevartou Str.) and one of the busiest streets in Athens as it connects Syntagma Square with Omonia Square. Some of the most remarkable and representative public buildings in Athens, many of which are typical trademarks of the city, are built on this wide avenue.

Sightseeing:
Metochiko Tameio Stratou Building (Army Share Fund Building).
It is an imposing mansion occupying the whole construction area between Panepistimiou, Voukourestiou, Amerikis and Stadiou Streets. It was built in the period of 1927-1938 in the place of the royal stables. Its exterior facets are of art deco style and there is a small arcade with many shops in the middle. It was recently reconstructed as a mall and a block of offices, while it still has three operating theater halls ("Pallas", "Mikro Pallas" and "Aliki"), coffee places and restaurants.
Iliou Melathron (12 Panepistimiou Str.). It is considered to be the most beautiful neoclassic building of Athens. It was constructed in 1879 by E. Ziller as the residence of German archeologist and philhellene E. Schliemann. It is of cinquecento style and has a twin ladder in its north facet, while Ionic column rows decorate the front facet and the two other floors. Its interior is decorated with “Pompey” frescos and drawings depicting sceneries and findings from Troy. Areios Pagos (the supreme court of Greece) was housed in Iliou Melathron in 1927, while nowadays it houses the Numismatic Museum .
Archeological Society Mansion. It is a five storey building of later classical style decorated with Ionic columns in its entrance. It is located at the corner of Omirou Str. and houses Athens Archeological Society.
Aghios Dionisios Catholic Church (1853-1865). It was designed by L. von Klenze and L. Kaftantzoglou and is a three aisled basilica with a portico in its south side and five cyclic arches (it is located in the corner of Omirou Str.).
Athens Ophthalmiatric Clinic (Panepistimiou and Sina Streets). It is and impressive building (1854) with mixed elements of Byzantine and neoclassic architecture. The initial designs were made by Ch. Hansen with some alterations from L. Kaftantzoglou and were planning a single storey building, but many years after (during the 1860’s) another floor was added.
Bank of Greece Mansion (21 Panepistimiou Str.)
. It is an impressive building occupying a whole residential block. Its construction began in 1933 and it was inaugurated in 1938. The money exchange offices still preserve their minimal but imposing features, and the interwar atmosphere.
The Three Temples of Education (“Athenian Trilogy”). These three mansions were built at the same time by two well known Danish architects the Hansen brothers, who lived in Greece during that period.

Athens Academy (1859-1887): On the sides of Academy there are two wings, decorated with friezes and a pair of high columns which support Apollo’s and Athena’s statues. Athens Academy was designed by Th. Hansen the younger of the two brothers. The statues are creations of L. Drossis and the painting decorations of K. Rahl. Athens Academy is considered to be the most remarkable example of Greek architectural style.
The University (1839-1864)
: Athens University was designed by Ch. Hansen the older one of the two brothers. The fountain in the yard, the cyclic ladder and the colorful frescos with classical themes (painted by the Bavarian K. Rahl), which decorate the walls behind balcony's columns are also remarkable.
National Library (1887-1902): Another beautiful building designed by Th. Hansen. It is the largest library in Greece and houses unique treasures of books written in all languages. On its facade there is an impressive six column portico of Doric style, which is designed according to the example of the one in Theseion. Its interior is designed by Ern. Ziller is lit by a large skylight and is surrounded by Ionic columns.
Cultural Center of Athens Municipality. It is located behind the “Athenian trilogy” buildings (50 Akadimias Str.). It is an impressive neoclassic building constructed in 1835 by Chr. Hansen and for many years it was operating as a hospital. Cultural events are organized in its rooms. In front of the building is a small garden with busts of historic personalities (artists, politicians etc), while in its back side (towards Solonos Str.) operates a small coffee house. Right next to it (at the corner of Massalias Str.) stands the impressive Palama Building (also known as the “pink building” because of its color) built in the period of 1857-1859, which nowadays houses the library of the Museum of Theater. Athens University Student Club (1926-1931) designed by Al. Nikoloudi is located on the opposite diagonal side of the cultural center (at the corner of Ippokratous Str.). It is a building designed according to the eclectic Beaux Arts style.
Korai Square. It is a small beautiful square built when the homonym street was reconstructed as pedestrian. In its NE side dominates the Ralli building (10 Korai Str.) of early neoclassic style and right opposite stands the modern building of General Accountings Office (designed by E. Lazaridis). In its SW side stands the neoclassic former Grand Hotel (2 Korai Str.) and on the opposite side the modern building of Emporiki Bank. The recently renovated “Korai Arcade” where you can find many coffee places, small restaurants (fats food), shops and a cinema hall is also situated in Korai square.
Ionian Bank Mansion (Pesmatzoglou Str.). It is a remarkable mansion with vigor art deco decoration elements (1925). Its central money exchange office is surrounded by columns and balconies and is lit from a stained glass window.
Arsakeio Mansion (1846-1855).
It is an imposing two storey mansion typical example of Greek classicism also influenced by eclecticism. Many years ago it housed “Arsakeio Girls' School” but nowadays houses the Council of State (supreme Administrative Court). Right next to it is Dikastirion Square.
Arsakeio Arcade (Orfeos):
It is the interior arcade of Arsakeio Mansion built with neo baroque architectural elements and an impressive glass roof with a dome in its middle. It houses many shops and coffee places as well as the “Arcade of Book”, which hosts bookstores of 60 Greek publishers and organizes many cultural events.
“Rex” cinema-theater. It is a mansion with three entertainment halls (cinema-theater) built in the period of 1935-1937 and influenced by American skyscrapers that were constructed the same period. Nowadays, two of the halls are used for performances of the National Theater and the third one operates as an entertainment hall.

