Syntagma Square is the heart of political life of Athens. Even its name is self-evident, because it translates from Greek as "Square of Constitution". It is located right in the centre of the city, and therefore it is a silent witness to all the political and cultural events that took place in Greece on the way to its development as an independent state.
Syntagma Square in Athens got its name due to king Otto of Bavaria, who wrote the first Greek Constitution right on this place (at that time here the residence of the Royal family was situated, and now this building houses the Parliament).
The Greek Constitution of 1843 has a very interesting history. Greece had been struggling for independence from Turkish rule for a long time. When the last Ottomans left the country, the great powers decided that it was impossible to leave everything without a ruler. So they sent Otto of Bavaria here, accompanied by three regents, who were supposed actually to govern until the king would reach adulthood. This period is characterized by a large number of taxes and plundering of the treasury. When Otto officially reached adulthood, the patience of the Greeks came to an end. Two Greek soldiers, Dimitrios Kallerges and John Makriyannis, with the support of diplomats, led their troops to the palace and demanded that the young monarch write a Constitution and expel the dictators from the country. They gave him 35 days to do this.
The history of the square is connected with the most vivid and tragic events in the life of the city. In the 1940s, there were bloody battles between the communists and the right-wing government. Since Greece was occupied by the Nazis, all those who stood against were communists or were tolerant to them.
In December 1944, British troops liberated the city, but the Germans did not completely leave it. They came down on the side of collaborators in order to create an anti-communist state. Churchill planned to enthrone King George again, but the Greeks who suffered from the Metaxa dictatorship strongly opposed this. They also were against of coming to power of right-wing royalists who collaborated with the Nazis. But no one took their wishes into account. The fate of Greece was decided by England and Russia at a meeting in Moscow. It fell into the sphere of British influence in exchange for Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
After that, in Greece, which had survived the occupation of the German invaders, even more bloody war took place. It was in Syntagma square that police engaged fire during the demonstration, as a result of which 23 people were killed and 140 people were injured. Churchill gave instructions for British troops to treat Athens as a captured city. The city itself was divided into two parts: Syntagma with rich neighborhood and poor districts that made up the great majority. Britain was actively supported by the United States, which were supplying weapons and troops.
The king's house was surrounded by a beautiful garden, and his wife Amalia was tending it. The queen was so jealously taking care of her favorite plants that she forbade ordinary people to walk in this garden. She also required separate pipelines that would supply trees and flowers with clean drinking water to the detriment of the water supply of ordinary residential areas. When the monarchy was dethroned, the Athenians made the garden a national treasure, and the square became the main place for meetings and cultural events.
In the center of the square there is an ever-working fountain made of brown marble, which is surrounded by wrought statues from the Neapolitan museum, donated to the city by Lord Bute, who once hold the position of King Otto’s official representative. There are many trees around it — cypresses, oleanders and oranges.
Above, across the road, you will find the Parliament building, and next to it, there is a monument to the Unknown Soldier, near which there is a ceremonial guard. The changing of the guard takes place every hour, attracting the attention of onlookers and travelers.
A metro station, tram and bus stops are located right on the square.
One of the attractions of the Syntagma square in Greece are … pigeons. These birds chose a place near the monument to the Unknown Soldier as their permanent location. It is believed that they settled here since the creation of the square itself that means, a very long time ago. At the square, you can buy some grain, breadcrumbs from local merchants, and feed the birds, which will quickly gather in large flocks, hunting for food. Be careful: birds may even have a dinner with you in one of the cafes located nearby. Some owners even put small saucers with water so that feathered guests could wash down a delicious and hearty meal.
Since this is one of the most popular places in the city, here you will see many monuments of architecture and art. First of all, visit the National garden, where the Greeks like to escape from the summer heat. Then go to the Museum of numismatics, where there is an impressive collection of coins and medals, the history of which goes back centuries. Good displays of antiquities are also kept under glass in the National historical museum. In the area of the square, you can come across religious buildings of several faiths: the Russian Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church of St. Paul and the temple of Olympian Zeus.
If you get by metro, then you need to go by the blue line to the same-name station.
If you take bus from the airport, then use the high-speed X95. There are also many other buses that stop here.