Syntagma Square

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Syntagma Square
Changing of the Guard: Evzones in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The marble relief in the background is a copy of an ancient warrior grave stele, depicting a hoplite lying dead on a small slab.

Syntagma Square (Greek: Πλατεία Συντάγματος, Greek pronunciation: [plaˈtia sinˈdaɣmatos], English: Constitution Square) (sometimes spelled 'Syndagma Square'), is a town square located in central Athens, Greece. The Square is named after the Constitution that King Otto was obliged to grant, after a popular and military uprising on September 3, 1843.[1] It is the oldest and socially most important square of modern Athens, at the epicentre of commercial activity during the nineteenth century.

View of the Hotel Grande Bretagne.

The square proper is bordered by Vassileos Georgiou A' Street to the north, Othonos Street to the south, Filellinon Street to the west and Amalias Avenue to the east. The eastern side of the square is higher than the western, and dominated by a set of marble steps leading to Amalias Avenue; beneath these lies the Syntagma metro station. The stairs emerge below between a pair of outdoor cafes, and are a popular city-centre gathering place. Syntagma also includes two green areas to the north and south, planted with shade trees, while in the centre of the square a large water fountain traditionally hosts the occasionally sighted Syntagma pigeons, along with heat-tormented Athenians during the summer.

The Greek Parliament is immediately across Amalias Avenue to the east, and surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public; the Parliament itself is not open to the public, even when not in session. Every hour, the changing of the guard ceremony, performed by the Presidential Guard, is conducted in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the area between the square and parliament. On Sundays and official holidays, the ceremonial changing of the guard occurs with an army band and the majority of the 120 Evzones present at 11 am.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Square was the site of mass protests, including an occupation of the square with tents and other provisions due to the worsening economic situation during the Greek government-debt crisis. Some of the demonstrations amassed crowds of the order of 10,000 people, according to police reports ; or 50,000 according to other sources. Since the inception of the "Unity Government", the occupation has been removed from the Square and demonstrations are less frequent.

Syntagma Square is a hub for many forms of public transportation in Athens; Metro lines 2 and 3 of the Athens Metro have a stop at the Syntagma station, which is to be found under the square ; the Athens Tram stops here ; and buses or trolley-buses are available to many places in the city. Travel between Syntagma Square and the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport is available via special airport bus and metro lines. Free wireless Internet access at high speeds (4 Mbit/s) is offered by the Municipality of Athens at the Square. The square is also a hub for buses to the northern suburbs and for the Athens Olympic Complex in Maroussi.

The Square is located near many of Athens' oldest and most famous neighbourhoods and tourist attractions. The neighborhoods of Plaka (Πλάκα), Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι), Psiri (Ψυρρή) and Kolonaki (Κολωνάκι) are all within walking distance, and most of the famous sites of ancient Athens are nearby, including the Acropolis (Ακρόπολις), the Theater of Dionysus, the Areopagus, the Ancient Agora of Athens (Αρχαία Αγορά των Αθηνών) with Hadrian's Library, the Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora, the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the Arch of Hadrian (Αψίς του Ανδριανού), the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός), the Pnyx (Πνύκα), the Philopappos Monument (Μνημείο του Φιλοπάππου) on the Hill of the Nymphs, the Kerameikos Cemetery (Νεκροταφείο Κεραμικού), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Μνημείο του Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη) and Lycabettus Hill. Historic churches also dot the area, some dating from the Middle Ages.

View in front of the Hellenic Parliament.

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Coordinates: 37°58′32″N 23°44′05″E / 37.97556°N 23.73472°E / 37.97556; 23.73472