Topography of Athens
I strongly believe that the best way to know a city is to walk around the streets. Wander around at the city center and looking the architecture or observing the people. Hence the best way to explore Athens is to rest yourselves well and then start walking and … walking and … walking around. Athens has many significant hills except the hill of Acropolis. Over there you can “climb” in order to enjoy the beautiful view of the whole city. You will have plenty of day light to enjoy the view, since we have an average over 3000 hours of sunshine per year. Moreover, all the main hills are inside the center of Athens. Or really close to it.
Lycabettus, Philopappou and Areopagus are three of them. And of course, many more smaller like Strefi, Pnyx, Skouze and hill of the Nymphs, where the National Observatory of Athens (address of NOA: Nymphs hill, PC 11810) is located. We will talk about the 3bigger, in order to help you choose where to go according to your preferences. Either you can go to see the view or to have a picnic with your kids. Or just having a romantic walk with your other half.
Areopagus hill is located 350meters northwest of the Acropolis hill (address: Theorias 21, PC 10555). This hill is more preferred by couples.
Areopagus means Areios Pagos, which translated into hill of Ares (the god of war). It named after the trial of god Ares. Over there the other Olympian gods judged Ares about the murder of Halirrhothius (Poseidon’s son). Even Aeschylus wrote that at this court they judged Orestes (of Homers) for killing his mother Clytemnestra.
This hill was starting to function as a court during the Golden Age of Pericles. The hill continues to work like a court during roman times. After that Apostle Paul is said to have delivered the famous speech. “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Areopagus sermon, Acts 17:24).
Nowadays the Areopagus court still running, but not at this hill. The new address of this Supreme Civil and Criminal Court of Greece is located at Leof.Alexandras 121, PC11522. Although the hill has still the same name.
Filopappou hill is included among the main hills. It is a quiet destination with panoramic views. Families with kids, they are choosing to visit Filopappou hill
for picnic, instead of going to Tatoi old palace which is far away and they need transportation. Filopappou hill (address: Filis 215, 11741) took its name after Philopappos, an aristocratic origin. Moreover, he was proclaimed a Roman High Priest, on the 2nd century AD. Ιn his honor after his death in 116, his sister and the citizens of Athens constructed a tomb. This tomb is located at the hill of Muses/Mouson hill called it μνημείο Φιλοπάππου (mnimeío Filopáppou)-monument of Filopappou. At the south side there is also Dora’s Stratou theater. On the other hand, at the west side there is Socrates prison, which I strooooongly recommend you to visit.
Use of the Filopappou monument
In 1957, in an archaeological research of the monument, the architect archaeologist Ioannis Travlos made an excavation. Consequently, he found that this monument had a funeral chamber 9 meters high and with an area of 7×5 meters. The entrance to this chamber was from a staircase on the southwest side of the monument. As a result, at the opposite site of the entrance was the sarcophagus of Philopappos. Therefore this monument had the character of a Mausoleum. However, this mausoleum was established to be called monument.
Lycabettus hill is one of the main hills. This hill considered to be the most spectacular one. In my opinion of course…. My point of view is supported by the fact that there is a funicular-cable car (at: Aristippou 1, 10676, Kolonaki) to go up at the top of the hill, in order to avoid uphills. Over there you can worship God (if you are Christian) at the chapel of Saint George. On the other hand, you could revitalize yourselves with a cold fresh juice/lunch at the restaurant. Bonus: …….. having the best view of the whole Athens. It is only 900meters away from the Greek Parliament.
The myth about Lycabettus hill says that the goddess Athena went to god of fire Hephaestus to ask for weapons. The goddess wanted to protect the city from god Poseidon (that he lost in their competition to name the city). Hephaestus fell in love with the goddess. Athena tried to avoid him since she was caste virgin. She didn’t manage and he ejaculated on the goddess’s knee**. The goddess got very angry. Subsequently, in disgust wiped the spot with a piece of woolen cloth and threw it to the ground. From the goddess Earth came Erechtheus.
Athena’s despair peaks
Athena secretly closed the baby on a big jar. After that, she gave it to the king of Athens’s Cecrops three daughters. They were Aglavros, Ersi and Pandrosos. Her command was to never open it. The 3sisters felt curiosity. They eventually opened the jar and saw a reptile in the form of a child. The 2nd version says that they saw a snake around the small Erechtheus. Terrified the two of them, Aglavros and Ersi killed themselves falling of the Acropolis Hill.
At that time, the goddess Athena carried a big rock from Pallene. Either to help Athenians construct the Parthenon upon the Acropolis hill or protect the city building the Cyclopean walls. Meanwhile, a raven informed her of the release of Erythheas and the death of the two women. Surprised by this ugly event, the goddess left the rock slipped out of her hands. She also gave tο the crow the black color. This rock named Lycabettus hill, because of the light that shines when the sun rises.
So, lets walk around the hills of Athens and soon I will advice you for the other hills also.
*Travel tip: Wear your most comfortable walking shoes. Take a bottle of water at your backpack. You will need also a hat for the hot Greek sun. Those with sensitive skin will need sunscreen.
**Fact: The ancient Greeks invented this myth to explain their knowledge about premature ejaculation. Even though this disease diagnosed and treated by the doctors finally in the 20th century.
If you liked this one, then check out the article about the historic places you do not want to miss.