Three hills located west of the Acropolis have played a major role in the history of Athens. Next to the entrance of the Acropolis stands Arios Pagos, the seat of the court of ancient Athens. This is where the apostle Paul preached to the Athenians. Further to the west is Pnyx, the birthplace of democracy. It served as the world's first assembly point during the 5th century BCE. It is now the site of a sound and light show running each night from April to October. Philopappou is the tallest of these three hills. On the hilltop stands the Philopappos Monument—a marble tower built in the 2nd century CE.
A former ducal residence (dating back to 1848) houses the Byzantine Museum of Athens. Its collection shows how Greek art evolved from the 4th to the 19th Century. Standing out for their beauty and craftsmanship are the works of religious art. These include a great number of icons, wall paintings, reliefs and statues. In addition to these, clothes, coins, mosaics, jewelery, manuscripts, wood carvings and many other items are on display. Copies of these exhibits can be bought at the museum shop.
A splendid religious complex, the Acropolis consists of several temples which were built by the world's first democracy during the 5th Century BCE. The most majestic building of all is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Parthenon became the paragon of classical Greek architecture and, even though it has suffered serious damage over the centuries, it still remains an important monument, a symbol of all things classical. The Acropolis Museum is also a part of the Acropolis Complex. No trip to Athens is complete without a visit to Acropolis. Check the website for more information.
Dedicated to Goddess Athena, the Parthenon is arguably one of the most recognized monuments of Greece. Located within the site of Acropolis, the marvelous and magnificent structure has a history that dates back to 447 BCE. Over the centuries, the Parthenon has witnessed many changes, destruction and reconstructions, along with a thoroughly mesmerizing history. It still stands tall, over 13.72 meters (45 feet) in height, representing the glorious Grecian history and all things classical. As such it is home to several Hellenic artifacts, invaluable artworks and sculptures.
A hit with the public as soon as it opened in 2009, the museum gives context to the Acropolis and displays its sculptures in a relaxed and visually stunning style. The building, designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, is worth a visit in its own right. Clear information panels, helpful films, strolling archaeologists to answer your questions, and plenty of space and light in which to walk among the statues, make this one of the great museums of Europe. There is also an excellent café-restaurant and shop on-site (don't miss the Parthenon fridge-magnets).
Among the most unusual forms of art around are the prehistoric idols found on the Cycladic Islands. These strange-looking statues dating back to the 4th and 3rd millennium BCE are of an almost extra-terrestrial beauty. Splendid samples of this art form can be found at the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation, Museum of Cycladic Art. The museum also includes a collection of ancient art dating from the 2nd millennium BCE to the 4th Century CE with sculptures, pottery, jewelery, coins and other items. Reproductions of Cycladic idols can be bought at the museum shop.