by Demetrio Rizzo

The historical centre of Athens can be divided into three areas, all totally different from each other and fine examples of the three main historical periods:

1) The archaeological area, the green belt of the city, is a concentration of the most magnificent monuments of classical Greece situated inside an enormous pedestrian area which links parks, green areas and archaeological sites. It's a unique place of extraordinary beauty! Within the park there are the capital's main archaeological museums.

click here for details 2) The ancient quarters, nearly all pedestrianized, have been well preserved and are full of exceptional samples of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Neoclassical architecture. They are the ideal place for people who want to discover Athens of old times.

3) The Modern Area of the historical centre has been the institutional, commercial and vital centre of the capital for the last two centuries. Unlike the other two areas, it has maintained a rich architectural energy throughout the years, and today can offer the onlooker original contrasts between classical and post-modern aesthetics, with colonnades and reflecting glass fašades. The area is dominated by tall modern buildings literally leaning against 19th century villas; it should be explored in depth and appreciated for its continual evolution, , which gives us an insight, with each detail, into the way humankind is developing in a vital architectural contest.

One of the mistakes the majority of tourists make when visiting Athens for the first time, is to be negatively influenced by the 'chaotic' urbanization of the new areas. The city has developed its own individual urbanization very different from the aesthetic rules of the rest of 'old' Europe. Athens is indeed the oldest capital of Europe and has been the cradle of classical taste and a source of inspiration for the whole of Europe in recent centuries; however on the contrary of other European cities that have always copied it but have remained entangled in their past glories, Athens has been able to look beyond its past, into the future, maintaining youth and energy. The urban evolution is evident especially in the 'modern area of the historical centre' (in between Omonoia square and Sidagma square). The area is characterised by extremely interesting architectural structures ranging from neoclassical style to post war style, from the modern through to the contemporary. These styles are placed side by side, but sometimes are mixed together. Many villas are both old and modern and because of their contrast, I believe the building methods and architectural choices, are able to enhance both the old and the modern forms.

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