Athens Greece archaeological sites classical antiquity Acropolis

Athens Greece archaeological sites classical antiquity Acropolis

There are myriad reasons to visitGreece capital, of course. But when it truly comes down to it, what never fails to fascinate us is Athens legacy as the cradle of Western civilisation, with a recorded history stretching back a mind-boggling 3,400 years. And at its epicentre is of course the rocky outcropping in the city centre known as theAcropolis, itself centred around theParthenon, the most important remaining building of classical Greece.

Once we climb thesteps up to this legendary hill, we find ourselves before thePropylaea, the doughty, Doric-column-flanked portal to the Parthenon looming above, work of the great Athenian artist and architectPhidiasunder commission of the greatstatesmanPericleshimself. Visitors can now see more of the structure as it originally was, with its soaring columns and lintels, and sweeping views out over the city and hills such asMount Lycabettus, the city highest.

Otherancient temples up here on the Acropolis include theErechtheion, dedicated to Athena and to the god of the sea,Poseidon, and whose most striking feature is thePorch of the Caryatids(above), Nike Pas Cher with columns in the form of comely maidens. Nearby, dating back to 420 BC, theTemple of Athena Nikefeaturesafamous frieze of Nike adjusting her sandal. And at the foot of the Acropolis, the 17,000-seatTheatre of Dionysius(below) is the first theatre ever built, dating back to the fourth century BC.

The newish (completed in 2007)Acropolis Museumis an appealing, engaging multimedia affair with more than 14,000 square metres (more than 150,000 sq. feet) of exhibitions which in addition to providing context for the history of the site and classical Greece in general, also contain many of the statues and other artifacts no longer in the Parthenon and other templesthemselves.

Now it time to stroll down from the Acropolis northwest into the Kerameikosneighbourhood (back in the day, the potters quarter, from which we get the word home to the great AncientAgora, the centre of the city political and social activity, with streets lined with the remains of temples, porticoes, and other monuments and structures. One of them, Nike Pas Cher France the 2nd-century-BC Stoa of Attalos, is now home to the Museum of the Ancient Agora, with exhibits mostly connected to Athenian democracy (as well as some artifacts/art from the later Byzantine and Ottoman-occupation era).

Finally, continue past the Temple of Hephaestus, god of toward (remarkably well maintained because it was used into the 19th and 20th centuries as a Greek Orthodox church and then museum) to the ancient cemetery and itsStreet of the Tombs, crossed by the Iridanos River and ending in theremains of theDipylon, the main gate of classical Athens city wall, built in 347 BC.

There is nothing quite like this stroll through some of Europe recorded history. It one of those unique, extraordinaryexperiences that the word list was absolutely invented for.

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