Yes, Free things you can enjoy in Athens without paying a cent. So strap in and away We Go!
In an age when nearly everything has a price tag, and in a country where almost everything is done at the last minute, making it difficult to plan ahead, there are some exceptions which are absolutely free. And it should come as no surprise that most are art-related.
Where better to start than in the centre of Athens, on its main shopping street – Ermou- in the middle of which stands a church of stunning beauty. Most of us have at sime time or other say on the low stone wall that surrounds the Church of Panagia of Kapnikarea (or simply Kapnikarea), but very few have ventured inside. If you do, one of the first artworks you will see, above the altar, is the enormous painting of the Theotokos Platytera (‘Our Lady of the Sign’) by Photis Kontoglou. You will also see what remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Demeter or Athena. And you will surely be stuck by the solemn light entering thought the ornate windows and the dome. So, if you want to view some 11th century Byzantine art, Kapnikarea offers it free of charge, during opening hours of course.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, the Holy Monastery of Daphni was built in the 6th century on the site of a sanctuary of Apollo. Today, ypu can see only one of the columns of the sanctuary, as the otherswere removed by Lord Elgin. However, the remarkable mosaics are preserved, so you can admirethese along with the intricatearchitecture, a mix of influences from the French, Byzantine and Greek monks who lived there over the centuries. The monastery is open to visitors and entrance is free.
Ok, time for a short break and perhaps a bite to eat.
What about somewhere with a panoramic view from the highest point of Athens, Lycabettus. There, at a height of 277 metres, you can enjoy a lovely picnic-taking care, of course, to behave responsibly and keep the area clean and tidy- while surveying everything and I mean everything, in Athens down below.
Next Stop, the National Garden, described by Henry Miller as ”the quintessence of a park”. As we pass through ots most photographed entrance of Amalias Avenue, we are immediately struck by the sight of 12 imposing Washingtonia palm trees. Download the Seeing the Invisible app to your smartphone or tablet, follow the instructions and watch- free of vharge-the augmented reality exhibition in all areas of the Garden.
All you need is a full battery and earbuds.
The enormous value of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in a general sense is undeniable, and there is certainly no denying the great interest generated by this year’s discussions, cultural, artistic and entertainment events dedicated to mental health, scheduled dor 23-23 June in the framework of SNF Nostos. Apart from this, however,the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is open for visits and exploration every day, every month. And if you didn’t already know, the rooms of the National Library of Greece (now housed in the SNFCC) are quite amazing, or, to put it in modern parlance, highly Instagrammable.