When it comes to ancient history, Greece is the word, and its capital Athens surely holds its richest treasures covering almost 3,000 years of human history and showcasing some of the most amazing ruins on earth. Calling all culture buffs on the hunt for the top 5 historical sites in Athens – this article is for you. To help make all the history a bit more manageable, we narrowed down the overwhelming assortment of iconic UNESCO landmarks and eye-watering monuments in and around the Greek capital to a list of the big-hitting must-sees first.
Acropolis of Athens
Perched atop a precipitous cliff, this historic citadel contains some of the most significant remaining structures from the ancient Greek civilization. It is the location that dominates all others on the city’s skyline. The Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike have been partially preserved thanks to the Acropolis hill’s inherent defensive properties, despite the numerous invasions and revolutions that have occurred in Greece since their construction origins. Discover Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum with a private guided tour and witness up close the imposing array of UNESCO-tagged relics and incredible ruins.
The Parthenon, located atop the Acropolis, is both the best extant illustration of the Doric order and the biggest testament to the wealth and intelligence of ancient Greece. It was originally constructed between 447 and 432 BCE, dedicated to the goddess Athena, and has since served as a Christian church, an Ottoman mosque and a treasury. It has endured for more than 2,000 years through fires, pirate raidings and military sieges. It is an unmissable marvel and one of the top 5 historical sites in Athens you should definitely catch over our Myths and Wonders of Ancient Greece Tour for the complete family experience.
This rocky outcrop, surrounded by cypress trees, served as the base for the Areopagus court during the classical era. Its main duties included trialing for homicide, corruption and religious crimes. The council served as an aristocratic judicial body and one of the most significant city-state institutions, making it the forerunner of the higher court of contemporary Greece. Take the Mythology Walk Tour and soak in the bird’s eye-view city vistas of other top historical sites in Athens like the Ancient Agora, the Pnyx, Philopappos Hill, and of course, the Acropolis.
The Roman Agora
The history of Athens is more complex than just the heyday of the empire that had its center of gravity here 2,500 years ago. Athens’ appearance and character were really established during the Roman era. The center of it all was the Roman Agora, which served as the new elite’s meeting place, forum, market grounds and general gathering spot after the conquest of Greece, following the Battle of Actium in 41 BC. Pay an honorable visit with our Pinch of Athens Tour on your way to Plaka district. Hit the pause button and see some other top historical sites in Athens like the ruins of the Tower of the Winds, which is thought to be the world’s first meteorological station and the Athena Archegetis Gate, which was constructed in the Doric style with funding provided by a certain Augustus Caesar in 11 BC.
The Archaeological Site of Sounion encircles Attica’s headland to the south of the city, marking the spot where Cape Sounion’s craggy rocks plunge sharply into the Aegean Sea. In this stunning location you can view the indigo-blue ocean and even distinguish islands like Kea and Poros in the heat haze. Evidence suggests that Athenians have held this landmark sacred since at least the sixth century BC. It therefore predates both Hellenistic Greece and the Athenian Empire. The epic poet Homer refers to it as a place of adoration for the Sea God Poseidon. The cliff tops still bear the half-standing columns of a temple dedicated to him. Take the Spectacular Sounion Tour to witness the temple’s magical sunset during golden hour. The way the light moves through the old stones and sparkles across the Peloponnese mountains in the distance to the west is fairly amazing and totally worth including it in our top 5 historical sites in Athens.
Apart from our featured tours, there are also our tailor-made tours, where you can create your own custom cultural experience and make your own list of the top 5 historical sites in Athens. Discover our majestic capital at your own pace and claim your piece of the city with personal touring choices.