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The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

By alison - November 25, 2010 (Updated: November 24, 2014)

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Glorious Greece.
The Parthenon

The Parthenon

I knew there was no way I could visit Greece without visiting the Acropolis in Athens.

I’ve been fascinated with Greece since high school, when my favourite English teacher brought photos of his visit to an ancient amphitheatre to class. When he explained how the incredible acoustics still worked, I knew I wanted to see it for myself. In university, I was lucky enough to take a classic Greek drama course as an elective, as well as two theatre electives that covered Greek tragedy and comedy.

I remained fascinated by the ancient Greeks’ emphasis on incorporating art and culture in every aspect of their lives.

So after a day of relaxing by the beach in Vouliagmeni, we decided to spend Sunday sightseeing in Athens.

We took the coastal tram from Glyfada, a short (7 euro) taxi ride from our hotel, right into the heart of Athens. The tram is not for the impatient as it takes about an hour. But at a cost of 1 euro per person, it’s an interesting trip and a very cheap alternative to a 50 euro taxi ride.

The final tram stop puts you near Hadrian’s arch, our first peek at ancient Greek architecture. As you look through the arch, you can see the Acropolis towering over the city.

Hadrian's Arch

Our first view of the Acropolis through Hadrian’s Arch

We made our way up the pedestrian street to the base of the Acropolis, noting the strong police presence in the area. We trudged up the hill to the entrance and were greeted by this sign:

Acropolis Closed

Acropolis closed for elections

The new Acropolis Museum

Disappointed but undeterred, we headed back down the hill to the new Acropolis Museum which thankfully was open. This newly opened (in 2007) and stunningly designed museum actually sits above an on-going archaeological excavation.

The New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum

 

Excavation under the Acropolis Museum

Excavation under the Acropolis Museum

 

Excavation under the Acropolis Museum

Layers of history under the museum

The museum includes findings from the archaeological sites and original pieces of the architecture of the Acropolis. Many delicate features of the site, such as the sculptures from the Parthenon have been replaced with copies, the originals having been re-located to the museum for protection from the pollution that has been a constant problem for preservation works in Athens.

We ended our visit to the museum with coffee and a snack at the rooftop café where we had an excellent view of the Acropolis itself.

Visiting the Acropolis

We did eventually get to visit the Acropolis, when we returned to Athens, the following Tuesday. It was well worth the wait. In fact, visiting the museum before seeing the Acropolis gave us a better overview of the site and made our visit much more meaningful.

Even in the off season, the Acropolis is crowded. There were bus tours, walking tours and groups of school children swarming the site when we arrived. But it was no less incredible walking in the footsteps of so much history.

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Viewing the Acropolis from the streets below.

 

The Erechtheum

The Erechtheum with the famous Porch of the Caryatids

But despite all of the history, one of the things I found the most fascinating was the use of modern technology in the restoration process. Marble was being cleaned with lasers, stones were being lifted with complicated cranes and pulley systems and of course every fragment was being catalogued electronically.

Excavation at the Acropolis from Alison Cornford-Matheson on Vimeo.

When we could tear ours eyes away from the ruins, we were treated to an incredible 360degree view of the city of Athens. It was easy to see why the ancient Greeks built their temples here. The view was simply breath-taking.

View of Athens from the Acropolis

View of Athens from the Acropolis

Looking directly below the Acropolis, you can see more of the restoration and excavation works, laid out like a giant marble jigsaw puzzle.

Dionysus Theater and Acropolis Excavation from Alison Cornford-Matheson on Vimeo.

Greek Theater

As we descended the hillside I had one last mission to accomplish. I had to sit in an amphitheatre just as the ancient Greeks had. The details remaining in the theatre of Dionysus were amazing; from the checkerboard floor to the carved front row seats reserved for the gods.

The ancient theater of Dionysus

The ancient theater of Dionysus

 

The ancient theater of Dionysus

Fulfilling a lifelong dream

Just beside the ancient theatre is the Herodes Atticus Odeum; a restored, modern version that still functions today. My only regret is not having the opportunity to watch one of the ancient tragedies preformed on this stage.

The Herodes Atticus Odeum

The Herodes Atticus Odeum

But there is much more to Athens than the Acropolis. Stay tuned for more of the sights and tastes of this beautiful city and the surrounding area.

Read more from Cheeseweb.eu

Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
Cheese + Goats = My personal heaven. We discover an oasis in the cheese desert. https://t.co/Os8U86UEiX - 15 hours ago

10 comments

  1. Comment by Stavros

    Stavros November 25, 2010 at 14:35

    Hi Allison,

    In a such bad period for my country its so nice to read positive articles…even touristic ones. It can be the ideal touristic guide for the Acropolis.

    BTW the accoustics in the Herodes Atticus Odeum is amazing, you can hear a falling pin hit the floor!

    Regards,

    Stavros

    PS I miss Greece so much!!!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 25, 2010 at 14:39

      Thanks for stopping by Stavros! We both fell in love with your beautiful country and hope the bad times are over soon. The Greek people were so warm and positive and welcomed us with open arms. I hope other travelers will make the effort to get to Greece and experience all the country has to offer and I hope I personally can go back very soon!

    • Comment by kiriaki

      kiriaki November 29, 2010 at 00:32

      good evening all!

      ..dont forget the amazing acoustic of the Epidaurus theater!
      Us,the Greeks, we have done a couple good things, no?!

      • Comment by Alison

        Alison

        Alison November 29, 2010 at 09:33

        Very true 🙂

  2. Comment by Emily

    Emily November 25, 2010 at 19:03

    Ohhh that new museum looks very posh! I remember going in what I presume was the old one a few years ago now. They had signs up next to “missing displays” saying it was in the Brisish Museum in London which I found amusing – Go to Athens and all the good stuff is actually in London!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 26, 2010 at 10:02

      Unfortunately there are still a lot of signs saying original in the British Museum. I’m sure it’s a contentious topic. I’d now like to go back to the BM and see them again after actually being at the Acropolis.

  3. Comment by Stavros

    Stavros November 26, 2010 at 10:06

    I can assure you Emily that is not amusing at all the way all those “good stuff” ended up in BM.

    If you want to see all the “good stuff” in their original place where they belong join all of us here

    http://www.bringthemback.org/

    Regards,

    S

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 26, 2010 at 10:17

      Thanks Stavros, I’ve just added my name to the list 🙂

    • Comment by Andrew

      Andrew November 26, 2010 at 12:09

      I’ve added my name to the list too. Was amazed at how many pieces were in the BM… and the new Acropolis museum is such a nice space to house the remaining pieces.

  4. Pingback: Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Greece | Expat Life in Belgium, Travel and Photography | CheeseWeb

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