“ The "sacred rock" of Athens. „
I've literally just got back from a trip to Athens with a group of other students who were also studying Ancient History and Ciivlisations with me, including my boyfriend luckily. As such I thought I would review different aspects of Athens and the goods I bought, and what better place to start then Athens' most famous tourist destination, the Acropolis.
The word Acropolis means roughly peak of the city and can be used to describe numerous other locations throughout Greece but because of its celebrity status, it is simply referred to as 'THE' Acropolis. It can be seen throughout the city in a huge number of places, including luckily for me, from my hotel roof terrace. At night time it is lit and glows a gentle yellow-amber colour, which looks great in front of the flashing city colours of its nightlife.
We didn't have to pay to enter the Acropolis because we were all students, but for adults it was 12euros to enter the sanctuary. To reach the paypoint you must first scale the first part of the hill which isn't too taxing, but very slippery as much of the floor is made from a marble material, so be prepared for this. When you reach the first peak point, you'll see to your left a small hut where a few women tend to sit out front in deck chairs offering tours and even further left a drinks kiosk which offered great iced drinks, the equivalent of a slush puppy. Beside this is where you pay and from here still you can make out the Athene Nike temple.
When you have paid you go through a small terminal where you scan your ticket and then you climb a little further up a hill. There are amazing panoramic views of the city from here, and it is well worth you take a decent camera with you. You are not allowed to take drinks in with you (I learnt this the hard way and had to sit outside finishing off mine while my group went in) presumably to prevent any damage to the buildings.
The first building you will see will either be the Propylaea or the Athene Nike which is set a little off to its right. The Propylaea was once the entrance hall where the procession which travelled to the top of the mountain to celebrate the Panathanaic Procession in honour of the goddess Athene. It is opened up and partially restored so that you still get the general feel of its grandeur and scale. You simply walk through the middle on a ramp which would have once been used to escort livestock through. This building was a gateway and also housed a gallery and a sculpture room and would have once been very grand indeed.
The building to the right of this which I mentioned previously is the Athene Nike temple. This is a small Ionic temple which once functioned as a treasury. It is the smallest structure and also the best preserved on the Acropolis. Once the interior housed three sides of a frieze which had images of wars betweens Athenians against the Amazons, Spartans and Persians respectively.
Once you have walked through the Propylaea to your right again is the awe-inspiring Parthenon. This is a building of amazing grandeur dedicated to Athene, Athens' patron goddess. The name stems from the word Parthenoi which means virgin and references Athene. It is huge at 30 x 70m and of the golden ratio for a Doric temple. The remnants of the pediment which is simply the triangle beneath the roof are either destroyed or rehoused, in particular in the British Museum due to the acts of Elgin who according to some wrongfully stole parts of the structure. It is not excellently preserved, mostly due to an explosion that occurred in 1697 after the Venesians fired upon the structure which had been used as a gunpowder magasine by the Ottomans. When it was in its original use it was also home to a huge structure called the Chryselaphantine Athene made of gold, ivory and precious jewels, an idol of the goddess. This is no longer here but still remarkable to consider.
To the left when you enter onto the Acropolis is the Erechtheon. This is the most unconventional structure and is made of various rooms and levels. It was dedictaed to various individuals and housed various different commodities. The Athene Polos (an olive wood statue of Athene sent by Zeus) was housed in one room, and on another level on the outside was the apparent scorch marks of Poseidon (who battled Athene for the patronage of Athens, as depicted in one of the two pediments on the Parthenon). On one of its exterior sides are the caryatids, 6 female youths stood in various poses who serve as support beams as well as intricate structures. The ones you see still stood on the building however are now only replicas as one is stood in the British Museum and others are in the Acropolis Museum.
I would recommend if you were to visit the Acropolis, because of the heat and exposure of the outcrop, you visit before 12pm when the weather is particually harsh. Additionally, you may be able to beat all the other tourists, and as such get a less busy visit as well as better pictures of the structures themselves! However because of its great popularity it is unlikely it will even not be busy, so thats something to bear in mind.
