There are some places which amaze me for all things possible. Acropolis of Athens is one such place of wonder. From fascinating history and architecture to the location and scenic beauty; everything about this place is grand. Spread across 7.4 acres, it is located on a rocky outcrop, above Athens, the capital city of Greece. The hill is called Likavitos and is made of limestone which dates back to the Jurassic Era. It is said that settlement on the hill seems to have existed from the early Neolithic period.
In the ancient times, Acropolis of Athens was called Cecropia, after Cecros, the first Athenian king. It was built around the 5th century B.C. by Pericles, the first democratic leader of Greece. It is considered to be the birthplace of ‘democracy' in the world.
Acropolis of Athens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with remains of ancient buildings and temples of great architectural and historical significance. I had visited Athens in the month of January and that year Europe experienced a cold wave. Unexpectedly Athens received its first snow after nine long years. I was awed by the magnificence of the Acropolis but at the same time, I had to fight the bad weather. It was dramatically windy and when rains poured I took shelter in a groove in the rock. The rocks were extremely slippery from the previous night's snow. Fighting out all odds to see all the popular things to see at the Acropolis is a lifetime experience for me.
Let me tell you about the various things to see inside Acropolis of Athens.
Parthenon is the formal temple of Athena Parthenos, the Greek goddess. It is the centre of attraction of Acropolis of Athens. The enormous remains of the classical Greek building with majestic Doric columns, have been captured, looted, destroyed and rebuilt several times.
Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Parthenon is astounding. One needs to spend some time at this area trying to gauge the scale of architecture and construction. I was imagining the grandeur of the place in those days.
Temple of Athena Nike
Right at the entrance, at the Propylaea, on a steep bastion at the south-west corner stands the iconic Temple of Athena Nike. This temple stands as a symbol of bravery and victory of the Greeks against the Spartans. I had always been fascinated by Greek Mythologies and Greek History. So I was super excited about this trip to the Acropolis of Athens. It has not failed my expectations at all.
Erectheion was the most pious temple in ancient times. It was a temple to Poseidon, the chief deity of ancient Greece and Athena, the daughter of Zeus, his brother. Athena and Poseidon fought for control of Athens and its surrounding territory, Attica. The contest took place on the Acropolis where finally Athena was proclaimed the victor. The most attractive feature of this temple is ‘Porch of the Maidens', with six pillars in the shape of draped women. These figurines are called Caryatids. The five original pillars are kept in the museum and they are replaced by absolutely similar looking replicas.
Theatre of Dionysus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus
On the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens stands the prominent Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It is a stone amphitheatre with dramatic orchestra steps. This was a Roman theatre developed on the site of the ancient Theatre of Dionysus. It was built for musical events and dramas. Once I climbed up the hill, I looked at it from the top in wonder. In fact, the climb on the hilltop of Acropolis provides amazing views of the city of Athens.
The Acropolis Museum was built in 2003 to preserve every artefact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes. It is located on the southeastern slope of the Acropolis hill, on the ancient road that led up to the “sacred rock” in classical times. It is 400 meters from the Parthenon. Spread across 14000 square meters, it houses more than 4000 objects which range from the Greek Bronze Age to the Era of the Roman and Byzantine Greece. It lies over the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. We can view these excavated ruins while walking on the transparent glassed floor of the ground level. I found this extremely unique.
The Acropolis Museum is among the 6 best museums in the world, according to 2018's ‘Travelers' Choice Awards' by ‘Tripadvisor'. It also ranks fourth in Europe. There are four levels of the building and the path for the visitors is created in such a manner that they can see everything in a chronological manner. There is also a mini auditorium where short and informative movies related to the Acropolis of Athens and ancient Greece, are telecast.
I was awed by the stunning exhibits. At some levels, no photography is allowed. Another thing which was inspiring to watch was the Restoration Project at the museum and at the site as well. It is surprising to see how ancient techniques and methods of construction are being reinvented using extensive research weaved with modern technology. These reinvented ancient methods are enabling restoration and replication in the best possible manner. Titanium and new marble from Mount Pentelicus are the major ingredients used for restoration.
The ticket prices of Acropolis of Athens is 20 Euros and of Acropolis Museum is 5 Euros respectively (winter discounts on this is available). Buying tickets online can save time. However, during winters, there are not many visitors. Both of their summer timings are from 8 am to 7 pm. From November to March, their timings are 9 am to 5 am.
Evzones on Sunday
One can witness a unique event on Sundays at Acropolis of Athens. The Evzones, i.e., the Greek Presidential Guards, march their way to the Greek flag on the belvedere on Sundays. They raise the National Flag in the morning and lower at sunset accompanied by members of an Athenian marching band playing their National Anthem.
Acropolis of Athens is the most prominent and alluring place to visit in Athens. From most parts of central Athens, the Acropolis is visible. It is as if overlooking Athens, one of the world's ancient cities. From my own experience, you should definitely add it to your bucket list of solo travels.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.