European Union Program
GREECE At a glance ď‚ˇ
Politics: After inconclusive elections in May 2012, a further round of voting in June restored a shaky coalition of the advocates of austerity measures ď‚ˇ Economy: Enormous debts have sent Greece into deep recession. Multi-billion-euro bailouts from the EU and IMF are conditional on tough austerity measures ď‚ˇ International: Greece calls for the restoration of a unified state in Cyprus. It is involved in a naming dispute with Macedonia Situated in the far south of the Balkan peninsula, Greece combines the towering mountains of the mainland with over 1,400 islands, the largest of which is Crete. Post-World War II Greece saw rapid economic and social change, with tourism and shipping becoming major contributors to the economy. The financial crisis of the late 2000s hit Greece particularly hard, as the legacy of high public spending and widespread tax evasion combined with the credit crunch and the resulting recession to leave the country with a crippling debt burden. In 2010, amid fears of an imminent default on debt payments and of the debt contagion spreading to other countries, Greece's fellow Eurozone countries agreed an unprecedented 110bn euro package to rescue its teetering economy. The following year, an even bigger bailout of 130bn euros was required to stave off the imminent danger of Greece defaulting on its debts. However, these two bailouts combined amounting to a total of 240bn euros - were not sufficient to plug the hole in the country's finances, and by 2013 it was clear that a further 10bn euros would be needed to cover the funding gap. Greece's economy shrank by 23% between 2008 and 2013, and international lenders predict that it will continue to diminish in the immediate term. At the prompting of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, Greece has been striving to reduce its debt burden from 160% of GDP to a target figure of 120%. It has also embarked on recapitalizing its banks so as to put them on a sounder footing. The main conditions attached to the various rescue packages Greece has received - drastic cuts in public spending, which have led to record unemployment levels - have prompted recurrent social unrest. The protracted economic uncertainty has been accompanied by a rise in support for the virulently antiimmigration Golden Dawn party - which entered parliament for the first time in 2012 - and human rights groups have expressed concern at the increased incidence of violence against ethnic minorities. Greece has long been at odds with its close neighbor, Turkey, over territorial disputes in the Aegean and the divided island of Cyprus. Relations warmed after both countries suffered earthquakes in 1999 and offered each other practical help. Although the disputes remain unresolved, the Greek government gives strong backing to Turkey's EU bid. It sees dividends to be gained from the increased regional stability that it believes membership would bring. Greece has been in dispute since the early 1990s with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece contends that the use of the name Macedonia by the neighboring country implies a territorial claim over Greece's own region of the same name. The UN is involved in continuing mediation efforts.
The Ultimate Athens Bucket-List:
Take a walk up Thrasyllou Street to the little back streets behind the Parthenon Visit the Monastiraki flea market (left out of the Monastiraki station) Climb Lycabettus Hill
Check out the Bohemian neighborhood of Exarchia, popular among students Drink a frappe, or ten
Recognize and identify the classic orders of columns (doric, ionic, corinthian) around Athens
Where to eat:
Kouzina Cine Psiri
A twist on traditional Greek food with a great atmosphere. Sarri 44, Psiri
Oh, Athens. Could a city be more artistic than this classical prototype? It can be hard to imagine that the cultural scene here is even greater than what we´ve learned merely in text books. And yet… it is. Some practical information will help you in the first leg of your journey. Know that everything starts much later in Greece; meals and going-out times usually are two hours later than we expect. Also, it is typical that shops will close from 2pm-5pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday so that people can enjoy a „siesta“. Sounds like we´re in Spain, eh? But if you want to keep your energy up— no worries, there are cafes scattered all across the city where you can enjoy a typical frappe. No, this isn´t the Starbucks variety, y´all. It is, instead, cold coffee topped with foam. If you order your coffee glykós, it will contain a LOT of sugar. Métrios, the medium option, is the best way to go if you like your coffee sweet. No sugar at all? Make it skétos instead. Not a coffee person? No problem. The Rezin Cafe (Emm. Banki 53 & Tzavella Treet, Exarchia) is known for their delicious hot chocolate.
