Touring Acropolis with travbuddy and a late night Goran Bregovic concert

Athens Travel Blog

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the air lounge on the roof of the hotel

Breakfast was included at the hotel, and the selection very good. The restaurant is bright and colorful and simple in design. I read the Harald Tribune at breakfast and noticed a concert being held tonight at the Herrodes Atticus Theatre of Acropolis. It was by a Balkan composer Goran Bregovic. I had never heard of him, but thought going to the concert at the Acropolis was the thing to do in Athen!


Anna showed up at 10am and we went up to the rooftop of the hotel to have a look.

view of Athens from the roof
The Air Lounge and pool was very cool idea (although definitely hot in the day!) and a view of Acropolis can be seen from the poolside.


Our destination today was the Acropolis, but I told Anna about the concert, and we stopped by the bookstore across from the Academy to buy me a ticket at 62 euros!


Then we went to the metro station and took the metro to Acropolis. Anna being student can tour Athens' attractions for free; my ticket was 12 euros, which included basically all the ancient sites in Athens near Acropolis.


From the bottom of Acropolis (the southeast corner) the hill which the famous Parthenon was on looked very high, with fortification walls along the top and 2 huge columns from the Byzantine time.

subway at Athens
Anna said it was the first time she had noticed these columns even though she had been here numerous times! We first stopped to see the theatre of Dionysis. It's pretty large in size, espeecially when compared with the one in Troy, about the bottom 3rd still retained stone benches, which looked similar in style to the one in Troy. The closest section to the semicircle stage had several VIP seats which were seats with tall backs and armrests. The upper parts of the theatre still looked like a theatre but with only graded earth slopes and some steps. We had a peek at the Herrodes Atticus Theatre where I would be going tonight, and it was a much larger theatre, with some walls of arched openings behind and also to the left and right of the stage. Then we had to climb the ramp to the gate. The sun was out and it was pretty hot already. Not much shade can be found on the top, and scarcely any on the way up.
metro stop at Acropolis
Crowds had appeared at the gate, and we followed the crowds to the top of the hill. Anna said in winter there was hardly anybody here and it's the best time to visit and feel you were in an ancient place and time.


The top of the hill was rocky and the ground was covered by a lot of granite smoothed out by all the footsteps of people over time and had become quite slippery because it was so smooth. So I walked carefully, not wanting to slip. We tried to not follow the crowds now that we were on the top and the Parthenon was staring at us! It's like a huge construction site with lots of scaffoldings and machinery, which apparently had been here for many years. The Partheon had a LOT of damage, it was blown up accidently by the Greeks when the Turks occupied it and used it to store ammunitions.


We walked around the Parthenon and looked over the city on the north side.

yeah, me at the entrance to Acropolis


Walking all the way around the Parthenon we then saw the temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon which had several statues of women on one side. These are replica statues.


Then we made our way back through the gates with the crowds once again and started to descend. We could see another temple, the Templeof Hephaestos and the rooftop of the long building of ancient Agora below which were our next destination. I took photo of a dog which was sleeping on the steps near the gate when we went up, and he was still there, right where people had to walk past him in a very busy part of the entrance area! With all my stops to take photos and not rushing, it had taken only about 1 hour 15 minutes since we entered Acropolis, tour groups would have taken much less time.

me in front of the Parthenon
On the way down we could also see a big rock where a lot of people were standing. I didn't want to climb the rock and we walked out and onto a road leading back into the greens. It looked like a park but was fenced, many ruins could be seen, like a Roman house ground with mosaics, remains of walls dotted the landscape. We went into a gate which was open and headed north. This part we could walk into the ruins, there were many rocks, caves, more small fragments of mosaics on the ground, I wondered if we could find more if we just dug a little! . The left side was the park we wanted to get into, we came out close to below the big rock and it seemed to have been a short cut if we had gone to the big rock! But then we wouldn't have explored on our own and found those mosaics on the ground!


We went into the ancient Agora, which housed a museum.

the sign for the Parthenon
In the museum, I saw the pieces of pottery (ostraka) used for ostracism. The democracy of Athens had all male citizens participated in its important decisions, and that was the way to “vote” someone you didn't like out of the city, it was a write-in ballot where you would write/carve the name of someone you didn't like! They would be baned for 10 years! The person with the most vote definitely did not win in this case.


We made our way to the temple, passing many remains of ancient structures, the Middle Stoa, the largest structure in the Agora, destroyed by fire in 267 AD with its red rock foundations and column drums which remained. A partial statue of emporer Hadrian and more.