The easiest way to reach the Acropolis, I think, is via the Metro (Athens' underground system) which is very easy to navigate and surprisingly cheap. A ticket which lasts for an hour and a half of repeated use as a student cost only 70cents, whereas for an adult the price is about a euro from memory. The station you need to reach the Acropolis is conveniently called Akropoli and you arrive in a lovely, very French looking Bistro area with many restaurants and bars. From here it is a short 5-10 minute walk to the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis itself. I would recommend that if unlike me, you didn't happen to study the Acropolis and its history, you visit this museum first as it is excellent and very informative.
To conclude, the Acropolis is truly spectacular and much more impressive than my textbook images had me believe. The views of the structures and Athens itself are very beautiful and staff and police are always about to offer any assistance. It is perhaps the most visited area of Athens, and no wonder as it is a very special place to see indeed. It is well worth the short hill climb, and so long as you stay hydrated, a very very enjoyable experience indeed. I would recommend again and again.
Following on from my review of our Cruise and our visit to Pompeii, I will now review another of the places we visited on our Honeymoon. Athens and the Acropolis.
We were extremely fortunate on our Honeymoon we had many stops around the Med which allowed us to visit many countries and attractions. One of the places we docked at was the port of Piraeus, Greece. Again my wife arranged a trip for us to visit one of the main attractions in Athens, The Acropolis.
Below are my thoughts on our visit to The Acropolis.
The Acropolis is situated pretty much in the centre of Athens. The Acropolis was the most important religious and political centre of Athens. Of the many Acropolis', this one is almost certainly the best known. It is a flat-topped rock that rises 490 ft above sea level. Its surface area is approx 3 hectares, to put it in a context that most would understand it is equivelant to about 3 1/2 football pitches. The top is adorned with lavish temples, monuments and buildings. The Parthenon (the most famous) and other main buildings on the Acropolis were built by Pericles in the fifth century BC as a monument to the cultural and political achievements of the inhabitants of Athens.
The word "Acropolis" derives from the Ancient Greek words for "high city" or " Upper City", The rocky outcrop forms the basis for the original settlement in Athens. The Parthenon (which is often confused as the Acropolis) is arguably one of the world's most famous and instantly recognisable ruins. Indeed most people see this as the symbol of Athens and Greece itself. The sacred rock on which the famous landmark perches is almost 500 feet high. The different types of buildings actually reflect the different civilisations that have conquered and occupied Athens. Almost all have left their mark with a temple, monument or building.
Our visit was in Septeber so it was very busy and very hot! We had a full day in Athens, the majority of which was spent at the Acropolis. We did spend some time also wondering around the streets that lie below the Acropolis.
We docked in the the port of, Piraeus, Greece. We then left the boat and walk to the tram stop which was about fifteen mins from our docking berth. The cost of the tram into the centre of Athens was very reasonable at around Euro2. If memory serves me right we took the green line.
Stairway to Heaven
No not the song or a guitar rift! This is what I have dubbed the walk up to the Acropolis. Its quite a site looking up from the carpark below to the summit. I must admit the steps seem a little daunting, but the prize which awaits you at the top give should give you added zing in your step (well for at leat th first 100ft)!
Initially you have to brave the car park area at the base. There are of course the usual vendors and people basically trying to get your Euros. We as always try to come as best prepared as we can to avoid the need to purchase items at inflated prices.
Entry cost is around Euro12 this ticket also valid for the Ancient Agora and Roman Forum, which overall is very good value for money.
The walk to the summit is rather a steep climb up lots of steps. As you can see from my pictures is was very very hot! This makes the climb to the summit a bit of a chore but, its worth it so stick with it. You of course watch your footing, If Its busy even more care is required as people can sometime jostle you, you also have to have good sensible footwear. Water (before you depart) , a hat, suncream and sun glasses are also a must. The best time to start is early in the morning. This way you avoid the climb with sun at its height.This also allows more time on teh summit. Take your time and try to enjoy the climb as best you can. We stopped to admire the views, this of course is just an excuse to rest!.
