Getting Around with the Athens Metro
The Athens Metro is not just a means of transport. It also functions as an underground museum since many stations display archaeological finds at the exact spot where they were discovered. Other metro stations are decorated with work from the most well-known artists in Greece. Travelers can slow down the pace of their journey to take a look at the displays, whereas visitors to the city can plan to stop off at select places to see either findings from earlier centuries or contemporary creations.
During the construction of the Athens Metro 50,000 objects were excavated from the depths of the earth. The history of Greece was revealed in layers. Roman baths, a section of the Peisistratian aqueduct, the bed of the Iridanos River and the ancient road which led to the municipalities of Messogia were all unearthed at Syntagma station. Two mass graves which date back to the beginning of the Peloponnesian War were discovered not far from the station at Keramikos. The archaeological excavations carried out at Monastiraki station exposed the remains of settlements dating from between the 8th century BC (Geometric Period) and the 19th century AD. The embedded Iridanos river bed, which has been made accessible to passengers, was also unearthed at this spot. At the Acropolis station, the excavation revealed graves from the Mid- and Post-Helladic periods, as well as dwellings, workshops, roads and baths.
The metro connects the four points of the compass and all the areas of Athens which serve different purposes: from the commercial quarter with its working-class districts to the more industrial areas with their well-to-do suburbs. From an architectural viewpoint, every station is compatible with the area where it has been built. Different building materials (such as marble, granite or tiles), different aesthetics and variations in the use of space all characterize the city beneath the ground. Artistic works of the most famous Greek artists have also been put on display. One example is the two works of art created by Alekos Fasianos especially for Metaxourgio station, which is located in the neighborhood where he grew up. Users of the Athens Metro can see an illuminated statue of Taki (at Fix station), a work of art created by Nikos Kessanlis (Omonia station), and a structure with trees created by Kostas Tsoklis (Ethniki Amyna station) to mention but a few. It is worth planning to make a few stops to get a taste of both contemporary and ancient Greek civilization. The whole scheme is of an informative nature.
The 27 metro stations which currently operate on the two lines of the Athens metro system were opened to the public in stages from the year 2000 onwards. The work is still in progress, so that this rapid means of transport will eventually reach most areas of the city. One of the plans, for example, is to link the port of Piraeus with the airport. At present, the lines cover a total of 51 kilometers and serve 650,000 passengers. The two lines join up with the old Piraeus to Kifissia train line and also with the tram line which leads to the closest beaches. Using the Athens Metro gives passengers a general picture of the city as a whole. Now that the Friday and Saturday services have been extended to provide a night time service (until 2 am), the Athens Metro can also be used for evenings out. It is not coincidental that centers of entertainment with restaurants and bars have sprung up in the areas surrounding the new stations (such as at Keramikos and Fix). The Metro service is entirely safe to use at any time of day or night. It is constantly monitored and policed, and uses the most up-to-date fire fighting equipment and earthquake proofing.
The station at Syntagma is different to all the rest. It is located in the heart of the city at a point where two underground lines meet and where the tram starting point is located. It is considered to be the busiest spot in Athens, so it is no surprise that the large space which is available to rent is much in demand. Organizations from both the private and public sectors choose Syntagma to promote their work. Charities requesting donations, writers reading poems for the Ministry of Culture, and numerous bazaars are all encountered. The area is also used for practical purposes. For example, this summer the central office of the Ministry of Economy used the space to collect a special land and property tax, serving 30,000 citizens daily. In short, Syntagma station is available to anyone who wishes to communicate with the residents of the capital.