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On Foot - Kolonaki-Riggilis Area-Mets

KOLONAKI
It is located in the central part of the city as it extends from Syntagma Square and Vassilissis Sofias Avenue to Lycabetus Hill foot. It took its name from the old column (kolonaki) which stands in the middle of the homonym square. Until the 1880’s it was a sparsely inhabited area with only few houses. It has lots of green areas and beautiful architecture with dominating neoclassic and modernistic buildings of high standards that give it an aristocratic character. It is considered to be the “aristocratic” district of Athens with many expensive shops, popular coffee houses, busy modern bars and luxurious restaurants. Some streets worth to walk on are Patriarchou Ioakim, Tsakalof, Anagnostopoulou, Milioni, Fokilidou, Karneadou, Loukianou, Ploutarchou, Charitos, Spefsipou, the ring-road of Lycabetus Hill etc.

Sightseeing:
Kolonaki Square (Filikis Eterias)
. One of the must things that you have to do in Athens is to drink coffee in one of the coffee places in Kolonaki. Spending time in one of the square coffee places, drinking, eating and chatting, is a must to do for every modern Athenian as well as foreign visitor.
Deksameni Square. It is a small square where locals spend their time. The traditional coffee house of the square is very popular with Athenians and other visitors, and once was a meeting point for many intellectuals of the 20th century. There is also an old water reservoir and a summer cinema.
Skoufa Street A central street of Kolonaki with many neoclassic and art deco buildings. Until you reach Delfon Str. you will see many shops and modern coffee houses.
Aghios Dionisios (Skoufa Str.). This impressive church was built in the beginning of the 1930’s on the ruins of another church. Its exterior is of cinquecento style while its interior has been decorated in Byzantine style. Aghios Dionisios Aeropagitis, one of the first Athenian Christians, is the patron saint of Athens.
Lycabetus Square. It is located behind Aghios Dionisios Church (in the intersection of Lycabetus and Anagnostopoulou Streets). Dragoumi Mansion (1925), which in the past housed Brazilian Embassy and today is a private residence, dominates in the square.
Marasleio. It is a very impressive neoclassic building (in the intersection of Marasli and Spefsipou Streets) designed by architect D. Kallia (1905) and houses the educational foundation “Marasleio Elementary School".
Voukourestiou Street
. A typical Athenian street, which begins from Lycabetus Hill foot and ends up in Syntagma Square. In its pedestrian part (from Akadimias Str. to Panepistimiou Str.) there are numerous beautiful coffee places and bars that gather many Athenians.
Taxiarches (the church of Petraki Monastery – Kolonaki)..
Gennadios Library.
An impressive building of classic style, inaugurated in 1926 to house a collection of books (overall 26.000 volumes) donated to Athens American School of Classic Studies by I. Gennadios. In 1960 this building was extended and a large garden with rich vegetation was planted around it (for the collections and the books of the library.

Shopping in Kolonaki. Some of the most modern boutiques in town known for products such as haut couture clothes of Greek and foreign designers, shoes and leather apparels, accessories, toys, antique furniture, jewels, items for the house etc are situated here. In Voukourestiou Str. and other streets around Syntagma Square you will find Greek jewelers of worldwide reputation, book stores that expertise in foreign publication, as well as remarkable galleries which host art works of Greek painters and sculptures.

Syntagma Square
It is Athens’ central square. It took its name from the event of the 3rd of September 1843, when in the area in front of the Palace (today's Parliament), the people and the garrison of Athens rebelled asking King Othonas to establish a Constitution. Syntagma Square and Omonia Square are the two reference points of the city. So do not be surprised when hearing the word Syntagma every time you ask for directions. Plaka, Acropolis, the Metropolitan Church, the National Garden, Ermou Str. and Kolonaki are all close to Syntagma Square. Some of the most modern coffee houses and small restaurants are located in this area. This square never sleeps. In square's kiosks you can find everything you need, from aspirins to souvenirs as well as newspapers and foreign magazines.