You enter the main site through the Propylea. This extends around 150 feet across the western face of the Acropolis. This in itself is a magnificent site and a taster of whats inside. Once through the Propylea the wonders of the Acropolis are in full view.
I have listed below the layout of the area. I will give a small amount of information about each, and where possible some personal thoughts. I have also included a picturePictures of Acropolis (Athens)
Erechtheum, you may just be able to make out the Caryatids on the right of my picture. that will give you a visual idea of the layout. Once inside all teh wonders of the Acropolis are there for you to behold. Its very difficult to discribe the buildings and indeed the ruins adeqately. They are magnificent, I have included pictures below, however as you are all aware we are limited to 10! Which is a crying shame as I have lots of pictures.
2.Old Temple of Athena
4.Statue of Athena Promachos
6.Temple of Athena Nike
8.Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion
12.Altar of Athena
13.Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
14.Sanctuary of Pandion
15.Odeon of Herodes Atticus
16.Stoa of Eumenes
17.Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion
18.Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus
19.Odeon of Pericles
20.Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus
Almost everyone confuses the Acropolis, with the Parthenon. The Parthenon is actually the main temple on the Acropolis which was built as a sanctuary for Athena.
It is the largest building on the Acropolis site and dominates both the site and the Athens skyline. Its a truely iconic and awe inspiring building. It is reputed to have been built between 447 and 438 BC.
To look at its truely amazing, the detail in the carvings and construction is mind blowing. You dont really get a feel for its size and lavish features until you see it up close and personal. For me this was the best feature of the entire site. Its well worth its cultural architectual significence.
Old Temple of Athena
This can be seen as the ruins in front of the Erechtheum. The temple was destroyed by the Persians in around 480 BC, it was the shrine of Athena Polias, more information is detailed below to give you a better understanding. Many artifacts have been found from the temple, these can be seen in the Acropolis Museum.
The Erechtheion temple dedicated to Athena Polias. It is reputed to stand on the most sacred site on the Acropolis. Legend has it that, Poseidon and Athena had a contest over who would be the Patron of the city. Poseidon thrust his trident into the rock and a spring burst forth. Athena touched the ground with a spear and an olive tree grew. Athena was declared the victor and the great city of Athens was named in her honour.
For me the temple magnificence can be summed up by the Caryatids. This is a porch type structure which originally had six columns. Each are carved like maidens, who are actually supporting the roof. It is a wonderful sight, however these are just copies of the originals. The originals are housed in the Acropolis museum, which you can visit and admire the real thing.
Statue of Athena Promachos
The Athena Promachos was a colossal bronze statue of Athena, sculpted by Pheidias. The statue originally stood between the Propylaea and the Parthenon. The statute measured about 30 feet high. It is believed to show Athena standing with her shield resting upright against her leg, and a spear in her right hand.
The Athena Promachos was transported to Constantinople as a trophy. However the statue was destroyed in 1203. All that remain are parts of the marble base. There are copies of what they believe the original statute to look like in the museum.
As mentioned earlier in my review the Propylaea, is the gateway to the whole site (The Greek word propulaia means "entrance", or, more specifically, "what stands before the doors (pro-pulai))".
Its a magnificent gateway which, primarily served as a barrier to the Acropolis. This was to prevent those who were not ritually clean access to sanctuary. It also prevented (undisireable) people using the sanctuary where they could claim the protection of the gods. Building started in 437 B. C. It continued until 432. It is believed that it was never completed because of the Peloponnesian war that broke out soon after.
It really is something to marvel at, for a front door (so to speak) its very impressive. just walking through gives you a sense of the importance of the whole site. Its vast and awe inspiring, one can only imagine how it would have looked if it had been completed.
Temple of Athena Nike
The temple is dedicated to Athena Nike and was the earliest Ionic temple on the Acropolis. The temple fairly small compared to the other temples located on the Acropolis. Its the first building you see when you approach the Propyleaea. The temple holds a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the main entrance. The temple has been restored 3 times. To look at its rather dwarfed by the other temples on the site. It still is a work of art. The detailed carving is exceptional.
