Syntagma Square (Constitution Square) is named after the Greek constitution (syntagma) that was proclaimed from the balcony of the royal palace that overlooks the square on 3 September 1843. The former palace has housed the Greek parliament since 1935.
Syntagma Square is a good point from which to begin your orientation in the city – its also much better in appearance than it used to be even a few years ago: the manic Athenian traffic has been re-routed and a concerted effort at beautification has been in place – with some good results. Points of convenience include numerous cafes, restaurants and all the usual fast food outlets, a new metro stop, a host of airline offices, etcetera.
The square serves as an occasional rallying place for demonstrations and public celebrations.
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 center of the square a large water fountain traditionally hosts the occasionally sighted Syntagma pigeons, along with heat-tormented Athenians during the summer.
Syntagma Square is also the frequent site of political demonstrations. The Greek Parliament is immediately across Amalias Avenue to the east, and surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public. 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 takes place with an army band and the majority of the 120 Evzones present at 11am.
Syntagma Square is also a hub for many forms of public transportation in Athens; Syntagma station of the Athens Metro is here, the tram stops here, and buses or trolley-buses are available to many points 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 located near many of Athens‘ oldest and most famous neighbourhoods and tourist attractions. The neighborhoods of Plaka (Πλακα), Monastiraki (Μοναστηρακι), Psiri (Ψυρρη) and Kolonaki (Κολωνακι) are all within walking distance, and most of the famous sites of ancient Athens are nearby, including the Acropolis (Ακροπολις), the Theater of Dionysus, the Areopagus, the Ancient Agora of Athens (Αρχαια Αγορα των Αθηνων) with Hadrian’s Library, the Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora, the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the Arch of Hadrian (Αψις του Ανδριανου), the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Ναος του Ολυµπιου Διος), the Pnyx (Πνυκα), the Philopappos Monument (Μνηµειο του Φιλοπαππου) on the Hill of the Nymphs, the Kerameikos Cemetery (Νεκροταφειο Κεραµικου), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Μνηµειο του Αγνωστου Στρατιωτη) and Lycabettus Hill. Historic churches also dot the area, some dating from the Middle Ages.