The Acropolis is best enjoyed early in the morning. We’re in Athens in the low season yet tourist buses line the western side of the Acropolis all day. We have to agree, the Acropolis of Athens can not be missed! Make it a part, or all of your morning constitutional but, go early!
We walk from The Emporikon Athens Hotel via the steep streets of Anafiotika. At the top, the path to the entrance provides spectacular views over Athens. Gates officially open at 08:00, but we’re in by 07:30, coffee fueled by the onsite barista. People are already here so, seriously, go early. Entry is €12 but your ticket includes numerous historical sites and museums in Athens. Check here for the list.
You’ll know the Parthenon immediately. Dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the patron goddess of the city of Athens, this Parthenon was constructed between 447 and 438 BC. It was the first of the monuments replaced after the Persians destroyed the original buildings around 480BC.
Metopes, carved marble panels, decorated the outside upper walls of the Parthenon depicting battles; the Trojan War, Gods V Gods, Gods V Giants and the defeat of the Centaurs. Pediments were dedicated to Athena; her birth, (out of the head of her father, Zeus, and witnessed by an assembly of Olympian Gods!) and her contest with Poseidon to claim Athens. The Parthenon is the largest monument on the Acropolis, it’s size and previous extravagance illustrating its status.
The other temples and monuments may not come to mind as easily. Entrance from the west is through the Propylaea, the gates to the Acropolis. The north wing is the Pinakotheke or art gallery and the south wing, the Temple of Athena Nike. Overlooking foundations of the Chalkotheke (Athena’s store for metal weapons and statuettes) is an amphitheatre or Odeum of Herodus Atticus. East of the Parthenon, the Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus has a 360° view over Athens. North, the Erechtheion is recognised by columns in the female form.
The rescue effort for the Acropolis began in 1975. The first 2 years focused on studying the buildings’ structural issues and taking temporary measures to protect them from further damage. Next, pieces from previous ill-advised restorations needed to be studied, recorded and placement determined. Reminiscent of an enormous jigsaw puzzle, the Acropolis is covered in marble pieces laid out in sections. Some will be restored and some replaced, but all will contribute to returning the buildings to their former glory. There are 160 people currently employed on the project across specialised fields; archaeologists, engineers, marble specialists and conservators.
Many statues and artefacts have been moved to the Acropolis Museum. Your Acropolis ticket covers the entrance fee so once you’ve had a good look around continue there on foot. It’s not far and the cafe will be open for a well earned coffee.
Imagining being a part of Ancient Greece; another thing we love….
Have you been to Athens? Comment below and share your experiences. We’re off to Santorini next so stay tuned.