Most people I know who have been to Athens seem to dislike it.
“It’s really dull. There’s nothing of note other than Acropolis.”
“It’s covered with ugly squarish buildings and even uglier graffiti.”
“Birthplace of a great civilization? More like urban slums and scaffolding.”
For all the undeserved bad reps, I think Athens is quite underrated and carries its own charm.
And I don’t mean just the Acropolis—which probably dominates 90% of Athens pictures on Internet. In fact, I’m gonna do the exact opposite and take my pictures facing out from Acropolis, to show you the other side of Athens most people don’t bother posting about.
Firstly, Athens has a beautiful hilly landscape.
Seeing all those buildings stretch into the distance and gradually ascend in elevation is quite a sight. Sure, its density is highly-packed with squarish buildings, but so is Rio de Janeiro and that doesn’t stop Rio from being such a superstar.
Athens’ own Mount Lycabettus (pictured above) is not too shabby, if I must say. And so are the many other hills which decorate the city. Just outside Acropolis, for instance, we climbed the Aeropagus Hill and we’re delighted to be treated with the beautiful sights of National Observatory and Agia Marina.
It’s not all just urban slums either.
There are beautiful architectures splashed across the skyline, and watching the contrast of the city’s glorious past with its current modern incarnation is a story of its own.
For instance, you may notice the solitary-looking Philopappos Monument at the top of Mouseion Hill below, which was actually built as a dedication to Philoppapos, a prince from the Kingdom of Commagene. The monument was also built on the same site where Musaeus, a 6th-century BC priestly poet, was buried.
It’s a fun game of spotting interesting monuments here and there. An ancient temple here, a Byzantium church there, a modern architecture to the side, seas of houses building up to the mountainous terrain at the far end. You can stare at the skyline for really long and still find something new and interesting to observe.
I won’t go as far as to say that it’s one of European’s most picturesque cities, but it definitely has its own beauty in a low key way. Give it a chance.
What do you think about Athens?