Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Acropolis in Athens

It was a lifetime dream realized - to visit the Acropolis in Athens.   For one reason or another, while I had always wanted to go to Athens, I never managed to fit that in, even though I had been actively travelling in the past 15 years.  It was also the end point of a trip which had started in Istanbul and took us through the Greek Isles, where we had seen several acropolis already.  But there was nothing like THE Acropolis.  It was pretty stunning every time I looked at it.  And our first glimpse was from the rooftop restaurant of our hotel near the Acropolis Museum.  The sun was setting and it was starting to lit up.  It was magical! 

We made the strategic error of taking it too easy on our first full day in Athens.  By the time we got tickets at the gate to the Acropolis, every one else in Athens and from the cruise ships, were there waiting to get in. The lineups were long in the hot sun and we figured that it would be too crowded inside even if we didn't mind the wait .  We decided to postpone the visit until later in the afternoon, as Rick Steves had suggested in his book.  We visited the new Acropolis Museum first, getting some meaningful background before the actual visit.  The Museum itself was quite stunning, both architecturally and content wise.

A leisurely lunch in the Plaka gave us renewed energy to climb up to the Acropolis, this time from the gate above the Plaka, a relatively uncommon approach which gave us another perspective on the site.  We were relieved to find the crowds dispersed and we were actually able to get people-less photos.  In addition, we had the benefit of catching the "glow" on the buildings during the golden hour as the sun slowly descended.  What luck!  

The Parthenon lit up

The Acropolis Museum - an impressive collection of many original sculptures from the Acropolis.  I was particularly struck by the colour on these two costumes.  I learned that the archaic colours were white, black, red and ochre, corresponding with the elements of air, water, fire and earth.  The Athenians buried many of the statues after the Persians destroyed the Acropolis in 480 BC.  As a result, the statues were well-preserved, as were the vivid colours.  

View of the second floor sculptures from the third.
The reflection of the Parthenon on the windows of the Museum

Greek policemen doubling up on motorbikes doing their rounds along the mainly pedestrian walkway around the Acropolis historic sites.  The walkway really made things easy for tourists to get a panorama of ancient Athens.
We went in the side entrance and this is the ancient road that greeted us

Crumbling walls above us
The view from the Propylaia - Athens beyond the Odeum, which could accommodate 6,000 spectators, destroyed during Herulian invasions in the 3rd century but restored in the 1950s.  It is now an event space.

The Propylaia, the magnificent entrance to the Acropolis with the elegant Temple of Athena Nike

The portico of the Propylaia and the view of the Parthenon through it...
The beautiful Erechtheion - elaborate and complex - I love it!   This was a view from the Propylaia.  Just in front of it, you could see the remains of the base (with relief mouldings) of the colossal statue of Athena, thought to stand at least 9 metres high.  It would have been quite a sight, thought to be visible even to sailors at sea.   The statue was carried to the Hippodrome in Constantinople in the 5th century AD where it was destroyed during the siege of the Franks in 1204.

The awe-inspiring Parthenon, still under reconstruction since 1975...

The Parthenon with the "glow" during the golden hour

Athens panorama from the Acropolis - Mt. Lycabettus on the right

The Erechtheion again with the "glow" 

Detail from the Erechtheion

The Theatre of Dionysos, the oldest theatre in the world.  To think that it was here that the plays of the great poets Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were first performed!

Front row seats with backs

An Acropolis cat...

Worth the 30 year wait...


  1. Happy for you. Hope to follow in your footsteps someday. John Elmslie

    1. Thanks, John. I'm sure you'll love it. But don't wait too long....;-)