Athens (ATH)

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Athens, where culture is in the air...and in the kitchen.

Athens, the capital of Greece and the heart of Western culture, immediately enchants visitors with over 3,000 years of history.

The cradle of classic civilisation, Athens was the birthplace of European philosophy, art, politics and democracy. Today, it’s an open-air museum of Occidental history, an experience to be had at least once in a lifetime.

The largest architectural complex from ancient Greece, the Acropolis (meaning ‘high city’) dominates the skyline from a height of almost 160 meters (525 feet), and is the city’s main tourist destination. From here, it’s possible to visit the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike, and also reach the Agora, the political and social heart of Athens so many centuries ago.

Today however, Athenian life revolves around Syntagma (Constitution) Square: home to the Old Royal Palace (and thus the Greek Parliament) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it is here that visitors can watch the fascinating changing of the guards, the Evzones.

Just a stone’s throw from Syntagma Square is the ancient quarter of Plaka, the buzzing hub of the city’s nightlife. Though there are many shops and ateliers, the bars, clubs and restaurants serving traditional Greek cuisine are what really define the zone.

Here, food is a living part of culture too, and while recipes for souvlàki and pita-wrapped gyros are found around the globe today, there are plenty of other gastronomic specialties to discover in Athens. First and foremost is moussaka, a layered casserole of meat, eggplant, tomato, bechamel and spices. Then there are tiropita and spanakopita, two savoury pastry dishes made from layered phyllo dough (the former with egg, feta and mint; the latter with spinach) eaten by Greeks even for breakfast.

Last but not least are the famous baklava, a sweet dessert of Turkish origin that’s widely found in Greece, also made with phyllo dough and flavoured by different nuts, spices and honey.

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