The Athens Metro: A Journey Through the Time Tunnel

Beneath the bustling streets of Athens lies a remarkable feat of modern engineering that also serves as a portal to the city’s rich history—the Athens Metro. This underground network not only efficiently transports millions of commuters and tourists but also takes them on a fascinating journey through time, revealing the layers of history that have shaped this ancient metropolis.

A Modern Marvel Beneath Ancient Streets

The roots of the Athens Metro can be traced back to the surface-level railway system that was first inaugurated in 1869. The modern metro network we know today began to take shape primarily in the 1990s and 2000s. During this period, substantial construction and expansion projects were undertaken, resulting in the creation of a more efficient and effective transportation system. Are you aware of the opportunity to explore an underground museum in Athens that houses replicas of the iconic sculptures from the Parthenon, ancient Athenian amphorae, vintage toys, funerary monuments, and fragments from one of the oldest bridges unearthed in the region of Attica? This exhibition of unearthed antiquities from the area around the Athens Metro railway facilities is open to the public, and, even better, it’s completely free! To immerse yourself in this hidden gem, all you need to do is board the next train and make a brief stop at the following stations:

The Stations: Archeological Showcases

Each metro station in Athens is a unique archaeological showcase. As the city expanded its underground network, it uncovered a treasure trove of historical artifacts during construction. Rather than viewing this as an inconvenience, Athens embraced the opportunity to showcase its rich heritage to the world.

Syntagma (blue line): Embark on your journey by taking a closer look at the stratigraphy of Athens, spanning from the early 5th century BCE to the Ottoman era, on display at Syntagma Station. Here, you’ll also encounter the skeletal remains of a young woman who lived in the 4th century BCE, resting in her tomb amidst layers of soil. Additionally, you’ll find exhibits showcasing ancient plumbing and sanitation systems in Athens, antique lamps, funerary monuments, and a small section of mosaic flooring from an ancient house located adjacent to the metro station.

Monastiraki (blue line): At Monastiraki Station, you’ll be greeted by an extensive photograph of an underground tunnel filled with ceramic fragments, providing insight into the archaeological treasures unearthed during metro excavations. If you’re traveling towards Kifissia, be sure not to miss the course of the Iridanos River. Iridanos is one of Attica’s three ancient rivers, with a continuous flow through the Attica basin to this day. According to mythology, this is where Phaethon, the son of the god Helios [Sun], fell after being struck down from his father’s chariot by a bolt of Zeus.

Elaionas (blue line): Take a brief pause to admire the remains of the oldest bridge found in Attica. The three pillars of the ancient bridge over the Kifissos River date back to the 5th and 6th centuries BCE.

Aigaleo (blue line): As you stroll through the metro’s corridors, you’ll uncover ancient everyday objects, including ceramics, lamps, figurines, loom weights, and offerings placed by the deceased on their final journey. Notably, there’s a model of a horse’s skeleton, with the position of its head revealing a desperate attempt to escape the floods of the Kifissos River. Furthermore, you can explore the remnants of the sacred path of Iera Odos and an adjacent cemetery.

Acropolis (red line): While waiting for the next train, you can admire replicas of the Parthenon frieze created by the renowned sculptor Phidias. The central theme of the frieze is the Panathenaic procession, the city’s most important festival in honor of the goddess Athena. The youthful horsemen galloping ahead or preparing for the grand procession will keep you company as you wait.

As you ascend the escalators and exit the station, take some time to visit a small exhibition of everyday objects. Here, you’ll encounter ancient toys for children, amphorae used for the transport and storage of olive oil and wine, a model of a Greek vertical loom, and ceramic fragments, including an Athenian amphora awarded as a prize to one of the victors in the Panathenaic Games.

Finally, as you head towards the exit, you’ll encounter replicas of the sculptures from the eastern pediment of the Parthenon, depicting the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus. You can observe the god Helios in his chariot emerging from the waves, the god Dionysus, Demeter with her daughter Persephone, and the beautiful Hebe or Artemis.

A Testament to Progress

Beyond its archaeological significance, the Athens Metro is a testament to progress and innovation. The metro system represents a commitment to sustainable urban transportation and has greatly improved the city’s traffic congestion and air quality. It has also played a vital role in making Athens more accessible to residents and tourists alike. One of the most captivating aspects of the Athens Metro is the integration of Greek mythology into its design. Passengers will often encounter artistic representations of ancient myths and legends as they move through the stations. These artistic installations serve as both a nod to Greece’s ancient heritage and a source of cultural enrichment for commuters.

The Ever-Evolving Metro

One of the most remarkable features of the evolution of the Athens Metro has been its continuous expansion. New lines and stations have been constructed, making previously inaccessible areas of the city more reachable and relieving traffic congestion. Line 1, also known as the “Green Line,” which connects central Athens to the northern suburbs and the port of Piraeus, has been extended to include new stations and has been modernized to provide a more comfortable and secure travel experience. Another significant aspect of the evolution of the Athens Metro is its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. Measures have been implemented to reduce the carbon footprint, such as the introduction of energy-efficient trains and the promotion of clean and alternative means of transportation, like bicycles. The metro has also fostered environmental awareness among citizens, encouraging them to use public transport instead of private vehicles, thus contributing to the reduction of air pollution and traffic congestion.


The Athens Metro is not just a mode of transportation; it’s a time tunnel that connects the city’s past, present, and future. It seamlessly blends modernity with history, offering commuters and tourists a unique and captivating experience that highlights Athens’ enduring legacy as the cradle of Western civilization. Whether you’re exploring the city’s ancient ruins or zipping between neighborhoods, the Athens Metro is a journey through time that enriches the soul and deepens one’s appreciation for this extraordinary city.

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