A large part of the town’s historic centre has been converted into a 3-kilometre pedestrian zone, leading to the major archaeological sites, reconstructing the ancient landscape.
The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by Mt Ymettos, Mt Parnitha and Mt Pendeli; whilst inside Athens are twelve hills [the seven historical ones are: Acropolis, Areopagus, Hill of Philopappus, Observatory Hill (Muses Hill), Pnyx, Lykavittos (Lycabettus), Tourkovounia (Anchesmus)], the Acropolis and Lykavittos being the most prominent. These hills provide a refuge from the noise and commotion of the crowded city streets, offering amazing views down to Saronic Gulf, Athens’ boundary with the Aegean Sea on its southern side. The streets of Athens now meld imperceptibly into Piraeus, the city’s ancient (and still bustling) port.
Places of interest to travellers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city centre at Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicentre is surrounded by the districts of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki and Thissio to the west, Kolonaki to the northeast and Omonia to the northwest.
- The Acropolis— The religious center of Athens by the first historic times till the end of the antiquity, most associated with the goddess Athens, after whom the city is named.
- Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio— Charming historic districts at the foot of the Acropolis, with restored 19th century neoclassical homes, pedestrianized streets, shops and restaurants, and picturesque ruins from the city’s Roman era.
- Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos)— Dominated by the austere neoclassical building of the Greek Parliament that used be the palace of the first king and queen of Greece, Otto and Amalia.
- Piraeus— The ancient port six miles southwest of Athens, Piraeus is known today as an independent, heavily industrial municipality, whose modern-day port serves almost all of Attica’s ferry connections to Crete and the Aegean Islands.