Athens metro has to be the most beautiful system in the world and should stay this way.In the meantime even if there is nowhere you need to go with the new metro, it is worth visiting it and even taking a ride a few stops (you can visit the Hilton and the American Embassy).
As you may have heard, work on the metro was slow because of all the antiquities they discovered. Every time they dug a new hole they would find a grave, or a wall or an urn or something and would have to put down their picks and shovels and call in the archaeologists who would do their digging with toothbrushes, which is a bit slower.
Meanwhile deep below the surface, the giant metro mouse is churning fossilized dinosaurs into microscopic chips as it tunnels it's way through the city.
So the main problem was not having to dig through rock, but having to sift through history. But this was worth the time spent because Syntagma square is more than a metro station. It's a museum. In the entrance are photos of Athens from 100 years ago when it really was one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
The Syntagma Square station is the crowning achievement in the marriage between high-tech transport and archaeology.
You walk down some marble steps and find yourself in a modern universe. The escalators take you down to the lower lobby and the trains.
But don't go down right away. There is much to see.
To the right, on the balcony that surrounds the lower lobby encased in glass is the stratified excavation where you can see artifacts from different periods of Athenian civilization from Byzantine through Roman to classical Greek, and pre-historic.
There is a grave, cisterns, portion of a wall, an ancient road, clay drainage pipes and more. Around the corner in glass display cases are ancient pots, columns and many of the artifacts that were found while digging the station.
The lobby is a museum and while many people made their way through the station with the determination of seasoned commuters, many people were wandering around examining the exhibits.
An escalator takes you down to the lower lobby (behind the urn) where there are ticket machines and automatic ticket-stampers that take your ticket and spit it right back at you. Then there are long marble halls and more stairs and escalators which lead to the trains below.
The trains themselves are not the super-high-tech streamlined ones I had expected to see. In fact they look like the old trains, only newer, cleaner, smoother and faster.
They are fully automated and a woman's voice tells you which stop is coming next and to get out of the way if you don't want to hurtle through the tunnels of Athens with half of you hanging out the subway door.
As far as the ticketing policy is concerned each ticket costs 0.80 euros and is valid for a single way; a separate ticket should be purchased for the return route. There is also a reduced fare for the price of 0.40 euros which is valid for students (with a valid student card).
Tickets are valid for 90 minutes after they have been validated. One must validate one's ticket once at the machines at the entrance of the station from which the passenger starts his journey.
Tickets of 1 euro (reduced fare: 0.50 euros) are valid for 90 minutes after they have been validated and can be used in the subway (lines 1, 2 and 3) as well as in all other means of public transport in Athens (buses, trolleybuses, tram and part of the suburban railway).
There are daily (3 euro) and weekly tickets (10 euros) and monthly cards (standard fare: 38 euros, reduced fare: 19 euros) which also apply for all means of public transport in Athens. Control is frequent. Passengers who fail to show a validated ticket or a monthly card are required to pay 60 times the price of a standard ticket (48 euros).
See also Athens metro map