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North-East of the Mediterranean basin, there is a land called Greece. Greece is home to a monument to humanity.
Onto a rocky crag lies the Acropolis of Athens. A monument symbolizing Civilization, Democracy, and Arts. Upon the rock of the Acropolis are built the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and the Parthenon.
The Acropolis is considered part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. A ten minute walk from the entrance of the site that dominates over Athens is the subway, so access is very easy.
On the way to the entrance to the Acropolis’ archaeological site, you will see the amazing ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus. There, every year during the summer, concerts and performances are held. If during your stay there is a performance, do not miss it for any reason.
The experience is unique. I still remember the “Partiro” sung by Andrea Bocelli in a performance held at the Herodion Ancient Odeon. It’s breathtaking to be there, to know the history of the place, and to be part of history itself.
Arriving at the entrance of the archaeological area, the road is uphill and you can see Athens better. Arriving at Propylaea, which is located on the west side of the Acropolis of Athens, you can admire the art of Mnesicles, the architect who erected it using Pentelic marble.
Unfortunately, the Propylaea were destroyed in 1640 AD. During the Ottoman period, the Propylaia buildings were used as a munitions depot. One day these blown up, destroying much of the work of Mnesicles.
The Temple of Athena Nike is the work of Kallikrates. It is a small but beautiful temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. According to Pausanias, it was dedicated to the “Wingless Victory” – Nike means Victory in Greek. Athena had no wings, so she would never abandon Athens. Very convenient and practical thinking!
Proceeding further, to the left is the Erechtheion, with its beautiful Caryatids. Unfortunately, Lord Elgin swiped one Caryatid along with many decorative marbles from the Parthenon. These are now exhibited in the British Museum.
The remaining five escaped Caryatids are reminiscent of the time they were a company of six all together, enjoying each other’s company, dancing and spinning fabrics for the goddess Athena.
Even though they feel sad about the absence of their sixth sister, they continue their work at the Acropolis Museum, where now, in the 21st century, they live. It is in this way that they are more protected.
The Parthenon, the symbol of Greece, Athens, democracy, freedom, spirit and mind, dominates the Acropolis. It was built in the second half of the fifth century BC when Archon, or statesman of Athens, was Pericles.
The Parthenon was created by Iktinos, Kallikratesand Pheidias. It was dedicated to the patron of the city goddess Athena, in her many qualities: Athena Parthenos (Parthenos means Virgin in Greek), the Promachos (goddess of war), Ergane (goddess of manual labor) and Nike (Victory).
It is said that inside the Parthenon there was a huge gold and ivory statue of Athena Parthenos (Athena, Virgin), which showed the goddess protector of the city, in full armor that carried Nike (Victory) to the Athenians in her right hand.
Again, a big part of the Parthenon was blown up into the air when Venetian Morosini bombarded the Parthenon in 1687 because it was used as a munitions store. Great minds of the time!
Around the Parthenon the view of Athens is great. You can see very well the Columns of Zeus, the Lycabetus hill, far away the Piraeus harbor and the big city of modern Athens surrounding the tiny but notorious rocky crag.
Watch your step as millions and millions of visitors have walked before you, because the rocks of the Acropolis are really slippery! If you will be visiting Athens during the summer, remember that Greece has a hot summer and an extra shinny sun, so do not forget hats, sunglasses and skin protection.
Last but not least, colors are just fantastic one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. I personally adore the orange-salmon tint of the ancient columns and the rocks before the sunset. It’s like you’ve Photo shopped everything!
Take a look at this great site where you can take an Acropolis virtual tour.
A tour of the Acropolis of Athens can be long and tiring for the body, but will inevitably raise the spirit. It’s a nice idea after such an excursion to head to one of the many outdoor cafes overlooking the sacred rock and enjoy something you like.
Maybe try Greek coffee and notice from a little distance this unique monument where just a moment ago you stood. Take this memory with you…