ATHENS — Kolonaki

This is a wealthy residential suburb of Athens and contains an upmarket shopping centre and is home to several embassies as well as the residence of the prime minister. The area stretches from Syntagma to the foothills of Lykabettus Hill. There are lots of expensive boutiques as well as upmarket restaurants and private art galleries to explore. The area is named after a small and relatively insignificant column which is found in the central square.

The sights found here are:
Lycabettus Hill
Chapel of Agios Giorgios
Theatre Museum
Museum of the History of Greek Costume
Benaki Museum
Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art
Astrolavos Art Life
Byzantine and Christian Museum
War Museum

Lycabettus Hill

Lycabettus Hill
This is the highest place in Athens and is 278 metres tall. In ancient times the hill was covered in lush vegetation and on its top stood a temple dedicated to Zeus. At the top of the hill is the Chapel of Agios Giorgios as well as a restaurant. The views from the top are just spectacular and you can see Mount Parnes in the north and Piraeus and the Saronic Gulf in the west. The view to the Acropolis from here is magnificent as well. You can reach the top of the hill by foot but it is a long, hard climb especially in the summer months. An easier way is to take the funicular up the south-east flank from the corner of Kleomenous and Ploutarchou Streets, between Kolonaki Square and the Athens Hilton. On the slopes of the hill is the Lycabettus Theatre where many concerts are held during the Athens Festival.

Traveller's Tip

Be aware that there are some unscrupulous taxi drivers near the funicular who may tell you that it is not running or that it is better take a taxi to the top. Taxis can only take you to a certain point and then you will have to walk. The funicular is open from 9am until 3am and runs every 20 to 30 minutes. It costs around €5 and takes 2 minutes to get to the top.
Chapel of Agios Giorgios

Chapel of Agios Giorgios
This white church found on Lykavittos Hill can be seen from many spots in Athens. You can reach it by climbing the hill or taking the funicular. It dates from 1780 and was built on the site of a much older Byzantine church dedicated to the Prophet Elijah. The church bell was given to the church by Queen Olga, and its main icon is believed to possess miraculous powers.

Theatre Museum
The Theatre Museum exhibits memorabilia from the 19th and 20th centuries. Since 1977 it has been housed in the basement of the Cultural Centre of the City of Athens. The collection includes costumes, props, photographs, playbills and personal items of some of the actors. One of the highlights of the museum are the reconstructions of the dressing rooms of Greece’s most celebrated 20th century actors. There is also a library relating to the Greek Theatre. This museum is found at 50, Akademias Street and it is open every day from 10am until 10pm. It costs around €2.

Museum of the History of Greek Costume
This museum which is run by the Lyceum of Greek Women, has been around since 1988. The collection began in the 1920s when regional costumes either given or purchased were used in the performances of the Lyceum Club’s folk dance group. Later on these costumes formed the core of the museum collection you see today. There are around 25,000 items which consist mainly of costumes and ornaments. The museum regularly changes its exhibits. There is a gift shop where you can buy books on folk culture and handmade crafts.
For information about the museum visit the following website at: http://www.athensmuseums.net/museum.php?id=8&lang=en

Benaki Museum
This is one of the ‘must-see’ private museums of Athens. It contains a priceless collection of Christian art from the Byzantium period as well as many other rare finds from other eras. In Room 1 you will find pieces from the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras and there are several important pieces to discover here including some rare golden and silver cups known as the Treasure of Euboea and a golden crown decorated with images of sphinxes. Room 7 contains works from the Helleistic and Roman periods and includes the Treasure of Thessalia which contains beautiful golden jewellery decorated with semi-precious stones. The Neo-Classical building housing the museum is in itself stunning and the grounds are also worth visiting.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.benaki.gr/index.asp?lang=en

Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art
This museum was founded in 1986 to house the collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art belonging to Nicholas and Aikaterini Goulandris. The collection has more than 3,000 objects of Cycladic, Ancient Greek and Cypriot art which dates from the 5th century BC. As well as its permanent exhibits the museum hosts major archaeological, modern and contemporary art exhibitions. There are also educational programs and creative activities for children and families, lectures, one-day conferences and seminars.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.cycladic.gr/frontoffice/portal.asp?cpage=NODE&cnode=1

Astrolavos Art Life
This is a small art store which displays sculptures and works by local artists. There is an exhibition space on the ground level.
For information about the shop visit the website at: http://www.astrolavos.gr/astrolavos_english/index.htm

Byzantine and Christian Museum
This museum was founded in 1914 in the Academy of Athens. It moved to its present location in the former winter residence of the Duchess of Piacenza in 1930. The museum has a large collection of art from the 4th to the 19th centuries. There are sculptures, paintings and small objects from Greece, Asia Minor, the Black Sea amongst others. There is also a spectacular collection of icons including one from the 13th century with scenes from the life of St George. Many other religious objects include Bibles, altars as well as a small-scale reconstruction of a Christian basilica.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/

War Museum
This is one of the most well known buildings in Athens due to its unusual shape which reflects the late modernism style that was popular in the late 1950s. A typical style feature of this period is where the first floor is bigger than the ground floor. This was the first museum in Athens to have a modern amphitheatre for lectures and conferences. On the ground and mezzanine level are weapons and memorabilia about the Greek armed forces during WW11, the War in Korea and the war history of Cyprus. On the first floor the exhibits are about the Greek wars from prehistoric times until WW11.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.warmuseum.gr/english/

Traveller's Tip

If you are travelling with children they will love the fighter planes they can climb over in the forecourt.