Whew, I had to write this day in two parts for two reasons. Writing blog posts with historical info is hard work – gotta fact check and stuff. Also, I don’t want to let them get too long so you guys don’t get bored with it : ) So if you haven’t read part one, start here: http://www.wanderlustanddogs.com/?p=142
So I think we ended the last blog in Ancient Agora. From here we started our hike up to the Acropolis and decided to grab lunch before we started out. We just found a place in Plaka and it was really nice. Miandros – check it out!
Once we filled our bellies (and that we did) we started walking. On the way, we stopped and walked around the site of Hadrian’s Library. This structure was a little bit newer, but when I say newer I mean 132 AD. It was a Roman building built by Emperor Hadrian. They housed approximately 16,800 rolls of papyrus “books” and also had rooms for reading and lecture halls. It was crazy to stand there and try to imagine what it was like in its prime. Full of early literature and Ancient Roman intellectuals. In places, you could even see remnants of the original mosaic flooring. You can see a lot more of this site in my video at the end.
From here we made the rest of the hike to the top of the mountain. The view of Athens from up there is just amazing! And just about everything you see is marble including the ground you’re walking on – paved or natural. We hiked up to an area that didn’t house any temples but boasted the best view in town and everything below us was a giant chunk of marble with a surface polished up from so many visitors walking over thousands of years. (again, watch the video and see the walk up) – (also, the only photo of Billy this trip even though he makes a few accidental appearances in the video)
Once we took in the view we only had a little bit further until we reached The Acropolis of Athens, and it was so worth it. It seems a lot of people complain about the price and the hike. But for just 12 Euro each, we were able to see all of the sites including Ancient Agora and the museum, some in between, and the Acropolis. Yeah, we walked about 10 miles each but we walked through history and that was an experience well worth the price.
As we walked in our first stop was the Odeon of Herodes Atticus which is an impressive stone theater built into the southwest slope. Herodes Atticus built it in 161 AD in memory of his wife Aspasia Annia Regilla.
From there we walked up the stairs through the massive gateway entrance – the Propylaea. We entered the Acropolis the same way the ancient Athenians did.
As we entered we saw the Temple of Athena Nike to our right. This was the earliest “Iconic” temple on the site. Athena was the goddess of victory in war and wisdom.
Then we walked out into the open with the Parthenon to our right and the Old Temple of Athena to our left. Having minored in art history I have a special place for the Temple of Athena and it was probably my favorite thing I got to see this trip. The architecture alone in ancient Greek times is fairly miraculous if you ask me but to also see such consideration of art and detail in each and every square inch just makes me feel like we as artists and architects today might be missing something.
And of course the Parthenon. The fact that this building isn’t a pile of gravel is rather impressive on its own. It has been through so many invasions and destruction and rebuilding and more invasions, that one would expect it to be long gone. But it stands strong. The work they are currently doing right now is very interesting. I would love to return in 10-20 years and see what they have done with the restoration. They have the same problems I wrote about in the post about Ancient Agora. The destruction and rebuilding over the years have made it so complicated to restore. But they are actually going in and filling the holes that have no known piece with new marble. Very cool to see!
On the way out we visited the Theatre of Dionysus, the god of wine and the patron of drama. I show a great 360 in the video and took some detail photos of the sculptures on the wall that are amazingly well preserved.
From here we went to the Acropolis museum, which wasn’t included in our ticket and did not allow me to bring my camera in (but they let me take a photo with my phone of my favorite display). Totally worth it! This museum is amazing. It has some of the statues that still have some of their original paint intact and some amazing art. But I think one of the coolest aspects is how it is laid out. They have the 48 columns of the Parthenon marked in life size with the pediment marbles on display with the metopes and friezes. There is also a glass floor that you can see through to a real archaeological excavation taking place.
This ended our day in Athens. We walked back to our hotel, collected our bags, hopped a train to Piraeus and boarded our boat for the night to wake up on Crete!
*Keep in mind you need to click the photo thumbnails to see them in full*
See all the trip photos (from my Nikon – you saw the phone photos on Facebook): http://paigeramsey.smugmug.com/Travel/2014-Greece/
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