Spotlight on Athens


Athens, that ancient city of beautiful architecture, has been spruced up for all the Olympic visitors. With its new buildings and roads, the busy, populous city hasn’t looked this good in years! Evan if you don’t plan to visit Athens for the Olympic Games, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. A new metro system makes the city easier to explore than ever.

Building the system turned out to be quite a job, as workers kept discovering ancient artifacts. Two museums, at the Acropolis and Syntagma stations, display the artifacts found during construction.

Greek mythology describes the beginnings of Athens. According to legend, the gods Poseidon and Athena each wanted to name the city. Whoever came up with the most valuable legacy for humans would be given that honor.

Poseidon struck the earth and a seawater spring gushed out. Athena created an olive tree — the symbol of peace and wealth. The other gods decided Athena’s gift would better serve the people, so the city became known as Athens. As a reminder of this myth, an olive tree grows on the Acropolis.

Athens’ Famous Acropolis

The Acropolis, or “high city,” stands on a hill overlooking Athens. No matter how many pictures you’ve seen of the Acropolis, seeing it for yourself is a magical experience! The sun subtly changes the color of the stone at different times of the day.

Today, only ruins remain of the temples that once stood there. The biggest and best, the graceful Parthenon, sits on the highest part of the Acropolis. Forty-six columns held up its roof. The columns remain, but the roof is long gone.

The Acropolis Archeological Museum contains many of the beautiful statues, sculptures and carvings that decorated the buildings of the Acropolis. But not all. Many of the sculptures from the Parthenon lie in the British Museum instead. Naturally, this is still a sore point for the Greeks.

From early June to September, the Athens Festival features famous Greek and foreign artists. They perform in the open-air Odeum (music hall) on the south slope of Acropolis. You can enjoy a concert or opera and admire the Acropolis at the same time.

Enjoying Greek Culture

At the foot of the Acropolis lies the Plaka district. Here you’ll find wall-to-wall shops and restaurants. Come after dark as the city starts to cool. Stroll, shop and enjoy dinner with an Acropolis view. Some of the city’s most charming restaurants are here. You’ll find that most display a menu in Greek and English in their window or other prominent place.

Find a local Greek taverna and enjoy a traditional meal. At the Taverna Xinos, strolling musicians sing wonderful old Greek songs while playing the guitar and bouzouki.

To escape the crowds that swarm over the Acropolis and the big museums, head over to the National Gardens. This was once the royal family’s palace garden. Here you can sit under the trees on a bench and enjoy the coolness. Small cafes offer drinks and snacks. It’s an ideal location to watch local Greeks and their families enjoying themselves.

Ancient culture and modern conveniences make Athens worth a visit. Experiencing both will give you a better understanding of the “glory that was — and is — Greece.”

  • spruce up 打扮得漂亮整潔 : This apartment is looking pretty old. We need to spruce it up.
  • populous 人口稠密的 : Shanghai is a really populous city. More than 13million people live here.
  • gush 噴出;湧出 : When the pipe broke, water gushed out into the street.
  • subty 細微地;微妙地;隱約地 : Jennifer subtly tried to talk Jack into asking her out for a date.
  • ruin 廢墟; 遺跡 : Many tourists enjoy visiting the ruins of ancient Greek buildings.
  • sore point 痛處 : Ben didn’t do well on his English test, but his brother did. That’s a sore point with Ben.
  • slope 斜坡 : Tom was breathing hard after he walked up the mountain slope.
  • district 區域 : The city is divided into nine school districts.
  • prominent 顯著的;醒目的 : Stores often put up signs in prominent locations to attract customers.



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