***In Greek "Nike" means Victory.
Again another temple, this one is situated below the Acropolis, east of the Panathenaic Way, dedicated to the goddesses Demeter and PersephonÄ", dating from the time when Eleusis was finally amalgamated with Athens.
Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion
The Brauroneion was the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia. It is located in the southwest corner on the Acropolis. It was dedicated to Artemis Brauronia, the protector of women in pregnancy and childbirth. During the time of Pisistratus, her cult was moved to Athens and this sanctuary built for her.
Chalkotheke (Greek for "bronze store")
All that remain of this structure are the foundations and rock-cut foundation trenches. The building stood in front of the southern Acropolis wall. Its was a fairly large building measuring around 43m in legnth and 14m wide.
This sanctuary is dedicated to Pandrosus, one of the daughters of Cecrops, the first king of Athens . It occupied the space adjacent to the Erechtheum and the old Temple of Athena poleios.
This a small building located next to the north wall where the Arrephores were housed. These were the young girls who wove the peplos that was used during the Panathenaic procession. The peplos was woven at a location just below the Acropolis in the Agora.
Altar of Athena
Basically its a ruined rectangular altar located east of the Temple of Athena, on axis with the temple. The picture below will give you a better idea.
Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
This sanctuary was dedicated to Zeus as protector of the polis (the city), hence the name "polieus". Located east of the Erechtheion, the Athenians built the open-air sanctuary around 500 BC. The walls contained an area for the annual ritual of Bouphonia during which the sacrifice of oxen took place. It is believed that the east wing of the walled area was where the oxen were held. No building foundations have been found, and the sanctuary's layout is deduced from the rock cuttings on the site.
Sanctuary of Pandion
Dedicated to king Pandion, the father of Erechtheus, or to his great-grandson, aslo named Pandion. The foundations of the Pandion sanctuary were unearthed during excavations for the construction of the Acropolis museum that now exists at the east corner of the Acropolis.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
This is a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof, and was used as a venue for music concerts. This would have been a truely a magnificent building in its day. You can clearly see from the ruins the grandeur of the building.
Stoa of Eumenes
Located between the the theatre of Dionysos and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, along the Peripatos (the ancient road around the Acropolis). This building was very large measuring 163m. long and 17.65 m. wide. It originally had two storeys. The only part that is now visible is the north retaining wall, from this you get a very good idea of what the structure looked like prior to its ruin.
Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion
These buildings, also called Asclepieion, were built close to a spring after the cult of Asclepius, the son of Apollo and god of medicine or health, had been introduced in Athens in 420 B. C. The Asclepieion consisted of a small temple, an altar and two halls:
Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus
Located on the southern slopes of the Acropolis Hill, the Théatro Dionysou was home to the original performances of the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes and the comedies of Aristophanes. This stone auditorium, from the fourth century BC is reputed to have held 17000 spectators.
Odeon of Pericles
Located next to the Theatre of Dionysus, on the south slope of the Acropolis. The Odeon is believed to have been the first roofed theatre-building devoted to performance, as well as the first permanent theatre built on the south slope. It constructed between 446-442 BC, and built mostly from wood. The original Odean was destroyed by fire and later rebuilt using stone.
Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus
Located at the foot of the Acropolis and forming part of the temenos of "Dionysus Eleuthereus" ("Dioe Liberator"). The Theatre of Dionysus was a major open-air theatre in Athens, it is dedicated to the god of wine and fertility, it hosted the City Dionysia festival.
This sanctuary is built in a crack in the cliff on the northern side of the Acropolis. It is dedicated to Aglaurus, another daughter of Cecrops who was the first king of Athens. Here the Athenian ephebes take the pledge of allegiance to their homeland.
