Acropolis Now

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Greece  ,
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

So what to do in Athens? As were pretty stuffed from the late night entrance into Athens we decided to wander around town a little bit to get our bearings. Firstly we had a typical Greek gyro for breakfast (these guys seriously love their meat). Down the road we saw the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian's Arch, the same Roman Emperor that ordered the construction of the stone wall in Scotland. Walking onwards we checked out the original Olympic Stadium used for the first modern Olympic Games. Walking through the cooler National Garden we saw the Greek Parliament and stopped at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Here soldiers are dressed in traditional uniforms and tactless tourists stand next to them to get photos. If they stand too close the guard loudly taps their rifle butt on the ground and their superior officer then abuses the tourist, yelling at them. It was funny to see some tourists getting a big scare while having their photos taken.

Across the road in Syntagma Square was a subway station. During the construction of the subway they found all kinds of artifacts. Here they display some of the original plumbing, showing terracotta pipes. We also saw other displays at the Acropolis station. Wandering pretty much aimlessly we walked past the old Roman Agora (market) and the Tower of the Winds, commissioned by Julius Caesar. In this part of town almost every wall is covered in graffiti. We hadn't so much graffiti in one place before. Back to the hotel for a cool shower then we wandered around the base of the lit up Acropolis before stopping for dinner.

Early the next morning, like every other tourist in the place, we made a beeline for the Acropolis. We decided to start at the Dionyssos Theatre and purchased a ticket that allowed us in to most of the archaeological sites in Athens. Next was the Herodes Atticus Odeum, a Roman theatre that is still used for performances. Climbing up the hill we entered the Acropolis via the massive double gated Propylaia and saw our first close up glimpse of the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the god Athena. Next to us was the Temple of Athena Nike, covered in scaffolding. It appeared restoration work was going on everywhere, fixing the previous poorly implemented restoration works (eg. replacing steal rods with titanium). As it was pretty early in the morning there weren't that many people about and it was great just to sit and soak up the atmosphere. We sat and took in the great view of the Porch of the Caryatids, with its columns of six tall maidens. From the flagpole on the side of the cliff the view of Athens was fantastic. As it was getting pretty warm in the sun we headed indoors to the Acropolis Museum where they had many statues and artifacts that had been found on the site. Leaving the museum we walked straight into a massive crowd. During our time inside at least 20 tour buses had descended on the site. You could hardly see the ruins through the huge crowds. We took this as the signal to leave and instead went to the near deserted Ancient Agora (marketplace), established in 3000 BC, and the fully reconstructed Stoa of Attalos. We also saw the well preserved Hephaisteion which is supposed to be a better example of classical Greek architecture. Nearby was the lovely Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles, with its religious paintings of knights and saints. Finally with sore legs we headed back to the Temple of Olympian Zeus to see the remaining standing columns and the remains of old Roman Baths.
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