Friday, September 14, 2012

Acropolis ~ Parthenon ~ Athens ~ Greece

There is so much ancient history within the many ruins of this city of Athens and it is hard to get our head wrapped around how far it goes back in time.  The Acropolis was considered a powerful city by 1400 BC, that is thousands of years ago and we are about to walk among those very ruins.
The first sight we have when arriving at the Acropolis
The Parthenon in Greece
We walked up the steep hill that would take us to the top of the Acropolis.  We’d passed other ruins and climbed more steps and passed through what I believe to be the restored ancient entrance, the Propylaia and there it was, it was amazing to see the Parthenon in real life!  So many things do not live up to our expectations when we actually see them, but this was not the case for me.
The view looking back to the Parthenon from another vantage point
Standing atop the Acropolis in Athens
We were here to enjoy the sights of the Acropolis and the Parthenon and that we did, marveling at the skills that had to be used to build these incredible structures.  The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and completed in 438 BC and the tools and equipment of those days makes it hard to imagine these results.

work done on the Parthenon is to make sure the structure is secure
Restoration done to Parthenon at the Acropolis
 There is much reconstruction and restoration being done by the Greek Ministry of Culture, although we saw no one actually working while we were there.  The scaffolding shows where some of the work is being done.  When we look closely we can see new pieces that have been added to ensure stability to these massive structures.
Details of the 'maidens' is seen
The Erechtheion at the Acropolis
The ancient Greek temple of Erechtheion sits near the Parthenon and was constructed between 421 and 406 BC.  Six maiden figures supported the southern portico called the Porch of the Maidens.  The sixth maiden was removed by Lord Elgin in 1801 and used to decorate his Scottish mansion then later sold to the British Museum along with other pieces from the Parthenon.  The originals are now in the Acropolis Museum and these maidens at the Acropolis are exact replicas done in plaster cast, still beautiful in spite of their age.
The ruins of the odeon is backdrop to the current theatre
Ruins of the Herod Attica Odeon
The Herod Atticus was the third Odeon built in Athens and was erected by Herodes in memory of his wife Regilla who died in160 AD. The original was destroyed during an invasion of the Herulae in 267 AD who destroyed most of the city’s monuments. 
Semi circular seating for the Odeon
Seating for the Herod Atticus Odeon
This grand looking theater seats 5000 and is now used during the annual Hellenic Festival, the most important cultural event that runs mid June until late in September featuring international music, dance and theater.  We’ve just missed these events but that would have been something special to see in this open air theatre with spotlights shining up onto the Acropolis. 
several pictures show the pieces of the historic monuments lying on the ground
Rocks and remains on the Acropolis
One might just see a lot of old rocks and ruins but there is so much more to it when you are standing on this citadel. Scattered over the grounds are blocks and pieces that have been recovered in the digs here, some of which might be used to rebuild.  

The rock and blocks support the walls of the Acropolis
The fortress walls on the Acropolis
The Acropolis, where the Parthenon is located, was formerly proclaimed as a "preeminent monument on the European Heritage Cultural list of monuments". It has a very special value to the history of this country and is of interest to many of us who studied about it during our early school years.  
rock walls below ground level
More ruins on the Acropolis
We walked amid the ruins, seeing pieces that had been worn and broken over centuries but still recognizable by those that do these archealogical digs.  There are drawings of the original sites shown among the ruins for us to see what they had looked like at one time and it is amazing how they’re often able to figure that out just by what seems to be rubble to most of us. 
sleeping dogs on sidewalks and anywhere they lie down
Sleeping dogs at the Acropolis
Not only will you see ancient rocks lying about but we were amazed by the number of dogs sleeping all over the grounds during our visit to the Acropolis. They were all oblivious to any of us walking around them, so watch your step, they aren’t moving out of your way. We did watch to make sure they were breathing when we first saw one but they all looked healthy so there must be someone looking after them.

Tall pillars of remaining ruins are seen
Ruins seen amid the city from the Acopolis in Athens, Greece
The Acropolis is a fairly large area and sits high above the city that is fairly flat, so the view from up here is unobstructed and we can see other ruins from this vantage point, too. We later walked among other ruins in the city of Athens when we walked through the Plaka, I will post more on this later.

The Acropolis is a visit that I will never forget and I now have photos to remind me should that ever happen! The restoration of these projects have been going on for many years and there is no doubt it will carry on for many years to come.  It appears to be a daunting task but amazing to see and great to know that these ruins will be saved for us to enjoy forever. 


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