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Old Royal Palace

Overlooking Syntagma Square, this grand palace has been home to the Hellenic Government since 1934.

TravelCurious Tip

In front of the Old Royal Palace, you can watch soldiers performing the famous “Changing of the Guard” marching ritual.

The sharply imposing Old Royal Palace is hard to miss. Located on the central Athenian square, Syntagma, it has a large, boxlike Neoclassical design suited to its function as the seat of the Greek parliament, and dominates views of the square from every angle.

The palace was designed by architect Friedrich von Gärtner, under commission from King Ludwig I of Bavaria, and completed in 1843. There was some debate as to where it should be placed, and it was even suggested that it should be built on top of the Acropolis. Thankfully, Syntagma Square was the final decision, and it became the official residence of the Greek monarchy until its abolition in 1909, when it was extensively damaged in a large fire. While most of the royal family then moved to the Crown Prince’s Palace, one block east, a few older members remained there until the abolition of the monarchy in 1924.


A Palace of all Trades

The palace then cycled through a variety of uses, including a shelter for Greek refugees and a museum for the personal effects of King George I of Greece. It finally became the house of the Hellenic parliament in 1934, and has held the role ever since. It is not possible for visitors to enter the old palace today, and it is best simply appreciated as part of a visit to Syntagma Square.


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Athens
Parthenon
Crowning the Acropolis hill, the sublime marble columns of the Parthenon form the most recognisable monument in Athens.
Plaka Neighbourhood
Like a village in the city, Athens' charming old town is known as the Neighbourhood of the Gods.
National Gardens
The site of an infamous pet monkey bite which changed European history, this central public park was commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Commemorating soldiers who have died in service to Greece, this tomb is guarded 24 hours a day by the Evzones or Presidential Guard.
Agora
The Agora was the heart of ancient Athens, acting as a focal point for commercial, political and social activity.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The colossal remains of this temple lie in the centre of the city, telling a long and fascinating history.

Related Tours

The Greek Essentials – Full Day Highlights of Athens
If you only have a short amount of time in Athens and want to see as much as possible in one day, then this highlight tour is the one for you. On your private full day tour, you will: 

  • Discover Athen's cultural sites, including the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the iconic Acropolis
  • Learn about myths and legends of Ancient Greece 
  • Wander through the New Acropolis Museum, discovering the beautiful art and architecture 
  • Walk along the Agora, the heart of classical Athens, and learn about the origins of democracy 
  • Enjoy a classical Greek lunch, at a place recommended by your guide (price not included in tour)
  • Explore the oldest district in the city, Plaka 
  • Immerse yourself in local life at the Monastiraki flea market
  • Visit the marbled Panathenaic Stadium, constructed for the first modern Olympic Games 
Classical Ruins

With your expert guide you will discover the city’s most important cultural sites, including the colossal remains of the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis, a UNESCO world heritage site. On the plateau of the Acropolis you will find the awe-inspiring heights of the Parthenon pillars, gaze on the beautiful female forms of the Cartyid columns, discover on some of the earliest theatres known to man and enjoy panoramic views over the city. Your guide will explain the central role these monuments, and more, played in classical society and immerse you in the myths and legends of Ancient Greece.

Archaeological Wonders

After wandering the Parthenon you will visit in the spectacular New Acropolis Museum. Here you will learn firsthand the artistic wonders that once adorned the monuments of the Acropolis. You will also wander through the Agora, the heart of classical Athens. Once a bustling marketplace, in these now peaceful ruins you’ll walk in Socrates’ footsteps amongst classic temples and Byzantine churches, learning how Athens became the birthplace of democracy.

Thriving Capital 

Following a lunch of local cuisine, you will explore bustling Plaka, the oldest district in the city. Sometimes called “the neighbourhood of the gods”, Plaka is known for its winding alleyways and scenic shopping. Immerse yourself in local life at the Monastiraki flea market, before venturing to the grand Syntagma square, home to the Greek Parliament. Watch the presidential guards, in their famous skirted costumes, and be led by your guide through the natural beauty of the National Gardens. 

Finally, you will also visit the stunningly marbled Panathenaic Stadium. Constructed for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, this immense structure is a strong reminder of the continual legacy of ancient Athens in the modern day. 
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