Sightseeing in Athens, Greece

[ 0 ] July 10, 2011 |

After spending a few weeks enjoying the relaxed beach pace of the Greek isles, Al and I were looking forward to spending a few days in the Greek capital of Athens.

Welcome to Athens

Bus Tour:  Other than the Acropolis and the new Acropolis Museum we weren’t really decided on what else we wanted to see in the city.  So the first morning we decided to take a city tour on the hop-on hop-off tour buses.  Lasting a bit over an hour, the bus tour was informative but compared to the bus tours of the other European cities we’ve enjoyed recently, the clear lack of city sites made the Athens tour definitely not worth the 18€ per person.

Dancing on the Athens Bus Tour

Acropolis:  After the bus tour we decided to make our way Athens’ main attraction – the Acropolis.  Sitting head and shoulders above the city atop a natural rock formation, the Acropolis is the visual center of the city and hard to miss from nearly every vantage point.  Starting in 6000 BC with the Neolithic peoples of the Stone Age, the Acropolis has been a home, city fortress and center of worship to many civilizations.

The Acropolis

Musicians Outside the Acropolis

Home to the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaia, the Acropolis provides the best glimpse into the Hellenistic world at its pinnacle around 500 to 400 BC.  Most of the monuments were built during the golden age of Athens under the purview of Pericles in the 5th century BC.   However during the Persian war of 480 BC most of the lesser monuments were razed to the ground while the grandest structures including the Parthenon largely remained standing.  The whole site is certainly impressive and on a scale in terms of history and size like no other.

The Parthenon

The Erechtheum

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Acropolis Museum:  Standing at the foot of the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum.  The museum was built for the 2004 Olympics and is thus a fairly new feature for Athenians and tourists alike.  The museum is built on top of an active archeological dig site which is pretty cool.  They even made large pieces of the floor glass so you can observe the archeological action below.

Archaeological Dig under the Acropolis Museum

In addition to housing hoards of artifacts from the various civilizations that have occupied the area in and around the acropolis over the past 6 millennia.  The highlight of the museum is its collection and display of the various friezes and carvings displayed on the upper level in the exact same positioning as it exists in the actual structure.  Ironically, over half of the friezes and sculptures are housed at the British museum in London following the pillaging or the saving of these artifacts (depending on your perspective) by Lord Thomas Elgin in the early 19th century who the British Ambassador to Constantinople at the time.

Acropolis Museum

The Other Ruins:  It was nearing 7pm by this point and we were feeling a bit drained however our trip to Athens wouldn’t be complete with a quick trip to some final ruins – the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Gate, Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora, and the Roman Agora (luckily for us they were all very close to each other).  Whew, we can sleep sound now.

Temple of Zeus

Hadrian's Gate

Hadrian's Library

The Ancient Agora

The Roman Agora

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Category: Blog, Destinations, Greece, Pat's Blog

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