From its ancient cultural heritage, its string of world-famous sites and landmarks, a plethora of museums, all the way to its vibrant contemporary culture, Athens is a spectacular destination and is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe.
Throughout the city are an abundance of fantastic squares, many of which provide a fascinating insight into the layers of history present in the city, whilst others are a totally modern and make for a perfect hang-out location. Here are some of the best squares to visit in Athens:
10 Squares in Athens Worth Exploring
1. Syntagma Square
One of the most important and significant squares in the whole of Athens is the famous Syntagma Square. Sometimes known as Constitution Square, this square is a hub of historical importance and has a whole host of symbolic buildings and monuments on it.
One of which is The Parliament of Greece, or the Vouli, which was originally built in the year 1843, after being designed for King Otto Wittelsbach, who was a Bavarian Prince. The building originally served as a grand palace with a total of 365 rooms, before it was renovated in 1910 to become the Hellenic parliament.
Another top thing to do at Syntagma Square is to visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, which is situated in front of the Parliament; originally made between 1929 and 1930, this monument is a cenotaph that serves to commemorate soldiers of war. The monument is heavily guarded by ‘Evzones’ who wear a traditional 19th-century costume; you can experience the hourly changing of the guard here.
Tip: Go for a coffee or a snack at the Public Bookstores and enjoy Syntagma Square from above.
2. Monastiraki Square
A popular square in Athens is Monastiraki Square, which is one of the most scenic squares in the city and has a lot of history associated with it. Historically, Monastiraki Square has been the commercial center of the city, and it was originally the site for one of the largest monasteries of Athens, however, a huge percentage of this monastery was actually demolished during large-scale excavations that were carried out in the 19th-century.
One of the top surviving sites to see in Monastiraki Square is the Pantanassa Church, which was originally constructed in the 17th-century, upon the foundations of an earlier existing church, which is believed to date back to the 10th-century.
One of the key reasons in which Monastiraki Square is so popular to this day, particularly with tourists, is because of the Flea Market, which is an open-air market that takes place every week, where you can find a huge array of trinkets, souvenirs, and other crafts, as well as a fantastic atmosphere.
3. Omonia Square
Omonia Square is situated in the heart of Athens and was originally constructed in the year 1846, but since then, it has undergone several major renovations and transformations. This square is famous for being one of the oldest squares in the entire city, and it has long been a hub of commerce and shopping, largely due to its position of being an intersection for six of the main streets in Athens.
The square was originally named ‘Plateia Anaktoron’, or Palace Square’, though it was later renamed to ‘Othonos Square’ in commemoration of King Otto; however, it was later renamed again in 1862 to ‘Omonia Square’.
Today, Omonia Square is one of the most popular squares in Athens and has some incredible features, including the enormous central fountain and square being illuminated with LED technology, giving it an exciting, bold, and colorful atmosphere that many tourists are attracted to.
4. Agias Irinis Square
Agias Irinis Square is a bustling center for bars, food joints, and quirky cafes, that is particularly vibrant in the evenings and at night time; there are so many amazing places to visit in this square, one of which is the Church of Agia Irini, which has been the main church of Athens for many years, that was until the one in Metropolis was constructed.
This church features Greek Orthodox elements, that also include a byzantine influence; both the interior and exterior are equally gorgeous and well worth the visit. Agias Irinis Square is so important to local Athenians, and there is always a fantastic mix between tourists and locals; the square is particularly beautiful and vibrant at night, where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail.
5. Mitropoleos Square
Another notable square in the heart of Athens, just a stone’s throw away from the historic Syntagma Square, is Mitropoleos Square. There are several key landmarks and monuments in this square, and one of which is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, which is one of the grandest and most impressive churches in the entire city; it has some incredible Byzantine features, and offers a truly beautiful interior and exterior.
Another fantastic church that is situated in Mitropoleos Square is the Church of Agios Eleftherios; dating back to the 12th-century, this church is absolutely tiny, but jam-packed full of history. It began life as the city’s main cathedral, but it now stands back quietly. Mitropoleos Square is rather quiet compared to some of Athens’s larger and more built-up squares, but it is nonetheless incredibly beautiful and unique and has lots of hidden gems to uncover.