Located in a touristy part of town, this is a good place to stop after doing some trolling around. Large portions! 4 Venizelou Paleologu Street, Plaka
Delicious Greek fast-food. A very popular late night spot among locals! Themistokleous 64, Exarchia
**** Please note that with your Passport (Residence Permission) & Unicard you get free admission to most of the sights & museums ** ***opening hours not guaranteed***
Historical Sights The Acropolis The temples on the „Sacred Rock“ of Athens are considered the most important monuments in the Western world for their influence on the architectural canon. The great marble masterpieces were constructed during the late 5th-century BC reign of Perikles, the Golden Age of Athens. These temples were built to honor Athena , the city‘s patron goddess. Still breathtaking for their proportion and scale, both human and majestic, the temples were adorned with magnificent, dramatic sculptures of the gods. 08.30-14.30 Uhr Opening hours: April-Sept 8am-7pm, Oct-March 8:30am-3pm daily Roman Forum & Tower of the Winds In the first century AD, the Romans moved Athens‘ marketplace here from the old Agora. Smaller than the original, this marble-pillared courtyard was a grander place to set up shop and became the commercial and administrative center until the 19th century. Its greatest attraction was the unique and brilliantly designed Tower of the Winds. Opening hours: Daily 8am-5pm (Summer until 7:30pm) Kerameikos Ermou 148, Thissio The outer walls of ancient Athens run through Kerameikos, once the edge of the Classical city. Warriors and priestesses returned to Athens via two separate roads through here (one to a brothel, the other to a temple). Statesmen and heroes were buried beneath tombs lining the roads. It was also the haunt of prostitutes, money-lenders and wine-sellers. Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 8:30am-3pm (Summer: Tue-Sun 7:30am-7pm) Temple of Olympian Zeus The majestic temple to the ruler of the pantheon was the largest on mainland Greece. Inside stood two colossal gold and ivory statues: one of the god Zeus and one of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Though the temple’s construction began in 515 BC, political turmoil delayed its completion nearly 700 years. To thank Hadrian for finishing it, the Athenians built a two-story arch next to the temple in AD 131, whose inscription announces Hadrian’s claim on the city. Opening hours: Daily 8am-3:30pm (Summer until 7pm) Philopappos Hill The pine-covered slopes of Filopappos Hill offer a pleasantly shaded maze of paths leading through monuments marking centuries of history. Known as “the hill of muses” in antiquity, countless poets have drawn inspiration here. On the first day of Lent, the hill is swarmed with hundreds of Athenians, who traditionally gather here to fly kites. To climb up takes about 15 min. The trails are often not marked but you can take any and it will eventually take you to the top. Best view of Athens!
The Agora Athens‘ ancient marketplace, founded in the 6th century BC, was the heart of the city for 1,200 years. It was the center for all civic activities, including politics, commerce, philosophy, religion, arts and athletics. This is where Socrates addressed his public, where democracy was born and where St. Paul preached. Because of its varied uses, the site can be confusing. But unlike the bustling Acropolis, the grassy Agora is a great place to wander, imagining the lively scene that once filled this historic center. Opening hours: Daily 8am-5pm (Summer until 7:30pm)
Museums New Acropolis Museum The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. Opened to the public on June 21, 2009, the museum exhibits nearly 4,000 objects over an area of 14,000 square metres. The museum was build in a fashion to provide space for the Elgin Marbles that Lord Elgin shipped to England in 1806. They are on display in the British Museum in London but the Greek state reclaims them. Opening times: April-Oct: Tue-Sun: 8am-8pm, Fri 8am-10pm; Nov-March: Tue-Thurs: 9am-5pm, Fri 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun 9am-8pm Admission: 5€ National Archaeological Museum 44 Patison (28 Oktovriou) The National Archaeological Museum (Greek: Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο) in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. Opening hours: Mon: 1pm-8pm, Tue-Sat: 8am-8pm, Sun: 8am-3pm Admission: 7€ (3€ reduced fee) Benaki Museum Koumpari 1, Kolonaki The Benaki Museum houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to the modern times, an extensive collection of Asian art, hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop. Although the museum initially housed a collection that included Islamic art, Chinese porcelain and toys, its 2000 re-opening led to the creation of satellite museums that focused on specific collections, allowing the main museum to focus on Greek culture over the span of the country's history. Page 5 Opening hours: Wed, Fri: 9am-5pm; Thurs, Sat: 9am-midnight, Sun 9am-3pm
