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Athens/Syntagma Square

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Europe : Greece : Attica : Athens : Syntagma Square
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Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos, pronounced SYN-tag-mah) is the pulsating heart of the modern city of Athens, composed of the actual square together with the surrounding streets, open areas and assemblage of grand buildings that include banks, offices, top hotels and the old Royal Palace - now the Greek Parliament building.

Understand

Syntagma Square is named after the Greek constitution (syntagma) that was proclaimed from the balcony of the royal palace that overlooks the square on 3 September 1843. The former palace has housed the Greek parliament since 1935.

Syntagma Square is a good point from which to begin your orientation in the city - its also much better in appearance than it used to be even a few years ago: the manic Athenian traffic has been re-routed and a concerted effort at beautification has been in place - with some good results. Points of convenience include numerous cafes, restaurants and all the usual fast food outlets, a new metro stop, a host of airline offices, etcetera.

The square serves as an occasional rallying place for demonstrations and public celebrations.

Get in

Syntagma Square is the ideal place to disembark from your airport bus or taxi - the very core of the modern city and within easy striking distance of the Plaka and other areas of central interest to travellers.

By metro

Syntagma has its own stop on the new metro line - perhaps one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world. Numerous excavations are demonstrated just in its halls, behind the glass.

By bus

If you are staying in Syntagma or in the nearby Plaka district, get off the airport bus at the stop opposite the National Gardens (to your right) before you reach the square itself.

Get around

See

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the bottom of the Greek Parliament
  • The Hellenic Parliament Building — Formerly the royal palace, lining the eastern side of the square and guarded by kilted and pom-pommed soldiers - the evzones (ev-zone-ees).
  • The Hotel Grand Bretagne — Facing the northern edge of the square, the first and last word in opulence for Athenian accommodation, the result of many a world leader passing through Athens.
  • National Historical Museum[1] — Situated in the old parliament building on Stadiou Street a little northwest of Sytagma Square, this museum contains a large collection of historic documents such as the first constitution of Greece, furniture, equipment from the revolution. If you are lucky you may see the old session room.
  • Numismatic Museum [2] — Situations just north of Syntagma Square, the building of the museum is one of the most beautiful in Athens, and was built by Ernst Ziller and was used as the residence in Athens of Schliemann. The collection contains thousands of ancient coins and ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval figurines.

Do

  • The National Gardens, behind the Parliament building. dawn-dusk. Easily the coolest place to go to in order to hide from the blazing summer sun. Wander around, check out the quirky art that seems to sprout up every now and again, look on in disbelief at the "zoo", sit on one of the benches, marvel at the turtle pond, have a frappe in the cafe, and spot one of the resident tortoises exploring... it's a fun place to hang out.


Buy

  • Public, Sintagma Square, [3]. Mahoosive shop selling CDs, DVDs, PCs, electronics,books, comics, stationary etc.


Eat

  • McDonalds. It's the same everywhere, but here it has a slight Greek slant on things.


Drink

  • Costa. Standard stuff, but has a nice air conditioned and quiet upstairs seating area overlooking the square. €3-€4 for a coffee.
  • Pure Bliss, Romvis 24A, 10562 Athens, 210 3250360 -2, [4]. A fun and quirky cafe tucked away in the back streets off Ermou. Fantastic decor, a kind of cross between a traditional English tea room, and some trippy journey into a fairy grove. Friendly staff. Tables, or cushions on the floor. Coffee from around €3.


Sleep

  • Electra Hotel [5] 5, Ermou str. Syntagma Square, tel 30.210.33.78.000. The ELECTRA HOTEL Athens is a four star property, centrally located in the heart of Athens. It is within walking distance from all major historical sites and the business and commercial districts.


Hotel Grande Bretagne and near the smaller King George Palace
  • Grande Bretagne Hotel Syntagma square, tel 30 210 3330000. Traditonally the "best hotel in town," this historic luxury hotel with gilded woods, fine fabrics, and chandeliers in the public areas has long been the accommodation of choice for visiting diplomats and power players. Prices from €300 ($470).


  • King George Palace [6] 3 Vassileos Georgiou A' St, Syntagma Square, tel 30.210.32.22.210. The King George delivers class and elegance throughout each of its 112 rooms. Some rooms have a view of the Acropolis, and the Royal Presidential Suite has a private outdoor pool. Wi fi access is available for business travelers. The Tudor restaurant on the 7th floor has views of the Acropolis.

Get out

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