Athens

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Plaka

The historical heart of Athens.  Continuously inhabited since the 15th century when it was the cities Turkish Quarter   A fantastic location right on the edge of all we wanted to see in  the city and surrounding area.  For us the only place we considered staying.   We choose The Adams, a clean family run hotel.  Kosta and Dimitrio are friendly and well intentioned if not too knowledgeable about the city.  They have a small bar-oserie on the ground floor but every street has outdoor restaurants operating day and night

A great area to wander, shop and dine at any time of the day

Self portrait, I am the one with the camera

In the absence of any local knowledge we choose our restaurants solely on the charm of the very charming waiters stationed out front to draw us to their tables.   Every evening an accordionist and his nine year old daughter would wander from table to table.  The diminutive child had the voice of a budding Kiri Te Kanawa and her rendition of Ave Maria and O Sole Mio would reduce us to tears.   Of course the wine might have had something to do with it

Agia Katerini

Steps from the hotel,  down a short flight of steps is a picturesque courtyard with this lovely Byzantine church dating from the 11th century

In 1767 it became the Metochi  (dependant on) the Monastery of Agia Aikaterini in Sinai.  The priests from Sinai planted the palm trees in the courtyard which make it a favourite place to sit and read or just take a break from hectic Plaka

At the other end of the courtyard is a tiny archeological site where ancient columns were being excavated,  Not an unusual site in Plaka

The Acropolis  'The Upper City'

There are others around the world, but when you hear someone refer to 'The Acropolis ' you will likely assume it is this one in Athens

 The Parthenon 'Temple of the Virgin'

Is the largest completed Doric temple in Greece.' In  order to avoid visual distortion and attain perfection in the eye of  the beholder, the base rises towards the center.  The columns lean inward and are slightly convex.  Eight Doric columns graced each end, seventeen either side. All but the roof was built of local Pentelic marble.  The ceiling was painted blue with gold stars

 

 

Building commenced on the site of three earlier Athena temples and was completed in 15 years in time for the Great Panathenaic Festival of 438 BC

It was built to the glory of ancient Greece, to house the treasury and to  honour the Goddess Athena for whom the city is named,   Her statue stood here in the Cella at the most sacred eastern end of the temple, few were allowed to enter.   Forty ft tall and covered with gold, her hands feet and face made of ivory and her eyes were jewels  

In the 5th century she was taken to Constantinople and  destroyed in 1204 because she was deemed responsible for the crusaders interest in the city

 

East Pediment 

All sculptures whether statues, metopes or part of the friezes would originally have been gilded and brightly coloured

West Pediment 

Seventy five feet of the best preserved part of the frieze, metopes and statues are now in the British Museum. The so called Elgin Marbles

    How wonderful to have been able to see it when  

 i

ceilings were blue and star studded                               

Propylaia main entrance to Acropolis   432 BC

                    Security seemed lax

 

The Erechtheion      Named for Erichthonius the mythical King of Athens

It features the Porch Of The Caryatids, named for the women of Karyai on whom the figures were modeled.   An Ionic masterpiece, my favourite building on the Acropolis.  These are all copies but the originals can be seen at the onsite museum with the exception of the one plundered by Lord Elgin which you will find (for the time being) at the British Museum!

Porch Of The Caryatids

The porch on the south side of the Erectheion is thought to have been the grave monument of the tomb of Kekrops

These Six beautiful Korai maidens, cupbearers to the illustrious dead, support the roof in place of columns

Acropolis Museum

A must see in 2001 when by North American standards it was refreshingly unsophisticated.  Many of the treasures were not displayed behind glass, lovely for us to see but not good for their conservation and the staff who had to be constantly reminding visitors not to touch the exhibits

The Goddess Athena sans ivory and jewels      

As of 2009 a new Acropolis Museum opened to great acclaim with 90,000 visitors in it's first week.  Modern angular space is filled with light and has an awe inspiring view of the Acropolis  Historically grouped galleries put the history of the site and its treasures into context  

The Galleries are:

 The Ancient Neighbourhood

The Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis

The Archaic Gallery

The Gallery of Propylaia,

Erectheion &Temple of the Athena Nike

Gallery of the 5th Century BC. to 5th AD  and

Gallery of The Parthenon

Space has been reserved for the return of the Elgin Marbles, may it be sooner rather than later

            Beautiful horse circa 480 - 490 BC

Group with Water God Nerus from the West pediment, temple of Athena 

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus

 

Due to preservation concerns it's now only possible to enter the Odeon from May to September to attend a performances of music, drama or dance during the Athens Festival.Special arrangements may be made  with a guide. at other times.  On a clear day there is a wonderful panoramic view of the modern city of Athens through the arches

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