Maybe it’s a holdover of some elementary or middle school lesson I had, but Agora always only means ‘marketplace’ in my mind, so that’s what I think of when I walk through Athens Agora. In reality, however, the Agora was a large meeting place that might house a market one day, a theater performance the next, and an athletic competition the day after that.
The grounds of the Athens Agora are quite extensive, and most of what is here is, as expected, weathered, disconnected pieces, worn by time. Meaning, in some places you can make out the outline of a foundation of a structure, and there are pieces of the ancient buildings stacked around to be examined and photographed. I personally like that kind of thing, so I took a slow wander through.
There are two large structures that are impressive and largely intact, that draw most people to the Athens Agora.
Temple of Hephaestus
The Temple of Hephaestus is on the western side of the Agora, and is visible from throughout the space. It’s also visible from the Acropolis, so when you are up there take a look to your north-west, for a temple in the midst of a big patch of greenery. That’s probably it.
The area of the Agora where the temple is located was originally metal-working and potter’s workshops, which is befitting this monument to the god of metal-working, craftsmanship & fire. Getting up to it does require a short up-hill hike, but when we were there, there were only a few small groups of people, making for great photo-taking opportunities.
You, understandably, cannot be touching it or walking through or anything, but you can get close enough to see wonderful detail.
Oh! And take a good look around, and maybe you’ll get to see this guy, too. 🙂
Be sure to take a few minutes and turn around look back out over the Agora. It’s a pretty amazing view in that direction, too.
Stoa of Attalos
The Stoa of Attalos was built by, and named after, King Attalos II of Pergamon, somewhere between 159BC and 138BC. What currently stands was reconstructed from 1952 to 1956.
The restored Stoa is open to wander through, and contains some busts and elements from the Agora which are kept there to protect them from the elements. There is also a small gift shop in one of the rooms on the first floor.
Be sure to find your way upstairs to see the area set up as a museum of some of these pieces.
Walking through the Agora is very self-guided unless you arrange your own private tour. So, the visit can be as short or as long as you want to make it. For us, we had our bottles of water with us, and enjoyed sitting in the shade of the Stoa for a while.
Also, as you exit to the North toward Adrianou street, it is lined with restaurants. An excellent little street to pick your favorite menu & vibe and have yourself some lunch! (See more about this on our 5 Great Places to Eat in Plaka post)
For a handy traveler’s map of our favorite stops in Plaka, see our post: Map of Top Things to Do
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