Syntagma Square is a Place to See in Downtown Athens Greece

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When it comes to Athens, many people seem to forget that the city still existed once the Parthenon was built. The charmingly quaint village that surrounded the slopes of the Acropolis has, over the course of two millennia, been transformed into a bustling city of some 4 million people that greets most visitors to Greece.

Though it may come as a surprise to many, Athens International Airport is not in fact located next to, or even on the Acropolis. Therefore, the ride from the airport to the Center of the City gives visitors a very skeptical first impression of the city of Athena. Luckily, those who travel to the city to take in its ancient cites will find that they are located pretty close to one another, making the historic heart of Athens easily manageable. With the Acropolis at its center, the modern city has grown all around it, and to call it confusing is a massive understatement. But not to worry, navigating yourself around downtown isn’t as complicated as it seems.

This is thanks to what has become known as the “Historic Triangle of Athens.” The Historic Triangle is part of the conceptual city plan laid out by Royal Bavarian Architects in the 1830’s [Yes, Athens did have a city plan]. Unfortunately, much of the plan was unable to be carried out, but the triangle does still exist today.

The Triangle covers a good chunk of downtown Athens, where quite literally all of the action is. The three ends of the triangle happen to be the three main squares of the city: Syntagma Square, Monastiraki Square and Omonoia Square. The streets that connect these central squares, as well as the area between them, are jam packed with all of the touristy sites, cafes, and shopping that you could possibly want in a destination. Learning a little about this triangle will have you navigating Athens like a pro—no tourist map or compasses needed.

Arguably the most important square of the city is Syntagma Square [Greek: Πλατεία Συντάγματος], which translates as Constitution Square. The square is dominated by the Greek Parliament building. The Parliament is actually housed in the former Royal Palace built in 1843 for the first King of Greece—King Otto. In front of the Parliament, the Presidential Guard, or Evzones, stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Syntagma has many trees and fountains providing some much needed shade and green space in the city center. Due to its importance, it is also one of the main gathering places in Athens, often the scene of everything from political rallies to the infamous demonstrations that have come to define it.

Syntagma is also an important transportation hub of Athens. The main Syntagma Metro station is located beneath the square with several entrances from all sides. Lines 2 and 3 of the Athens Metro transfer at Syntagma; and the next stop on Line 2 whisks passengers to the Acropolis. In addition to the metro, several buses and taxis stop here, as well as the Tram, which travels from the city center to the coastal beaches.

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