6. Iroon Square (Psiri)
In the heart of Psiri is the wonderful Iroon Square, or as it is sometimes known as, Heroes Square; this amazing, scenic square meets at several different corners and has lots to offer its visitors.
Iroon Square is a fabulous square, and though it is not one of the busiest of built up, there are lots to do and see; it is a particularly great spot for those who enjoy good food and nightlife, as there are lots of bustling food joints and quirky bars to discover. There is an overall brilliant atmosphere, and there is a wonderful mix of locals and visitors.
Tip: While here you should definitely check out Nancy’s Sweetshop, which makes some of the best desserts in Athens.
7. Klafthmonos Square
One of the top squares to visit in Athens is Klafthmonos Square, which is often regarded as the historic center of the city; the name of this square stems from the ancient Greek word, that means ‘weeping’, and originates from the year 1878 when it was named the Garden of Klafthmonos by Demetrios Kambouroglou.
Klafthmonos Square is very built up, and there are lots of governmental and administrative offices here, as well as banks, a few shops, and restaurants, etc; it is a relatively quiet square with not as much going on as other squares in the city, however, there are several things to look out for.
One of which is the bronze sculpture that is built in the Impressionist style; it was sculpted by Vasilis Doropoulos in 1988 and symbolizes National Reconciliation. This square is also famous for being at the center of political rallies, demonstrations, and occasionally even concerts.
8. Kotzia Square
In the heart of central Athens in Kotzia Square, which consists of a string of magnificent buildings built in the fantastic neoclassical architectural style of the 19th-century. Originally caked ‘Loudovikou Square’, Kotzia Square began life in the year 1874, where it functioned as the venue for the Athens historic center circuit, and a whole host of other artistic events.
One of the top things to see on Kotzia Square is The City of Athens Town Hall, which is situated on Athinas Street; this was originally constructed in the year 1874 in the contemporary neoclassical style and was initially constructed with just two floors before another one was added in 1937.
This hall has so many paintings and other artifacts inside; there is so much to see here, you could easily spend several hours taking it all in! Another great thing to do in Kotzia Square is to visit Melas Mansion, which is an impressive building that dates back to the 19th-century.
9. Avissinias Square
Another fantastic square in the gorgeous city of Athens is Avissinias Square; over history, this square has witnessed different religions, culture, architectural styles and more, and continues to be a fascinating insight into the multi-faceted nature of Athenian heritage.
This square is also occasionally referred to as ‘Yussuroum’, as it took this name from Noah Yussuroum, who was a Jewish antique dealer, who with his family, had settled in Monastiraki in the year 1863.
One of the highlights of Avissinias Square is the bazaar, which takes place every Sunday morning at 7:00 am; at this market, you can find quirky antiques, vintage gems, furniture, clothes, strange artifacts and more, and even if you do not wish to purchase anything, it is an amazing spectacle just to see and experience. This is one of the smaller squares in the city, but it is full to the brim of astonishing wonders.
10. Dexameni Square (Kolonaki)
Situated at the foot of the famous Lycabettus Hill lies the beautiful Dexameni Square, in the heart of the upmarket district of Kolonaki. This is a particularly special hangout for locals, as there are a string of unique and charming bars, cafes, restaurants and shops, and even a brilliant open-air cinema.
Dexameni Square is magical, with its tree-lined streets and enchanting atmosphere, it is a popular place to visit and explore for both Athenians and curious visitors, and there is always a wonderful balance.
The best time of day to visit Dexameni Square is the early evening, as it looks beautiful in the golden hour, and even better at sunset; it is also a great time of day, as the restaurant culture of the square is one of the key reasons in which it is so popular.
Athens is a city with so much to offer, and each of these fantastic, historic squares provide an insight into just one of the countless layers of history and culture that the city beholds. From ancient times to modern-day, these squares are layered with fascinating stories, architectures, and hidden secrets, all of which are just waiting to be uncovered.