Syntagma (Constitution) Square is the center of the city of Athens. It is the oldest and socially most important square of modern Athens, at the epicenter of commercial and political activity. Actually, this is where distances to the other Greek cities are measured from. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Othon conceded to grant, after a popular and military uprising on September 3, 1843.
The square is defined by Vassileos Georgiou A' Street, Othonos Street, Filellinon Street and Amalias Avenue. The eastern side of the square is at a higher level than the western, and is dominated by a set of marble steps leading to Amalias Avenue; beneath these lies the Syntagma Metro station. The stairs emerge below between a pair of outdoor cafes, and are a popular city-center gathering place. Syntagma also includes two green areas to the north and south, planted with shade trees, while in the center of the square a large water fountain traditionally hosts the frequently sighted Syntagma pigeons, along with heat-tormented visitors during the summer.
The Greek Parliament is immediately across Amalias Avenue to the east, and almost surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public; the Parliament itself is not. Every hour, the changing of the guard ceremony, performed by the Presidential Guard (the Evzones) in their formal traditional uniform in kilts, takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument that pays tribute to those fallen in defense of the homeland, on the area between Syntagma Square and the Parliament building. On Sundays and official holidays, the ceremonial changing of the guard occurs with an army band and the majority of the 120 Evzones present at 11 am.
Locals and tourists alike gather to witness the change of the guard ceremony at Syntagma Square, in front of the Parliament.
"The Royal Palace of Athens", 1841, by August Ferdinand Stademann.
Syntagma Square is a hub for several different means of public transportation in Athens; Metro lines 2 and 3 of the Athens Metro have a stop at the Syntagma station which is under the square, the Athens Tram stops here, and buses or trolley-buses are available to many places in the city. Travel between Syntagma Square and the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport is available via both special airport bus and metro lines. Free high-speed Wi-Fi Internet is available here by the Municipality of Athens. The Square is located near many of Athens' oldest and most interesting neighborhoods and tourist attractions.
For traditional Greek sweets, in a wide variety, all made with love from the finest materials, you may sit or take away at Hatzis, 5 Metropoleos Street. (tel.: 210 322 2647) An experience in itself!
Antoni's Yard, Syntagma, Athens
For a short, or a longer pause for respite, we strongly recommend you stop at Antoni's Yard, at the quiet intersection of Navarhou Nicodemou and Hyperidou Sts. Brunch selections, coffee, tea, sodas, beer, wine, and of course snacks, sandwiches made to order, a mean hot dog, even traditional Greek moussaka and stuffed tomatoes and peppers for lunch, everything is at a reasonable price, and of excellent taste. Yes, Antoni, the owner, is a friend, but he became a friend because he won us over for his character and for his professionalism, so we feel confident in suggesting his place to anybody who wants a decent place to stop over!
On the crossroad of Apollonos and Voulis Street at Syntagma and on the way to historic Placa, the visitor will encounter Sokolata, a civil and warm corner store featuring the fine French Valhrona chocolate brand in a great number of blends and 19 varieties, as well as fine teas and home-quality desserts. Stop by, and treat yourself in a fine cup, even now when seated service is not allowed. Even for a brief while, you'll forget your worries and anxieties and feel the comfort of a fine chocolate drink. SOKOLATA - 35 Voulis & 7 Apollonos Streets, sokolata-athens.gr
On the south side of Syntagma Square, Ermou Street is probably the busiest single commercial street of Athens, and indeed Greece. In addition, the area of Kolonaki nearby is a thriving upscale commercial area with a wide selection of shops on every single area of fashion.
The first Asian food restaurant to open on Apollonos Street, almost on the crossroads with Nikis Street, in Syntagma, was so successful that through the last couple of decades a whole city quarter with Asian food restaurants has made it the place to go, if you crave this cuisine. Among them, we will mention: