Syntagma Square

About the Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square, also known as Constitution Square, is the pulsating heart of Athens, Greece. At its center stands the Hellenic Parliament, an elegant neoclassical building with a storied history dating back to King Otto’s reign. The square is not only a hub of political significance but also a cultural center.

One of its most iconic features is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded around the clock by the Evzones, the elite Greek soldiers known for their distinctive uniform and impressive synchronized changing of the guard ceremony. This tradition is a must-see spectacle for visitors and symbolizes Greece’s deep-rooted patriotism.

Surrounding Syntagma Square, you’ll find Ermou Street, a bustling shopping district lined with boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The square is not just a transportation hub but a cultural one, hosting events, rallies, and celebrations, and serving as a starting point for exploring Athens.

Anyone visiting the dynamic city of Athens must make a stop at Syntagma Square since it is a location where history meets modernity and democracy unfolds under the watchful eyes of the Greek guards, preserving the nation’s proud heritage.

History of the Syntagma Square

Athens’ Syntagma Square has a long and varied Greek history that depicts the development of Greece as a country. The history of the square dates back to King Otto’s reign in the 19th century. It was originally designed as part of a modern urban plan for Athens. Initially named “Royal Square” in honor of King Otto, it was later renamed “Constitution Square” to commemorate the establishment of the Greek Constitution in 1844.

Throughout Greek history, Syntagma Square has served as a hub for political events. At the center of the square stands the neoclassical building that houses the Hellenic Parliament. Originally constructed as the Royal Palace for King Otto, it became the Parliament’s home after the monarchy’s abolition.

With time, the square has undergone various renovations and modernizations to adapt to the changing needs of the city and its people. Today, Syntagma Square continues to be a symbol of Greece’s democratic heritage and a vibrant hub where history and modernity converge.

The Tomb and the Guards

To remember the Greek soldiers who died in battle but were unable to be identified, a monument known as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built in front of the Greek Parliament Building on Syntagma Square. The monument is guarded around the clock by the Evzones. The Evzones, or Evzoni, are members of an elite unit of the Greek Presidential Guard. They go through intense training and are selected based on their character, strength, and height. They are easily recognizable by their traditional and highly ornate uniform, which includes the fustanella, a pleated kilt-like garment, and the tsarouchi, red shoes with black pompoms. There is a ceremonial changing of the guard that takes place every hour. Their precise movements during the changing of the guards ceremony, serve as a living testament to Greece’s rich heritage and the enduring spirit of its people. The combination of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Evzones’ steadfast vigilance transforms Syntagma Square into a living tribute to Greece’s history, unity, and the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and democracy.

Tips for your visit

  • Hellenic Parliament: Begin your visit by admiring the neoclassical Hellenic Parliament building at the square’s center. Check the schedule for guided tours inside if you’re interested in learning more about Greek politics.
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Witness the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This moving ceremony occurs every hour and is especially impressive on Sundays at 11 a.m. when it includes a military band.
  • Evzones: Take time to appreciate the Evzones, the elite ceremonial guards dressed in traditional Greek attire. Their precision and discipline during the changing of the guards are a must-see.
  • Ermou Street: Stroll down Ermou Street, a popular shopping district that starts from Syntagma Square. It’s a great place for shopping and hanging out.
  • Cafes and Restaurants: Enjoy a coffee or meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants surrounding the square. An excellent stop to have a break and mesmerize the atmosphere.
  • Photography: Capture the beauty and Greek history depicted from the square, but be respectful during the change of guards ceremony.
  • Events: Check if there are any events or festivals happening in the square during your visit. It’s a hub for cultural and political gatherings.
  • Transportation Hub: Syntagma Square serves as the primary transportation hub in Athens, so it’s a convenient starting point for exploring other parts of the city.
  • Respectful Behavior: Show respect for the square’s historical and political importance, and be mindful of the guards and their duties.

How to arrive

Reaching Syntagma Square in Athens is easy, as it’s a central and well-connected location. Here are several ways to get there:

By Metro: The Athens Metro is a convenient option. Take Line 2 (the Red Line) to the “Syntagma” station. The station exits directly into the square.

By Bus: Buses 25, 209, 224, 230, 732, 856, A2, and A3 pass near Syntagma Square. Additionally, the X95 bus from the airport to Syntagma Square is a convenient and cost-effective option for visitors arriving in Athens.

By Tram: If you’re arriving from the coastal areas of Athens, the tram is a viable option. Get off at the “Syntagma” tram stop.

Walking: If you’re staying in the city center, Syntagma Square might be within walking distance, especially if you’re in the Plaka or Monastiraki areas.

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