Visiting the Acropolis, Athens to see Parthenon
The most fabulous sight in Athens is the Acropolis! It is a symbol of perfection achieved by mankind several centuries back, BC! You don’t really have to be a history addict to appreciate the monumental remains there. Climb to Parthenon, top of Acropolis Athens is by itself an enjoyable one! We did it in the afternoon, temperature was at single digits but tolerable. Ruins, remains of several sites, marbles, columns, and statue, all around, each explained well and displayed on boards there. Whole trip there was a very good on site learning experience!
Tickets to Acropolis Athens
Combined ticket to Acropolis Athens and other sites is so cheap. It costs just 20euros and during winters when we visited it was just 10euros. (rates of 2015) The tickets to the six sites are valid for three days, which enables you to visit the sites at your pace. 25th Dec being a national holiday and all sites closed to tourists we had to cover the sites in one and half days. After Temple of Zeus we targeted the Acropolis.
Before we reached Parthenon we crossed several other sites.
The slopes of Acropolis has several must pause and see sights. Though they are crumbling they seem to be well taken care of too. There are churches, sacred caves, theaters and sanctuaries. It will easily take 4 hours and more if you pause at every sight as you go up to Parthenon.
Theater of Dionysus
First the Theater of Dionysus. It is impressive with good seating arrangements existing the same way for several centuries. The fence around didn’t stop tourists from sitting in those seats. This dates back to 4th century BC when it was used for festivals in honor of God Dionysus, the god of wine and the patron of drama. In its heydays could seat 17000 spectators. Something interesting was going on in the far background if you noticed, but I thought of including the sleeping dog in the picture.
Theater of Herod Atticus
Next we saw the Theater of Herod Atticus, younger and smaller of the two theaters of Acropolis. It was built in 161AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. Hmmm… ‘lucky lady’ I thought! This has been restored well and is used for hosting concerts since 1950s, I have read. But that day it seemed out of bounds for tourists and was fenced nice and proper. Imagine! Seating for 5000!
Caryatids of Erechtheion
(A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head.) None of those are original! The story of it in modern times is worth a read. Wiki reads.
In 1801 one of the caryatids and the north column of the east porch together with the overlying section of the entablature were removed by Lord Elgin in order to decorate his Scottish mansion, and were later sold to the British Museum (along with the pedimental and frieze sculpture taken from the Parthenon). Athenian legend had it that at night the remaining five Caryatids could be heard wailing for their lost sister.
Elgin attempted to remove a second Caryatid; when technical difficulties arose, he tried to have it sawn to pieces. The statue was smashed, and its fragments were left behind. It was later reconstructed haphazardly with cement and iron rods. During the Greek War of Independence the building was bombarded by the Ottomans and severely damaged,the ceiling of the north porch was blown up and a large section of the lateral walls of the cella was dismantled.
The Erechtheion went through a period of restoration from 1977 to 1988. Previous attempted restorations by Greece damaged the roof of the Caryatids’ porch with concrete patches, along with major damage caused by pollution in Athens. In 1979, the five original Caryatids were moved to the Old Acropolis Museum and replaced in situ by exact replicas. Scientists were working in 2005 to repair the damage using laser cleaning. Restoration of Erechtheion received the Europa Nostra award.
This is the monumental gateway to Acropolis. Tourists lingered here for long, their dream of visiting Acropolis finally materialized! Greece has grand plans to recreate the magic of Parthenon, as similar as possible to that which existed centuries back, work too is in full swing. I hope it is a grand success and my future generations can see the full splendor of this monument!