In Athens there are more than 125 historic structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with 31 displaying a Texas Medallion marker. Main street is lined with century-old structures housing antique shops, restaurants, and specialty stores. Bed and breakfast accommodations are offered in some of the historic buildings.
Main Street and Fisherman's Park on the scenic Colorado River offer great places to picnic, fish, and canoe. The old historic Iron Bridge crossing the river has been converted to a park with picnic tables, benches, and walkways above the Colorado River.
Bastrop is one of Texas' oldest settlements, first called Mina, whose name was changed to Bastrop about 1837 to honor a man of fame and influence in early Texas. The man was Felipe Enrique Neri, Baron de Bastrop, a prominent Dutch nobleman, or so the colonists thought. Actually, he was a flamboyant impostor whose real name was Philip Hendrik Nering Bogel, born not of Holland's nobility, but in Dutch Guiana of ordinary Dutch parents. Appointed a tax collector after he and his parents returned to Holland, he was accused of embezzlement and fled the country.
Appearing in Texas as Baron de Bastrop in 1805, he obtained a colony grant, established a freighting business, and was appointed second alcalde of San Antonio in 1810. He was a primary negotiator with the government of Mexico for Stephen F. Austin's original Anglo-American colony. He was elected representative to the Mexican state of Coahuila (which included Texas), secured passage of a further immigration act, and was instrumental in establishing the port of Galveston.
Of impressive physical stature, dashing and energetic, the counterfeit baron's enterprises resulted in little profit. At his death in 1827, he did not leave enough funds for burial expenses; fellow legislators contributed the cost. In Holland, unclaimed for 20 years, was a reward of 1,000 gold ducats for return of the accused embezzler.