Museum of Cycladic Art Neofytou Douka 4 and Vasilissis Sofias A delightful setting in which to ponder elegant, semi-abstract Cycladic figurines—remnants of a culture that flourished in the Cyclades from 3200—2000 BC. The beautiful marble carvings are unlike anything found in contemporary civilizations. Most are female forms—possibly cult objects of a goddess religion—and their elemental shapes have inspired many 20th-century artists. Opening hours: Mon.,Wed.,Fri., Sat.: 10am-5pm; Thu: 10am-8pm, Sun: 11 am-5pm Admission: 3,50€ (students)
Religious Sights Mitropoli Athens‘ massive cathedral of 1862 was the first major church built after Greece‘s independence. It became the seat of the archbishop and hence of modern Greek orthodoxy. Though its colorful frescoes and pricey ecclesiastical objects are certainly impressive, its architecture is less so. Mitropoli‘s importance is almost entirely spiritual, as the central point for the Greek Orthodox Church. Panagia Gorgoepikoos Dwarfed by the bulk of Mitropoli, tiny Panagia Gorgoepikoos (Mikri Mitropoli, „little Mitropoli“) actually far outshadows its vast neighbour in historic and artistic importance. It was built in the 12th century, on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to goddess Eileithyia. Its walls are built entirely of Roman and Byzantine marble relics, sculpted with reliefs depicting the ancient calendar of feasts. Monastiraki This was once the greatest monastery of the area and is the church from which the Monistiraki neighborhood takes its name. „Little monastery“ was so named after the destruction of its many surrounding buildings during 19th-century archaeological digs. Restoration of the church was completed in 2007.
Food Greeks love olive oil. End of story. Expect it to be the best you´ve ever tasted and in every meal that you try. Greek salad consists of olive oil, onions, Greek tomatoes and feta. It will be unbelievably fresh! Also try the Greek souvlaki, which is lamb with tsatsiki (cucumber-yogurt sauce) and salad. Greeks use a lot of veggies and spices in their food but the spices are mild. Do not expect hot food in Greece except some special local dishes that use green peppers like Spetsofai. If you love cheese (how could you not), try saganaki, also known as flaming cheese. It is a sheep milk´s feta that is fried in olive oil and served traditionally with lemon. Vegetarians should try the moussaka, or the Greek version of lasagna with eggplant, tomato sauce and (of course) lots of feta cheese.
Helpful Greek Phrases Good morning Good afternoon / evening Good night Goodbye Hello How are you? Well / good
Kalimera Kalispera Kalinikta kherete Yassou Ti kanis? Poli kala
kah-lee-MEHR-rah kah-lees-PEH-rah kah-lee-NEEK-tah KHE-reh-tay YAH-su tee-KAH-nis po-LEE kah-LAH
Thank you You’re welcome / please Sorry Yes No What’s your name?
Efkharisto Parakalo Signomi Ne Ohi Pos se lene?
eff-kah-rees-TOH pah-rah-kah-LOH seegh-NO-mee neh OH-hee POHS seh LEH-neh
My name is… Do you speak English?
Me lene… Milas Anglika?
meh LEH-neh… mee-LAHS Ang-lee-KAH?
I don’t understand
Transportation All the main monuments are concentrated in the city center, which focuses on the busy Syntagma square and can easily be explored on foot. From here, you can use the hilltops of the Acropolis and Lykavittos Hill as orientation points. The transportation system in Athens has been modernized in the last 7 years. New roads, bridges, a brand new rail network and new modern means of transport like the Athens Metro, the suburban railway and the Athens tram have reduced a lot the transportation problems of Athens, as well played a main role to the reduce of the atmosphere pollution of the Attica basin. OASA (Organisation of Urban Transport of Athens) has created a bus line 400 that takes visitors to the most interesting sites of Athens. The ticket costs 5 euro! The bus 400 goes from the Archaeological museum to Omonoia, Psyrri, Kerameikos, Thiseion, Monatiraki, Athens Market, Klafthmonos Square, Syntagma Square, Benaki Museum, National Gallery, Ampelokipoi, Stadium, Plaka, Acropolis, Olympian Zeus temple, Greek Parliament, University and Omonoia. Frequency is every 30 minutes. Taxis Athens‘ taxis are bright yellow, plentiful and cheap. They can be ordered by phone for a small surcharge or waved down in the street. En route, it‘s quite normal for a driver to pick up extra passengers who are heading in your direction. Fares are higher between midnight and 5am.
It is safe to drink the tap water.