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Athens is a city of 4 million people, the capitol of Greece and the site of many historical sites. The Acropolis was the place in which the cult of Athena, the most important goddess in the city, developed. The first thing you see when you enter is the Propylaea or main entrance which is currently being rebuilt.
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Chief structure on the Acropolis is the Parthenon. The symbol of democratic Athens, it was completed between 447 and 432 BC. Even today it is a very beautiful building. Its been said that the Parthenon gives the impression of being a piece of sculpture as much as a building. Renovation and preservation work goes on constantly here. The other large building on the Acropolis is the Erechtheum which was built starting in 421 BC. The Ionic temple was dedicated to the old gods of Athens and also to Poseidon and Athena.
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Several of the originals from the site are in the Acropolis Museum near the Parthenon. A huge new museum is being built at the base of the Acropolis. Several other sites can be seen from the top of the Acropolis. One is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a large theater built in the first century BC. It is still used for artistic events today. One can also see the Theater of Dionysus where the great ancient dramatists first presented their works. The theater originally has a capacity of about 17,000.
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To the north of the acropolis stands the Ancient Agora which was the political and administrative center of the city and the focus of all its social, commercial and religious activities. A key feature of the present site is the well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus which dates from the mid-fifth century. The other imposing structure is the Stoa of Attalos. This was a long building containing shops built on two stories ... kind of an early shopping mall. The current structure has been rebuilt by the archaeologists.
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Also visible from the Acropolis is the Roman Forum. One of the interesting sights here is the Tower of the Winds. This is an octagonal building that contains the machinery controlling a hydraulic clock. It was a water-clock, a solar clock, a weathervane and a planetarium. Another important site easily seen from the Acropolis is the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
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One of the largest temples in the ancient world, construction was begun as early as the sixth century BC but only completed almost 700 years later. It was dedicated in 131 AD. Offering an excellent view of the Acropolis ... and it is very visible from there ... as well as all parts of the city is Lykavitos Hill. From here one can get an outstanding view of the entire city of Athens.
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On the summit stands the small, whitewashed chapel of St. George built in the 19th century. Close to the Ancient Agora is Kerameikos, once the principal cemetery for ancient Athens. Here you can see parts of the old city wall and important gates. The burial sites that have been excavated were the plots of wealthy Athenians.
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There is a museum which contains the originals of monuments found on the site. Leaving Kerameikos you enter into the Monastaraki area, a major shopping area in the city, which includes a large flea market. The area has been a commercial hub of the city since Roman Times. This area is a major draw for tourists and all kinds of goods are for sale and entertainment available.
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This is the Greek version of the yard sale. Families just show up and dump on the ground items for sale. Church similar in architectural style to this one in the Monastiraki area are seen throughout the city. The Omania Square area includes large fish, vegetable and fruit markets. Very much in evidence are a variety of olives, a staple of Greece.
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The market is a place where Greeks daily get their fresh foods and spend time visiting. The changing of the guards at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament building is a sight any day but on Sunday a special treat. On this day there is a formal procession of all the guards led by a military band. The guards use the high stepping gait when changing positions.

Last updated: 5/24/06