Sightseeing:


The Parliament. It dominates in Syntagma Square. It was built as the Palace of Othonas, the first king of Greece. Its construction lasted from 1836 until 1842. The second king, Georgios the 1st also stayed in this Palace. During his reign, two massive fires destroyed the building in such extent that it was inappropriate for royal use. The government of 1924 was the one that decided the Greek Parliament should be housed there. The reconstruction works were finished in 1934 and its interior was designed by the architect A. Kriezi. The Parliament houses national treasures such as the first Constitution of Greece and many valuable paintings. It is also worth to visit its great library.


Monument to the Unknown Soldier. It was built during the period from 1929 to 1932 in front of the Greek Parliament. It is a bas-relief depicting a dead soldier (by the sculptor K. Dimitriadi) and has an inscription with an extract from Pericles Epitaph written on it. The greatest fights of the Greek army since 1821 are depicted on the marble wall surrounding it. The monument is guarded 24 hours by two selected guards, called Evzones, who wear traditional Greek costumes. It is also the place where Greek officials and visitors place garlands in big celebrations. The ritual, during which the guards change positions, happens every hour and is a unique event which attracts many people especially on Sunday mornings, when the guards are escorted by a military band and a large Evzones force.


“Great Britannia” Hotel. A luxurious hotel, constructed in 1842 as a private residence. It was designed by Th. Hansen and in 1874 it was reconstructed as a hotel. In 1958, due to the high touristic needs, it was reconstructed again and new floors were added to it. In 2003 it was fully restored. This hotel has been connected with the greatest moments of Modern Greek History, while many famous personalities have stayed here when visiting Athens. Visit its interior areas where you can find coffee houses, bars and a luxurious restaurant with unique atmosphere.
Ancient Water Reservoir. In the NE side of the square (a covered open-air space) was found and is exhibited part of the ancient cemetery and the Peisistrateios water reservoir.
Filellinon Street. A remarkable street extending from Stadiou Str. In the intersection of Xenofontos and Souri Streets you can see the neoclassic houses,  Sotiras Lycodimus Church and Aghios Pavlos Anglican Church (1843), designed by Ch. Hansen with Gothic elements and in a shape of cross.
Amalias Avenue.
It is a wide avenue that leads from Andrianos Gate to Syntagma Square. The fact that it is next to the National Garden as well as its impressive neoclassic houses give it unique atmosphere. As you walk up the street towards Syntagma Square, pay attention to the view with the Parliament and Lycabetus Hill in the background.

NATIONAL GARDEN
It opens in the morning until sunset and is considered to be an oasis in the center of Athens. The National Garden extends over 160 sq. m and there you can find 500 different species of plants, bushes and trees from all over the world. Its plantation was accomplished during the period from 1838 to 1860 and it was the Palace garden. It has four entrances: from Vassilissis Sofias Av., Herodes Atticus Str., Vassilissis Amalias Av., while its forth entrance connects National Garden with Zappeio Park. Walk around its pathways, listen to the birds singing and sit on a bench to rest. In the National Garden you can also see a lake with ducks, a small zoo, Botanic Museum, a small traditional coffee house, children library, playground, some ancient monuments and busts of famous personalities of modern Greece.

Sightseeing:
Zappeio Mansion.
This impressive mansion was designed by Th. Hansen and constructed the period from 1874 to 1888. The last few years, in this "Conventions and Exhibitions Mansion" many important episodes of Modern Greek History took place: European summits, election results and important political announcements. At the same time, many exhibitions and concerts are hosted here. In front of Zappeio Mansion are the statues of Zappa cousins who financed its construction, while the homonym garden extends around them. Many Athenians go to Zappeio Park especially on Sundays. Right next to it operates a luxurious coffee place and a summer cinema.

