Thursday, April 03, 2008

Athens, Greece: The Acropolis

I realized that I posted some pictures of my Greece trip, but I didn't really TELL anything about it. I'm sure it's been keeping you all up at night, so for the next several days, I'll post about Greece.

The Acropolis:

The Acropolis ("high city") refers to a big hill in the center of Athens, Greece, with a temple to the city's protector, Athena. It's possibly the greatest monument of architecture in Europe.

From the Athens subway, it's a long walk up a steep graded hill to get to the base of the Acropolis site. However, when you get the first glimpse of the Parthenon, sitting high atop the Acropolis, it takes your breath away. It's hard to tear your eyes away and keep climbing. But climb you do.

It's clear that Europeans don't have the same tort law that Americans do, because the climb up to the ticket booth is fraught with age-old slippery stones. When you reach the ticket booth, you're almost too tired to go the rest of the way. But the doric columns of the Parthenon are calling to you. "Keep going, keep going". At the time we were there, a 12 Euro ticket gained entrance into the Acropolis, and included admission to a few other minor sites in Athens, including Zeus's temple.

I guess the Acropolis is a result of the modern world - there's a lot of scaffolding, a lot of reconstruction, and one building had been taken down completely to rebuild it. The Parthenon has probably had scaffolding in every picture taken of it for the last 10 years (but I tried to skillfully photograph it at an angle with no scaffolding.) When you reach the Parthenon, you should walk around it in its entirety, as each angle offers a different perspective. It's majestic. It's powerful. And it's survived for thousands of years despite every effort to destroy it by the morons of the world (it was a storage house for gunpowder at one point, and some gunpowder exploded, for example.)

The Erechtheion is the second-most preserved building, and the second-most interesting, in my humble opinion. The most photogenic part of the Erechtheion is the south porch, held up by columns that are shaped like women, the famous Caryatids. The originals are in the Acropolis museum, minus one, which is in the British Museum in London. (The Greeks want it back, by the way.)

You leave the Acropolis through the original entrance gate. There are some great Athens views from the gate.

Actually, the entire Acropolis offers some amazing views of Athens. The city stretches to the vanishing point, and shows how dense the city is. I think the Athenians would build houses on the Acropolis if the government would let them. The buildings sit right next to ruins, and it's an odd mix of old, kinda old, and new.

The BF and I visited the Acropolis twice. The first time we went, we'd been in JFK airport for 24 hours (because the morons at Olympus Airlines randomly changed flight times), we'd been on a plane for 10 hours, and we were pooped. While I was impressed the first visit, I feared that I'd been in a jet lag fog and had missed truly appreciating what I was seeing. Our first visit was in the late afternoon, which seemed the better time to go, as it was less crowded, though a bit more hazy. Our second visit was around 10 a.m., and was brighter sunshine, but packed with tour bus tourists. I don't think you'd want to go mid-day, as it's hot and dry, but you'd probably have the place more to yourself.

Also, you'd want to wear comfortable shoes with traction. Thousand-year-old stone walkways get pretty slippery when millions of people walk all over them.

There is a refreshment stand at the bottom of the Acropolis where the ticket booth is. The truth is that you're going to be tired and thirsty and fall into this tourist trap. The've got a captive audience (try the slushies. Mmmmm.) so the prices aren't discount, for sure. However, the time to your next cafe would be a half hour (plus the walking.)

Truly one of my top five coolest sites that I've visited. Photos below.


Pink Chihuahua Princess said...

This sounds silly, but I never would have thought about the walkways getting slick due to their age. Nice tip. Husband and I would like to go there someday!

Mar said...

We were there on a very, very cold and very windy Sunday morning in January. They didn't charge on that day and we thought it was because of the bad weather...later we learned it's free on Sundays!!
It is indeed an impressive place. Love your shots, Carmen!

~Virginia~ said...

A friend of mine sailed through the Greek islands last year. I still haven't forgiven her... :) Great pictures and advice!

Goofy Girl said...

Ooo looks so cool!! I hope to go someday!!