Underground in the Athens Metro
Hellenic History in the Athens Metro
The subway isn’t where I normally hang out, but underground in the Athens metro is one exception to the rule. Not only does the Athens metro rapid-transit system serve commuters, but anyone who appreciates Hellenic history too.
When I entered the subway, I had no idea it came with free entrance to a world of Hellenic History in the Athens Metro of all places. I thought I’d just need to head over to the Acropolis Museum for that.
Once you go underground in the Athens metro, even before you validate your ticket, you’ll find exhibitions of ancient artifacts or replicas. The displays are at many metro stations including Monastiraki and Syntagma. As a tourist, these are two of the lines you are most likely to use, so keep your eyes open as you enter and depart from those stations.
Five of the Athens Metro stops are located in the city center near the Acropolis, so naturally even before excavation on the metro lines began, archeologists anticipated they’d find an array of artifacts. And wow did they! Excavations leading up to the building of the Athens Metro revealed material from the Neolithic period up to the modern era. Finds included aqueducts and wells, metal workshops, oil lamps, sanctuaries, kilns, and more.
What makes the Athens Metro so special?
Well, aside from the artifacts, it’s the cleanest subway I’ve seen in my life. It is utterly spotless. You don’t see liter or graffiti (unlike the rest of Athens), so your eyes are drawn towards the Hellenic History in the Athens Metro or the lines you’ll need to catch to reach your destination.
It’s safe too. I didn’t see any riffraff hanging around and felt comfortable as security guards in groups of two patrol the stations to ensure the Athens Metro is safe for all.
In addition, it’s a convenient and affordable way to get in and around Athens. At the time I was in Athens, a 5-day ticket for all modes was only 10 EUR (12.40 USD). For those traveling from the airport, the return Metro ticket for the airport was 14 EUR (17.30 USD).
We stayed in Athens over five days, so I had to map out the most affordable way to travel ahead of time. Coincidentally, the day we were scheduled to take the metro to Athens Sparta airport there was a three-hour metro strike. We hailed a taxi to the airport and paid the flat rate (35 EUR/44 USD). I was so happy for the strike, because that means we have to return to Athens to validate our unused metro tickets. 🙂
The Athens Metro Lines
Spread throughout the city and beyond, there are 3 lines each of which has artifacts for you to see:
Line 1 (Green line): Kifisia – Piraeus
Monastiraki – Meaning ‘small monastery’ is where you depart to be wowed. On sacred grounds, before your eyes, you see the Acropolis and Hadrian’s Library, and 15th C Byzantine church of the Pantanassa.
Line 2 (Red line): Anthoupoli – Eliniko
Syntagma – The square of Syntagma is a great starting point to walk towards the monuments of Athens. It’s crazy busy, so go off to the side, pull out your map and get your bearings straight.
Line 3 (Blue line): Airport – Plakentias – Aghia Marina
Evangelismos – Close to the Hilton Athens, Museum of War, the Byzantine museum, the National Art gallery, and the Kolonaki shopping area.
Once you locate the Athens Metro archaeological finds, don’t forget to validate! Ticket holders in violation can expect hefty fines equal to 60 times the price of the 70-min flat fare ticket). Ouch!
The Athens underground is a museum of its own kind. For a mere 1,20 EUR you can visit the subway and learn about Hellenic History in the Athens Metro as well as get around the city comfortably and cost-effectively.