DISCOVERING ATHENS ON FOOT - Part 2
One of Europe's longest pedestrianised roads; a walking route that connects some of the most important archaeological sites in the world; a verdant oasis in the city centre and many more spots for strolling: downtown Athens is perfect for long walks.
Olympeion: An open-air museum
Standing majestically between the Acropolis and what was once the Ilissos River, the Temple of Zeus, or Olympeion, was one of the largest sanctuaries in ancient Greece. Just outside it, Hadrian's Arch was constructed by the Athenians as a symbol of their gratitude to the Roman emperor for all the work he had done for the city. From here, it's a short walk along Vasilissis Olgas Avenue to the Panathenaic Stadium, built on the site of an ancient Greek stadium that hosted track-and-field competitions for centuries. In 1896, this stadium hosted the first Modern Olympic Games; since then, it's been the site of a plethora of other sporting competitions and artistic events, and it continues to mark the finishing line for the Athens Marathon, The Authentic. After touring the stadium, have a walk around Ardittos Hill, a lovely spot full of trees and shrubs and a network of winding trails and open areas that offer views over the historic part of the city.
The Zappeion: An all-time landmark
Located across the street from the Olympeion, Zappeion Hall was built in 1888 and has been the stage for many important events in Greece's modern history. The main building is a conference and exhibition centre, while the grounds also include the café-restaurant Aigli and an open-air cinema of the same name. Designed in the French style, its garden is also lovely, with geometrical arrangements, ornate benches, elegant wrought-iron lamp posts and a fascinating collection of sculptures (like the beautiful piece dedicated to Lord Byron and the bust of loannis Varvakis).
The National Garden: Green havens
The adjacent National Garden is a verdant haven in the city centre, planted with hundreds of different species of trees, shrubs and other plants. There are walking trails, many different species of birds, six ponds, archaeological relics (like the Roman villa mosaic and other scattered building fragments), large lawns for picnics, rest and play, and a sundial at the main entrance on Vasilissis Sofias Street. You'll also find statues and busts of influential figures, created by famous sculptors, dotted around the park.
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