Athens and the Peloponnese
We explore the Peloponnese Peninsula before taking on frenetic, sprawling Athens. Seeing beyond its crowded streets, we return to the city's incredible, historic core, climbing to the majestic Acropolis and exploring a centuries-old market. While in Greece, we sample retsina wine, eat scrumptious specialties and even learn a local dance in the Plaka.
- Read the script from the show.
This museum is the single best place on earth to see ancient Greek artifacts. Strolling through the chronologically displayed collection — from 7,000 B.C. to A.D. 500 — is like watching a time-lapse movie of the evolution of art. You'll go from the stylized figurines of the Cycladic Islands, to the golden artifacts of the Mycenaeans (including the so-called Mask of Agamemnon), to the stiff, stoic kouros statues of the Archaic age. Then, with the arrival of the Severe style (epitomized by the Artemision Bronze), the art loosens up and comes to life. As Greece enters the Classical period, the Bronze Statue of a Youth is balanced and lifelike. The dramatic Statue of a Horse and Jockey hints at the unbridled exuberance of Hellenism, which is taken to its extreme in the Statue of a Fighting Gaul. Rounding out the collection are Roman statuary, colorful wall paintings from Thira (today's Santorini), and room upon room of ceramics. It's at 28 Oktovriou (a.k.a. Patission) #44, a 10-minute walk from the Victoria Metro station (line 1/green), tel. 210-821-7717.
Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos)
The "Times Square" of Athens is named for Greece's historic 1843 constitution, prompted by demonstrations right on this square. A major transit hub, the square is watched over by Neoclassical masterpieces such as the Hotel Grande Bretagne and the Parliament building, the former palace of King Otto, now a house of democracy. In front, colorfully costumed evzone guards stand at attention at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and periodically do a ceremonial changing of the guard to the delight of tourists (guards change 5 minutes before the top of each hour, less elaborate crossing of the guard on the half-hour, full ceremony with marching band some Sundays at 10:45).
For up-to-date specifics, see the latest edition of the Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese travel guide — or join us on one of our free-spirited Greece tours.