Look around Athens and you’ll see bustling streets where a little over 3.8 million people live (35.45% of the Greece population). Look up, however, and you might just see one of the many artifacts of Athens nearly 3,400 year history: the Acropolis of Athens.
Traveling during one of the hottest and driest parts of the climate in June, I was certainly not homesick for the heat wave in California. So I donned my tourist garb complete with large floppy hat, and liberal amounts of sunscreen for our trek through the Parthenon. The word “acropolis” comes from the Greek words meaning “highest point” and “city.” The Acropolis of Athens is a citadel consisting of various ancient structures, such as the Parthenon. Though the Parthenon’s scale is certainly impressive, a little further past it is a great view of the city of Athens complete with the nearly mandatory photo op with the Greek flag. Off to the side of the Parthenon is the Erechtheion, an ancient temple dedicated to Poseidon and Athena. The temple features the iconic porch of six female figures as columns. The porch was created to conceal a large beam after a huge downsize in plans after budget cuts from the Peloponnesian War. I guess even in ancient times the arts suffered budget cuts.
There was plenty of opportunity, though, to appreciate the art at the Acropolis Museum. Built over an archeological site, the modern design of the museum features glass floors and an outside viewing center to view the site below. The museum focuses on findings from the Acropolis of Athens, and showcases how the iconic Greek statues were created. The image of the classic white Greek statue is actually inaccurate to how they used to look. Through monitors the museum shows digital colorings of the statue that show how the statue was originally colored in bright blues, reds, and yellows. Besides the Acropolis Museum, the National Archeological Museum is a great place to see even more statues and offers a look at some of the iconic works of art, like the bronze statue of Zeus/Poseidon and The Mask of Agememnon.
If you’re more keen on shopping than museum viewing, the Monastiraki flea market by Avissynias Square will play very well into whatever your tourist needs are. The flea market features knockoffs of brand names, tourist souvenirs, and even some genuinely unique items. Come back at night to the square and the restaurants will still be full of people enjoying the nightlife. We went up the stairs to a bar on top of the square and got a great view of the lit up Parthenon at night, giving us the second best view I saw during my time at Athens.
The best view is a bit higher, but probably one of the best views of Athens and a great place to see the sunset. Most taxi rides are within five euros, so the taxi ride up to Mt. Lycabettus is very much worth it. Past the parking lot will be where most taxis stop, and from there you just need to go up the ramp, through the restaurant, and make your way to the viewing platform. The viewing spot offers a nearly 360 degree view of Athens. From one side you can see the sun set, and from the other you can see the moon overlooking the city. Athens isn’t a city that has that stark difference of skyscrapers next to ancient buildings. It’s a city that manages to blend two different eras together so well and embrace its timelessness, making something uniquely Athens.( Stacey Irawan / IM )
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