OMONIA SQUARE
It is a central square that stays "open" 24 hours a day, all year long. Contrary to Syntagma Square, Omonia stays awake since the first moment of its existence. Every Saturday night, it is common for the Athenians to buy their Sunday newspapers from the kiosks and the stands of the square before they return home. Omonia is the oldest central square of modern Athens. Visitors can not say that they have visited Athens if they have not been at least once on Omonia to see its lifestyle and its crowd and… hear its noises. In Omonia you can find all popular fast food chains and buy foreign newspapers from its kiosks. Some neoclassic buildings surrounding Omonia Square, such as “Bagkeion” and “Alexandros” Hotels (towards Athena Str.), “Neon” coffee house and National Bank's branch (in Panepistimiou Avenue) are very remarkable. In Omonia is one of the central metro stations in Athens.

*AROUND OMONIA SQUARE
Streets such as Stadiou, Patision, Panepistimiou, 3rd Septemvriou, Piraeus, Athenas and Aghios Konstantinos begin from or end up in Omonia The aforementioned streets together with the smaller streets and the neighboring Kaniggos Square form a very busy zone with many interesting spots (small shops, traditional coffee houses etc.).

Sightseeing:
National Theater of Greece (Aghios Konstantinos Str.).
It was built in the period of 1891-1901 on the initiative of King Georgios the 1st, was designed by E. Ziller and financed by Greeks living abroad. It is of cinquecento style and has copied the architectural style of the National Theater of Vienna. The theater opened in November 1901 initially as Royal Theater and in 1930 it changed to National Theater. Its central hall (of Italian style) can seat 1000 spectators (pit, two balconies and two boxes). On the opposite side (in Menandros Str.) stands the three storey neoclassic Einar Mansion housing the museum of actors K. Paxinou and A. Minoti.
Aghios Konstantinos (Aghios Konstantinos Str.). It is located opposite of the National Theater. The monumental three aisled basilica (1871-1896/1905) designed by L. Kaftatzoglou and recently renovated is located here. It has an impressive facade with many neoclassic and cinquecento elements, a monumental entrance designed as an ancient propylaea (entrance) and remarkable interior decorations.
Piraeus Street (P. Tsaldari). It was designed on the ruins of an ancient street which connected Athens with Piraeus and alongside this ancient street stood Makra Teichi (Long Walls). It was the first street in the city suitable for cars and connects Athens with Piraeus city and port. Despite its initial designs, in the 19th century after the construction of many factories in the area the street became an industrial zone. The last few years, all these industrial buildings have been restored and used for other purposes (museums, cultural venues, School of Fine Arts). Nowadays, even though it is still a very busy street, all these buildings create a unique atmosphere of urban industrial architecture.
Koumoundourou Square (Eleftherias):
It is a beautiful spacious square with rich vegetation. In the side of the square facing Piraeus Str. dominates the impressive neoclassic mansion of “Public Gallery” built in 1874 (designed by G. Metaksa). Next to it is Aghioi Anargiroi church (1893), while in the square there is also a small stone theater that hosts cultural and other events.
Aghion Asomaton Street: From Piraeus Str. as you turn left please note the house 45. It is one of the most popular traditional buildings in Athens (of folk classic style-1880) famous for the twin Caryatids standing on the balcony. It is one of the most photographed and painted sights of Athens.
Gkazi
Athens University Botanic Garden: It is located at the corner of Iera Odos (which was constructed on the ruins of the ancient street of Elefsinia Mistiria) and Sp. Patsi. It extends over 7000 sq m. and has around 120 species of wood-like plants (trees and bushes) and mossies from different parts of the world.

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