When I arrived in Athens, it was a dream come true. My friends and I were on our way back from Santorini and we intentionally scheduled our train for late at night so we could spend as much time in Athens as possible. And for an historian at heart and whose absolute dream it was to see Athens and the Acropolis, I was in HEAVEN!!
The Acropolis was the religious center for Ancient Greece. So you could say it was the hoppin place in ancient times. It was our first destination. When we got to the Acropolis there was an entrance to pay to enter the area. Little did we know we would also have to pay later on, to see the actual top of the Acropolis. Note*** make sure you have enough money if you want to see the base and the top of the Acropolis.
Also, the bathrooms at the base of the Acropolis were probably some of the most interesting and worst bathrooms I have ever been in. Little help that it was over 100 degrees, but oh those floors. Also, like in many places in Europe, you have to pay the bathroom attendant. Always keep change handy if you want toilet paper.
The Base of the Acropolis
Theatre of Dionysus
The Theatre of Dionysus is an amphitheater at the base of the Acropolis. It was where you would watch the satirical plays, orators, etc. It is named after the god Dionysus who was the god of wine, theatre, fertility, and more. They would have festivals in his honor. Think of the modern party boy who loves theatre.
Can you imagine sitting on those benches for 3 hours? Nope, I like my squishy seats.
There is another theatre at the base of the Acropolis called the Odeon Theatre. Athens has reconstructed the seats so it is used for modern plays, concerts, and the such. There was actually one going on when we were there. Jealous much…
Top of the Acropolis
The Propylaea is the grand entry to the Acropolis. Most of it, like the rest of these monuments, has missing parts, but you can imagine the grandeur of it.
Remarkably a lot of the stones and structure are still in place. This is the only real entrance up to the top, the other sides of the Acropolis are mostly shear drop offs. Stepping into the Acropolis was top 3 on my bucket list.
Temple of Nike
You are reading that correctly. The Temple of Nike. However, it is not pronounced like the sports gear, but is said “nee-kay.” Nike was the goddess of victory. Her symbols were golden sandals and wings (so good on you Phil Knight). The structure is right next to the entrance of the Propylaea. Unfortunately, when we were there they were in the preservation process so we weren’t able to see it clearly.
The Erechtheion is where some mythology says the battle for the patronship of Athens took place between the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon which only ended when Zeus sent a lightning bolt through the roof. Athena was declared the patroness of city and has been connected to the archaic king Erechtheus (which it is named for) in most tellings.
This is supposedly where Zeus’s lightning bolt went through the roof. The Erechtheion is also famous for its Porch of the Caryatids (maidens).
I saved the best for last, then and now! I was totally geeking out over this, to the point that I was almost crying and I didn’t care it was over 100 degrees with no shade. The Parthenon is the largest building on the Acropolis. It was created as a temple for the patron goddess Athena Parthenos. There was a statue of Athena in the center of the building that was the largest statute made of gold and ivory! Unfortunately, over time and wars a lot of it is destroyed. But just look at it!! (If you want to see a rendition of it, there is a life-size version in Nashville, Tennessee).
Good enough condition you can still see the metopes etched into the friezes. I was beyond words. I could have stayed up there forever, but we needed to keep moving to see other parts of the city.
View from the Acropolis
The Acropolis had some of the best views of Athens as well.
The city is laid out around multiple hills with mountains and the sea surrounding the city. Not a bad view if I say so myself.
Temple of Zeus
The Agora (political center), the birthplace of modern democracy.
Getting to see the ancient part of Athens right in the middle of the modern-day Athens was amazing and something I will never forget.