When we visited the Acropolis Museum was located in the southeast corner of the Acropolis. However they have now built a museum at the base of Acropolis Hill. Artifacts have now been moved to the new location. The museum allows you a better insight into what the buildings looked like. You can see many wonderfully preserved artifacts. Lavish statues and carvings are housed in the museum as well as the original Caryatids. Its quite easy to spend several hours in the museum. This is the best place to see what thed inside of the buildings would have looked like.
I have included a couple of pictures of artifacts from the museum below.
We ate at one of the small cafes that line the roads around the Acropolis. As we had eaten breakfast on the ship and it was only mid morniing we decided to have a light snack. We had Coffee and Pastries. As you would expect the prices are slightly infated. They are however reasonable enough and the food and coffee was very good.
There are many cafes,bars,restaraunts, located in the immediate area. All are roughly the same (inflated) price. There are some which are more inviting than others (cleaner looking) I would advise looking around rather then going in the first one you see.
We did not use any local accommodation as we returned to the ship and departed for Turkey the same day. I have however listed a few hotels in the immediate area for you to consider.
With a great location at the foot of the Acropolis and a few steps from the new Acropolis Museum, a wonderful roof garden with amazing view, sun loungers and 2 jacuzzis. The modern rooms have recently renovated marble bathrooms and come with satellite TV, minibar, Wi-Fi, ambience lighting and room service. Most of the rooms have private balconies and some have a view of the Acropolis.
Cost from Euro80.
Magna Grecia Boutique Hotel
Offering amazing views of the Acropolis, this intimate hotel is centrally situated in historic Plaka, possibly the most charming Athens neighbourhood, 5 minutes' walk from Syntagma Square.
The rooms of Magna Grecia Boutique Hotel are decorated with luxurious simplicity, using soft colours to create a calm environment. They are very well equipped and come with free Wi-Fi (laptop rental service available) and 24-hour room service. Cost from Euro70.
Situated in the heart of the city, in the attractive Plaka area, this hotel is a few blocks from Syntagma Square and next to the shopping area. Enjoy the magnificent view from the roof-garden.
The elegant hotel rooms are newly furnished and have a modern atmosphere. They have a private bathroom. Some rooms are connectable, making them ideal for families. Cost from Euro65.
Transport: The tram was around Euro2
Entrance: Euro12 (however this may have increased) . The ticket is also valid for the Ancient Agora and Roman Forum.
Opening times: Summer daily 8am-8pm; winter daily 8am-3pm. These times may vary, depending on the season.
Food/Drink: As you would expect it is more expensive, aound 25% more on avergae. I would advise that you do not buy from vendors in the car park as they are rather expensive.
There are(were) toilets in the museum at the top of the Acropolis and some in the car park at the base. Both are of a good standard. There are various shops and vendors selling gifts etc. There are guides located at the base who can be hired for around Euro60. I would advise against this, there is no better guide than yourself in my opinion.
Disabled access is unrealistic due to the steep climb and extremely difficult terrain.
The Acropolis was recently selected as main motif for a high value euro collectors' coins; the Euro100 Greek The Acropolis of Athens commemorative coin, minted in 2004 to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics. In the obverse of the coin, a close view of the building is depicted.
Start early in the morning to avoid the climb in the height of the Sun.
As with most tourist hotspots you need to be aware of pickpockets.
Do not buy from vendors in the car park they are very expensive.
Good Footwear is required.
You need to be reletively fit.
Lots of Water (take your own)
Sun cream, hat and glasses.
Bags are not allowed on the Acropolis so avoid bringing valuables.
I would imagine that most people know the Acropolis by sight, or rather the Parthenon. Despite what I have said above I could not help feel a little dissapointed once our visit was over. For me the Acropolis and its buildings lack something... Yes they are a work of oustanding craftsmanship and a testament to the peoiple that created them. The sculptures, engravings carvings, paintings and sheer genius that created each building is breath taking, but for me it lacks personality. Personally religious sites dont flick my switch, I have visited the Vatican City, the buildings there are amongst the finest I have ever seen. I have a problem with this as for me such a show of wealth and opulence should not be displayed by the church. Religion should be there to serve the people not lord it over them. This view has perhaps clouded my overall feeling towards the Acropolis and its buildings. That said it truely is a wonderful site. The craftmanship that has gone into each and every building on the site is plain to see. Its one of those places that you should visit if you get the chance.