RIGGILIS AREA
An impressive Athens area with luxurious buildings, villas and rich vegetation. It is located in the area between Vassilissis Sofias Av., Riggilis Str., Vassileos Kontstantinou Av. and Herodes Atticus Str. and is considered to be a glamorous area due to its location (close to the old Palace, today's Presidential Mansion).

Sightseeing:
Presidential Mansion (Herodes Atticus Str.).
It is the former Royal Palace, of neoclassic style and with elements of eclecticism (1890-1897), designed by E. Ziller. Initially, it was used as the residence of the heirs of the throne, later as a Palace and after 1974 as the official residence of the President of Democracy. It is surrounded by an impressive garden and is guarded by Evzones who wear typical traditional Greek costume.
Maximou Mansion (Herodes Atticus Str.). It is the Prime Minister's official residence and office. It was designed in 1924 by An. Chelmi and accomplished after his death by his wife and her new husband D. Maximo. It is surrounded by a small garden.
The statues.
At the end of Herodes Atticus Street (opposite Kallimarmaro Stadium) are the three most beautiful public sculptures in the city: Discovolus, a bronze statue by K. Dimitriadis (1927), marble Wood-Chopper (by D. Filippoti, 1872-1875), for which athlete B. Giannoulis posed, and G. Karaiskaki Statue, a bronze monumental statue (4.40 m height) by M. Tobros (1963-1966), where the equestrian Greek hero is represented.

PANATHENAIKO (KALLIMARMARO) STADIUM


This really impressive site, built from white marble in a shape of horseshoe, is located opposite of the National Garden. The first stadium, constructed in the same location, was made of wood (330 B.C.). The marble construction, the exact replica of which is today’s stadium, was built by Herodes Atticus. It was the place of sports games, which were organized during Panathenaea celebration. Today’s Stadium, which can seat 60.000 spectators, was built the period from 1869 to 1870 and hosted the first Olympic Games organized in modern history (1896). Around the stadium is the lush green Ardittou Hill, popular area for walking.

 

METS
One of the most elegant districts in Athens. It was uninhabited until the 1870’s. It took its name from the homonym beer bar that operated at that time and for many years it was an entertainment area. Until the 1950’s Ilissos River was crossing the area (today’s Arditou Str.). Nowadays, it is a quiet area, which covers the area between Ardittou Hill and the 1st Cemetery (through the pedestrian Logginoy Str.). There are small coffee houses in the central street of M. Moussourou area, while it is worth to walk in other typical streets of the area (Nik. Theotoki, Trivonianou, Dikaearchou, Balanou etc). By walking in Kleitomachou, Archimidous and Ebedokleous streets you can reach the small Varnava Square with many coffee places, traditional taverns and luxurious restaurants. By taking Agras Str. you can go back to Panathenaiko Stadium.

1ST CEMETERY
It is the oldest and largest cemetery in Athens, in which some of the most remarkable personalities of modern Greece were buried (politicians, researchers, artists, religion leaders etc). It was established the same year as the Greek State and has architectural influences from West European big cemeteries of the 19th century. It is actually an open-air sculpture gallery, developed in an impressive and quiet garden, with tomb artworks, created by the most remarkable Greek sculptors of the last two centuries.

Sightseeing:
Koimomeni
. The most famous sculpture of neo Hellenic art, created in 1878 by G. Chalepa for the tomb of S. Afentaki.
G. Averof Monument. This is the most impressive sculpture of the cemetery, created by G. Vitalis and D. Filippoti. The national benefactor's bones rest there since 1908.
E. Schliemann Monument. It is a tomb in the shape of a small church created by the German archeologist who discovered the city of Troy. It was created by E. Ziller (1892). The podium of the little church is surrounded by a stripe of bas-relief depictions of Trojan War.
Chr. Zografos Monument. It is a monument of cinquecento type. It has copied the Mausoleum of Lorenzo Medici in Florence.
Gimnos Aggelos (Naked Angel). An amazing tomb sculpture on N. Koumelis grave, created by G. Vitsari.

 

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