Pinch Me – We’re in Athens!!

As Richard posted very early this morning, you all know that we have arrived in Greece. We did sleep in a little bit and then headed out for a day of touring. Our first stop was a cute little restaurant for breakfast where we actually had an omelet!! No more hummus for breakfast – YAY!! Then off to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. From our apartment, these two structures seem quite far away and up a large hill. However, the walk was very easy and much shorter than what we had expected. I didn’t really know what the Acropolis was all about. I had seen pictures and thought that it looked pretty cool. Well, let me tell you – it IS COOL!! The Acropolis is actually made up of a number of structures, temples, crypts and of course the Parthenon. Richard took a lot of pictures of each item along with the storyboard. However, apparently the storyboard pictures did not work out so great, so he will add some of his own explanations on the pictures. All I will say is that the original architecture is amazing and the restoration work is equally as amazing.

As an overview though, it is a shame that so much of this history has been destroyed through wars, fires, hostile takeovers, and folks of great importance just walking off with stuff (apparently some of the Parthenon statues ended up in Scotland – how did that happen?!?) . Another interesting thing that we have observed in Egypt, Israel and now Greece, is that there are lots of stones, carvings, partial columns and foundations laying around most of these archeological sites. I would think that as they unearth the ruins, there would be many pieces that do not seem to fit anywhere – like a great big 3D puzzle. As they discover more items or start restoring others, I can imagine a conversation like this: ” Hey Jude, do you remember seeing that gargoyle head on the marble rock about so big?” “Yeah, I think so but Joe is using it for the corner temple. He thinks it might fit there” “OK, I’ll have a chat with Joe because I am positive that it is the missing piece from the crypt that I’m working on” And so it goes…

At the foot of the Acropolis, is the Dionysus Theatre. This amphitheatre, thought to be the first theatre in existence, was originally constructed around 500 BC. As with much of the ancient world, the site was added to and developed over the centuries. What remains today is mostly from the Roman era. Archaeologists have identified about nine different building phases. In 330 BC stone seats were added (some think there were wooden seats up until this time), and the remains of these are the ones we see today. It was able to seat up to 17,000 people. The seats in the first row were reserved for dignitaries, and you can still see some of the reliefs. Being somewhat of a stage hog myself, I am fascinated with ancient theatres and musical stages. How did actors and musicians get hired? Did you have an agent or a manager? Was life “on the road” exciting? How much did you get paid? It is also interesting to note that VIP seats have always existed – some people are always just more important.

After the theatre, we shared a Greek salad and a carafe of wine at another cute little outdoor cafe. The weather is decent (about 12 degrees C) but not really sitting outside weather. However, we persevered, finished our lunch and stopped in at the Roman Agora. Now, what is an Agora, you might ask? Well, so did we and we find that it is essentially a marketplace. So, the Roman Agora, donated by Julius Caesar and Augustus,  replaced the original Greek Agora as it no longer served its purpose. (we are going to see the original agora tomorrow so we’ll let you know what it was lacking). The most interesting structure in the area is the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestos, popularly known as the Aerides – Tower of the Winds. The octagonal tower, located just east of the Roman market, was constructed around 48 BC by the Syrian astronomer Andronikos Kyrrhestes. The tower has a height of over twelve meters (40 ft) and rests on a three stepped base. This structure operated as a water clock powered by a water stream from the Acropolis. It is very well preserved and an interesting example of technology during this time period.

Our last stop of the day was Hadrian’s Library. Though not much of the original library exists, you can still see the foundations and some pillars of how magnificent this actually was. The most intact structure was the latrines and again we were amazed at how advanced the Greeks and Romans were with their water and sewer systems. To think that they already had these systems in place in the 1st century and up until the 19th century, London folks were still throwing their waste out the windows into the streets.  Hmmm….

So, Day One is almost over. Some crackers and cheese and a glass of wine should finish the day just fine. Can’t wait until tomorrow…

The Acropolis.

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Take a close look at the picture below and you can see some of the restoration that has has been done to the Parthenon.

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Col commented on the picture below after I took it.  Holy cow, your head is bigger than the Parthenon.  Apparently she thought that was quite funny.  Must have been as she laughed about it all day.  That was fine and I can take the criticism, but what really hurt was when she said, and I quote, “no wonder your grandkids have such big heads” end quote.

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The picture below must have been how they did  some of their foundations.  Looks like it worked as it is still there.

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Below you will notice the VIP seating in the Dionysus theater.  Seats carved out of rock.

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Lunch:  Our first ever Greek Salad in Greece.  Washed it down with some local Greek wine.

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The Roman Agora.

 

Hadrian’s Library.

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