We left the pleasure of climbing the Acropolis for the end, like a cherry on top. The entrance to this ancient city was almost around the corner for us. The only thing to hold us back from running there right away after we arrived in Athens was that we wanted to wait for a day with a lot of sunshine.
We were well-prepared with knowledge about the Parthenon after watching a BBC documentary about the curiosities of this place as well as the history of its renovation, which dates back to 1975 (the construction sites are still there).
To the top of the Acropolis
Imagine a place where you see all the symbols of ancient times in one place, a time you could only read about in history books. There they were: the Theatre of Dionysus, the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which was one of the most beautiful theatre stages I have ever seen. The Ancient wall was a stunning background for the theatre today used to display various spectacles.
If you ever plan to be in Acropolis, here is some advice – don’t go to the top right away, stroll around first. We wanted to experience the pleasure this place had to offer little by little by seeing the panorama of the city first. The views are simply stunning – you can see the meticulously planned modern architecture being imposed by ancient temples. On top, you could clearly see the Lycabettus hill, which seems to grow from within the city, looking like an eternally green volcano.
Advice from Nico: if you want to take photos there, take all the lenses you have. He was glad to have everything from 14 to 200mm with him and even wished to have a 400mm lens.
The views from Acropolis were accompanied by the Greek music played somewhere by street artists. We were there in January, the sun was shining, the temperature was pleasantly warm, and the place wasn’t as crowded as we thought it would be. If it’s snowing, raining or just cold during winter where you live, it is our recommendation to visit the incredible cultural artifacts which Athens and Acropolis have to offer.
The center of our attention in Acropolis was the Parthenon, and we reached it at the end of our walk. The Parthenon was originally a temple of Athena, the patron of the city and the Greek goddess of knowledge, handcrafts and “fair war”. It is impressive when you think that almost 2500 years ago, people already had the knowledge of how to erect something so perfect and ever-lasting without even having cement.
The Parthenon was built in the 5th century B.C. First, it was a temple, then a treasury building, after that – a Christian church. During the Ottoman conquest, it was even a mosque, and later in the 17th century –gunpowder storage. It’s somehow ironic to think how this building could be used for many purposes, at times so much different. And now, in this context, to think that the original name comes from the Greek word which means “unmarried woman’s apartment”.
What we found interesting in the Parthenon was also the series of optical illusions that were supposed to make the temple look stronger and visually perfect. For example, the trick to make the Doric columns curved, so that the whole building looks straight, or the fact that the outer columns are wider so that you would have the impression of the strength of the building. Unfortunately, not the entire building is restored yet, so it was difficult to capture it without construction sites.
Though, as said before, those optical tricks show the mastery of ancient architects and still amaze thousands of tourists today. There are many studies on the history and the secrets of the Parthenon. Something we found especially interesting was the documentary from National Geographic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1r2CCgQGSE
What Acropolis stands for
One could say that you could find ancient ruins across all of Europe. One could even say that old architecture is just impressive stones. However, there is one idea for which Acropolis stands for – democracy. You could even say that this is the place where modern democracy and western culture began. As big fans of the European Union, we just had to visit this place as the first location of the year that we photograph EU capitals, and we were happy with this experience.