Athens an open museum
The Unification of Archaeological Sites - probably one of the most ambitious plans of urban transformation ever conceived - is now well under way in Athens, the densely populated historic capital of Greece.
The plan...has been set up to undertake the
creation of a large open museum, a project of crucial importance
for the capital is aesthetic appearance and cultural role, a
project which shall unify the rich heritage of the past and
the city's everyday life.
It is a particularly ambitious and long-term project, the first phase of which shall nevertheless be completed before the landmark year 2004, the final aim being the possibility of an uninterrupted walk in space and historic time from the city's birth to the present day. Some walking through the center of the city is necessary in order to see some monuments and sights. The sights shown below are all with in walking distance.
THE GREEK PARLIAMENT. The plain, neoclassical building which is the Parliament of the Greeks today, was built between 1834-1838 as the palace of the first kings. In front is the monument of the Unknown Soldier, with the two guards, called "Evzoni". who are the presidential guards (changing of the guards every two hours). Every Sunday there is a parade and a band playing the National Anthem at 10:45 a.m.
SYNTAGMA SQUARE. Here beats the heart of the modern city. The Parliament at the east of the square reminds us the deviation of its name. In 1843, the Greeks, received their first constitution from King Otho, after numerous and persistent demonstrations.
NATIONAL GARDEN. The green lung in the center of the city. Beautiful and rare flowers, trees and bushes as well as little ponds decorate the garden, which is open all day long.
PANEPISTIMIOU STREET (EL. VENIZELOU). El. Venizelou street, which is known as Panepistimiou street, is one of the central roads of Athens. Beautiful neoclassical buildings decorate it: "Iliou Melathron", meaning the palace of Troy. This was the house of Erik Schlieman. "The Academy", the highest spiritual institution of the country. "The University","the National Library"with thousands of manuscripts and books,"the Bank of Greece" etc. These buildings are typical copies of ancient Greek architecture and will help you to imagine how Athens looked 2500 years ago.
PLAKA. Come to the heart of the city, to the neighborhood of the Olympic Gods, come to Plaka. 5' walk from Syndagma. At the foot of the Acropolis, there spreads out, the most alive part of the city, an open exhibition of the history of the Athens and a panorama of people, monuments and tastes too. Narrow small roads, numerous taverns, restaurants, coffee shops, small picturesque squares and beautiful interesting corners. Walk through it- get to know it - feel it. Being in Plaka, you cannot but come upon some monument, witness of the past. You cannot but have at every corner an opportunity to do your shopping, to buy something for the ones you love and care about. Plaka is a place of contrasts. It can be vivid and tranquiller, it can be crowdie and quiet, noisy and calm. It all depends on the place you pick up to enjoy a cold glass of beer or ice coffee. After dark Plaka comes alive. The taverns with their cavernous rooms decorated with barrels and their trellis covered terraces are illuminated with multicolored lights: savoring the Greek cuisine with glasses of retsina, listening to the bouzouki music and the latest singers and dancing the modern sirtaki.
MONASTIRAKI. This was the centre of the Turkish town with the bazaar and the shops as well as the main mosques and administrative buildings. Now it is popular commercial district incorporating the Athens flea market. Start from Syntagma Square. Go west down Odos Ermou, a busy shopping street lined with boutiques selling feminine apparel, dress materials and ready - to - wear clothes, furs and shoes, leather goods and jewelers. Some columns from the Adrian's library are in site, a mosque which has been turned into a library and a beautiful small church (Kapnikarea built on 11 C) are some of the interesting monuments of this place.
Athens an open Museum
The restoration of Plaka, and then Thission, Psyrri and the other old neighborhoods in the centre of Athens started in the early 1990s. A vast network of pedestrian streets, together with financial incentives given to the owners of properties to renovate their homes completely changed the face of these areas.
They have now become favorite spots for a quiet stroll during the day or at night. Athenians and tourists alike gather at the multitude of nice, tiny restaurants in Psyrri, or climb up to the northern side of the Acropolis, through the picturesque streets of Plaka, lined with beautifully restored private homes. The so-called historic triangle of Athens, the old commercial part of the city, has also improved dramatically.
Ermou, the principal commercial street, as well as many other narrower side streets have been freed from traffic and turned over to pedestrians, giving new life to this lovely part of downtown Athens, which for years had declined progressively. The Unification of Archaeological sites plan, which also incorporates these restored neighborhoods, consists of the creation of a long network of pedestrian ways and open spaces.
These stretch from Ardettos hill, the marble Stadium and the temple of Olympian Zeus, all the way to Kerameikos, through Dionysiou Areopagitou and Apostolou Pavlou streets, on the southern side of the Acropolis, crossing the Thission. The plan also includes the area past Kerameikos, reaching as far as Gazi - the former large gasworks plant, which is now a very lively cultural center. We needed to take in to account the needs of locals and visitors alike as we carefully knitted together the urban areas with the archaeological and the natural sites , explains Maria Kaltsa, an architect and Yale graduate, who is part of the team working on the project. Dionysiou Areopagitou and its continuation, Apostolou Pavlou Street, running along the southern and southwestern sides of the Acropolis, is the backbone of the plan.