The beating heart of ancient Athens, the Agora was the site of politics, administration, commerce, community, culture, justice and religion. This thriving hub once housed statues and shops and was a meeting place for Athenians where philosophers would congregate to espouse their musings during the day-to-day business of the ancient city.
In order to excavate the Agora, 400 modern buildings covering an area of 12 hectares were demolished. The ancient Agora was made up of administrative buildings and surrounded by community elements such as churches, schools, theatres, residences, shops and market stalls. The long colonnades of the Agora or stoa provided shade to its inhabitants in summer and shelter from the rain. The centrepiece was the Stoa of Attalos II, a retail complex where Socrates once lectured and persuaded the youth of Athens to embrace his progressive ideas. This structure is now home to the Museum of Agora Excavations and the two-level building was reconstructed in the ‘50s using the original marble and limestone.
The landscaped grounds also surround the only surviving church, Agii Apostoli (Holy Apostles), built around 1000 AD. The best preserved Doric temple in Greece, the Hephaistion, can also be found here and while roped off like the other monuments, you can still walk around it to see the painstaking restoration. The Hephaistion has 34 columns and was dedicated to the god of metalworkers, Hephaistos. From the Agora you can also enjoy a stunning view up to the Acropolis.
Admission to the Ancient Agora is €4 for adults and free for those under the age of 19. Entry to the Agora Museum is free. You can access the site from three entrances: Monastiraki on Adrianou; Thission on Apostolou Pavlou; and from the Acropolis on Ayios Apostoloi. The closest metro station is Stathmos Isap Monastiraki then it's just a one-minute walk to the Agora.