Besides the major ancient monuments that most Athens visitors come here to see, a number of smaller, minor sites and marks are scattered around, dotting the urban landscape as visual reminders of the rich and varied history of the city. You may find yourselves unexpectedly facing them as you walk around Athens or you can create yourselves an admittedly awkward tour of Athens based on these minor sites, near and around the major ones.
Most of these “mini-sites” are remnants of the ancient Athens fortifications. Walls that Athenians, urged by Themistocles, built at various phases in the 5th century BC, to protect the city from invaders and mainly the ancient Spartans. These are called Themistoclean Walls. Athenians were so hasty to build these fortifications that they used whatever type of material was available at the moment. Even parts of buildings, statues and funerary monuments were used as building blocks in the wall. An additional segment of fortification, called the Diateichisma and connected to the Themistoclean Walls was built near the area of Philopappos Hill. Another major fortification, 7kms long, are the so-called Long Walls, that were built to secure the contact of ancient Athens with its port of Piraeus, again in the 5th century BC. Parts of these fortifications have also been unearthed during excavations or construction of newer buildings and have been fenced and preserved.
I put together a list of such minor archaeological sites, in the form of a long walk around Athens (see map at the bottom). If you follow this route you will also come across most major sites, but here the order is inverse. The focus is on the minor sites while the major ones form the background!
Your unorthodox walk starts from the center of Athens, diagonally across Syntagma Square:
1) At the corner of Vasilissis Sofias Ave. & Panepistimiou (a.k.a. Eleftheriou Venizelou) St., in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you’ll see a planted dug-out, with a sign alerting to the presence of “Ancient Athenian fortifications”.
Ancient Athens fortifications at the corner of Vassilissis Sofias & Panepistimiou, city-center, Athens, Greece
Walk along past the Parliament building, with the National Garden and the Zappeion to your left, to reach…
2) The roofed excavations of some ancient Roman baths, at Leoforos Amalias.
Read more on this interesting route here


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