Athens Day 2

Athens Travel Blog

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Temple of Olympian Zeus

Our second day in Athens started early.  We showered up, ate our breakfast and rushed down to the lobby to wait for the bus that would take us on our 1/2 day city tour.  The bus, of course, was 30 minutes late.  Once again, we were driven from hotel to hotel only to end up at a destination we could have walked to in 10 minutes from our hotel, where we had to wait for our guide and another bus.  Finally, we were on our way.  Our first stop - Panathinaiko Stadium!  What?  Man, we've already been there...

But we didn't stay for long this time.  We were quite rushed in a "get off the bus, take a photo, and get back on frenzy".  I was actually glad we went there on our own the day before so we could enjoy it.

The Parthenon
  We then drove a very short distance to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which stands a little to the south of the Acropolis.  This temple, though massive at it's time, is now nothing but 15 columns and a foundation.  That alone though is still enough to make your jaw drop and say "wow".  To imagine what this site looked like in it's prime.  The damage was done during one of the raids on the city back in the 200's AD.  The site's 16th column, the only other one remaining, came down some 100 years ago in a severe storm.  It was left where it fell and remains there to this day.

Our next and last stop on this tour was the Acropolis itself.  Since the "tourist appreciation weekend" had started, all the sites were free, so we could come and go as we pleased.

Ancient Agora
  On the site exists several structures.  The first and most well known is the Parthenon, also known as the Temple of Athena Nike.  The word Nike simply means victory, so this temple was dedicated to Athena the victory, or the victorious Athens.  The people hoped this would always give them victory over their enemies, but it wasn't long before they were defeated by the Romans.  Inside this temple would have been a large statue of Athena with her wings of victory.  She would have stood almost the height of the building.  When Christianity became a prominent religion in the area, the temple was converted into a church.  After the Ottomans moved in, it was once again converterd, this time to a mosque.  The Parthenon suffered it's mortal blow in 1687 when Venetians attacked the Ottomans in the city.
Lykavittos Hill from the Acropolis
  A Venetian morter hit the Parthenon, which was used to house gunpowder, causing the temple to blow up.  The roof caved in and there was immense damage to the outside.  Hopes to rebuild the site someday are still in mind.

Currently, the site is undergoing a clean up effort from the pollution that existed in Athens in the 1940's.  The industry that once boomed in the city caused near irrepairable damage to these ancient buildings.  The scaffolding you will see in the pictures is an attempt to clean them back up.

The Erechtheum, next to the Parthenon, is dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erechthonius.  It is known for it's porch of maidens, six caryatids as the support columns.  These maidens are the replicas of the originals, which are housed in the site's museum to be opened in 2009.

The Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill
  It was closed when we were there.

There are also two theatres on the site, the Dionysos theatre, which is in ruins today, and the Herodeion, which was built by Heroditus to honor his late wife.  This theatre has been rebuilt in modern times and is sometimes used for events.

The entire site was full of people when we were there, which really took away from the overall feel of the place.  There were several cruise ships in the harbor, but I reasoned that they would all be gone the next day, and decided to come back here.

Choosing not to let the bus take us back to our hotel at mid day, we walked from the Acropolis over to the ancient agora.  It was here that the great minds of Athens would meet and discuss politics, philosophy, and whatever else they wanted.

Beautiful buildings in Greece
  Since all the ancient ruins scattered throughout the city were free this weekend, we stopped at various ones to admire the architecture.

Next, we headed east - toward Lykavittos Hill, which is now the highest point in Athens (it was the Acropolis when the city was smaller) which I was sure would offer amazing views of the city.

Taking a slight detour, we found the Hertz rental car place that we would be picking up our car in a few days.  Since we had to be there at 8 AM, I didn't want to have to get up extra early in case we couldn't find it.  We began our "hike" up the mountain and eventually reached the point where we had to take the cable car to reach the top.  I expected it to be cheap, but it turned out to be 6 euro for a round trip ticket - and all there was at the top was a small church and a restaurant!  It must be a really good church, that's all I can say.

Roman forum and Acropolis at night

The slow-moving cable car reached the top of the hill and we were greeted with strong winds and chilly air, which we expected.  The views up there were indeed incredible - you could see all the way to Piraeus and the Aegean Sea and to the mountains in the other directions.  The Acropolis stood out clear as day with the city sprawled around it.  What a sight to see!

When we had our fill, we took the cable car back down and just spent some time walking through the city.  We found ourselves back in the Plaka as some rain started falling down.  Smelling the good food, we both got take away gyros (I ended up going back for seconds) and checked out the shops.  Our night ended back at Mars Hill, where we could see the city lit up around us; the Acropolis the glowing beacon in the center of it all.

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Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
Ancient Agora
Ancient Agora
Lykavittos Hill from the Acropolis
Lykavittos Hill from the Acropolis
The Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill
The Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill
Beautiful buildings in Greece
Beautiful buildings in Greece
Roman forum and Acropolis at night
Roman forum and Acropolis at night
On the Acropolis
On the Acropolis
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
Temple of Olympian Zeus from the A…
Temple of Olympian Zeus from the …
Lykavittos Hill
Lykavittos Hill
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
Dionysos Theatre
Dionysos Theatre
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Athens statue
Athens statue
Athens statue
Athens statue
Mars Hill
Mars Hill
The Parthenon
The Parthenon
The Erechthion
The Erechthion
The Erechthion
The Erechthion
The Herodeion
The Herodeion
Fallen column at the Temple of Oly…
Fallen column at the Temple of Ol…
A Corinthian column
A Corinthian column
Olives!
Olives!
Temple of Hephaestus - can you see…
Temple of Hephaestus - can you se…
The Acropolis
The Acropolis
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora
The Acropolis
The Acropolis
Panathinaiko Stadium
Panathinaiko Stadium
Marathon runner made out of glass
Marathon runner made out of glass
The Acropolis at night
The Acropolis at night
The Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill
The Acropolis from Lycabettus Hill
On Lycabettus Hill
On Lycabettus Hill
The Acropolis at night
The Acropolis at night
Panathinaiko Stadium from Lycabett…
Panathinaiko Stadium from Lycabet…
Athens from Lycabettus Hill
Athens from Lycabettus Hill
The little church on Lycabettus Hi…
The little church on Lycabettus H…
Athens from Lycabettus Hill
Athens from Lycabettus Hill
Walking the Plaka
Walking the Plaka
Beautiful buildings in Greece
Beautiful buildings in Greece
Beautiful buildings in Greece
Beautiful buildings in Greece
Greek ruins in the middle of the c…
Greek ruins in the middle of the …
Athens
photo by: Johnpro