Just down the hill from the Acropolis are the ruins of the ancient Agora of Athens. The Agora served as a market and meeting place for the ancient Athenians and many key historical figures walked the very paths that you will walk here.
Getting to the Agora:
My suggestion is to go to the Agora from the Acropolis. The Acropolis is the absolute must see in Athens and it gets really crowded. So go there first and then when head to the Agora.
If you go to the Acropolis first and get the combo ticket you will already have you ticket to get into the Agora (€30). If you exit the Acropolis through the main gate you can take the path that goes down to the right around Mars Hill.
This path will take you to the back entrance of the Agora. This is great because it will probably be less crowded than the front entrance. When we went there was no line. The drawback to coming through the back gate is that if you want to start at the front you will need to walk through the site before you actually start seeing things. There is one main path that goes from the back gate to the front gate. The walk is not very long to get there and the time you save coming straight from the Acropolis will make up for it.
What You Will See at the Agora:
The Agora is certainly an impressive ruin. It was buried under subsequent layers of Athens for hundreds of years, so it’s not in tip top shape, but it is pretty good for a ruin in the middle of a major modern city. Still most of it has been reduced to foundational walls.
Despite its key place in history, it can be hard to visualize what went on in the Agora just by looking at the rubble that remains. We recommend listening to Rick Steve’s audio guide in the Audio Europe app. This will help you understand what the different areas of the old market were and who walked and talked there.
Rick’s tour starts at the main entrance of the Agora which is why we recommend walking down the main path (the Panathenaic Way) from the back entrance before you really start looking around. We tried to go backwards through Rick’s tour and found that this was an exercise in frustration.
You will see the ruins of the ancient market which was really the hub for the ancient city of Athens. The diagram at the front entrance will help you get a good feel for what it use to look like. There are some really cool parts such as the Temple of Hephaistos which is very well preserved. There is also the Church of the Apostles at the end, which is of course a much more recent addition to the site.
You can also go to the museum which is the in the reconstructed Stoa, the long building to the side of the Agora. There is no extra cost to the museum and there are some free public bathrooms and water fountains there. The Stoa also provides some much needed shade if you are here during the summer like we were. The museum itself doesn’t take very long but it does have some interesting artifacts.
Of course the Parthenon on the Acropolis is the main place to see in Athens, but I think it would be a shame to come so close to the Agora and not see it as well. Of course, I may be bias because it is one of the places in Athens that we stopped and I can’t evaluate it against all the other places we didn’t go. There are several other options on the combined ticket.
The Agora really is one of the foundational places of Western Society and I for that reason I think it is worth a visit. So much of what has come after, for those of us in the U.S. and Europe, originated here. I think it’s a lot of fun and since Rick has a free audio guide it is a really easy site to visit.
Free restrooms and water fountains are nice and can be found here. It’s not a difficult walk for kids and a great place for them to learn history in context.