One of the most incredible and mesmerizing sight to visit in Athens is its Ancient Agora, which once used to be the center for trade, commerce, and politics. Today, situated in the heart of Athens, Ancient Agora marks the architectural advancement of early civilizations and eras. Ancient Agora is the exact place where the direct Athenian Democracy took its root for the very first time.
Today, this ancient site is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Athens; and people from throughout the world visit it and are left wonderstruck. They are astonished by the splendor of the building and remain as it truly reflects the culture, power, glory and architectural advances of early Greeks. If you are in Athens or planning to travel there, Ancient Agora certainly deserves a visit!
Ancient Agora History
In Greek, Agora stands for an “open place of assembly”, thus this Ancient Agora once used to be a gathering area for free-born Athenians, where they could meet, congregate and hold discussions on social, political and economic issues.
The Ancient Agora dates back to pre-historic times; however, it reached its summit during the classical era in the 5th-century B.C.E.
Throughout the entire history of this architectural wonder, the site witnessed the various transfer of power between various empires.
It all began with the stunning transformation of Mycenaean civilization in the 1200 B.C.E, to the spectacular Athenian era; and later on the transition from the classical Roman culture into the spiritual Byzantine centuries.
During this time period of centuries, the site had been plundered various times by either foreign invading forces or in exchange of authority among rulers. Back in 480 B.C.E, it was first destroyed by the Persian invaders.
Fortunately, very soon the Ancient Agora was enabled to flourish again in the 5th-century B.C.E when the Athenian Culture thrived.
However, the plundering continued in later centuries when Agora was destroyed by Romans in 86 B.C.E.
The Roman rebuilt the Ancient Agora with added buildings including Odeon.
It remained a center of activity in Athens with rich cultural and economic significance for a wide span of time and was finally razed by the Slavs in 580 AD.
Since then, it remained uninhabited until Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire, in the mid 19th century.
Where is the Ancient Agora located? (Map)
The Ancient Agora is situated in the heart of Athens, between the neighborhoods of Thission and Monastiraki.
It is sited northwest of the Acropolis; while on the south and west, it’s surrounded by the hills of the Areos Pagos and Kolonos Agoraios.
Today, Ancient Agora of Athens is majorly a green area, with remains of scattered rocks and fountain walls; depicting the atmosphere of a busy market place.
Certainly, it reflects the true beauty of the majestic past of Athenians.
Ancient Agora Sights
Some of the most remarkable ancient sights of Athens which depict the true prestige of Athenian can be witnessed at Ancient Agora including:
Stoa of Attalos
The Stoa covers the majority of the eastern side of the Ancient Agora, and the original building was initially built in 150 B.C.E, by King Attalos II of Pergamon.
Therefore, the Stoa is named after him only. Since then, it has been razed various times; however, it was reconstructed with greater majesty.
The building that’s witnessed today is a result of the reconstruction of the site by the American School of Classical Studies from 1952–1956.
On the ground floor of Stoa, The Ancient Agora Museum is situated, which holds and exhibits a diverse range of artifacts including statues discovered from Agora excavations.
The museum clearly reflects the developmental stages of Agora and Athens and demonstrates historical wonders from the Neolithic to the Post-byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Temple of Hephaestus
The temple of Hephaestus (also called Theseion), is indeed one of the most phenomenal monuments in the Northwest end of Agora.
It is surely captivating enough to grab every visitor’s attention, nearby Agora.
The temple dates back to 449 B.C.E, and fortunately is still preserved in an outstanding way; particularly, because it was later converted into a Christian Church.
The temple of Hephaestus depicts the cultural and religious views of ancient Athenians and is one of the oldest temples in existence.
Visiting it is surely a must for every tourist in Athens!
Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles (Solakis)
On the left corner of the Ancient Agora of Athens, this little church could easily be found and visited by tourists.
This captivating church is extremely unique in design and architecture and a true example of religious differences of the past eras.
Similarly, it has also survived devastation from time to time and is luckily in good shape.
Ancient Agora Ticket prices and opening hours
The Ancient Agora opens every day of the week except for National Holidays, from 08:00 – 17: 00 and thus, can be visited any time in between.
It would be ideal to visit the site around 9 a.m. before the heat intensifies and Agora gets overcrowded with tourists.
The last admission is allowed 30 minutes prior to the closing time, after which no one is allowed to enter.
Fortunately, the entry ticket for Ancient Agora is made reasonable for all, with just being “8 Euros (US$9)”, for adults and “4 Euros (US$4.5)”, for students.
However, for tourists, we’d suggest buying the combined ticket which includes entry of Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Theatre of Dionysus, Kerameikos, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Library.
The combined ticket costs 5 Euros (US$16.9), for students; while for adults it’s priced at 30 Euros (US$33.8). Click here and read any information you need about the great and small museums in Athens, like ticket prices, opening hours, free admission days and many more!
Ancient Agora – How to get there?
The rich archaeological site of Ancient Agora is in the middle of the city, and easily accessible by city Metro service. “Metro Line 1” to Thisseion or Monastiraki or Bus lines “025,026 or 027” could be used to arrive at Monastiraki.
Reaching Thisseion or Monastiraki, you will be able to find the Ancient Agora ruins just by the walking distance of 5 minutes.
Both the Metro stations are approximately the same distance, thus you may choose the right one according to your personal convenience.
Even if you reach the Ancient Agora by uber or taxi, you’ll still have to cross that walking distance as no cars are allowed to reach the Agora’s entrance (Adrianou Street).
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