Must see places in Athens.

The Acropolis has been the heart of Athens since the beginning of recorded time. The first settlers arrived here in Neolithic times, drawn by the permanent springs. It developed into a powerful Mycenaean city, associated with the mythical superhero Theseus. The Mycenaeans ruled from a palace that stood between where the Parthenon and the Erechtheion stand today (all that's left is an embankment of huge "Cyclopean" stones).
People lived on the Acropolis until 510 BC. Then the Delphic Oracle booted them, ruling that the Acropolis should be dedicated to the gods.
Everything on the Acropolis was destroyed by the Persians before the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). Athens' improbable victory at Salamis, which followed an equally stunning land victory at Marathon 10 years earlier, saw Athens at the very peak of its power. Cash was pouring in from other city-states and islands keen to be allied to the winning side. The greatest of ancient architects, Pericles, could afford to spare no expense as he set about transforming the Acropolis into a complex of lavishly decorated temples worthy of the city's protector Athena.
The four major monuments — the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaia and Temple of Athina Nike — survive in remarkably good condition given the battering they've taken over the centuries. The only entrance is at the western side of the Acropolis. From Roman Agora in the Plaka, signs point uphill. No backpacks or bags (cloakroom just below gate). At the entrance ask for the substantial and helpful sight guide (free but not always offered).
Get there early or late to avoid the crowds and mid-day heat. The place is packed with tour groups from 10:30 to about 13:00. Wear sensible shoes. In summer, it gets very hot on top of the Acropolis, so take a bottle of water as well as a hat and sunscreen. The refreshments kiosk outside the entrance is your last but expensive opportunity to get a drink.

Acropolis Museum
Ancient Agora The commercial, political and social heart of the city in ancient times.
National Archaeological Museum One of the great museums of the world, home to the most important finds from archaeological sites around the country.

Syntagma Square
In 1830 the Plaka was the nucleus of Athens. Syntagma Square (now the heart of the city) was on the outskirts of town. It was created in 1834 as part of a grand plan drawn up by the bevy of Bavarian architects called in by King Otto's father, Ludwig, to create a worthy capital for newly independent Greece.
Imagine the original Syntagma Square: a big front yard for the new royal palace with the country's leading families building mansions around the square. The Hotel Grand Bretagne, the adjacent Hotel King George II, the palatial Zappeion in the national garden, and the stately architecture lining Queen Sophia street behind the palace (now embassies and museums) are all surviving examples of these early mansions.
Originally known as Plateia Vasileos Othon, it became known as Syntagma (that means constitution) Square after a riotous crowd jammed the square on 3 September, 1843, demanding a constitution. King Otto, giving a speech from the balcony of the Royal Palace (now the Greek Parliament), overlooking the square, gave his people — whose ancestors invented the concept — democracy.
Today the city's busiest subway station dumps people into the café filled square. Plane trees (chosen for their resilience against pollution and the generous shade they provide) make Syntagma Square a breezy and restful spot.
Traffic is limited as even and odd numbered licence plates are prohibited in the center on alternate days, more of the city center is pedestrianized, and the city's public transport is top notch. Along this square you'll find the city's most venerable hotel (Grande Bretagne), the AmExCo, buses to the airport .

Greece's imposing parliament building, where 300 representatives (elected every 4 years) tend to the business of state, overlooks Syntagma Square.
The origins of this palace of democracy, couldn't have been less democratic. It was built as the Royal Palace by a Bavarian architect, who was under instructions to design a suitably grand home for the new royal family, Otto and Amalia, recently arrived from Nafplio.
It was completed in 1842 at a time of rapidly escalating tensions between the new Bavarian elite and frustrated leaders of the War of Independence. If the palace was designed to impress, then the effect was quite the opposite. The conspicuous consumption angered impoverished locals.
The palace may have given the appearance of luxury, but life here sucked. The place was terribly impractical.impossible to heat in winter and with only one bathroom among its 365 rooms. Imagine the lines.
The palace, badly damaged by fire in 1909 and refurbished in the 1930s, has been the home of the Greek Parliament since 1935.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
In front of the Parliament buildings is the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, guarded by the much-photographed Evzones. These colourful characters are clad in the traditional pleated kilt (fustanella), white britches and pom-pom shoes made famous by the klephtes, the mountain fighters who battled so ferociously in the War of Independence. The pleats in the soldiers' skirts have 400 for each miserable year of Turkish/Ottoman occupation. The Evzones change guard every hour on the hour, with a full changing-of-the-guard ceremony, complete with marching band, at 11:00 on Sunday.

Ermou Street
This pedestrian mall leads from Syntagma (next to McDonalds and AmExCo) down into the Plaka. When first pedestrianized in 2000, merchants were upset. Now, they love the ambiance created as countless locals stroll through what has become a people-friendly shopping zone. This has traditionally been the street of women's' shops (Akadimias is the "men's shopping street").

