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  • Athens Walking ToursAthens, Greece
    Athens, Greece, one of the founders of this great world, and one of the best cities to visit in the world. When you go to this beautiful and exciting city, there will be way too many places to visit, although you will want to see them all, perhaps the best thing to do is to spend the first day walking around the city, with a knowledgeable guide, telling you where everything is that you are interested in seeing, and listening to their remarkable dialogue of history. That is perhaps one of the main reasons for coming here, plus the wonderful foods and drinks, the architecture and the history, the people, the sights and sounds; all of Athens is alive and waiting just for you to visit. In the particular walking company that was found on the net, this one had professional tour guides that had over 20 years experience showing you and telling you about their home town and the fantastic sights that await you. There are a number of tours available, and since the city is huge and quite unfathomable to those visiting for the first time, it would be better for you to decide before coming to Athens. Tour Number 1 is the Acropolis tour; which is a combination city tour through the Syntagma area and the Plaka, or the old town of Athens, and the detailed visit to the Acropolis. Touted as the must see tour for all visitors, it begins in the Syntagma metro station, where you will learn about all the marvelous exhibits that sit here, taken from the construction that was done for the metro. Then you travel to the House of the Greek Parliament, the Monument to the Unknown soldier and view the changing of the guards. As you walk through Syntagma Square, which has become the very heart of the city, you pass the National Gardens and the Sotira of Likodimo Byzantine church, which is Russian. Going on through Plaka, the old city center, you go by the Jewish Museum, the Zeus Temple, Hadrian's Arch and the Lysicrates Monument; here you will get a short commentary and history of all you have seen. Next stop is the Acropolis, the spectacular ruins that once housed the essence of Athens, and all that she stood for. You will get a detailed account of the history of the Acropolis and its monuments; like the Parthenon, Nike Temple, Propylaia and Erechthion and other monuments that surround the ruins like the Dionysus sanctuary, Ancient Agora, Pnyzx Hill, Philopappos Hill, Mars Hill and Odeon of Heroded Atticus. The number 2 tour is the best of Athens which includes the Syntagma Station artifacts, House of Parliament, Monument to the unknown soldier and the Evzones, or the presidential guards. You pass the National Gardens on your way to the Presidential Residence and the marbled Panathenaic stadium that had the world's first Olympic games in 1896. Next you visit the Zappeion Hall, with the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch, remains of the Roman conquest and occupation, then Plaka, called the neighborhood of the gods, which sit at the foot of the Acropolis and then to Lysicrates monument. The tour ends at Mitropoleos Square, where two of the city's Greek Orthodox cathedrals sit. Number 3 tour is the National Archaeological Museum, which you will definitely want to visit, but do you want to do it with a tour group or on your own? This tour hits the metro station, the House of Parliament, the unknown soldier tomb, the Evzones, the mansion of Heinrich Schliemann, where the numismatic museum is, another great spot to visit, the Academy of Sciences, the university and the library, the National Archaeolgical Museum and it ends here. Number 4 tour is of ancient Agora, Plaka and the Monastiraki monuments, this starts at the metro station, then to Mitropoleos Square to see the Cathedral of Athens, the Monastiraki area by the flea markets and where the Roman and Ottoman monuments like the Roman markets, Tower of the Winds, Fethiye Mosque, Medrese, Hadrian's Library and Tzistarakis Mosque sit; and on to Ancient Greek Agora, with the Attalos Stoa holds the museum, then to Avyssinias Square and finally Athinas Road where the wide open marketplace will absolutely cause you to pause. Number 5 goes to the Benaki Museum with magnificent artifacts of Greek history and art, then to Herodes Atticul Road where the Presidential Residence, Maximos Mansion sit and on towards the Panathenaic Stadium and finish at the Zeus Temple and Hadrian's Arch. Or you could decide what you want and personalize the tour which is fine by the company since that is option or tour number 6. Once you have decided what to see and where you want to go, the rest is just walking and enjoying. There are plenty of places to eat, usually the ones hidden off the main thoroughfare are just as good as the fancier places, but don't have to charge so much as the others. Enjoy yourself and relax, it is a city worth taking your time in even if you don't get to see and visit all you wanted to since there is always tomorrow.

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  • AcropolisAcropolis Athens, Greece
    The Acropolis, which literally means city on the edge, and in Greek, Acropolis means highest city; when in reality it is the hill or mountain top that these structures sit on. There are many such places in the world, Rome, Thebes, Corinth, Jerusalem, Edinburgh and Ireland; but the most famous example is the Acropolis in Athens, set upon the highest plateau in the city, and looking out over a vastness of red tiled roofs and flat topped houses. The Acropolis has been officially called the pre-eminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list of monuments published in 2007. It is a flat topped rock rising 490 feet above the sea in the center of Athens, Greece; with a surface area of about 10 acres or 3 hectares. It was called Cecropia, after the first king, who was Cecrops. Although there have been numerous artifacts found from the period around 9000 B.C., the area around Athens has documented proof that the city was inhabited by 6000 B.C., and that a structure of some size and dimension stood atop the flat hill that is the center of the ancient city of Athens. The only remains of this early structure are several pieces of sandstone steps and a lonely limestone column base. After the main palace was constructed, a defense wall was erected that stood 15 feet high surrounding the building and was 5 to 7 feet thick. This wall became the main defense for the city until around the 5th century AD. and contained two parapets made of huge stone blocks and cemented with an earthen mortar called emplekton.  The history, incredible and exciting is well worth the attention, but to actually walk on the stones that were trod upon by ancient men and civilizations is beyond words. The deep emotions and feelings that permeate your mental and physical parts will simply amaze and astound you. To go to Athens, and not visit the Acropolis, not to hear and learn about its spectacular achievements; would be a terrible waste of time and money. And when you do go to this amazing city built on a hill, you will be surprised at how much time passes before you realize that the day has passed you by while you sat, walked and thought about those many marvelous events that took place here so many thousands of years ago.

January 11, 2011