Athens was a short 24 hours stop before we caught our next flight to Santorini. We decided if we are going all the way to Istanbul we must do a side trip to Greece. Ron and I always wanted to see the Acropolis so we booked ourselves into the Athens Gate Hotel which is right at the entrance to the Acropolis and it has a fabulous view on the top floor of the hotel with a panoramic view of the Acropolis and for a captivating views of the city. So we we're right at the entrance of the park when they opened and bought our ticket so we could beat the long lineups, crowds and the heat of the day. We spent a good 6 hours there and enjoyed it very much. It was a gorgeous day in Athens with not a cloud in sight and we we're prepared with water, sunscreen and hats and ready for our trek up the Acropolis stairs. After all, we could see the Parthenon from down below, as well as from numerous vantage points across the city.
The first photo below is the start up the path from the entrance. Lots of signage and explanation of each thing we saw was great. The photos are in order from the way we saw everything in order so it gives you an idea somewhat how the park is laid out. There is so much more to see once you get past the Parthenon because that's all you see in most people's photos, We had no idea there was so much more to see besides the Museum.
Below is the Herodes Atticus theatre. Built at the base of the Acropolis, the ancient amphitheatre of Herodeion, also known as the Odeon of Herodus Atticus, is today one of the best places to experience a live classical theatre performance. This ancient theater was built in the Roman times, in about 161 A.D. by the Roman philosopher, teacher and politician Herodes Atticus. It was built in the memory of his wife Aspasia Regilla who died in 160 AD.
This semi-circular amphitheater has a wide 1,250 feet radius with a seating capacity of more than 6000 people. The original wall of the stage stood three storeys high and was decorated with marbles and ceramic pieces while today it stands in ruins. The stage and seating area was laid with marble while it has been renovated today. A cedar-wooden roof covered the theatre in the ancient times.
Today you can attend the Athens Art Festival, musical concerts and classical tragedies under the night sky with a marvelous acoustic experience.
The Theatre of Dionysus is regarded as the first sample of Greek theatres and the birthplace of the Greek drama. It was built into a natural hallow at the southern slopes of the Acropolis and it is the first theater in the world. This ancient theater was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine making and ecstasy, whose festivals was the driving force behind the development of Greek theater. Probably established in the late 6th century, the theater has been reconstructed many times since then. Today only 20 of these sections have been preserved.
The Sacred Rock, the Acropolis in Athens, is the symbol of the entire Greece. It is also the most important ancient monuments in Europe. Surrounded by the modern town of Athens, the Parthenon still stands proudly, a reminder of the old aura of the city. One can see the Acropolis and its Parthenon from almost every part of Athens. It was dedicated too the patron goddess of the city, Athena, since Parthenon means also the apartment of the virgin. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, war and also a virgin. The Parthenon is located on the top of the Acroplois hill. It was created between 447 and 432 B.C., at the time of Pericles golden age, by the architect Iktinos and with the help of Kallikrates.
Is a Cretaceous limestone hill in Athens, Greece at 300 meters (908feet) above sea level. Pine trees cover it's base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant.
The name also refers to the residential neighbourhood immediately below the east of the hill.
The hill is a tourist destination and can be ascended by the train which climbs the hill from a lower terminus at Kolonaki( the railway station can be found at Aristippou street.)
TEMPLE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS
We had this view right in front of our hotel which was pretty cool to look at front of bedroom. Is a monument of Greece and a former colossal temple at the centre of Athens. It was not dedicated to Olympian Zeus, a name originating from his position as head of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century during the rule of the Athenian, who did not like Zeus, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, some 638 years after the project had begun. During the Roman period the temple that included 104 colossal columns, was renowned as the larges temple in Greece and housed one of the larges cult statues in the ancient world. The temple's glory was long-lived, as it fell into dususe after being pillaged during a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD, just about a century after its completion. It was probably never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter. In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city. Despite this, a substantial part of the temple remains today, notably sixteen of the original gigantic columns, and it continues to be part of a very important archaeological site of Greece.
TEMPLE OF ATHENA NIKE
The southwest of the Acropolis plateau, right next to the Propylaia, has been an important location of a sanctuary dating back to the Mycenaean era. It is a protruding tall mass of rock, strategically located in a way that protects the south flank of the most vulnerable access point and gate to the citadel. Early in its history it was a place of worship for deities associated with wars, perhaps Bronze Age "Nike" gods or goddesses, which with time fused with the cult of Athena Nike or later centuries. Excavations have revealed that on this location an open pit existed that Bronze Age Greeks used to pour libations and to deposit primitive figurines of the deities worshiped.
Ancient Agora of Athens
After we we're finished with the sights on top of the Panthenon, we headed to the Ancient Agora of Classical Athens which is located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill. The Agora's initial use was for a commercial, assembly or residential gathering place.
Below it's hard to believe this was a ancient road and how many people and horses with different walks of life walked on these stones.
It was getting pretty hot outside by this point and we still had the other half to go still, Ron was really enjoying himself besides the heat.
We came upon the upper part of the Ancient Agora and found the restored Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles which was built in 1000 AD and along with the Temple of Haephestus is the only building in the Agora to survive intact. Like many Byzantine churches you can see bits and pieces of marble from ancient buildings and temples that were destroyed by the early Christians because they were pagan. The church was built on the ruins of a 2nd century Nymphaeum, a monument honoring the nymphs and most likely much of the marble is from that structure which most likely contained a fountain. When the church was restored in the late 19th century they added some extensions but these were removed during the restoration work in the 1950's and the church now looks pretty much as it did originally. There are some 17th and 18th century wall frescos inside the church though nothing too spectacular.
MUSEUM OF THE ANCIENT AGORA
We ended up at the museum which was a nice way to escape the hot sun in the late morning. We quite enjoyed this museum and was detailed in English as well. The collection of the museum includes clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and inscriptions from the 7th to 5th century BC, as well as pottery of the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation. The exhibition within the museum contains work of art which describes the private and public life in ancient Athens. In 2012, new sculpture exhibition was added to the museum which includes portraits from Athenian Agora excavation. The new exhibition revolves around portraits of idealized gods, officially honored people of the city, wealthy Roman citizens of the 1st and 2nd century; AD, 3rd-century citizens and finally on work of art from private art schools of late antiquity.
This marble sculpture so reminded me of Rocky Balboa, don't you think so???
Below is the entrance to the Odeon of Agrippa and accompanying gymnasium were added in the centre of the Agora.
PTemple of Hephaestus
This is a very well-preserved , It is a Doric Peripteral temple. From the 7th century until 1834, it served as the Greek Orthodox church of Saint George Akamates.
Hephaestus was the patron god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire. There were numerous potters, workshops and metal-working shops in the vicinity of the temple, as befits the temple's honoree. Archaeological evidence suggests that there was no earlier building on the site except for a small sanctuary that was burned when the Persians occupied Athens in 480 BC.
After the battle of Plataea, the Greeks swore never to rebuild their sanctuaries destroyed by the Persians during their invasion of Greece, but to leave them in ruins, as a perpetual reminder of the war. The Athenians directed their funds towards rebuilding their economy and strengthening their influence in the Delian League. When Pericles came to power, he envisioned a grand plan for transforming Athens into the centre of Greek power and culture. Construction started in 449 BC, and some scholars believe the building not to have seen completed for some three decades, funds and workers having been redirected towards the Parthenon.
Below the surviving torso of a statue of the Roman Emperor Hadrian(117-138).
ABelow is the great drainage canal on the Agora.