The Temple of Hephaistos dates from 5th century BC, it's in the Doric style and has a fore-temple, inner shrine and rear temple.

the dog sleeping on the steps of gate to Acropolis
It's the best preserved example of this kind of architecture in the world. It was built to honor Hephaistos the patron god of metal working and Athena Ergane, the patroness of pottery and crafts in general. It has 10 metopes showing the labors of Herakles, and 4 metopes showing the labors of Theseus, from which the temple also got the name “Theseion”. It was converted to a church in the 7th century. (all these written on a sign in front of the temple).


It was time to get something to eat. Anna took me to a restaurant at the southwest corner of streets just under the Acropolis, with a view of the Theseion in the distance behind the fence to the Acropolis. We had a combination Greek plate with a little of everything!


On the way to the metro at Monastiraki, we passed the Roman Agora, and the Tower of Winds, then the Library of Hadrian.

pottery at the Agora museum
All were part of the ticket for Acropollis. Anna had to leave and we said Goodbyes to each other. It was great to be able to meet a local Athens travbuddy and see the sights together and be introduced to local foods.


I went back to the hotel for a rest before heading out again to Acropolis for the concert. It was advertised to start at 9pm, but in fact did not until about 9:30. The cushions with numbers were placed on the stone benches of the Theatre of Herrodes Atticus, the announcement was in Greek and English. The band headed by Goran Bregovic, composer, guitarist and singer was quite eclectic, 10 strings, 12 male singers in tux in a choir, one of which was also the bass player, 2 women singers in Balkan(?) costumes, a percussionist wearing black who also sang and played other intruments at different times, and Goran showing up in a white suit looking like a rock star.

pottery at the Agora museum
Oh and a group of brass too. The music was at times classical, folk, rock and sing-along wth the audience.


The strings started like a classical concert, then brass joined, with the players coming down from the top of the theatre among the audiences. One of them was no more than 3 feet from me as he walked down with his big tuba.


The way he conducts the choir was quite fun to watch too, very expressive hand gestures, almost looking like he was having fun doing that.


The songs were mostly non-English, and I couldn't tell what they were in. Some were definitely in Greek, since people were singing along. There were mumbo-jumbo words that I could make out like “helicopter Mexico”, which made no sense to me at all.

pottery at the Agora museum
But I don't think it was supposed to anyway.


I thought they were pretty good and interesting, but perhaps the concert should have ended in 2 hours instead of 2.5, they came back after all leaving the stage the first time, and he said it's too early to go to sleep yet! Some of the music at the end sounded similar to ones already played and did not add that much to the experience other than wondering when it was going to end! It also made us miss the last metro and I had to take a taxi back to the hotel! But it was a good concert and I had a great evening listening to music under the Athenian sky in a theatre thousands of years old.

portia says:
yeah, I was lucky that I read the newspaper that morning, otherwise I wouldn't have known about the concert either. And without Anna, I probably won't manager to get a ticket either!
Posted on: Oct 03, 2008
sylviandavid says:
what a lucky thing to catch a concert.... I would love to go into that theater.. maybe when we go back! I think the ancient temples that got changed into churches were lucky as they escaped the looting. Very nicely written blog... sylvia
Posted on: Oct 03, 2008
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the air lounge on the roof of the …
the air lounge on the roof of the…
view of Athens from the roof
view of Athens from the roof
subway at Athens
subway at Athens
metro stop at Acropolis
metro stop at Acropolis
yeah, me at the entrance to Acropo…
yeah, me at the entrance to Acrop…
me in front of the Parthenon
me in front of the Parthenon
the sign for the Parthenon
the sign for the Parthenon
the dog sleeping on the steps of g…
the dog sleeping on the steps of …
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
ostraka for ostracism in the Agora…
ostraka for ostracism in the Agor…
pottery at the Agora museum
pottery at the Agora museum
part of the breakfast bar, includi…
part of the breakfast bar, includ…
breakfast at the Magenta Restauran…
breakfast at the Magenta Restaura…
night at the ancient  Herrodes Att…
night at the ancient Herrodes At…
night at the ancient  Herrodes Att…
night at the ancient Herrodes At…
night at the ancient  Herrodes Att…
night at the ancient Herrodes At…
night at the ancient  Herrodes Att…
night at the ancient Herrodes At…
night at the ancient  Herrodes Att…
night at the ancient Herrodes At…
leaving the ancient  Herrodes Atti…
leaving the ancient Herrodes Att…
leaving the ancient  Herrodes Atti…
leaving the ancient Herrodes Att…
view of the Parthenon after the co…
view of the Parthenon after the c…
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