The view from Lycabettus, or Lykavittos, hill is spectacular, reaching down to the sea and the closest islands. The tiny 19th century church of Saint George, perched on the summit of Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, is a favorite for romantic weddings. You can reach Lycabettus walking up the steep steps, or take the funicular railway from Aristippou street. The slopes of Lycabettus are a cool, restful place to walk amongst pine trees and shrubs. On the slope facing south, two cannons fire twenty one times at sunrise and sunset on all Greek national holidays. The parking lot close to the Lycabettus Theater, where performances and concerts are held every summer, is considered to have the most spectacular and extensive view of the city.
Yorgos Gounaropoulos (G. Gounaro) is a famous Greek artist, born in 1890 in Sozopolis, on the coast of the Black Sea. Inspired by the myths of Orpheus and the stories about the spirits of his village, he created a dream unconscious which will later become the focal point of his work. After studying in Athens and Paris, he spent several years in the French capital and later returned to his native Greece where he spent the rest of his life, until 1977. His work is highly esteemed and his role of great importance in the artistic development of the thirties. In 1978, his son, Elias Gounaropoulos, donated his studio and forty oil paintings to the Municipality of Zografou, where the G. Gounaropoulos Museum was created. In 1990 the Municipality extended the museum with a new building which functions as a center of Art and Culture. Art exhibitions, lectures and cultural events are held in this space and also activities for children.
The Athens University History Museum was founded in 1987 and its principal aims are the collection, preservation, study and presentation of the University's historical memorabilia and the organization of cultural events. The Museum illustrates much more than the history of the University, and constitutes an important guide to modern Greek history. The permanent exhibition includes items which are presented thematically and pertain to the schools of medicine, law, philosophy and theology. The diversity of the collections makes a visit a unique experience, which covers science, art and history. Lectures, conferences, music and theater events, exhibitions, symposiums are also held in the ground floor spaces. Especially in the spring and summer months the courtyard spaces are ideal for cultural events, which are enhanced by the surroundings. Platos timeless classic work The Apology of Socrates, by Elliniko Theatro, is performed daily, in English, in a one-man show by Emmy Award winner Yannis Simonides, directed by Loukas Skipitaris. The performance is in English, and will be held daily, from 24 June to 7 July 2014.
The Museum of Greek Popular Instruments, Foivos Anogianakis, in Plaka, hosts a collection of about 1200 Greek popular musical instruments which date from the 18th century and were collected by the musicologist Foivos Anogianakis. The mansion, built in 1840, is right next to the Roman Agora. The collections are exhibited in four sections, according to the material of the instruments, and visitors can also listen to the sound produced by each type. The Museum aims at conserving these traditional musical instruments, studying and promoting knowledge on the popular and byzantine tradition of Greek music and ethnomusicology. Events and performances are often held on the premises and visitors can buy books, CDs and musical instruments at the museum shop.
The National Garden of Athens was designed in 1836 by the German architect Friedrich von Gaertner, and was initially an idea of Queen Amalia, who reigned in that period. Until 1974 it was named Royal Garden. The area which it covers, extends from Amalias Avenue to Irodou Attikou, where the Royal Palace used to be situated and from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the Zappion. Visitors to the Garden can see an interesting variety of plants and trees, some ancient remains, statues of famous poets and politicians, a sundial, ponds with ducks and fish, a small zoo and several pergolas and secluded romantic corners. Athenians love to walk in the quiet, cool Garden, which is open from sunrise to sunset, children can play in the specially designed playground with swings and seesaws, or visit the children?s library and adults can enjoy a coffee or a light lunch at the coffee shop.
Diomides Botanic Garden is located in the neighborhood of Haidari, on the road to Eleusis and covers an expanse of 1.86 hectares with more than 3.500 different species of plants from all over the world. It includes the oldest natural pine woods of Attica. In the medicinal plants section there are many herbs, well known for their pharmaceutical properties: thyme, luisa, passiflora, lavender just to mention a few. The Garden, which is the largest of its kind in Greece contains sections of great interest and beauty, like the historical plants, many of which are mentioned in ancient Greek mythology: Aphrodite's sacred myrtle, olive tree the symbol of Athens, acanthus from which the Corithian style columns are inspired, a bamboo forest, trees from various continents. In the greenhouses cacti, other succulent plants and rainforest species which need special conditions to develop are kept. The Botanic Garden is an institute of public benefit and endowment of the Capodistrian University of Athens, it is used by the Agricultural University of Athens and Biological section of the Capodistrian University of Athens for studying plants. Ideal for a walk amongst nature for nature loving families.
The Philatelic and Postal Museum was founded in 1978, on Fokianou street, right next to the Kallimarmaro Stadium of Athens, where the Olympic Games were held in 1896. In celebration of this event, the first Olympic stamps internationally were printed by the Greek state. The exhibits are arranged in two sectors: the first pertains to the history and development of stamps, interwoven with the evolution of the aesthetic and ideology of Greece in recent years and the second is dedicated to the history of the Greek Post from 1828 up to now. Visitors can view, amongst other exhibits, the first Greek stamps with the Large Hermes Heads, which were printed by the engraver A. Barre in France in 1861, maquettes of many series of stamps designed by the artists D. Biskinis, engravers A. Tassos, I. Kefallinos and others. Also maquettes and paintings by contemporary artists who designed stamps. In another sector letter boxes since 1895, scales for weighing letters, postmen's uniforms and other items can be viewed. The library includes many titles on postal and philatelic subjects. The Philatelic and Postal Museum documents and promotes Postal history and the development of stamps and philately, and also organizes lectures, guided tours and educational activities.
The Museum of the History of Greek Costume is part of the well known Lyceum Club of Greek Women. In this small, attractive museum visitors can view various aspects of Greek Costume from the past. Authentic pieces, veritable works of art to observe and admire. Costumes which have been collected since 1911, when the Lyceum Club was first founded by Kalliroe Parren. Costumes from various regions of Greece and also copies of ancient, Minoan and Byzantine costumes which have been used in the activities of the Lyceum Club over the years. In a dollhouse made of cardboard tubes you can see porcelain dolls dressed in regional costumes. These dolls were a gift from Queen Olga in 1914 and were the models on which the first reproductions of the costumes were based. In another section visitors can see the costumes which were worn in celebrated dance performances in many countries. Educational events are held for children of all ages, bringing them closer to this important tradition of Greece.
Visitors to Athens always enjoy watching the Changing of the Guards outside the Parliament on Syntagma Square. The evzones, or tsoliades, are young Greeks doing their military service and are chosen for this honorable post depending on their height. Every hour they march down Vasilissis Sofias Avenue from their barracks on Irodou Attikou and change posts with the previous evzones, following an elaborate ceremony with specific military steps and positions of their rifles. On Sundays at 11 a.m. the ceremony includes a larger number of evzones and is more impressive. The traditional costumes and shoes which they wear have special significance and symbolism and are entirely handmade by a special artisan in the barracks.
A visit to the Monastiraki flea market in Athens is a must. Situated over a large area from Monastiraki square and metro station down to the end of Ermou street, the flea market is open every day, but on Sundays it is even more interesting to visit, as even more objects are on sale, especially on busy Abyssinias square. The flea market actually consists of shops which are open every day and on Sundays there is the extra bonus of open air improvised stalls. Things to buy range from clothes to old books, stamps, coins, furniture, bric a brac, postcards, memorabilia, decorative objects and more. The prices can vary and bargaining is always necessary. Even just browsing the shops and vendors is great fun.