The first monument that we came to was the Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus. Built at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis, it was a major theater in Athens and was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine.
See the pee holes in the seats!
There was a huge crowd of people, some trying to leave the Propylaea – the main entrance to the Acropolis - and others, like us, trying to enter with the result that no one was going anywhere fast. Guards kept trying to hurry people along saying, ‘Go, go, come on, come on.’ I don’t think they realized we were all trying to go and come on! I hate to think how much worse it would have been in the summer months because this was pretty insane.
The Propylaea was designed to instill the proper reverence in worshippers as they crossed from the temporal world into the spiritual world of the sanctuary. The structure showed the first use of both Doric and Ionic columns. Once we set foot just inside the Propylaea, the Parthenon was suddenly revealed in its full glory, framed by the columns.
Nestled just beshind it was the small Temple of Athena Nike built in 427-424 BC to celebrate peace with Persia. The temple was dedicated to Athena Nike, the goddess of Victory. The cult statue had no wings, as Nike usually has, because the people of Athens didn’t want her to leave and fly away from their city.
In 1998, Greek archeologists began dismantling the entire temple for conservation. After laser-cleaning the marbles to remove generations of soot, the team reconstructed the temple on its original site.
Athens' highest hill, Mt. Lycabettus, was off in the distance. Myth claims that Athena removed a chunk of Mt. Pendeli intending to boost the height of her temple on the Acropolis.While she was en route, a crone brought her bad tidings and the flustered goddess dropped the rock in the middle of the city. That then became Mt. Lycabettus!
An archeological worker –wonder what his training had consisted of to be toiling on one of the ancient wonders of the world?
The Acropolis is often referred to as the 'rock.' It was definitely easy to understand that after we clambered on said rock for a long time!
As Steven pointed out, we were lucky that we’d visited the Museum first to know what the Parthenon had originally looked like. That was especially true when we saw all that was left of the east and west pediments. After seeing fabulous copies of them in the Acropolis Museum yesterday, it was great actually being in the place where they had once been.
In a silver reliquary were the bones of St. Philothei who built a convent and was martyred in 1559. She is honored for ransoming Greek women enslaved in Ottoman Empire's harems.
The Cathedral is a major landmark in Athens and the site of important ceremonies with national political figures present, as well as weddings and funerals of the rich and famous.
The Little Mitropolis Church, which dated to the 12th century, was in the shadows of the ornate Cathedral. Unfortunately it was closed.
The spacious Syntagma or Constitution Square was surrounded by sights that spanned Athens’ history from the days of the Roman emperors to King Otto’s reign after the 1821 War of Independence.
Some have likened his palace, now the Parliament, to a barracks but they shouldn’t complain. It was paid for by Otto’s father who luckily vetoed the plans for a royal residence atop the Acropolis itself, using one end of the Parthenon as the entrance and blowing up the rest! The palace was finished just in time for Otto to grant the constitution in 1843, which gave the square its name.
We were so fortunate that The Changing of the Guard did happen then as it was one of the more colorful ceremonies we've ever seen.
Pretty fancy shoes, don't you think!
The Evzones is a special unit of the Hellenic Army, also known as Tsoliades, who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. The duties of the soldiers are part of a ceremonial nature. Every soldier guards for about an hour. Throughout those 60 minutes, they have to stand perfectly still until it is time to switch with another guard.
During the changing, they work in pairs so they can perfectly coordinate their moves. The steps that the official ceremony requires at the time of changing are carried out in really slow motion to protect their blood circulation after one hour of immobility.
The soldiers of the Presidential Guard are selected according to their height, excellent physical condition and psychological state as well as character and morality, as they follow a hard training before they become part of this honorary unit. The training lasts for one month and includes exercises to keep the body and mind still. Apart from staying still, the soldiers must also not make any face or eye move and must not show any expression.