Yes, it really is a site to behold.
The Acropolis is the main sightseeing attraction in Athens and I think it is worth going to.
Many people go up to the Parthenon just for that and while it is great and spectacular (in all its reconstruction glory), it is also nice just to climb the hill and take stock of the city.
The buildings themselves are awe-inspiring, particularly considering how it was built - piece by piece, carefully sculpted.
Some of the best shots in Athens can be taken from here, including the theatre of Dionysus.
The entrance fee into the complex is 12 Euros, but if you are a little bit more clever, then you can get a ticket for 12 Euros that will also let you into all the other ancient sites for the same price. It can also be used over different days and/or given to friends. Ask for this other ticket or they might not suggest it.
Going up to the Acropolis, there are a few things you should know - going early in the day is a good idea because its cooler and there will be less people there. Also, make sure your shoes are good and have sufficient grip because a lot of the surfaces up there (and in Athens in general) are marble and very slippery.
I would also recommend going to the New Acropolis Museum first (see my other review) so when you go up the hill, you have a better understanding of what you are looking at.
Other than that, just enjoy the breeze and the aura of it all.
Acropolis is definitely the must see tourist place in Athens, most people have probably heard of it or at least have vague memories of it from history classes. An impressive flat-topped rocky mound that rises up steeply from the center of Athens, this is an ideal place to get a view of the city and out to the sea and country, which is possible despite the fact the city really sprawls quite a distance.
On the top of the rock are a series of temples which were mostly built 460-430 BC, despite them being in relatively good nick, they are constantly undergoing maintenance and when I visited, the scaffolding sort of took away from the ancientness you'd expect to feel. The Parthenon is probably the most impressive temple there and the Erectheum is also quite major due to its size.
It seemed that due to the extent of the work at the time of my visit, that the entrance fee had been waivered but I think that's not the case at the moment - although I hear there is still work going on.
Whilst I found that the view over Athens was spectacular and probably the best thing about the whole visit there, I could actually take or leave the temples themselves, I did not find them as impressive as the ancient temples of Egypt nor the ancient buildings of Rome. I definitely recommend going up there though, no visit to Athens is complete without it!
A rocky hill rises from the Attic Plain, from the heart of the city of Athens; it is the "Acropolis", of all hill-top citadels surely the most famous. the extraordinary attraction this hill exerts on men is to be accounted for by it's harmonious beauty and wealth - still great in spite of past ravages - of monuments of inestimatable cultural value, but no less by the recollection that this hill was rendered sacred by it's choice as the privileged site of the temples of the gods, especially Athene, devine protectoress of the city, and, last but by no means least, by the incomparable panoramic view of city, surrounding countryside and sea which the visitor enjoys from it's crown. If one directs one's gaze full circle, we catch the blue shimmer of the waters of the Saronic Gulf to the south, and the distant glisten of mountains: Mt. Hymettus to the east, Mt Parnes to the north and, between these to the west, Mt. Pentelicus and Mt. Aegaleos. To the studying historian as well as to the visiting tourist the Acropolis provides a glimpse into the past where great thinkers of the ancient world such as Plato, Aristotle and Socrates formed theories on the Republic, Ethics and time. Although the Acropolis allows one to drift into the splendor of the past the flaws of this attraction are all to obvious. Firstly the volume of visitors makes it difficult to stay in one place for very long. Secondly to preserve the marble steps wooden flooring has been placed over the top in effect marking out a route around the site, the route is difficult to traverse simply because it was not designed for the volume of visitors that it has to cope with. Finally although the entrance fee is not overly extortionate (at £4 per person) anything else that can be purchased has been heavily inflated (bottle of water £3) Yet with the drawback set to one side the Acropolis is throughly worth a visit.