After making the trip back to Athens, we checked into our hotel, Divani Palace Acropolis, and had a traditional Greek dinner. Located in the historical heart of Athens, the hotel is close enough to walk to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. It’s also located atop part of the Themistoclean Wall, which is on display behind glass in the lower level of the hotel. As a result of the Persian Wars, Themistocle’s Wall was built during the 5th century BC in the hopes of defending against further invasion.
A vibrant city at night, Athens is also safe. We walked to dinner and passed by the ruins of Hadrian’s Library.
The following morning, we took a sightseeing tour of Athens. The itinerary included a trip to the Olympic Stadium and the capital building. Then we headed to the base of the Acropolis for our climb to the top.
The marble steps are slippery from years of use and lead up to the Propylaia, or monumental gateway. A building of the Doric order, it includes a few Ionic columns supporting the roof of the central wing. This complex structure was built to leave a lasting impression on any visitor (always be sure to look up).
The Parthenon, an enduring symbol of Athenian democracy (it was originally the treasury) and one of the world’s architectural feats, is undergoing another round of restoration. This time, titanium is being used in place of rebar that left rust stains on the marble columns. Replacement columns are being carved from marble taken from the same quarry as the original, so that, with time, the color will match up to the original. Considering the Parthenon was severely damaged in 1687—when an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment—it looks pretty good behind the scaffolding. It’s doubtful it will ever look as it did after it was first built (below right).
The Acropolis is also home to the Temple of Athena Nike, which once housed a gold statue of the goddess, her clipped wings preventing her from leaving the city.
Built between 421 and 406 BC, the Erechtheion is a temple dedicated to both Poseidon and Athena and includes one of the most famous porches in the world. The statues that grace the Porch of the Maidens now are reproductions—their originals are in the nearby Acropolis Museum.
From the southwest edge of the Acropolis, there is an excellent view of the Odeon of Herodes-Atticus. Built in 161 AD, this stone theatre was—and still s a venue for music concerts and can seat 5,000.
From the Acropolis, you can see all of Athens including other ruins like the Temple of Zeus and the Dionysus Theatre.
After our descent, we bought a Koulouri (a pretzel-looking bread covered in sesame seeds) and headed to the Acropolis Museum. See you there!