Church of Kapnikarea
Is a classic Byzantine church (11 th century). Based on a Greek cross (plus sign, contained in a circle, symbolizing the perfection of God) rather than the Latin cross plan most common in Western Europe. Tell tale signs of a Byzantine church are: round arches over the windows, bricks with the mortar surrounding the stone, and a domed cupola symbolizing heaven (always painted inside with the omnipotent "Pantocrator" God blessing us on Earth from its very top). The glass and gold leaf mosaic around the door, while 20th century, is in the traditional style. Notice the focus on the eyes, which were considered to mirror of the soul and symbolize the purity of the soul. The church is named for the tax on the cloth merchants that once lined this square.
At the church, turn left proceeding downhill on Kapnikareas Street two blocks to the busy intersection at Pandrossou Street. Ahead is the Roman Agora. On the right, Pandrossou Street market leads to Monastiraki Square.

Was built with the arrival of King Otto in 1842. A statue of Damaskinos, arch-bishop of Greece from 1891 through 1949, faces the cathedral (generally open 8:00-13:00, 16:30-20:00). As you enter any Greek Orthodox church you can join the locals in the standard ritual: drop a coin in the wooden box, pick up a candle, say a prayer, light it, and place in the candelabra. Make the sign of the cross and kiss the icon (in this case, of Jesus). Orthodox churches come with an altar screen dividing the lay community and the priests. The spiritual heavy lifting takes place behind the screen where the priests turn the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. Then they open the doors and serve it to their faithful flock — spooning the wine from a challis while holding a cloth under each chin to not drop any on the floor. Traditionally, women worshipped apart from men in the balconies upstairs. In 1954 women got the vote in Greece and since about that time, they have been able to worship in the prime ground floor real estate with their men. The scaffolding has decorated this unremarkable church since the earthquake of 1989.

Byzantine Church of Agios Eleftherios
The marble bits are ancient, scavenged from the agora in 12th century. The carved reliefs above the door are part of a calendar of ancient Athenian festivals, thought to have been carved in the 2nd century AD. The church is sometimes referred to as the old cathedral, because it was used by the archbishops of Athens after they were evicted from the Parthenon by the Turks. Step inside for pure 12 th century Orthodox architectural beauty.

Monument of Lysicrates
This elegant marble monument is the sole survivor of many such monuments that once lined this ancient "Street of the Tripods." It was so called because the monuments came with bronze tripods that displayed grand ornamental pottery vases and cauldrons (like those you'll see in the museums) as trophies. These ancient Oscars were awarded to winners of choral and theatrical competitions staged at the Theatre of Dionysos on the southern side of the Acropolis.
This lonely monument was erected in 334 BC by 'Lysicrates of Kykyna, son of Lysitheides', proud sponsor of the winning choral team that year. Excavations around the monument uncovered the foundations of other monuments which are now reburied under a layer of red sand awaiting further study.

The community of Anafiotika
Literally "little Anafi", it was built by people from the tiny Cycladic island of Anafi who came to Athens looking for work after independence. In this delightful spot, nestled beneath the walls of the Acropolis, the city seems miles away. Weave through narrow paths lined with flowers, and dotted with cats dozing peacefully in the sunshine. While ancestors of those original islanders still live here, Anafiotika is slowly becoming a place for the local wealthy to have "an island cottage" in the city. As you wander through the oleanders, notice the male fig trees considered helpful in keeping flies and mosquitos away. Smell the chicken droppings fertilizer, peek into delicate little yards, blue doors and maroon's a transplanted Cycladic world.

The Roman Agora and The Tower of the Winds
The Romans conquered Greece in about 150 BC and stayed for centuries. This square was the commercial center of Roman Athens with a colonnade providing shade for shoppers browsing along the many shops and stores that fronted this square. Centuries later, the Ottoman's made this their grand bazaar. The mosque survives. The only building of any importance for sightseers here is on the far right — the Tower of the Winds. Circle right for a closer look.
The octagonal Tower of the Winds, built in the 1st century BC, was an ingenious combo clock, weather vane, guide to the planets. It's named after the beautiful relief carvings that depict with symbolism the eight winds the ancient Greeks had names for. As you walk down hill you'll see a boy with a harp, a boy with a basket of flowers (summer wind), a relief with a circle, and a guy blowing a conch shell — he's imitating Boreas, the howling winter winds from the north. The tower was capped with a weather vane, in the form of a bronze Triton (half-man, half-fish) that spun indicating which wind was blessing or cursing the city at the moment.
Bronze rods protruded from the walls, acting as sundials to indicate the time. And when the sun was not shining, time was told by the tower's sophisticated water clock, powered by water piped in from springs on the Acropolis. Under Turkish rule, dervishes used the tower as a place of whirling and prayer.

Monastiraki Square
To the right of the market street from where you entered stands a mosque (Arabic script over door, place of worship from 15 th to 19 th century, today housing the closed-for-now Museum of Ceramics). Behind the mosque stand the Corinthian columns of Hadrian's Library (2nd century AD, the Acropolis towers behind, walking to the library and then turning right leads to Greek Agora). The yellow train station (Athens' original British-built 19 th century train station — neoclassical with a dash of Byzantium — functions today as a subway station). Just past the station, a road leads downhill into the flea market (antiques, jewellery, cheap clothing, Nazi artifacts, and so on). If locals need a screw for an old lamp, they know they'll find it here. Opposite the Acropolis, Athinas Street leads straight to Omonia Square past the bustling Central Market (5 minute walk up the street). The small church in the square is the Church of the Virgin (12 th century, Byzantine, mostly restored with much more modern belltower). Behind the church, a street is clogged with locals chowing down on the best souvlaki in town.