The Ancient Agora in Athens is one of the most visited ancient sites in Greece. Tourists tend to go there directly after seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon, as it is only a short walk away. In order to make the most of your time at the Ancient Agora in Athens, I have put together a few sightseeing tips.
The Ancient Agora in Athens
So, let's start by describing what the Ancient Agora is. An Agora was a central area, commonly found in most ancient Greek city-states. The Ancient Agora in Athens though, is the best surviving example. The word itself means “gathering place”, or “meeting place”. It was an area where people would meet, talk, and trade. In fact, describing it as a glorified market square wouldn't be too inaccurate.
In Ancient Athens though, the Agora was of a larger, grander scale. There were temples and monuments, covered promenades, public wells, and much more. The Agora was destroyed several times over the centuries. Eventually, it was all but abandoned and forgotten about until 1931, when serious work on excavations began.
Today, the Ancient Agora is open for the public to stroll around. It contains many surviving examples of stone carvings, columns, and statues. There is also the outstanding Temple of Hephaistos, and the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos which houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora.
There is little point in me going into detail here about the site though. It has been done plenty of times before, and by people far more knowledgeable than myself! Instead, I have put together a few sightseeing tips for visiting the Ancient Agora that will help you to make the best use of your time when there.
Sightseeing Tips for the Ancient Agora in Athens
1. Make sure that you buy the ‘combined' ticket for ancient sites in Athens. This gives you access to the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and a number of other sites for the current price of 30 Euros. If you only want access to the Ancient Agora site and the museum though, the entry is smaller. Make sure to pick up a leaflet along with your ticket. This leaflet has a ground plan of the site.
2. Visit the Museum of the Ancient Agora first. This will explain in great detail the history of the Agora area, and the way that it developed over the ages. It will also help you to understand the buildings that you are about to see.
Free Guides To The Agora
3. It's time to switch on a free audio guide. A what you ask? A free audio guide! This Rick Steve's MP3 guide to the Agora is pretty good. You can check it out for free here – Audio Guide for the Agora. There is also an eBook to the Agora available here – Ancient Agora eBook.
4. Take your time, and find a shady place to soak up the atmosphere. There are a number of quiet places where you can sit in the shade, and enjoy the surroundings.
5. Make sure to see the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles. It marks a stark contrast to the ancient Greek ruins on the site, and is often overlooked.
6. Don't miss the Temple of Hephaistos. It is not sign-posted, and it is surprising how many people just don't see it at all. It is a hugely significant building, being one of the few intact Greek temples to have survived in Athens. In my opinion, this temple is perhaps the THE highlight of the Ancient Agora complex.
7. Allow at least two hours to really enjoy both the museum and the Ancient Agora itself. If you are following my itinerary for 2 days in Athens you will have an idea what sort of time of day to visit. Many people decide to break for lunch in one of the surrounding restaurants after leaving the Agora. Enjoy the meal, and get your energy levels back up. There is still a lot more to see and do in Athens!
Have you visited the Ancient Agora in Athens, or would you like to? Have you got any tips you would like to add? I would love to read your comments below!
Further Information About Athens
I have put together some other guides on Athens you might find useful.
Ultimate Guide to Athens – Access to all my guides about Athens in one place.
Hotels near the Acropolis – Stay at one of the hotels near the Acropolis and make the most of your time in Athens.
Day Trips from Athens – A selection of the best day trips from Athens