Syntagma Square is the oldest and arguably the most significant square in all of Athens, Greece. Its contribution to the commercial success of Athens in the 19th century makes it a historical gem. Named for the Constitution of Greece and the Greek War of Independence, locals and tourists still find this square to be intriguing.
The Greek Parliament was originally housed in the Royal Palace at what was first known as the Palace Square. When revolutionaries fought to change the constitution in 1843, the square was renamed Syntagma Square. King Otto was coerced into signing the document and granting the demands of the people.
Syntagma Square is the local for nearly every important social or political occasion that takes place in Greece. The early 1970’s saw another uprising and a new leader take over the throne. The Square is where he gave his opening speech to address the people. In addition, recently the Square was the home of political demonstrations against the government. The residents of Greece were tired of the severe measures being taken to reduce the country’s mounting debt. At least 10,000 residents of Greece and supporters stormed the square wishing to change the government’s spending crisis. Syntagma Square continues to be a safe haven for political rallies, entertainment and a meeting place for the locals who live in the area.
In 1842 the House of Parliament was built by the square. Although the building is not accessible to the public, it draws in visitors from all over who wish to observe the Evzones or Presidential Soldiers. These guards are dressed in traditional gear in order to stand watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A ceremony occurs every hour in order for the Evzones to change shift. On government holidays and Sundays, the ceremony is accompanied by the military band. This occurrence is a favorite of tourists in Athens and always has a large audience.
There are also a few outdoor cafes, water fountains and beautiful shady trees that gather a crowd especially on warm weather days. The National Garden is situated directly behind the Parliament Building and is open to the public. The gardens contain ancient Greek remains, sculptures and intricately designed images made from colored glass and stone. The Hotel George II and the Grande Bretagne are a few other notable structures in the area due to their interesting architectural design.
Syntagma Square is also a very convenient place to get to. Here visitors and locals can use the metro station and bus line to go to nearly every other major attraction in Athens. Within walking distance, there are other major historical sites like the Temple of Zeus, Arch of Hadrian and the Tower of the Winds. Many of these sites have been around since the Middle Ages.