One step out of NEW Hotel’s prestigious front door and Athens reveals itself. Plaka, the city’s oldest historic neighborhood, is but a stone’s throw away. A landscape of contradictions, where haughty neoclassical mansions co-exist with rundown buildings from the ’60 and 70s, Plaka’s vibe and colourful lifestyle are unparalleled.
If you are searching for the city’s pulse, then walk to Syntagma Square, the most famous square in the whole of Greece. Named after the ‘Syntagma’- Constitution- that King Otto granted to the Greek people in 1843, it has remained a popular meeting place and center of social and political activity ever since. Right across from the Square, the national flag flies on the Hellenic Parliament Building, a former Palace, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honoring the common memories of all soldiers killed in war.
Take the mandatory steps up Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, whose cobble-stoned paths are revered by Athenians, and face the Acropolis, as it stands in all its splendor. Probably the most renowned citadel in the world, it is a testament to the artistic heights that ancient Greek civilization reached in the 5th century BC. More than 4.000 artifacts from the site have found their place in the spectacular New Acropolis Museum, an innovative structure of glass and concrete completed in 2007.
The National Gardens, a green oasis within the city, offer a welcome break from the formality of some of the city’s most important buildings, including the Zappeion Megaron, the Maximou Palace, which is the official residence of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Ministry, and other public buildings.
Opposite, on the side of the Ardittos Hill, the Panathinaic Stadium held the first modern Olympic Games. Hadrian’s Arch and the ancient Temple of the Olympian Zeus testify to a rich historical legacy renowned the world over.
In the heart of Athens, check out the masterpieces of Greek and foreign artists at the National Museum of Contemporary Art and don’t neglect to pay a visit to the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. A spot of retail therapy can be easily managed either in the stylish cafe and boutique shopping district of Kolonaki, or down the exclusive Stadiou and Voukourestiou streets.
Ready to live like a local in Athens?