It’s clear we have finally arrived in Athens when we catch our first glimpse of the Acropolis from the hotel roof. Home to the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion, the Acropolis is magnificent even at this distance.
In the morning we wind through the streets of Athens and up the hillside toward the Acropolis, passing the Theater of Dionysus (Greek theatre),
and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus Theatre (Roman theatre). This theatre, sometimes referred to as “Yanni’s theatre” much to the chagrin of locals, still hosts concerts and events.
The Temple of Athena Nike, demolished and rebuilt several times since 480 BC, has a prominent place along the ascent.
Like the people walking in the ancient Panathenaic procession, we make our way through the Propylaea (restored marble roof beams above). It’s a grand entrance to the top of the Acropolis, and on toward the Parthenon.
We have arrived.
Archeologists add new marble during restoration of the Parthenon, and give the columns a mottled look.
The Erechtheion, with its Porch of the Caryatids is lovely, and brings a feminine energy to balance the enormity of the Parthenon. These Caryatids are replicas because the originals were removed and placed in the Acropolis Museum in 1979 to protect them.
The originals in their present home inside the Acropolis Museum are below. A photo opp Lisa couldn’t resist, even with the “no photos” policy.
Despite the deterioration, the Erechtheion draws you in.
We glimpse the Temple of Olympian Zeus below, in the center of Athens. Common among these ancient structures, this temple was destroyed and rebuilt over time. Original construction began in 6th century BC, but was not completed until 2nd century AD by Hadrian. It was the largest temple in Greece.
At the entrance to the Acropolis Museum, we see active excavations of ancient olive oil processing rooms and other workshops.
Below, this metope (decorative panel) is called “The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary” but of course, Jesus was not born when this was sculpted for the Parthenon. In fact, the “angel” on the right is the Greek goddess Hebe and the figure representing the Virgin Mary is Hebe’s mother, the goddess Hera! Thank you Christians for preserving this sculpture.
And the “mythic” Amazons also find their place in the Acropolis Museum.
The Greek flag flies over the eastern end of the Acropolis. When the Nazis invaded Greece, the legend says they told the guard Konstantinos Koukidis to take down the Greek Flag and raise the Nazi swastika flag. He took down the Greek flag, wrapped it around his shoulders and threw himself off the cliff. He became a martyr-hero to the Greek people, and so the Greek flag will always fly here.
Later that afternoon, we stroll through the National Gardens across the street from our hotel. Inside the park, we discover the neo-classical Zappeion Hall (below), home to the first modern Olympic Village in 1896. The setting sun highlights the Corinthian columns and Griffin figures on the portico roof.
Classical and Neo-classical Athens, with a garden stroll in between–an excellent introduction to Greece.
© 2015 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.