We love exploring Athens! Besides being a great summer destination, it’s so rich with culture and history, and it’s a perfect destination for any cultural traveler, at any time of the year. When it comes to the best things to do in Athens, we’ve already shown you the best streets to wander around, so this time we will tell you a bit about 6 of our favorite squares. Use these blog posts as guides for a complete walk around the city, once you get to visit it for real.
We will start this list with Syntagma Square, which is one of the most popular squares located in the heart of the city. This is the place where you will see the Hellenic Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — a memorial raised for the anonymous soldiers who died for their country. But there is something else you can see on this square that you might find more interesting than the Parliament building or the monument.
It’s the change of the Evzone guards who are protecting the place 24/7. Every hour they are changing places, after standing completely still for 60 minutes. Their movement is a show worth watching, as their slow-motion steps synchronize perfectly, and their timing is spectacular.
We recently interviewed one of the guards, so if you’d like to read a little bit about Evzones, check out that blog post.
Only about five minutes away from Syntagma Square, you will find another gorgeous place, called Mitropoleos Square. Over there, you will find a couple of great landmarks on display. One of those is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, which is one of the most impressive and most beautiful churches in the city. This church has some quite amazing Byzantine features, both on its façade and in the interior.
But this is not the only church to be found in this square. There is also the Church of Agios Eleftherios — a tiny historic church dating back to the 12th century. This tiny church was once the main cathedral of the city, and now it stands quietly in the back, as the reminiscent of the past.
Omonia is another square located in the very heart of the city. This square, also known as Plateia Anaktoron, or Palace Square, dates back to the 19th century, but it has undergone various renovations since then. Nowadays, the square has some quite impressive features, such as the central fountain, and the LED illumination of the whole square. This gives it a special vibe and makes it so popular among the tourists.
The square looks quite interesting from above, which you can see in the following picture:
Kotzia Square, originally known as Loudovikou Square, is also dating back to the 19th century. It is lined with many gorgeous neoclassical buildings from that same period. This square functioned as the venue for the Athens historic center circuit, and other artistic events, as well.
One of the most important buildings you can see on Kotzia Square is the City Hall. It’s a gorgeous building constructed in 1872, originally with only two floors, as the resources were limited at the time. Only the top floor was used for the Municipal offices, while the ground floor was given to various shops for rent. In the 20th century, the building was altered and got the shape it still has today. The building is full of various paintings and other artifacts — it would be a fun visit.
Another building that we recommend you to visit is Melas Mansion — the largest and most expensive private building of that time, designed according to gorgeous Viennese buildings.
Klafthmonos Square is known as the center of the Historical Center of Athens. The name of the square originates from the Greek word which means “weeping” and it originates from the 19th century when it was named the Garden of Klafthmonos.
The square is lined with many administrative and governmental buildings, but also with banks and various shops and restaurants. It’s a pretty much quiet square but it’s surely worth seeing for its landmarks. Besides the cool buildings around the square, you have to see its centerpiece — the Impressionist bronze sculpture made in 1988 by Vasilis Doropoulos which symbolizes National Reconciliation.
Monastiraki might be one of the most popular squares in Athens. It has everything: ancient ruins, a mosque, a Byzantine church, a flea market, and many more sights. It is famous for its flea market, so if you need some souvenirs to bring back home this is the place to get those. You can find all kinds of stuff here. If you explore it well enough you will find great shops with handmade products. One of those shops is a famous poet shoemaker’s workshop, named Melissinos Art where you can have sandals tailormade just for you.
There are also quite a few cafés and bars with rooftops from which you can enjoy a view of the square and the whole city of Athens. Monastiraki square, as well as the whole neighborhood around it, is a funky place with a really interesting and unique vibe and attractive youthful energy. So you should explore it — you will have fun.
As you can tell, there are many sights all around Athens worth seeing. If you’re creating a bucket list for your future visit to this historic city, this blog post (as well as another one mentioned in the intro) is a good start for it. Also, you can check out the list of our favorite museums in Athens and add them to the list as well: “Exploring Athens: 8 Best Museums in Athens”