Tuesday, December 28, 2010

greece: the acropolis

i have been abysmally remiss in posting about my great greek adventure. apologies. school and all that . . .

day two: i woke up before 5:00 a.m. all on my own. if you know me, well, that is unheard of. it's a struggle for me to get out of bed before 8:00. but that's how it happened. luckily craig was up too, so we got ready and took off.

we walked through downtown athens to the acropolis, which was nice. the streets weren't crowded yet and it was pretty cool (compared to the day before). we walked past several monuments (more on those later) and the bank that was burned in the riots a few weeks before. as we were walking i looked up and there it was . . . the acropolis. i can't even explain to you the feelings i had as i saw it for the first time. i have been wanting to see the acropolis since i was in the sixth grade. and now there it was, just casually hanging out at the end of the street. and it would be mine for the viewing in just a few hours.

we got to the acropolis an hour or so before anything was going to open, so we bought chocolate croissants and cokes (a completely valid breakfast when on vacation in europe, btw) and sat down to eat. then some euro-trash pulled up on their vespa, peed in the bushes across the street and took the table next to us. they were loud and obnoxious, so we went to enjoy our breakfast on the steps of the acropolis museum.

the acropolis museum. it is beautiful beyond description. they recently relocated it from on the acropolis down to the base of the hill. i would recommend going to the museum before going into the acropolis. a lot of the artifacts they've recovered from the site are on display in the museum. they also have video's about the history of the acropolis and the parthenon, which are very worth watching. it will make your experience on the hill much more interesting. the two things that make visiting the museum a MUST: 1. the five of the real caryatids from the erechtheum are on display in the museum. the ones on display up on the acropolis are duplicates. 2. they have so many bits and pieces of the parthenon in the museum. going to see the parthenon without going to see the museum is pretty much like not seeing it at all. they're piecing together and recreating so much, displaying it how it would have looked, it's amazing.

one of the original caryatids and several other original artifacts from the acropolis are on display at the british museum in london. in the beginning of the 1800's lord elgin made off with a great many artifacts from the acropolis. greece has been trying to get them back for a long time, but england is, of course, refusing.

this is the entrance to the museum. unfortunately, they do not allow photography inside the museum.

another really interesting part of the museum is that the whole museum is built over an ongoing archeological dig. all throughout the entrance and inside the museum there are glass floors so that you can look down and see ruins. the picture below is at the entrance. when we were there there was someone digging around in one of the areas.

before heading up into the acropolis we climbed the stairs (below) to the top of areopagus hill (aka mars hill). the apostle paul is known to have preached to the citizens of athens from this hill during his time in the city. it has a beautiful view of the city (not pictured) and also an excellent view of the front side of the acropolis (below). i regret not going back to get a nighttime view from the hill.

below is the entrance to the odeon of herodes atticus. it's basically a really big theatre at the base of the hill. they still use it for performances. while we were there in the afternoon we heard rehearsals for a concert being given the next night. the two photos below that are views of the theatre from above. isn't it incredible how in-tact it still is?

the next two photos are of the propylaea.
it served as the entrance to the acropolis.

the parthenon


theatre of dionysus

do you see, in the above picture, in the very top left had side of the picture, that little cave in the wall, covered in scaffolding. i wanted to go in there so bad. it was an ancient shrine which later got converted into a christian shrine. but it was closed to visitors when i was there. i was pretty devastated.

a nighttime view of the backside.