Athens is a city filled with history, and they’ve done a great job preserving it. There are even parts of the sidewalks that have windows down below to where the ancient streets were!
Beyond the Acropolis, there’s still so much to see. I bought the combined ticket that let me into the Acropolis and six other ancient sites. I made great use of it, and managed to get to all the sites except one, and then even a few others.
One other place I was happy to visit (and it’s free!) was the Aeropagus. This is a giant rock next to the Acropolis, and it’s filled to the brim with history. The ancient assembly met on top of that rock – the very beginnings of democracy. And the Apostle Paul preached from there, converting a number of Athenians to the then-nascent faith.
So in that moment, I absorbed how much history there was just at that one rock! It was, like so much of Athens, just majestic to think of all that happened there and brought us to now.
I also went to the Roman Agora and Hadrian’s library after visiting the Acropolis. Both of these sites were worth visiting, but neither is as well-preserved as many other sites. You’ve got to have some serious imagination to see both the library and the Agora! The Roman Agora had the Tower of the Winds, which was well-preserved and cool in its own right. The sites are all close, and close to the Acropolis, so you can get a feel for the ancient city and how it was laid out.
But by the time I was done with the Roman Agora, I knew I didn’t have the Ancient Agora in me. It is SO hot in Athens in August, and I was there during one of Europe’s worst-ever heat waves. Of course, right?
So I got some gelato, and headed back to the hostel. I decided to come back the next morning when I could enjoy it in the cool of the morning and not be miserable there midday. One thing I’m learning on this trip is that it’s not really worth it to push it. There’s always tomorrow. (Mainly because I’m lucky enough to have a lot of time!)
I’m so glad I saved the Ancient Agora for when I had more stamina! It’s so much more than just the Agora. It’s got a museum that’s gorgeous (and it was where they signed the documents accepting Greece into the EU). The museum has great signage and a good view of the history, with lots of interesting artifacts.
Then you can walk through the Agora, and get to the Temple of Hephaestus. It’s apparently the best-preserved Greek temple and it’s easy to see how it could be. The temple is almost smaller than you’d expect (especially from the top of the Acropolis – it looked a bit bigger), but it’s very much intact.
The history is amazing in Athens, and absolutely worth making the time for. So many people stop in Athens for a day on the way to the islands, just to see the Acropolis and fly in or out. But there’s so much more in Athens! I feel like I could have spent a whole week there.